Thirty minutes after leaving the cabin the prisoner finally woke up. They had decided to interrogate him in the car instead of pulling over somewhere. Finding a soundproof hotel room was nearly impossible. And stopping along the road would look suspicious if someone drove past. On the other hand it was the middle of the night and there was almost nobody on the road. So it was unlikely anyone was going to notice a tied up man in the back of their car.
Eric was sitting in the backseat with the man. He was still recovering his strength but had healed significantly over the past couple of days. He wasn’t that concerned though. Valerie and Nicole had made sure to tie the man up.
If he became violent Eric would have to use his killing intent and subdue him again. The only real concern would be Nicole feeling some of that killing intent since she was driving. However, she had been getting more used to the effects. In addition her being a cultivator would provide a bit of protection. It was still something that Eric would prefer to avoid, despite the roads being practically empty.
The man finally woke up. Eric was pleasantly surprised when he didn’t struggle. Instead he silently observed his surroundings. Everyone sat in silence for a moment.
“Who are you? Why were you trying to capture us?” Valerie asked finally breaking the silence.
The man just smiled and refused to say anything. Eric grimaced. He added teaching Valerie the basics of interrogation techniques to his list of things to do. It would have been better to let the man speak first. It would have given them an advantage psychologically. What he said could have also revealed some information.
“Eric, you should do the same thing you did to the guy at the bar. Nicole told me that worked really well.” Valerie said.
“Shut up and let Eric do the talking.” Nicole said glaring at Valerie.
Valerie gave Nicole a shocked look. “But aren’t we supposed to interrogate him? None of you were talking.”
Nicole sighed. “We were waiting for him to say something first. Also you just told him two of our names.”
“Doesn’t he know our names? Why would they try to capture us if they don’t even know who we are?” Valerie asked.
Nicole shook her head. “How do you know they know our names? They may not have known who any of us are. Or maybe only knew one of our names. You don’t know. Now be quiet and let Eric do the talking.”
“Care to tell us anything?” Eric asked the man. The man just grinned and shook his head.
“Well in that case I’ll start by telling you what I know. To start with I know that you and the rest of the men that attacked us were highly trained. They are also all cultivators. I even know how you cultivate and gain your energy.” Eric said.
That last part got the man's attention. He opened his mouth and for a moment Eric thought he was going to say something. Then he shut it again.
“I also know that you work for Guardian.” Eric said.
The man reacted a bit but it wasn’t how Eric had expected. “Not Guardian? But you have heard of them.” Eric said, trying to puzzle out exactly what was going on.
“This is taking forever. He won’t even talk. Why don’t you do that memory thing? Didn’t it work really well last time?” Valerie said.
Eric considered it for a moment. “Do you fear going to hell? Eric asked the man.
The man just scoffed a bit. “Sorry Valerie. That isn’t going to work on someone that believes they aren’t going to hell.” Eric said with a sigh.
Suddenly Eric looked thoughtful. “Although that does get me thinking. You gained your cultivation level through absorbing death energy. There are many methods to find and absorb death energy. But given your training I’d imagine that you take a more hands on approach. So you are a killer. Yet you don’t think you are going to hell.” He said.
“What type of person can kill people and not think there is any risk of going to hell?” Valerie asked.
“That’s more common than you think. If I shot someone in the line of duty I probably wouldn’t think I was going to hell. Maybe he’s a soldier? Does he have any tattoos?” Nicole asked.
Eric had noticed a couple of tattoos. But based on the man’s reactions he was thinking that him being a soldier was only partially correct. There was something else going on.
“Why would the army send people to capture us? That doesn’t seem like something that the army would do. It sounds more like something that the FBI would do.” Valerie said.
Eric couldn’t help but grin when he saw how the man reacted. “I think you are on to something Valerie. Although I have to be honest. I have no idea what the FBI is.”
“It’s a government agency. The Federal Bureau of Intelligence. They have their hands in almost everything. Everything from investigating domestic terrorism to spying on foreign nations.” Nicole said.
“So it’s an organization full of spies that work for the government?” Eric asked.
Nicole shrugged. “There are spies in the FBI but most of them wouldn’t fit that description. This guy would be more special forces than spy. If he is part of the FBI, he was probably recruited from the military. The FBI is bigger than just former soldiers and spies. In fact most of the FBI are analysts that spend all day gathering and processing information. There are also all the agents that deal with investigating crime in the USA. Especially crimes that cross state lines.”
“That seems like a really broad range of responsibilities for a single part of the government.” Eric said.
Nicole shrugged. “Ever since they were founded they have done an amazing job at handling everything that was thrown at them.”
“So is this guy part of the FBI?” Valerie asked.
Eric looked over at the man. “We aren’t going to give you any other information until you answer some questions.”
The man sighed and then nodded in agreement. “How about we trade questions and answers then. You answer a question of mine and I’ll answer one of yours.”
“Are you part of the FBI?” Valerie asked before Eric could say anything. Nicole and Eric both glared at her. It wasn’t the first question that either of them would have asked.
“Yes. My turn. Why did the meditation at the orphanage not work?” The man asked.
Eric hesitated for a moment as he processed the question. It wasn’t the question he had been expecting. It also revealed a bit of information about what was going on. Somehow the FBI and Guardian were connected.
“They were trying to absorb energy from the heavens and the earth. If the heavens and the earth don’t have any energy to absorb then it’s impossible for it to work.” Eric answered.
The man nodded and Eric asked his question. “What is the connection between the FBI and Guardian?”
The man hesitated for a moment and then answered. “Guardian is a non-profit that is supported by the upper levels of the FBI. That is all I know. Is there some other way to get the meditation to work?” The man asked.
Eric hesitated for a moment as he considered what exactly to tell the man. Technically the answer was no. As he had said before it was impossible to absorb energy that wasn’t there. Of course there were other methods. For instance what he was having Valerie and Nicole do in order to cultivate.
“That method won’t work. As you know there are alternatives though.” Eric said.
The man grimaced. “What are the other alternatives?” He asked.
Eric shook his head. “It’s my turn. Also there are multiple alternatives. I’m not telling you all of them in return for a single answer.”
“Okay. How about one answer for each alternative? What is your question?” The man asked.
Eric paused and considered what question he should ask next. He could think of a ton he wanted to ask. The problem was that he couldn’t guarantee that the man wouldn’t lie to him. He always had truth seekers and potions that could force someone to tell the truth. Being able to tell if someone was telling the truth wasn’t something that he had studied. Eric would be foolish not to consider that the man had some training in deception. He was an agent in an organization known to engage in spying. Just because Eric hadn’t caught the man in a lie didn’t mean that he wouldn’t, or hadn’t already lied to him.
Eventually Eric decided to give up on getting any other information from the man. Instead he started to think of whether the man could get him closer to his own goals. The real question would be whether he could trust the government of this world.
“What would the FBI be willing to give me in return for helping them accomplish what they were trying to do at the orphanage?” Eric asked.
“I’m not authorized to engage in a negotiation like that. I can tell you that it would be significant. At least a few million dollars, probably significantly more.” The man said with a shrug and then asked his question. “What is one of the alternatives?”
“I can teach someone the method to cultivate internal energy through meditation. It won’t be as quick as the method you used. It will be significantly easier and less bloody though.” Eric answered. “
“Assuming that alternative is valuable. How would I go about negotiating the sale of that information, for a combination of money and support from the FBI?” Eric asked. In a way he had sneakily asked a second question. If the FBI was only willing to pay him monetary compensation the man would probably mention it.
“I can arrange a meeting at the FBI state headquarters.” The man said.
Before he could ask a question Eric cut him off. “After you tried to capture me I’d be foolish to just walk into your headquarters. Give me a realistic option.”
“I can give you a phone number to call tomorrow.” The man said with a sigh.
“What is another alternative?” The man asked.
Eric grinned. “Well I haven’t mentioned the way that you cultivated. Absorbing death energy.” The man frowned, clearly upset that Eric wasn’t giving him new information. “Don’t worry, I’ll tell you something you probably don’t know. Everything living generates a bit of death energy when it dies. I’d suggest visiting somewhere that slaughters animals. If you haven’t before, you will be amazed at how much death energy you can absorb.”
The man looked thoughtful and didn’t say anything for a long moment. Neither did Eric. Finally the man broke the silence. “Thank you for the advice, I’ll have to try that. By the way, it's your turn to ask a question.” He said.
“I think I’m done asking questions. Give me the phone number and I’ll give them a call tomorrow. Nicole, go ahead and pull the car over so we can drop him off.” Eric said with a grin.
The man looked like he didn’t know whether to be upset, relieved, or happy. Clearly he was upset that he wouldn’t be able to get any other information from Eric. At the same time he was relieved that Eric wasn’t going to kill him, and that he had said he would call the FBI tomorrow.
It was obvious at this point that their goal was to get information. Eric suspected that capturing him had been part precaution and part negotiating tactic. If successful it would mean there was no risk of them not getting the information. It would also give them a strong bargaining position when trying to get him to talk.
Once the car pulled over Eric untied the agent and handed him a pen and paper. The agent wrote down a number and got out of the car. A few seconds later Eric, Valerie, and Nicole were gone. The agent shrugged and started walking down the road. He was half naked and stranded on the side of the road. But at least he was alive and would be able to tell his superiors that their botched mission had actually been a partial success. He just hoped that Eric would call tomorrow.
Support "Cultivator on Earth"
Bio: I'm almost certainly addicted to reading. For decades I've read at least a dozen books a month. I'd say getting close to ten thousand over the course of my life. For the past few years I've been writing as a hobby. I created an account on royal road in order to get feedback on the projects I've started.