Ves felt as if he acted out the role of an old-school detective in dramas as he investigated Chief Technician Nyquist.

The only problem was that Ves wasn ’t a detective, nor could he borrow his official authority to conduct his investigation openly.
He needed to be discreet and circumspect in order to hide his true intentions from the Kadar-Neyvis Group.

Above all else, he could never let them suspect that he worked on behalf of an intelligence agency!

Fortunately, the scope of Chief Technician Nyquist ’s work also included the restoration of military mechs.

While mech regiments possessed robust repair operations, as Ves personally witnessed when he served aboard the Wolf Mother and subsequently took on the position of temporary head designer, they only possessed a limited amount of capacity.

Sometimes, a major battle which drew thousands of casualties and wrecked hundreds of mechs overwhelmed the repair capabilities of the mech regiments.
It would take months for the mech regiment to restore the mechs back to working condition!

As long as they could ship their wrecked and damaged mechs back to Bentheim efficiently, why not make use of the abundant amount of repair capacity there?

This calculus resulted in a significant amount of military repair orders for the KNG ’s Mosville Complex.
Of course, the KNG mainly repaired copies of mech models that it produced itself, as they were very familiar with its construction.
The Mosville Complex also possessed an abundant stock of spare parts that saved the repair crews a lot of time in putting the military mechs back together.

Naturally, the delicate nature of entrusting the repairs and restoration of military assets to a civilian mech company required stringent controls.
Even outside a liaison mech designer like Ves, the work being done on military mechs also involved other active servicemen.

Before Ves approached Chief Nyquist, he first wanted to talk to the highest-ranking serviceman sent to supervise the repair activities.

”I am Senior Mech Technician Darryl Roland, sir. ” The man saluted Ves even though he wasn ’t obligated to do so.

Ves eyed the mech technician and noticed the tell-tale signs of injury, even if he did a good job of hiding it.
”Are you hurt? ”

”Just some old injuries, sir.
The war ’s been pretty bad to me.
Got both of my legs blown off when the Vesians bombarded the carrier I was on with missiles.
The docs regrew my legs, but it ’s easier said than done to work them in.
Together with my other injuries, I probably need another year before the Mech Corps sends me back to my mech regiment.
In the meantime, I ’ll enjoy this vacation while it lasts. ”

”Alright Darryl.
I just want to talk about your work, is that alright? ”

”You ’re the boss.
I ’ll provide whatever you want, sir. ” The man said diligently.

Ves couldn ’t help but smile.
His new reputation as a distinguished mech designer and war hero already saved him a lot of effort in earning Darryl ’s trust.

”Let ’s begin with your overall impression of the workers at the KNG.
What do you think of the mech technicians, managers and everyone else who works here? ”

The man shrugged.
”Kind of normal, I suppose.
They ’re not so different from the mech technicians back at our mech regiment.
They ’re a bit more corporate in their priorities, but they ’ve always done right when it comes to doing their part to help the war effort, sir. ”

That didn ’t tell Ves anything new.
”Tell me one thing that dissatisfies you most about the Mosville workers.
Don ’t be shy and don ’t hold back. ”

Obviously, Darryl didn ’t want to badmouth the people he worked alongside with, so Ves needed to be a bit more direct to force a critical answer out of the disabled mech technician.

”Well… it ’s awfully busy here.
Even though the company planned some expansions down the road, work on that has been slow on account of how little free space there is left.
Everyone is trying to squeeze in more work.
The KNG ’s mech technicians do what they can to keep up their quotas for the mech regiments, but there is already so much going on that they can only do so many things at a time, sir. ”

Hearing this perked up Ves.
It reinforced his own observations and strengthened his estimation of the KNG ’s utilization of its production capacity.

”So it ’s all hands on deck at the Mosville Complex? ”

”Yes, sir.
Recently the company went on another hiring spree, picking up various mech technicians laid off from the many mech companies that shut their doors in recent times.
It ’s not that easy to integrate them into the KNG, and they can only be entrusted with the least important duties for now. ”

”Tell me about the workers in charge of working on the damaged military mechs sent back from the frontlines. ”

”Oh, they ’re a pleasure to work with.
They don ’t try to shirk their duty and they don ’t cut that many corners.
Ahem, even if they do, I always make sure to call them out, sir. ”

”Sure, sure. ” Ves dismissed that remark.
”Give me your impressions of all of the chief technicians you ’ve worked with.
What are their quirks, how do they work, what are their good and bad points? ”

Darryl began to ramble about the many chief technicians in charge of various aspects and work crews.
There weren ’t that many of them, but each of them played a vital role.

At some point, Darryl came to Errel Nyquist, the chief technician that Ves most wanted to hear about.

”Chief Technician Nyquist is a veteran of the previous war.
Served at a frontline mech regiment just like me.
That makes it a real pleasure to work with him, as he understands the needs of the Mech Corps best.
Many times, he even argued back against the managers on our behalf, sir. ”

”So you have a good relationship with Chief Nyquist? ”

”Oh, we ’re practically friends! We regularly meet up for a drink in downtown Mosville every week along with some other buddies! Errel is a good man, both to the company and to the Mech Corps.
This is also why the company entrusted him with repairing the most important military mechs shipped back from the frontlines, sir. ”

The glowing praise that Darryl continued to pile up on Chief Nyquist made Ves rather uncomfortable.
He suspected that Nyquist deliberately grew close to Darryl in order to shape the injured serviceman ’s perception of the company.

This tainted the active serviceman ’s opinions.
Ves probably couldn ’t get any unbiased information from this talk.

His mood lowered a bit and after asking a few more perfunctory questions, he dismissed Darryl.

As the mech technician awkwardly walked back to his job with his newly grown legs, Ves tried to figure out how to approach the pivotal Chief Nyquist.
Obviously, a veteran mech technician who advanced to chief technician would be anything but clueless.

”Maybe I should just talk to him and go from there. ”

He decided to call up Chief Nyquist for a meeting.
When the man dropped his current work and came up to Ves, he looked mightily irritated.

”Just because you ’ve been sent by the Mech Corps doesn ’t give you the right to go pull workers off their jobs. ”

For some reason, Ves already earned the man ’s ire.
It turned out the recognition he received from the Mech Corps only helped him up to a point.

In cases like these, Ves knew that he should put up a firm and unyielding front.
He could not let this chief technician dominate this conversation.
”Chief Nyquist, as a liaison it is important for me to gain a thorough and complete understanding of all of the work being done for the Mech Corps.
You ’re the most senior and trusted chief technician in this complex, so I ’d like your cooperation in helping me gain a better picture of how the KNG contributes to the Mech Corps. ”

Chief Nyquist shrugged.
”I don ’t know what to say.
We ’ve partnered up with five Bentheim mech regiments, taking care of most of their military mechs.
As of now, we ’ve partnered up with the 5th Storm Enders of the 2nd Bentheim Division, the 1st Volari Starhawks and the 6th Mosville Mainstays of the 3rd Bentheim Division and the 3rd Carousel Clowns and the 5th Sparky Nuts of the 7th Bentheim Division.
I ’m a Sparky Nut myself, so I ’m proud to serve my old mech regiment from Bentheim! ”

Ves was familiar with all of the mech regiments that Nyquist mentioned.
The 1st Volari Starhawks especially caught his attention because of the rise of Ghanso Larkinson, one of his cousins who seemed to have propelled himself into the ranks of expert candidates!

The thought of the KNG as the main supplier of Ghanso ’s mechs put Ves into an awkward position.
As far as their diligence went to meeting the needs of the Mech Corps, Ves had very little to complain about.
In fact, the KNG probably went above and beyond the expectations set by the state and made sure to deliver soundly fabricated mechs that were all robust enough to survive the rigors of war.

Dragging down a patriotic mech company that treated its obligations to the military with reverence put a foul taste in his mouth.
Ves tried his best to keep his thoughts hidden in front of Chief Nyquist.

”Even if the Mosville Complex is servicing the needs of five mech regiments at once, this site is way too big to spend all of your time on repairing their assets.
How much of this site ’s repair capacity is being spent on military mechs? ”

”I ’d say about twenty-five to thirty-five percent. ” The chief answered easily.
”We ’re doing all of the repairs at cost.
That ’s a lot of capacity that we could have used on more profitable jobs.
In fact, no company ever manages to break even, really.
There ’s depreciation, wasted opportunities, unmet demand and more that all drags down the company ’s profitability.
However, we have all done our duty to the state without complaint. ”

”And I ’m very thankful for that. ” Ves repeated, this time sounding much more sincere about it.
He did genuinely recognize the KNG ’s earnest efforts.
”However, you mentioned unmet demand.
Since up to thirty-five percent of the company efforts are allocated away from meeting the needs of your customers, I imagine you are hurting quite a lot. ”

”Not as much.
With the war, some outfits are taking part while others have skedaddled.
Many mech pilots have also been lured into enlisting in the Mech Corps, so there ’s less demand for mechs. ”

”A lot of mech companies shut down as well, though.
There ’s less competition so each company enjoys a greater share of the pie. ”

”That doesn ’t sound as impressive when the pie has shrunk by thirty percent or more. ”

As Ves continued to ask other questions about his work, Chief Nyquist kept answering only the minimum necessary.
Getting pertinent information out of this man was very tough, especially since Ves couldn ’t reveal his true intentions.

He found little opportunity to talk about his work outside of the company ’s obligation to the Mech Corps.

After Ves finally dismissed the chief technician, he tried his best to keep the frown off his face.
While he didn ’t know what he wanted to get out of this conversation, he felt as if he heard nothing except for what the KNG wanted him to hear.

”What a loyal company man. ” He sighed.

This only strengthened his conviction that Chief Nyquist served as the lynchpin to the KNG ’s illicit activities at the Mosville Complex.
For some reason, Ves figured there was something more to Nyquist than his loyalty and his background as a former serviceman of the Sparky Nuts.

”Who is he, really? ”

Fortunately, he wasn ’t alone in his investigation.
At the end of the day, Ves returned to his quarters at the military base and met up with Leland for their daily briefing.

He put forth his request to his case officer.

”I want you to investigate Chief Technician Errel Nyquist who works at the KNG ’s Mosville Complex. ”

”Why? ”

”Because if anything shady is going around at that site, he ’s sure to be involved.
It will help me out in my investigation if you could handle this on your end. ”

”I ’ll see what I can do, Ves.
He should have a detailed record if he ’s a former serviceman. ” Leland stared intensely at him.
”Just remember that time is running out.
Right now, I ’m not very satisfied with the lack of progress on your part.
My superiors expect a full report at the end of your investigation.
You better be ready to give them one. ”

Ves got the message, as much as he didn ’t want to.
I will be sure to meet their expectations, one way or another. ”

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