The festival ended on that stalemate. Khan earned no trust, but Lord Rsi couldn't discard him either. The Empire had just done the same with Ambassador Abores, so repeating that action so soon would show a complete lack of respect toward the Global Army.

Khan's mind was a mess during the trip back, but the devices before his eyes kept his thoughts busy. He had too much to do and prepare, and the catching-up process had yet to end. He was amazing, driven, and relentless, but no one could become a worthy Ambassador in a matter of months, not even him.

The plan was to head straight to the office, but an escort welcomed Khan once he teleported to the Harbor. A small team of soldiers was waiting in the hangar with a military cab, telling him his free time couldn't start yet.

Khan didn't utter any questions and let the escort guide him to the intended destination. Surprisingly enough, the cab avoided the embassy's district and flew to another dome, the one where Mister Cirvags lived.

Everything became clear at that point, and Khan remained silent while the cab landed and the soldiers escorted him to the elevator. Soon, he arrived in the same flat he had visited in the past, but the many treasures and memorable items hanging from the walls didn't catch his attention now.

Unlike the previous meeting, Mister Cirvags was waiting for Khan in the flat's living room with two full glasses ready for them. The pungent smell of booze even reached Khan's nostrils, trying to explain the meeting's purpose.

"You survived," Mister Cirvags announced, sitting on an armchair while nodding at the glasses on the table before him.

"You never struck me as a protective man, sir," Khan half-joked, approaching the opposing armchair while seizing a glass.

"Of soldiers? No," Mister Cirvags stated. "Though much has grown unstable after Ambassador Abores' departure. That demands more attention."

"You wouldn't have agreed to the replacement if it were such a big problem," Khan pointed out. "The Global Army had leverage after the bomb incident. You could have easily refused."

"That leverage is running thin, Captain," Mister Cirvags revealed, "And I believed you could have pulled it off."

"Did I?" Khan asked.

Mister Cirvags glanced at Khan before bringing his attention to the drink. He took a long sip, and his eyes returned to Khan afterward.

"Why the hard stance?" Mister Cirvags questioned. "I was under the impression you knew how to use your tongue."

Khan had to hold back a scoff. Less than a day had passed since the festival, but Mister Cirvags was already aware of the details. Trading such classified and relevant information so quickly spoke for his ability and expertise. His position in the Harbor was no fluke.

"Would you have preferred me to please the Lords, sir?" Khan wondered.

"I asked a question, Captain," Mister Cirvags reminded.

"I have many answers," Khan revealed, "All relevant."

"List them to me," Mister Cirvags ordered.

"As you wish, sir," Khan uttered. "First, the Thilku would only look down on a permissive and weak politician. Prostrating myself to them after being chosen for the job wasn't the way to go."

"I'm sure you could have avoided that while also earning their goodwill," Mister Cirvags commented.

"Second," Khan continued, ignoring the comment, "I've been chosen for my strength and achievements. I got that position as a soldier. Letting myself be insulted or even smiling at their distrust would only ruin my reputation."

"That's true," Mister Cirvags agreed. "However, you are to prove that you are more than a soldier."

"Which I can't do if I let them manipulate me," Khan explained. "If I acted scared, they would know I lack the confidence to work with them on political levels."

"Do you?" Mister Cirvags asked.

"No, sir," Khan exclaimed, "And their soldiers will spread the word."

"Continue with your list," Mister Cirvags ordered.

"I'm not a clueless kid with no background or influence," Khan stated. "I've shook hands with nobles, built alliances with wealthy descendants, and become Monica Solodrey's fiancé. I can't lose ground in these meetings. My position doesn't allow that anymore."

"Is your position more important than our relationship with the Empire?" Mister Cirvags asked.

"My job with the Thilku is part of my position," Khan explained. "If I sacrifice it to please others, all my efforts to build it wouldn't mean anything."

Mister Cirvags fell silent, and his mana gave Khan nothing to work with. Yet, Khan could guess the man partially agreed with his reasoning. After all, he said it himself. Convincing Lord Rsi was impossible, so it was better to go in the opposite direction.

"There is more on your list," Mister Cirvags uttered.

"There is," Khan said. "One last point."

"Which is?" Mister Cirvags asked.

"I couldn't be bothered to play games," Khan revealed. "I've grown far past them."

"Did your pride get in the way?" Mister Cirvags asked.

"It's not pride," Khan declared. "I've earned everything I have. It's time I stopped pretending I didn't."

"It does sound like pride," Mister Cirvags pointed out.

"It doesn't matter what it sounds like," Khan responded. "If you wanted a puppet unworthy of any respect, you shouldn't have replaced Ambassador Abores with me."

Khan's points were reasonable, even the last one. He had never been an ordinary soldier, and his status now was too high. Disregarding it to please a party that couldn't be appeased wouldn't only show weakness. It would also insult everything he had done to get where he was.

Mister Cirvags understood Khan's reasons and partially approved them. He didn't care about Khan's feelings, but his approach to the Thilku was praiseworthy. Showing a strong front could earn him respect inside the Empire, especially since he had already laid the foundation for that.

Khan half-expected Mister Cirvags to reprimand him or to voice a warning. After all, it would be chaos if the Empire decided to drop him. Still, nothing similar happened. Actually, Mister Cirvags had very different intentions.

Mister Cirvags pulled out his phone and typed a few things before standing up. Khan was about to follow him, but his phone suddenly rang, and that perfect timing made him frown.

Khan pulled out his phone, and the name on the screen confirmed his hunch. The message had come from Mister Cirvags, and opening it revealed a long file filled with familiar information.

At first, Khan didn't understand what the file contained. Yet, his frown deepened as he skimmed through it. He recognized some of the labels because he had been the one to input them a month ago.

"This is-," Khan gasped.

"The answer to your requests," Mister Cirvags explained. "The higher-ups cleared you for that information."

Khan wanted to thank Mister Cirvags, but the file was too captivating. His eyes were glued to the screen, and the information that entered his brain made him unable to think about his surroundings. Every label had something to do with the Nak, so he couldn't help but remain focused.

"I told you," Mister Cirvags continued, finally claiming Khan's attention. "Survive this, and maybe you'll get closer to what you want."

"Who authorized the transfer of information?" Khan asked.

"That's classified," Mister Cirvags replied, "And far higher than you."

Khan stood up, but no words came out of his mouth. His thoughts had started to run quickly, creating hypotheses too dangerous to speak casually.

Khan's first guess involved Raymond Cobsend due to the connection to the Nak, but something told him to discard that option. Raymond had incredible connections, but the topic was too official. Khan had used his office for those searches, and Raymond wouldn't expose himself to it.

The second guess involved the Solodrey family, but Khan quickly discarded that, too. Anastasia would have talked with him directly and kept things unofficial. Publicly backing him up could have repercussions since many powerful parties had ways to find out about that action.

Sadly, the only remaining guess was scary. After excluding all the figures and organizations that would have no problems going public about supporting Khan, he was left with one option. The nobles had done something, and he knew which family to blame.

'The Nognes family,' Khan concluded.

Rick would have been open about his support. Princess Edna would have visited Khan directly to help him out. Only the Nognes family would have reasons to keep their identity a secret, and Khan couldn't feel happy about that.

The secrecy told Khan many things. If he had to be optimistic, he would address that behavior to fear of showing interest in his lineage. Yet, things were rarely good around him, and his paranoia forced him to consider the worst possible option.

'They are divided,' Khan thought. 'Some factions want to help me without exposing themselves.'

That behavior was normal inside big families, and the nobles were no exception, especially with such a sensitive topic. Khan didn't even blame them for getting interested in him. However, he couldn't understand why they would help him with the Nak.

"Captain, there is another matter I'd like to discuss," Mister Cirvags interrupted Khan's brainstorming.

"What is it, sir?" Khan casually said, his mind still elsewhere.

"Your new position demands a higher status," Mister Cirvags declared. "It will soon at the pace you are growing."

Khan could read between the lines, so a question naturally escaped his mouth. "Is the topic a promotion or my training method?"

"You can't blame the Global Army for being interested," Mister Cirvags pointed out. "They have never seen a soldier's attunement with mana jump to seventy-eight percent in two short years."