The Mech Touch Chapter 1203
1201 Too Astute
"You stupid kid! Do you have any idea what you've brought on this planet?!"
This was the first time Ves saw Calabast losing control over her impeccable composure. He didn't have to puzzle or second-guess his judgement to determine that the woman was furious!
What Ves found more alarming was that his mask of innocence failed to work on the astute spy. No matter how clueless he appeared, he couldn't do anything about the clues that Calabast pieced together!
This was a fatal flaw that Ves hadn't fully considered!
Ves tore away his mask seeing as it didn't do him any good. A subtle change in demeanor swept over him. He no longer appeared meek.
"I had to do what I needed in order to design my next mech." He said with little remorse.
"VES!" Calabast raged. "If you wanted to obtain a relic so bad, at least tell me so that we could plan your heist properly!"
Ves crossed his arms. "I already asked you to get me a relic, but you rejected my request, remember? Since you weren't any help back then, I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands."
"You reckless dimwit! I thought you only wanted to obtain a curiosity to understand Ylvainan culture better! I had no idea you were this desperate to obtain a treasured relic to the point of riling up the entire Ylvainan Protectorate to get what you want! If I knew you were this serious, I would have backed you up all the way!"
Neither of the two understood each other's intentions. Both Ves and Calabast realized that their miscommunication led to a far more dangerous outcome than if they cooperated!
On his end, Ves didn't communicate the desire to obtain a relic clearly enough. In his perspective, a relic connected to a great figure in the Ylvainan Faith possessed real, practical value that he could definitely make use of in order to enrich his upcoming mech design!
To Calabast, his request seemed very outlandish and frivolous. The spy didn't fully understand the specialty and capabilities of her partner. Her ignorance led her to believe that Ves wouldn't gain anything from a relic. Since the price of fulfilling his request was far too grave, she outright rejected it without understanding what it meant!
"What's done is done. Blame me all you want, but now that we've come this far, it's best to look ahead." Ves sighed.
He grew uncomfortable as Calabast continued to stare at him like he was a kid who did something naughty. Even if he acted recklessly, it was her fault for failing to hear him out in the first place!
"You're right, but that doesn't mean I'll forget about your stunt!" She gritted her teeth. "It could have been much worse for the both of us if I hadn't acted as soon as I heard what happened at the grand cathedral. Do you think we would be free to meet with each other if I hadn't covered your tracks?"
"What do you mean?"
Calabast threw up her hands in an exasperated fashion. "You're lucky I'm smart enough to figure out who's responsible as soon as I first received the news! I worked quickly to publish a statement on the galactic net that the True Believers have claimed responsibility for the theft. Not only that, but I've also hacked the security systems of the grand cathedral and wiped out as many logs and recordings as possible. While I haven't managed to erase everything, I've at least made it harder for the authorities to figure out what happened."
Despite her disapproval, Calabast nonetheless backed him up when she figured out the truth. Ves appreciated her help. It seemed that she was very sincere about their partnership.
Deflecting the blame to the New Ylvaine Dynasty was a particular masterstroke. Ves hadn't thought about using them as a scapegoat. They were currently the biggest bogeymen on Kesseling VIII!
By throwing out their name, the Ylvainan authorities instantly adopted the assumption that the living prophet and his lackeys truly took action at the grand cathedral!
Most of the assets allocated to the investigation should be spent on rooting out the True Believers, thereby diverting a lot of attention from Ves. The fact that only a single Protector captain interrogated him in a perfunctory manner showed that they had little reason to suspect that he was involved.
Ves would have been in a much more troubling position if Calabast hadn't taken quick action!
"Do you think your countermeasures worked?" He cautiously asked.
"There is still a chance that some of the more suspicious and skeptical Ylvainans are prejudiced towards us." Calabast grimly replied. "So don't put down your guard. Act like you are constantly being monitored. Even if you activate a signal jammer, don't make use of it too often, or you'll definitely attract suspicion. I'm sure our private conversation has attracted a lot of questions right now from the people who are assigned to monitor our movements."
That was bad news to Ves, but at least the Ylvainan minders shouldn't look at him too closely or care too much about what he was doing.
"Will the high inquisitor pay another visit?"
Calabast shrugged. "Probably. Once the Ylvainans failed to track down their missing relic, they'll cast a wide net. As persons of interests, both of us will receive a lot of scrutiny. Before they rule us out as suspects, we shouldn't do anything that arouses their suspicion. The biggest problem right now is that I'm not sure whether they truly bought the story that the True Believers are behind the theft."
"Oh? Didn't you say that this cover story worked?"
"It's undoubtedly effective to the public and the vast majority of the Ylvainan authorities. The average Ylvainan isn't exactly good at critical thinking, so they have no cause to doubt that the True Believers are responsible. That doesn't mean that the higher-ups are equally as ignorant, especially those who are aligned with the traditionalists. You know what I mean, right?"
Ves tentatively nodded. If the attack on the Grand Church of the Grey Martyr was a conspiracy of their own making, then this incident might lead them to believe that someone was giving them a taste of their own medicine!
Throughout all of this, the actual New Ylvaine Dynasty were unjustly maligned! They must be puking blood when they heard that unknown people ascribed terrible events to their organization!
Why would the True Believers risk turning public opinion against their cult by slaughtering so many innocent Ylvainans?
Why did the living prophet want to steal a discarded nutrient pack wrapper that used to belong to his first incarnation so badly? Such a historical relic was immensely valuable to every Ylvainan except for the purported reincarnation of Prophet Ylvaine!
The average Ylvainan citizen wouldn't think about these gaps in logic. However, it was a very different case when it came to astute officials such as High Inquisitor Xefin Lin Poxco!
"So what will we do now?"
"We lay low for now. The ball is in the court of the Protectors of the Faith and the Attendants of Ylvaine. Due to the seriousness of the theft of a relic associated with the great prophet, the Shepherds of the Flock don't have any sway anymore in the Kesseling System!"
That basically meant that the Curin Dynasty were currently impotent against the indignation of the Kronons and Poxcos! Whatever the latter two wanted, the Curins had no choice but to comply, because all of them desperate sought to recover the stolen relic and track down the culprits responsible for this blasphemous crime!
Calabast shared her thoughts on what might ensue from this event.
"First, the entire Kesseling System will be locked down for the foreseeable time. Martial law will last as long as the relic remains missing or there is no hope of retrieving it anymore."
"Won't the locals object to the measure if it goes on for months?" Ves frowned.
"Don't underestimate the perseverance of the Ylvainans. While the locals will suffer, the Curins won't let them starve. They're forced to spend an enormous sum of money to keep the Kesseling System from collapsing during this period. Another factor that plays a role that the vast majority of Ylvainans want to recover the missing relic as much as the traditionalists. The locals will endure any hardship as long as it helps the investigation!"
That meant that Ves could not do anything that stood out for the next few months!
"What else will happen?"
"The Protectors of the Faith and the Attendants of Ylvaine have already diverted a lot of forces to the Kesseling System." She said. "Some of the best investigators and forensic specialists of the Protectorate are on their way right now! While I'm confident that I've wiped out most of our tracks, we can't rule out anything!"
"With so many troops pouring into the Kesseling System, the situation will become very volatile." Ves judged. "But aside from suppressing the Curins, they won't do anything drastic, right?"
"I'm not sure about that." Calabast shook her head. "I've obtained evidence that the New Ylvaine Dynasty might be heading to the Kesseling System as well!"
"Do you think the True Believers will continue to let others use them as scapegoats? The living prophet is undoubtedly pissed that he and his cult are being unjustly maligned. They'll probably sneak their way into the Kesseling System and perform their own investigations."
Ves started to sweat. He understood now why Calabast was inordinately pissed at him. All of the forces converging on Kesseling VIII was too much for her and the Curins to cope!
If the True Believers managed to smuggle in a considerable amount of mechs to the planet, then a dangerous confrontation might ensue! Ves and Calabast might get pulled into this vortex in the process, which neither of them wanted!
He groaned. "Is that everything, or is there anything else that I need to be concerned about?"
"Unfortunately, that's not the end of it." Calabast shook her head. "Do you remember the Star Faith Collective? They're probably gloating at the misfortunes afflicting the Ylvaine Protectorate. It suits the Star Worshippers if their rival state is mired in factional warfare. You can bet they're attempting to sneak as many operatives as possible into the Kesseling System. These operatives will definitely take action to stir the pot and aggravate the internal division between the leading dynasties!"
Ves understood what she was talking about. It sounded exactly like something Flashlight would do against the Vesians. Shifty bastards like Leland and Calabast would probably be salivating if something as chaotic like this took place in an enemy state!
These foreign elements posed the greatest threat to Ves and Calabast. Unlike the other Ylvainan factions, the Star Worshippers possessed no incentive to restrain themselves and minimize their impact on the locals.
In fact, they would do everything they can to rile everybody up and inflict more damage!
Calabast looked tired all of a sudden. "I hope you realize what kind of storm you caused with your impulsive actions. What I want to know now is whether it is all worth it. Why are relics so important to you, Ves? Don't obfuscate me with nonsense. Since you're so desperate to obtain them, they must bring a concrete benefit to you. What's your secret?"
The question hit very close to Ves. With her deductive ability, Calabast definitely surmised that Ves was hiding something! She was too astute!
He decided to throw her bone. "You're right. I can definitely make use of a relic. The more important the relic, the more benefits I can derive from them. It's difficult to explain why they're useful to me. It's related to my design philosophy."
"What is your design philosophy?"
"Metaphysical Man-Machine Symbiosis."
Calabast blinked. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"If you don't even understand that much, there's no point explaining my design philosophy to you." Ves self-righteously stated.
Calabast sent a piercing glare at him. "Don't try to avoid my question. Your rhetorical tricks won't work on me. Tell it to me straight. What are you planning to do with the relic you stole?"
Ves really didn't want to answer this question, but it seemed that Calabast wouldn't let him go if he continued to deflect the matter! Instances like this was why he hated spies! They were too astute to fall for his usual tricks!