When most mech pilots broke through to expert candidate, they usually did so under dire circumstances.
Even then, the turning point was rarely apparent at first.

Aside from the elevated performance of the mech pilot in the heat of the moment, they only belatedly made the realization when the telemetry of the mech registered the faint onset of resonance.

Only in rare circumstances was the breakthrough strong enough to prematurely show some hints of forced resonance! The summoning of an energy field that only lasted for an instant was like an advanced taste of what might result in the future!

Even though the energy field was extraordinary weak and only lasted for an instant when Jannzi Larkinson peaked in her performance, all the instruments on the mech and the Grand Skyward registered the resonance phenomenon!

This was incredibly impactful to Ves and anyone in the crowd aware of the implications! This was because forced resonance flickering was a very good sign the newly-advanced expert candidate would easily achieve an eventual breakthrough to expert pilot!

Jannzi Larkinson was strong! Stronger than Ves and the entire audience had expected her to be! Even as she single-mindedly continued her futile pursuit of the spooked ranged mechs, nobody kept the demonstration in mind anymore.

Everyone was abuzz at how they had just witnessed a mech pilot breaking through to a barrier that so many mech pilots failed to pierce!

And she was still so young and unknown!

Some people in the crowd expressed skepticism however.
Perhaps the forced resonance flickering had been forced.
Perhaps the sensor footage had been manipulated.

Ves knew the situation had entered a fluid moment.
He needed to make decisions quickly.

Since the breakthrough already happened, he should run with it and take as much advantage of Jannzi ’s fortunate moment as possible!

He instantly ordered the control room to call up a projected screen that transmitted all the raw telemetry related to resonance.

”Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please! I am very happy to announce that it appears that the mech pilot of the Aurora Titan currently in the field has just broken through expert candidate! Projected to the side is the raw telemetry of what has happened from the moment leading up to her breakthrough! Before she started to demonstrate the capabilities of her Aurora Titan, she was a regular mech pilot.
It was only until the demonstration entered into its most heated state did she managed to find the turning point that allowed her to break past her barrier! Please welcome the latest expert candidate to emerge from the Bright Republic, Jannzi Larkinson! ”

”Jannzi! Jannzi! Jannzi! ” The crowd yelled as all of them had become fully swept up in the moment!

The glory of witnessing a mech pilot transforming into an expert candidate was such a rare occasion that many of them coveted this moment in their memories.
They might have witnessed the birth of a future famed expert pilot of the Bright Republic!

In a society that worshipped high-ranking expert pilots, the audience ’s fervor towards Jannzi Larkinson ’s ascension was such a glorious moment that some even forgot about the existence of the Aurora Titan!

However, not everyone thought that way! While Ves didn ’t say anything explicitly, he nonetheless emphasized the fact that Jannzi Larkinson started off as a regular mech pilot until she fully became engaged in piloting a copy of the Aurora Titan!

The hidden message here was that if Jannzi Larkinson could manage to find the turning point to take her first steps to apotheosis, what about other mech pilots? Some of the more affluent mech commanders and mech pilots in the audience wondered if they could also manage to achieve a breakthrough if they piloted an Aurora Titan.

There was no established theory that certain mechs increased the odds of breaking through than others.
Some mech pilots even broke through to expert candidate while piloting cheap rust buckets.

Yet Jannzi Larkinson ’s example stood out by how rapidly and unexpected she broke through! Everyone could see that she was young, too young to participate in the war most likely.
Not only that, but the telemetry projected from the control room made it clear that her genetic aptitude wasn ’t the highest.

A spontaneous breakthrough during a product reveal demonstration of all occasions should have been impossible! Yet Jannzi Larkinson broke through anyway as if she was fighting a pitched battle against overwhelming odds!

Even as Ves shared in Jannzi ’s turn of fortune, he nevertheless began to hold some doubts in his mind.
The extraordinary means he resorted to beforehand definitely played a hand in Jannzi ’s breakthrough.

The most glaring issue for him was that he truly hadn ’t expected for Jannzi Larkinson to break through so easily!

”How could she advance to expert candidate with so little foundation? ”

Ves just wanted Jannzi to deliver a great show.
Therefore, he used his upgrade voucher on her mech to upgrade its quality in ways that he hadn ’t fully understood yet.
He also gave Jannzi some tips on how to engage with the Shield of Samar ’s in order for her to work with its X-Factor.

Various factors must have combined into play all at once to facilitate Jannzi ’s transformation.
Ves did a lot of preparations beforehand that each contributed to the possibility of breaking through.
Nonetheless, he determined that a single source must have tied these factors together.

The Aurora Titan ’s design spirit.

Ves communed with the design spirit for a few painful seconds.
He beseeched the entity that used to be Qilanxo ’s spiritual fragment to take care of Jannzi Larkinson and to accommodate her as best as possible.

The design spirit must have responded to his plea in a dramatic fashion! Not only had the design spirit facilitated Jannzi ’s bond with the Shield of Samar, but it also went a step ahead and actively transformed her into an expert candidate!

Ves did not expect the design spirit to go so far! Having witnessed the spiritual fragment ’s operation in transforming Eloise Pelican straight into an expert pilot, he knew the fragment had lost a significant chunk of spiritual energy.
Although the fragment seemed as potent as ever after the Mastery experience, the design spirit shouldn ’t have been able to recover all of that lost energy after being partitioned from Qilanxo ’s mind.

”Is my understanding of the fragment mistaken? How is it able to replenish its spent spiritual energy? ”

Eloise Pelican ’s situation was a lot different than Jannzi Larkinson circumstances.
The former had already fought ten arduous years in the barren Dark Sphere.
The mech pilot constantly obsessed over protecting her comrades and trying to find a way back home to reunite with her child.

In comparison, Jannzi Larkinson was barely into her adulthood.
Fresh out of the advanced mech academy, she hadn ’t yet found a strong conviction to fight for.
Even if some of Ves ’ advice nudged her into the right direction, she was merely at the start of her formative journey into exploring her place in the galaxy!

The Aurora Titan ’s design spirit shouldn ’t have easily been able to infuse spiritual energy into Jannzi ’s errant emotions and thoughts and turn it into a coherent force of will!

”Unless that ’s not the case anymore. ”

If Jannzi followed Ves ’ advice on how to adopt a compatible mindset with her mech, then perhaps that had given the design spirit just enough material to spin into the beginnings of a uniform force of will!

Even as Ves tried to present Jannzi ’s ascension in the best possible light, he continued to question the exact circumstances of this event in his mind.
He really only wanted to make Jannzi enter into her most optimal condition so that she would be able to showcase the Aurora Titan to the best of her ability.
That she would smash through her boundaries came as a surprise even to the ultimate culprit that enabled this situation to occur!

Jannzi Larkinson stole the show in a dramatic fashion! Although her breakthrough while piloting the Aurora Titan would definitely be a great public relations coup for the mech design, a number of headaches quickly resulted as well.

The Mech Corps would probably come knocking at their doors very soon.

In addition, he could already see the conspiracy theories that the Ansel crowd would doubtlessly spread.
An expert candidate could not be faked, so they could not discredit Jannzi herself.

What they could do was to accuse Ves of employing someone who was already an expert candidate to fake a breakthrough during the demonstration.

Ves and Professor Ventag needed to get on top of this situation as soon as possible.
He flitted his eyes towards the front row.
The professor nodded to him before standing up and departing towards the control room.

”I know what to do, Ves. ” The professor said through their private comm chanel.
”While the authenticity of Jannzi ’s breakthrough can be questioned if all of the data comes from us, Bentheim is an incredibly busy star system.
There are thousands of ships and mechs in high orbit.
If their sensors hadn ’t managed to catch the resonance readings, the nearby space stations and defensive installations would have certainly captured something.
I ’ll contact everyone present in the vicinity of this area of space and ask whether they are willing to share their sensor readings and corroborate their testimony in public. ”

”I ’ll leave the matter in your hands, then. ” Ves quietly nodded.

Professor Ventag enjoyed a very high status in the Bright Republic.
There was no doubt that most of the entities he contacted would be eager to do him a favor.

With that matter taken care of, Ves stared at the Shield of Samar whose mech pilot still hadn ’t woken up from her single-minded pursuit.

He patched into her comm channel.
”Jannzi! Stop! The demonstration is over now! You don ’t have to fight anymore! ”

She didn ’t respond! Ves had an inkling that she might have followed his advice too closely and lost her awareness of the greater situation!

None of his mechs carried a killswitch, at least in ordinary circumstances.
The only way to stop the Shield of Samar would be to employ other mechs to bar her path.
Yet that was an exceedingly risky prospect considering the security mechs would have to go against an expert candidate!

Yet was that all Ves could do?

”Perhaps there is another way to shock her out of her immersion. ”

Ves was familiar enough with Jannzi that he believed he could find her presence in the imaginary realm.
Even as it looked as if Ves observed the projection of the Shield of Samar ’s continued pursuit, he had long drawn his concentration inward and focused his senses in the imaginary realm.

He immediately honed in on Jannzi ’s unstable presence close by.
He found a strange convulsing ball that represented Jannzi ’s newly-developed force of will.
It radiated vague concepts of protectiveness, duty, and other values that Jannzi shared with the Aurora Titan ’s design spirit.

Although Ves was not too knowledgeable in spiritual phenomena, the ball looked awfully unstable.
He guessed that Jannzi ’s elevation had come too forcefully and abrupt! It might have strained her mind excessively and put her recently-acquired force of will at risk of blowing up!

Ves needed to do something to calm the roiling force of will.

He decided to do so in the only way he could think of.
He carefully extended a spiritual tentacle and tried to make contact.
Even as various strong thoughts bled through the connection, Jannzi ’s spirituality was not as overwhelmingly strong as the Aurora Titan ’s design spirit.

He conveyed a strong message through the connection.
”Calm down.
It ’s over now.
Stop fighting. ”

The messages immediately took effect.
The force of will stopped churning so much.
Even as it calmed down, Ves drew back his attention from the imaginary realm in order to check if the Shield of Samar reacted as well.

The mech ceased acceleration!

Jannzi finally regained her senses and pulled back her machine!

Ves sighed in relief.
While she likely wasn ’t in the clear yet, at least she had a chance of stabilizing her volatile spirituality before it unraveled.

Aware that the public still needed some direction, Ves turned around and clapped his hands.
”My apologies for the delay.
Jannzi Larkinson is fine.
She will be returning to the Grand Skyward ’s hangar bay as soon as possible.
This concludes the demonstrations of the Aurora Titan.
Please stand by while the Grand Skyward will soon descend back onto the surface of Bentheim! ”

No matter what, if Ves didn ’t take advantage of this rare opportunity to promote the Aurora Titan, he did not deserve to be in charge of his mech company!

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