Recruiting new mech designers was the last major task that Ves wanted to complete before he fully threw himself onto his work. The Design Department already employed plenty of Journeyman Mech Designers, but their specializations left obvious gaps that hindered the development of their mechs.

For example, Ves still lacked a ranged weapon specialist by his side. One of the reasons why he wanted to invite Jocasta Clive to his clan was because he became greedy for her kinetic weapon expertise.

The Larkinson Clan's utilization of gauss weapons and other ranged kinetic weapons had fallen behind due to its embrace of luminar crystal technology.

While Ves had a lot of confidence in the strength, efficiency and versatility of this branch of energy weapons, he knew better than to bet his entire clan on a single horse.

Technological progress often occurred in jumps and spurts. The mech industry had a long history of changing trends due to the uneven advancements of different technological applications.

For example, energy weapons and transphasic technology were in vogue at the moment. They were both stronger than other tech, so many of the leading and well-regarded mechs incorporated applications from one or both of them in order to keep up with the forefront of progress.

Gauss weapons were still widely used for many reasons, but their overall strength and practicality hadn't significantly changed compared to the previous generation.

The only gauss weapons that were noticeably stronger and more worthwhile to use were transphasic gauss weapons, but that was more because of the use of phasewater more than anything.

If the technological basis of gauss weapons did not experience any significant improvements in the last 30 or 40 years, then how could they outperform energy weapons under the same conditions?

Besides, gauss weapons possessed a clear disadvantage compared to energy weapons in the current generation that caused a lot of mech designers to favor the latter rather than the former.

The difference was not necessary based on performance, but had to do with cost.

A transphasic laser rifle only needed to incorporate phasewater in its body, while gauss rifles needed to integrate this expensive substance in both its body and its physical ammunition in order to maximize their effectiveness!

Even if Ves could get away with integrating a tiny drop of phasewater in the tip of a gauss round, a typical rifleman mech armed with a gauss rifle could easily expend over a hundred rounds in a single battle.

If the Larkinson Army deployed a couple of hundred of those rifleman mechs, his clan would probably throw away a kilogram's worth of phasewater in a single battle.

Although the results would definitely be astonishing, Ves did not think his clan could afford to sustain this level of consumption for long!

It was much more economical to resort to transphasic energy weapons instead.

The Nullifier Battalion was the first elite mech unit that fulfilled his goal of arming an elite mech unit with transphasic weapons.

Each Nullifier mech was armed with a Godkiller heavy luminar crystal rifle that integrated 5 grams of phasewater.

This might not sound like much, but this was already enough to neutralize much of the boost in damage resistance of transphasic defensive systems!

Their penetration power was even more exaggerated against non-transphasic defenses!

Better yet, as long as those ostentatious weapons did not get destroyed in battle, the Nullifier Battalion could use their Godkiller heavy rifles over and over again without needing to replenish their phasewater content.

In short, transphasic luminar crystal weapons played an essential role in the Larkinson Clan's current development strategy. They were the key to powering up the combat strength of the Larkinson Army and enabling the expeditionary fleet to hunt down alien warships and strip them of their valuable salvage!

That was not to say that transphasic gauss weapons had become irrelevant due to this crucial difference.

Transphasic ammunition was expensive, but the upside to that was that their penetration power was far superior to transphasic energy beams.

The Larkinson Clan had already encountered multiple different alien foes whose transphasic defenses proved to be too resilient to overcome.

In situations like these, the Larkinson Clan needed to stop worrying about minimizing cost and throw everything it had to defeat the foes that had the power to crush the expeditionary fleet!

One of the most memorable battle moments in the past year was the instance where the Thunderer Mark II piloted by Saint Jelmer Osenring managed to utilize all 10 of its transphasic heavy gauss cannons to overcome the transphasic barriers of an orven battleship!

The destructive power of those heavy gauss cannons was unparalleled, and their penetration power gained an immense boost after Ves had 'blessed' it with the guidance of the Phase King!

Ves often thought back on those times. He could already guess that unless he was able to design a much stronger and more sophisticated energy weapon, he wouldn't be able to equip his mechs with luminar crystal cannons that could come close to those impressive heavy gauss cannons in damage output.

The only other way to obtain the weapons he wanted to turn his mechs into the ultimate warship killers was to ingest an appropriate enlightenment fruit and quickly develop a proficiency in transphasic gauss weapons.

Ves did not necessarily reject this approach, but it was not an appropriate strategy for him to take.

He already minored in luminar crystal technology, and he felt that was enough for his needs.

His research interests were already broad enough. He was not the Polymath who could engage in an unlimited amount of research directions. Adding one more minor would only burden him more and divert his time on what was truly important.

What he needed instead was a couple of ranged weapon specialists by his side who could do a much better and more effective job at equipping his ranged mechs with the best transphasic armaments.

He was already setting up Zanthar Larkinson to inherit his advancements on luminar crystal technology. He hoped that his former student would be able to divest him from the burden of researching this alien tech so that he could spend his time on more relevant design work.

"I'm not sure how long it will take for him to become a Journeyman, but I can wait."

That still left him with a shortage of mech designers who could equip the mechs of the Larkinson Clan with strong ranged kinetic weapons.

He still regretted the decision to let go of a talented and well-educated Journeyman Mech Designer like Jocasta Clive.

She was probably the most impressive kinetic weapon specialist at the Journeyman level that he could recruit in Davute!

He had already instructed the clan's recruiters to prioritize the search of mech designers with similar specializations as Jocasta Clive.

The likelihood of finding a mech designer as good as her was slim, but it should not be as difficult to find less qualified professionals with a related specialization.

Ves just hoped they would still be good enough to meet his minimum standards. If they were not good enough, then he would rather pass them over and work without them for the time being. He did not want to poison the productive atmosphere of the Design Department by filling it up with lots of freeloaders and incompetent fools.

"Beatrice Hendrix should definitely not fall into that category."

The results of mech design tournaments was hardly definitive proof of the competence of a mech designer. Nonetheless, for her to be able to overcome so many different of her peers and become the second-place winner of the Strange Lands Tournament was a testament of her design abilities!

The Double Up she designed for the Twin Weapons Tournament also put up an impressive fight during the second round!

It was that odd but impressively resilient double-layered mech that impressed Ves so much.

He had taken the time to study her record and her known mech designs a bit more. Although he understood little about the galactic heartland and its many divisions, he found out that Beatrice Hendrix grew up in a relatively stable and prosperous region of the Milky Way.

The conditions of the region that she grew up in enabled Beatrice Hendrix to pursue more expensive and high-end specializations. The relative lack of large-scale conflicts shifted the development of mechs away from mass production and put more emphasis on high-end mechs that were necessary to fight in important mech duels and small skirmishes.

Beatrice apparently inherited her specialization from Master Relice Yovarn, just as Ves expected at the time.

What Ves found interesting was that Beatrice Hendrix's works had yet to diverge from that of her Master.

The works of Master Yovarn were similar to that of her direct disciple, but her applications were considerably stronger and more varied.

As Ves waited for Beatrice Hendrix to request another meeting with him, he sought out Sara Voiken in order to give her perspective on the design philosophy of her potential new colleague.

"Passive armor systems are the mainstream in human space." Sara began as soon as she skimmed through Beatrice Hendrix's record. "A basic metal plate might sound boring, but it is one of simplest and foolproof means of protecting a mech from harm. You only need to affix it into place and you are ready to go. Replacing or repairing the damaged plating also isn't difficult. These modular armor systems are much different in comparison. They need to be powered in order to move around and they incorporate so much more circuits and electronics that they have far more points of failure. Do you understand what that means?"

Ves nodded. "I think I do. If a mech has more points of failure, Murphy's law can take a greater hold over it. Hacking, EMP attacks, hazardous environments or unconventional weaponry can all strip a mech of their modular armor plating. This doesn't happen often, though. I have hardly read any stories in the news that describe this occurrence."

"That is because almost no one bothers to prepare any special countermeasures against modular armor systems." Sara retorted. "If they become more ubiquitous, that will definitely change. If our clan adopts more mechs equipped with lots of modular armor, then you can be certain that many of our enemies such as the Fridaymen will prepare targeted countermeasures that will prevent our mechs from taking advantage of this tech. Can you bear the thought of this happening to us one day?"

Ves shrugged. "I won't deny that there is realistic chance that this might happen, but that does not dampen my interest in these armor systems. Our Maiden of Adversity model already incorporates a version of it, though the Battle Skirt System is akin to the work of a child compared to her much more elaborate and sophisticated applications of the same tech!"

That caused Sara to frown. "Are you thinking about encouraging me to work together with Beatrice Hendrix on the same projects? That negates one of the important reasons why you wanted to hire a defensive specialist in the first place. Besides, it shouldn't work as well as you think. I doubt that the other mech designer will be pleased with using her specialization as a secondary defensive system. She will want to design mechs where her modular armor systems make up the main defensive solution for her work."

That sounded like Beatrice Hendrix. This was the difficulty of working with proud and egotistical mech designers.

He sighed. "I understand these difficulties, but I think we can overcome or mitigate these issues. It is more important to relieve you of your heavy workload and enable others to share your burdens. Will you welcome her entry into our clan if she accepts our offer?"

Sara nodded, much to his relief.

"I will. I am not selfish to insist that I should be the only mech designer with a defensive specialization in our clan. We are bigger than that, and you are right about my heavy workload. Besides, I think it would help me a lot more if I can bounce ideas with a fellow compatriot who understands my work."

"That is great to hear. I feel more reassured about recruiting her after you have given your answer."