As Ves exited the medical bay garbed in his CFA uniform, he thought over his priorities.
His foremost goal was to look out for himself.
Cooperating with Miss Calabast served his interest because they each required something from each other.
As long as they worked together in good faith, Ves held hope that he could find a way out of this cursed planet.

”However, since I ’m already here, I should maximize my benefits while I can. ”

The priming agent and gene optimization treatment both sounded incredibly attractive to him.
He did not plan to let them slip away from his grasp.

Nonetheless, Ves couldn ’t neglect his duty for the Bright Republic either.
He still intended to find a way to rescue Ketis and the remnants of the Vandals and the Swordmaidens.
As long as he lent them a hand and helped them complete their secretive mission, Ves would earn an unimaginable amount of kudos from the Bright Republic, the Mech Corps and Flashlight.

With their gratitude, Ves would be able to cash in all of those favors after the war, removing some of the roadblocks that stifled the development of his Living Mech Company.

Nonetheless, it wouldn ’t be easy to meet all of these objectives! Just like when he first started off as a mech designer, he was short on money!

He needed to earn lots of merits.
Not only did he require merits to make him eligible for promotion, he also needed them to exchange for all of the goodies in his wish list.

Not only that, but he needed to do so quickly! Time was against his side.
He needed to complete as many of his goals as possible before the Vesians or hostile virtual officers turned against him and the rest of the Flagrant Swordmaidens!

Shortly after Ves left the medical bay, Miss Calabast turned up again in her identity as Lieutenant Summer of the Intelligence Department.
She still wore her infiltrator suit and all of her gear, and made for a very stark contrast against his standard-issue CFA officer uniform with ensign rank insignia.

As soon as she sought him out, Ves remembered to stand at attention and salute her.
”Good day, ma ’am. ”

She grinned.
”Don ’t be so stiff.
Even a bot can tell your salute is insincere. ”

”A viper like you doesn ’t deserve sincerity. ”

”Haven ’t you ever heard that you ’re saluting the rank, not the person? ”

”I must have missed that lesson in my time at a CFA bootcamp. ”

Of course, Ves never went through a CFA bootcamp as stated on his forged identity ’s record.

”Enough joking around. ” Miss Calabast dropped her smirk and turned serious.
”I ’ve got two pieces of news for you.
First, I ’ve ’arranged ’ the matter we ’ve spoken about before.
I expect a positive result when you take your next promotion test.
How much time do you need before you are eligible for promotion? ”

”Not very much.
The Research Department is a gold mine for earning merits.
I ’m confident enough with my capabilities that I can complete many different stalled research projects.
I ’ve also obtained some extra merits by allowing the chief armorer from the Marine Detachment to study my gear. ”

”You are doing better than expected.
I ’m glad to see my choice in you is vindicated.
I always knew that you are more than meets the eye. ” She smiled in a pleasing fashion.
”Still, don ’t get complacent too soon.
Besides informing you about your promotion test, I also have some bad news for you.
The expert pilot of the Hostland Warriors has succeeded in passing the recruitment test! ”

His heart shook a little.
Although he expected such a result, it was still a shock to hear she passed so quickly and decisively.
”What is Venerable Foster ’s status in the Starlight Megalodon? ”

”She succeeded against all odds and managed to pass the recruitment test for non-CFA personnel.
The ability she demonstrated has caught the Mech Department ’s attention.
She ’s on a fast-track for promotion and development right now, and with how the Mech Department prizes her, it ’s not out of the question that she will be able to promote with rapid speed.
She ’s already a lieutenant, which grants her numerous privileges. ”

Ves cursed in his heart.
A lieutenant already outranked an ensign like him.
Technically speaking, Venerable Foster would be able to boss him around in many ways if they ever encountered each other.
That made his upcoming shift in the Mech Department a very precarious affair!

”Will she be able to harm me if we ever meet? ”

”Not so easily. ” Miss Calabast shook her head, reassuring him a little.
”You ’re not under her chain of command and CFA officers aren ’t allowed to lay their hands on each other on purpose.
She can still make your life miserable in many ways, though, so stay on your ties and bear with it.
You can give me a call on your CFA comm if she steps over the line. ”

”Thanks. ”

”No problem.
I ’m relying you to access certain sensitive research projects under the Research Department.
There is no way I ’m letting those Vesians lay a hand on you.
For now, just focus on staying alive and promoting your rank.
Your promotion to Senior Apprentice Mech Designer should be in the bag soon.
I ’ll be away to lay the groundwork for the promotion after that.
As long as you succeed in becoming a Senior Mech Designer and a lieutenant commander of the CFA, your authority and security clearance will meet the requirements to access the research projects. ”

I ’ll do my best to cooperate as long as you keep your end of the bargain. ”

Miss Calabast nodded to him and strutted away after a short farewell.
Obviously, hacking the promotion test to Senior Mech Designer wouldn ’t be as easy as her last hacking attempts.

He watched her leave with a spark of suspicion glinting in his eyes.
Even though they both depended on each other to get what they wanted, as soon as she got what she wanted, she had no more incentive to lend a hand to him.
At that time, what might greet him next was not a smirk, but a stab in the back.

After the short meeting with Calabast, Ves raced down to the lower decks to start his shift with the Mech Department.
The Mech Department occupied an expansive section of the ship, consisting of numerous workshops, mech stables and hangar bays.

Although the Starlight Megalodon primarily relied on her battleship-grade weapon mounts to establish her prestige, the CFA couldn ’t escape the Age of Mechs.
Just because they favored warships didn ’t mean they were willing to bury their heads in the sand.

No matter how they tried, warships possessed an unfortunate tendency to be rather indiscriminate in their firepower.
Fielding mechs instead of blasting an opponent with hugely destructive guns allowed for much more precision and much less collateral damage.

Human society became much less tolerant of indiscriminate killing and mass murder after living through the Age of Conquest.
While the CFA ’s immense prestige allowed them to break the rules whenever they wanted to, they couldn ’t do so too often without affecting their legitimacy.

Therefore, they unwillingly incorporated mechs as one of their staple weapons.

As Ves reached the section of the ship that housed the Mech Department, he became impressed by how much room had been dedicated to housing them.
The Starlight Megalodon was an immense battleship, and could easily afford to dedicate half of the internal volume of a fleet carrier to the Mech Department.

This told him that the Starlight Megalodon was designed from the ground up to accommodate mechs.

As Ves walked past several compartments related to mechs, he saw that they were largely dormant like the rest of the ship.
Without humans, the Starlight Megalodon was like an empty shell.
While the bots and virtual officers helped keep her functioning, they didn ’t possess the ability to improve the battleship ’s condition.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

After a lengthy walk, Ves finally arrived at an office close to one of the main mech hangar bays.
The hatch instantly slid open, allowing him entry.

His step immediately faltered upon noticing that not one but two people were present!

Virtual Commander Dislan adopted the appearance of a middle-aged veteran mech pilot.
The man chewed on a fake stimulant as he regarded Ves with a tough expression.

Sitting opposite to the desk was the one person that Ves never wanted to encounter on or off the Starlight Megalodon.
Venerable Foster, now garbed in a CFA piloting suit with lieutenant rank insignia, eyed at Ves with mild surprise followed with burning hatred.

Ves tried to ignore her presence as best as possible and went through the motions.
He stood at attention and saluted the virtual commander.

”Ensign Adeseus Longhorn reporting for duty, sir! ”

[At ease, ensign.
Take a seat.]

As Ves sat on the chair next to Venerable Foster, he tried his best to ignore the daggers she sent in his direction.
Virtual Commander Dislan seemed to be completely ignorant of their sour relations.

[Ensign Longhorn, as the second human under my command, I expect a lot from you.
The mechs at my department ’s disposal may look pristine on the outside, but internally they have not aged well.
Our virtual mech designers are useless and our virtual mech technicians are without direction.
I ’ve heard many good things about you from Virtual Commander Cosit, so I even if you aren ’t present here every day, I hope you can turn our department around and restore our mechs to peak condition For now, I ’ve uploaded a list of tasks for you to complete.
Any questions?]

Ves carefully turned his eyes towards the acrimonious expert pilot silently churning next to him.
It was as if he sat a couple of meters away from a roiling volcano!

”Ah, Commander Dislan, if I might ask, who is the mech pilot sitting next to me? ”

The Virtual Commander suddenly beamed.
[I ’m glad you asked! Lieutenant Relia Foster here is our very first human mech pilot after ERROR years.
She has managed to pass the most arduous recruitment test imaginable for mech pilots.
In all the years of my static existence, I never expected a human mech pilot to be so inhumanly skilled in the art of piloting mechs! As of now, Lieutenant Foster is the hope and standard bearer of our department! With her assistance, our Mech Department will no longer languish near the bottom of the totem pole! Therefore, in order to assure our ascension, I hope you can lend her all the assistance that she requires.
Is that clear, Ensign Longhorn?]

”I, ah, we have a contentious history, sir. ” Ves admitted.
”I would prefer to work separately from Lieutenant Foster. ”

Since she passed the recruitment test without relying on tricks such as a forged proof of identity, the Starlight Megalodon commissioned Venerable Foster in her original identity.

At this time, Commander Dislan ’s eyes narrowed.
[Your personal matters does not supplant your duties to the Starlight Megalodon and the CFA.
As a mech designer, it is your duty to assist our mech pilots.
As Lieutenant Foster is our only human mech pilot so far, you have no choice but to serve her to the best of your ability.
Tell me, Ensign Longhorn, are you able to separate your feelings from your work, or do I need to hand you over to the Internal Security Department for some corrective training?]

Ves shuddered.

”Don ’t worry, commander.
I will take good care of ’Ensign Longhorn ’ here. ” Lieutenant Foster threw the virtual officer a friendly smile.
”He can forget about shirking his duty while he ’s under my thumb. ”

[Hahaha! Good! That ’s the spirit! I like your initiative, Lieutenant Foster.
If that ’s the case, I ’m glad to hand him over to you.
The two of you need to get along anyway.]

After a short chitchat where Lieutenant Foster did her best to remain in the virtual commander ’s good books, Dislan finally dismissed them both.

As soon as Ves and Foster exited the office, the expert pilot immediately grabbed his shoulders and slammed him against the bulkhead.

”I recognize you, Vandal! ” She hissed.
”Who are you exactly and what are you doing here?! ”

While her physical force didn ’t harm him all that much, he still suffered under the full weight of her force of will!

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