Chapter 41: Sale
The greatest show in the Bright Republic practically hammered in that the Fusion Cup was a side event in the end. No matter how impressive their winnings, they could expect to receive only one percent of the attention placed on the finalists of the main tournament.
As Ves was never a mech pilot, he was indifferent to chasing personal fame. Heapos;d rather build up the reputation of his business in a more sustainable way.
quot;Iapos;ve got some business to do.quot;
quot;Oh?quot; Charlotte raised her eyebrow. quot;Bailing out on me, are you? I was planning to bring you out to a sweet place that makes the best spare ribs in town.quot;
quot;Iapos;m kind of in a time crunch. Iapos;ve started an independent mech design studio and Iapos;m practically buried in debt as a result. I was kind of hoping to canvas the audience and find a market for my product.quot;
quot;Oh. I see. I heard you nerdy types like to pursue a career at the big companies. Itapos;s pretty brave of you to start out on your own.quot;
quot;We all have different dreams.quot; Ves smiled ruefully. quot;I know itapos;s a tough road, but I donapos;t regret stepping on it. Iapos;m confident I can make it to the top someday.quot;
quot;Wow. Thatapos;s really impressive. Anyway, I wonapos;t distract you any further. Letapos;s exchange comm contacts before you go.quot;
After they added each other to their contact lists, they separated. Charlotte headed over to her fellow pilots who congratulated her on her excellent showing. Ves on the other hand made his way past the families and other regular people and headed up to the spectating area reserved for the first-class ticket holders who wanted to enjoy the exhibition without screaming children nearby.
Security let him in without a fuss, a perk for being a participant. Ves walked past an invisible screen that dampened most of the noise from the crowd down below. The dim lightning, luxurious upholstery and the plentiful private viewing rooms gave the first-class area a sense of exclusivity. The people who possessed the qualifications to enter this area all emanated an air of class or martial might. Those present in the public areas all congregated into small groups of close-minded associates as they paid attention to the spectacle unfolding in the central arena.
Ves took a deep breath and made sure the silver medallion he just won was visible on his chest. Then, with a pleasant smile, he approached the nearest group of people who looked like they wouldnapos;t totally shut out others.
A trio of what looked like industrialists and a couple of mid-ranking Mech Corps officers took their eyes away from the tense and slow-paced duel to focus their attention on Ves.
quot;Ah, youapos;re the second-place winner of that side contest, arenapos;t you? Are you related to the Larkinsons?quot;
Ves nodded politely at the officer. quot;My fatherapos;s been on border patrol for many years, though recently he went missing.quot;
Everyone politely adopted a mourning expression, including Ves. quot;Thatapos;s a shame. Those who guard our borders against the aliens are performing the highest duty for our nation.quot;
Still, not everyone was willing to accept that bargain bin price point. A flamboyant mercenary who behaved more like a pirate than a legitimate mercenary laughed in Vesapos; face when he quoted the price.
quot;Twenty-four million? Twenty-four fucking million?! Iapos;d have to work my ass off for more than five years to earn back such an amount. How about giving me a break? Letapos;s say, hm, twelve million?quot;
quot;The numbers are absolutely reliable. Iapos;ve achieved a small amount of success selling virtual versions of my Marc Antony in Iron Spirit. So far, not a single customer returned to complain about any deviations from their mechapos;s official performance.quot;
quot;I advise you not to bring up these virtual games.quot; Hans firmly advised. quot;At our level, no one takes Iron Spirit seriously. The inaccuracy and deviance from actual piloting is is more pronounced at the higher ranks of the game. It takes a lot of effort to adjust to two different environments, so most older mech pilots donapos;t bother maintaining an active presence in Iron Spirit.quot;
quot;What about you, then? You did a great job piloting my Drake through the gauntlet. Are you interested in a purchase?quot;
The test pilot shook his head. quot;I donapos;t earn enough to afford a personal mech, and since I test out new designs as a job, I donapos;t pilot a fixed mech when Iapos;m at work.quot;
Ves received another disappointment. If even a mech pilot as friendly as Hans refused to buy his mech, then his chances of convincing other pilots was practically nil.
quot;I might know someone who could be persuaded to take a leap at your design.quot; Hans added as he saw the crushed response in the young man. quot;Iapos;ll do you a favor and introduce him to you. Whether you manage to close a deal with him will depend on your own efforts.quot;
quot;A chance is all I ask for. Iapos;m grateful for any assistance you provide.quot;
Hans leisurely led Ves through the crowd of spectators paying attention to the elaborate award ceremony. The Young Tigers Exhibition was specifically organized by the Republic to glorify young heroes, so a lot of fanfare accompanied the awarding of prizes. Once they arrived at the door of a private room, Hans knocked at it with a peculiar rhythm. A beep sounded out as the lock disengaged.
As they entered the box, Ves saw that almost nobody occupied the chairs and couches. Only the grandest seat supported a person. The man who sat on the chair looked like an old, grey-haired veteran that emanated the same vibe as his grandfather. Even from the entrance, Ves could feel the man was more than just an average veteran.
quot;Ah, Captain Rodello, nice to see you again. I see youapos;ve brought a guest.quot;
quot;Colonel, this is Ves Larkinson, the runner up of the Fusion Cup. Ves, this is Colonel Ares Huntington.quot;
The retired colonel snorted at that. quot;So the brat won a medal and a couple of perks. Thatapos;s not a big deal compared to the young warriors on stage right now.quot;
quot;Heapos;s not a pilot and Iapos;m not here to bring him into your club. I just thought that since you have so much free time on your hands, you might be interested in what Ves is selling.quot;
quot;Oh?quot; The colonel took a closer look at Ves, actually taking him seriously this time. quot;So what is it that demands my attention? It better be good.quot;
Knowing that he arrived at the best opportunity he could ever get this night, Ves adopted a professional tone and explained the capabilities of his mech. Huntingtonapos;s expression remained carefully neutral as Ves elaborated on all the good and some of the not-so-good points of his mech. Perhaps revealing his own shortcomings wasnapos;t the best idea, but he didnapos;t want to risk getting blamed by the old man if he somehow caught on. Nevertheless, the colonel let him speak until he came at the end where he quoted his price.
quot;...And so for the total package, with just twenty-four million bright credits, its yours. After paying an advance payment of half the price, Iapos;ll get to work on the mech as soon as I get back to my workshop. Iapos;ll have it ready for you within two weeks.quot;
Ares grumbled a bit to himself as he stroked his chin. Ves could tell he was wavering, but he couldnapos;t determine what held the old man back from making the jump. Was it the armor? The lack of specialties?
quot;No.quot; The old man finally replied after several minutes of consideration. quot;You make for a compelling case, but itapos;s not what I need right now.quot;
Ves was devastated. He got so close to making a sale. Why did Ares turn away from his offer?
The colonel insensitively waved them away. quot;Captain Rodello, this was a nice distraction, but donapos;t bring anyone irrelevant to me again. The two of you can go bother someone else now. I wonapos;t see you out. Goodbye.quot;
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