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 After the dramatic events at the main hall, Ves retreated to his backstage room to have some time to himself. Getting caught up in the fever of the moment, no doubt aided by the emulated force of will that he imposed on himself, drained a lot of energy and spirit!

In fact, summoning up the courage to confront and berate a Senior directly was probably responsible for at least half of drained state!

"The event is not over."

Ves still needed to put up a good front when the show models exhibited some of their capabilities. He also needed to be present as the first wave of customers approached the sales representatives to register their first orders of the new mech model!

As for Professor Pendleton? With all the bashing he received from Ves, why would the heckler ever subject himself to more abuse?

According to security, the Senior from Ansel quietly scurried to the exit the instant the curtains closed!

"At least that problem is dealt with." Ves momentarily smirked. "Still, if Ansel is only mildly irritated with me before, they'll definitely be out on the warpath after today!"

Attacking one Ansel mech designer was the same as attacking all of them! The school's considerably powerful alumni network would definitely close ranks around their wounded comrade and hit back at Ves and the Aurora Titan in other ways!

The only way to blunt the inevitable counterattack from Ansel was to ensure the show models delivered their best performance in the following hours!

"Only if my mechs perform impressively enough will they be able to endure the storm of criticism!"

Any mech model that sold more than a negligible amount of copies per year would inevitably be faced with criticism. Customers either judged the mech by themselves or listened to experts who earned their living from reviewing mechs.

A whole cottage industry of mech reviewers existed that provided mech publications with countless evaluations!

Both mech fanatics, mech pilots and professionals in the mech industry eagerly read these reviews as a favored past time. The influence of these reviews on the sales of the mech models in question was quite considerable!

The Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord may not have been covered by many mech publications, but they generally received somewhat positive reviews.

Back when Ves released his first two mech designs, he hardly stood out from the crowd of other Apprentice Mech Designers. He was a nobody, frankly.

This time would be different. Not only had his public profile risen in multiple occasions, but the news about his fiery confrontation was already spreading over the galactic net like wildfire!

While this would definitely do a lot of favors to the Aurora Titan's exposure to the mech market, it also cemented Ves as a firespitter who wasn't afraid to savage Seniors!

Ves switched on his comm and skimmed through a couple of news portals. He quickly groaned once he read the headlines and quickly shut his device off.

"The good news is I'm famous again. The bad news is I'm famous again for the wrong reasons!"

Even the non-mech publications started to report on the developing controversy!

"Meow."

Only Lucky was by his side for the moment. The cat attempted to offer Ves some support by brushing his head against his body.

"Haha, it's not so bad, Lucky. Professor Ventag is right that my mechs ought to speak for themselves. I'm very certain that they'll be able to impress the public today. In fact, my mechs will definitely exceed their expectations as long as I employ my backup plan!"

Ves already developed a plan to be used in emergencies like this. The current situation definitely called for something extra to spice up the performance of the Aurora Titan!

Just as he contemplated whether he should commit to his backup plan, Lucky suddenly yowled and hissed from his lap.

"What's wrong, Lucky?"

"Meow meow meow!"

"There's someone here?"

"Your cat is right." A familiar-sounding voice emerged from the corner of the room as someone in an infiltrator suit revealed his presence. "We meet again, Ves."

Ves recognized the unassuming young man and his deceptively mild voice! "Leland Toll! What are you doing here?!"

"Why can't I be here? Flashlight has a stake in your company as well, or have you already forgotten who is standing behind Sibilant Asset Management? Since we own twenty-one percent of your company, we want to make sure our investment is paying dividends."

The sudden appearance of Leland should not be a coincidence! Flashlight never did anything without a good reason!

"Somehow, I don't believe the dividends you're talking about is in the form of money."

"Correct." Leland grinned. "I'm sure you can guess that I'm here for a different reason than that. We have been observing you and the LMC for a time now. To your credit, this is harder than it sounds like. That blasted security company from the Konsu Clan is very good at spotting any irregularities. In any case, the glimpses we've received and the trials of the prototypes that we've managed to observe have impressed us very much."

"I'm glad to hear you are supportive of the Aurora Titan. Now why are you really here, Leland?"

"I'm getting to that. After analyzing the metrics, our evaluation of you and your company has grown by another notch. Despite the events of today, we believe that you will definitely be able to reach greater heights. Flashlight wants to take advantage of that. As long as you are in a position to advance our objectives, we don't mind lending you a hand every now and then."

Ves sardonically smiled at Leland. "Of course you wouldn't lend a hand out of the goodness of your heart. Do you still even have one by the way? So what exactly do you want to pass on to me that you had to show up in my backstage room in person with this ridiculous getup of yours?"

"Well, I was planning to make a more impressive entrance, but that remarkable cat of yours has a more impressive ant-stealth detection system than I thought." Leland said with a frown while giving Lucky the stink eye.

"Meow!"

For his part, Lucky belligerently eyed the spy with vigilance.

"Alright. I've come to pass on two messages from the agency. First, we've deployed agents in and around the Grand Skyward and intercepted several potential troublemakers. By troublemakers, we don't mean the likes of Professor Pendleton. Instead, I'm talking about the armed and murderous kind of troublemakers."

"I know I have a 50 million credit bounty on my head. I'm not too concerned." Ves nonchalantly shrugged while stroking Lucky's back in order to calm down his pet. "I'm sure the Grand Skyward's existing security arrangements are sufficient to stop the assassins."

"That may be true, but that may happen too late. A deadly firefight and bodies dropping to the ground is a sure way of ruining your big moment. Our agents took the liberty of intercepting these troublemakers the instant they strayed close to the Grand Skyward. A thank you would be nice, Ves."

"Thank you, Flashlight, for halting the entry of intruders." Ves sarcastically said with a snort.

"The other message that I want to pass on is that while we do not approve of your methods, we will cover your back when it comes to your vendetta against Ansel. The AUMD is way too powerful for their own good and they could use some humbling. We'll make sure that Ansel won't be able to exert an undue influence on the government in order to retaliate against you. The LMC should still be able to do business without any significant hindrance from the government."

"Well, thank you for that as well."

This time, Ves sounded a bit more sincere, because he knew the LMC could have definitely landed itself in more trouble without the cover of a government organization.

"We expect you to repay our generosity in time." Leland said. "When the LMC gets over this bump and manages to grow to another extent, expect us to return in case we have need of you or your company's services. Even if the war against the Vesians is over, the Bright Republic is constantly facing threats."

With those words, Leland waved goodbye and faded out of view after he reengaged his infiltrator suit.

Ves had to press Lucky into his lap in order to prevent his cat from jumping out and clawing the agent from Flashlight.

The unexpected appearance of Leland at this time was anything but normal. Evidently, Flashlight held him in a higher regard than before, which many not entirely be a bad thing. The more value that Ves brought to the military intelligence agency, the more effort they put into protecting him and the LMC.

However, thinking about his past collaborations with the Flashlight put Ves ill at ease.

Leland himself ordered Ves to be shot through the heart just because it strengthened the case against the KNG!

With this kind of track record, Ves felt extremely leery about any future collaborations with Flashlight and Leland specifically.

"Why did Flashlight send Leland of all people? Has he been assigned to supervise me and my company?"

He did not have the time to think on the implications of the short meeting with Leland. The Grand Skyward would be lifting off very soon.

"I've spent enough time recuperating. Let's go, Lucky."

Sometime later, Ves entered the central control room and walked up to Gavin.

"The Grand Skyward has already finished its final checks. It's about to lift off in the air!" His executive assistant said with excitement. "This is my first time riding such an enormous flying structure!"

"Let's enjoy the show."

Everyone who wanted to leave had already left. It did not matter much as someone else filled their seats. In fact, due to the explosive news of what took place here, a lot of Bentheimers grew curious and traveled to the Grand Skyward as quickly as they could!

The seats in the main hall were filled to capacity at the moment! Their thick seats which had been partially configured into crash seats started to lock down their occupants by strapping them in. This ensured that they wouldn't be flung in every direction in the event that the inertial dampeners shut off.

"Three, two, one, go! Initiate the ascent!"

The massive Grand Skyward Exhibition Hall rumbled to life as enormous thrusters began to burn! Massive structure-grade antigrav modules worked over the entire hall, causing it to weigh much lighter than usual at the cost of expending a lot of energy.

With practiced ease, the workers of the Grand Skyward neatly manipulated its controls and assured that the massive reinforced structure rose into the air in an even and stable fashion!

More thrusters came online as the Grand Skyward had reached beyond the skyline of Dorum. The moving structure accelerated its approach to space!

Ves could not imagine the amount of energy and fuel it took to lift this gigantic structure up!

Even though it wasn't safe for anyone to be walking about at this time, Ves ignored the safety rules and walked off from the control room. He followed the directions down into a hall built to accommodate the mechs.

He came here because he wanted to take some steps to insure the success of the upcoming trials. While he couldn't do anything to improve all five show models on short notice, he could still find some ways to improve the Shield of Samar.

"The success of the Aurora Titan and the LMC hinges on what will happen next!"

Leland's visit had been a wakeup call to Ves. Although the spy did not mention too much about Ansel, the fact that Flashlight constantly concerned themselves about the AUMD's pervasive influence in the mech industry signified that Ves should take them more seriously as well!

Despite Professor Pendleton's pathetic performance as a heckler, the Senior would definitely find a way to his back at Ves somehow!

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