After several hours of contemplation, Ves developed a tentative series of steps he should take in order to mitigate the damage and make his move plausible.

First, he needed to have a reason to move to a different star cluster.
No normal mech designer would leave behind his company, his connections and his other endeavors in order to start anew in a completely different region of space!

He would have to come up with a good excuse for him to do so, and for now the only one he came up with was to expand the reach of the LMC.

It sounded premature.
Expanding a company ’s reach to a neighbor star clusters made sense to someone like Master Olson.

It did not make sense for a lowly Journeyman.
The general rule was that Journeymen ought to focus on growing their presence in their home markets.
If they specialized in niche mechs, then expanding to the rest of the star sector was an acceptable strategy to pursue.

For various reasons, it was incredibly difficult for Journeymen to export their mechs across star sectors.
Even founding branches of their companies in another star sector in order to produce mechs abroad was rife with complications.

”It ’s already problematic for me to do business in another star sector.
Moving to another star cluster is even harder! ”

There was only one way he could succeed.
He needed to gain access to the Rim Guardian ’s extensive logistics network and secure their guarantees.

To do that, he needed to obtain their favor, which meant completing the thorny assignment they dumped on his lap.

I ’ll have to pull out all the stops in order to turn William Urbesh into an expert candidate! ”

If Ves failed this mission, he would face a significant amount of delay in earning the MTA fraternity ’s favor.
By the time he received another opportunity to prove his value to them, the Ruined Temple envoys might have reached their destination by then!

While other organizations existed that rivaled the Rim Guardians in this capacity, Ves did not have a convenient introduction on hand to get his foot in their doors.

The Rim Guardians are my only choice. ” He muttered.

Once he secured their favor, he could redeem his contributions for their backing in his business venture.
Only when he obtained this assistance would he have a viable reason to divert to another star cluster.

what would this imply for his mechs?

The main reason why Journeymen mostly stuck to their star sectors was because the abstruse effects of their mechs no longer worked when they moved too far away from their designers.

For example, if some rich kid from the Terran Confederation took a liking for his Blackbeak for some reason, he could order someone to import a gold label of the mech.

After decades in transit, the mech that the Terran received would look completely dull and unremarkable compared to when it was in its prime! This was because the distance between the mech and Ves was simply too far!

According to what Delta-Gina imparted to him back then, the reach of a Journeyman only encompassed a couple of star sectors at most.

”That ’s basically the equivalent of a star cluster. ”

Moving to another star cluster would help distance himself from the Ruined Temple envoys when they arrived at the Nyxian Gap.

Yet the same move would also distance himself to the vast majority of mechs designed by him and produced by the LMC and other manufacturers.

The increased distance would definitely rob all of those mechs with the special qualities that his customers valued.
Those qualities were the only reasons for mech buyers to purchase his products!

”However, does this rule even apply to me at all? ”

The assumption that hampered the expansionist hopes of many mech designers may not apply to his own designs.

That was because Ves imparted his designs with their own spiritual sources!

The design spirits he bestowed to his mech designs may be sufficient to empower the mechs, even without his design seed ’s assistance!

His eyes lit up.
If his guess was true, then his designs might be able to sustain their psionically-empowered effects even if Ves departed from the galactic rim!

He came up with another hypothesis as well.
He guessed the reach of his designs might actually be related to the strength of his design spirits!

A relatively weak design spirit like that of the aging Blackbeak likely depended more on Ves than the pale images he instilled in his design.

It was only when he designed the Crystal Lord did Ves begin to make use of external sources of spirituality to empower his images.

The strength of the spiritual fragments that Ves made use of varied significantly.
The Aurora Titan ’s design spirit incorporated Qilanxo ’s spiritual fragment, which was the strongest spiritual entity that Ves had ever encountered!

”It ’s very possible for the Aurora Titan to work throughout the entire galactic rim! ” Ves shockingly realized.

His other designs were not as fortunate, particularly the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord.

”Fortunately, I ’m already planning to phase them out. ” He murmured.
”By the time I revise these two designs, I ’ll probably revisit this aspect. ”

The Mark II editions of his Blackbeak and Crystal Lord designs would fully reflect the lessons he learned since he designed their predecessors.

Ves had no obligation to keep the design spirits of his older designs! In fact, if he wanted to, he could probably replace or upgrade the design spirit of the current Mark I incarnations on the spot!

He shook his head.
”There ’s no reason for me to do so. ”

Not only would such revisions disrupt the piloting experiences for the people using his Blackbeaks and Crystal Lords, but it was also pointless to invest in aging designs.

Rather than go through all that effort into propping up a pair of old designs, Ves would rather save his powder for the Mark II editions where he could introduce a host of new improvements.

”Both of them will fully reflect my strength as a Journeyman. ”

Getting back to the question of the reach of his designs, Ves believed he possessed a unique advantage in this area.

”If I ’m right, I ’ll face one less obstacle in setting up shop in another star cluster! ”

He still needed to test this effect.
He raised his arm in order to activate his newly-purchased secure comm.
He composed a brief message and sent it to Calsie.

It was extremely expensive for a mech company to transport a mech across multiple star sectors.
All the cargo capacity of shipping vessels built for trans-sector travel were already reserved by wealthy insiders.

Outsiders such as Ves and the LMC needed to pay a sky high price to transport an entire mech over such a huge distance.
Not only that, but it might take years for the Aurora Titan Ves wanted to send out to reach its destination.

”Fortunately, I can afford to wait. ”

Assuming that the experiment would confirm his guess that his designs were able to sustain their spiritual qualities by themselves, Ves would be partially unbound by geographic restrictions.

”Perhaps it doesn ’t matter as much where I design my mechs. ”

He could conceivably design mechs for both his home star cluster and the star cluster he visited and have them at full strength in both regions.

This was the unique advantage of his spiritual techniques!

Once everyone else learned about this potential property, they would probably look at him in a new light!

It would also attract some unwelcome scrutiny from the MTA, so Ves did not plan to publicise this possibility until he could no longer hide it.
He did not wish to invite their scrutiny after he successfully deflected their attention on his eccentric design philosophy.

”This little feature will probably be regarded as another quirk of my weird Class IX design philosophy. ”

Class IX design philosophies acquired a reputation of breaking the rules and achieving unconventional effects.
Perhaps he wasn ’t the first mech designer to violate the range rule to an extent.

As long as his new assumptions worked out, Ves not only faced less obstacles in moving to another star cluster, but he might even have a very compelling reason to do so!

”If I have the power to expand the reach of my designs, then I ’d be stupid to ignore it! I have to take advantage of this property! ”

With such a great reason for him to flex his design abilities in another region of space, the Five Scrolls Compact wouldn ’t suspect he was actually trying to evade their encirclement!

While he was essentially trading attention from the Compact for attention from the MTA, he vastly preferred the latter over the former.

Attracting the Compact ’s attention meant death.

Attracting the attention of the MTA meant Ves would simply have to pretend to be a nut in order to explain away his irregularities.

”Maybe Gloriana can help me in this area. ”

An interesting possibility came into mind when Ves thought about collaboration.
Perhaps the same range-breaking effect might also apply to the design philosophies of other mech designers who contributed to his designs!

This would give him an excuse to take Gloriana along with him.
Though her existing designs might lose their strength, she developed so few of them that she could easily offer compensation to her customers.

”She only designs custom mechs, after all.
Replacing twenty mechs is a lot easier than replacing twenty-thousand mechs! ”

Ves felt very apprehensive at the thought of roping in Gloriana for his journey.
Yet it might be the only way he would have permission to leave the Komodo Star Sector.
Knowing how highly she valued their relationship, she would never allow him to depart the star sector on his own!

The only reason why Ves did not object to bringing along his ’girlfriend ’ was because he could use her craziness to camouflage his own suspicious points!

”Ves and Gloriana, the two crazy mech designers enjoying their decade-long holiday in another star sector. ”

Yup, it sounded completely crazy.
Hopefully, everyone else would stop thinking deeper about the reason why he really wanted to flee his home star cluster.

The only challenge was that he would have to raise the suggestion to Gloriana.
Ves had no idea how she would react and what kind of conditions she might raise to agree to the suggestion.
She would have to abandon many of her ventures in the Komodo Star Sector in order to accompany him on his trip.

He also assumed that the two of them would still be an item at that time.
Anything could happen in a decade.
Perhaps Gloriana moved on to obsessing over another mech designer in a couple of years.

No chance of that happening! ”

Their compatibility was simply too high! Though Ves still harbored a lot of resentment against Callisto Professional Relations, their matchmaking was still largely on point despite the faulty data they worked with.
The odds of Gloriana finding a more compatible mech designer was quite low!

Even if they separated for some reason, Ves could just make do on his own.
He would just have to find some other way to come across as crazy or eccentric in order to deflect unwelcome attention.

”Alright, that ’s the plan! ” Ves clapped his hands.

He needed to make a lot of preparations before he was ready to move to another star cluster.
Depending on how long the Ruined Temple envoys stayed in the Nyxian Gap, Ves might have to stay away for half a century or more.

The only way he could return sooner was if the MTA and CFA managed to uproot the Compact presence in the Nyxian Gap!

”I ’ll have to help the Big Two make that happen somehow! Who knows how long those pests will squat in my home star sector! ”

Despite his misgivings about this plan, a part of him felt excited as well.
Journeymen were meant to travel.
Stepping outside his star cluster and entering into a completely different one would expose him to vast differences in mech cultures.

His Mastery experiences already gave him a lot of glimpses on how mechs were used differently in other regions of space.
Choosing the right star cluster would allow him to get into touch with completely new paradigms, such as immersing himself in a star sector that predominantly adopted bestial mechs!

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