The Mech Touch Chapter 1318
1316 Bloody Nose
It took some time for Fe Nitaa to reemerge. She changed out her workout clothes for a stiff, formal-looking suit common to bodyguards. Ves knew that her suit was probably padded with a thin layer of armor in order to help her withstand infantry weapon fire.
Her suit might also hide all manner of weapons, from knives to collapsable rifles.
Even if Ves wore his shield generator, he still felt threatened by her proximity. So long as she hadn't pledged to serve him, she would not prioritize his life over hers.
At least that was how it should have been.
"Mr. Larkinson." She spoke with an impassive voice as she bowed in front of him. "My name is Fe Nitaa. I pledge to serve you for all my life until you deem fit to dismiss me. By the ancient customs of the Kinner Tribe, I agree to serve you in a manner befitting my tribe. In return, I hope you treat me with the dignity and respect of a Kinner."
"The pledge is not valid until it is formally registered at the Kinner Tribe." Kelandra stepped in. "Nitaa, we should first draw up a contract and negotiate on its terms."
"I will accept any terms Mr. Larkinson deems fit to set as long as it abides by Kinner standards."
"Nitaa! Are you out of your mind! As a fellow Kinner, I highly advise you to make a careful decision! You are throwing away your negotiating position! At least consult a contract lawyer. There are plenty of them hanging around here at Trinity Halls."
"No need." Nitaa shook her head. "I have pledged to serve Mr. Larkinson. Contract or no, my word is sufficient!"
"That's not how it works!"
"Ladies!" Ves forcefully interrupted. "Kelandra, I understand your concerns. I do not wish to take advantage of Nitaa. How about you go and call for one of those contract lawyers and prepare a proper document? Meanwhile, I'd like to talk to Nitaa in private. Is that alright?"
Though she still had a lot of misgivings, Kelandra reluctantly nodded. At the very least, getting Nitaa outside counsel was a lot better than leaving her to 'negotiate' by herself!
Once the guide left their side, Ves turned to the tall and imposing woman and directed a sharp smile at her. "Now that the distraction is gone, can you finally tell me why you want to work for me? I believe there must be a very special reason why you offered such uncommon conditions."
Nitaa directed her eyes towards Lucky and Gavin before sweeping the rest of the hall. "Not here. I have my reasons, but they are not meant for other ears. There are private conference rooms not far away from here."
They quietly followed her outside of the hall and into a set of corridors that led to various meeting and conference rooms. As Nitaa walked up to an unoccupied room, she turned to Gavin.
"It is best for Mr. Larkinson to hear what I have to say alone."
"Oh, come on! I'm his executive assistant!"
"But does he trust you?" Nitaa asked.
For some reason, that question cut very deep.
Before Gavin considered the question seriously, Ves held up his arm. "I'll humor her for now, Benny. For now, stay outside. I'll see what she has to say."
"Your cat is a security vulnerability." She spoke.
"Not really." Ves shook his head. "Let's get inside."
He did not brook any further suggestions and went on to enter the room. This forced Nitaa to accept his decision and follow suit, though she did so with a frown.
Once they closed and locked the room, Ves patted Lucky's head. "Activate your ECM. Put it in a higher strength this time."
A moderate interference field encompassed the entire conference room. It was so strong in fact that it even spilled over into the corridor!
The display was enough to take Fe Nitaa by surprise for the first time. "I did not expect your mechanical pet to be capable of projecting an interference field of this strength. This is high technology."
"That is very knowledgeable of you. Do all bodyguards possess the knowledge to make this kind of observation?" Ves pointedly asked.
His suspicion towards Fe Nitaa deepened.
"What I am about to reveal to you is utmost sensitive, Mr. Larkinson. For your own good, you do not want us to be observed. Are you absolutely confident that your ECM can block every form of observation?"
"I'm pretty confident. It's derived from CFA tech."
"As expected!" A small smile appeared on the tall woman's face.
"As.. expected..?" Ves raised his eyebrow. What was that supposed to mean?
Seeing that Ves possessed a very strong means of blocking outside observation, the woman no longer hesitated.
In a display that absolutely dazzled him, Nitaa began to bow and prostrate before his feet!
"All hail the Holy Son of the immortal gods! All hail the Holder of one of the Sacred Scrolls!"
Ves practically jumped out of his skin. His shock and fear was so immense that Lucky immediately yowled in alarm and took on a fighting posture in the air.
Meanwhile, Ves took a few steps back to get some distance from the physically strong fighter and drew out the Peaceful Repose from his belt holster. He immediately aimed the muzzle of his custom ballistic pistol at the woman who knew one of his secrets!
"What is the meaning of this! Who are you?! Why do you think I'm this 'Holy Son'?!"
After years since his return from the frontier, Ves quietly buried the incidents related to the Metal Scroll and the Five Scrolls Compact to the back of his mind.
While the secretive trans-galactic cult that rivaled the MTA and CFA in scope had its tentacles everywhere, their strength was very dispersed. Ves always suspected that the Compact only inserted a handful of informers and offshoot organizations in the Komodo Star Sector.
The chance of encountering one of their ilk was very low. For them to be able to figure out that he was a mythical Holy Son should have been an even more unlikely occurrence.
Yet all of his calculations couldn't account for coincidence and bad luck!
Nitaa continued to kneel in supplication, taking no notice at Ves' barking tone or the fact that he pointed a deadly weapon at her head.
"You need not be concerned, Your Holiness. I am not a member of the Order of Fl'xix. If I was, my responsibilities would be very different. At this moment, I represent myself in kneeling before your august presence."
The hell?! Ves wanted to scream in frustration. Out of everyone in the galaxy, he just had to meet another person who knew one of his secret identities. Worse yet, Fe Nitaa managed to sniff it out from a distance! Wasn't his true status supposed to be undetectable aside from a special blood test?!
"How did you know?! Tell me!" Ves barked. He didn't bother to deny Nitaa's assertion that he was a Holy Son. The situation had already moved beyond that point. "Does the rest of the Order of.. can other Kinners do what you have managed to do?!"
"You.. you are not of the Compact?" Nitaa frowned even as she faced the ground.
"No! I've been trying to avoid their detection for years!"
"I see." Fe Nitaa sighed. "You have no need to fear me, Your Holiness. While the Order of Fl'xix is indeed connected to the Compact, I am different. I am certain that they do not have the capacity to detect your brilliance."
"How so? What makes you different from the others? How sure are you that no one else can do what you can?"
"Because.. I am no longer a formal member of the order." Nitaa admitted. "They used me. The order, the Compact I devoted my life to them, yet they treated me as a failure and an experiment. If not for my oaths, I would not have left the order peacefully."
"What was this experiment supposed to accomplish?" Ves narrowed his eyes.
"I can sense a Sacred Scroll on you with my special nose. I have never smelled this immaterial scent before, but as soon as my special nose picked it up, I received an unspoken message in my head!"
That immediately set off additional waves of panic inside Ves. If Fe Nitaa could already do such, how many other people were out there in the galaxy sniffing around for any trace of the Metal Scroll?!
The woman took no notice of his distress. "There are some in the Compact who believe that the Metal Scroll has never been destroyed. Such an incredible artifact should never be vulnerable to material means of destruction! Even if you throw a Sacred Scroll into a black hole, it should still be able to escape under its own power!"
Ves grimaced. Fe Nitaa sure knew a lot for a Kinner! How deep was she involved with the Five Scrolls Compact?
Though his mind was roiling in turmoil, the crisis he faced forced him into adopting a more decisive attitude. He suppressed his panic and forcefully asserted control.
This was not the time to run around like a headless chicken!
Seeing that Fe Nitaa not only recognized his status as a Holy Son, but also supplicated herself in front of him without any hesitation, Ves began to take that as a sign that Nitaa might not have any malicious designs on him. He relaxed a bit and tried to assert more control over the situation.
"Tell me your connection to the Compact."
"I was part of the Order of Fl'xix as a trainee. Every trainee comes into contact with the existence of the Compact, although we are very much aware that we are only loosely connected to it. Those who pass will have the opportunity to know more. Those who perform best may even be rewarded with a referral to the Compact."
"What about the failures like you?" Ves asked. "I would have thought that your order would tie up loose ends."
"There is no need for that among Kinners. We have taken an oath not to reveal the existence of the Compact! Failed aspirants such as I are expected to make ourselves available for hire or purchase in order to expand the reach of the order and assist them as long as it does not conflict with my other oaths."
"Then.. why are you so free with me? Aren't you supposed to report me to your old masters?"
"You are the Holy Son. I have always been taught to revere the brothers and sisters of the Five Scrolls Compact over even the most senior members of the order. The hierarchy is clear. Of the Compact, there is no one who is more holy and more deserving of obedience than the Holy Sons and Daughters!"
This was the first time Ves heard of the existence of Holy Daughters. That was a small detail that he buried in his mind.
"I see. I am not connected to the Compact, though."
"It doesn't matter. A Holy Son is a Holy Son!"
Ves understood what was going on. Fe Nitaa essentially exploited a loophole in her oaths and instructions. The question was why.
"You could have chosen to do something else." He stated flatly. "Why betray the intentions of the order and the Compact? Why choose to reveal your cards to me so openly?"
"Because.. I am no longer a formal member of the order." Nitaa admitted. "Although I have been given a set of instructions, I have no obligation to follow all of their strictures anymore. The order, the Compact even if I devoted my life to them, they treated me as a failure and an experiment. If not for my oaths, I would not have left the order peacefully."
Apparently, Fe Nitaa harbored a considerable amount of grievances against the Order of Fl'xix. If she was to be believed, the reason why she was so eager to make use of the loopholes in her oaths was because she wanted to spite the order and the Compact!
Even knowing that Ves was not part of the Compact, she still chose to side with him! In fact, it was better for her that Ves didn't possess any ties to the notorious cult!
The two actually had a lot more in common than Ves anticipated!
While all of this sounded great, Ves never believed in free gifts. Fe Nitaa's odd submission towards him was so convenient that it only stoked his paranoia even further.
Why should he believe Nitaa's story? What if she lied? Although she claimed to abide by her oaths as was expected of a Kinner, what if she wasn't? What if she only pretended to be a Kinner?
Even if she was a Kinner, who said her oath truly allowed her to betray the order to side with Ves?