sion that you ’re a man of honor. ”

”I ’m not a knight mech pilot, you know. ”

”You ’re a perfect fit for a knight if you aren ’t so good at ranged combat. ”

”I take it you didn ’t come here to talk about my loyalties and mech inclinations.
Spit it out.
What do you really have in mind? ”

”Alright, I have two priorities in mind, and they ’re kind of connected.
As you might have heard, the LMC is doing really well now.
The truth is that it ’s entered into an explosive growth phase.
I ’m expecting the company to earn well over 10 billion credits in the current fiscal year. ”

”That ’s some serious money! ” Melkor replied with awe.
”This is only the second year you began to do business, right? Are all mech designers so rich? ”

”Of course not! I ’m something of an outlier here.
I ’m really good at my job. ”

”Right. ”

Ves couldn ’t say he had the System to thank for his rapid growth.
This allowed him to catch up and exceed his peers who studied in prestigious schools in second-rate states like the Friday Coalition.

If not for the System, Ves would have gone bankrupt almost immediately after receiving his father ’s indebted assets.
While that wouldn ’t ruin his life, he ’d be forced to toil as a factory supervisor or something instead of fulfilling his dream of designing mechs.

He unconsciously recalled the time he visited a museum on Moira ’s Paradise.
The oceanic planet ’s museum featured an amusing exhibit of a mirror that purported to show the viewer of his reflection from another reality.

Ves came across himself as a loser.

He quickly shook his head.
That dready future hadn ’t come to pass.
Instead, he became a successful mech designer and businessman who earned more than ninety-nine percent of the rest of the Republic.

He truly belonged to the upper echelon of the Republic now that he helmed a multi-billion credit company.
And this was just the start.
His ambitions stretched much further, and to accomplish his plans, he needed reliable people at his side.

”Let me get to the point. ” Ves pulled his mind back to the present.
”Currently, I ’ve signed a contract with Sanyal-Ablin to provide security for my premises.
They ’ve done a decent job so far and they ’re also involved with designing and constructing the LMC ’s new manufacturing complex.
However, I can ’t take them along whenever I go out on another ’adventure ’ as you say.
They don ’t offer those kinds of services.
It ’s too risky, they say. ”

It also embroiled the supposedly neutral security company in a lot of political messes.
Only mercenaries dared to accept these kinds of duties, and only at great cost.
Even then, their trustworthiness would always be rather fluid.

”I ’m looking to establish a personal force that works solely under my name.
I want you to create one from scratch. ”

This time, Melkor became fully alert.
He stopped relaxing against the sofa and immediately sat upright.

”Why are you setting up a personal force? ” He asked with genuine puzzlement.
”Doesn ’t it make more sense to slap together a company security force? ”

The difference between the two was that one force worked for an individual and the other owed their loyalties to the entire company.

The Bright Republic treated the two very differently.
A company security force often followed a strict regime and they always followed orders from a group of decision makers.

Mech pilots considered a career into company security forces to be a stable, low-risk track.
While they didn ’t earn as much as mercenaries, at least they ’d be able to live with their families all year round.

In contrast, the Republic often treated a personal security force as a group of thugs.
To be fair, personal forces often ended up proving their bad reputations as they enforced their employer ’s private dealings.

And now, Ves just suggested that he had need of his own group of ruffians.
This did not inspire a lot of confidence in Melkor.

”It ’s not what you think. ” Ves quickly added.
”The reason why I want a personal force is because I ’m planning to go on my own expeditions in the future.
It ’s hard to compel a company security force to follow me into far-flung territories. ”

”That makes a lot of sense.
But why are you so insistent on raising your own force? ”

”Because I ’m a big shot now.
I should act like it.
I ’m tired of being left out of the loop.
I ’ve also had it with being treated like a footsoldier.
Since I have all of this money, I figured why not invest in my own mechs and ships? I want to take back some control over my life.
I don ’t want to be left at the whims of the mistakes that other people have made. ”

Ves already laid out a vision for his small but promising personal force.
He ’d put Captain Silvestra in charge of the ships and Melkor in charge of the mechs.
With the two of them working together, Ves had a lot of faith they ’d be able to whip a crew into shape.

”This is really big, Ves.
I have to think about it.
I never considered going down this route after I left the Mech Corps. ”

”Look, Melkor, I know you ’re reluctant right now, but think about my success so far.
This is only my second year of operation.
What heights do you think I ’ll be able to reach ten years from now? What about twenty years? ”

Even Ves hardly dared to dream so big.
By the time the next generation came into being, he ’d almost certainly be a Journeyman Mech Designer.

The mech industry widely considered this stage as the first, formal start of a mech designer ’s career.
Novices and Apprentices were still considered underage.
The chances of someone getting stalled in these stages were extremely high.

Only those who reached the enviable height of Journeyman would finally be treated with consideration on par with an expert mech pilot.

This put Melkor to thought.
Even if he didn ’t hold much hopes to advancing to expert mech pilot himself, working for a Journeyman would open up a lot of doors for him.
Perhaps he ’d even be able to borrow Ves ’ influence to help him in his breakthroughs.

Unlike Captain Silvestra, Melkor needed no further consideration.
”I ’ll do it.
You can count me in. ”

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