At the last moment before the mech burned out, it suddenly leveraged its sword downwards, past the vulnerable power reactor.

The tip of the sword tore through the flimsy shell around the cockpit and halved the sophisticated module that allowed the mech to be remote controlled.

According to the rules set by Leemar, the destruction of the module represented the death of the pilot.
There was no coming back.

The Executioner lost all of its power right after delivering the fatal blow.

Most of the audience had paid attention to the dramatic final moments of the duel.
When it became clear that the Executioner lasted longer, they rose to their feet and applauded the mech ’s spectacular performance.
Ves, Lovejoy and the Executioner had all outdone themselves in achieving such a hard-fought victory.

Ves closed his eyes and took in the applause.
Though most of the people wanted to show their appreciation to Lovejoy ’s incredible performance, Ves equally contributed to his mech ’s eventual triumph.
While most designers focused on improving their mech ’s armor or weapons, his own was both structurally sound and resilient to damage.

”Well, part of why I focus so much on the internals is because I don ’t have any choice.
My foundation in alloy compression is still too shallow. ”

That might change in the future.
After witnessing and challenging so many of his fellow peers, Ves gained a better understanding of how others developed their skills.
He was already satisfied with this harvest alone.

After the other duels had come to an end, three finalists remained as victors of the Leemar Open Competition.

”Our first victor is Ves Larkinson, from the Bright Republic.
His alma mater was the Rittersberg University of Technology.
Together with Cadet Reddy Lovejoy, he has reached the summit of this event! ”

”Our second winner is Patricia Schneider, who is also a guest from the Bright Republic.
She even attended the same class as Mister Larkinson at Rittersberg! What a coincidence! ”

The pair ’s common origins was pushed to the forefront again.
They both climbed over countless geniuses to reach this point.
Still, nobody could figure out a compelling reason.
They just happened to beat every opponent in their way.

Many of their victories were hard-won, which helped the audience accept their success.
If they performed too dazzling, then people might suggest they ’d been kidnapped and replaced by someone like Carter Gauge.

Fortunately for the school, Marcel Westkerke from Leemar snatched the last available slot.
After an arduous battle of attrition, Westkerke ’s mech finally outlasted its opponent.
The LIT managed to preserve its honor.

Once the clamor died down, the spotlight shone on the masters sitting atop an elevated podium.
The five masters heatedly discussed among themselves behind a sound-neutralizing barrier.

During this time, all of the other mech designers who reached the third round returned to the stage.
He nodded at Barakovski, who looked like she still had a hard time accepting that Ves had reached this point.

Almost everyone among the twenty-four designers waited silently for the masters to make their decisions.
They all hoped to leap to the heavens in a single step.
Who wouldn ’t want to receive the personal guidance of someone who had climbed the summit of his profession?

Ves looked up at the eminent figures and wondered who might accept him as an apprentice or a disciple.

An apprentice mostly only learned under a master.
Whether they only learned a few tricks or inherited their master ’s entire legacy, there would be a time when they spread their own wings.

A disciple on the other hand also had the right and obligation to represent their master.
The relationship between the two was lifelong and they usually forged very deep ties, both business and personal.

Ves wasn ’t concerned with the differences between the two.
As long as a master took him in, he could finally get rid of the System ’s confining mission and get back to building his business.

”The masters have finished their deliberations! They are ready to announce their decisions! ”

The first master stood up.
Master Duchamp ’s charming voice reached the entire arena complex.

”Mister Devin Loesch, please step forward. ”

The lucky bastard joyfully separated from the others as they burned a hole into his back.
Devin ’s mech got trashed in the second duel.
So why him?

If Duchamp noted the questioning expressions of the others, he didn ’t show it.
Instead, his gaze fell down upon Devin with a gentle expression.
”Devin Loesch, do you wish to be my apprentice? ”

”YES!! ” Devin yelled, as if he was afraid the master would doubt him if he did not do his utmost.
”I gladly accept! ”

”Then follow me. ” The master threw out as he turned around and walked up to the ceiling.

Devin eagerly followed.
He engaged his antigrav clothes and quickly caught up to the floating master.
They eventually reached a floating room.

With the first master done with his selection, the elderly Master Nguyen stepped forward.
”Mister Marcel Westkerke, do you wish to acknowledge me as your teacher? ”

Marcel calmly stepped forward and knelt on the floor.
He kowtowed three times according to the ancient tradition.

From now on, the galaxy will acknowledge you as my nominal disciple. ”

The pair floated away towards another private room in order to settle all of the formalities.

The third master rose up from her graceful sitting posture.
Every designer held their breaths, Ves included.
There were divisions between masters.
While all of them had reached unimaginable heights, some of them were more distinguished than others.
Those who made it a hobby to rank the masters considered Master Katzenberg to be the most formidable designer present.

Her mature voice cut through everyone ’s thoughts like a chime.
”Miss Alyssa Fill, are you willing to become my apprentice? ”

This obscure young woman originated from a tiny fourth-rate state, but graduated from another institution in the Coalition.
Despite her mixed origins, she amply proved her skill even if her mech hadn ’t lasted very long in the final round.
Much of her success could be attributed to snatching the top mech pilot in the first round.

Ves applauded Fill ’s success, though not everyone was glad to see her ascend.
The designers from Leemar appeared especially resentful.

As anyone could imagine, the offer caught her out of the blue.
She enthusiastically accepting this amazing offer.
She flew to Master Katzenberg ’s side as if she reunited with her long lost mother.

Only two masters remained.
Coincidentally, both Ves and Patricia had not been selected yet.
Unless Leemar went back on their word, their turns came next.

Between Master Olson and Master Null, Ves thought it was a given that he ’d be handed off to the latter.
Someone as noble and graceful as Patricia was a great fit for the sophisticated Master Olson.

Reality proved otherwise.
When Master Olson stepped forward, her young but stern gaze focused solely on Ves.

”Mister Ves Larkinson, do you wish to become my apprentice? ”

Everyone was speechless.
No one could have predicted that someone from an average background could catch the eye of someone as lofty as Master Olson.
She was notoriously elitist and considered everyone with a net worth of less than a billion cols to be a cockroach.

Ves even wanted to access his bank account in order to see if some anonymous grandpa deposited a fortune in his bank account.

When he realized he held up the ceremony, he quickly walked forward and gave his response.
”I accept! ”

Master Olson silently maintained her gaze at him, which made him feel as if he was an ant.
She wordlessly turned around and floated towards a room.

Before Ves wondered how he could get up there, a silent platform arrived before his feet.
After stepping onto its surface, the hovering surface swiftly carried him in the air.

Ves barely heard Master Null accepting Patricia his nominal disciple.
He still wondered why Master Olson took a fancy for him.
Were the rumors wrong?

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