An awkward silence formed between Ves and Patricia as they walked back to his quarters.
Once they reached the entrance, Patricia unlocked it and led Ves inside.

As Lady Curver ’s ’guest ’, Ves did not have the authority to enter or exit his own room at will!

Despite his excellent treatment and warm welcome by his host, Ves did not forget that he was a prisoner!

Everyone aboard this ship was his enemy, including Patricia!

When Ves became aligned with the Hexadric Hegemony, he knew that he would never be able to maintain his friendship with Patricia! Her close entanglement with the Friday Coalition meant that they belonged to opposite sides!

Though he strongly opposed the beliefs espoused by Hexers, he didn ’t want to upset his girlfriend by rooting for the Fridaymen.

To be honest, he recognized that he was locked in an impossible dilemma.

As a Brighter and a man, he admired the Friday Coalition.

As Gloriana ’s boyfriend, he had an obligation to support the Hexadric Hegemony.

Ves had never managed to resolve this contradiction! He could never bring himself to cheer on the Hexers, but neither did he dare to express any sympathy for the Fridaymen!

It would have been so much easier if Gloriana belonged to the opposite side, but Ves had to make do with what he got.
His current plan to resolve this tradition was to attempt to bring Gloriana far away from her toxic state!

So long as he managed to bring her to the Red Ocean, there would be a vast intergalactic void between them and her home state!

There was no way that Gloriana would be able to perpetuate her Hexer culture further! They could make an entirely new start in an entirely new frontier!

Of course, all of this was moot if he remained in Aisling Curver ’s company!

While Aisling was clearly saner and more wholesome than Gloriana, she was clearly after the same thing!

Ves felt very helpless about the fact that two different mech designers desperately sought to collaborate with him.
His design philosophy was simply too attractive to their respective ambitions! Both women believed that they would be able to realize their ambitions with his help!

”Patricia. ”

”Yes? ”

The two had fallen silent after entering his luxurious ’cell ’.
For some reason, Patricia hadn ’t left immediately, giving Ves an opportunity to ask some much-needed questions.

He had a lot of questions he wanted to ask, some of which he didn ’t dare to voice in front of Aisling.

Though Ves resented Patricia, he believed she wouldn ’t lie to him or mislead him in any way.

”Who is Aisling Curver? Why is she called a lady? ”

”Lady Curver rose up from the common folk of the Gauge Dynasty. ” Patricia calmly answered.
”She immediately stood out due to her intelligence and learning ability.
She managed to enter Clarion University on a scholarship and soon attracted the notice of Master Huron.
He became so impressed by her that he took her in as a direct disciple.
As for becoming a lady, this is because she has gained the appreciation of the Gauge Dynasty.
In the Friday Coalition, she deserves equal treatment to a trueblood descendent! ”

It sounded as if Aisling was similar to Oleg.
Both of them started off as average citizens in their respective locales.

He knew how frightening Oleg ’s intelligence and other cognitive traits had reached.
If Aisling was the same, then she had earned everything she achieved!

In contrast, Gloriana was born with a silver spoon.
Even if her intelligence and talent in mech design started off average, through constant augmentations and intensive tutoring, his girlfriend managed to achieve an enviable height at her age!

Both Gloriana and Aisling sounded like talented Journeymen, but if Ves had to make a choice, he would definitely respect the latter more!

Ves and Patricia were grossly inferior in comparison! Though Ves had the confidence to surpass them, for now these second-class mech designers held the upper ground.

”How does she intend to treat me? Will you guys allow me to leave? ”

”I ’m sorry, Ves.
We can ’t allow you to leave.
Lady Curver is determined to..
have you.
Unless your collaboration with her doesn ’t work out, she will not let you go.
I ’m sure you can understand why.
When it comes to her design philosophy, she won ’t miss this opportunity to overcome her hurdles. ”

Ves pressed his lips into a line.
”I can ’t imagine how Aisling can think she can convert me while I remain as her unwilling captive. ”

”Are you serious, Ves? ” Patricia scrunched her nose.
”Do you truly want to become a Hexer? ”

He hesitated for a moment.
”Not exactly, but… ”

”Then you should not look at a gift horse in the mouth! While it ’s unfair for us to treat you this way, think carefully whether you are better off with Miss Gloriana or with Lady Curver! ”

If Ves did not refer to his feelings, then there was no contest.
He would definitely wish to side with Lady Curver!

his heart simply didn ’t allow him to betray his lover! It would be one thing if he broke up with Gloriana, but until they maintained their relationship, Ves was committed to stay loyal!

This was his principle as a man, a Larkinson and a mech designer!

The thought of betraying her trust and love invoked so much revulsion in him that he simply discarded the idea entirely!

”Let ’s not argue about this further. ” Ves shook his head in disgust.
”Tell me what will happen to me.
How does Lady Curver plan to keep me in her company? ”

Patricia didn ’t hide Curver ’s plans.
”After pulling some strings, she managed to apply for an early end to her assignment.
With the help of Master Huron ’s powerful network, she managed to obtain an early release from her duty.
She has already ordered the Scarlet Rose to leave the Bright Republic and return to the Warsaw Giant System, which is where Clarion is based. ”

”Where is the Warsaw Giant System located? ”

”In the interior of the Gauge Dynasty ’s territories.
For a mobile supply frigate like the Scarlet Rose, it will take about two months for her to reach the Warsaw Giant System. ”

Ves looked a little brighter when Patricia mentioned the Scarlet Rose.
Right now, he really needed to know as much as possible about the ship he resided on! His old classmate just gave him an opening to satisfy his curiosity!

”What is a mobile supply frigate? ”

”It ’s a frigate-sized ship class that is favored by mech designers.
The Scarlet Rose is built for speed and independent operation.
Many mobile supply frigates are specifically configured for mech designers.
She features a full-scale mech workshop and enough cargo space to hold a decent amount of materials. ”

”What about defenses? ”

”The Scarlet Rose possesses a small mech hangar that can deploy four mechs.
As a non-combat vessel, her armor isn ’t the best though, and she mainly relies on speed to avoid dangerous situations. ”

Now that he thought about it, the Scarlet Rose sounded similar to Gloriana ’s Stellar Chaser, but he had the feeling that the latter fell a bit short.

”Why is the Scarlet Rose so empty? I haven ’t encountered a lot of people ever since I stepped aboard this ship. ”

”Trained spacers are precious, especially in wartime.
The Scarlet Rose is designed to operate with a high degree of automation.
She doesn ’t belong to Lady Curver.
The Friday Coalition merely assigned the ship to her so she can discharge her duties as a monitor.
She will have to relinquish the ship to the Coalition upon her return to Warsaw Giant. ”

Ves rubbed his smooth-shaven chin as he fell in thought.

If the ship belonged to the Friday Coalition, then the quality and capabilities of the Scarlet Rose was likely superior to the Stellar Chaser!

That also meant that it would be far harder for Ves to defeat or circumvent her security systems!

While he was tempted to ask more, Ves did not wish to give himself away.
He reluctantly shifted his questioning.

”What do you think of all this? ” He asked.

”Pardon? ”

”Do you agree with Aisling ’s actions? Are you committed to the Friday Coalition? ”

Patricia closed her eyes for a moment instead of answering immediately.

I never intended to oppose you.
I had very little choice of assignments when the Komodo War broke out.
Choosing to serve alongside a monitor sounded harmless since we are strictly ordered to observe the Bright Republic without intervening.
I never thought that Lady Curver would directly contradict her orders and accept General Cavendish ’s offer! ”

”Well, she did it anyway, and it seems the Friday Coalition doesn ’t really mind her transgression. ”

”She is an honored lady and retainer of the Gauge Dynasty. ” Patricia sheepishly smiled.

The Gauge Dynasty was the most powerful partner of the Friday Coalition and its most important pillar during the war.
It was no big deal for Lady Curver to bend some rules, especially if her actions benefited the Coalition in some way!

From a diplomatic perspective, Lady Curver merely facilitated a mutual transaction between the Friday Coalition and the Bright Republic.
The only one involved who didn ’t agree with this transaction happened to be himself!

Compared to the interests of entire states, his own wants and needs didn ’t matter the slightest!

Ves scowled in disgust.
He truly hated being treated as a bargaining chip!

In fact, in everyone else ’s eyes, Ves shouldn ’t act as if he was disadvantaged in this transaction! Lady Curver ostensibly wanted to ’liberate ’ him from Gloriana ’s evil Hexer ’s clutches and ’restore ’ his manhood!

How could any normal man say no to such a deal? Instead of hating Aisling, he should instead see her as his knight in shining armor!

However, Ves was still unwilling to acknowledge this in his heart!

The betrayals he suffered stung him far too deeply to allow him to appreciate Lady Curver ’s goodwill!

As if sensing his boiling anger, Patricia turned to leave.

”I will leave you here for now.
Though our assignment ended early, we had to compensate for it with some other tasks.
Lady Curver and I won ’t have the time to entertain you often.
I suggest you pass the time by taking advantage of the books that she has provided to you.
Much of the textbooks consist of exclusive Clarion teaching material. ”

Ves offered the departing woman a brittle smile.
”Please convey my thanks to Aisling for putting some of her library at my disposal. ”

Once Patricia left his quarters and locked the exit, Ves loosened his collar and slumped on his bed.
He swept his gaze across his room and noted some new symbols had appeared on his furniture and decorations.

Symbols and emblems related to the Gauge Dynasty and Clarion University occupied a prominent place in his stateroom.

”How swell. ”

Ves ignored it all and slipped into his bed as if he wanted to sleep.

”Lights, off. ”

All of the lights dimmed until Ves was left in the dark.

Instead of falling asleep, Ves went over his options.

There was no way he was resigned with his current situation!

He idly lowered his arm to his pants and caressed his hidden bulge.

While he didn ’t have an opportunity to make use of his smuggled gadgets right now, he intended to bide his time.

”Two months.
I have two months. ”

Should he attempt an escape or play along with Lady Curver?

Once he allowed her to bring him to the Warsaw Giant System, he was sure that it would be ten times as hard to escape his captivity!

Therefore, the following two months were crucial!

He needed to make a very important decision during this limited window.

Should he follow his conscience and do what was best for himself, Lady Curver, the Bright Republic and the Friday Coalition by accepting his current fate?

Or should he follow his heart and do his best to return to Gloriana and affirm his loyalty to his Hexer girlfriend?

As Ves silently grappled with his difficulties, Ves suddenly sensed a very familiar presence creeping up from beneath his bed!

He concentrated his mind towards the subtle presence.

”Lucky! ”

A slight pressure formed beneath his other hand that rested on the mattress.
Lucky had secretly snuck onto Ghanso ’s combat carrier and the Scarlet Rose without letting anyone else know!

This was because Lucky maintained a completely intangible state! With the help of his miniaturized stealth generator and his CFA-derived ECM, his cat managed to remain completely undetected!

As long as Ves had Lucky, he was confident he could subvert the Scarlet Rose ’s security systems within two months!

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