As much as Gloriana wanted to turn herself into a barnacle, she couldn ’t stick with Ves forever.

She still had some responsibilities to attend to, though she didn ’t elaborate very much to Ves.
It was for his own good, she claimed.

”Just because I ’ve left the Hegemony doesn ’t mean the Hegemony has left me. ” Gloriana gently patted his head as if he was a puppy.
”Sometimes, a girl ’s gotta work.
I still have many obligations to the Wodins, and the customers of my old products are still entitled to support. ”

He smiled and briefly pulled her into an embrace.
Go do your thing, then.
I have plenty of tasks to do as well.
After separating from my company for so long, I ’m worried whether it will fall apart if I remain absent for much longer. ”

”Your subordinates are doing a good job in keeping the LMC together.
You don ’t have to worry on that end.
They don ’t depend on your leadership as much as you think. ”

That was probably because Ves delegated so many duties, he conceded.
He had never been a hands-on leader when the LMC ceased to be a one-man operation.

”Regardless, I ’m sure they ’ll welcome my presence.
I ’m pretty much the only mech designer aside from you who can perpetuate its success. ”

Before they separated, Gloriana made one more remark.

”There ’s one more thing, Ves.
My older brother wanted to meet you, but subduing the Terrinac and putting it under our control has taken longer than we thought.
While our Glory Battalion has managed to take control of the ship, our fleet must soon leave this star system before any rescuers from the Friday Coalition arrive to block our escape. ”

They were still in the middle of unfriendly territory.
While the Crecia Republic was by no means an enemy of the Hexadric Hegemony, it still hosted several known and unknown Coalition assets.

Ves didn ’t look very concerned, however.

”Don ’t you have an expert pilot protecting you? Even if the Fridaymen somehow manage to scrounge two mech companies on short notice, your fleet won ’t come under serious threat. ”

”We can ’t underestimate the Fridaymen. ” Gloriana shrugged.
”Now that I have you back, I won ’t risk losing you again! ”

Well, she had a good point.

”By the way, who is your brother and what is he like? ”

Gloriana grinned.
”My brother is the one who saved you earlier today.
He ’s the pilot of the Star Dancer! ”

”The expert pilot?! ” Ves widened his eyes.

”Exactly! Didn ’t I tell you that there is an expert pilot within my family? If I didn ’t beg him to save you from the clutches of the Fridaymen, you would have become their prisoner again.
He wants to meet you when we reach our next stop.
Be nice to him, okay? ”

Ves recalled the earlier conversation between Gloriana and Ranya.

”Doesn ’t your brother think poorly of me? ” He pointed out.

She waved her hand in dismissal.
”I ’m sure the two of you will get along with each other! You ’re a mech designer and he ’s a mech pilot! I know you don ’t like to stay in the company of female Hexers, so you should definitely be more comfortable with a Hexer who shares something in common with you, hihihi! ”

He wasn ’t so sure about that.
Ves recalled the time he inadvertently participated in the trials held by the Rim Guardians.
He met his first Hexer back then.
The male Journeyman was just as stuck up and dismissive towards Ves as the female Hexers!

”What if we don ’t get along? ”

Gloriana swiftly stepped up to him and held him tightly on both arms.
Her face almost pressed up to him with an intense expression!


”I-I-I ’ll do my best! ” Ves hastily responded in shock.

Gloriana had turned twice as frightening as the mummy that haunted him back on the Scarlet Rose!

If he had a choice, he would rather deal with a centuries-old undead witch than an angry Gloriana!

When she received the response she wanted to hear, Gloriana quickly regained her composure and gently kissed his cheek.

”It ’s for a good cause, Ves.
We can ’t move our relationship forward until my family and my mother are okay with it.
What I ’m doing is already at the limit of their tolerance.
If not for all of the promises I ’ve made and the turmoil back home, my mother would have recalled me by now. ”

”I understand.
We always knew it won ’t be easy to get the Wodins to like me.
If my contribution to the Sand War hasn ’t changed their minds, then it will probably take a huge effort for us to change their minds. ”

”It ’s not as difficult as you think.
You know what we need to do to change their perception of you. ” She reminded him.
”As long as we make one good masterwork mech, everything will change! ”

Ves hadn ’t spent all of his time aboard the Scarlet Rose for nothing.
He already formed some ideas to improve his odds of fabricating a masterwork mech.
He couldn ’t wait to put some of his ideas into action!

They finally separated from each other.
While Gloriana approached the bridge, a guard escorted him to his quarters, which was right next to Gloriana ’s stateroom.
Their cats followed their owners as well.

”You are free to move around, but we suggest you stay in place until you are called. ” The female guard perfunctory said.
”Our fleet will continue to remain on yellow alert throughout our journey back to the Ylvaine Protectorate. ”

”I understand.
I ’ll stay put. ”

The guard left him alone in his quarters once he got the message.

Not that he enjoyed any actual privacy.
This was Gloriana ’s personal starship, and Ves bet that every corner of his quarters was bugged to an insane degree!

He smirked and patted his lower waist.
”It ’s a good thing I ’m still wearing the right pair of underwear! ”

While it disconcerted him somewhat that he was still wearing the same article of clothing for more than a month, with the existence of advanced washing options, he was still able to maintain a satisfactory hygiene standard!

”It ’s not like my Synthra Umbra underwear has turned smelly. ” Ves sniffed the air just to be sure.

”Meow. ”

”Thank you. ”

”Meow meow. ”

”Are you happy that you reunited with Clixie? ”

”Meow! ”

”Hahaha, don ’t delude yourself.
The two of you are completely different beasts! ”

”Meow meow! ”

Ves ignored Lucky ’s complaints and sat himself down behind a desk.
He activated its terminal and saw that Gloriana thoughtfully loaded it with his favorite software and settings.

In fact, the configuration of the desk terminal was virtually identical to that of his old office at the Mech Nursery!

”Did she copy my files? ” Ves frowned.

He shrugged.
He didn ’t really store anything too important at the company.
Ves always stashed the truly important data in his System comm, which he already placed back in his intangible Inventory.

The comm he was wearing now was just a generic device he fabricated on the fly.

”I should ask Gloriana for a replacement comm.
That ’s a bad idea.
I should get one from another source! ”

His girlfriend already possessed an uncomfortable degree of access to his life.
There was no reason to make things easier!

He shook his head and focused on his priorities.
He should really get in touch with his subordinates.

He first decided to call Calsie.
It only took a moment for her to accept the call.

”Ves! We ’ve heard that the Hexers managed to rescue you! I can ’t tell you how much of a relief it is to see you again! ”

Ves chuckled.
”I ’m glad to be free as well.
How much do you know? ”

”Ah, not much.
Gloriana only sent a brief message to us.
She estimates that it will probably take a week or so to bring you back to the Ylvaine Protectorate. ”

”Do you know where exactly they are bringing me? ” Ves asked.
”Where are you residing, by the way? ”

”We ’re currently based in the Kesseling System.
While it ’s not exactly our first choice, the Protectorate heavily encouraged us to found our second headquarters at Kesseling VIII. ”

Wasn ’t that the star system where he designed the Transcendent Messenger? Wasn ’t it also the place where the Ylvainan Inquisition put him on trial and almost sentenced him to death on spurious charges?

”The Kesseling System..
is not my first choice. ”

”There are good reasons to settle on Kesseling VIII. ” Calsie calmly replied.
”First, it ’s an industrial planet that has managed to fare well in the Sand War so far.
While it ’s not the biggest production center in the Protectorate, its significance has increased due to all of the events that took place in the past.
It ’s becoming a real pilgrimage site, you know.
Local support for the Bright Martyr is the highest here! You won ’t get a better reception elsewhere. ”

”That ’s not enough. ”

”Some of the companies there have also been contracted by the Curin Dynasty to produce the Deliverers for the Eye of Ylvaine.
This makes it easier for us to partner up with or potentially acquire these mech companies in the future. ”

That sounded viable to Ves, though he preferred to raise his own facilities rather than taking over someone else ’s company.

”What else? ”

”We already formed a branch office here.
Do you remember the LMYC? The subsidiary you ’ve formed between the LMC and Madame Cecily Curin has grown significantly, to the point where it is able to materially assist our integration in the Ylvainan mech industry.
Without their assistance, it would have been multiple times harder for us to root our company in a foreign state! ”

Ah, he forgot about that.
With Calabast pulling the strings through her holding company and her influence within the Ministry of Trade and Industry, she could provide a lot of assistance.

”So how is the current state of the LMC? ”

”We ’re building a second manufacturing complex in the outskirts of Krent, the capital city.
It will be just as impressive as the Mech Nursery.
There was some discussion within the company whether we should invest more or less in this complex, but we decided to stick to the same and wait for your input. ”

Ves paused for a moment to consider his plans for the future.
”Try and make the second complex more secure, but don ’t invest too much in its production facilities.
It ’s fine if you leave a lot of room for future growth, but don ’t sink too much money in too many production lines.
How is the company holding up financially? ”

”We ’re doing very well, even if most of our cash reserves have dwindled in value due to inflation.
Whether it ’s bright credits of Reinaldan marks, we ’ve only earned a fraction from the sales of the Desolate Soldier and other mechs.
They ’re still worth something, though.
It ’s more than enough to rebuild the LMC. ”

She provided him with some figures and explained all of the foreign cash reserves the LMC accumulated during its peak.

Even now, the LMC continued to make at least some business in selling its existing lineup of models.
Plenty of states outside of the ones affected by the Sand War discovered the usefulness of the Desolate Soldier and its glow.

While the Soldier product line wasn ’t optimized to fight against mechs, their glows made them very useful for various purposes!

Its enduring popularity along with the modest sales of the other models of the LMC ensured that it earned plenty of money to sustain its operations!

Best of all, the revenue earned from the more stable states came in currencies that weren ’t affected by hyperinflation!

”This will be the foundation for our second rise. ” Ves declared after he got the gist of Calsie ’s explanation.
”Transmit all of the documents you think I ’ll need to read in order to get back up to speed.
I ’ve already formed some plans while I was away, but I want to study our exact circumstances before I make up my mind. ”

”Will do, sir. ”

He ended the call shortly after she transferred the relevant documents.
Ves still had several people to talk to before the day was over.

”After I call Benny and Raymond, I suppose it ’s time to talk to my grandfather. ” He mused.

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