Ves decided against hiring mercenaries or private security guards.
Not only would their presence disturb the Protectors of the Faith, he also didn\'t know who to trust.
So far, his business trip to the Ylvaine Protectorate increased his sense of isolation.
Despite staying in a bustling capital capital city of a moderately industrious planet, Ves felt very much alone, with only the companions he brought with him keeping him company.
The Ylvainans were not as friendly and open to foreigners as the Reinaldans.
Not a lot of foreigners visited the Protectorate, so the locals here didn\'t have much experience in dealing with people who didn\'t share their culture and beliefs.
It was easy for people like Ves to feel detached from the locals due to all of the barriers in the way.
Ves had no idea why Calabast wanted him to treat the Ylvaine Protectorate as his second home when he was so different from the average Ylvainan citizen.
Just the differences in beliefs estranged him from Ylvainan society!
When Ves described some of his concerns over dinner at the compound later in the evening, Ketis snorted.
You have us, right You\'re never alone, Ves.
Who cares what the Ylvainans think about us.
It\'s their business if they don\'t like us.
As long as they don\'t come up to us and punch us in our faces, they can think whatever they want.
Maybe I\'m being a bit too melodramatic. Ves admitted.
It\'s just that the culture shock is just beginning to dawn on me.
It\'s incredibly awkward for us to be surrounded by Ylvainan believers while sharing none of their beliefs.
It\'s like our presence is staining their perfect little paradise.
Gavin spoke up.
It\'s normal to feel this way.
It takes a special kind of person to feel at ease in a completely foreign environment.
The Ylvainans haven\'t been very welcome to outsiders like us as well.
The Ylvaine Protectorate consisted of a bubble that protected the local citizens from a galaxy that was largely hostile to their beliefs.
Yet their isolation also coddled them, causing the Ylvainans to become unable to show much grace and hospitality to foreigners.
The problem was so extensive that Ves began to have second thoughts about furthering his business in this state.
He asked a deep question.
Do you think the Ylvainans deserve the opportunity to purchase our products
Everyone in the dining room fell silent.
Melkor, Chette and Rhode didn\'t have much to say, since they were only mech pilots.
When Ves looked at Ketis, she spent more time on rubbing Lucky\'s back while he munched on a small bowl of exotics than thinking over his words.
I still don\'t know why you\'re making such a big fuss about it. She said as she perceived his stare.
The galaxy is a big and weird place.
Even if most humans look the same, they\'re completely different underneath their skin.
As long as you have a comrade by your side, no amount of adversity can break you!
Her words came out right from her heart at the end.
How could she forget about the harrowing experiences on Aeon Corona VII and the deep frontier They had jumped straight into one of the most perilous places in the Faris Star Region but managed to keep up their spirits because they enjoyed the company of follow Vandals and Swordmaidens!
A small realization dawned upon him.
Having friends and family alongside me is like carrying a piece of home with me.
As long as we all enjoy each other\'s company, we will never become engulfed by this foreign environment!
He spoke this not for himself, but for all of them! Ves shouldn\'t be the only person present here who felt unwelcome in the midst of the Ylvainans.
The locals couldn\'t be blamed for their cold and uncertain attitudes towards foreigners.
Once the Protectorate began to open up its borders, their attitudes would likely shift as they came more and more in touch with visitors from other states.
Speaking of loneliness, when will you get a girlfriend, Ves Melkor asked, interrupting the comfortable silence.
Ves almost spurted out a mouthful of tea.
That\'s none of your business!
On the contrary.
It\'s everyone\'s business. The Avatar Commander retorted.
You\'re one of the most pivotal members of the Larkinson Family right now.
Even if you don\'t spend much time at the Larkinson Compound, everything you do reflects back on our family and your business.
Some of the elders of the family even contacted me and asked whether you\'ll be getting married soon.
It made sense that the Larkinsons paid attention to his love life.
The family always placed a lot of attention on relationships, especially after a war.
This was the perfect time for a Larkinson to settle down and have kids!
To Ves, the issue of marriage became especially pertinent.
The continuity of the LMC after his death or retirement depended heavily on whether he could raise a competent successor.
While it wouldn\'t be to difficult for him to find an external successor to take over the LMC, the Larkinsons did not want to hand over their crown jewel to someone outside of the family.
It would be best if his children or another Larkinson mech designer could take over the business after Ves moved on! Even if such an event wouldn\'t take place for a century or more, the Larkinsons were already starting to grow concerned!
Gavin\'s mouth curled into a sly grin.
With your status and fame, you can get almost any girl you want, you know.
Shut up, Benny.
During the discussion, Ketis bent down her head and held Lucky closer to her body.
Whatever her thoughts on the issue, she didn\'t wish to draw any attention for now.
Look, what are you waiting for, Ves The war is over and you\'re a free man.
Even if you are busy with your work, that doesn\'t mean you should neglect your other responsibilities.
It is the duty of every man to find a partner for life!
The company\'s motto took a different meaning at this moment.
I don\'t see you hanging around with girls, Melkor.
That\'s because I\'m still young.
I\'m just as old as you.
If you can take your time, so can I.
My lifespan is almost 200 years.
I can afford to wait.
That\'s no reason for you to wait.
I\'m different than you, Ves.
The Larkinsons don\'t care about my descendants.
You\'re different because the family expects at least one of your kids to take over what you\'ve started.
I can train other Larkinsons into competent mech designers. Ves compromised.
I\'m open to the possibility as long as they do well in their studies.
Melkor shook his head.
The surface of his visor glinted in the light of the dining room.
That\'s not the same and you know it.
The amount of attention you put into training other Larkinson mech designers will never match the effort you put into raising your own children into following your footsteps! Also, you\'re the only Larkinson who has broken the mold.
As the first exceptional Larkinson mech designer, the Larkinson Elders back at Rittersberg expect that your kids will all inherit at least some of your talent in mech design.
There was no such thing as that to Ves.
He attributed most of his initial success to the Mech Designer System.
Even though he transformed his body many times which turned his genes into something exceptional, the question whether he still retained the ability to conceive children remained a mystery.
One of the downsides to extensive genetic modification was that many people lost the ability to conceive children naturally! Only through the help of geneticists and other specialists would they be able to have children.
I\'m too busy with my career right now to look for a girlfriend.
That\'s rich, coming from you. Melkor snorted.
Didn\'t you just tell Madame Cecily that her bodyguards should live their lives The same applies to you.
What\'s the meaning of chasing after wealth and power when you don\'t have anyone to share them with If you take away your company and your mech design abilities, is there anything left
That question completely stumped Ves.
Although he had led a more diverse life than just designing mechs, he couldn\'t help but admit that his life revolved around it.
He didn\'t have a hobby worth mentioning and he didn\'t really have any close friends and family he could share his joys with aside from maybe Ketis and Lucky.
Having realized the significance of living a full life, Ves could no longer deny that he was very negligent in diversifying his life.
The reason why he still possessed a strong degree of Spirituality despite his one-dimensional life was due to other reasons.
Perhaps his mother imparted her strength in this area to him when he was born.
Perhaps the System induced a change in him.
Perhaps the Heavenly Flower he ate during the Groening Mission kickstarted its explosive growth.
Yet all of those possible reasons entailed growth through external means.
Rather than continue to rely on outside factors, Ves would be much better served if he could grow his Spirituality through his own efforts.
The key to that would be to follow his own advice and live a more multifaceted life.
Ves tiredly released a breath.
Maybe it\'s about time for me to find a girlfriend.
Now is not the time, though.
We\'re far away from home and surrounded by Ylvainans.
Who knows if you fall in love with an Ylvainan.
Some of them are quite attractive. Gavin teased.
For example, isn\'t Madame Cecily a big fan of you She\'s quite pretty and she\'s very high birth.
The two of you are a match made in heaven!
Ves stared daggers at Gavin.
Please don\'t sully our employer.
There\'s nothing going on between us.
The thought of hooking up with someone as shady as Calabast simply didn\'t register in his mind.
While she looked gorgeous, that didn\'t mean much since almost every woman underwent a couple of procedures to make them look better.
Finding an ugly woman in modern society was as rare as finding an expert pilot among a crowd of mech pilots!
Hmm, on second thought, it will be hard to marry an Ylvainan without converting to their faith.
Citizens of the Bright Republic grew up with a considerable predisposition against religion.
Every secular state didn\'t look to kindly on religion.
They had a strong interest in suppressing any interest towards religion because their spread threatened their sovereignty and identity!
If the Bright Republic became more open to the Ylvainan Faith, then what was there to stop the believers from merging the formerly-secular state with the Ylvaine Protectorate
The separation between state and church didn\'t exist!
So what\'s your type, Ves Melkor asked.
Are you into other mech designers
Ves shrugged, no longer willing to think so hard on this issue.
I think the most important quality is trust.
As long as I feel comfortable enough with someone to share my secrets, I can see myself sharing the rest of my life with such a person.
What\'s the point of marriage if you can\'t trust your significant other
This was why he couldn\'t imagine marrying someone like Calabast despite all the advantages such a union offered.
She was obviously an exceptional individual who was more than qualified to be a partner in his rise to prominence.
Yet despite knowing more about Ves than any other person in the galaxy, he could never bring himself to open up his heart to her.
Calabast was a very calculative woman who never stopped regarding Ves as a treasure to be milked!
If Ves ever wanted to hook up with someone, she should at least be someone he could feel at ease.
His eyes drew towards Ketis for a moment but didn\'t linger there.
Why is love so complicated He mused.
It\'s because you can\'t design it like you design your mechs.
You have to find it on your own.
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