st because Madame Cecily adored his products.
After calming down a bit, he increasingly grew suspicious that the choice of issuing a commission to the LMC was a politically calculated move.

He scratched his chin.
”If Madame Cecily wants to teach the Protectorate ’s domestic mech designers a lesson, then inviting a foreign mech designer is a great way to rile them up.
However, the effect won ’t be very pronounced if she invites a lowly Apprentice.
As for inviting a Senior, they are very difficult to get a hold of, and their entry into the Protectorate will scare the domestic mech designers to death! ”

From his judgement of the situation, he concluded that inviting a newly-advanced de facto Journeyman like Ves was a middle ground solution.
He was competent enough to pose a modest threat to the established circle of Ylvainan mech designers, but not much more.

Madame Cecily didn ’t wish to escalate her conflict with the Ylvainan mech industry unnecessarily.
Working with someone like Ves was a shot across the bow that served to signal the Ylvainan mech designers that they needed to get off their butts and start working harder!

This was also why Ves considered the risk of accepting this commission to be within his range of tolerance.
He knew he possessed a reckless streak, and an exciting foreign venture like this tickled all of his fancies.

Even if the risk was twice as big, he would still go ahead with designing a mech for Madame Cecily!

Ves inwardly wondered if this particular trait of his had been permanently absorbed by his design seed.

A comment from Gavin quickly pulled him out of his rumination.
”Don ’t forget that Madame Cecily expects you to design a hero mech.
I heard that they ’re as complicated to design as hybrid mechs and multipurpose mechs.
As far as I know, you ’ve never designed something as complex as that as a fully-featured mech.
Are you sure you are up to the task? ”

”While I don ’t possess any experience in designing hero mechs, I ’ve witnessed several good ones in action.
I know I have the chops to design one. ” Ves confidently replied.
”I still have to hit the books and understand the nuances of the hero mech type, though.
I ’ll be spending the entire trip to the Kesseling System cramming everything I need to know about hero mechs. ”

In fact, Ves was planning to do more than read a lot of textbooks on hero mechs.
Seeing that he was flush with DP, he could easily afford to purchase another Mastery from the Skill Tree.

Considering the uncertain time duration of his previous Mastery experiences, Ves considered it best to go on a mental trip to the past while his body was travelling on the Barracuda.
By the time he emerged from his Mastery experience, he would be ready to meet with the client.

Naturally, nobody else needed to know this little detail.
Ves quickly turned to another topic.

”Has our final roster of people been set? ”

”Melkor reports that he won ’t be able to bring as much mechs and mech pilots as he wished.
The decision to go on an excursion to the Ylvaine Protectorate came too suddenly.
He ’s scrambling to free up the existing commitments of his mech pilots and get them to agree to accompany your business delegation.
Last I heard, he only managed to secure eight mech pilots, along with himself, Chette and Rhode. ”

That amounted to a guard detail of eleven mechs and mech pilots in total.
While that didn ’t sound very impressive, Ves expected the Protectorate to cover most of his security issues during his stay there.
He did not mind the lackluster amount of mech pilots that Melkor managed to scrounge on short notice.

”What about Ketis and you? ”

”My visa will be ready as soon as yours.
As for Ketis, it ’s a bit more troublesome to request a visa for her because she ’s a citizen of the Reinald Republic.
You know how slow bureaucracy can get, especially when it involves cross-border communications. ”

Ves nodded in understanding.
Ever since the galactic net came into existence, many theorized that distance no longer mattered in human civilization.

Reality turned out to be very different.
Almost anything could be faked in the virtual realm.
Much of the delays the Reinald Republic imposed on Ketis ’ paperwork was due to the sheer amount of verification they demanded in order to fulfill what should have been a simple bureaucratic procedure.

”If no additional snags come up, we depart tomorrow. ”

A day quickly passed by as the LMC arranged every matter that needed to be done before departure.
The Barracuda received a thorough inspection while stocking up on fuel, energy and other supplies.

The Greenfeather took in eleven mechs.
Most of them consisted of landbound mechs like the Blackbeaks and the Crystal Lords, but the light carrier also took in a single laser rifleman mech so that Chette Larkinson had something to pilot.

In the morning before the departure, Ves just finished giving Calsie some instructions on how to run the company in his absence before he received an important notification.

He received word of a discreet visit from someone that Ves would rather not meet!

Unfortunately, refusing to meet the guest was a really bad idea, so Ves had no choice but to allow the newcomer to enter his office.

”We meet again, Ves. ”

”Leland. ” Ves pressed his lips while stroking Lucky ’s back.
”What are you doing here? ”

Leland grinned.
”Oh, come now.
How could you leave us out when you abruptly decided to go on a business trip to the Protectorate? Flashlight is feeling left out, so they sent me to join your little business delegation.
Foreign affairs is a very delicate matter, and everything you do abroad can result in major implications to our diplomacy towards the Protectorate. ”

”So you ’ve been sent by Flashlight as a minder? ”

”If that ’s how you see it, then sure.
We just don ’t want you to open your big mouth at the most inopportune time and spoil the Bright Republic ’s relations with our neighboring state. ”

Ves looked at Leland with an askance expression.
”Is that the extent of Flashlight ’s intentions? ”

Leland wordlessly smiled.

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