The Mech Touch (Web Novel)

Chapter 2096: Stuck Shares

The departure of the Larkinson Family made Cinach VI much less warm to the trueblood Larkinsons who remained.

Many of them had taken advantage of the presence of the old family to meet with their relatives on the other side.

Now, it was no longer possible for a member of the old family to have a beer with a member of the clan. The physical separation marked a historic moment where such times would no longer happen.

With this momentous change, Ves no longer felt a pressing need to remain in the Cinach System. His urge to set off and embark on another journey grew stronger.

"We'll be leaving soon." Ves reminded Raymond and Gavin in his temporary office. "Just like the Larkinson Family, we need to work towards our own future. Right now, that future lies in the Red Ocean."

"We need a huge amount of merits to reach the dwarf galaxy, boss. Where can we possibly get that much?"

"I'm working on that, Benny. I have been keeping my eye open for various opportunities. If there aren't any, then I'll simply make one. There are always ways to earn a lot of merits if you are daring enough."

Gavin coughed. "Not every mech designer possesses the same tolerance of risk as you, boss. In that regard, you are a huge outlier."

"I made it this far intact. Mostly."

"You have a lot of weird parts inserted inside your body!"

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"They're pretty useful once I had them fixed!"

Raymond tapped the surface of the desk. "You're still thinking about diving into the Nyxian Gap, aren't you, Ves?"

"That will likely be my next destination."

Neither Raymond nor Gavin looked happy at this answer!

"I… don't think that is wise." Raymond cautiously said. "While we are all willing to step up when it's necessary, we Larkinsons haven't survived for so long by committing suicide at every possible turn."

Ves frowned. "The whole point of founding this clan is because I believe we can achieve greatness if we take some risks. The Nyxian Gap may look intimidating, but with the Penitent Sisters, we will hardly face any challenges! We just have to keep our eyes out for dangerous localized anomalies, but as far as I know, they tend to be more concentrated in the central regions."

"Even if that is true, there is no reason for you to bring us all along. Many members of the family aren't combatants. They have no place on the battlefield!"

Ah. Ves finally understood what Raymond was getting at. "You want to split up our fleet?"

"Leave the bulk of the Larkinson Clan here. If you want to go on another adventure, then bring only those who are ready to face the challenges of the Nyxian Gap. This way, your fleet is leaner, faster and much easier to protect. You don't want to enter this perilous region with a lot of baggage dragging your heels."

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That made a lot of sense. Ves already became convinced. Though he preferred to keep his entire clan together, in this case it was too irresponsible to do so. Leaving a huge portion behind would instead free up his combat forces.

"Alright. We'll do that." He announced. "We can't bring all of our combat forces with us. We'll have to split them up as well. I'll likely leave behind a considerable amount of Sentinels and enough Penitent Sisters to form an effective deterrent. I'll contact Major Verle and tell him to form a plan."

He did not know his own mech forces well enough to make this determination. The size and scope of the Avatars, Sentinels and other mech forces had already exceeded his ability to command them in person.

It was far more appropriate to leave this matter to the professionals!

The conversation soon turned to business-related matters.

"How well is the Doom Guard faring these days?"

"We have reached every state in the star sector that is open to telling our new mech model." Gavin replied. "We have even seen some growing signs of smuggling. While the Friday Coalition doesn't want to see our mechs in its sphere of influence, the demand of some of the customers there is simply too great!"

"What about our sales figures?"

"Our analysts estimate that our sales will likely peak in a month or two. While we have a lot of buyers, they aren't ordering a lot of copies. This is different from the Desolate Soldier where it isn't unusual for outfits to order dozens of mechs at the same time."

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That was the nature of a premium mech. The Desolate Soldier was a budget mech that still sold for a very affordable price. Bulk purchases were the rule rather than the exception.

In contrast, most outfits only wanted a single copy of the Doom Guard! More would be helpful, but not necessary.

Gavin soon proceeded to outline all of the revenue they made so far. The figure already looked incredibly astounding. This was more wealth than Ves ever possessed even in the heyday of the Desolate Soldier's success!

It was too bad that the clan's expenses had grown as well. Aside from the growing upkeep due to all of the expansion, the clan also spent massively on acquiring new hardware!

"The good news is that our financial position is no longer declining." Gavin grinned. "The release of the Doom Guard has single-handedly reversed our declining trend. Right now, we can probably sustain ourselves by as much as seven years if everything remains the same. This provides us with plenty of leeway."

Though it was nice to see that the Doom Guard generated so much money, it was far from the 1 trillion hex credits he needed to form an expedition-ready fleet.

Raymond added another notable development. "Another good news is that the Doom Guard's emergence has breathed new life into our older mech models. As you might expect, sales of mechs with glows that can mitigate or withstand the Doom Guard's glow have skyrocketed. The Aurora Titan model is the primary beneficiary!"

Though they had already discussed this before, Ves was glad that the defensive space knight's lack of mobility didn't hinder it from turning into a hot seller!

There was just one issue that Ves suddenly recalled. "Wait a moment. Didn't we split up the ownership of the Aurora Titan model with NORA Consolidated?"

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Originally, Ves and Professor Ventag collaborated on the design. Even though Ves did most of the heavy lifting, the assistance of an authentic and highly-experienced Senior was still of great value!

For this reason, they made a deal where the LMC would only gain a fourth of the profits while NORA Consolidated received the remainder.

This was a fair deal, especially considering that the professor still lent the strength of his design philosophy to the original design.

"Ves.. NORA Consolidated no longer exists. It's been disbanded."

"What?!"

He shouldn't have missed such a huge piece of news!

"It's a consequence of the Battle of Bentheim and the aftermath." Raymond continued. "A lot of mech companies and institutions on Bentheim are gone. Nothing remains except for some intangible assets that have mostly lost a lot of value as well. A lot of Brighter mech companies have concentrated so much of their assets and business activities on Bentheim that they had nothing left after the Sand War has concluded."

"Then… what happened to the rights to the Aurora Titan?"

"The amount of administrative and financial messes that ensued after the fall of Bentheim was considerable, Ves. Fortunately, plenty of people in the LMC had been ready for this moment. As soon as the Bright Republic fell into confusion, a number of our people solicited the help of some colluders to purchase the rights from the state on behalf of a shell company. After a lot of arcane transfers which I won't get into, the rights have eventually fallen into our company's hands."

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"That.. sounds great." Ves smiled, but only briefly. "That reminds me, what about our shares?"

"They haven't moved." Raymond shook his head. "Trust me, we tried to get them back, but the Bright Republic and the Ylvaine Protectorate are still clinging onto the shares in our company as if they are sources of endless wealth!"

"Those goddamn leeches!"

With all of the chaos and damage the two states had suffered, it became more important than ever for them to tap into sources of revenue. There was no way the two states would fail to recognize the growing earning potential of the LMC!

Even though Ves and the LMC had turned hostile against the two states, it wasn't possible to invalidate those shares! The MTA simply wouldn't permit such a brazen move!

Ves held both his palms against his face. This persistent hurdle had been haunting him for a while. The mere thought of enriching the states who stabbed in the back made him angry!

They didn't deserve a single hex credit from his business activities as far as he was concerned!

Yet the truth of the matter was that the LMC obediently transferred the dividends to the two states on time.

The Larkinson Family only owned 1 percent of outstanding shares.

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The Bright Republic owned 7 percent while the Ylvaine Protectorate owned 9 percent.

This meant that the two states effectively received 16 times as much money as the Larkinson Family!

Just this fact was enough to make his blood boil!

"How can we get those shares back?!"

Raymond shook his head. "We don't have any leverage, Ves. There is no way we can persuade or intimidate the two states into giving away their cash cows. We can knock on the doors of the MTA in order to ask for arbitration, but history has shown that the mechers always uphold the sanctity of contracts."

"Can't we issue a lot of new stock to diminish the worth of the shares in their possession?"

"That was one of our first ideas, Ves. Suffice to say, the MTA doesn't look highly on share dilution. There are too many times in the past where mech designers tried to stiff their investors in this manner."

"Urgh."

"I feel the same way, Ves. Our Legal Department has actually been waging a small war against the two states. Their lawyers and government officials have made several attempts to appropriate our company and our assets with the help of crooked laws, but fortunately the MTA isn't willing to entertain their requests. As long as we don't enter the states in question, they can't do anything except hold on to the shares they already possess."

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"Those traitors are going too far!" Ves banged his fist against his desk!

"There is a way to get those shares back." Gavin suddenly said.

"Oh? Do tell."

"What if the two states don't exist anymore? What if there is a way to apply pressure on them, say, threaten to sic a lot of Hexers on them if they don't allow us to buyback our shares?"

That.. sounded viable. Ves looked intrigued. "Only a deviant person would come up with such a suggestion. As expected of a Benny!"

Gavin grit his teeth. "It is simply a possibility, boss. We are far from this point."

"It's a possibility, at least!" Ves grinned as he started to churn his mind. "Yes, I can see it now. The Komodo War will be key! As long as the Hexers gain the upper hand, the Fridaymen won't be able to shield their client states. The Republic and the Protectorate would suddenly become easy pickings once they lose the protection of their patron!"

In other words, Ves possessed an even greater reason to help the Hexers win the war! As long as they achieved a decisive victory against the Fridaymen, Ves could probably borrow their influence and extort the two recalcitrant states into coughing up their shares!

"This isn't going to be easy, though." Ves quickly muttered.

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The Komodo War easily involved millions of mechs and thousands of star systems. There was hardly any way for a single individual to make a difference.

Nonetheless, Ves already knew he had the potential to do so. His upcoming mech design was just his first step!

"How are our preparations for the 'special occasion' I planned?"

"House Evenson has been very cooperative. They have already helped us identity and secure enough willing participants. You won't be disappointed, boss!"

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