After Calabast finished briefing Ves on what he needed to know, she stalked off to parts unknown.
The secret entrance to his home office closed as if it never existed in the first place.

The fact that Ves wasn ’t even aware of it signified that he still had a lot to learn about his new mansion.

He moved to his desk and began to organize his thoughts.
Lucky climbed up the surface of his desk and began to stretch in place.

”Calabast is right. ” He spoke while reaching out to stroke Lucky ’s back.
”The war between the Friday Coalition and the Hexadric Hegemony is none of my business.
Master Olson and the Wodin Dynasty can take care of themselves. ”

Thinking about his shallow but memorable relations with certain individuals from the Friday Coalition put a very sour taste in his mouth.

He never really wanted to cut ties with the Friday Coalition.
However, ever since he started a relationship with Gloriana, there was no way he could realistically maintain them any longer.

”Master Olson actually did me a favor by kicking me out of the Coalition. ” He realized.
”Maybe she knew that trouble was on the horizon. ”

Even if the Hegemony caught the Coalition by surprise, the latter wouldn ’t have been blind to the possibility.
They simply misjudged the timing and the strange technologies employed by their opponents.

Ves did not worry too much about the fate of Master Olson.
Even if the Friday Coalition lost, a Master would never be under threat.
While Ves did not know how the Hegemony would treat its captives and the citizens of conquered territory, it was unlikely the Hexers would kill them all off without remorse.

”The MTA will never allow such slaughter.
The point of forcing human states to wage war with less destructive weapons like mechs is to prevent too much loss of life. ”

The Hegemony clearly wanted to conquer the territories occupied by the Friday Coalition and rule the Komodo Star Sector as a true hegemon.

If all they took over was ash and ruins, then it might take several centuries for the Hegemony to repair the damage!

At the very least, the common citizens of the Coalition wouldn ’t face any serious consequences.
They just exchanged one ruler for another, that was all.
The changes to their society would happen gradually in order to make sure the conquered citizens assimilated into Hexer society without too much resistance.

As for military officers, senior officials and the like, they would probably face worse treatment.

Ves guessed that Master Olson also happened to fall under this category.
For someone like her who likely possessed very strong ties to the Coalition, it was better for her to evacuate the star sector and start anew far away from the reach of her old enemies.

A Master Mech Designer did not fear a fresh start! With their immense reputation and design ability, as long as there weren ’t any inherent contradictions, there was no state that would refuse their business!

”Well, who knows if Master Olson will be compelled to flee.
It might be the Hexers who have to flee instead. ”

It was true that the Hexadric Hegemony started off the war with an immediate advantage.
However, he was very well aware that both states possessed an extremely deep accumulation.
There was no way that the loss of sixteen mech divisions significantly altered the Coalition ’s chances of winning.

Their foundation still stood strong!

The Fridaymen would definitely take revenge after suffering so much damage from Operation K.
They surely prepared their own devious attacks against the Hexers! If they wanted to shore up their brittle morale, then they needed to make a huge move to reassure their shaken citizens!

Even so, Ves believed that the Hexers would not have initiated the war if they did not possess an advantage.
Their odds of winning was probably a little bit higher, enough to make the gamble feasible, if still incredibly risky.

What would happen if either side won?

”Well, it won ’t be good for me if the Friday Coalition comes out as the final victor. ”

Ves would have to depart the star sector ahead of time.
There was no way the Fridaymen would forgive him for turning his back on the Coalition and hooking up with a Hexer mech designer.

In addition, he didn ’t want Gloriana to come to harm.
He would rather exile himself from his home state than to risk her safety and freedom.

Still, the hard part about this situation was that Ves privately rooted for the Friday Coalition.
Though its partners each propagated different beliefs, they were all relatively normal.

”Compared to the abomination that is the Hegemony, the Coalition is pretty enlightened as a whole. ”

The Friday Coalition was a completely secular state that did not allow any religion to gain significant influence!

A star sector dominated by the Friday Coalition didn ’t sound so bad to Ves.
Other than the fact that he and his girlfriend would become hunted by them, he would have liked to live under its regime!

”Well, who knows if the Coalition will stay in place by then.
The only reason the partners got together in the first place was because none of them are strong enough to defeat the Hegemony on their own. ”

The Coalition would probably break apart if its partners no longer faced the pressure of a common, external enemy.
Just trying to decide the allocation of the conquered territory was enough to make them have a falling out!

”It ’s actually much better for me if the Hegemony wins the war instead. ” He grumbled.

He did not like the Hegemony at all.
Its strong culture that strongly propagated female supremacy sounded awful to a man like Ves.

He ’d be fine if he was born a woman, but since he was a man, he highly objected to the Hegemony ’s stance on gender!

What was more, the Hexers also adopted a religion that reinforced their insane beliefs about men and women even more!

If there was one thing that Ves wanted to remove from his girlfriend, it was her fanatical adherence to hexism!

When he thought about the Hegemony winning the war and taking over the star sector, Ves started to get goosebumps.

Even though he would probably stand to gain a lot of profit for associating with the ’winning ’ side, he really couldn ’t imagine living under a Hexer regime!

As a man, Ves drew the line at any cultures or beliefs that denigrated his own gender!

”What do I do if the Hegemony actually wins? ”

Right now, the odds were slightly in their favor, so Ves seriously considered the consequences.

He didn ’t have to think too much to come up with a solution.

”Haha! I ’ll just embark on my grand expedition and never go back! Take that, Hexers! ” He laughed.

If he stayed, he would definitely transform into one of those pathetically servile males who worshipped the ground that women walked upon.
No matter where he went, as long as he was in the same star sector, there was no escaping the spread of Hexer culture!

Rather than staying and allowing himself to get contaminated by their beliefs, Ves would much prefer to make his expedition fleet his new home and travel the galaxy!

Perhaps he might bump into an attractive foreign state and decide to settle down.
Perhaps he would continue to live aboard a ship and permanently adopt the life of a spaceborn citizen.
Both of these possibilities were much more preferable to living in a Hegemony-ruled star sector!

He would do anything to escape Hexer indoctrination!

”People say that running from problems is bad. ” He told Lucky.
”Well, they ’ve never had to face the prospect of living among Hexers! ”

”Meow. ”

”Pff! You ’re just a cat! You ’d just get pampered by their rich ladies if you fall into their hands. ”

”Meow meow. ”

”That doesn ’t mean you should abandon me! I ’m a much better cat owner than those cat ladies! ”

Interacting with Lucky brought some much-needed levity to his heart.
He felt much better now that he thought the situation through.
Regardless how the war between the second-rate states progressed, there was no way he could influence its outcome.

”My time is better spent on thinking how to lead the LMC through the sandman crisis. ”

Now that the Desolate Soldier model took the mech market by storm a month after its release, the LMC had become an indispensable part of the local mech industry.
There was no way the Bright Republic would treat the LMC unfairly due to his Hexer associations!

”At most, my company will just suffer some suppression, perhaps. ” He guessed.

However, that wouldn ’t actually accomplish anything aside from pushing Ves away from the Bright Republic.
That might be what certain Brighters with ties to the Coalition wanted to see, but the government couldn ’t afford to play along.

If the Bright Republic ever acted against Ves, then they would probably suffer from retribution if the Hexers ever won the war!

”The last thing the government wants to do is to take sides! It ’s best if they stay as neutral as possible to avoid offending either side! ”

Most of the ties between the Bright Republic and the Friday Coalition consisted of smaller relationships.
The state wouldn ’t bleed that much if they were forced to penalize the people who engaged in these relationships.

”I should follow Calabast ’s advice and talk to Flashlight. ” Ves scratched his chin.

He sent a brief message to Gavin.
Some time later, Leland Toll traveled from the headquarters of the LMC to the Cloud Estate.

When the spy finally entered the office, Ves greeted him with a partially-sincere smile.
”Leland! Long time no see! How is my resident Flashlight agent doing? ”

Leland emphatically raised an eyebrow before approaching the desk and sitting down across Ves.

”I take it the Komodo War has shaken you up, Ves.
To be honest, we already started to smell the blood in the water.
It was only a matter of time before one of the second-rate states ran out of patience. ”

That surprised Ves.
”You suspected? And you didn ’t tell me? ”

”We only had suspicions. ” Leland innocently spread his hands.
”If we ever decided to voice them, how do you think the Coalition or the Hegemony would respond? ”

”They wouldn ’t like it if you spread accurate rumors. ”

This is why we kept our suspicions to ourselves.
Only the highest officials were privy to our speculations.
That is also how the recent peace treaty came about. ”

Ves suddenly recalled the circumstances surrounding the abrupt end to the latest generational war between the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom.

”So that is why Senator Tovar and Prince Colchester acted so chummy with each other! You guys knew that the Fridaymen and Hexers would clash in the near future! ”

Leland sighed.
”I told you, Ves.
Flashlight and our Vesian counterparts only held suspicions.
There is only so much we can learn from observing the second-rate states. ”

He was right.
Ves shouldn ’t blame Flashlight for withholding such information.

”If the second-rate states started fighting, does it actually matter if our state stopped fighting the Vesians? ”

”It matters a lot, Ves.
While second-rate states normally don ’t interfere in the running of lesser states, war can push anyone to desperation.
The Bright Republic needs to conserve as much of its strength as possible to handle any eventualities. ”

”Well, that certainly came in handy now that the sandmen decided to run us over. ”

”We didn ’t anticipate the sandmen invasion of human space.
They haven ’t done anything for hundreds of years. ” Leland honestly admitted.
”The state didn ’t push to end the war to conserve our forces against the aliens, but you ’re right in that it turned out to be a very prescient decision. ”

They chatted a little bit about the early end of the war before moving on to the topic that Ves wanted to discuss.

”What is the Bright Republic ’s stance towards me? ” Ves plainly asked.
”As you know, my girlfriend is a Hexer, and not an average one. ”

Leland adopted a serious expression.
”We are aware.
Let me reassure you that the government doesn ’t regard you as a pariah.
In fact, we welcome this development! ”

”Really? ”

”Senator Tovar has personally outlined the government ’s stance on you and your relationship with Gloriana Wodin.
Officially, we don ’t have an opinion. ”

”What does that mean? ”

”We won ’t harm you, but we won ’t help you either.
To us, you ’re just a Brighter who happens to have a foreign girlfriend. ”

Ves scratched his head.
”Okay? What ’s your unofficial stance, then? ”

”That will take some explaining… ”

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