Ves felt as if he was a bird trapped in a cage.
While the Scarlet Rose offered him a lot of comfort and luxury, he had no freedom to speak of.
He could only live on the ship according to the arrangement of his host.
Over the next few days, Ves met with Lady Aisling Curver during breakfast and dinner.
Evidently, she had to make up for the early end of her monitoring mission by performing another assignment.
She always looked quite weary by the time they were ready to eat supper.
Aisling could barely summon enough energy to speak, allowing Ves to observe her without attracting undue attention.
Aisling was beautiful, no doubt about it.
She was a bit taller than Gloriana and seemed to appeal to him in a different way.
If Ves had to make a comparison, then he would say that Gloriana appeared cuter while Aisling looked ravishing.
Of course, as a respected Journeymen, Aisling always dressed rather conservatively and tried to appeal to Ves through their shared passion in mech design.
Ves guessed that Aisling intended to play the long game.
She aimed to wear down his resistance by constantly exposing him to her brilliance.
So long as Ves continued to be separated from Gloriana, his feelings for her would cool down.
Only then would Aisling be able to capture his heart.
For now, Ves was still full of resentment.
He felt indignant about the betrayals he suffered and his unwillingness to be stuck on a ship heading deep into the Friday Coalition.
Instead of aggravating his animosity, Aisling made the right decision to put some distance between them.
By meeting twice a day, Ves became more and more used to her company.
Obviously, Aisling possessed a lot of confidence in her plan to win Ves over.
She had the advantage of time.
As long as Ves remained her \'guest\', she could patiently erode his resistance!
Certainly, she could employ more coercive means to achieve faster results.
Resorting to torture, injecting him with mind-altering substances or applying outright brainwashing on him would certainly convert him into becoming her loyal slave!
However, unless she could keep everything a secret, the MTA was bound to stand up for him! As a galactic citizen, he still possessed certain rights, and the MTA did not wish to turn the galaxy into a shark tank where mech designers continually devoured other mech designers!
Ves did not worry too much that Aisling would go too far.
Even if she did not fear the wrath of the MTA, she still valued his design philosophy a lot!
A design philosophy was strongly connected to the mentality of its mech designer.
If the mech designer changed too abruptly, the two no longer fit as well, resulting in a drastic loss of effectiveness!
In addition, anything that forcefully interfered with the mind and personality of a mech designer inevitably affected their creativity, ingenuity, passion and other difficult-to-quantify attributes.
Creators worked best when they expressed their earnest ideas!
How could Aisling possibly ruin the treasure she obtained Just like Gloriana, she believed that collaborating with Ves was the key to solve the most insurmountable problem of her design philosophy!
In order to achieve the dream of making neural interconnectivity available to the masses, Aisling wanted him at his very best!
For this reason, she generously allowed him to peruse a portion of her library in the form of printed books.
Ves knew the value of their contents.
Many of them weren\'t available for purchase in the open market.
This was because some of the textbooks contained a lot of advanced knowledge that incorporated some of the ingenuity of other people\'s design philosophies!
Other books were valuable because they were written by the Seniors and Masters who taught at Clarion University.
Though their textbooks did not delve into any advanced subjects, Ves constantly sighed in admiration at their marvellous explanations.
Most of these professors were over a century old! Clarion University only employed the best of what the Gauge Dynasty had to offer, so each of these old monsters accumulated a terrible amount of teaching experience!
Sure enough, Clarion University is a mecca of mech design!
From the quality and subject matter of the textbooks, Ves became convinced that Clarion University ranked higher than the Leemar Institute of Technology!
A part of it was because of the differences in strengths between the partners.
Another part of it was due to their different recruitment policies.
Leemar adopted a policy that reflected the openness of the Carnegie Group.
As one of the most commercial and trade-minded groups, the Carnegie Group was very open about recruiting foreign talents from all over the star sector and beyond.
While the loyalty of these foreigners was questionable, as long as the Carnegie Group provided them with enough benefits, it could definitely turn these strangers into its own strength!
The hiring of Master Null was a typical case.
The man was on the run for some reason and needed somewhere to hole up.
Leemar opened its doors and offered enough incentives to attract this Master!
In contrast, Clarion University did not bother too much with foreigners.
The school instead focused completely on cultivating domestic talents!
Because of the unified education of the Gauge Dynasty, every student accepted into Clarion University all surpassed a certain standard.
Not only that, but their prior education all fell in line with Clarion\'s teaching methods!
From what Ves could tell, the biggest downside to this strategy was that Clarion lacked diversity.
Its students, professors and alumni all formed an insular group of elitists who thought they were better mech designers than anyone else in the entire star sector!
The pride exuded by Aisling whenever she talked about her alma mater constantly rubbed him the wrong way! Ves felt like talking to an Ansel graduate, but ten times worse!
Clarion is by far the best mech design university in our star sector! She boasted while sipping a glass of wine.
Our Masters are the most illustrious in the Friday Coalition! Not even their counterparts from the Hexadric Hegemony can hold a candle to our great Masters!
Did your Masters ever compete directly against Hexer Masters Ves pointedly asked.
It\'s difficult to hold any events between our two states.
However, the mechs designed by our Masters are much more popular in other star sectors than the mechs designed by those old crones!
While that was true, Ves knew that the real reason why Hexer mech designers did poorly abroad was because their culture rubbed everyone else the wrong way.
Who wanted to pilot a mech designed by a man-hating Hexer!
It did not surprise anyone that most foreign users consisted of female mech pilots!
Even if the quality of Hexer mech surpassed the quality of Fridayman mechs, most customers would still be reluctant to buy the former!
From a business perspective, it\'s better if I retain a neutral, secular identity! Ves concluded.
If I become known as an Ylvainan or Hexer mech designer, my market expansion will constantly encounter hindrances!
His forced separation from Cloudy Curtain and his own organization gave Ves a lot of time to reflect on past decisions.
He achieved plenty of successes and made quite a few mistakes.
Perhaps the one mistake he blamed himself for the most was that he had been too blatant in showcasing the potential of his design philosophy!
By using the Sand War as an opportunity to popularize his glows, he attracted the greed of people like Lady Curver! It was his bad luck that she did not shy away from resorting to unscrupulous means to obtain his collaboration!
What\'s done is done. He sighed.
When I made the decision to expose my abilities, I knew I would put a target on my back.
He did not regret his choices.
He originally planned to lay low, but the threat of the Five Scrolls Compact and the opportunity to emigrate to the Red Ocean prompted him to accelerate his progression!
He was still committed to his original plan! He wanted to evade the pursuit of the envoy dispatched by the Sunken Temple by becoming a galactic pioneer!
As long as he accumulated enough MTA merits, he could have anything he wanted to start anew in a smaller galaxy that was firmly in the grip of the Big Two!
Ves refused to believe the Five Scrolls Compact could act unscrupulously in a galaxy filled with phasewater!
From what he learned so far, the Five Scrolls Compact played a considerable role in humanity\'s rise during the Age of Space and Age of Conquest.
In other words, the Compact shaped human civilization in the Milky Way Galaxy! How could Ves ever rest easily as long as he remained in humanity\'s old domain
The Red Ocean! I have to reach the Red Ocean!
By centering himself around this goal, Ves remained sober and clear-minded.
He refused to fall for Aisling\'s traps.
With a firm will, he resisted her subtle indoctrination attempts and continually reminded himself that she was an enemy!
He did not bother with any pretentiousness when he expressed his dislike for her.
He wasn\'t a spy like Calabast and did not have the confidence to hoodwink her into believing that he became smitten by her charm.
This caused her to express some frustration at his lack of reciprocation at her entreaties.
I don\'t know why you keep insisting on staying under Gloriana\'s spell. Aisling sighed as she summoned Ves to the lounge.
Don\'t you realize what\'s in store for you if you persist in your relationship with her Let me show you what men are like in the Hegemony.
She waved her hand, causing a projection to emerge in the center of the lounge.
Ves impassively watched the footage of how female Hexers treated their male counterparts.
On a random shopping street, the women walked confidently while their spouses followed after them in a manner that hammered home their inferiority.
The women talked to them in an imperious and dismissive manner.
The men had no choice but to bow their heads and acquiesce to any requests by their women!
In another clip, a female Hexer mech designer led a design project at a very well-equipped design studio.
The lead designer treated her fellow female subordinates earnestly as if they were her own students.
She corrected their mistakes, taught them something new and delegated important assignments to them.
Clearly, women went along well with other women!
The conduct of the lead designer changed enormously whenever she addressed women.
Even when she faced male mech designers who were just as competent as their female counterparts, the lead designer still treated them as nothing more than coolies!
The third clip depicted the treatment of Hexer mech pilots in the Hex Army.
Male mech pilots were relegated to piloting cheaper, less capable mechs.
Female mech pilots almost always received the privilege of piloting better mechs.
It was easy for Ves to distinguish which mechs the Hexers valued more.
Unlike most other states, the Hegemony distinctly favored mechs with feminine counters.
Their mechs were slimmer and more concave than the larger and less mobile mechs piloted by males.
This did not mean that males gained no opportunities at all.
They could still earn merits and increase their capabilities.
However, it was impossible for males to become officers!
One of the most central myths of the Hegemony was that males were unsuited to be leaders! How could the Hexers ever allow men to gain a leadership position Every single officer in the Hex Army consisted of women!
A lot of talented men were trapped in low positions because the female Hexers never allowed them to climb further!
No woman wanted to take orders from a man!
The men themselves had grown up enduring constant attacks on their gender! Their self-esteem was so bad that their subservience towards women was rooted in their bones!
As Ves watched clip after clip, he knew that Aisling did not serve him with doctored footage.
She had no need to resort to falsehoods when the real Hegemony already provided her with a wealth of material!
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