It took less time than he thought to get his organizations back in order.

The people he put in charge such as Raymond and Melkor weren ’t incomptent.
Even if they failed to get a handle on the situation, they still had each other to call for help.

In addition, most of the uncertainties plaguing the LMC and other organizations came from an inability to set a new direction.
None of Ves ’ deputies wanted to commit to far-reaching decisions without his input.

What if Ves never intended to settle on Kesseling VIII? Investing in an extravagant headquarters on the Ylvainan planet would be an expensive mistake!

Therefore, Ves only had to spend enough time to settle these major issues.
After that, he could leave the rest to his capable subordinates.

Calsie and Gavin proved to be very helpful in supervising his men.
They acted as his agents and made sure that everyone followed his will.

Since everything started running smoothly, Ves took a step back and put his trust in his subordinates.
Now that they received some direction, he didn ’t need to step in any longer.

During his stay on the Stellar Chaser, Ves occasionally met with Gloriana during mealtime and in the evening.
His girlfriend was very occupied these days, forcing her to work by herself.

She never really explained her burdens to him in detail.
She just brushed the matter off as makework and chores, but Ves didn ’t think it was so simple.

Unfortunately, Gloriana was too strong-minded to let him help.

”You should take care of your own business, Ves. ” She said while they were relaxing in the lounge compartment.
”I ’m a big girl, you know.
I can take care of myself.
It ’s just a bit of work.
I won ’t be able to accompany you in designing another mech for some time. ”

Her rosy scent wafted over his nose like poison, lulling him in a state of fascination.
He dearly missed her presence during his time of captivity and couldn ’t get enough of Gloriana ’s company!

”How long will you be preoccupied? ” Ves asked.

If Gloriana became indisposed, Ves would lose the advantage that their collaboration brought.
Not only would he lose out on her specialty, but he would also lack the synergy that gave his designs an extra edge!

”It depends.
Don ’t worry.
There aren ’t any urgent design projects on the agenda, right? The Ylvaine Protectorate is in a decent shape these days.
The Deliverer is already doing great work in repelling the sandmen. ”

”That will only last until the sandman race evolves their fleets yet again. ” Ves cautioned.
”They ’ve already changed their methods several times over the course of the Sand War.
What if they stop forming sandman swarms and instead rely completely on monolith configurations? ”

This was a very valid worry that weighed on everyone ’s minds.
The sandmen may not be particularly smart or quick in their thinking, but they weren ’t averse to change!

Once the sandmen switch gears and render the Deliverer ’s Ylvaine-blessed abilities irrelevant, how could his latest mech design play a meaningful role?

There was no need for accuracy or guidance to land a hit on a humongous, capital ship-sized monolith! Even the worst mech pilot could hit the broad side of a barn!

”The possibility does exist. ” Gloriana conceded.
”Yet the Sandman Emperor is dead now.
Without their highest direction, are they still as capable? ”

”Who knows if they will appoint a new sandman leader to the position. ”

In truth, Ves knew that Sigrund was the true mastermind behind the suicidal sandman invasion.
The Sand War had raged long enough and plenty of changes had occurred.

There was no way Sigrund seriously banked on the sandmen to wipe out every human in the Komodo Star Sector.

Even if this highly unlikely outcome took place, there was no way the CFA and MTA would ignore this supposedly weak alien race any longer!

No alien race massacred trillions of humans and got away with it! The dignity of the human race must still be maintained!

His intuition told him that whatever Sigrund was up to, he might have gotten what he wanted at this time.
There was no need for the hybrid AI to strengthen the sandmen any further, especially because his actions had already started to touch Ves ’ bottom line!

Ves sighed and leaned against Gloriana ’s body.
”We ’ll just see what happens.
I ’m not the only mech designer who contributed to the war effort, and the states under siege aren ’t princesses who only need saving.
Our existing designs are more than adequate to handle any further challenges. ”

The Soldier product line still served a very prominent role in bolstering the states engulfed in the Sand War.

The handful of news articles he browsed when he wanted to catch up with current affairs even attributed the continued survival of several states to the spread of the Desolate Soldier!

One of the most prominent examples was the Reinald Republic, which has lost over half of its territory and population to the sandmen!

Though the state suffered enormously, many Reinaldans still managed to live with the help of his products!

Ves felt rather mixed about this outcome.
He had no love for the Reinald Republic and would not shed a tear if it fell.
For him to contribute materially to the survival of this half-rotten did not make him proud at all! Even now, they were probably attempting to pirate his designs!

Still, as much as he resented Reinald, the state had to survive, or else the other beleaguered states would fall.

”It ’s a shame you don ’t have the time to work on a project with me. ” He sighed.
”I was planning on embarking on a new and revolutionary design project, but I guess I ’ll have to wait until you are free. ”

”Oh? ” Gloriana raised her eyebrow.
”What strange idea do you have now? ”

”I was partially inspired by Aisling Curver ’s design philosophy.
When I read some of the books and notes she left behind, I gained some inspiration from her research direction.
Studying the four bodyguard mechs I ’ve adapted into battle bots has given me even more ideas on how I should make use of this idea.
It ’s quite radical, and I don ’t think there is anything like it in the existing mech industry! ”

While Ves revealed some of his intentions, he didn ’t notice Gloriana dropping her smile and glowering when he mentioned Lady Curver ’s name.

The fact that his latest inspiration came from the woman who attempted to steal her precious boyfriend was a huge affront!

She clutched his shirt with an iron grip.
”Enough! Is your kidnapper your only source of inspiration?! ”

”You ’ll love it when I ’m ready to explain it.
Even I can ’t imagine I would ever come up with such a revolutionary new idea if not for this turn of events! I have to thank Aisling for pointing out this direction for me.
If not for all of the help she inadvertently provided to me, my next mech design would never be as innovative! ”


Gloriana grabbed him by the collar and attempted to shake his upper body back and forth!

Unfortunately, his augmented physique turned him into a solid brick! There was no way her feeble arms could shake his body!

It was at this time that Ves finally realized the mistake he made.
He got so caught up in his fantastic new design concept that he overlooked the impact of his words to his girlfriend!

”Stop, please.
Calm down! ”

After grabbing hold of Gloriana ’s arms and forcing her to stillness, Ves pressed his forehead against her own while looking intimately in her eyes.

”Inspiration can come from many sources.
I know you don ’t like Aisling.
I hate her as well.
Yet that does not hinder me from taking advantage of my exposure to her and her specialty.
We ’re mech designers.
We should grab any chance to progress our design philosophies further, whether it comes from friends or foes.
Understand? ”

As a mech designer herself, she knew that Ves had a point.
She subsided a bit.
”Sorry, Ves.
You ’re right.
I don ’t want you to give up a way to improve just because I don ’t like the source of your inspiration. ”

”It ’s the same as if I held an exchange with a peer.
By exchanging our views and learning from each other ’s methods, we can always crystallize radical new design possibilities. ”

Though the tension between them hadn ’t entirely dissipated, both of them missed each other too much to allow a minor spat to get in the way of their reunion.

It was as if they entered a honeymoon period.
Each time they met each other, they ignored everything else and blissfully enjoyed each other ’s company.

Not everyone was happy with their silly moments together.

Ranya Wodin, who opted to stay aboard the Stellar Chaser in order to supervise Ves ’ recovery, faked a gag when she saw the lovebirds embrace each other for a kiss.

”Can ’t I enjoy my breakfast in peace?! ” She slammed her fork against the table.
”The two of you have been acting like love drunk idiots all morning now! Mr.
Larkinson, don ’t you think you are being presumptuous against a Hexer? And Gloriana, have you forgotten your station?! ”

Though Ves quickly withdrew as if chastened, Gloriana dragged him back and leaned on his arm and shoulder.

”Don ’t be so serious, Ranya. ” Gloriana smiled teasingly at her cousin.
”Ves isn ’t like the other boys.
Besides, this is my ship.
I get to do anything I want here! You ’re not my mother! ”

”I think your mother would be disgusted by how you are fawning over a mixed breed. ”

”As long as my doggy can bite, who cares about his breed? The other puppies from the Hegemony are more known for their bark than bite! ”

”Not every dog from the Hegemony is useless, Gloriana.
Your older brother is a prime example of that! There are more boys like him out there! I can introduce you to some if you want! ”

”No thanks.
Ves is perfect enough as it is.
You just don ’t know it yet! ”

Ves raised his hand.
”Uhm, I ’m a cat person. ”

”I know. ” Gloriana giggled.
”It ’s just a figure of speech, Ves. ”

”It seems I will need to accelerate your treatment schedule. ” Ranya muttered and turned her attention away from the two divergent lovers.

They were too different! In Ranya ’s eyes, there was hardly any for them to be together! Gloriana was way out of this Brighter ’s league as far as she was concerned.

In fact, the Wodin Dynasty shouldn ’t have tolerated their relationship in the first place! How Gloriana managed to convince her famously strict mother to remain with Ves was a mystery.

After this small incident, Ranya promptly dragged Ves to the ship ’s infirmary and forced him to undergo numerous examinations and treatments.

Even if not enough time had passed for the next round to begin, Ranya still wanted to make Ves suffer!

”Ahh! ” He screamed as an awfully long needle poked his buttocks! ”Didn ’t you swear some kind of oath!? ”

”I ’m merely doing what is best for you. ” Ranya grinned as she brushed aside her odd green hair from her face.
”Besides, didn ’t you originally invite me to perform an implantation surgery? I need to study the properties of your physical body in great detail to ensure it goes smoothly! With the sheer number of abnormalities in your body and genes, installing a cranial implant is anything but simple! The further you are from a baseline human, the harder it is to perform operations on you.
Didn ’t anyone teach you this lesson? ”

Ves was already aware of this to some extent, but he didn ’t know it added to the difficulty of installing implants.

”You know about the Archimedes Rubal implant, right? ”

”Gloriana informed me.
One of the exobiologists in your employ sent me the relevant data. ” Ranya notified.
”It ’s a very sophisticated implant.
Even if it ’s outdated, it is still very useful! I ’m surprised you managed to stumble upon this relic. ”

”You ’d be surprised what kind of treasures you can pick up from the frontier. ”

Ranya scoffed.
”From the looks of it, you belong there. ”

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