The Mech Touch Chapter 1320
1318 Spicy Snack
Fe Nitaa was so low on the totem pole that she knew nothing about the intentions of the Five Scrolls Compact in the region.
"I'm just an experimental subject to the Order of Fl'xix, and a failed one at that." She raised her eyes. "However, if you wish to avoid detection from others like me, perhaps I can help."
That caught his attention. "How so?"
"There are ways to interfere with my special sense of smell."
The two began to dive in deeper on the nature of her so-called special nose.
From what Nitaa could tell, the experiment performed on her messed with her olfactory senses. Her nose had been modified to sense smells that ordinary people could never sense.
At least that was the intention. For some reason, this ability came online months after the Compact researcher declared his experiment to be a failure.
"What is the nature of the new smells that you're able to sense with your empowered nose?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I am not smelling something in the air, but something that exists in another medium. I know this because I've smelled something unusual even when I'm wearing an airtight vacsuit in space."
It might be spirituality that she sensed!
Ves decided to put this assumption to the test. He flared out his Spirituality, causing him to be surrounded by a nearly-perceptible aura.
"Do you sense anything different about me right now?"
She frowned. "No.. I do sense something, but not with my nose."
Then how did her special nose even work?! If she didn't smell any physical or spiritual scents, then what was it about him that triggered her olfactory senses?!
"Your Holiness, although I am unable to explain how my special nose works, I can tell you that other objects trigger it as well. You may be able to mislead those with similar senses like me by masking your 'scent' with other overpowering smells."
Ves easily understood her suggestion. It was just like jamming a sensor by blasting it with noise and junk data. The only difference here was that the jamming happened through a mysterious medium instead of conventional signals.
"What kind of smell can mask my scent?"
He eagerly needed to know the answer in order to take steps to avoid the Compact's sweeping search!
"Spicy Nyx dogs."
"Spicy Nyx dogs. It's a variation of the classic hot dog, and it's a specialty in the Nyxian Gap. After I developed my special nose, I began to explore all over Bloodstone in order to see what triggers my smell. Aside from sensing something unusual from a small amount of random, seemingly unconnected people, I also encountered a number of anomalous smells from other sources."
"What makes these spicy Nyx dogs so special to you, then?"
"Their scent is overpowering. Although I would have to be close to detect them, once they enter the range of my nose, I'm hit with a burst of intensity that is unlike anything else I've smelled! Anyone who eats one will continue to carry its scents for days!"
While Ves never heard of spicy Nyx dogs before, it was a prevalent snack in the Nyxian Gap. So much so that it even spread throughout the 'lower' half of the Komodo Star Sector.
"After I began to investigate this snack, I found out that only a small number of them triggered my special nose. The majority of the spicy Nyx dogs sold on Bloodstone elicited no reaction."
Ves chuckled. "Because they're fake, right?"
"Right. The most authentic recipe calls for using a blend of spices native to the Nyxian Gap. One of the spices responsible for adding most of the heat happens to be geril spice. It's difficult to come by in the Kinner Tribe, and it's so expensive that most food vendors resort to substitute blends that are sourced locally."
"I see. So the key is geril spice. As long as I eat a spicy Nyx dog or something else flavored with geril spice, I can mask the scent of my 'Sacred Scroll'?"
"That is my guess, Your Holiness. I am unsure whether it works, but even now, my memory of the intensity of its smell is significantly more powerful than your current scent."
Though Ves was unsure if her special nose worked that way, it was worth a try!
If her suggestion worked, then Ves had a very effective way of misleading the Compact's efforts to track down the Metal Scroll.
Unfortunately, while it might delay detection, it did not solve the problem entirely. People who came in touch with geril spice and other substances that overpowered the special nose they developed would definitely attract closer scrutiny.
If the Compact ever performed a follow-up investigation, then eating a dozen spicy Nyx dogs a day might not be enough to keep him out of their reach forever!
However, that was a problem for another day. Right now, Ves focused on avoiding the initial sweep. As long as he did not get caught immediately, he would have plenty of time to figure out how to avoid the subsequent investigations!
He turned his gaze back to the kneeling woman. Despite being taller and more physically imposing than him, Fe Nitaa utterly showed no hint of dominance towards him. In fact, Ves happened to be the one that loomed over her like a master inspecting a slave!
"Oh, stand up already."
She did so, forcing Ves to crane his neck upwards in order to meet her eyes.
He never considered himself to be too short or too tall, but in this instance, Ves felt very insecure about his height for some reason!
He liked it a lot better if Nitaa kept kneeling!
Still, it would be awfully petty of him to order her back to her knees.
A sigh of exasperation escaped his lips. "Alright, that's enough for now. This isn't exactly the most secure place to talk. Let's resume this discussion for another time."
"If that is your wish, Your Holiness."
"Don't call me that! Exercise some prudence, please! Either in public or in private, it's unacceptable to refer to me as the Holy Son. No one except myself, Lucky and a handful of other people know the truth. Everyone else is in the dark, including my closest companions."
"I understand. I will address you as if you are a normal employers, Mr. Larkinson."
Ves smiled. "That's better. Let's head back out and meet with Gavin and Kelandra before they think we are doing something untoward. We'll handle your contract as well."
At this point, Ves implicitly accepted the existence of Fe Nitaa in his life. Though she possessed a definite connection to the Compact, he believed her when she stated that she held no loyalty towards the cult or the Order of Fl'xix.
Multiple sources aside from herself backed up this assumption. Even his intuition hinted that Fe Nitaa did not harbor any ill intent towards him, at least consciously.
That still didn't rule out more exotic possibilities. Perhaps she had been bio-programmed to act as a deep cover spy in his circle. Once she encountered a trigger, her entire personality might flip from a seemingly honest servant into a dastardly Compact agent.
Still, how likely was this true? Ves did not wish to entertain endless suspicions. Though he planned to perform some additional investigations, he was highly inclined towards making a leap of faith and put his trust in Fe Nitaa.
"Lucky, you can deactivate your ECM field now."
Once Ves, Lucky and Fe Nitaa emerged from the conference room, they met a small crowd of bewildered-looking people.
"You sure took your time in there, boss." Gavin began. "Are you.."
"Let's move on with forming Miss Nitaa's employment contract." Ves quickly waved his hand. "I've agreed to buy her out as my personal bodyguard."
It didn't matter what Ves said because Nitaa would agree to his words regardless.
Though Gavin kept looking at him in a funny manner, they eventually moved to a different and smaller office space in order to hammer out the terms of the contract.
Half an hour passed by as the contract author served up a standard model contract and modified it to suit the current circumstances.
Overall, Ves did not suggest any significant changes. He even demanded he pay the full market value of buying out a personal bodyguard of Fe Nitaa's caliber, which amounted to the equivalent of 60 million bright credits.
This was a rather steep price, but then again the loyalty of a competent Kinner bodyguard made up of at least eighty percent of that number!
Ves could have saved himself enough money to buy an extra premium mech. Fe Nitaa would not have objected if he bought her for just a single bright credit.
He would never do such a stupid thing. Not only would such an event be incredibly news worthy, thereby attracting a lot of unwelcome attention to the transaction, but it would also thoroughly offend the Kinner tribesmen!
Valuing one of their own at such a price was the equivalent of saying that a Kinner was worth as much as a nutrient pack!
Every Kinner who recognized him on the streets would beat him up!
Nonetheless, Nitaa showed obvious discomfort. The market price for her eternal service was way too much to the woman in question! Ves already had the right to command her for free!
"This might be more money than you have ever handled in your life, but did you forget who I am?" Ves pointed his thumb at himself. "I'm a mech designer! I can earn this much money in my sleep!"
"..If you say so, Mr. Larkinson."
After concluding a completely standard contract with no abnormal clauses, no one should have cause to scrutinize or object to the trade. Once Ves and Nitaa signed the virtual document, the latter kneeled down in front of her new employer to swear her Kinner oaths, as was tradition.
"I pledge to serve you in the Kinner ways, to uphold your wellbeing and interest over others"
"I swear to prioritize your life over my own, and will not hesitate to reactively and proactively protect you against any possible threats"
"I acknowledge that I will always be a Kinner and hold on to the customs and traditions of my tribe"
Each oath was different as the Kinners weren't really good at sticking to the exact same forms. However, every Kinner generally stuck to the same points, as was required by tradition.
Just like Ves, Fe Nitaa did not stray from the convention. She did not show Ves any abnormal favor and merely made a standard pledge to bind herself to Ves while affirming her rights as a Kinner.
At the end of the brief but solemn ritual, Ves gained his first Kinner.
He felt very strange about it. Though he merely acquired the services of a permanent employee, it felt a lot like buying a slave.
Fortunately, everyone was happy with the trade. The contract lawyer smiled and shook everyone's hands before he left. As the person who facilitated the transaction on behalf of the tribe, he stood to earn a tidy commission.
Kelandra looked relieved as well. She turned towards Nitaa and patted her shoulders. "I'm glad you did not sell yourself away for a pittance."
"I can give it back to my owner." Nitaa flatly replied.
"What! You shouldn't!"
As Kelandra pulled Nitaa aside to give her fellow Kinner a stern lecture, Gavin approached Ves.
"Is there something funny going on between you and your new hire?"
"No. There's nothing going on."
"Then why did you hire her? She's not even that good compared to the other bodyguards for hire!"
"That can always be changed as long as I invest in her training. I believe that anyone can be trained to become an elite as long as they receive sufficient investment. I favored Nitaa over the other possible candidates because of her unrestrained loyalty and other qualities that can't be improved no matter how much money I throw at them. Some traits can only be stumbled upon, not found."
Encountering a discarded asset that used to be tied to the Compact was an amazingly opportune find! Even though it took a push from the System to pull them together, Ves carefully embraced this development.
The only problem was that Gavin kept looking at him in a weird fashion. "Uh. huh. Whatever you say, boss. Just make sure you square it away with Gloriana. She might not be pleased when she hears about what you've done!"
Ves look confused. "What does she have to do with this?"