I managed to fix the player, but I don't know how long this solution will last. I apologize for all the inconvenience caused by the change in rules on the audio file server side over which I had no control.
This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
Ves felt tempted to settle for receiving a batch of first-class starships right away, but he held back because of three reasons.
First, Jovy had not yet listed out all of the possible options that Ves could choose from. It would be stupid to make a choice without gathering sufficient information.
Second, first-class starships may be rare and difficult to obtain for Ves at his current level, but it was not impossible for him to get his hands on them through other channels.
He already succeeded in closing a deal with the Eternal Vulcan Empire. As long as he earnestly taught a bunch of dwarven interns for a couple of years, the Larkinson Clan was entitled to receive a complete first-class fleet carrier!
Third, Ves did not trust the starships built by the Red Association.
He felt apprehensive at the thought of placing most of the future of his clan in the hands of the mechers.
Though Ves could apply the same reason to the starships built by any other group, he did not fear them as much as the Red Association.
The mechers were stronger than the Terrans and the Rubarthans. That automatically meant that the former had become a much target of his paranoia than the latter two groups.
This was rather strange as most people in Ves' position would be glad to suck up to the strongest group!
Many people would kill in order to earn the favor of the Red Association!
Ves was not one of them. He already felt uncomfortable about the fact that he had become one of their 'honorary members', which actually meant he was only a mecher when it served the interests of the Association.
Once he turned into a liability, the mechers would be glad to kick him to the curb!
This was why Ves did not jump at the possibility of receiving a bunch of starships straight away.
"The next option that you can choose from is to receive a second batch of general cultivation elixirs." Jovy continued. "Your clan is one of the early adopters of the A7-KE1 General Purpose Pilot Cultivation Elixir. Despite the experimental nature of the elixirs, your mech pilots have benefited greatly from their use. The biggest issue is that their quantity is finite. If you want to ensure that your clan has an abundant quantity of high-quality expert pilots and possibly even ace pilots on hand in the future, it is more than worthwhile to accept additional elixirs."
This was actually an attractive choice. High-ranking mech pilots could be regarded as another form of hard currency. They were difficult to 'produce' and were fiendishly difficult to replace if lost.
As long as Ves was not allowed to field warships unless he obtained the corresponding Warship Tokens, ace mechs were the only high-end combat assets that he was legally able to make use of. They were also a lot easier for Ves to control than any warship.
However, there was no way to accumulate a lot of ace mechs out of the blue!
The need to nurture a mech pilot to a Saint step-by-step was a difficult and time-consuming process!
If Ves could compress decades worth of growth and accumulation in a handful of years, then he would be able to accumulate a lot more power without needing to wait too much!
If Ves had to choose between a warship and an ace pilot, he would choose the latter, and not just because he was a mech designer!
"How much?" He eagerly asked.
"That depends, Ves. The Transhumanists have developed multiple new varieties of elixirs. Their effects may be different. Their effectiveness may also be higher. Considering your contributions, you are entitled to receive at least 3000 general cultivation elixirs. The Transhumanists have expanded their scale of production, but the excessively high demand for them means it is difficult to supply thousands right away."
The general cultivation elixirs were undeniably good, but Ves was not sure whether it was worthwhile to redeem this amount for the contributions he had made.
Ves had the feeling that the mechers were trying to scam him as usual.
The difficulty of producing the elixirs might not be as great as the mechers claimed!
Nonetheless, the advance of receiving so many elixirs in the early stages of the Red War was incredibly valuable. The sooner he built up a batch of powerful high-ranking expert pilots, the less he had to fear from various enemies!
Ves decided to reserve his judgment.
"Yes. There is one more option you can choose from. We originally did not intend to offer you this remarkable opportunity, but you have successfully earned the approval and the appreciation of several esteemed figures. If you want, you can issue three minor requests to the Star Designers of the Red Association. As long as your request is not too excessive, one of our Star Designers will be more than willing to allocate a small amount of time to fulfill your demand."
"Accepted!" Gloriana enthusiastically responded. "We will eagerly accept this gracious reward! There is no need to consider this issue any longer. We shall accept the favors from the Star Designers with pleasure!"
"…"Jovy awkwardly cleared his throat. "Ahem, do not expect too much from this option. Our Star Designers are incredibly busy and are already involved in hundreds of projects. They cannot devote their full attention and resources on building a revolutionary new capital ship or an experimental super-class weapon that can demolish a greater phase whale with a single shot."
That caused Ve to frown. "How much help can I expect to gain?"
"Think of it as a minor effort on the part of our Star Designers. You can ask them to give you a single personal tutoring session on any subject related to mech design. You can give them a handful of your mech designs and solicit their feedback on your work. You can request them to design and construct a small but powerful gadget such as a much stronger version of a personal shield generator. You can ask them to solve a difficult problem that has caused your research project to stagnate. You can even inquire about certain high-level secrets that you are normally not cleared to know. Does that clarify your doubts?"
"I get it now." Ves answered. "I can't ask anything big, but anything else is fine."
That made it difficult for him to settle on this choice.
"In truth, the Star Designers do not mind it if they help you more, but they feel it is better to keep their distance from you at this time." Jovy explained to Ves. "The more you depend on their help, the less you rely on your own efforts. We have an abundant amount of cases where the mech designers who have received substantial assistance from a Star Designer failed to realize their design philosophies. You still need to do most of the work if you want to advance to the rank of Master."
Ves understood this as well, so he did not object to this restriction.
Even a minor amount of help from a genuine Star Designer was already an inestimable advantage as far as he was concerned!
Ves grew more and more intrigued. "Can I choose which Star Designer to receive assistance from, or will someone else make this determination?"
"You can choose, but the Star Designer that you have chosen may not accept. There are currently 14 Star Designers in the Red Ocean, but only two of them originally hail from the Survivalist Faction. 2 more are in charge of the Mech Supremacist Faction, while the Unbound Humanity Faction and the Guidance Faction are both presided by a Star Designer each. The remaining 4 Star Desgineres originally hail from the Expansionist Faction. It is not certain whether the latter will remain in lockstep with each other, but you do not have a clear relationship with any of them at this time."
The underlying message was that Ves better stick to building up a relationship with the two Star Designers that he had already met beforehand.
That did not leave Ves with a lot of choice.
One was the Polymath, a disgraced Star Designer who suffered from a bout of megalomania and attempted a coup against the current human order.
The fact that Ves played an instrumental role in her defeat caused his relationship with her to grow very complicated to say the least!
The other was the Xenotechnician, an old and respectable Star Designer who was known to adapt alien technologies and had made many helpful contributions to human civilization.
That normally shouldn't be a problem, but Ves happened to know another mech designer who sounded remarkably similar.
Master Quan was an old and respectable Master Mech Designer who was known to adapt alien technologies and had made numerous helpful contributions to human civilizations.
Given the similarities between the two, Ves did not know whether it was a good idea to ask for a favor from the Xenotechnician.
Still… a Star Designer was still the peak of the mech designer profession. The temptation of being able to approach one of the best mech designers in the dwarf galaxy was too great for him to resist!
His wife certainly did not see the need to procrastinate over this decision.
"There is so much possible help and guidance that we can obtain from a Star Designer. Do you agree with me, Ves? Let us settle on the smart choice. There is no reason to waste any further time. I cannot believe that you would be willing to forgo this fantastic reward in favor of MTA merits that are just numbers in your account or a handful of first-class starships that are wildly inflated in price."
Ves let out a deep breath as he had settled on his choice.
"I have made up my mind. I accept the last option. I am willing to overlook the other rewards in favor of the right to issue three small requests to the Star Designers."
"Good! I already expected you to settle on this reward. It is what I would have chosen if I was in your place. Just make sure that you do not waste these priceless opportunities. Make sure to make them as cost-effective as possible. If your problem can be solved in any other way, then do not squander one of your requests. We will not hold your hands and warn you if you are about to make a mistake."
"I shall keep that in mind."
All-in-all, Ves had earned a massive profit from this venture. Ves had not actually exerted a lot of effort to produce the Zeal and paint his exterior with prophetic visions.
The massive reward he obtained in exchange was disproportionately high solely because the impact of his work was much greater!
Now that he had made his decision, Ves went back to the workshop and started to sanitize the surface of the Zeal right away.
Though it hurt for him to wipe away the prophetic visions that his unconscious self had depicted with style, it was better for him to unmake his own work than anyone else.
Ves briefly feared whether he would trigger a trap or incur a huge backlash for erasing the paints that had somehow managed to resonate with a greater force, but nothing remarkable happened.
The layer of colors that Ves had added on top of the white surface washed away easily enough. He made sure to be extra thorough to the point his tools forcibly removed the other layers of much more resilient coating as well!
Once Ves had managed to clear them all away before reapplying a clean set of layered coatings, the Zeal had regained much of his clean and pure appearance.
The only signs that the living mech had become touched by prophecy was the negative energies that still clung to the machine and the remaining two prophetic visions that Ves was allowed to keep.
For a moment, Ves thought about wiping away the images that did not exactly paint him in the best light, but he eventually decided to keep them, if only to preserve what little was left.
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