Practically no one expected this day to end in this fashion.
No one except the living prophet perhaps.
Through this rollercoaster of a tribunal, Ves turned from the biggest enemy of the state into a revered figure!
Naturally, not every Ylvainan thought the same of him. There were plenty of Ylvainans who maintained their skepticism against him.
Those who hadn't watched the broadcasts believed that Ves had used some kind of sorcery or technological gadget to charm the more gullible Ylvainans into believing he was a saint!
The upper levels of the leading dynasties also exhibited a lot more reserve. Unlike the average citizens, the leaders of the Protectorate possessed a higher vision. The shepherds weren't as impressionable as the sheep.
Nonetheless, enough people bought the story that Ves became the Bright Martyr that there was very little anyone could do to dispel this belief!
As Ves looked out from the opaque windows at the upper level of the courtyard building, he beheld the monster that he had inadvertently unleashed!
"BRIGHT MARTYR! BRIGHT MARTYR! BRIGHT MARTYR!"
In front of his stolen prototype, a crowd of millions religiously chanted his new moniker. The authorities feebly tried to maintain order over the spontaneous mob, but there was very little they could do to stop the masses.
Viewing the masses with his own eyes and feeling the collective euphoria they exhibited was extremely scary to him. Ves had kicked up a much bigger fuss than he intended!
"To think that the citizens of Kesseling VIII used to hate me the most." He muttered.
Due to the machinations of the Curin Dynasty, almost every Ylvainan managed to follow what had happened inside and outside the court building. Even if the media outlets aligned with the other two dynasties shut down the broadcasts, the enthralled Ylvainans merely switched over to the media outlets operated by the Curins!
This enabled the reform-minded dynasty to shape the opinions of a much wider audience than before!
If not for this proactive media manipulation, this crowd of millions wouldn't have emerged!
While the Ylvainans who lived on other planets didn't spontaneously leave their homes to celebrate on the streets, the enthusiasm there was just as euphoric!
Many citizens of the Protectorate shared the sentiment that they were witness to a new page of history!
After centuries of isolation and stagnation, a new Martyred Follower had emerged! Not only that, but many Ylvainans received a deep shock to their systems as they witnessed the Bright Martyr speak the voice of the prophet!
This pivotal moment in the courtroom invigorated the faith in the hearts of many Ylvainans!
Although the Bright Martyr mostly expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction, the belief that Prophet Ylvaine himself had descended to the mortal realm to do so made the pain all too bittersweet!
The prophet was alive! The prophet still cared! The prophet expected more from his children!
These beliefs and more propagated in such a swift fashion that the Attendants of Ylvaine failed to shape the narrative in their favor! The hysteria that had erupted all over the Protectorate was like a beast that couldn't be tamed!
As one of the principal instigators of this collective, state-wide hysteria, Ves gained a very different status after his acquittal.
"At the very least, no one cares about the holy relic anymore."
He originally intended to weasel his way out of a guilty verdict. He managed to accomplish that and more!
A Protectorate guard officer entered the room. With a case in hand. Once he arrived in front of Ves, the case opened up, revealing the belongings confiscated by the inquisition.
Ves took back his Peaceful Repose, his toolbelt, his regular comm, his shield generator and some other odds and ends. It felt good to have some actual protection on his body again.
"Mr. Larkinson, your transportation has been arranged. Due to safety concerns, we will bring you out of Krent through an underground evacuation route. We'll escort you to a secure facility under the management of the Curin Dynasty."
At least this Ylvainan didn't call him the Bright Martyr for once.
"Very well. Let's go."
None of the authorities wanted him to step outside the court building to address the crowd. Not only couldn't his safety be guaranteed, but they were also afraid that Ves would use his new status as the Bright Martyr to influence public opinion further!
Under the lead of his escorts, Ves boarded a heavy-duty shuttle escorted by several companies of mechs and set off towards his new accommodation.
Due to all of the unrest in Krent, the Protectors arranged for him to be moved out of the capital city. All of his staff and Avatars had moved from the guest compound to the new location ahead of time.
He arrived at the highly-guarded villa reserved for esteemed guests with a small amount of fanfare!
"Ves! You're finally back!" Ketis cheered while waving Lucky in her hands. "Look! Lucky missed you too!"
The cat limply meowed.
Ves chuckled. "I missed you too, Lucky."
"You worried us all today, cousin!" Melkor said with evident relief at Ves' return. "I have no idea what possessed you to steal that stupid relic, but please don't do something like that again! The entire Larkinson Family is depending on you to rise to a higher station!"
"Haha, don't worry Melkor. It takes more than that to kill me, you know!"
"I don't know how you managed to convince so many Ylvainas in believing that you're divine, but it's practically pandemonium out there!" Gavin exclaimed with both panic and excitement in his eyes. "Regardless of how you did it, the popularity of your mechs has surged! The orders the LMC has received from the Protectorate has quadrupled! The demand for the Transcendent Messenger has broken into a higher dimension!"
"Benny, I know you're excited at all of the business opportunities that opened up, but let's not be too hasty. Besides, I'm not going to change my mind about the Transcendent Messenger. It's a commissioned design that has never been intended for the market."
After he finished greeting all of his friends, Ves entered the villa and settled down.
Just as Ves wanted to have a moment for himself, Ketis came up to him with a coy smile while hugging Lucky.
"I want to talk to you about something. Lucky, can you activate that ECM field of yours?"
The field quickly took shape around them. Ves found it curious that Ketis found out that Lucky possessed this ability.
"I figured out your superpower!" She proudly claimed.
"You see? Even Lucky agrees!"
Ves directed a questioning glance at her. "I don't have any superpowers. I'm just a mech designer."
"Don't lie to me, Ves! I've followed in your footsteps for several years, and I've seen your power in action several times!"
"This must be good." He chuckled good-naturedly. "Okay then.
"Your superpower is charm! You're an incubus!" She proudly declared!
This guess caused Ves to be taken aback. Charm? Incubus?
"Ridiculous! I'm not an incubus!"
Ketis huffed. "Hmph! Whatever! I still nailed your superpower! Don't lie to me! Remember when you defeated the Blind Men by ranting at them? Remember when you burned that heckling professor during the Aurora Titan's product reveal? Now you've managed to charm half the Ylvaine Protectorate!"
This was ridiculous! Ves continually shook his head. "The only reason the Ylvainans were so taken in by my arguments is because the Curins went all-out in propagandizing my words. They deserve the bulk of the credit for causing this storm. I'm just-"
"-a mech designer." Ketis finished before she widened her eyes. "Maybe that's the source of your superpowers! Mayra was kind of weird in a way as well, but she hid her powers a lot better than you! Do you think that I'll develop my own superpower when I advance to Journeyman?!"
"Don't be silly, Ketis! Mech designers aren't superheroes!"
"Do all of you high-ranking mech designers decided to keep your powers a secret? Don't worry, Ves, I won't tell anymore! I'll be joining your ranks soon when I develop my own superpower! When I advance to Journeyman, I want my superpower to make my weapons sharp! Sharp enough to cut through anything!"
The fantasies that Ketis entertained right now grew wilder and more unrealistic by the second! If every high-ranking mech designer could express their design philosophies into a superpower, then they wouldn't be known as cowards!
Her anticipation grew stronger! In her mind, she was already imagining herself as a swordswoman who could cut through mech armor with a single swing of her weapon!
Ves swatted her head in admonishment, deforming the poofy beret on her head. "While I like the drive you exhibit, you shouldn't entertain these crazy fantasies of yours. Superpowers don't exist."
"What do you call the stuff that expert pilots can do with their expert mechs?"
"There's an explanation behind their abilities. We just haven't fully figured out the metaphysics behind their workings."
"Metaphysics is just another word for superpowers!" Ketis fiercely stated. "High-ranking mech pilots are already capable of subverting natural laws. I used to believe that mech designers aren't capable of imitating their powers, but watching you in action changed my mind! Your design philosophy basically gives you the ability to charm people through your mechs, right? It's not that big of a leap to believe you can apply your design philosophy to yourself! That must be the secret behind your superpower!"
Ves had to admit that Ketis developed a very logical chain of arguments. Even though Ves wanted to dismiss her speculation, in truth she came uncomfortably close to explaining the mechanics behind the operation of his design philosophy and some of his spiritual techniques!
Even though she ultimately missed the mark, Ves found it disconcerting that Ketis was so astute!
"I think you're misunderstanding something here, Ketis. Journeyman Mech Designers and higher aren't in some kind of conspiracy to keep our superpowers hidden. The truth is much more modest. Our understanding of our respective specialties allows us to harness and manipulate certain metaphysical phenomena and interactions. Since my focus is mainly aimed towards the mech pilot, I've become quite skilled at manipulating audiences."
"You can downplay your superpowers all you want, but I'm not blind! Even Lucky possesses his own superpower! I've seen how he can phase through stuff. If a mechanical pet can develop superpowers, then so can I! I'll show you what I can do once I advance to Journeyman myself!"
Was Ketis always this headstrong? Nothing Ves could say would change her mind on this point!
In the end, he just threw up his hands. "Fine! I'll wait until you advance before you show off your so-called superpower. Don't be disappointed when your sword is just as sharp as before!"
It didn't do much harm to entertain her delusion. She looked more passionate and motivated about advancing her profession than ever! As long as her aspiration encouraged her to work harder, then Ves was more than willing to entertain her suspicions.
By the time she advanced to Journeyman and found out that her 'superpower' was actually a whole bunch of nothing, she would at least be able to console herself with her improved mech design abilities!
Ves ignored her ramblings and turned his attention to Lucky. "Did you have a good time while I was gone?"
"Pff! You don't have to sound so ungrateful! I won't feed you with awful stuff anymore, I promise!"
"Oh come on, am I that untrustworthy?"
Lucky hissed at him before squirming his body around to hug Ketis tighter.
Even though Ves had just survived a crisis, Lucky still hadn't forgiven him yet!
"By the way Ves, now that this whole circus is behind us, will we go home soon?"
Ves nodded. "I'll just have to formally hand over the mechs to Madame Cecily and wrap up my business before we go. This place is too crazy!"