When Ves delved into the galactic net and called up a limited summary of the LMC ’s earnings, he became surprised how much it had earned since he left for the Glowing Planet.

The LMC itself made a good chunk of profit by selling over thirty silver label Blackbeaks at elevated prices.
The profit margin went up over time as Marcella likely took advantage of the increased demand of the silver label model.

Right now, the company made around 30 million credits per mech in gross profits! To put that into perspective, if Ves extrapolated this performance to an entire year, the company could easily rake in over 5 billion credits in profits with its own production alone!

”It ’s too bad we aren ’t producing the Blackbeaks fast enough. ” Ves shook his head.

Even if the LMC possessed a fantastic production line, it could only do so much.
Fabricating one comech like the Blackbeak was the best that the LMC could achieve.

”I should consider adding another production line in the near future.
This bottleneck is really starting to annoy me. ”

He also wanted to reduce his reliance on third-party manufacturers, though he guessed he ’d never be able to get rid of them.
The more his designs caught on, the more people wanted to buy his products.

Many other manufacturers possessed a head-start compared to the LMC in investing in their production capacity.
In the short and medium term, it made more sense to license his designs to third parties.

However, Ves believed that ultimately the LMC would catch up when it reinvested its profits into adding new production lines.

”The profits I ’m earning from the licensing deals will help a lot. ”

Compared to the insane profit margins of the silver label Blackbeaks, the bronze label versions obviously earned the LMC a trickle of money.

Elemental Mech Engineering sold just over a hundred mechs each month and paid the LMC 2.5 million credits per sale.

In a business perspective, the EME profited big at the expense of the LMC, as the third-party only had to handover a flat fee per mech while being able to jack up its prices to take advantage of the increased demand for the entire product line.
Ves, Marcella and his company had done the heavy lifting to promote the Blackbeak design.
He risked his reputation and Melinda ’s life by accepting a public design duel against Michael Dumont.

Still, as much as Ves could harp on EME ’s freeloading, the company at least produced decent mechs.
The reviews and comments on their products had generally been positive, and nobody complained about the minor imperfections they still hadn ’t been able to eliminate.

The LMC would be set to earn about 3 billion credits per year in licensing fees from the EME.
This was a very tidy income stream considering that Ves and his company didn ’t need to lift a finger to earn this sum.

If the EME already made a modest contribution to his company ’s earnings, then the newer income stream from Vaun really ratcheted it up.

Vaun Industrial had hit the ground running as soon as they signed the licensing contract about a month ago.
They allocated a significant amount of production lines to the first batches of Blackbeaks.

Impressively enough, almost none of the copies featured any faults or imperfections.
This enabled them to sell their bronze label Blackbeaks at a slightly higher price than EME.

More remarkable was that Vaun Industrial skipped the local markets entirely.
Instead of selling their mechs in Bentheim alongside the offerings of the LMC and the EME, Vaun had made the bold decision to export it across the Republic ’s borders.

Vaun had actually managed to sell the Blackbeak in the Ylvain Protectorate of all places!

”I thought those religious nutjobs always turned up their noses against foreign mechs. ”

Bordering on the far side of the Bright Republic ’s borders, the Ylvain Protectorate was a rather peculiar third-rate state.
Similar to the Hexarchic Hegemony, the government instituted a strong religious regime, practically brainwashing its citizens from birth.

The Ylvainans grew up to be a closed and xenophobic bunch.
This happened to make their state a favored recruiting ground for the CFA, who constantly needed new blood to crew their warships.

Compared to their passion for warships, the Ylvainans were less impressed with mechs.
Even though they understood their necessity and oriented a significant part of their society to mechs, they only maintained a robust defence force and had never shown any signs of aggression.

This pretty much made them one of the best neighbors of the Bright Republic.
The Ylvainans would never ally themselves with the Vesians and attack the Republic from two fronts.

”Vaun isn ’t satisfied with exporting the Blackbeaks to the Ylvainans alone.
They ’re also starting to break grounds in other foreign markets. ”

Ves didn ’t know what to think about their ambitious actions.
They basically pre-empted the LMC by expanding into the foreign markets first.
Would the LMC still have room left to sell their own products once they finally got around to exporting their own products across the border?

The conflicts of interests that resulted in such a clash might upend their entire relationship.
On the other hand, Vaun also did the heavy lifting in creating a demand for the product line outside the Republic.

”It feels weird for my company to be the freeloader this time. ”

In any case, the relatively high volume of production already netted the LMC a lot of money.
Regardless if the mechs sold or not, Vaun had to pay the licensing fees upon producing a model.

This already netted the LMC around 700 million credits.
Vaun already showed signs of ramping up their production even further, but even if it maintained the same level of production, they still had to pay over 8 billion credits to his company on an annual basis!

Compared to what Ves earned from his contributions on the Glowing Planet, the LMC generated at least five times as much money!

”They didn ’t even need to risk their lives. ” He muttered.

This was such a drastic rise in profits especially since the LMC didn ’t incur that much expenses.
The LMC would have earned a multitude more money if it didn ’t have to rely on third-party manufacturers to compensate for its inadequate production capacity.

Considering the ridiculous amount of licensing fees that Vaun Industrial transferred to the LMC, Ves found it hard to stay angry at the board.

While it didn ’t appear that Ves was short on money, he knew that things might change once the war started in earnest.
In addition, he also needed to accumulate a lot of money to take part in the introduction of the next generation of mechs less than nine years from now.

The first licenses always cost the most.
Even a warchest of 100 billion credits wouldn ’t be sufficient to get ahold of a single nextgen component license.

License costs usually halved after a year or two, but by then the initial investors had gained a decisive first mover advantage in the rebooted mech market.
Once these investors gained a lead, it was hard to knock them down from their pedestals.

Still, thanks to his earnings, the LMC was well on track to take part in the coming race.

”All of this is thanks to my Blackbeak design. ”

Without his skills and his expensive and exclusive component licences, he ’d never be able to design a mech that could stand on its own in the mech industry.
Both of these factors comprised the core ingredients to the success of his design.

He didn ’t grow too conceited at his design ’s amazing performance.
It had taken a lot of work to gather all the ingredients.
Without risking his life on Groening IV, Ves would have likely continued to piddle in the mud with the increasingly aging Marc Antony Mark II design.

Only by stepping out of his comfort zone and do the jobs that others were afraid of doing did he elevate himself above his peers.

”I kind of understand Master Olson ’s perspective now. ”

He always understood that going on expeditions increased a mech designer ’s perspective and polished their skills.

Yet enriching his perspective only formed half of the benefits.

The other half consisted of material rewards.
The harvest made on the expedition along with the rewards given by others for completing a mission played a crucial role in accelerating his career.

Right now, besides padding his personal bank account with a couple of extra billion credits, Ves also fulfilled a mission from the Clifford Society.
He already sent the logs of the Whalers to one of their addresses.

Once the Society confirmed their authenticity, Ves would be credited with another 200 merits.
He could do a lot with such a generous amount of merits, from acquiring exclusive Coalition licenses to buying premium production equipment.

He also earned big from the System.
While the golden lottery tickets were a bit iffy, he did gain the amazing Amastendira laser pistol from the random draw.

That weapon alone was worth more than the annual profit of a major mech manufacturer.
Although the System hadn ’t managed to recover it to its prime state, its ridiculous power and capacity meant that Ves feared no threat on foot.

The Transcendence Pill also formed a unique reward.
Ordinarily, he should have only been able to get his hands on such a pill much later on when he became a Journeyman Mech Designer.
To be able to upgrade his mental parameters beyond the human limit so early would definitely help him advance much faster.

As for the mysterious Special Upgrade Voucher (Machine), Ves browsed his Inventory and scanned its description again.

[Special Upgrade Voucher (Machine)]
This voucher can be applied to any object that fits the definition ’machine ’ and will comprehensively upgrade them to a higher rank.
The smaller the machine, the more extensive the upgrade.
This voucher is less effective on advanced and complex machines.

From what Ves understood of the brief description, he could apply the voucher to anything from his Amastendira to the Barracuda.
It just wouldn ’t be very effective if he used the voucher on those two machines.

”The Amastendira is so advanced the System categorizes it with the rank of Supreme.
I ’ve never seen a Supreme-ranked item before in my life.
Even the old Lucky is only rated gold by the System. ”

As for the Barracuda, she consisted of several millions of tons of both regular and exotic alloys.
Perhaps the entire energy of the voucher would only be able to improve its acceleration by one percent or something.

In conclusion, the voucher failed to match his expectations.
”As expected of the System. ”

From the golden lottery tickets to the limited capabilities of the upgrade voucher, the System really pulled the wool over its eyes.
It surely profited big when it absorbed the strange diamond-like jewel that Ves had recovered from the skull of that long-dead giant.

”What ’s up with the giant, anyway? ”

The entire Glowing Planet had been weird from the start.
From destroying ships with spacetime anomalies, to messing up the energy cells with the overcharge phenomenon, everything about the planet pointed to a sense that it didn ’t welcome any visitors.

Its temper tantrum upon stealing the jewel only reinforced that idea.

All of these happenings prompted Ves to ask a very absurd question.
”Is the planet… alive? ”

Ves didn ’t dare to guess the answer.
He had only scratched the surface of the Glowing Planet ’s origins and didn ’t wish to make a faulty assumption.

At least he left all of its horrors behind.
Of all the awful things that happened to him, meeting the ghost that wore his mother ’s face was the worst.
He never really made up his mind about his mother.

Malicious or not, the dead should have moved on from this reality, or at least stay out of sight of their descendants.

”I ’m glad I won ’t have to see her again. ”

The Happy Jelly travelled several light-years away from the Glowing Planet by now.
There was no way he would encounter the ghost again.

Would he?

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