Joshua sat behind his desk at his dorm at an advanced academy in Bentheim. When he started to excel in his classes back on Cloudy Curtain, he received an invitation to transfer to a better institution on Bentheim.
Now, despite being several years away from graduating into a full mech pilot, his inbox already started receiving invitations to join a mech regiment!
As long as he maintained the same level of results, the mech regiments promised to fast-track his entry into their ranks!
Famed Bentheim mech regiments such as the 3rd Infernal Hellhounds, the 5th Storm Enders, the 9th Colocis Grand Rollers and even the glory-studded 1st Volari Starhawks expressed their interest in him after he graduated!
To be honest, when he received an invitation from the Volari Starhawks, he almost accepted on the spot.
This was the mech regiment which birthed their latest star, Venerable Ghanso Larkinson!
Yet... did he really wish to join Venerable Ghanso's footsteps?
"My heart says otherwise." Joshua shook his head in regret.
Many of his former cadets believed that he wanted to pursue a career in the military. Just like them. Who didn't want to join the Mech Corps if they had the skills?
The better mech academies on Bentheim all had ties to various mech divisions and mech regiments. As long as a cadet stood out in the areas that mech regiments appreciated, they stood a good chance at receiving an invitation!
When Joshua first transferred to the hustling and bustling Bentheim, he met many new mech cadets. Their skills astounded him at first. All of the top students in his academy worked extremely hard to appeal to the mech regiments they idolized!
Different from his new friends and rivals, Joshua never took more than a brief glance at the Mech Corps. Though he admired the glory it earned and the camaraderie of its mech pilots, he never pictured himself in one of their uniforms.
"I'm destined for a different career altogether!" His eyes burned with fiery passion.
The invitations from the mech regiments did not come without cause. Not only did he manage to get admitted to the renowned Meirling Mech Academy on Bentheim, he also climbed his way up until he came close to the top of the ranking of his class!
He even surpassed most of the Larkinsons attending Meirling, which made him feel very mixed. He only fell short against the freakishly prodigal mech cadets with superior genetic aptitudes!
Though his results stopped short of reaching the very top, he differed from every other top cadet because of his versatility.
He gained proficiency in both landbound and spaceborn combat! He was equally as good with wielding swords as he was in shooting down distant targets with a laser rifle!
To be honest, his mech instructors and his mech cadets first looked at him as a fool. Why would he hold off on specializing for such a long time? Wouldn't he develop in a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-none?
In a mech culture which highly prized efficiency and specialization, what Joshua did went against common sense!
Even now, his mech instructors still lament that he might have been able to reach the top of the ranking if he stopped splitting his training in multiple specialties. If he spent all of his training time in only a single mech type, then he might have vaunted himself into the ranks of the prodigies!
"They don't understand." He muttered. "They say I haven't specialized in any mechs yet. They say I'm still being indecisive."
The words of his detractors couldn't be more wrong.
In truth, he already specialized himself long ago. He did so as he piloted his first virtual mech from an obscure mech designer account called Chasing Clouds.
He specialized in piloting every mech released by the LMC!
The Young Blood and Old Soul both sustained him during the early days of his arrival at Bentheim. He trained and grinded up the leagues of Iron Spirit outside his classes until he finally gained access to 5-star mechs.
Once he finally reached this point, he finally began to play with the two mainstays of the LMC, the enduring Blackbeak and the agile Crystal Lord!
Though piloting the virtual versions of fully-featured modern mechs strained his capacity at first, he quickly began to adjust to the load he needed to endure in order to make full use of their capabilities.
His results in the academy quickly shot up as he became more proficient in piloting the two classics of the LMC!
Everyone thought he was on track to become a premier landbound mech pilot, but since a year ago he suddenly took classes in spaceborn mech combat!
At this stage in their upbringing, most mech pilots ought to narrow down their skillset so they could spend more time on polishing their key abilities.
Not Joshua. Ever since the LMC released the Aurora Titan, he instantly bought a virtual copy and eagerly entered Iron Spirit's mech arenas in order to channel its might.
"I failed miserably!"
His butt got whooped. How could someone unused to spaceborn combat expect to fare well in space, which required specialized training before any mech pilot could fight proficiently in this gravity-forsaken environment?
Compounding the problem was that the Aurora Titan was one of the most complicated and demanding space knights ever released in the Bright Republic in recent times!
Its complex polarizing module required focused, skillful use in order to enhance the Aurora Titan's defenses. Joshua tried and failed to split his attention to all of its systems during heated moments, causing his virtual mech to be blasted out of space time and time again!
Most mech pilots would have given up. Joshua certainly felt tempted since he never committed to spaceborn mech combat before.
He refused. He was better than this. Piloting the Aurora Titan may have been ten times harder than piloting the Blackbeak, but the rush he experienced was also ten times more impactful!
His mind and emotions always rose to an unseen height whenever he piloted the virtual copy. From all of the reviews and testimonies of the physical copies of the Aurora Titan, Joshua knew that he was only experiencing a pale shadow of what the real mechs could bestow to their pilots.
"Virtual mechs are just toys!" He exclaimed to himself. "I have to pilot the real thing!"
His dream had always been to pilot the LMC's mechs. He hungered to touch the surface of their armor with his hands. He longed to sit in their extraordinary comfortable piloting chairs. As for interfacing with these great machines...
"I can't wait to experience the nirvana that many lucky mech pilots already got to enjoy!"
Ever since he chose to master the virtual Aurora Titan, he poured most of his training efforts into raising his proficiency in the relevant skills. He took additional classes and reduced his time spent on polishing his skills related to landbound mech combat.
Though it had taken more than a year of constant struggle, the Aurora Titan became easier and easier for him to control. At some point, he started winning his virtual matches, causing him to accelerate his improvement as he felt more and more in tune with his virtual mech!
As of now, the Aurora Titan almost danced according to thoughts! Though its powerful polarizing module still hindered him a bit with the endless amount of choices it offered, that didn't count for other space knights!
"All the training mechs from the academy are nothing compared to a beast like the Aurora Titan!" He snorted.
He disliked piloting mechs designed by other mech designers. Meirling's training mechs were all great machines, but they lacked the feel of any of the LMC's mechs. Even the primitive Fantasia 2R Seraphim evoked more fighting spirit from him than the cold and clinical mechs.
This was another reason why his results failed to propel him higher in the ranking.
Joshua knew that piloting non-LMC mechs was a necessary evil for now. As soon as he graduated from Meirling, he already knew where he wanted to apply.
As for the Mech Corps?
"Forget about it! Aside from one exception, there's not a single LMC mech in any of their mech rosters!"
While various mercenary corps and security companies started fielding Blackbeaks, Crystal Lords and even the rare Aurora Titan or two, Joshua quickly dismissed them from his consideration.
"Why should I join these middling outfits when I can go straight to the source?"
Only in Cloudy Curtain would he be able to pursue his dream! That was because his goal for the last couple of years had been to join the Avatars of Myth!
As the personal mech troop of Ves Larkinson himself, the outfit got to enjoy the best and latest toys of the LMC! The Avatars distinguished themselves from every other outfit that made use of LMC products by fielding the most gold label mechs!
"Gold label! I have to pilot one!"
The LMC's gold label mechs achieved a mythical reputation in a certain portion the mech community. Those who became fans of the LMC all worshipped the handmade mechs as gods in machine form!
Merely standing in front of them compelled mech pilots to bend to their knees! They were just that powerful!
Joshua knew this very well, because during one of his holidays a few months ago, he specifically visited an exhibition showing off one of the rare and vaunted gold label Aurora Titans!
The memory still sent him into a rapturous glee. His mouth widened into a blissful grin as he remembered how close he came to the impressive mech.
He never came back the same after that! His proficiency in piloting the Aurora Titan skyrocketed as he somehow clicked with the mech.
He understood its essence!
"Coming in touch with the real thing is far better than spending thousands of hours practicing with the virtual versions!"
Sadly, he hadn't been able to get a glimpse of the gold label Blackbeaks and Crystal Lords as of yet. Too few of them existed and it was far too difficult for him to find the time to attend one of their exhibitions.
The only way to solve this deprivation in his life was to join the Avatars of Myth! His hellish commitment to his training had all been for a single purpose, and that was to make the Avatars take note of him and accept him into their ranks!
With his current ranking, Joshua already felt assured he'd be able to gain a coveted spot in the Avatars. They'd been pretty prolific in recruiting for the past few years so even if he achieved a middling result, he would still have a chance of becoming an Avatar.
"It's not enough!"
Why should he be resigned to a rank-and-file position when he could instead receive vastly more attention? Not every Avatar was lucky enough to pilot an LMC mech or a gold label mech.
"I can't let the latter slip from my grasp!"
As long as he became a mech officer or a mech champion, then he would surely receive the privilege of piloting one of their precious gold label mechs!
Everything he did, he did for the Avatars!
Just thinking about wearing their uniform, fighting alongside the Larkinsons and above all piloting their growing variety of LMC mechs excited him to no end!
"I only have a few more years to go. I have to endure. I have to achieve better results. Even if the Avatars have stopped recruiting, I'll force them to take me in! They'll never refuse a top Meirling graduate!"
His greatest hope was to catch the attention of Ves Larkinson himself! His greatest ambition was to convince this great mech designer to design a mech just for him! His life was not complete until he piloted a mech uniquely responsive only to himself!
"Just you wait, Avatars! I'll be joining your ranks soon enough!"
The mech cadet turned his attention back to his terminal.
He swiped his arm, causing him to select the invitation messages that enticed him to enlist in the Mech Corps.
After a single moment of thought, he decisively swept his arm in a discarding motion, causing his account to throw all of the invitation messages into the trash bin!
"Dream on! You're only worth my time if you start fielding LMC mechs! Otherwise, you can forget about luring me into your mech regiments!"