The armored shuttle finally touched down on the landing pad next to the headquarters of one of Bentheim ’s large mech manufacturers.
The Kadar-Neyvis Group may not be the most established mech company on the planet, but everyone considered it to be on the rise.

This was mainly due to the rare fact that the KNG was led by two married Journeyman Mech Designers.
While marriage between mech designers wasn ’t all that uncommon, it took a rare set of conditions to make two Journeyman, already not that numerous, fall in love and set the conditions to maintain a harmonious personal, business and design relationship.

That Mrs.
Kadar and Mr.
Nevis made their union work without a hitch made for a very encouraging sign for their business prospects.

The headquarters of KNG was located in downtown Dorum like many other notable mech companies.
While companies fought hard to open and maintain an office building in the center of the city, a company as renowned like the KNG shouldn ’t have any problems setting up shop in the most coveted areas of the capital city.

The KNG even managed to place their headquarters at Mech Designer Row, a narrow but highly coveted city district with land prices that went through the roof! Mech Designer Row ’s prime position close to several important government institutions, convention centers, mass transit, cultural attractions, shops and more made it into an extremely attractive piece of real estate.

For example, the Old Commercial District next door hosted one of Bosworth ’s big mech show room.
Ves remembered that he visited Bosworth ’s a long time ago to witness a mastercrafted copy of the Caesar Augustus design.

”It would be nice if my products entered Bosworth ’s product listing one day. ”

The big mech wholesaler, distributor and seller built up an expansive commercial network throughout the third-rate states of the Komodo Star Sector.

A company like Bosworth ’s likely didn ’t put a relatively small player like the LMC in their eyes.
Even the KNG still had ways to go before they became worthy of the big mech wholesaler ’s attention.

”Still, the KNG is a pretty big deal already in the Bright Republic. ”

They took up a position in the mech market which Ves aimed to elevate the LMC to as well one day.

The LMC only offered two main product lines, a knight mech model and a laser rifleman mech model.
Both of them were landbound designs priced in the premium segment, making them fairly niche products with relatively little competition but also little mass appeal.

The KNG pursued a much bolder product strategy.
They designed dozens of mechs falling into a much wider range of mech types and roles.
They didn ’t spread themselves too thin and aimed to achieve a stable market position in the market for budget spaceborn mechs and and very cheap frontline mechs.

From Marcella ’s analysis of the KNG ’s current business strategy, their Spaceborn Mech Division headed by Estella Kadar turned a small but steady stream of profits.

On the other hand, their Frontline Mech Division headed by Antoine Neyvis was much more susceptible to economic boom-and-bust cycles.
When times were good, frontline mechs sold by the thousands every day.
When times became slightly worse, a glut of supply and a shortage of demand meant that they became extremely unprofitable.

Right now, the KNG fell into a time where they became forced to sell their frontline mechs at a loss in order to maintain their perceived market position.

If they stopped selling mechs entirely, then they signalled to the market that the fundamentals of their company was weak.
Mech buyers didn ’t like to purchase mechs from losers because who knew if the company would collapse one day, depriving the buyers of various support services such as repairs, the supply of replacement parts and upgrades.

Even if Marcella knew more about the KNG than the public had on hand, she wasn ’t an insider of the company.
She couldn ’t accurately guess how long the company could keep up its loss-making ventures.

”Every healthy company saves for a rainy day, but it ’s a question whether the KNG ’s reserves are enough. ”

A man in his thirties in a formal business suit greeted Ves shortly after he stepped off the military shuttle.
Larkinson, pleased to meet you.
I am Jeffrey Arlet, a relationship manager of the Public Relations Department of the Kadar-Neyvis Group.
I ’ll be accompanying you around our great company during your visits at our headquarters, manufacturing complexes and other facilities. ”

Ves shook hands with the man and surprised him with a strong grip.
”Please take care of me, Mr.
Arlet. ”

”Please call me Jeff, is that okay? ”

You can call me Ves.
Right now, pretend my uniform doesn ’t exist. ”

Naturally, no one could ever stop staring at his uniform.
Jeff kept glancing at his decorations as if he wanted to confirm the rumors about Ves that already swirled around the galactic net.

In fact, much of those rumors gained a lot of momentum all of a sudden when Marcella tasked her company to proliferate them! Soon almost everyone would hear of the new mech designer hero that made the rounds in Bentheim!

The pair walked out of the shuttle parking zone and into the tall main structure that housed the main corporate office of the KNG.
The structure radiated a sense of class and prestige.
The interior ’s sterile, white and transparent interior but with a lively touch of plants and trees made Ves feel as if he entered an artificial paradise.

The relations manager began to introduce the company to Ves as they walked to a central elevator.

”The Kadar-Neyvis Group emerged after the merger of the Kadar Group and Nevyis Mechs.
As such, we have spent years fusing all of our aspects together to form a new and stronger company that is ready to grow to the top! ”

Ves looked very impressed at that claim.
”That ’s a high ambition.
There ’s a lot of competition at the top. ”

”All of us within the company are confident that Mrs.
Kadar and Mr.
Neyvis will be able to turn their vision into reality. ” Jeff boasted confidently.
”We believe our mechs are sufficiently distinct and valuable enough that we are able to capture the hearts of many customers in the Bright Republic and beyond its borders! ”

The two entered an elevator upon which Jeff sent an authorization from his comm to bring them straight to the top.

”What are the core values of the KNG? ”

”With regards to our products, we aim to combine affordability with excellent after-sales support.
Our mechs are priced competitively and they are often bundled with a range of support services where we provide long-term insurance, repairs and replacements to our loyal customers.
Over the years, we have drawn a considerable amount of fixed customers who have fallen in love with our robust mech ecosystem and continue to purchase new mechs from us at favorable rates. ”

Ves understood the KNG ’s business strategy from here.
”It ’s a very far-sighted strategy to sell mechs at close to bottom prices but recover some profit with your after-sales services.
I imagine it takes a huge upfront financial commitment to wait that long until you are finally able to earn a profit on an old mech sale. ”

”The financial health of our company is extremely robust. ” Jeff immediately emphasized with a bright smile.
”With two very capable and experienced Journeyman Mech Designers as our lead designers, all of our products are competitive against the competing offerings on the market.
Our market shares in several market segments is very significant.
Customers are attracted by our competitively priced mechs and they know that they can rely on us to service their needs! ”

Yeah right, Ves thought.
If he hadn ’t heard Marcella ’s own take on the company, then he would have been fooled by Jeff ’s overly rosy descriptions.
As a representative from the Public Relations Department, it was his job to impress the various stakeholders of the KNG.
Obviously, such a person would never badmouth his own employer on a voluntary basis.

The elevator rose up fairly slowly, all considered.
However, the transparent shaft gave Ves a very complete glimpse of some of the hallways and offices where various employees diligently worked for the company.

”As you can see, we employ a large amount of talented people.
Many of them are old hands from the Kadar Group or Neyvis Mechs.
We pride ourselves on the good treatment of our employees, no matter if they are top managers or lowly clerks.
From the lowest mech technicians to the members of our esteemed design teams, the Kadar-Neyvis Group is a closely-knit community of like-minded people who are united in our desire to propel our company to the top! ”

”Uh huh. ” Ves nodded a bit lamely.
This Jeff was laying it a little thick.
”What kind of people does the KNG employ? Are they mainly Bentheimers? ”

”We are a local Bentheim mech manufacturer, so it is a given that we draw most of our talents locally.
Nevertheless, we pride ourselves on our diversity and we are always open for talent from other regions of the Republic.
A substantial portion of our management comes from Rittersberg. ”

It sounded like a contradiction to Ves.
How could a company simultaneously be proud of their diversity while tacitly admitting they mostly employed people from Bentheim and Rittersberg?

While he didn ’t know exactly who came from where, it would be a really bad idea if the upper management consists of graduates from Rittersberg while most of the lower jobs were taken up by local Bentheimers.

”Ah, we are here.
Please follow me. ” Jeff said as the elevator finally reached the top.
”Our founders can ’t wait to greet you in person! ”

They walked through an impressive looking entrance hall that simultaneously served as a showcase of KNG ’s bestsellers.
Various scale models of their most popular mech designs stood on both sides of the hall.

Ves recognized the care and attention put into manually fabricating and assembling each of these smaller mechs.
Obviously, both Kadar and Neyvis felt the need to work on them personally.

This amount of care shown in their products lifted his opinion of the two Journeymen a little.

Once they entered through the tall double doors, they entered a very wide office space where the two famed mech designers stood in the middle.

”Welcome, Mr.
Larkinson, to the Kadar-Neyvis Group! ” A matronly woman greeted him with a bright smile.
”Please come closer and let me see you! ”

Both of them greeted each other politely and exchanged handshakes.
Kadar emanated a matronly vibe only seen among happy mothers.

”Leife! Aislin! Come here and meet our guest! ”

Two rambunctious children playing in a playpen set aside in the office chamber scampered over to their mother while holding their plushy mech toys.

”This is Aislin, my lovely daughter. ”

”Hiiiii. ” The four-year old greeted shyly.

”And this is Leife, her older brother. ”

”Mommy, is he a soldier or a mech designer? ” He asked in a young voice as the six-year old admired his uniform and his ribbons. 

”Oh, he ’s both.
In fact, I dare say he ’s the bravest mech designer in the Mech Corps! ”

Ves chuckled politely.
”There are many brave mech designers in the Mech Corps.
Your parents served in the previous war as well if I recall. ”

”Oh, we were a bit too young back then. ” Mr.
Neyvis replied modestly.
”We hadn ’t even graduated yet when we were drafted by the Mech Corps in the final years of our study.
I can ’t say we served with distinction, but we did our duty to the Republic. ”

What Neyvis didn ’t mention was that as promising students of the Ansel University of Mech Design, they almost certainly received cushy rear position jobs.
This allowed them to claim they ’did their time ’ in the previous war while barely spending a year in actual service.

Of course, it would be very impolite for Ves to bring that up.
Instead, he smiled at the children, for they were really cute.
”What lovely mechs you hold! What models are they based on? ”

”Uh-huh! ” Leife proudly extended the plushy version of a spaceborn mech.
”This is my mommy ’s latest model! The Kadar-Neyvis Group Havikon Executor AXA-2000! It ’s fast and its got lasers and pew pew pew! ”

Ves felt as if he was watching a younger version of himself.
He used to play with miniatures of plushies of mechs as well when he was their age.

Kadar laughed in an indulgent manner.
”The Havikon Executor is a new product that is popular with security companies.
They are economic but capable enough to be employed in guarding space stations and other fixed facilities in space. ”

”Ahem. ” Mr.
Neyvis coughed.
”We can introduce our other products to Ves at a later date.
Do you mind if I call you that? ”

”I don ’t mind, Antoine. ” Ves said, agreeing to the looser customs.
One of his goals here was to lower the guard of his hosts, and going by a first-name basis helped allow him to get closer.
”So what is on the agenda today? ”

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