738 Strange Fellow
Now that they established a possible motive to whack Eric Kishiro, they could turn their attention to the possible culprits.
"How many survivors do we have in custody?" Verle asked a security officer.
"Twenty-five, sir. Twenty-four now that the mech designer is dead."
That left them with a manageable amount of suspects, though the true murderer might not be among them. Still, Ves had a feeling this investigation might be over soon.
"Ready your men, captain. Since someone among them has likely managed to fool our monitoring system and our searches, we will need to be more thorough in our inspections. Our priority is to find the device that has fooled our monitoring system and to secure the weapon that killed Mr. Kichiro!"
"Hold up, major!"
"What is it, Mr. Larkinson?"
"If you're about to inspect the Chopran survivors, I doubt you'll find anything. The security officers already performed a thorough search, right?"
The security captain nodded beneath his thick helmet. "Correct. We've stripped them of all their gear and clothes and issued them a blank outfit with no further accessories. We even took away their comms."
"I'm guessing that at least one of the Choprans have a trick up their sleeve."
"We are aware of that possibility."
"Then let me help you out. I haven't been spending my free time on nothing."
It took a bit of convincing on his part, but Ves managed to get his proposal a serious try. One of the security officers exited the brig and reentered a moment later with a toolbelt in hand. Ves nabbed it off the armored security officer's gauntlet and picked out two of his most precious inventions to date.
He flicked one of the cylindrical gadgets online. "One of these devices is a miniaturized stealth detector that I've adapted from the central database. The internal sensor array is very fragile and susceptible to shock, but I've built in some dampeners so as long as you don't shake it around it will function well enough."
"How effective are its stealth detection capabilities?" The security captain asked.
"Very. Extremely." Ves emphasized. "It's like having the full-sized thing but with a lot less range. The power is still considerate, though, so even if it can't circumvent a particular stealth system, it can still overload them through brute force."
He passed the device over to a lighter-armored security officer. This one looked much less threatening in a suit of medium combat armor. This was the regular service equipment for the Vandals who interacted with the Chopran survivors.
"Do I need to input the right settings?"
"No, I already did that for you. Its effective range is set at ten meters. Anymore than that and the signals might unduly affect the functioning of every nearby section of the ship."
"And the other device?"
"That's a more interesting one." Ves grinned. He picked it up, turned it on and began to configure the settings in the same way he did with the other gadget. "This is a jamming device. It's very strong and will likely be potent enough to interfere with any device that relies on sensors or communications. Turn this beast on, and no sensor or communication device within a given range will work! Unfortunately, its effects encompass everything within range, including your suit systems and the monitoring system built within the cells."
He never developed an answer against his jamming device's friendly fire. The only way to truly counteract its effects was if he made use of hardened gear, which was a pain in the butt to create. Either he had to increase the volume of his gear by twenty to fifty percent, or he needed to make use of expensive exotics that naturally resisted jamming effects.
Everything came with a price. Ves couldn't afford some of them yet.
After explaining the nature of his high-powered devices and emphasizing the advantages and danger behind the phrase 'high-powered', the security officer grabbed them and affixed them to his own armor before grabbing an electrorod pistol from a secure locker.
"Alright, let's see if the Choprans have brought any surprises along."
As Ves waited for the security officers to prepare their inspection, he ruminated over how easy it was to circumvent monitoring and tracking. It seemed that even as monitoring networks became more ubiquitous in daily life, the methods to fool them grew incessantly due to a need for privacy.
It seemed like any Dick, Joe and Margaret had the opportunity to obtain a means to fool even high-quality monitoring systems like the ones utilized by the Flagrant Vandals.
Even though the Vandals cheaped out on many procurements, they emphatically did not skimp out when it came to maintaining internal security.
The thought that a bunch of random survivors of a fallen mercenary corps from the Bright Republic possessed the means to fool such fantastic systems indicated something rotten might be going on. Perhaps it may even be something that posed an actual threat to the Vandals!
Certainly, it showed that these Choprans hadn't been entirely forthcoming when they surrendered themselves to the care of the Vandals!
It didn't matter that Ves would do the very same thing if he was in their place. He understood the need to hold back some capabilities if he came under the custody of another force. Even if they came from the same state, currently they competed against each other for the same objectives.
As rivals, their missions trumped their shared origins. Ves half-thought that Major Verle would have sought a means to dispose of the Choprans, but that may have been a delusion of his ruthless pragmatism.
If Ves was in charge, he would have quietly spaced them out of the airlock during FTL travel by now!
Kicking people out of a ship during FTL travel slightly destabilized the ship, but it was one of the cleanest ways to get rid of inconvenient individuals. Who knew what would happen to their material bodies if they became exposed to the raw higher dimensions. Most theorized that their bodies broke down as their atoms and fundamental particles stretched out and transformed from matter to energy, which quickly dispersed into the seas and oceans of energy.
In short, it was not a very pleasant way to die, but it conveniently removed all traces of someone's existence.
"Preparations are done. They are about to start."
The security officer in medium armor entered the cell of the one most likely to have committed the crime. Mech captain Fez Murtadon looked up from a projection of some old drama show that used to be popular a few years ago.
"If I recall, it's not time yet for our daily airing."
"Captain Murtadon, please stay in place."
The security officer first pressed a button on the stealth detector gadget. The device had been put on standby for a while now, so when it became active it instantly emitted an invisible but energetic wave that even the captain could feel, even if he didn't know what it had done.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Nothing invisible scrambled into the open.
That wasn't how the stealth detector worked. It detected and exposed objects hiding through certain technological means, but it did not deactivate the stealth systems at all.
However, it did appear the stealth detector picked up something untowards.
Through the visor of the security officer and the security feed of the monitoring system, they hadn't picked up any invisible weapons or bots or anything like that. What they did find was that certain shielding mechanisms inside the mech captain's body became ineffective. Certain parts of his brains, his torso and his arms lit up as the stealth detector exposed anomalous systems integrated in Murtadon's body!
"Implants! Captain Murtadon carries hidden implants within his body!"
Evidently, the Chopran mech captain knew that he'd just been exposed, because his face adopted a very ugly expression. "You aren't supposed to see that."
Then, before the security officer replied, Captain Murtadon immediately pointed his arm at the Vandal. A section of the forearm abruptly parted like a hinge, revealing a bone-like gun barrel integrated in the flesh!
The bone barrel fired a powerful shot that caused the security officer to jerk backwards a bit as the round exploded!
Yet while the explosive round released a powerful impact, it only managed to dent the armor a little bit!
The well-trained security officer snapped up his electrorod pistol even before he completely recovered and zapped Captain Murtadon with a powerful shock!
The current running through the Chorpan's modified body paralyzed the man for a little bit, but then he slowly jerked his arm-gun up again.
The cell didn't wait for him to finish his move. Some of the panels in the bulkheads retracted, revealing net launchers that launched a composite net on top of his body. The ends of the nets connected to the launchers, causing them to grow taut when pulled.
This hindered the good captain long enough for him to be restrained by a team of heavy-armored security officers that served as backup.
Just as everyone thought the captain was secured, he uttered out a strange cry.
"You'll… never.. survive.. You.. are.. all.. marked for death!"
The captain's body abruptly shook and ceased to move. Smoke began to pour out of the body's ear sockets.
"He's fried himself! Get the doctors here! We need to preserve his body and his implants!"
They botched the entire encounter. They never expected the man to be crazy enough to implant his body with organic machinery! That was something the citizens of the Comen Federation or other deviant states did, but never someone from the Bright Republic!
As the Vandal security officers and incoming doctors tried to preserve as much as they could out of Murtadon's ruined body, Major Verle, Ves, and a couple of others began to analyze what they saw.
Ves inspected the brief scans of Captain Murtadon's corpse. "I don't know exactly what this alloy shell consists of, but it's remarkably effective at shielding the organic implants from detection. I'm rather interested in this material. Can I have a sample, sir?"
"No." Major Verle denied his request. "His corpse isn't a toy for you to salvage for parts. We need to determine who Murtadon is, why he is jacked up with implants, and what possible intentions he harbored."
"He may not be the only one who bears the implants, major." A security captain warned. "We've isolated the other cells from what has happened at Murtadon's cell, but we don't know what effects his death may cause. For all we know, one of his implants has transmitted a secret signal that can go through our isolating bulkheads."
"Search them thoroughly, and be prepared to halt any attempts at halting their suicides." Verle commanded. "From Murtadon's behavior, he may have activated a suicide trigger implanted in his body, but it could have also activated by itself in response to detection."
"We can put them to sleep before inspecting them discreetly. Any automated suicide triggers can be fooled as long as we avoid making any moves that ticks the boxes."
The cells came equipped with many means of subduing their occupants. The security officers decided upon graduately introducing an airborne intoxicating agent in the air circulation system. This invisible, odor-less and slow-working gas gradually increased the sleepiness of the affected Choprans.
One by one, they turned off their projections depicting some kind of show or drama and started to take a nap in their beds.
Thus, without any fuss, every Chopran fell to sleep.
Security officers remained outside the cell but activated the gadgets loaned by Ves at a slightly more powerful setting. The frontal cell cover that used to be transparent but now turned opaque only partially blocked their effects, allowing them to affect the occupants without being too close or in visual range.
The inspections turned up nothing. After inspections from afar hadn't revealed anything amiss, doctors and security officers entered the cells and thoroughly investigated their bodies. None of the Choprans carried a hint of machinery or strange organs in their bodies.
"Looks like Captain Murtadon is the only person here who's fishy." Ves noted as he finally received his toolbelt precious gadgets from the security captain.
He was half afraid the Vandals would appropriate them for their own uses, but it seemed they didn't particularly care, or maybe Major Verle threw him a bone.
A mech regiment had to adhere to regulations on the kind of weapons and equipment they were allowed to use. For example, they weren't allowed to utilize any stealth devices in the first place, nor would it be a good idea for them to make use of gamma laser rifles or nuclear weapons!
Thus, Ves got the sense that Major Verle tolerated his side projects by pretending that they had nothing to do with the Vandals. In any case, if the Vandals had need of them, Ves could only let them borrow his inventions like now, and return them to him when finished.
"Let's see what the autopsy has discovered."