nfully clear.

In contrast, the difficulty of advancing meant that the number of Journeymen that emerged never satisfied the Republic.
Journeymen enjoyed special consideration by the state because each of them was a potential money maker for the economy.
The most successful among them designed attractive mechs that sold well throughout the star sector or beyond.

Seeing that all of his attempts to fend off the request fell on flat ears, Ves sighed.
”Can you at least explain what this mission entails, sir? ”

”Not without receiving your commitment to participate in this mission. ” The professor shook his head.
He reached down from his desk and placed a secure data pad before Ves.
”The mission we have in mind for you is fairly sensitive, so we first need to bring you aboard before we can reveal the details to you.
Please sign the documents in the pad. ”

Ves gazed at the secure data pad as if it was a venomous snake poised to bite his hand.
He was practically being railroaded in participating in this special mission!

”I believe Flashlight would be better served if someone with the right training and qualifications undergoes their missions rather than an amateur like me.
To be honest, much of my earlier accomplishments are highly overstated.
The only reason why I got these awards in the first place is because it served the political interests of someone powerful. ”

Professor Enoch paused and tapped his finger against his desk.
The small smirk on his face showed that he wasn ’t unaware of what Ves was doing right now.

”The Bright Republic is a meritocracy.
We have to be.
The Vesians, for all of their barbarity, are remarkably effective in motivating their commoners by dangling the hopes of obtaining peerage.
As your awards have already shown, the Mech Corps can be generous to their heroes.
Flashlight is no less reserved when it comes to rewarding success. ”

That caught Ves ’ attention.
”What kind of… remuneration is in consideration if I make a good effort? ”

”There are a number of benefits should you choose to engage with Flashlight in earnest.
As only agents of a certain status within the organization are able to participate in this mission, we will upgrade your status from a conscripted mech designer attached to Flashlight into an external collaborator of our esteemed organization. ”

”Does that mean I ’ll formally join Flashlight? ”

”Not exactly. ” The professor shook his head.
”The difference between a collaborator and a member of Flashlight is that the latter are direct members while the former are merely people who cooperate with some of our initiatives.
The benefit is that we will not expect you to dedicate your entire life to the service, but in turn you won ’t be able to climb in the service.
It ’s a shame we didn ’t get to you earlier. ”

”If I ’m upgraded to an external collaborator for Flashlight, what benefits am I entitled to receive? ”

”Certain individuals in Flashlight has impressed upon us to take over the role over supervising your mech company from the Ministry of Economic Development.
You have to know that this particular ministry is very greedy about the companies under their benevolent rule.
We need to pay a substantial price to pry one of their companies from their grip.
Therefore, I ’m sorry to say that this particular favor hasn ’t been fulfilled.
If you suddenly become an external collaborator, then the situation is entirely different. ”

Ves understood.
If Ves maintained an ongoing relationship with Flashlight, then it would make sense for his company to come under their supervision.
This would allow them to leverage his company to further their interests.

While Ves wasn ’t pleased at all to have any government entities interfering with his business, he slowly learned over time that all major businesses became subject to government control in some sense.
This was the standard in the Bright Republic and much of the Komodo Star Sector.

Therefore, rather than surrendering his company to the bloated Ministry of Economic Development, Ves would rather accept some constraints from Flashlight which was much less inclined to exercise any overt control due to their covert nature.

It would defeat the point of maintaining a veil of secrecy if the LMC became a known front for Flashlight!

”Are there any other rewards for becoming a collaborator? What ’s in store for me if I perform the mission to Flashlight ’s satisfaction? ”

”We have not fixed any concrete rewards as of yet, but success will firmly validate your perceived value to the service.
On top of that, a good performance will also settle the doubts of skeptics and stifle the criticism of naysayers.
Winning over the support of the bulk of the service is vital if you wish to cooperate fruitfully with Flashlight as an external collaborator. ”

All of the claims made by Professor Enoch sounded a bit too vague to Ves ’ liking.
Yet he knew the importance of getting on the good side of Flashlight.
Major Verle did warn him several times that he needed to find a backer in the intelligence agency in order to maintain a firm footing in their company.

Equivocating or refusing this mission would not only displease Professor Enoch and those that favored him, but would also strengthen the voices of his critics within the service!

The picture Professor Enoch painted for Ves all encouraged him to accept this dangerous venture.
Though he knew that he ’d be able to earn a lot of kudos from Flashlight if he did so, he had no idea of how much danger he ’d be subjected to if he said yes!

Ves grumbled inwardly that he really should have been more appreciative of his boring and tedious job as supervisor of the Second Analysis Team.
Riding herd on a bunch of entitled mech designers in a quiet place like Frozen Point sounded a lot better than participating in some murky mission in a chaotic place like Bentheim!

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