ere he tried to solve a fictional city ’s chicken theft spree.

The lack of depth and the substantial amount of detachment in these games bored Ves to tears.
”Anyone who plays these games are either kids or adults looking to escape reality. ”

So even virtual games couldn ’t stoke his passion.
Ves scratched his head and sighed.
”I ’m such a quintessential mech head.
My entire life is geared towards mechs! ”

It was not as if he understood where others got their enjoyment from their hobbies.
They simply didn ’t resonate to Ves.
His body and mind had been wired in a different way to most people, and it received a further transformation from his adventure at Groening IV.

”I ’ve got alien genes in my body.
Maybe that ’s got to do with my lethargy. ”

He couldn ’t deny that Ves still didn ’t understand his body.
Even though he regularly visited a specialist from Sanyal-Ablin, he still felt a bit unsettled by the changes wrought by the additional organs in his body.

His Jutland organ still continued to circulate an invisible energy loop in his body.
While his treatments helped subside some of the organ ’s strange effects, Ves always considered it with a wary eye.

For this reason, Ves declined to participate in any sports.
His posthuman body gave him an unnatural advantage in this area.
Many sports clubs automatically bar their gates towards any genetic deviants like him.
They wanted to maintain an even playing field for the most numerous species of mankind.

”I can ’t blame them for doing so.
They ’ll unleash a race towards hybridization if they allow people who muck up their genetics with alien traits in their ranks. ”

Ves considered taking a hobby closer to his calling, such as constructing functional scale miniatures or designing so-called ’fantasy mechs ’.

The latter consisted of designing mechs using technology or principles beyond humanity ’s reach.
In many cases, this referred to magic.

Several popular virtual games took place in a low-tech fantasy environment.
The mechs that sometimes appeared in these settings ran on either pure magic or a combination of magic and technology.
They provided an alternative to those who wanted to play with mechs but didn ’t wish to simulate reality so closely.

He briefly considered diving into this world, but begged it off after a while.
”If I ’m going to escape from my work, I better not be doing the same thing. ”

By now, even his subordinates grew exasperated by his ineptness at finding a distraction.
Carlos tutted at him with a tired expression.
”For heaven ’s sake, Ves, just get off your butt and go take a walk or something.
There ’s plenty of things to do in downtown Freslin. ”

”I ’m kind of under constant threat right now.
My security guards advised me against taking casual walks outside.
Who knows how many greedy criminals are waiting to kidnap me outside. ”

The LMC made a fortune out of its recent sales.
No one could hide that fact, especially since dozens of news portals published articles about his products.
The more money he accumulated, the more scrutiny he attracted.

Few of those gazes had the best intentions in mind.

Frankly, Ves started to feel that his current security arrangements could use some adjustment.
Melkor and Raella helped by patrolling with their mechs, but Ves could hardly demand they stay inside their mechs for an entire day.

Work constantly tempted him back, but he resisted.
”The workshop doesn ’t need me right now. ”

At the moment, the LMC only produced the silver label Mark II ’s.
That didn ’t mean the design posed no challenges, but with Carlos on hand, his employees should be able to handle any problems themselves.

The new workplace culture started to show its effects.
Under a combination of positive reinforcement and leading by example, Chief Cyril managed to instill the mech technicians with a sense of initiative.
They loosened up and started giving out suggestions on how to improve particular processes.

Even if their ideas turned out to be brain-dead stupid, at least they made an effort.
Ves had no wish to turn his company into a soulless profit-driven enterprise where its workers were treated like cogs in a machine.
Carlos often complained about treated like dirt in his previous job as a quality control inspector at a major mech manufacturing plant.

Ves turned back to his quest to find a hobby.
He even asked Lucky if he had any suggestions on what to do.
The mechanical cat let out a puzzling meow before turning back to munching on a chunk of minerals, tail swishing lazily all the while.

”Okay then.
Enjoy your meal. ”

Should he simply give up on his search or find a girlfriend to spend his time with? Ves quickly ruled out these options.

”Maybe I should go on a vacation. ”

He considered spending time on a retreat not too far away from home.
While Ves liked to experience a change in scenery, he didn ’t wish to stay aboard a ship for weeks at a time.
He couldn ’t afford to take too much time out of work.

The idea stood out as a great way to experience something new without making a substantial commitment to his time.
With the speed of his Barracuda, he could easily reach most star systems within Bentheim ’s sphere of influence in a couple of days.

Ves browsed through a selection of nearby star systems and planets.
Every settled planet in the Republic offered something unique to tourists.
Even a boring place like Cloudy Curtain turned into a refuge for those that lived on worlds with very strong suns.

He paused flicking through the destinations when he came across an aquatic planet called Moira ’s Paradise.
Water covered the entire globe except for a couple of artificial islands.
Its settlers built many cities underwater.

While the planet originally offered very little in the way of aquatic flora and fauna, its enterprising citizens imported many remarkable alien wildlife into its ecosystem.
They even managed to get their hands on a couple of exotic creatures that could only be found in the galactic heartland or the galactic center.

All of them deserved a closer look.

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