Lucky rested on Jannzi ’s lap as the newly-advanced expert candidate sat up on a bed in a guarded infirmary room.
She looked visibly drained since the last time Ves saw her.
She spent nearly all of the energy in her body and looked like she would fall asleep at any moment.

When Ves inspected Jannzi with his spiritual vision, he noted that a force of will had already formed within her mental space.
The only difference from actual expert pilots such as Venerable Foster and Venerable Pelican was that her force of will was very weak and mostly contained within her mind.

Ves knew that until she broke past a barrier in her mind, she wouldn ’t be able to affect reality.
The reason why expert mechs could display their might was because an expert pilot ’s force of will was able to extend out of their minds to resonate with their mechs.

Still, Jannzi ’s case was slightly different in that her barrier already possessed some holes.
Her ascension to expert candidate happened by force due to the pivotal influence of an outside factor.

While this led to some damage in her mind, it also prematurely broke the barrier stopping some expert candidates from advancing to expert pilot! The forced resonance flickering that briefly appeared around the Shield of Samar was a sign that some of Jannzi ’s weak force of will had minutely begun to spill through those holes!

What this essentially meant was that Jannzi possessed a head-start when it came to achieving apotheosis!

Everyone who witnessed the forced resonance flickering knew that his phenomenon essentially meant that Jannzi ’s advancement to expert pilot was assured!

As someone who grew up in a family of expert pilots, Jannzi knew what it meant as well.
Even though she felt jubilant about her luck, she experienced too many strange surprises in one day.

”I heard from Gavin that you don ’t want to join the Mech Corps. ”

”They won ’t allow me to pilot the Shield of Samar. ” She stated.
”I know the Mech Corps.
They only work with their own designs. ”

”Is it vital for you to continue to pilot the Shield of Samar? ”

She vigorously nodded.
”I have a connection with my mech.
It ’s like your company motto.
I found my partner.
I can ’t imagine what it would be like to be separated from my mech just when I learned to appreciate it!

”Unfortunately for you, the Mech Corps won ’t let you go.
The military is always prepared for war, and an expert candidate with so much promise of advancement is not something they can ignore. ”

Jannzi looked devastated at the thought of leaving behind her mech! ”Can ’t you do something about that? Can you make it so that the Mech Corps would still allow me to pilot the Shield of Samar? ”

It sounds a lot more realistic than trying to keep the Mech Corps from taking you away. ”

”You ’re a bigshot mech designer and war hero, right? Can you please do me this favor? I would really like to keep piloting the Shield of Samar.
I would do anything to stay together with this mech.
I don ’t think I ’ll be happy with piloting a military mech even if it has better hardware! ”

Ves had been thinking over this suggestion ever since Jannzi raised the suggestion.
He knew how the military worked and he knew that mech regiments carefully curated the mech models they added to their roster.

It wouldn ’t be easy to convince a mech regiment to absorb the Shield of Samar into their ranks.
Even if it was just a single machine, its presence was a disruption to their existing arrangements!

When Jannzi looked like she was already dozing off, Ves quietly picked up Lucky and left her to recuperate.
He knew what she valued the most and it matched his own expectations.

”Jannzi truly values the Shield of Samar. ”

He felt very gratified to feel that.
It was the most ideal outcome as far as his design philosophy was concerned.
In fact, his design philosophy had begun to churn ever since he witnessed the audience place hundreds of orders for the Aurora Titan!

Ves believed that his advancement to Journeymen was very near!

It could even happen today or tomorrow! His design philosophy had become so energetic that Ves felt it was on the cusp of an unknown transformation!

”Finally! I ’ve been waiting for this moment for years! ”

The only regret that held him back was that the primary motivating factor for the initial sales was not entirely due to the merits of the Aurora Titan.
Instead, many of his customers became inspired by Jannzi ’s fortune! All of them regarded the Aurora Titan as a mech that could possibly help them advance to expert candidate themselves!

While the Shield of Samar did indeed play a crucial role in Jannzi ’s change of fortune, it was undeniable that she stole the show! The crowd was abuzz with conversations about the mech pilot instead of the mech.
This was not exactly what Ves and his design philosophy wanted to see!

Even so, a sale was a sale! Selling hundreds of very expensive mechs in such a short time did wonders for his confidence in his design! Even if half of his customers bought a copy of the Aurora Titan for the wrong reasons, it was likely that they would quickly learn to appreciate their new purchases when they took them out for a spin!

Before Ves wanted to explore his design philosophy any further, he first needed to arrange Jannzi ’s matters.
As he walked back to Professor Ventag, he called Gavin.

”Have you heard back from my family? ”

”Yeah. ” He nodded.
”Benjamin Larkinson is on his way to Bentheim right now, actually.
He told you he ’ll be visiting in order to bring Jannzi up to speed on matters that any expert candidate should know. ”

”What ’s his opinion about the Mech Corps? ”

”Jannzi has to go.
Your grandfather is clear about that this is the best possible solution for her. ” Gavin said.
”He did want to pass on that he can help influence which mech regiment she ’s assigned to.
The Larkinson Family will do the best they can to help Jannzi find a new home in the Mech Corps! ”

This was what Ves wanted to hear.
He quickly closed his call with Gavin and went back to Professor Ventag.

The older man thought over the suggestion.
”I can help you with that.
I am involved with various mech regiments.
I ’ve helped design some of their military mechs and I ’ve participated in the development of numerous expert mechs.
I think at least a couple of spaceborn mech regiments would be glad to accept an expert candidate even with the extra conditions you ’ve added.
However, my influence only extends up to the regiment commander.
I don ’t have much sway within the headquarters of the Mech Corps. ”

”If you can get the mech regiments to agree with allowing Jannzi to retain the Shield of Samar, then the Larkinson Family can take care of the other end. ” Ves assured.

As the Grand Skyward slowly descended down to the surface of the planet, Ves and Professor Ventag worked behind the scenes to negotiate such a settlement.

They had to take action quickly! Once the armored shuttles of the Mech Corps arrived to take Jannzi to their military hospital, they wouldn ’t have much leverage left!

Ves contacted his grandfather directly to inform him of his plan.

”I think I can arrange something if that is what Jannzi wants. ” Benjamin said over the comm channel.
”I ’ll get on it right away. ”

A couple of hours went by as his grandfather and Professor Ventag coordinated with each other to exert their influence on the Mech Corps.
Their shuttles already came and brought Jannzi away as the event started to wind down.

Almost all of the guests had already left the Grand Skyward by the time Professor Ventag came back.

”Both your grandfather and I cashed in some favors, but we managed to get the Mech Corps to play along.
I ’ve sounded out a very suitable mech regiment that is happy to receive Jannzi.
They ’ve agreed to most of your conditions.
They ’ll let Jannzi pilot the Shield of Samar, though they insist that she must try out their other mech models and become proficient in their operation. ”

The mech regiment must be hoping that Jannzi would find their mechs better than the clunky Shield of Samar.
Fat chance! Ves knew that even second-class mechs wouldn ’t be enough to tempt Jannzi away from the mech she formed a bond with! Her devotion to the Shield of Samar transcended the affection that regular mech pilots developed with their machines!

It was very normal for mech pilots to become attached to their mechs.
However, it was much like falling in love with a good pair of shoes.
If a mech regiment suddenly came by and offered them a mech that was ten times as expensive, then the mech pilots wouldn ’t hesitate to dump their old mechs to the side in order to pilot a better machine!

Such a dynamic wouldn ’t take place in this case.
Ves was very sure of this prediction.

”As long as the mech regiment abides by the agreement and doesn ’t force Jannzi away from her Shield of Samar, then I ’m fine with it.
Which mech regiment are we talking about? ”

”The 7th Apocalypse Heralds of the 2nd Bentheim Division.
I made sure to work with a unit based in Bentheim so it won ’t be difficult for you to pay a visit to Jannzi or help make adjustments to her Aurora Titan mech. ”

The Apocalypse Heralds! Their imposing name came from their orientation around heavy artillery in space.
They fielded a mix of medium and ranged mechs oriented around long-ranged firepower and destructive artillery.
They were often employed to break heavy-defended installations in space or to defend a vital space station from a determined assault!

While the Apocalypse Heralds likely preferred to obtain an expert pilot who specialized in piloting artillery mechs, obtaining someone like Jannzi was a good fit as well.
The ungainly Shield of Samar would not have to move too much to protect the slow-moving artillery mechs!

Although Ves was not too familiar with the Heralds, what Ves heard from Professor Ventag already made him satisfied.

”Did they agree to the conditions with regards to her expert mech in the event that she advances to expert pilot in the future? ”

”The regimental commander isn ’t pleased about this condition.
Colonel Efein claims he ’ll take Jannzi ’s preferences under advisement, but he still wants a Senior Mech Designer in charge of the design project. ”

”And that ’s you, right? ”

”That ’s right. ” The professor smiled.
”I won ’t be able to become the lead designer if the expert mech in question has to be a heavy artillery mech.
However, if we ’re talking about a defensive space knight, then I have enough qualifications for the Heralds to put me in charge.
I ’ll be able to bring you onboard the project as a contributing designer long as you ’ve advanced to Journeyman. ”

”Speaking of that, I think I ’m very close to taking that step. ” Ves said, surprising the professor.

He described some of the unusual sensations he perceived from his design philosophy.
The professor seemed to recognize what Ves was talking about.

”If you aren ’t lying, then you are indeed correct.
You are close to advancing to Journeyman! ” The professor looked surprised.
”In fact, I think a breakthrough might be imminent! You should find a quiet place and meditate on your gains today.
Apprentices are able to advance to Journeyman when they are able to reflect on their design philosophy! ”

Ves did not obtain any more advice than that, as mech designers needed to find their own answers to any questions related to their design philosophy.
If the professor went too specific on how Ves should process his thoughts, then contamination might occur that diluted the purity of his design philosophy!

Therefore, Ves immediately raced to a locked room within the Grand Skyward.
Only Lucky kept him company this time, and he had his pet activate his ECM systems in order to keep this moment private.

As Ves began to reflect on recent events, he already felt his design philosophy becoming more active!

”It ’s happening! ”

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