Max watched as the hope faded from the Cardinal's eyes, only to be replaced by horror at the action that the hypnotic suggestion was going to have him do. In his mind, the vial contained a Divine Will elixir that would keep the secrets of the Holy Truth safe from interrogators, but once he had heard the name of the poison, the suggestion was broken, and he realized that his superiors had brainwashed him into committing suicide if he was asked questions about the security of the Holy Truth.

This revelation was helped along by the Illithid, who had noticed the mental interference almost immediately, despite not being in the room with them. Their species was very sensitive to such things, and the thoughts of others were like background noise in a room to them. The dissonant noises of interference were immediately clear, like fingernails down a chalkboard or a bad remix of a familiar song.

The thought caused a revelation in Max's mind, and for the first time in a while, he received a message from the System.

[Innate Talent] Mind Reading has evolved.

[Innate Talent] Active Telepathy is active.

[System Compatibility Rank increased to Rank S]

Recalculating abilities.

That startled Max so much that he forgot he was in the middle of an interrogation. Fortunately, his hands didn't move, and Nico relieved the Cardinal of the poison before forcibly relieving him of his clothing to make sure he had no more hidden tricks.

"Impressive resolve. Now tell me why you came here with two empty vessels." She demanded.

"It was all we had. The Holy Truth ignored the will of the Oracle and sent their entire army to Kepler in the name of greed and wealth. Taxes and Tributes from the nations we sanction make up the majority of our revenue. Even in the face of such a crisis, we couldn't allow Klux to make an alliance with a powerful force like the Reavers.

They might not generate much, but even one percent of a planet's revenue is an enormous sum." The Cardinal barely whispered, as if compelled by the pair of red cybernetic eyes staring deeply into his own.

"You know what, I believe you. And not just because I hacked the mainframe of both your ships to read all of the communications logs." Nico informed the Cardinal, who looked so pale with fright that he might have already had a heart attack.

As she interrogated the man about what she had found in the logs and the other nations that they had under sanctions, Max's new Innate Talent began to settle into his mind, bringing to him the thoughts of everyone aboard the ship, all at various volumes, depending on the intensity of the determination or emotion behind them, and their distance from him.

The thoughts of the prisoners felt weaker than those of the Illithid or the Kepler forces, while the thoughts of the Innu were somewhat muted but made an annoyingly happy bubble in the lab area.

How they could be so happy all the time was beyond him. From their thoughts, they were in the middle of trying to redesign their ancient yacht to accommodate a higher-speed warp drive. It wasn't groundbreaking work. They were studying it from better-equipped models by the same manufacturer, not designing an entirely new hull, but the level of happiness that they were emitting was incredible.

[The Innu have very intense emotions. That is part of why their culture developed the Tech Nomads. They become obsessed with the things that they like and can't let go of them or even function in a role that doesn't involve their passion.] The Innu explained, and Max could sense its curiosity at the changes he was undergoing.

Max considered that for a moment. It made sense that they would become obsessive if this were the level of joy that they felt about even the simple things in life and ones that involved a large amount of physical labor at that.

[I will show you a trick to filter the thoughts around you.] The Illithid offered and began to focus on a form of meditation technique that the Illithid could do with only a small portion of their thoughts, which would let them focus on the things they wanted to hear, or the people closest to them.

It wasn't hard, and with his enhanced [Perception] skill, Max managed to activate it in only a few minutes, focusing on Nico and the Cardinal, who had just finished spilling everything that he knew about the politics and military strength of the Holy Truth.

Max looked at the destroyed clothing on the floor with regret and called for someone to bring a prisoner's orange jumpsuit to the interrogation room so that the old man didn't have to sit around naked now that they were finished with their questions.

Nico had learned everything that they needed to know and that the first prisoner she interrogated wasn't lying to her, so they could safely assume that the interrogation process was finished.

"Commander Keres. Might this humble prisoner make a request?" The Cardinal asked after getting dressed in the gaudy orange coveralls.

"Certainly, though I can't guarantee that I will grant it." Max agreed.

"If the Holy Truth has really fallen to the Cygnus Fleet, can you relocate us to another planet when our sentence is over? Returning home would be too painful for the crew, and it would be a small mercy not to have to think too much about the horrors that have befallen their loved ones with barbarians in charge of the Holy land."

Despite the phrasing, the request was somewhat reasonable. Many prisoners wished to be released into a new life when they finished their sentences.

"I will transfer you to the freighter that is taking the vessels back to Rae 5, a Reaver-controlled system. You will be tried there, and once you have served your sentence, you may remain there and join the ranks of released convicts working on the planet.

Reavers are a forgiving sort, you might even get a spot back on another vessel with the navigational experience that you have, or you could work in one of the businesses on the planet. Ex Convicts might start at lower rates than those who are seen as more trustworthy, but it isn't too hard for them to find jobs." Max agreed.