"Wait a second! What's that huge transparent material embedded into the chest?"
"That looks like a glass-like composite. Is that a cockpit window or something?"
"Don't be ridiculous! This mech is obviously built to fight. Incorporating windows in those kinds of mechs is one of the stupidest things you can do!"
The chest crystal sparked another round of speculation. Ves let the crowd go on for half a minute before he resumed his speech.
"Introducing the first generation in the Crystal Lord product line, the CL-A-01 is exquisitely designed to meet the needs of the men and women who are burdened with defending the Bright republic for years on end. It's a mech designed to last for ages, and is designed from the ground up to maximize its longevity."
Ves spent the next ten minutes going over the basic specs of the mech. He showcased its speed, which was very important for all mobile rifleman mechs. He also reintroduced the Veltrex armor system and its particular properties that made the Crystal Lord a lot more resilient than many other rifleman mechs.
Naturally, he also couldn't forget about the crystals.
"On top of the amazing level of performance offered by our design, the Crystal Lord also makes use of a feature derived from technology recovered from alien ruins. Let me introduce to you the benefits of the two crystals embedded into each copy."
The Crystal Lord at the front unarched its back a little, giving the crowd a better view of the giant diamond-like crystal.
"The crystal at the chest is not a decorative component. It is a core weapon in the Crystal Lord's kit that delivers a powerful blow under certain circumstances."
As Ves laid out its properties, someone at the crowd rudely yelled out. "What nonsense is this?! Absorbing energy attacks? Shooting them back out? This is just another useless gimmick that's only good for marketing!"
Ves did not take offense at the latest hackler. Instead, his smile turned into a grin. "Seeing as how many of you are skeptical, why not witness it in action? We have prepared a secure stage where you can see this feature in action with your own two eyes."
The Crystal Lord walked towards the arena stage that's been cordoned off since the start of the reveal. The audience eagerly approached the sides of the arena and milled close.
Opposite to the original Crystal Lord stood another copy. Once both mechs took their places, one of them started winding up its laser rifle and began to fire a high-powered laser beam that burned for seconds at a time.
The more knowledgeable people among the crowd looked impressed.
"Look at the power behind that beam! That's not what you see every day from a rifle that size!"
"Is this laser rifle really a light model? Many medium-sized laser rifles don't pack that much of a punch!"
"Hey, instead of watching that rifle in action, why not look at the mech that's being hit. Its armor is still unscatched!"
At this distance and with both mechs standing still with their ECMs turned off, it was impossible for the shooter to miss. Every laser beam landed squarely against the crystal, which sustained minimal damage but instead devoured every bit of energy sent in its way.
The level of absorption demonstrated by the Crystal Lord only applied to the gold label versions of the mech. The chest crystals needed to be really large and activated by the crystal cube before it could withstand the full might of a full-powered laser rifle.
Furthermore, only hits directly to the chest and onto the crystal would have their damage negated. Any laser beams that glanced to the lower chest or the neck and shoulders would only have a fraction of its energy negated.
No matter the truth, Ves would be a fool to inform the crowd of those shortcomings. He wanted to introduce his new design in the best possible light, so he regarded this product reveal as selling a fantasy.
"As you can see, the chest crystal is capable of tolerating high amounts of energy damage and can absorb them inside as well. If you look at the readouts to the side, you can clearly see that we haven't curbed the power output of the laser rifle in any way. What you are seeing right now is what the new custom laser rifle for the Crystal Lord can output in a sustainable manner!"
"Where can we buy this rifle? It's lighter and more powerful than anything I've seen!"
Ves laughed a little. "We have no plans to produce and sell a standalone laser rifle except to replace a broken sample. This weapon works best with the Crystal Lord, which is highly tailored to this specific rifle model."
"How come this rifle is so powerful?"
"That's because we incorporated a smaller version of the Crystal Lord's chest crystal into the mechanism of the rifle. Its many wondrous properties allow us to substitute much of the conventional components that add a lot of bulk to the rifle. It's smaller and lighter, but still delivers the same amount of damage of a full-sized rifle."
As Ves elaborated on the crystals, the chest crystal quickly reached its saturation point. It could no longer continue to absorb more energy.
"Don't think this crystal is limited to absorbing energy. What comes in must also come out."
To illustrate his point, the saturated crystal instantly discharged a thick white beam against a target prepared to the side. The white beam burned through multiple layers of armor plating, demonstrating the awesome power behind the cannon-like beam in a direct fashion.
"Look at the energy readings! It's more powerful than a laser cannon!"
"Hah! More powerful, but is it useful enough? Don't forget that the crystal absorbed a lot of laser beams. How many mechs will stand still on the battlefield and how many enemies will conveniently aim at their chests? I stand by my words! This is nothing more than a marketing gimmick!"
Some people still remained sober, to which Ves could do not against. It wasn't as if they distorted the truth. The utility of the crystal was much less than what the mechs depicted.
Still, the overall reaction of the crowd looked encouraging. Ves still managed to sell the idea that the crystals held a lot of utility.
Ves walked back to the podium. The two mechs in the arena followed suit, as did seven other identical mechs.
A strange effect emerged as nine gold label Crystal Lords stood side by side as if they made up a single cohesive squad of mechs. Ves used this trick before and back then he already managed to shock the crowd into silence.
This time, the X-Factor in his design had reached another level. Although Ves wasn't sure of the difference, he knew that it would definitely deliver a bigger impact on the crowd. Multiple auras blended together and amplified each other. Some of the people rubbed their eyes, while others forgot to blink as they stared at the nine exquisite mechs.
It was as if the Crystal Lords came to life. They collectively radiated a sense of pride and threat. Their dark coloring and strange head shapes added to the sense of mystery behind these mechs.
"The Crystal Lord is more than a product. It is a mech. Not just any mech, but one that will grow on you. This is a mech that can be a lifelong companion to any mech pilot looking to invest in their future."
The projections around them started to depict the Crystal Lord in battle. The simulations crafted a vision where the Crystal Lord endured constant battles, only to be patched up and sent back into battle again. The sequence highlighted its robust construction and its resilience against wear-and-tear and the test of time.
The battles also showcased the fights that best suited the Crystal Lord. It excelled in longer engagements and was suitable to be used in extended deployments.
"We hereby announce the Crystal Lord is available to order from this moment onwards. At the end of this press conference, five of our exclusive gold label Crystal Lords will be auctioned out. The silver label versions of this mech will immediately begin production, but take note that supply is very limited for the time being. Bronze label Crystal Lords will soon enter the market after we have completed negotiations with the appropriate third-party manufacturers."
Sensing the end of the presentation, the crowd and in particular the press started bombarding Ves with questions.
While Ves could have opted to leave the stage, he chose to remain and answer the questions. Despite the risk of facing difficult questions, answering them increased the Crystal Lord's exposure.
"Your new design sounds very impressive and all, but I can't help wondering, how much does it cost?"
Immediately, the reporter asked the one question that everyone wanted to find out. The crowd of bystanders might know nothing about mechs, but the people sitting closer to the front knew much more about mechs. What Ves had introduced so far about the Crystal Lord was overwhelmingly positive and definitely outperformed the mainstream rifleman mech models that dominated the market.
"The Crystal Lord is a premium mech design positioned at the upper end of the local market. The base price for the limited-quantity gold label prestige models is 90 million credits."
That caused pretty much everyone to gasp.
"I can buy two good-quality rifleman mechs with that much money!"
"Forget about those overpriced mainstream junk, I'd rather buy four or five budget models instead!"
Ves continued on as if he didn't hear the outrage. "The silver label Crystal Lords will soon be made available for 75 million credits, whereas the bronze label Crystal Lords will be sold for 65 million credits."
The fact that even the cheapest version came at a more expensive price than the Blackbeak caused everyone to become perplexed. Certainly, the mech was powerful, but did Ves have to be so greedy?
If not for the nine mechs standing in a row behind him, the crowd would have been more vocal in their outrage.
"Absurd! This toy is too expensive! I'm out of here!"
"I don't know. It's expensive and all, but we can afford to buy one. It's a pretty good mech if you only want quality."
Another reporter put forth a question. "Mr. Larkinson, your Crystal Lord looks very impressive. What we want to know is did you design this mech by yourself?"
"I worked on this design from the beginning of the design process. Only at the very end did I consult an anonymous mech designer. That entity who shall remain nameless generously tweaked my design and optimized it further."
"So it's not your own work!"
"I have meticulously logged the design process to the MTA to back my words. Much of the Crystal Lord's DNA is still my own work. The anonymous contributor only smoothed out some inefficiencies."
Some people looked skeptical, while others showed a more understanding expression. Those familiar with his history automatically assumed that Master Olson had lent a hand.
Most people didn't care. They only wanted to see or get a hold of a good mech. The fact that Ves accepted help only added to the soundness of the Crystal Lord design.
"The quality of the Crystal Lord is acknowledged by the MTA as well. Those who wish to acquire an open licensing contract of the Crystal Lord design will have to pay an upfront sum of 5 billion credits."
As soon as he revealed the figure, the crowd turned numb yet again. Five billion credits was an extremely impressive number for an Apprentice Mech Designer. Most designs only held a value of 500 million to 2 billion credits.
The skeptics grew less skeptical as they quietly referenced their comms. The moment Ves mentioned the figure, he knew that some of the attendees wanted to confirm his words. Therefore, he arranged for the secrecy around his design to be dropped at that moment.
Everyone could browse the MTA's public database and call up the entry for the CL-A-01. Ves hadn't lied. The info page prominently displayed the license valuation at 5 billion bright credits.
"A design worth 5 billion credits! That's unreal!"
"Who validated this gimmicky design? The MTA should investigate whether the people who tested this mech have slept on the job. There's no way it's worth 5 billion credits!"
"Maybe this mech has something going for it. I don't know, but the MTA has never been wrong."
The credibility of the MTA formed a powerful cushion which stopped the skeptics from spreading any falsehoods. Ves had tactfully left the MTA's valuation at the end of this product reveal because he needed to counterbalance the negative sentiment that emerged when he detailed the sticker prices of his mechs.
Right now, the 5 billion license valuation overshadowed the earlier event entirely. Every mech insider spoke with glowing words as they discussed the awesome sum among themselves. In this light, charging well over 60 million credits for a single Crystal Lord didn't sound so crazy anymore.
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