Ves spent another week on Bentheim in order to capitalize on the publicity that resulted from the Aurora Titan ’s product reveal.

The twin breakthroughs of Ves and Jannzi dominated the news cycle for a short period of time.

Unquestionably, the Larkinson Family came under much greater prominence.
Aside from Ghanso Larkinson advancement to expert pilot, both Porellia Larkinson and Tusa Billingsley-Larkinson now gained another equal in the form of Jannzi Larkinson.

Yet that wasn ’t all.
When Ves managed to advance to become a de facto Journeyman, the family took on an entirely different status! Now that the Larkinsons boasted their first Journeyman Mech Designer, their influence had grown beyond the traditional military circles!

It was a great time to be a Larkinson this time!

Aside from the rising fortunes of the Larkinson Family, the LMC gained greater prominence as well.
A company led by a Journeyman was a major force in the Republic! Not only that, but the Aurora Titan ’s involvement in the advancement of both Ves and Jannzi showered the mech model with an immense amount of attention!

This was why Ves found it important to capitalize on the publicity! He subjected himself to back-to-back interviews with both local, domestic and sector-wide news publications.

While it was tiring for him to answer the same boring questions over and over again, he knew that the more he showed up in the news, the more he could shape the narrative around the Aurora Titan.

The Ansel mech designers hadn ’t remained silent all this time.
They attempted to use the pull they possessed in the major domestic mech publications to point out the many glaring weaknesses of the Aurora Titan design.

If not for the twin breakthroughs overshadowing every other news related to the Aurora Titan, then these negative articles might have actually hampered its popularity.

As it was, the Aurora Titan continued to be ordered in generous amounts each day! The LMC and NORA Consolidated registered over six-hundred orders, which was an exceptionally high amount considering the stupendously high price levels of the different editions of the Aurora Titan!

The only downside to this success was that Ves wouldn ’t be able to capture the bulk of the profits from its sales.
The profit-sharing agreement that Ves had made with Professor Ventag entitled him to only twenty-five percent of the profits.

The professor was definitely raking in a huge amount of money, not that he needed it in the first place!

Ves had to be content with earning a more paltry sum while doing little else other than to fabricate a number of gold label mechs.

”I have to fabricate twenty of them in order to fulfill all the orders the LMC has taken. ” He muttered.

This would take valuable time away from designing his fifth original design.
Ves once again found himself in a spot of trouble where he needed to balance his time.
Now that the LMC had taken the orders, the company could hardly renege on their word and cancel them! That would do a lot of damage to their credibility!

”Promises are promises.
That said, any promise can be renegotiated. ”

He decided to fulfill the critical orders first while asking as many clients as possible if they would accept a small delay.
Ves even considered throwing in a bonus by allowing for minor customizations to be made to their individual products.
The offer to customize a mech should be very attractive, especially when it came from a Journeyman instead of an Apprentice!

Ves passed on his instructions to Gavin between his interviews.

His assistant nodded.
”I ’ll make the arrangements.
I think it ’s a good solution.
The people who pay 150 million credits for a gold label Aurora Titan aren ’t buying it for its functions.
Instead, they ’re buying it to satisfy their vanity.
Customizing a mech by adding a few bits here and there will instantly increase its collector ’s value. ”

”Try not to go overboard.
Make sure at least a few gold label mechs will fall into the hands of our customers.
The more my gold label Aurora Titans are out in the wild, the more attention they ’ll attract! ”

The undeniably strong X-Factor of the gold label Aurora Titans turned the mechs into public attractions.
Ves wanted to make use of this effect to encourage even more sales for his notable mech model.
What better way to inspire potential buyers than shoving a gold label mech in front of their faces?

Ves, Jannzi, the Larkinson Family, the LMC and the Aurora Titan all enjoyed an unprecedented amount of attention in the Bright Republic! While the other states in the Komodo Star Sector didn ’t pay much attention to the proceedings, sales from foreign markets ticked up as well.

Achieving a thousand sales in the first year of the mech model ’s introduction did not sound so ludicrous anymore!

During this hectic period where Ves engaged in public relations, he hadn ’t forgotten about the System either.
The System never cared about the MTA, so he figured it would probably acknowledge his advancement regardless of the lack of official judgement.

Therefore, during a quiet evening after his last interview, Ves locked himself up in the bathroom of his luxurious accommodation and activated both Lucky ’s ECM field and his personal comm ’s Privacy Shield before activating the System.

As expected, the System underwent a major change!

[Congratulations for upgrading your status to Journeyman Mech Designer.
You are now able to design mechs that are worthy of notice.
The Mech Designer System will now initiate an upgrade.
Please stand by.]

Ves waited patiently as his comm ’s projection fizzled out.
Shortly after that, his comm turned into a fluid mass of smart metal while wrapping around his hand like a glove.

He felt as if he put his hand in the mouth of an exobeast.
Even though his instincts told him that he should get rid of this eerie metallic mass, he tried his best to endure the uncomfortable sensation.

Five minutes later, his comm finally stopped doing whatever it was doing.
It changed back into its old metal band-like shape around his wrist and resumed projecting an interface as if nothing weird had happened earlier!

[Your access to the Store has expanded.
You are now able to exchange more advanced items with Design Points.]

That didn ’t hold much meaning to Ves because he knew that most of the items would still be unaffordable.
The Store was pretty much filled with traps in that regard.

[You are now able to purchase bronze lottery tickets for the preferential price of 20,000 Design Points.]

While the bronze ones sounded like a step up from copper lottery tickets which cost only 500 DP, Ves did not consider them to be a good deal at all.
”20,000 DP is way too much for only bronze lottery tickets. ”

Spending his precious DP on lottery tickets was another trap from the profiteering system.
He could not put it past the System to rig the prizes massively in its favor!

After these perfunctory messages, the System finally came to the message that Ves anticipated the most.
It finally unlocked a new ability for Ves!

[The Inventory module has unlocked the Inventorize ability.
You are able to select any handheld object in your possession and add the property to materialize and dematerialize them from your Inventory.
The Inventorize ability only comes with one use and can only be replenished through lottery ticket prizes, mission rewards and other sources.]

Ves ’ eyes instantly shone.
”So the Inventory won ’t be acting as a bag for the Amastendira anymore! ”

The Inventory was one of the biggest weapons in his arsenal.
Although many of the other functions of the Systems overshadowed this module, Ves owed his life to it! Without the Inventory, he would never be able to carry his Amastendira around!

The Inventorize ability gave him hope that he would one day be able to store an entire arsenal into his comm!

If not for the size and mass limitations that came with this ability, Ves would have chosen to Inventorize the Barracuda or something.
Carrying a fully-fledged FTL-capable starship around him all the time would ensure he would never have to fear about getting stranded in space!

”One can only dream. ”

As it was, Ves already made his decision which object he wanted to Inventorize.

He did not choose the Peaceful Repose, his artful custom ballistic pistol.

He did not choose the Vulcaneye, his powerful System-redeemed scanner.

He did not choose the shield generator that Master Olson gifted him long ago.

He also didn ’t choose the Sparous Vize, his custom light combat armor.
When compacted into a briefcase-sized object, it was just small and light enough to meet the Inventorize ability ’s criteria.

”While armor is important, there is one object in my possession that surpasses them all in importance! ”

”Meow? ”

Lucky drifted down and nuzzled his cheek.

Ves chuckled.
”Not you, Lucky.
My personal comm! ”

”Meow! ”

His cat indignantly floated away from his head after bumping his paw against his nose.

Although Ves toyed with the thought of Inventorizing Lucky, Ves wouldn ’t gain very much out of it.
Lucky was already fairly elusive with his ability to turn incorporeal and pass through solid objects.
With his newly-assimilated ECM systems, the cat could hide his presence from almost every form of electronic surveillance as well!

Therefore, the added benefit of being able to hide Lucky in his Inventory was a bit redundant to Ves.
Rather than opt to Inventorize Lucky or some other piece of gear, why not try it on the System itself?

One of the biggest annoyances to his military service was that he had been unduly deprived of the System! While his separation from the System did him a lot of good in preventing him from becoming too dependent on its functions, there were many times when Ves wished he could buy something quick from its Skill Tree or Store!

There was another reason why he contemplated using this ability on his comm.
Being able to carry his System around in his intangible Inventory not only ensured constant access to its functions, but kept other people from taking it away!

One of the biggest worries Ves grappled with during his time away from the System was that someone might recognize and steal his comm!

While Ves trusted Lucky to keep his comm safe, his cat was not invincible.
If the Mech Trade Association, Common Fleet Alliance or the Five Scrolls Compact somehow tracked the System down, there was nothing a single gem cat could do to keep his personal comm out of their greedy hands!

Keeping the System stored in a dematerialized form in his Inventory neatly solved that problem.
Although Ves guessed that the materialization technology could probably be blocked with some sort of advanced tech, he did not think he would be subjected to such an effect very frequently.

”There are too many reasons in favor for me to hesitate any further.
Let ’s try this ability! ”

When Ves selected the option in the inferface and designated his personal comm as the target, the System surprisingly didn ’t block the option.

[You have selected this comm to be Inventorized.
Do you confirm your selection?]

”Yes, goddammit! If you ask me, you should have come with this function from the start! ”

The System ignored his complaints and dutifully went to work.
His comm seemed to shimmer around his wrist, causing Ves to quickly remove it from his body.
The comm floated in the air before slowly dematerializing.

Eventually, it disappeared.

”It worked? ”

Ves concentrated on his Inventory.
Right next to the copy of the Amastendira, he perceived the presence of his personal comm.

He sent a mental command to summon it back into realspace.

His comm slowly appeared in the air again.
Ves quickly picked it up before gravity asserted itself on the slim object.

”It worked! ” Ves laughed.

A huge burden lifted off his shoulders! With the System permanently accompanying him in his Inventory, nobody would be able to take it from his possession!

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