Ves, Nitaa, Commander Cinnabar and Lucky all moved out of the hidden command center with the unconscious spy commander in tow. They moved into a different floor of the abandoned office building before finding an abandoned storeroom to conduct their interrogation.
Though Gavin attempted to follow, Ves turned him away.
"You're not cut out for this, Benny. You should stay outside."
"I can do this! If Fe Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar can stomach this much, so should I!"
"Your role is different from theirs. Bringing you into the room is as inappropriate as sending a mech technician into battle. Don't think you're useless just because you can't fight. If you want to be of use to me, why not coordinate with Commander Meivin in smoothing our relations with the planetary authorities? Paisley I must be wondering what we are doing here. Try your best in keeping them at bay."
After his stern lecture, Ves succeeded in soothing Gavin. He understood his assistant's helplessness. Ves himself experienced the same resignation during the war whenever he witnessed the Flagrant Vandals deploying for battle.
Support personnel like Ves and Gavin should never be the ones getting shot and firing back at their enemies. Though his instincts roiled against the thought, Ves recognized that he was more like Gavin than someone like Nitaa or even Lucky.
Both of them were in the same boat. Ves was just in denial sometimes. Be it his Larkinson blood, his history of getting caught in the middle of the fighting or some reason, he still had to force himself to stay put and place his trust in the people he hired or bought.
He had to admit that it required far more effort than he found ideal. Some habits died harder than others.
Once he settled down his assistant, he entered the room and locked it. With Lucky on guard and maintaining a strong ECM field, no one should be aware of what was about to take place.
"Alright, please wake up our captive. It's time we get some information out of this fellow."
Both Nitaa and Cinnabar had already stripped the man down to his underwear and searched his body numerous times. Ves and Lucky also scanned the unconscious body thoroughly in order to assure that they hadn't missed any hidden implants or suicide pills or anything like that.
Nitaa patted the unconscious man's wiry chest. "The man is clean. I'm fairly confident in my judgement. Our captive may be a trained professional, but he is not an elite operative."
"For this reason, don't expect to obtain much intel out of this fellow." Commander Cinnabar added as he chewed on some kind of stimulant. "Expendable field agents don't know much and the annoying part is that their trainers invested the most in their resistance to interrogation and indoctrination techniques. Just think about it. Who wants to hire operatives who readily spill everything they know once they fall into enemy hands?"
"I understand what you are saying. Let's try anyway."
Once Nitaa woke the unconscious man up by injecting a small substance in his bloodstream, the fellow slowly blinked and took in his situation.
Realization dawned upon the man as soon as he beheld the barren and faded storage room interior as well as the three people surrounding his bound and prone body.
Nitaa grabbed the man's hair and janked it up. "What is your name."
"Foreign scum! You won't get anything out of me!" The captive glared.
"That's what they all say." She spoke while jabbing her chest with her fist, causing the man to oomph. "Now let me repeat myself. What is your name!"
The man stubbornly kept his mouth shut even after more forceful persuasion from Nitaa. Just as she was about to draw out a drug that could make people more pliable to suggestions, Ves raised his palm.
"The methods you're about to employ likely won't work." He said. "Tough customers like these are already conditioned to resist these tricks."
The captive burst into laughter. "Hahaha! That's for sure! You must be new at this! Otherwise, you wouldn't mention this in my presence! Amateurs!"
Ves directed a shark-like grin. "Oh, just because I am questioning our methods doesn't mean I've given up. I just have an alternative method to get what I want."
He finally realized what it meant to hold a captive, especially one whose life and death mattered little to him or his enemies.
His eyes lit up as he raked his gaze over his unwitting captive's entire body.
The man in question shuddered as he momentarily lost his composure. Why was the target of the failed assassination attempt staring at him like he was a precious treasure?! His lower body started to clench as he tried to guess the foreign mech designer's impure intentions!
In fact, Ves indeed looked at the man with appreciation. He belatedly saw the uses in a captive who was both hostile and expendable.
To Ves, the man might as well be short, muscular and stubby rather than someone who held normal human proportions!
In his free time, Ves often fantasized about the experiments he wanted to conduct in order to explore what he could do with his spiritual powers.
Ever since he departed from Aeon Corona VII, he missed the unbridled way he could just grab some dwarves from the wilderness and subject them to his whims.
Civilized space functioned as both a refuge and a cage to Ves. He liked the safety and adherence to rules, but only when they suited him. Whenever he thought up a great experiment, he always bumped into inconvenient ethical rules that prohibited him from doing what he wanted to people.
To his credit, Ves indeed abided by these rules. Well, mostly. Even he knew that it would be a bad idea to recklessly experiment with innocent people.
He could get caught!
If there was one lesson that Ves had learned from other examples, it was that acting without scruples meant he would get caught sooner or later!
So for a long time, he held himself back and tried his best to maintain the conduct of a normal, civilized mech designer.
Yet this time Ves saw an opportunity to let out the part of him that he long held back. His inquisitive, experimental nature hidden in the back of his consciousness roused itself from its dormancy and entered the forefront of his mind.
"Hahahaha. Hahahaha! HAHAHAHA!"
Even though his Kinner subordinates looked at him like a weirdo, Ves still let himself go! No longer did he feel the need to hold back! Too much time had passed since he last got his grubby hands on a test subject!
Perhaps he might have held back if he was still in the Bright Republic, but right now he was in the Chuko Republic! The faltering state was falling apart at the seams!
With an absent central government, a power-hungry provincial government and a corrupt planetary government, law and order no longer held sway in where he was at right now!
Having recently persuaded the authorities to back off in exchange for a hefty bribe, they probably wouldn't intervene no matter how much his test subject screamed!
The situation was perfect!
Eagerness rolled off his body as he energetically rubbed his hands. "Hehe. The method I have in store for you is something that I always wanted to try out. Thank you for attempting to assassinate me. I really needed someone who I absolutely don't care about at all. Now that you happened to have land in my grasp, don't think I'll let you die without extracting every possible utility out of your body and mind!"
Genuine fear began to well up inside the captive. Faint stories about mech designers started to surface in his mind. Some were perfectly normal aside from a few quirks, but the smarter they became, the more often they deviated from the norm.
Some mech designers were straight up mad when they got excited!
"Stay back, you freak! Stay back!"
Ves grinned and ignored the pleas of his test subject. He hovered closer and gently brushed the top of his test subject's head. "What a precious mind. Hmmm. No potential. A pity. Still, let's see what I can do with your pretty little head. I hope you won't succumb too quickly."
Eagerness and enthusiasm visibly welled out of Ves as he started to concentrate his mind on the experiments he wanted to perform. His mind, body and design seed all harmonized with each other as he began to consider the results this impromptu experiment might yield him today.
The captive man squirmed and tried to bite his tongue. Nitaa had been ready for his and firmly inserted her armored fingers in his mouth, preventing him from using his teeth against himself!
With Commander Cinnabar pressing his weight against their captive's body, the unfortunate operative had no way to stop the scary mech designer!
Sweat poured over the captive's brows as Ves emanated an increasingly threatening vibe! His entire body urged him to flee!
"OMPHAEE! STOOO! I GIE UUUWW! III UWWW TEEWW UUU ANNYWIN!!"
Just as Ves started constructing a devious image in his mind, Nitaa held up her other arm. "Sir, I think our captive has a change of heart."
"What?" Ves asked. His momentum stalled. Some of his excited energy disappeared as he took in her words. "He's given up?"
"He broke." Cinnabar remarked with a grin. "Just look at this fellow. He looks so pathetic right now!"
"Please, Mr. Larkinson!" The captive cried. "Stay away from me! I will tell you anything I know! Just treat me with respect!"
His excitement suddenly deflated. What kind of ridiculous situation was this? Just as Ves wanted to experiment with a method he came up with to manipulate someone into opening their mouths, the test subject suddenly withdrew from the test!
Test subjects weren't supposed to do that!
"This fellow..." Ves gritted his teeth.
"Let's make use of this while we still can, sir!"
Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar ignored their employer's visible dismay and began to pump the unresisting spy for information.
"What is your name?"
"Where do you come from?"
"Paisley I. I was born and raised on this planet."
"What do you do for a living?"
"I lead strike teams on behalf of my organization."
"What is your organization?"
"33 C. It's a meaningless name specifically designed to expose nothing about us. Personally, I've long suspected that we are just a small cell of a much larger spy network. I really don't know much else, though!"
"Is 33 C a Whiteweller or a Bloodweller organization?"
"None! I don't know! Personally, I'm more inclined towards the Whitewellers, but 33 C has conducted operations that advance either one or the other."
This caused Ves, Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar to look askance at each other. They suspected that Mackie Cire worked for a clandestine organization on the side of the Whitewellers or Bloodwellers. To hear that 33 C fit in neither of those two boxes meant that they likely wouldn't be able to identify the ones who gave the order for the hit!
Nitaa asked another question. "What is the reason for targeting Mr. Larkinson, then?"
"I don't know!" Mackie helplessly shrugged. "We rarely targeted foreigners, but it has happened now and then. To be honest, we were only ordered to put ourselves in a position to take out Mr. Larkinson's shuttle! I was still waiting to receive the order to go ahead with the assassination attempt or abort our attempt when your machine cat jumped on us all!"
Lucky proudly meowed from the side.
As Nitaa continued to pepper Mackie for intel, Ves stood silently with nothing else to do.
His eagerness and enthusiasm departed from his mind like air flowing out of a punctured balloon. He had so much in store! How could his test subject lose his nerves so quickly?!
"Goddammit What a badly-trained spy! Is this the best that Chukans can do?!"