The Mech Touch Chapter 1079
1077 Innocent Ac
Ves spent an hour answering the questions posed by Lieutenant Stimmons. They related to what he witnessed on the surface of Aeon Corona VII, how he wormed his way into the Starlight Megalodon, what he did with his supposed rank in the CFA and more.
From the knowledge that the lieutenant exhibited, Ves knew that much of it probably came from when his CFA-issued officer comm inadvertently connected to the CFA's fleet network. Much of the rest probably came from questioning the other survivors of the Aeon Corona Mission such as Captain Orfan.
However, the lieutenant also possessed obvious gaps in knowledge that Ves made sure to keep as unfulfilled as possible.
While Ves could never blatantly lie to an inspector of the CFA, he could still resort to lies by omission. No matter what, Ves could never reveal any details about Sigrund or his Holy Son status!
"Please list each research project on the Starlight Megalodon that you've accessed or participated in. Be as complete as possible."
"Describe every virtual AI you've met on the ship."
"Explain to me what you believe to be the cause of the abrupt halt to the Starlight Megalodon's FTL drives. Why did the long-dormant sandman mothership entangled with the battleship suddenly freed itself from its stasis?"
"What did you encounter when you entered the lab of Project Icarus?"
Ves put every part of his persuasive ability to use in weaving a tale of omissions and minor misdirections to the lieutenant. For his part, Stimmons listened to his answers with a bored expression, as if he felt it was beneath him to be dispatched to Cloudy Curtain in the first place.
Taking a gamble, Ves tried to reinforce the impression that he was a nobody and that Stimmons should be spending his time elsewhere by using his underdeveloped Spirituality to use!
While it was a huge risk to employ his Spirituality directly in front of someone from the CFA, Ves was reasonably certain that Stimmons was just a norm. Sure, he probably received the best genetic optimization treatments afforded to someone of his rank, but he was just an inspector.
Ves maintained his facade as a cooperative witness while he concentrated his mind. He shaped his Spirituality in a form akin to a mech pilot's force of will. While he was very clumsy in this regard, he nonetheless succeeded in forming a spiritual field around him that emphasized his innocence and cluelessness!
Above all else, Ves wanted to give the impression that he was just a random mech designer who got involved in the Starlight Megalodon by coincidence! There was nothing special about him at all beside his coincidental presence on the battleship!
Whether it worked or not, Ves couldn't tell, because Lieutenant Stimmons appeared disinterested in the entire proceedings from the start.
Still, all Ves cared about was that he managed to give nothing away about his most critical secrets.
Perhaps it worked, because Lieutenant Stimmons never asked once about Sigrund or anything related to the monstrous mainframe in Project Icarus' lab!
Ves already agreed on a cover story with Calabast if he ever faced scrutiny from the CFA. The line of nonsense he fed to the inspector would completely match Calabast's own story if the CFA ever came to corroborate his words.
Such preparation allowed him to survive the tense questioning session without exposing any information that he didn't want the CFA to know.
After a while, Stimmons ended the session and stood up. "Very well. I have heard enough. Now bring me to the assets you've appropriated from the Starlight Megalodon so I can arrange for them to be taken back. Now, before you pull any tricks, know that every piece of CFA gear can be detected by us even if you bury it right into the center of this planet."
"I wouldn't dare to hide the salvage I've brought back from the Aeon Corona System." Ves smiled and laughed awkwardly.
There was no way that Ves could avoid this. He reluctantly led Lieutenant Stimmons to a set of elevators that successively brought them all the way down to the vault floor.
As Ves slowly unlocked the stringent security measures of the vault door and stepped inside, he went to the portion of the vault that stored his spoils from the CFA. As the pair entered the vault room in question, they came across a stack of crates.
Ves blinked a bit. Shouldn't there be an entire CFA shuttle stored inside? Where was his Squalon field engineer light combat armor? Where was his advanced CFA officer-grade comm?
Despite the inexplicable absence, Ves he quickly recovered. "Ahem. This is the sum total of my spoils from the Starlight Megalodon."
"What is the meaning of this?" Stimmons said with a dangerous edge in his tone. "This should not be the extent of the assets that you've stolen from the CFA."
"This is all of it, sir!" Ves said while maintaining an innocent act. "You can look wherever you want, but I haven't kept anything from the CFA other than these crates!"
The lieutenant walked up to the stack of crates and opened one of them to reveal a pile of vintage nutrient packs. The man fished out one of the packs from the crate and studied it before throwing it aside. He fished out a dozen more packs, but all he found was more of the same!
"Nutrient packs! Of all the goods that you have possibly taken from the Starlight Megalodon, you only brought back some worthless nutrient packs! Are you out of your mind?! Where is our shuttle? Where is our XV-99 Squalon?"
"We don't have them, sir. I only dared to retain some nutrient packs as a souvenir. I would never dare to back take something of actual value to the CFA." Ves innocently shrugged from the side.
This was a very precarious moment to Ves right now. Even though he also wondered where most of his CFA stuff had disappeared to, he decided to put his faith in this welcome turn events!
In the background, Ves kept emanating a spiritual field that reinforced his act. Ves was just a clueless bystander! He never made off with expensive CFA gear! There was nothing special to see here!
Lieutenant Stimmons furrowed his brows. He eventually raised his hand and activated his modern CFA comm.
A strong pulse came from above and instantly encompassed the entire Mech Nursery down to the underground vault and below!
Ves widened his eyes. The small corvette that Stimmons had traveled upon possessed the most powerful scanners that he had ever experienced. He felt as if nothing could be hidden from the scan that just passed through his body!
As Ves surreptitiously tried to see what Stimmons was doing with his comm, he noticed that the inspector was performing a number of broad, wide-area scans over the entirety of Cloudy Curtain!
The lieutenant wasn't lying when he claimed that he possessed the ability to track down CFA gear!
Unfortunately for him, the only result the corvette in orbit spat back was the crates of vintage nutrient packs stored in this very vault! Aside from the crates, the planet contained nothing else from the CFA!
"WORTHLESS!" Stimmons yelled out in frustration as he lurched his arm and threw the open crate onto the ground, causing it to spill its contents of ancient nutrient packs. "Explain! Where are the rest of our assets!"
"I don't know, sir!"
"Did you smuggle them out?!"
"Did you sell them or trade them away?!"
"I did not! You are free to audit my company and my finances. You'll find nothing amiss, I'm sure of it, sir!"
After some fruitless questioning, Lieutenant Stimmons growled in frustration while staring daggers at Ves. This visit did not proceed the way he envisioned!
For a moment, Ves felt as if he had entered a dangerous moment. Stimmons might take him into custody in order to account for the missing gear. However, the subtle aura of innocence and cluelessness around him made it seem as if there was no point in paying any further interest in Ves.
Eventually, the lieutenant decided against such drastic action. He stormed off towards the exit. "Get out of this underground hole, you filthy space peasant! I will investigate the whereabouts of our missing assets further. If I find out that you have hidden them away, then not even the Tovars can save you from our wrath!"
Ves stared at the pile of spilled nutrient packs with a pain in his heart before turning around to help Stimmons return to his shuttle parked on the roof of the LMC's headquarters.
Once the lieutenant to perform a follow-up investigation or something, Ves gently sighed as the shuttle whipped into orbit with amazing speed.
Aware that the CFA might have left some bugs behind, Ves refrained from dropping his act. He tried to look as hapless as possible as he slowly departed from the roof and made his way back down to the vault.
He also called for Calsie to meet him at the entrance of the vault. Back when he transferred his CFA comm, his CFA shuttle and his CFA combat armor to the Barracuda, Calsie was responsible for storing them there once the ship arrived at Cloudy Curtain.
If anyone knew where the rest of his CFA spoils aside from his nutrient packs disappeared to, it should be Calsie.
Some time later, both Ves and Calsie arrived at the vault. Lucky seemed to have returned from wherever he disappeared to and clung on Calsie's shoulder while being petted by the woman.
Ves first looked to Lucky. "Are there any spy bugs here?"
"Meow." Lucky shook his head while it was being scratched by Calsie's fingers.
Even though he trusted Lucky's judgement, Ves activated his Privacy Shield to be sure. Only then did he turn to Calsie.
"If you haven't heard already, we just received a visit from an inspector of the CFA. Not only did he question me about certain matters, but he also came to retrieve the CFA assets that I've shipped back to the company. You wouldn't happen to know where they are right now, do you?"
Calsie looked pensive all of a sudden. "Uhmm.."
"Before you ask, it's safe to talk within this interference field. Neither the CFA nor anyone else will be able to eavesdrop on us, Calsie."
"That's not what I was hesitating about." She said as her discomfort deepened. She clung a bit tighter to Lucky. "The truth is that… the shuttle, the suit of armor and the comm is… gone."
"Gone? What do you mean gone?"
"They're gone. They no longer exist."
"Did you sell them or something to help keep the company afloat?"
"No, nothing like that. The LMC wasn't that desparate."
"Did someone else like the MTA or the Bright Republic come and confiscate the stuff?"
Calsie shook her head again. "No."
"Then what happened?!"
"Lucky ate it all! He munched on all of your stuff until it's all gone! Your comm, your combat armor and your shuttle has all been digested by your cat!"
Ves almost couldn't believe what he heard. His astonished eyes on in Lucky who immediately noticed the attention directed against him. Lucky stopped squinting his eyes in pleasure and innocently met his owner's increasingly angry gaze.
"Lucky? Tell me. Is Calsie telling the truth? Did you eat all of my gear?"
Ves knew better than to parse the meaning out of that meaningless meow. Instead, he focused his gaze and quietly activated his System sight.
Owner: Ves Larkinson
Rank: Exceptional [Exclusive]
[Gem Excretion V]
[Energy Claws III]
[Gravity Manipulation IV]
[Sharp Senses III]
Level five?! And what were all of these skills?!
Ves doubted no further. There was no way that Ves could have leveled up twice and acquired all of these new skills so easily! The only explanation on hand that made sense was that Lucky really ate all of his valuable and expensive CFA gear! The expensive exotics and valuable materials that made them so valuable must have been an irresistible temptation to his gluttonous cat!
"LUCKY! Get over here!" Ves made a grab at Lucky, who yowled in surprise and instantly turned intangible! "Spit out my Squalon! That's the best armor that I've ever laid my hands upon, but now it's gone because you couldn't control your appetite! Pay me back!"
Lucky wasn't stupid enough to remain within the vault. The cat took advantage of his intangible state and instantly phased through the floor and fled deeper underground!