The Mech Touch Chapter 1202
1200 Contradictory Innocence
On second thought, Ves understood why the earliest news reports pointed the finger at the True Believers.
The New Ylvaine Dynasty had already been accused of attacking the Grand Church of the Grey Martyr. For them to pull of a dramatic stunt at the Grand Cathedral of Ylvaine's Mercy shortly after their first attack made a lot of sense!
It was as if the living prophet wanted to mock the three leading authorities by exposing their incompetence in this manner!
As alarms kept ringing throughout the city of Krent, Ves and Gavin quickly noticed that the Ylvainans took this incident a lot more seriously than they expected.
A priority notification quickly appeared on their comms.
"Kesseling VIII has declared martial law!" Gavin gasped as he read some of the text. "All aircars, shuttles and other vehicles are not allowed to fly. All forms of transportation in Krent is immediately shut down! No shuttles, starships or any other spacefaring vessel is allowed to depart the Kesseling System! Any starship that is scheduled to travel to the Kesseling System must immediately cancel their journey! Martial law will stay in effect for at least a week and can be extended at any time!"
Ves widened his eyes. "What the hell? The entire planet and star system will grind down to a halt if all traffic is blocked for an entire week! The local economy will definitely enter a depression at this rate!"
"I don't think the Ylvainans care about that anymore." Gavin nervously uttered. "Don't you realize what's at stake? The grand cathedral lost a relic that used to belong to the founder of the Ylvainan Faith! That's an enormous crime in their books!"
Even if the grand cathedral lost a nutrient pack wrapper, it was still an extremely valuable relic to the Ylvainans! To the Attendants of Ylvaine, the relic's value surpassed almost everything else on the planet!
Due to their failure to stop the theft and prevent the culprit from making off with the relic, the Protectors of the Faith drummed out in huge numbers. The streets emptied out of all civilian traffic, allowing scores of mechs and armored shuttles to sweep the streets and structures for any unusual elements.
The guest compound didn't escape scrutiny either. A bunch of Protectors of the Faith performed a deep search of the entire compound. They even dug into their luggage to see if they carried anything suspicious!
Alongside the extensive search, a Protector captain personally interviewed Ves and his followers.
"Are you involved with the True Believers?"
"No." ves replied truthfully.
"Are you involved with any incidents that took place at the Grand Cathedral of the Ylvaine's Mercy?"
Ah hell. Ves wanted to lie, but he knew that he'd get caught out by the lie detector system if he said no. If he attempted to perform some verbal acrobatics, then he might arouse the Kronon officer's suspicion.
That would be devastating to Ves! As long as they turned their attention to him and interrogated him more vigorously, they would definitely be able to determine that he was guilty!
Time seemed to slow down as Ves considered a myriad of solutions. He faced a similar situation before when an investigator of the CFA interrogated him. Ves remembered that he employed an unrefined spiritual trick to make him seem innocent.
Could he use something like that again?
There wasn't any time to consider anything else!
Different from last time, Ves came up with a more refined version to make him seem innocent. He rapidly constructed an image of himself in his mind. Because he knew himself quite well, he managed to complete the image in an instant.
The only difference of this image and his actual self was that he deliberately made it innocent. It possessed absolutely no involvement with anything related to what had happened at the grand cathedral!
There wasn't anymore time for him to refine his image of his innocent self any further. If he paused too long, the Protector captain would definitely form his own conclusions!
"What exactly happened at the grand cathedral?" Ves spontaneously asked. He needed to buy some time to complete his plan! "I heard that something got stolen?"
"I'm asking the questions here, Mr. Larkinson. Please answer the question. Are you involved with any incidents that took place in the grand cathedral?"
While the Protector captain sternly gave out his warning, Ves used the time to empower his image with his own spiritual energy.
Although Ves was loath to spend his spiritual energy, it was a necessary price to pay! Once the image of his innocent self came to life, Ves expanded it and swept it over his mind as if he was donning it like a mask.
Ves jerked a bit and quickly calmed down. This was the first time he donned an empowered image like a mask!
The difference was palpable! There was a lot more substance to his mask now, and because the image largely consisted of himself, there was very little incompatibility!
Ves innocently smiled. "I'm sorry. I heard some news from my assistant and I couldn't help but grow curious. To answer your question, I'm not involved in any incidents that has happened at the grand cathedral. I've never visited the place."
A strange mood overcame Ves as he wore his mask. A duality of thoughts clashed in his mind.
One one hand, he was very much the culprit that provoked the Ylvainans into a frenzy, to the point of declaring martial law!
On the other hand, he was just an innocent mech designer who had no relations with any crimes that took place on Kesseling VIII!
Such a conflict would have ordinarily clashed within his mind, but for some reason Ves was able to hold both of them at the same time!
This was clearly a contradiction, but nevertheless Ves was able to maintain his false innocence down to his facial expressions, his heartbeat, his eye movements and other signs! This allowed him to fool even the most sophisticated lie detectors!
The Protectorate captain continued to interrogate him Despite his sternness, his suspicion towards Ves had faded as he didn't detect anything amiss.
"I hope you'll find the culprits to this awful incident." Ves wished the Protectors of the Faith luck. "Whoever stole your holy relic deserves to suffer the most awful punishment your state has in store! What audacity! I'd like to beat up the culprit myself for making it harder for me to do my business on this planet!"
The Protectorate captain seemed fully convinced of Ves' sincerity. "Thank you for your understanding, Mr. Larkinson. I am sorry to say that we may impose further restrictions to you and your staff. Please do not take any offense if we seem rude if we take any precautionary measures."
"I understand. I hope you'll find the thieves soon so we can all get back to normal."
Once the Protectorate captain left, Ves inwardly sighed and slowly removed his spiritual mask. The empowered image of his innocent self shrank in size and floated peacefully within his mindscape.
"Can I recycle it? It would be great if I can get back what I spent."
However, he quickly decided against this course of action. Much like his other images, the image of his innocent self wouldn't degrade anytime soon. It also didn't exert any strain on his mind.
Considering that Ves might be facing several more interrogations in the coming days, he might need to resort to the same solution again. It would be a waste for him to create a new mask when he already possessed a serviceable one!
Since he could store his disguise in his mind without any consequences, he might as well keep it around.
He smirked. If the high inquisitor paid a visit to him again, he'd be fully prepared to declare his innocence!
As time went by, Ves tried his best to return to developing his draft design. He couldn't show any signs that he was involved in the matter of the grand cathedral.
Lucky already received instructions to lie low for a few days after he accomplished his heist. Ves didn't want to take the risk of getting caught red-handed during the period where the Ylvainans were on high alert!
"I made the right decision!"
Ves vastly underestimated the Ylvainan response to the theft. It was as if their entire society had been upended! As several hours passed, the manhunt for the thief intensified. Practically every peace-keeping mech was on the streets, and plenty of military mechs had joined the search as well!
Sporadic fighting erupted all across Krent as the Protectors of the Faith and the Attendants of Ylvaine occasionally bumped into something shady during their invasive door-to-door searches.
A lot of shady organizations on the planet suffered enormous losses due to the Ylvainan overreaction!
Even in a religious state, gangs and other unsavory elements still thrived. The only difference was that the criminal underworld didn't operate so blatantly in their territories.
Yet no matter how much they kept their shady dealings out of sight, the Ylvainans still possessed many of the same needs as Brighters and Reinaldans!
In fact, Ves suspected that many of Leland's informants consisted of gang members. They would do anything as long as they received enough money.
During martial law, most of the galactic net had closed down. Only approved outlets could still be accessed. In this case, Ves could only choose between news slanted towards the Curins, Kronons or Poxcos.
Obviously, the Poxcos were absolutely allopathic at the theft of Prophet Ylvaine's nutrient pack wrapper!
To their credit, they didn't deny their failure to safeguard the holy relic. They admitted their shortcomings but simultaneously stated the need for more Poxcos on the planet to assist in the search.
"Looks like the Poxcos will definitely get what they want this time!" Ves concluded.
The statements published by the Curins deflected a lot of blame towards the Kronons and the Poxcos for failing their duties. They tried to minimize their guilt as much as possible, and they actually did a decent job at it considering that they weren't responsible for guarding the relic in the first place.
Despite their objections, Ves didn't think the Curins would be able to stop the Kronons and Poxcos from inserting more men and mechs onto Kesseling VIII. If the terrorist attack already alarmed them, then the theft of an important relic had definitely sent them in a frenzy!
As for the Kronons, they slowly started to back the Poxcos. As their mechs and troops provided much of the security for the grand cathedral, they suffered a lot of blame for their failures. The Kronons wanted to atone for their mistakes by reinforcing the Kesseling System with an entire regiment!
And that was only what the Kronons admitted to the public. Who knew how many assets they planned to shift the Kesseling System!
The situation was growing increasingly hot to Ves. As the chief mastermind behind the theft, all of this was bad news to him. An escalation of troops might result in something worse.
Ves merely wanted to design a mech in peace. Why were the Ylvainans making it so difficult for him to do his job and complete the commission?
A very tense day went by before Calabast arrived at the guest compound in person under heavy guard.
"Miss Cecily!" Ves greeted her with surprise at that morning. "How come you're here?"
"We need to discuss our changing circumstances. Let's talk somewhere private." She said in a terse tone.
Ves led her to his room where she immediately activated her signal jammer.
That wasn't enough for Calabast this time because she deployed another machine that surrounded the both of them with a weak but highly disruptive energy field.
Only after she prepared all of her precautions did Calabast turn her attention to Ves.
"Tell me the truth, Ves. Did you do it? Did you steal the holy relic?"
Ves immediately donned his innocent mask. He expected that he'd be forced to don his mask again, but not against Calabast!
"I'm not involved, I swear! I didn't do it! I'm innocent!"
Calabast grimaced as she scrutinized his entire body. "I don't believe you."
"What?! But I don't have anything to do with it this time!"
"Don't lie to me, Ves! It's no coincidence that you asked me to obtain a relic earlier this week. Don't think I don't know that some of the Grey Martyr's relics inexplicably went missing. Now something like this happens at the same time that your mechanical pet has gone missing during this timeframe. No matter how innocent you seem, there are gaping holes in your story!"
Damnit! Ves quietly cursed Calabast for her astuteness. His innocent act hadn't worked at all!