The arrow had already left the bow.
Now that Ves threw out his request, Leland enthusiastically began to put the pieces together for the kidnapping and disposal operation.

While Ves only requested the kidnapping, the Leland insisted on the disposal part in order to cut off any loose ends.

Even though Ves had half a mind to cancel the request, the intelligence officer fully bought into his arguments as to why they needed to interrogate one of the mech technicians working at the Ansel Complex.

Ves truly needed to ask some questions.
He just felt uneasy about the price to accomplish this without drawing any suspicion from the KNG.

After spending a lot of time around Flashlight ’s people, he should have been more cognizant of their modus operandi.
Prizing secrecy at all costs, they weren ’t above dirtying their hands as long as they achieved their goals!

It made him wonder who Flashlight answered to.
Which government official or institution did they have to account for their many shady activities?

To Ves, it seemed as if Flashlight did a lot of dirty things off the record.
They couldn ’t be held accountable for their misdeeds if no one caught them in the act.
Perhaps this was why Flashlight prioritized secrecy to the extreme!

They just wanted to cover their own butts, nothing more and nothing less!

It shouldn ’t have surprised Ves that Flashlight was no less self-serving than the other tainted institutions of the Bright Republic.
The Ministry of Economic Development, Spot, the Bright Senate and so on all prioritized their own interests over their public duty.

Ves even began to doubt this mission had any relation to Spotlight in the first place.
Did Spotlight and Flashlight really obtained word about possible separatist activity at the KNG, or did Flashlight target them for an unrelated reason from the start?

Right now, the latter possibility seemed more likely.
It would be just like Flashlight to pick out a random functioning and highly productive company as a victim for their political crusade.

As for the reason why Flashlight picked the KNG specifically, Ves found many possible reasons.

First, the KNG was intricately tied with the Ansel University of Mech Design.
That prestigious school held a lot of sway among the upper ranks of the Bright Republic ’s mech designers.
Taking them down a notch by crucifying some of their prominent alumni would temper their arrogance, as Leland already stated.

The second reason was that while the KNG was a big mech manufacturer with an even bigger impact in the industry, they weren ’t too big to fail.
Unlike some other monolithic companies, the KNG competed in markets with plenty of competitors to fill the gap if they ever abruptly closed their doors.

As for their military production, it would hurt the Volari Starkhawks and the other mech regiments to lose their fixed suppliers of mechs and parts.
Yet this pain would only last for a few months before they partnered up with another company.

The KNG ’s many connections would all be implicated by this company ’s decline or fall, doing untold harm to many different people.
Yet as long as the Bright Republic itself could endure damage, Flashlight wouldn ’t shy away from engineering such an event.

Perhaps they slept easier at the thought that the Bright Republic needed such a shock to prod the other institutions into working more sincerely.
Or maybe Flashlight simply wanted to damage an arm of one of their rival organizations.

All of these cynical didn ’t get him anywhere, so Ves quickly pushed them out of his mind.
No matter what, working with Flashlight at least allowed him to get on their side.
In exchange for getting on board their train, Ves would at least be able to insulate himself from these kinds of incidents to an extent.

The Kadar-Neyvis Group, for all of their connections, didn ’t deter Flashlight at all.
They might have even dragged the mech company into the military intelligence agency ’s crosshairs in the first place!

”Every organization has enemies. ”

The more friends you made, the more enemies you incurred.
That seemed to describe the KNG ’s current predicament.
All of their backing offered no protection against an enemy determined enough to take them down such as Flashlight.

”Maybe the Larkinson Family is wise to remain beneath their attention. ”

With their clean reputation and honorable service, the Larkinsons never faced any threats from within the Republic that they needed to be concerned about.
Certainly, they had rivals and enemies, but none of them played on this level where the ruining of a large and successful mech company was just another tuesday for the big players!

”Unfortunately, I ’m already in too deep to get out.
I also have to pick a side if I want to get ahead. ”

The earlier argument he came up with to collaborate with Flashlight still applied.
Compared to the Ministry of Economic Development which supervised so many companies that they couldn ’t even offer effective to the KNG, partnering up with Flashlight sounded like a better deal.

They were dangerous, for sure, but Ves would rather be on their side than align himself with their enemies!

As Ves performed some research from his terminal throughout the night, Leland returned to his quarters in the next morning.

”Get up, Ves.
It ’s showtime. ”

”What? ” He looked surprised.
”Is it already done? ”

It took shorter than I thought to arrange all of the pieces of the plan.
Flashlight is already very practiced in these kinds of ops so I only had to borrow some of their existing infrastructure and assets to cover every aspect.
We ’ve already caught the mech technician you wanted.
If we go now and interrogate him, we can dispose of him before the afternoon and minimize the time he spent missing at the KNG. ”

Both of them moved quickly.
This time, they didn ’t take a normal exit but rather left the quarters through an underground tunnel.
It was through this passage that Leland could sneak in and out of the military base without being observed by anyone else.

At the end of the tunnel was a small underground hall where an unobtrusive-looking aircar with opaque windows greeted them.
Once they entered, the vehicle automatically set off to a destination at the outskirts of Mosville.

There, the aircar entered a garage of an office building under construction.
No work was being done today so Ves and Leland met no one else before they arrived at an unfinished underground floor.

Leland led them through the dark with only the light from his comm illuminating their passage.
They came up to a reinforced door that was flanked by two burly operatives carrying weapons.

”These are two of the members of the strike team that is backing you up. ” He said.
”I ’d normally like to introduce them to you, but the less you know, the better you ’re off. ”

Ves gave him a bitter smile.
”I am aware. ”

The two operatives silently allowed them to enter.
Inside, the hollow room had been arranged in a familiar arrangement.
A simple table rested in the center.
Behind it, a drugged and sedated mech technician sat shackled to his metal chair.
On the other end of the table sat a single seat.

”You should take a seat, Ves.
I ’ll be standing at the side.
For now, you ’ll be asking the questions. ”

”Okay. ”

Having been on both ends of an interrogation, Ves was already somewhat familiar with the dynamic.
As the person asking the questions, he needed to get the person providing the answers to take him seriously.

Seeing as how his earlier trick against Leland seemed to achieve some results, if only tentatively, Ves concentrated his mind yet again.
”Wake him up, please. ”

Leland pressed a button on his comm, causing some hidden module placed against the mech technician ’s skin to inject a substance in his bloodstream.

The kidnapped worker for the KNG abruptly shook off the drugs clouding his mind.
”What the..
Where am I? ”

”Sebastian Rohill. ” Ves spoke with command.
His Spirituality echoed with his words.
He belatedly caught the kidnapped man ’s attention.
”You are in trouble, Stan.
Do you mind if I call you that? ”

Stan still seemed woozy from the drugs pumping into his bloodstream.
Leland already mentioned that the various chemicals would make him more susceptible to answering his question at the cost of his lucidity.

It seemed the elephants pounding inside Stan ’s consciousness also caused the Spirituality trying to affect him to be completely ignored.

Ves only shrugged at that but maintained the effect in case it might give Stan a helpful push.
In any case, it didn ’t take too much effort for him to maintain his concentration.

why am I not at work? I ’m supposed to be at work! ”

As Stan sobered up a bit, he finally realized his predicament.
It didn ’t help that this barren and cold room seemed straight out of some crime drama.

”Where am I! Who are you?! Wait, I recognize you! You ’re Ves Larkinson! ”

Neither Ves nor Leland did nothing to hide their faces.
As Ves already spent a lot of time at the Ansel Complex, most of the workers there knew who he was.
Now that Stan called him out by name, Ves already knew that there was no way for this fellow to survive the day.

Even if Flashlight didn ’t clean him up, Ves would have done it himself.
He closed his eyes for a bit in resignation before opening them up again with greater concentration.

In order to make this dirty business worth it, Ves needed to succeed in extracting useful information out of his victim!

As a liaison, I am not only charged with supervising military production at the KNG.
I ’m also tasked with digging out any improprieties.
I ’m sorry to say that your suspicious behavior has caught my attention.
We know you are hiding something. ”

Ves spoke that last words while resonating with his own Spirituality, momentarily giving them more force.

”How can that be?! ” Stan grew panicked.
Perhaps the strong waves of that last phrase impacted him a bit, because the mech technician never questioned Ves ’ claims.
”I have always worked hard for the company! I ’m one of the best-performing mech technicians at the Ansel Complex! I ’m due for a promotion! ”

”It is exactly because you are so good that you have drawn our suspicions! ” Ves retorted back.
”There are limits to mech technicians and you have exceeded everyone of them.
Someone as good as you should have been a mech designer.
Why are you pretending to be a mech technician?! ”

”That-that-that I am just a good study! ”

”Nonsense! You were never good in school in your early years! You barely crawled your way into one of Ansel ’s technical schools, whereupon you somehow shaped up and became a qualific mech technician, but even then nothing about your school record suggests you ’re a prodigy! ”

”I just became better at my job with the help of the KNG, alright?! They take care of us and helps us with our studies! ”

”Again, that ’s complete nonsense.
A mediocre learner would never make the amount of progress you ’ve achieved in so little time.
You have to be as good as a mech designer to do so, but you are definitely not smart enough to be a mech designer, at least normally! So tell me, Stan, what is your secret? ”

The man shook in his seat and darted his eyes towards Ves and Leland and back again several times in a row.
Ves didn ’t say anything but kept pushing his Spirituality towards Stan to pile up the pressure.

While it didn ’t appear the effect was as remarkable as being subjected to the force of will of an expert mech pilot, Ves nonetheless felt as if he did manage to achieve some effects.

One of the reasons why Ves picked Stan out in the first place was that he seemed most susceptible to pressure.
The man already acted a bit nervously at work.
He pushed himself harder than anyone else, as if he was desperate to gain a promotion.

A quiet minute passed by while nobody said anything to Stan.
His nervousness combined with the drugs affecting his mind practically did most of the work in wearing him down.

Ves only offered a coy smile to Stan, as if he already knew what dirty little secret the man really hid.
It was the kind of smile that gave the illusion that Ves had everything in control.

”Alright alright! I ’ll tell you! ” Stan finally cracked.
”I am taking Enoncolantis-3, alright?! ”

This caused Ves to blink and interrupt his intimidating act.

”Enoncolantis-3 is a mental performance-enhancing stimulant. ” Leland explained, catching his confusion at the strange answer.
”It ’s one of the more obscure stimulants you can find in the black markets because it ’s fairly expensive.
The upside is that in pill form, it enhances someone ’s cognitive functions for at least half a day.
It ’s also quite troublesome to detect by most scanners, so it is in high demand to many workers! ”

So that was what Stan always seemed jittery! He was a substance abuser!

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