Lear already had a whole crowd flocking to him. They had suddenly realized how much easier and better Lear was to get along with compared to Achilles, and how could they have not realized this earlier?
Wang Zheng's side was also obviously ecstatic.
"Wang Zheng, this is a once-in-blue-moon chance!" Zhang Shan rubbed his hands with glee. Why pass up on a chance that fell from heaven on a silver platter?
"Wang Zheng, we support you. If you can beat Lear, you'll be so awesome!" Yuan Ye chimed in. Compared to following Lear, they might as well support Wang Zheng, no matter how miniscule the chances of winning were.
This had become a contest between Zeus College and Ares College again.
Who was actually the strongest military college?
Fatty's face was contrite as he walked in front of Lie Xin. "I'm sorry, it was my fault."
Lie Xin waved it off. "Forget it."
But Fatty shook his head. "I can't just let it go like that. I'd better leave so that I won't bring you trouble ever again… and anyway, I like to follow the strong."
And he left to fawn over Lear. Again.
Lie Xin was stunned for a moment, her pleasant expression frozen on her face. Her morale had taken a hit.
"It looks like we underestimated Lear. It was a masterful plan to send Fatty to knock us down."
Achilles smiled as though it was of no concern.
"Boss, this sucks…"
Achilles waved him to silence. "Don't find excuses. We should have remained cautious in dealing with Earthlings. And besides… he hasn't won yet."
Milo and the rest let their gazes fall upon Wang Zheng. "You mean…?"
Masasi suddenly laughed. "We've always viewed Lear with disdain, but perhaps it is Wang Zheng who has truly been shortchanged."
One side was cool as a cucumber, the other was celebrating joyously.
To Wang Zheng, this would be a breeze.
As the space-time project drew to a conclusion, the KING Universal Space Company also entered a period of rapid growth. Once discussions had been finalized, it would enter the phase of practical experimentation. Upon completion, it would be time for it to enter the production cycle and reap the profits.
From Xiao Fei's latest thesis, there was logical basis for the necessary conditions to begin practical experimentation.
It could be said that this task had been a success!
The moment Xiao Fei's thesis broke new ground, KING Universal Space Company would enter the limelight of the universe and be reached out to by an endless number of venture capital big fishes. But when the first limited stock was released, everyone would be compelled to rush for it.
As a result, the companies which had originally invested and financed the project - CT Group and Margate Interstellar Airlines - saw their stocks rapidly rise in value in various interstellar stock markets. For financial giants that had such huge capital reserves, every percentage point in stock prices meant that billions were being gained or lost.
OMG and Little Lucky Star experienced growth as well. Although this was paltry in comparison to the two banking giants, it was nevertheless a good thing.
The celebration banquet, by popular opinion, would be held on Earth.
Eminent politicians and scientists from the Solar System Federation had received invitations.
The space task's move towards the practical research phase spawned many different considerations. Most importantly, where would the factory be located? The Moon, Mars, and Earth all had different inclinations.
Riding on the coattails of Yan Xiaosu, An Mei and Du Qingqing were attending the banquet as well. Du Qingqing could not resist a rueful jab. "If I had known, I would have been more shameless and fought you for it."
An Mei smiled, secretly glad in her heart. "And who was the one who laughed at me at the start?"
Yan Xiaosu was also switching personas. In front of important people who appeared frequently on Skylink television, he was no longer a dunderhead, but a prim and proper man.
Xiao Fei was the star of the banquet. She was the only one of the task team to attend. The rest would rather prop their feet up in the laboratory and play games than be bored out of their skulls at such events.
Xiao Fei saw no way out of it. At times, the pursuit of science must give way to reality. If one did not show up to network with these VIPs, there would be no funding and no new doors would open.
Ye Bingwen had brought Ye Zisu along for her own sake, to meet all sorts of new people and broaden her network. OMG's Wind God mech's huge popularity had again enabled the name of OMG to shine brightly through the Milky Way. Furthermore, the success of the space task had set the company firmly on track to breaking out of the Milky Way system to new markets. The horizon was unlimited, and it made one feel as though a huge warship was steadily rising towards the skies.
"Representative Leslie, Sir, regarding the OMG production base on the Moon, I have been humbly waiting for your reply for a long time. Since I have chanced upon you today, I wonder if you could perhaps shed some light on the matter?" Ye Bingwen brought up the matter lightly.
"Still no reply? I'll look into it. Actually, as long as the environmental regulations comply with the Moon's legal standards, the rest should be nothing to be worried about. Of course, as per usual, the base's main employees should be chosen from the locals as much as possible…" Leslie laughed expansively.
The latest developments in OMG had naturally tipped previously ambiguous decisions into clear approval.
"May I announce the arrival of CT Group Vice-Chairman Heaton and Margate Interstellar Airlines Group's Vice-Chairman Alex."
In an instant, a hush fell over the entire banquet.
Besides the all-too-familiar Wargod Covenant, the CT Group was also involved in all kinds of businesses and operations. Their financial maneuvers were large enough to cause an entire country's economy to fluctuate. In truth, the Ares Alliance was but one operation under the company's flag. It was truly a financial carrier.
As for the Margate Interstellar Airlines Group, it was an interstellar shipping enterprise that had expanded into a formidable financial giant within the Milky Way system, controlling the economic lifeblood of a few principalities.
Any representative that stepped up bearing either financial giants' company flag was capable of shaking Earth's business circles considerably. To think that the respective groups' vice-chairmen would personally make an appearance!
The brief silence was immediately followed by a wave of enthusiastic greetings by prospective businessmen who were hoping to establish some form of working relationship with these two.
Above the banquet, Solon's expression changed imperceptibly. After being at CT for so long, this was his first time seeing the Group's top elites with his own eyes. Back when Wargod Covenant was still a small company, the CT Group's financing was the reason it was where it was today. In truth, without the Group's funds, the Ares Alliance could not possibly have handled the mecha of so many different countries.
"Chairman, sir, how do you do? I am the CT Wargod Covenant Solar System Representative, Solon. It is an honor to meet you…" Solon leapt at the first chance to offer his greetings.
"How do you do? Please call me Vice-Chair." Heaton was clearly aloof, barely grasping his hand, with a business smile on his face devoid of much warmth.
Margate Interstellar Airlines Group's Alex's smile was equally lacking in any real emotion. Surveying the banquet venue from the side, he said, "Heaton, time ticks on. Let's get down to important business."
Heaton nodded, and the two headed directly towards Xiao Fei. "Professor Xiao Fei, how do you do? Congratulations on completing the task thesis' development and refinement.
Xiao Fei looked at the pair. "Thank you. May I help you?"
The initial contract had been handled by these two.
Alex smiled emotionlessly. "Let's talk in a quiet place. It's regarding the issue of future cooperation."
The initial plan had been a logical three-year period of funding. Who would have thought that within a mere year, the task thesis would make huge leaps of development that outstripped the initial calculations? These two globally dominating groups each held but 19 percent of the stock each and lacked a controlling interest. It was clear that a new wave of innovation would shake the entire Milky Way based on the practical usage of this task.
These financial giants hungered to participate and control such a task, like a wolf faced with fresh meat.
Ye Bingwen and Yan Xiaosu had been called into the meeting room as well. The pressure rose inexorably.
"Stakeholders, the task is developing very smoothly. I think it is time to discuss future cooperation."
Alex spoke without emotion. Frankly, this investment had been something they had not had high hopes for. When they had initially agreed to finance the venture, it was but a small fish within their wide nets. In the Solar System, the media was abound with praise for them, but in truth, their analysts had calculated that this thesis would require at least a full decade to move towards practical application. He had secured a position for the group preemptively, but he did not expect such groundbreaking development to ensue within a year. It stirred the hunger in his heart.
Why could he not control it all?
Venture capitalism was no charity. It was about profit. And it was time to buy the entire task for themselves.
Xiao Fei smiled coldly. "Gentlemen, the fundamental condition that we discussed previously was that my research team would hold 51 percent of the stock. This is the bottom line, and anything less than that need not be discussed."
"Professor Xiao is very direct. However, have you considered the problem of future funding? The 20 billion federation dollars have been declared already, right? My side agreed to fund the research task with up to three years worth of funds. Now that the research task has been completed, my side has held up our side of the agreement. It is now time for talk of a new agreement. I am afraid that the esteemed researchers are not qualified to lead the practical experimentation phase of the project. This involves not just physics, but all kinds of finance and technology, aspects which only we can accomplish.
"You need not concern yourself with those. This task does not need more investment" Xiao Fei said coldly. She had thought they came to bargain in good faith, but his tone had convinced her otherwise.
"Naturally, we are concerned. We seek returns on our investments. Future investments will require funds hundreds of times larger than the research phase. A year of investment could easily reach hundreds of billions. Has Professor Xiao considered this?" Alex said knowingly, seizing the initiative.
Xiao Fei paled. Funds were indeed a dangerous pitfall. The research costs were still reasonable, but once they moved into practical experiments, daily expenses would require exorbitant amounts.
"We can use future evaluations of the stock to allow the whole Milky Way to invest." Xiao Fei asserted. She was very clear that if she backed down now, she risked losing control forever.
Yan Xiaosu and Ye Bingwen were afraid to intervene. They held three percent and eight percent of the stocks, so they had little right to speak up here.