sted a status update.
After receiving a quick rundown of the progress the interrogators made so far, the man shook his head.

”None of our men have succeeded in prying open the mouths of the captives.
I ’ll let you see for yourself. ”

They moved over to an observation chamber that monitored all of the ongoing interrogations.
All of the screens and projections showed True Believers ranting madly at their interrogators?

”What is the purpose behind stealing Mr.
Larkinson ’s prototype mech? ” One of the interrogators asked.

The deranged fanatic mech pilot.
”HAHAHAHAHA! The Ylvaine Dynasty will rise again! The Second Calamity will soon be upon us, and its tides will sweep over the entire star sector! ”

”Answer the question! What is the reason for stealing the prototype?! ”

”The prophet is reborn! The true Ylvaine Dynasty will sweep the rot that has festered in the Protectorate! The Ylvainan Faith must stand strong and stay true! ”

The Protector officer cut the feed.
”Every captive True Believer is like this.
None of them are coherent enough to answer our questions because they are all hooked on a cocktail of stimulants.
Any truth serums we inject will either result in no effect or push them over the edge.
It will take weeks or months of specialized treatment to detoxify their bodies sufficiently to interrogate them while they are coherent. ”

That meant Ves likely wouldn ’t be able to obtain the answers to his questions anytime soon.
Even if the mech pilots they captured this time appeared to be part of the New Ylvaine Dynasty ’s cadre, the way the cult was set up, they likely wouldn ’t be able to tell all that much in the first place.

Hours went by as the Kronons and Curins continued to deal with the aftermath.
Ves and Ketis faced repeated questioning, but they were just as befuddled about the raid as the Ylvainans.

At some point, the dreaded Ylvainan Inquisition arrived at the subterranean testing ground.
A team of robed inquisitors and staff moved into the security center to take some of the captives away.

Ves met a very familiar figure at this time.

You just can ’t stay out of trouble, can you? It is rather peculiar that you are involved yet again with the True Believers. ”

”Unwillingly, Your Excellency.
I don ’t want anything to do with those terrorists. ” Ves replied with a strained smile.

High Inquisitor Xefin Lin Poxco studied Ves and Ketis with his very sharp pair of eyes.
”Your presence in the Protectorate is a security risk and a disaster to this planet.
If it were up to us, we ’d expel you from our state right this instance.
Unfortunately, the Curins don ’t think so.
Please do us all a favor and return where you came from before you provoke the True Believers into taking action yet again. ”

”I do not have a habit of giving up once I ’ve accepted an assignment.
As long as Madame Cecily hasn ’t canceled her commission, I ’m committed to seeing it to completion. ”

After a bit of chitchat, the high inquisitor marched off in order to supervise his men.
Ves continued to maintain his smile until the old man walked out of sight.

”What a creepy bastard. ” Ketis muttered.
”He knows he can ’t do anything to us, so he resorts to puffing himself up in order to intimidate us into leaving. ”

Ves lightly smacked her head.
”Don ’t talk like that in a place like this.
The esteemed high inquisitor is a very influential figure among the Attendants of Ylvaine.
Don ’t give him an excuse to take us into custody. ”

Obviously, the only reason the high inquisitor refrained from doing so was because Ves still enjoyed the backing of Madame Cecily and by extension the Curin Dynasty.

However, with each incident he became involved in, the more pressure the Curins endured.
If Ves kept getting swept up in major incidents, then the Curins would no longer be able to protect him.
At that point, he ’d be forced to leave the Protectorate, which he really didn ’t want to do before he completed the commission.

His pride as a mech designer compelled him to fulfill his promises.

Now that the Ylvainan Inquisition had arrived to take over a part of the follow-up investigation, Ves and Ketis glumly departed the subterrean testing ground.

Perhaps the only consolation was that they managed to return with a secure data chip containing all the data the facility gathered from the tests of the prototype.
Only the final stress tests on the agenda had been skipped, which meant that Ves almost got all of the data he needed to improve his design for a second iteration.

After a long shuttle ride back to the guest compound at Krent, Ketis and Lucky went off to cuddle and play in private.

Meanwhile, Ves met with Leland and explained what happened after the latter activated his signal jammer.

”It ’s a shame that the ongoing curfew makes it difficult for me to get in touch with my informers. ” Leland sighed.
”While I ’m aware that the True Believers have built up a strong presence on this planet, I never heard any indications that they were aiming to obtain one of your prototypes. ”

”Can you think of any reasons what the True Believers plan to do with my mech? ”

He shrugged.
”I can ’t say for certain.
Perhaps they wish to discredit you somehow by employing your mech in outrageous acts such as attacking the grand cathedral or laying waste to a school.
It would be the crudest and most direct method to turn the Ylvainans against you.
After all, the attacks wouldn ’t happen if you weren ’t designing such a deadly mech! ”

This reasoning sounded crazy, yet as long as it advanced their agenda, Ves could see the True Believers doing it.
As long as the media aligned with the traditionalists exaggerated the role of the stolen prototype in any violent acts it perpetrated, then Ves would definitely receive a lot of blame!

However, as crazy as the True Believers appeared to be, Ves wasn ’t entirely convinced of this possibility.

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