The implications of what he learned about his prior works astonished him.
He always entertained the theory, but he never really put much stock into it because of how ludicrous it sounded.

How could his design spirits grow and become stronger by serving as the guardian spirits of his mechs? Was the symbiotic relationship between a mech model and all of the mech pilots using its copies that powerful?

”There has to be a limit, right? Right? ”

What if there wasn ’t a limit? What if continued usage of his mechs kept feeding the design spirits of his mechs?

They grew stronger.
And stronger.
And stronger.
Until they reached a point where their strength had reached an unimaginable height!

Ves scarcely dared to imagine the endpoint of this hypothetical evolution! It sounded blasphemous to consider the possibility that design spirits like Qilanxo would evolve to become an entity equivalent to a god pilot some day!

”God pilots are the pinnacle of the mech piloting profession! ”

He never believed that gaining power was easy.
Was it easy to reach this point? No! The fact that out of a veritable ocean of mech pilots, only a hundred known god pilots emerged throughout the entire galaxy proved that reaching their height was not as simple as accumulating power!

”Even so, accumulating power is definitely one of the prerequisites of reaching their height! ”

Ves suspected that this might be one of the reasons why the crystal builder leader inhabiting his Crystal Lord design had stalled in the upper ranges of B-grade X-Factor.
Aside from requiring a higher accumulation of power to break past its threshold, it also needed to undergo a qualitative improvement of its very essence.

Another factor in his current theoretical framework was the foundation or ’talent ’ of the design spirit.

”Entities which used to be intelligent, sophisticated and alive are better off in this regard. ”

Ves did not have high hopes for the Black Phoenix.
The design spirit for his Blackbeak mechs consisted entirely of an amalgamation of his own imagination.
Its spiritual attributes mostly conformed to his own for that reason.

”Does this mean its existence is also an extension of my own? ”

He didn ’t think so.
When he observed the Black Phoenix, he had the feeling that it had already taken a life of its own.
It was more apt to describe it as a proto-spiritual product!

Nonetheless, despite the gains it made, Ves never got the impression that it had grown more sophisticated.
Its growth would definitely stagnate if Ves did not intervene.

”That ’s something for later. ” He decided.
”Now is not the time to update the Blackbeak design. ”

As opposed to pale creations like the Black Phoenix, spiritual fragments and entities started off on a better foot.
A complex and sophisticated spiritual entity like Qilanxo who already lived a real life possessed the highest chance of reaching the mythical height of god pilots!

Even so, Ves imagined the amount of power accumulation required to become eligible to evolve to this point was immense.

How long would it take for Qilanxo to gather all of this power?

”Most mech pilots are really weak! ”

Their spiritual strength was so faint that Ves had difficulty detecting them in the first place! The amount of strength they could contribute to a design spirit while piloting their mechs was so miniscule that it could be discounted entirely!

No, the only sources that mattered were mech pilots with spiritual potential or spiritually-strong mech pilots!

A million or even a billion regular mech pilots did not match the contribution of a single expert candidate! The disparity was simply too wide!

”Quantity matters to a certain extent, but quality matters more! ”

Ves believed that expert pilots and higher might be able to grant unimaginable benefits to design spirits!

He couldn ’t help but think back on the grand design of Aeon Corona VII.
The Sacred Gods accepted the worship of the Blessed People, but the huge and massive exobeasts only really cared about their Chosen, which played a role equivalent to mech pilots!

”It ’s a symbiotic relationship! ” He recognized.

When one grew stronger, the other also grew stronger!

This was something that Sacred Gods like Qilanxo had been born to forment.

Qilanxo was ahead of the curve compared to his other design spirit.
She actively spent some of her power in order to elevate Jannzi into an expert candidate.
Once she advanced to expert pilot and higher, the dividends that Qilanxo earned from her connection with his cousin would pay off her initial investment in spades!

”This is genius! ”

Certain researchers of the Five Scrolls Compact were way ahead in this field to be able to produce a fantastic genetic product like the Sacred Gods! Even if it requires exceedingly strange circumstances to produce them, the existence of all of the life on Aeon Corona VII proved that the Compact may have achieved a lot of progress in their attempts to create their own gods!

”What would they do if they saw me now? What if they find out the truth behind my design philosophy? ”

Ves imagined that they would give him a thumbs up before cutting off his head in order to squeeze out all of the secrets locked within.

This was because he had inadvertently followed in the footsteps of some of the crazed researchers of the Compact! If not for his contentious relationship with this galaxy-spanning cult, he could have become one of its greatest researchers!

He vigorously shook his head! Even if he matched some of their inclinations, there was no way he would ever consider himself alike from those crazies!

”I ’m a mech designer! Not a mad scientist! ”

His profession anchored his identity.
As a mech designer, everything he did related to mechs.
If he started diverging from his desire to design better mechs, then that was a definite sign that he was going astray!

Thinking about mechs enabled him to pull himself back from the unrealistic delusions of grandeur sparked by his latest realizations.

Even if Qilanxo harbored ambitions to evolve to a higher state, the amount of power accumulation required would be immense!

Weaker design spirits grew faster than stronger design spirits due to the exponentially greater power accumulation required to reach the next threshold.

Qilanxo would have to partner up with trillions of regular mech pilots in order to experience measured growth at her level of strength!

That essentially meant that Ves had to sell trillions of Aurora Titans! At his level of fame, reputation and reach, that was simply impossible at this time!

”It ’s easier if my Aurora Titans are piloted by expert pilots or higher, though. ”

Quality mattered more than quantity.
This was what Ves believed.
If Qilanxo wanted to achieve measured improvements, then associating herself with expert pilots was the very minimum required for her to accumulate greater power.

Yet if she truly wanted to achieve significant improvement at her level of strength, then cultivating a strong mutually-beneficial relationship with an ace pilot was a must!

”This is the true power of symbiosis! ”

Both sides of the symbiotic relationship grew stronger from each other! When one grew stronger, the other quickly caught up!

This interaction potentially led to a virtuous cycle where the improvements of a mech pilot spurred the improvements of a design spirit, which subsequently fed back to the mech pilot, and so on!

Of course, Ves did not expect a design spirit to extend its generosity in equal measure to all of the mech pilots it maintained a relationship with.
For example, Qilanxo clearly favored Jannzi Larkinson over the thousands of other mech pilots of the Aurora Titan.

This was enough to transform the lives of some of his customers.
In fact, if Ves gained the ability to influence his design spirits to select specific mech pilots as their ’Chosen ’, then he may be able to dictate who would become an expert candidate!

”This is an accidental side effect of my specialty! ”

The power to point at someone and turn them into an expert candidate was an incredibly frightening ability! The MTA would go crazy if they ever got wind that Ves could unlock the potential to undergo apotheosis to any mech pilot!

Certainly, his ’superpower ’ to communicate spiritually with non-human lifeforms paled in comparison to giving mech pilots the opportunity to break the extraordinary threshold!

The notion of it was so monumental that Ves did not dare to breathe a word of it to anyone! Not even Nitaa should hold the knowledge that Ves could transform or revolutionize the entire mech community with his ability to provide ascension on demand!

”Of course, I haven ’t actually obtained proof that I can do this.
I have to test all of my assumptions! ”

His current design project was a good opportunity as ever.
”I ’m already testing a bunch of stuff.
I might as well add a couple of more tests in the process. ”

With how urgently he wanted to progress, he couldn ’t afford to test all of his hypotheses one at a time.
The sandman invasion especially placed a great amount of pressure on his shoulders.

For better or worse, his upcoming spaceborn rifleman mech design would make or break the LMC!

”As my final mech design of this mech generation, I want my upcoming mech design to be a harbinger of what is to come! ”

Ves wanted to start off with a strong footing at the commencement of the next mech generation.
He wanted to achieve a measurable jump in quality and value from his older designs such as the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord.

Through his next generation of mech designs, he wanted to announce that he had become strong enough to compete against the main players of the mech market!

At the very least, hardly any mech designer could match the unique benefits that only he could provide to his customers!

”Differentiation is key! ” He emphasized.
”Other mechs might hold the edge in firepower or mobility, but only my products are able to bring out the most in mech pilots! ”

He finally returned to reality after he got caught up in a successive string of relationships.
His mind state had improved substantially and he felt more stoked than ever to design his new mech!

He had been waiting to enter an inspired state! Now that he formed a bunch of new theories, he eagerly wished to test them all out!

”It ’s time to set a vision for my new mech design. ” He announced.

Lucky, who had been lounging on the desk while Ves got lost in his own thoughts, idly yawned and padded over to his lap.

”Meow. ”

Ves frowned.
”Is it feeding time yet? ”

”Meow meow. ”

”Nice try, buddy, but according to the clock your dinnertime is still at least two hours away! ”

”Meow! ”

As Ves playfully toyed with Lucky, someone suddenly requested entry into his stateroom.
When the hatch slid open, Crindon entered with a concerned expression.

”We have a problem, sir. ”

”What is it? ” Ves immediately turned serious.

If his security expert felt obligated to report to him in person, then this problem had to be incredibly serious!

”Let ’s lockdown this compartment first.
The information I ’m about to bring to you is very sensitive. ”

Ves activated the command that physically disconnected and isolated his stateroom from the rest of the ship.
On top of these precautions, Crindon also activated a jammer.

Only then did they feel secure enough to talk freely with each other.
Aside from Nitaa and Lucky, no one else would be listening in on their conversation!

”We have an informer aboard our ship. ”

”Who? ”

”Gavin Neumann.
Your executive assistant. ”

Ves briefly paused.
His heart turned cold when he heard this name.

”Who is he reporting to? ”

”Flashlight. ”

That was not as bad as he feared.
His heart thawed a little when Crindon mentioned the intelligence agency.

At the very least, Gavin wasn ’t passing on information to his actual enemies, such as the Compact!

”How sure are you of this assertion? ” Ves pressed his Kinner bondsman.

”I am ninety-five percent certain that Mr.
Neumann is secretly transmitting information.
I am eighty percent certain that the recipient of his transmissions is Flashlight. ”

Those percentages were high enough for Ves to accept Crindon ’s conclusion.
He didn ’t find it hard to believe that his trusted assistant served two masters! Especially if the other master turned out to be a branch of the government!

Yet even if that made the truth more palatable, Ves still felt betrayed! It was as if a dagger had struck his heart!

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