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 The guest lecture ended on a pleasant note. While Ves hadn't received a standing ovation, he nonetheless earned a lot of appreciation from the students gathered at the auditorium.

Along with describing some of his personal experienced, the topics he addressed all widened people's eyes to the career options that opened up to them when they finally departed from Rawlings with a degree.

With how insulated Cinach VIII tended to be, the Rawlings students lived too much in their own bubble. They had no idea how difficult it was for a mech designer to stand out and excel in the mech industry.

Ves hoped that he managed to influence the future mech designers into taking the future more seriously. With their busy academic course loads, it was easy for them to get lost in the present.

As Ves finally stepped off the podium amidst the enduring applause, he met up with Nitaa. Gavin also returned after arranging some business.

\"I followed your entire guest lecture from the start via a livestream.\" His assistant said as he stared oddly at Ves. \"I have to say... was that really you out there?\"

Ves frowned. \"Yes. What of it, Benny?\"

\"I thought you'd go out on stage with your cat ears on your head and pull off something crazy. Where was your trademark Devil Tongue? I mean, every other time you engaged in public speaking, you always found a way to mesmerize an entire state!\"

\"That was one time! I'm not like that all the time! I have enough self-control to rein in my Devil Tongue!\"

\"Professor Pendleton of the AUMD sure got a taste of that self-control of yours.\"

\"He had it coming! Senior or not, he was heckling my product reveal!\" Ves angrily burst out before he restrained himself. \"No one tried to stir up any trouble for me today. The goal of my guest lecture is to impart knowledge, make myself look good in the footage and attract aspiring mech designers to apply to work at the LMC. I can't very well do that if I scorch the students, can I?\"

Ves considered fellow mech designers to be part of his own kind. As long as they did not oppose him directly, he felt more inclined to conduct a fruitful and substantive discussion with his fellow colleagues.

The dozens or so exchanges he conducted with his peers also helped in refining some of his rough edges. Mech designers each shared the same language, and addressing a class full of mech design students was a genuine pleasure in his eyes.

Ves moved on. \"Let's head to the nearby office and see how many fish I've hooked.\"

For the rest of the afternoon, Ves sat in a borrowed office while he entertained various guests.

Each of them consisted of mech design students who wanted to explore the option of working for the LMC.

\"Mr. Larkinson, it's an honor to meet with you in person!\" An enthused young man gushed. \"I've always felt restless while I studied at Rawlings. It's only after I attended your lecture that I've realized what's been bothering me. The Sentinel Kingdom is too constrained! With noble born mech designers monopolizing all of the best positions, there are too little opportunities for me here. Your offer to work under you is exactly what I'm missing!\"

\"Mmhmm.\" Ves casually nodded while he perused the student's record on the desk terminal. \"Mr. Ferdinand Gerze, right? I can't help but notice that your academic record is.. not very exceptional. Your grades barely make it past the minimum threshold to pass your courses.\"

The importance of knowledge to a mech designer could not be overstated. If mech designers only showed up and put in the bare minimum in their studies at school, then would they be any better when they graduated?

A mech designer never stopped learning. Graduating with a degree in mech design did not mean they were no longer obliged to hit the books!

To his credit, Ferdinand did not look ashamed. Instead, he maintained a positive demeanor, as if his enthusiasm to work for the LMC was enough of a reason to snap him up!

\"I may not rank at the top, but as you have stated during your guest lecture, the academic standards of Rawlings is very high. I believe my competences in the relevant fields is sufficient enough to keep up with your expectations!\"

\"Mhmmm. That's very confident of you.\" Ves nonchalantly petted Lucky, who was lounging on the desk, while he skimmed over the other portions of Ferdinant's record. \"I see you have engaged in a number of extracurricular activities as well.\"

Ferdinand confidently grinned. \"I spent much of my time at Rawlings acting as the treasurer of the Rawlings Polo Club. I also assisted in organizing field trips to several notable mech manufacturing sites. I've acquired vital leadership and financial management experience that prepares me well for any positions that you might wish for me to fulfill!\"

\"Get out.\"

\"Pardon?\"

Ves waved his hand as if to throw Ferdinand's record in the trash. The projection winked out.

\"I've been very clear with my words, Mr. Gerze. I'm sorry to inform you that you don't meet our hiring standards. You may leave now and make way for better qualified students.\"

\"But why!\" Ferdinand stood up and burst out. \"My grades may not be the best, but I'm just as good as any other Rawlings student in completing mech design assignments! Unlike some of the nerds here who lock themselves up in their rooms to cram their heads full of science, I've been spending lots of time outside to lead the Rawlings Polo Club and arrange visitations to many different mech manufacturing facilities! I have skills that other mech designers lack!\"

\"That sounds great.. if I was in the market for a manufacturing complex supervisor or something.\" Ves crossed his arms. \"I think I made it very clear that I'm looking to recruit future mech designers who are good at their main purpose: designing mechs or assisting me in designing mechs. On that front, any struggling mech designer that I can pick up on the streets is better than you! No matter how good with people you are or how much leadership experience you've acquired, if you're not sufficiently motivated to perform the core functions of your profession, then I have no use for you in my design teams!\"

\"Mr. Larkinson! Please give me a chance! I can prove myself! I can resign as treasurer to devote more time to my remaining studies!\"

\"GET. OUT!\" Ves boomed.

He abruptly raised the aura emanating from his Pride of Dusk, putting an immense amount of pressure on Ferdinand's shoulders!

The man fled as if Zeigra was running right behind his heels!

Gavin and Nitaa who had been standing at the side both looked askance at Ves.

\"You were a bit harsh on the kid, boss. He was really eager to work with you. Can't you cut some slack?\"

\"Nope. I don't have a need for leaders or mech designers who are good in anything else. In fact, I don't want to hire any assertive or proactive mech designers if I can help it. What I seek are nerds who love to design mechs and are pretty good at it in order to form a competent but subservient design team!\"

\"Oh.\"

\"I rejected Ferdinand because his grades and extracurricular activities reflect his attitude. It's okay that he participates in the running of a club, but he's been spending so much time there that he's obviously not devoting enough time on his studies. Barely passing his courses means he probably considers studying to be a chore. This is not the kind of mech designer who fits well in the design teams that I envision.\"

A handful of students who knocked on his door possessed similar records. Ves kicked them out of his office without fail. He didn't want his future design teams to get uppity by filling them with mech designers who stood up for themselves.

The types of students who entered his office also came with other motives.

\"My name is Alicia Washer.\" The young woman smiled as she slowly sat down on the empty chair across the desk. Her motions expressly emphasized her tantalizing figure behind her tight-fitting pencil skirt and blouse. \"I admire you, Mr. Larkinson.\"

Ves raised his eyebrow. \"How so?\"

\"You're a credit to the mech industry. Not only have you managed to become a Journeyman at your age, you've also taken part in Lady Miralix's Crown Hunt! Tales of this hunt have already become the stuff of legend! You're so brave, Mr. Larkinson.\"

\"It's nothing.\" Ves casually waved his hand. \"Looks like your grades are pretty decent. It looks like you excel in humanoid artificial musculature systems.\"

\"The humanoid form is a fascinating subject.\" She said with a husky voice. Her finger trailed from her long, thin legs up to her waist before slowly trailing higher. \"I can spend endless hours exploring the landscape of the human body. I can even explore yours, if you wish.\"

\"...\"

Ves turned his eyes from her record and gazed at her with a dour look. \"Get out.\"

\"Uh, what?\"

\"I already have a girlfriend. I don't need a bed warmer. Now lift your sleazy butt off that chair and tumble out of this room!\"

To her credit, she didn't try to linger and plead with him. Recognizing that she had lost this battle, she simply smiled coyly at Ves before slowly and sensually rising to her feet. She turned around and strutted out of the office, giving Ves and everyone else a very good glimpse of her swaying rear.

\"If you.. ever reconsider, please call my comm.\"

Once the door slid shut, Ves rested his elbows on his desk and placed his face against his palms.

\"Urgh. What kind of mech designer is willing to do something like this?\"

\"It makes sense for Miss Washer to pursue you. Capturing your heart is an easy ticket to success.\"

\"I have a girlfriend.\"

\"Mech designers can have mistresses, you know.\"

\"Gloriana would go absolutely bonkers if I entertained that notion! Just drop it, Benny.\"

There was no way that Ves would flirt with any woman so long as he was in a relationship with Gloriana!

Just the thought of what she would do if she caught him with another woman sent shivers through his back!

Fortunately, despite entertaining numerous clowns and unqualified applicants, Ves did manage to come across a number of students who peaked his interest.

\"Mayer Torto.\" Ves began as he swept through the man's record. \"Your grades are the highest I've seen so far. I can imagine that plenty of employers would like to take you under their wings. What brings a good performer like you to this room?\"

\"I'm flattered by your praise.\" Mayer politely replied as he adjusted the clear visor on his head. \"While I have received numerous offers from other mech companies, none of them really spoke to me in the way that you do. Your lecture opened my eyes to the exploitative nature hidden in their contract terms.\"

\"The terms I put forward aren't easy to stomach either.\"

\"I know. The difference is that you are being open about it. You've clearly laid out your expectations. More importantly, you've left a window open for us to bloom and stake out on our own. I appreciate that. My future is important to me and I don't want to close any doors by choosing the wrong employer.\"

Ves smiled at Mayer. This fellow had a sensible head on his shoulders.

\"Sounds like you've taken my lessons to heart. Why are you willing to depart the Sentinel Kingdom and come work for me in a foreign state?\"

\"While I love my state just as much as any other Sentinel, the game is rigged.\" Mayer sighed. \"If you aren't born into a house or plead fealty to them, you'll always be left at the periphery of the Sentinel mech community.\"

From what Ves understood, the noble houses regularly took in retainers and vassals, binding them with permanent contracts to ensure their loyalty!

While professionals such as mech designers generally get a really good deal out of it, some such as Mayer cherished their autonomy.

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