data much faster at the mech workshop, for now he had no choice but to work from his temporary home.

The tests revealed many different issues that needed to be addressed.
Ves continually optimized the design on the basis of his analysis of the test data.
None of the problems posed much of a challenge to him at his current ability.

As Ves made a lot of progress in optimizing his design, he was forced to halt his work when a special visitor arrived at his guest compound.

He walked down to the foyer to an unusual sight.

”Charmed to meet you, Leland. ” Calabast gently shook the man ’s hand.

Leland responded with a gentle smile.
”Likewise, Director Cecily.
We appreciate everything you have done to accommodate our stay in the Protectorate.
Without your help, we would have never been able to resist the demands of the Ylvainan Inquisition. ”

Larkinson is an admirably young and dynamic mech designer.
The Bright Republic is lucky to have him.
He ’s exactly what the Protectorate needs in order to revitalize our stagnant mech market.
Although the theft of your prototype is regrettable, the fact that the True Believers desire the mech in the first place speaks volumes about the quality of its design. ”

”We aim to please, madame.
This setback hasn ’t affected our ability to fulfill your commission.
Your mechs will definitely be ready and delivered on schedule! ”

As the two amiable spies chatted with each other, Ves tried his best to keep his composure.

Although both of them belonged to the same kind, Ves had a feeling that Leland was completely clueless who he was dealing with! Calabast had already revealed she knew that Leland was working for Flashlight!

Yet during this polite conversation, Calabast maintained her role as an influential member of the Curin Dynasty to perfection.
Her gentle and aristocratic demeanor exposed no flaws at all.

As observant as Leland could be, he probably had no idea of the monster he currently faced!

”Madame Cecily. ” Ves greeted her as he approached the two.
”You can speak with my staffer later, but let ’s discuss some business first. ”

The woman smiled coyly at Ves.
”Very well. ”

The two headed up to his room at the top floor of the compound.
Once they left their bodyguards behind the door, Calabast activated her jamming devices before she dropped her mild facade.

”Leland is an interesting fellow.
He ’s quite good in his spycraft for his age.
If he grew up in a more advanced state, then he might be able to give me a run for my money. ”

”Please don ’t string him along.
If anything happens to Leland, I ’m on the hook. ” Ves sighed in exasperation.

”Do you know why Flashlight assigned him to accompany you? ”

”No, and as long as it doesn ’t interfere with my goals, I don ’t care. ”

Calabast nodded in approval.
”That ’s a prudent mindset to take.
While I ’m aware that Leland is engaged in a number of activities on this planet, he ’s merely furthering the interests of his state.
He ’s relatively harmless all considered. ”

”I ’m glad you think so. ”

He had to admit that ever since Ves struck his deal with Calabast, he was worried that she would but heads with Leland.
Both of them were spies who posed a threat to each other if they managed to sniff out their secrets.

That didn ’t happen, to Ves ’ relief.
Calabast was so superior to Leland that she could keep him blind and deaf as much as she wanted without the latter growing any wiser.

It depressed Ves a bit that someone as sneaky as Leland stood no chance against Calabast.
He couldn ’t rely on Leland and Flashlight to constrain Calabast if she ever acted unreasonably.

The power balance in their partnership was heavily skewed towards Calabast.
Ves couldn ’t get rid of her no matter what, but Calabast could easily cut ties and stab him in the back if she ever decided that she didn ’t need him anymore.

Ves needed to find a way to achieve parity with Calabast.
At the very least, he needed to have more say in their partnership.

”Let ’s discuss the recent incident. ” She said, getting down to the main reason why she wanted to meet with Ves.
”From what my sources have determined so far, the True Believers who raided the testing ground aren ’t fake.
There ’s too many evidence that suggest that they are authentic adherents to the New Ylvaine Dynasty, from the mech models they employed to the type of conditioning administered to the fanatics in order to strengthen their loyalty. ”

That concurred with his own speculation.
”I thought that might be the case.
It ’s strange how well they planned this operation.
From the sabotage to their routes, they knew exactly where to go.
Didn ’t you say the personnel of the testing ground had been vetted? ”

”No precaution is perfect, kid.
You should know that. ” She admonished him.
”Just because I expressed confidence in the security of the testing ground doesn ’t mean I can guarantee that nothing is amiss.
So far, the investigations have found out the pivotal reason why the raid had been so successful.
The director is the main culprit responsible for allowing the True Believers to sneak up on the testing ground. ”

”Didn ’t he get shot by a fanatic? ”

”That was merely to silence him.
He knew too much. ”

Ves didn ’t know what to feel about this revelation.
It sounded small compared to everything else he experienced recently.

”I always thought the director was a bit too reluctant to express his support for the reform agenda.
It turns out he ’s a hidden sympathiser. ” He muttered.

”There ’s something else we found out after interrogating the captives.
While they aren ’t exactly the most coherent bunch, there are still ways to squeeze useful information out of them.
It ’s just that we aren ’t sure yet if they are speaking the truth. ”

”What did you find out, Calabast? ”

”We ’re not certain yet, but there ’s a chance that the living prophet himself has arrived at Kesseling VIII! ”

”What?! ”

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