My job? I interrogate folks in the field, especially ones with time sensitive Intel. It's a rough, sometimes unpleasant job. One that comes and visits me some nights in my dreams...but there was this one Blakist some of the infantry brought in. Now he gave me the willies...

It was a usual day back at the Intel cell, we were mopping up what was left of the Blakist garrison on Keid, but it was rough going, and we had snipers and car bombs everywhere, hell they took out a mech bay last week when a Blakeist Red Shift ran into the bay and set off her fusion reactor. Guess she knew what was coming...

Anyhow, our guys ran a pair of Blakies to ground and a Demi-Precentor punched out of his 'Hammer when it went down from a gyro hit, he didn't look too happy, and when I got to him, his frown went to an outright hatred. Now, don't get me wrong, I lost family to those scum on Xhosa VII, but this was beyond the usual Blakie arrogance, he knew something....

They brought him in with his arms and legs bound, something about him trying to tackle an MP and get his sidearm so he could "join the glory of Blake". Oh, I could tell he was going to be fun, I motioned my assistant, Farley, to stay close with the carbine we had around for just such occasions, not that the MPs hadn't checked him from elbow to toenail for a suicide charge or the like.

I always begin a session by circling the subject, you see, I am not a fan of torture, and drugs, well, they work well, but they can be messy, I remember on Ashio during the Civil War, we had this Drac Prefucture head convinced he was Napoleon Bonaparte, sweating like a fish and drooling all over himself, guess it was a reaction to the Hydrozine. The heart attack an hour later didn't help either. So, mainly, I avoid drugs. Anyhow, my methods work.

So why circle the guy? Simple, the human mind is a suggestible thing. And that Blakeist? Well, his mind musta been working overtime, because his green eyes were searching the room frantically, like a caged animal. He was CONVINCED I was going to have the bat brigade come in and smack him silly, or worse. I let him stew, then I pulled out the best weapon in my arsenal, the simple stogie.

Now, the stogie, you ask, why the stogie? It can really work both ways. Say you smoke, and somebody's got you bound in a chair...and then, they blow smoke from a cigar in your face? Can we say niccatine cravings? And for those that don't partake, I have yet to find anything that will annoy them more, and a mad person isn't a careful one.

So now, I got him nervous, and from the looks of it, craving a smoke...yeah, he's ready for me to try some things, let's start with the usual background stuff..I already know this, but it feeds the prisoner false hope that I don't and makes it easier to catch him in a lie later.

I grab a chair, making sure to scrape it loudly across the floor, screeching all the way, the Blakist cringes, ah good. It's all getting to him.

I smile.

"So, you got a name? You can tell me that you know? No harm in a name?" Now, I know, being nice to the guy? But seriously, never do what the prisoner expects. If he's expecting bad cop, give him good and vice versa. This guy was expecting Atilla, so here I am with next-door neighbor.

He smiled, and his shoulders slumped, a sign he wasn't quite so tensed for the blows he swore were coming. See, one thing we all know, I have time, not a lot, but I can make this guy talk sooner or later, and he knows it too, so he figures, he's going to talk on his terms, and me, I want him to talk on mine.

"Merill Hastings, Demi-Precentor" He smiles, the touch of mania is still in his eyes, but I seem to be getting to him.

I smile back, and ask "So, Demi-Precentor, been on planet long, I presume so, way you're looking at my cigar, Why, I'd swear you haven't had one for some time." I sniffed another one from my holder.."Ah, genuine Memphis tobbaccy, can't get this on Terra? Or have you been on Keid all this time?"

I knew the answer of course, he was the commander of 3/III Blake's Vision of the 12th Blakist "Phantom" Division. MIIO had sent all the RCT intel cells photos from their sources and this giuy matched the photo I had in the folder in front of me, a bit leaner in the face and nattier looking, but it was him. Not to mention this guy was red flagged for being wanted for war crimes on Buenos Aries. Yeah, I suppose the prospect of being handed over to the Mask after we were done with him was motivating him to be very, very cooperative?

I looked Hastings over with a knowing look, and smiled. Time to end the polite farce, and get a bit serious. He knows where his unit is still operating out of, and I want them.

"OK, Mr. Hastings" I don't wanna use this guy's rank, one, it'll irritate him more, and two, he's no soldier, not after what him and his "blowtorch battalion" did on BA. Even if they were Cappies, they didn't deserve that. "We both know how important you are, and that certain others would love to get their hands on, I know you're thinking, what kind of deal I can cut to get me out of a Cappie prison? Well, how's this? You tell me what I want to know, and I keep you out of that Mask cell?"

Hastings smiled, he knew he was in deep, but he wasn't going to let a lowly Davion Intel Sergeant know that. There was still that look of mania in his eyes, and it flashed again as he gave an answer that, while it sounded benign, made me damn cold in that humid tent.

"Sergeant, I am a servant of Blake, and I am at your service."

Now what the hell did that mean, was he going to cooperate, wasn't he, jeez, this guy was good, like he'd played the game too. I hate the ones who know the game; they can string you along for days. But I didn't have that kind of time, drugs were out, this jerk was reportedly allergic to Pentathol and Hydrozine, well, you know my feelings about that, nah, back to the cigars. I pulled another cigar, and lit it, as slowly as I could; prolong the want for this guy. I smiled again as I lit it, then took a huge drag, and blew it into his face, HARD.

He coughed,. and then seemed to savor it, but the look on his face wasn't joy, it was discomfort. I was getting to if nicotine was his weakness, one had to play it. I leaned over getting inches from his face and simply said..

"Want one Mr. Blakie? Ah, it's gonna cost you, cost you a secret, or, do you want me to simply hand you over to the Mask? I hear they don't offer cigars, hell,. Sun-Tsu doesn't even let them smoke."

Sweat began to bead on Hasting's forehead. Good, I was unsettling the bastard.

Hasting's face twisted into a mix of hate and want. He knew I had him by the actuators, and he was going to spill. He hated himself for his failings, and that this particular failing was going to cost some of his fellow cultists their lives. It was a view of failure, abject failure.

We all live for that in the business, and when we get it, it's enough to make you shout with glee, especially with a bastard like this. He wasn't some Drac or Cappie, some line doggie or 'Warrior who had had a bad day...he was a Blakist, who had commanded a battalion of mechs that one said "You could paint them red with all the blood they had spilled." Innocent blood. No, seeing the defeat on his face wasn't just a job well done, it was the kind of thing that made me love my job.

We wrapped up about three hours later, I'd call him again after about an hour's sleep to check facts and see if I couldn't rattle him enough to catch him in any lies, but as screwed up as I had him, chances were he was telling the truth. I motioned Farley to have the MPs come get him, but there was something I had to know. Why? What the hell made a man like him?

I looked into his eyes, the blue, iridescent orbs bright with maniacal fire.

I simply asked, "Why?"

He knew what I meant, "It was simple, and the people of Buenos Ares were dirty, dirty with the corruption of their house lords. So we brought them the cleansing light, and fire!" A hysterical note entered his voice.

A chill entered my body and I shivered uncontrollably, I didn't want to hear the answer to the question, but it was one of those questions you had to ask. God forgive me for asking. I still get to Hebrew services from time to time.

"Even the Children?" There, I'd asked, and here comes the answer I know, but I don't want to hear.

Hastings smiled, and nodded as if it were a simple, pleasant truth. "Of course, they needed the cleansing fire most of all! How else would they know the true peace of Blake?"

You ever want, or NEED to throw up? Well, this was my crowning moment. It was a good thing that the tent flap opened and two MPs came to collect the prisoner. But as I got up to go, Hastings turned to me and asked "Sergeant, about my cigar?"

I took the one I had, threw it on the ground, and told him to "fetch", and then spun on my heel and left. I needed some rotgut coffee to get the vile taste from my mouth.

I used to console the ugly side of my job as being about the job, and that's what it was, a job. Trouble was, I just saw the end result of that thinking today, and I wonder, can I seem like that? Can I be that?