The demonstrations ended in a spectacular fashion.
Even as the Grand Skyward dove back down to the surface of Bentheim, a modest number of wealthy businessmen, outfit commanders and other powerful people immediately walked up to the booths where the sales representatives stood by to register their orders for the new mech!

Ves figured that many of them ordinarily wouldn ’t buy a clunky mech like the Aurora Titan.
However, they quickly changed their minds as they witnessed Jannzi Larkinson ’s miraculous transformation to expert candidate.

How could these wealthy clients not get inspired? The mech pilots among them secretly dreamt of replicating Jannzi ’s feat.
Despite the fact that she was a Larkinson and a rigorously-trained mech pilot, she was really far too young and inexperienced to break through at such a time.

For her to be able to reach her new heights so easily while piloting the Aurora Titan, what about others? The majority of the people who raced up to impulsively place some orders of the Aurora Titan each hoped to reach Jannzi ’s fabled status!

The quota for the gold label mechs ran out practically instantly.

The silver label mechs were being ordered by the dozens while the bronze label mechs received more than a hundred orders!

While this didn ’t really sound that much in the greater scheme of things, these many orders already smashed Ves ’ wildest expectations!

Even the cheapest bronze label mech sold for 100 million credits per copy! Yet with how fast the orders accumulated from just wealthy individuals from the crowd alone, Ves even had the impression that he should have jacked up the price even more!

”This is crazy! ”

In addition to the orders coming from the audience, the people watching the live broadcast from elsewhere also started to register their orders at NORA Consolidated ’s virtual portal.
While they couldn ’t order any gold label mechs through this channel, the amount of bronze and silver label mechs they reserved was almost equal with the orders from the audience!

Although a lot more people watched the amazing events through the live footage, a much smaller proportion of these people actually placed the orders.
They hadn ’t been close enough to become affected by the auras of the show models, hence they managed to remain a lot more sober than others!

Still, Ves did not delude himself that this would be the extent of the orders pouring in for his latest mech design.
Jannzi ’s example served as an extremely compelling story! That the Aurora Titan design had the privilege of fostering a mech pilot into an expert candidate would doubtlessly turn it into a focal point in the entire mech community for the coming days!

”Even the mainstream news outlets will report on this event! ”

All the press coverage that would doubtlessly ensue after this day was free publicity as far as Ves was concerned! Instead of paying all the media outlets to carry ads that promoted the Aurora Titan, their broadcasts and articles would promote the mech design for free!

This was far from his expectations or the expectations of his marketing campaign.
They only set up a lot of recorders and sensors near the demonstration site in order to capture good footage to use in their ad campaigns.

Now, all of the footage turned into treasures that the LMC and NORA Consolidated could easily spin into a selling point for their joint design! Not only did Jannzi Larkinson showcase the Aurora Titan to its full potential, but the valiant turnaround at the end looked amazing even if she hadn ’t broken through expert candidate!

As Ves watched over the crowd of people hurrying to place their orders, Gavin walked up to him to inform him of the latest developments.

”Jannzi Larkinson is mentally and physically exhausted. ” Gavin said.
”When the staff pulled her out of her mech, they immediately brought her to the Grand Skyward ’s infirmary.
While we don ’t know what exactly transpired that put her into such a state, I ’ve been told that her condition is stable.
The Mech Corps is dispatching an armed escort to the Grand Skyward right now to take her to a military hospital for more thorough checkups. ”

Ves pressed her lips.
”Is the Mech Corps already claiming her? ”

Gavin shook her head.
”Technically, no.
They ’re definitely interested, but Jannzi herself stated that she didn ’t want to make any decisions regarding her future at this moment. ”

”That is..
remarkably wise of her to say. ” Ves grew suspicious.
”Who told her to say that? ”

”I did. ” Gavin grinned.
”I already anticipated what a storm would ensue so I took the liberty of meeting her first in order to coach her on the things she should say. ”

Ves looked at Gavin in appreciation.
This fellow truly lived up to his current responsibility as his fixer.
”Thank you for that.
I ’ll be sure to give you a bonus.
Tell me, has Jannzi said what she wanted to do? ”

doesn ’t really want to leave the Avatars of Myth.
She said she likes it here and that she loves her mech. ”

While Ves was glad that Jannzi expressed some desire to stay with him.
He felt like he owned her since he indirectly facilitated her ascension to expert candidate.
He didn ’t want to see his investment being taken away by the Mech Corps.

Nonetheless, if Ves truly wanted Jannzi to remain under his thumb, he needed to fight for it.
While expert candidates were not as remarkable as expert pilots, the military still prioritized their recruitment!

Ves knew that the Mech Corps would want to bring Jannzi in their ranks as soon as possible so that they could indoctrinate her into becoming loyal to the state! It would be too late for them to shape her loyalties when she advanced to expert pilot, so it was imperative for the military to get her into their grasp!

”I don ’t want to let her go. ” Ves firmly said.
”Give me options.
What should I do? ”

”I don ’t really know, Ves.
If you want my take on it, go call your family.
They ’re much more knowledgeable and connected to the military. ”

”I ’m not sure whether they will be as helpful as you suggest.
The Larkinsons probably want to force-march Jannzi to the Mech Corps themselves. ” Ves shook his head.
”The policy towards expert candidates and expert pilots is very military-oriented in the Bright Republic.
There are hardly any expert pilots who are working in the private sector. ”

A small number of known expert candidates and expert pilots did remain unattached to the military.
Due to special circumstances, the Mech Corps didn ’t insist on recruiting them.
However, their conditions weren ’t all that good.

Expert candidates generally needed to develop themselves.
The Mech Corps invested a lot of time, attention and resources into helping their expert candidates advance.

As for expert pilots, their full range of abilities would never reach their full potential unless they piloted an expert mech! These fantastic machines cost a ridiculous amount of money to design, develop and maintain.
Ves estimated that the cheapest ones were worth about 5 billion credits, but such a cheap machine was simply not a good complement to a genuine expert pilot.

The decent ones probably cost around 30 billion at the very least, though Ves wasn ’t exactly sure of that.
All in all, while the LMC would tentatively be able to develop and maintain an expert mech, it would be a significant financial burden!

”The problem is the Bright Republic. ” Gavin reiterated.
”It ’s such a war-involved state that it has come to regard domestic expert candidates and expert pilots as strategic resources.
Perhaps in the Reinald Republic an expert candidate can get away with rejecting the offers of the Honored Ones, but the Mech Corps can probably come up with a conscription order to force Jannzi to leave our midst. ”

It happened before.
The Mech Corps were notorious hoarders when it came to expert candidates.
Any expert candidate that popped up from the private sector would quickly end up in their hands.

Perhaps in other states they may have a decent shot at retaining Jannzi, but not in the Bright Republic!

Even though the latest Bright-Vesia War had already ended, that did not mean the Bright Republic was without threats.
Ves knew the real reason why both states ended the war in a premature fashion!

If an even bigger threat loomed that necessitated the two squabbling states to temporarily put aside their animosity, then the demand for expert candidates and expert pilots would be even higher! The Mech Corps should be vigorously trying to collect as many of them as possible in preparation for an even more intensive conflict!

Ves already started to consider keeping Jannzi within the Avatars of Myth a lost cause.
The only thing he could do was to make sure he got as much concessions out of the Mech Corps for relinquishing his cousin.

”Contact my grandfather and coordinate an action plan.
If the Mech Corps is insistent on taking Jannzi away, then they better give us something in return! ”

”Will do, Ves! ”

As Gavin left his side in order to contact the Larkinsons, Ves met with Professor Ventag.

”I ’ve managed to convince more than fifty ships and installations to share their sensor readings and their testimonies to me. ” The professor said.
”The authenticity of Jannzi ’s breakthrough won ’t be in question with so much corroborating evidence. ”

”Is there any way for me to retain Jannzi in my service? ”

The professor shook his head.
”Ordinarily, no. ”

”There is a way, then? ”

”Nothing is impossible, Ves.
If Senator Tovar exerts his full effort, he might be able to grant an exemption to Jannzi ’s conscription.
The only issue is that he has no reason to do so.
Fighting to keep an expert candidate out of the hands of the Mech Corps costs a lot of political capital, and it isn ’t clear what he can gain from this in return.
The other founding families will see the senator ’s actions as an attempt to secure an expert pilot that is loyal to the Tovar Family, and that is deeply taboo in their circles.
One of the rules the five founding families have set for themselves is that they wouldn ’t compete on expert pilots. ”

Ves raised his eyebrow.
He expected the opposite! ”That ’s a remarkably enlightened stance to take.
Why is that? ”

”Because they have seen what would happen if expert pilots become loyal to a single faction rather than the state.
If the Tovar Family secured the loyalties of three expert pilots, that would mean the Mech Corps would have three fewer expert pilots to deploy during war.
If the five founding families and other powerful organizations begin to hoard dozens of expert pilots, that would mean the Mech Corps would become horribly outmatched against the Mech Legion! ”

”Won ’t the founding families and other organizations lend their expert pilots to the Mech Corps in the event of war? ”

”That wouldn ’t work, Ves.
The internal divisions and the politicking that will inevitably ensue will disrupt the Mech Corps from within.
We ’ve seen the consequences of excessive infighting and tribalism in the Vesia Kingdom ’s military! If the Mech Legion ’s noble officers didn ’t fight each other all the time, they would have been able to conquer Bentheim already! ”

If even Professor Ventag expressed little hope at retaining Jannzi, then Ves figured that the Larkinsons wouldn ’t be able to come up with anything better.
Not that the family wanted to see Jannzi ’s potential being wasted by staying out of the military.

The high reputation of the Larkinson worked against Ves this time.
Everyone would expect Jannzi to join the Mech Corps because that was what Larkinsons did.
Renouncing the family name like Raella did wouldn ’t be of any use.
Jannzi was too famous and high profile to resort to that excuse!

”I ’ll go visit Jannzi in person. ” Ves said.
”Could you take over here? ”

Go ahead and check up on your cousin.
Despite what will follow, do remember that this is a great development for her.
Many mech pilots would kill to be in her place! ”

Ves parted with Professor Ventag and moved to the Grand Skyward ’s infirmary while carrying Lucky.
He knew that the main reason Jannzi felt reluctant was that she was probably unduly attached to the Shield of Samar and the Aurora Titan model.
If the Mech Corps picked her up and put her in a random mech regiment, then she wouldn ’t have the opportunity to pilot a commercial mech model like the Shield of Samar anymore.

Such a forceful separation might ruin any chances for Jannzi to advance to expert pilot!

”I have to do something about this! ”

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