Log Title: House of Cards - Lies of Omission
Location: Tyger Pax - Northeastern Cybertron
Date: Friday, September 25, 2020
TP: Combaticons TP
Summary: Ghost goes to question Incognito about the neutrals involvement with the Combaticons, following up on 'The List'.
As logged by Ghost
TFU - Friday, September 25, 2020
Tyger Pax - Northeastern Cybertron
Once, long ago, it was said that Tyger Pax was a "City of Wonders" -- at least, that's how the story goes. Then came war, and a steady erosion of population and livable city, and finally shutdown. That was the condition it was in before "Galvatron" reformatted it into Unicron-like spookiness; thank Primus Nemesis remedied that as a final act at the end of the Battle of Tyger Pax -- even if it didn't succee
d in taking out The Fallen.
Nowadays, Tyger Pax is fairly quiet -- they aren't the types for gladiator events like at Valvolux, for instance. But they are starting to slowly develop a reputation for madcap science hijinks, much like the city's reputation before the shutdown... and if the rumors of Incognito moving back and forth between Tyger Pax and Nova Cronum are any indication, it's entirely possible that even more of that might be coming sooner rather than later.
Speaking of Incognito, he's sitting in the office he was provided in the tallest tower of Tyger Pax, looking over datapads filled with reports. At the moment, it seems like it's just another boring day at the office. But if there's one thing Incognito knows, it's that it's inevitable that somehow, some way, a dumpster fire is going to break out.
After all, this is Cybertron. It's a dumpster fire, eleven million years running, with no end in sight.
Ahh dumpster fires. And moving through the space between, one with the nothing is an operative who's neck deep in one and now seeking answers to questions she's not even sure of. Still, duty is just that and ever loyal, she's traveled to Tyger Pax to track down and question one Incognito.
Now she's met him once before, not that long ago but this is on official business. Walking through a wall, she pauses outside his office, head cocking as she considers the best means to go about her appointed task. A nod, some element of mischief and Ghost 'walks' through the door, letting shadows seep up about her to begin the trans-location process as a polite sort of 'warning, something wicked this way walks.'
Turning in his chair, Incognito has every intention of pausing in his datapad-reading to take in the view -- might as well enjoy it, right? But as he began to turn, out of the corner of his optic he sees something shadowy near the door. His lips twitch faintly in amusement, even as he continues to turn around without pause. For a few moments, however, he's content with letting his new guest enter in her own special way. Give her the impression that maybe, just maybe, she caught him by surprise.
"I knew you were coming. I knew you were coming before you entered the building. I knew you were coming before you left Trypticon or wherever else you may have left to come here. Hell, I knew you were coming before you did--" He turns back around as he speaks, though seeing that there's some definite differences in design actually cuts him off short for a moment. His head tilts from left to right, back to centerline again, and then he shrugs. "Someone did a good job. Nemesis would be jealous if he were still around."
Ghost slowly reforms from that nothing, taking her time it may seem. Violet optics glint as she sketches a polite sort of bow, intoning in a voice that's a few wavelengths off of her prior, some of that eternal rasp gone, mellowed into smoke and whiskey. "Well then.... We can skip the pleasantries if you know all of that then."
"Truthfully, you did sorta tip me off a little bit there. Not very stealthy or sneaky, but I figure that was intentional." Incognito shrugs. "If you'd wanted to be stealthy, I'm sure you would have done so. Though, it's not exactly like I have some security team roving around on patrol or anything." A brief pause. "Not yet, anyway. But I'm probably going to have to spring for that if Tyger Pax does begin to flourish once more."
He leans back in his chair, tossing the datapad onto his desk beside the dozen or so already cluttering the surface. "So, what /does/ bring you here, exactly? Megatron finally decide Tyger Pax is a target for his continued conquests? Or did Starscream annoy Megatron and is now hiding, and you're hoping I might know where he is?" There's a facetious tone to the neutral sage's voice, but there's also a bit of curiosity there.
Ghost ahhs, settling herself to lean against the wall to the left of the door, folding her arms across her frame as the last of that shadowy stuff seeps back under her armor. "It was, yes. Field testing things." Tone wry before that half smile falls, "I'd rather not speak of Nemesis, thank you. One of the few.. friends I had and the loss is rather fresh, so to speak." Wing panels segment and shuffle behind her.
"Oh.. Megatron doesn't know I'm here, yet. Only one being knows where I am at right now." Smile returns, crooked, "And I know where Starscream is, somewhat my job to know where our command staff is." She gives a shrug, looking out the view, determining word choices before there's a flick of those oh-so-new helm fins and she skips to the end as it were, "Starlock." Brow lifting, "Combaticons." Tapping fingertip against forearm plating, "Medical malfeasance."
"We have that in common. The friendship, that is. I'll respect that." Incognito studies Ghost intently, and then those four words: Starlock. Combaticons. Medical malfeasance.
His expression shifts, not quite so friendly now, though he's putting effort into keeping up that facade. But there's a noticeable guardedness creeping into his expression regardless. "Not four words that I ever expected to hear in such close proximity to one another. But, I'll humor you for the moment. The medical malfeasance in question: define it for me, if you would be so kind?"
Ghost's optics darken, perhaps tiny glints of gold flickering as she watches Incognito closely. Wing panels pivot and shift as well as her not-so-inconsiderable sensory suites focuses entirely on him, watching, recording. "Indeed. They weren't words I thought would be near one another either yet.." she waves a hand, tone mild, "Here we are."
"Wrongdoing from a public or other type of official. In this case a recognized medic performing unauthorized alterations on others without their permission, without their commanders permissions or even their own commanders permissions. And... causing side effects."
Incognito arches an optic ridge for a moment, then slowly stands up from his chair. Turning around, he looks out over the view of Tyger Pax below. For several long moments, there's silence -- apparently, Ghost isn't the only one having to consider words. Finally, however, he speaks:
"Starlock approached me a ways outside of Valvolux several months ago," he begins. "The discussion she and I had was that of a theoretical exercise concerning the Combaticons; more specifically, her acquisition of certain knowledge pertaining to some sort of security or 'loyalty' programming implanted within Bruticus -- the programming was considered so subtle that the individual Combaticons themselves did not know it was present, but it had been implanted within their combined form by Megatron as a means of ensuring their loyalty and cooperation. I suppose that was considered more 'humane' than cortex bombs."
He turns around then, facing Ghost. "I assume those are the particulars you're asking about?"
Ghost quiets, systems even silencing as she waits. She could be a statue save for the glowing of optics. As Incognito speaks, she doesn't interrupt, letting him fill that void of silence himself, not even with a wing flick or panel rattle. A nod of her head as she watches him turn around, "Ahh.. so the list of names Starlock gave me wasn't entirely full of dead ends and false trails then."
A shake of her head, "Well, they could have been executed or placed back into spark-prison again. There were options but destroying a planet.. that's apparently a line or was then." She ticks fingertips, "So yes, those are the particulars I am asking after. Do go on, if you would. I'd like to keep this friendly."
"Not much more to say." Incognito doesn't look happy at the little revelation he was just given. "Because that was the extent of my involvement with it. I told her not to do it, in no small part because she wasn't remotely qualified to make the attempt in the first place. I specifically told her that, even if the information was actually accurate, there would be a very real possibility of side effects at best, and I didn't want to even speculate on what might happen in a worst-case scenario. I had no intention of joining in on this madness. Not to mention the fact that she also told me /who/ gave her the information to begin with. That was another element of my concern: the fact that the information, in my mind, was not to be trusted because of its' source."
Ghost blinks, watching Incognito or perhaps the view behind him.. or both. "She was very open to giving me a washlist of names involved. And the list /has/ been reported to Megatron." Intel for intel as it were, "And now she hides within a titan, knowing -I- can't do anything to her there." She shifts, frowning, "Who told her?" Tone curious, the only possible indication of alertness is the flick-shift of those wings. "That's the one name she did not give, you see. I do like having complete lists to investigate."
"I can't tell you who else may have been involved -- she didn't contact me again after that single discussion she and I had, and the fact that my name's now being bandied about in some attempt to throw me under the civilian transport and save her own aft... well, I'm not very happy about that. And believe you me, people are going to know about it." Incognito pauses for a moment. "But of course she's hiding. I hate to think of how Prime and the rest of Autobot Command will react to the news when they learn of it."
If there's a hint of silver lining, however, it's the fact that Incognito holds a critical piece of the puzzle Ghost is trying to solve. "I imagine you do, Ghost. But I fear you and Megatron will not like the name given, because... well, house of cards and all that." Moving to retake his seat, Incognito leans back, looking up at Ghost. "Tell me something: just how surprised by all of this was Soundwave?"
Ghost taps fingertips against her forearm, "She's thrown a great many names out, civilian, her own sort, some of ours. Fortunately not many of ours in this matter. One can say that our illustrious leader is.. less than impressed with the entire situation." A nod, "By her own words, she and her coterie of miscreants worked without command supervision." Pause, "She's such a devious little Decepticon and just doesn't know it. All pious and knows better than everyone." Tone softly spoken even if the words could be cutting.
"Soundwave?" A blink as she cycles archives up, picking elements here and there, "Quite surprised... It -is- a grievous breech of intel, hence me here questioning you -we've- to get to the bottom of this and clean our own house if need be." blinking to cycle memories, aided by a wee internal assistant. "And very swift to act once I'd reported everything I'd discovered to him."
"I imagine he was," Incognito concurs. "Specifically, though, I'd imagine he was most surprised by the fact that Starlock would blindly accept the information that he, himself, gave her... and actually have the temerity to act upon it. Probably more surprised still that it took this long for him to find out that it had happened." Oh, the sarcasm in the Cybertronian sage's words.
He shrugs again after a moment. "A wise sentient once said, 'be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it'," he says quietly. "I did warn that you, and by extension Megatron, would not like what you hear. And now you've heard it." There's a pause. "I imagine Megatron will think I'm lying and trying to shift blame as well, because the alternative -- that his house of cards is indeed crumbling in support from within, as I've told him before during Khamsin's little peace talks -- is not something he's willing to face. Well... he doesn't have much choice but to face it now, does he?"
Those words, all, are met with the same implacable silence and veneer of genial interest that Ghost has maintained the entire conversation. Or would have been were it not for a flick of wings and a narrowing of optics. There's a flash of something tumultuous behind her mask of polite interest that is swiftly repaired and a single brow lifts.
"So she said the information came from Soundwave then." Tone mild still, "Well now isn't -that- interesting." Smile shading colder somehow. "No.. I think Megatron will believe what he chooses to believe. Our entire division is.. well since we failed to even see this coming, we're not in good light. What's one more thing to bring to him." A snort of air through intakes, wings rattling behind her before they are snapped shut. "Our house is -fine-. Everyone has a moment of unwelcomed visitors, or spots of repair and -cleaning-. Especially a drafty old house like ours." Tone thoughtful once again. "And if this is true.. well, it should be quite interesting indeed."
"If you say so," Incognito murmurs, though his tone is dubious. He shakes his head slowly. "I imagine it will be interesting -- at least for those Decepticons who like to play the politics. Not nearly so fun for the rank and file, though." He leans forward, picking up the datapad that he was holding when Ghost entered, and leans back again. "Are you satisfied? Or shall I expect to be shot at sometime in the not too distant future?"
Ghost tilts her head as if listening to something else for a moment before, "You'll probably get questioned by more of us. Intel's in a fervor now to gather and report in everything. And double-checking on everyone. Tedious really." There's a bare pause before, "And with good reason it would seem."
Wings give a lazy sort of flick-twitch, optics narrowing, "Should you find yourself questioned again, and there's no reason for you to even consider what I ask. But I ask nonetheless. Do not mention Soundwave's involvement."There is a pause, "Please."
"Now you want me to lie by omission?" Incognito arches both optic ridges this time. "That, I /do/ find interesting. But if Decepticon Intelligence wants to question me further... no."
He straightens up in the chair. "No more questions. Not from anyone else. I've made my statement; it can stand on it's own merits. I'm not going to keep re-hashing this over and over and over again in the vain hopes of everyone else in Decepticon Intelligence that I 'slip up' and admit involvement in something I held no actual involvement in, outside of a single conversation where I warned against it. I have no particular interest in being a pawn for Decepticon political machinations; I certainly have no interest in helping Soundwave hide evidence of his duplicity. If that means I have to live looking over my shoulder for the rest of my existence, no matter how long or short it may be, then so be it. But I'm /done/ with all this."
Ghost tilts her head, listening again, watching. The genteel mask, she knows he knows its a mask at this point, fades into something sharper, brows furrowing, optics dimming, smile thinning to not quite a frown. Intensely focused at best, "I ask because -I- want to... handle this accusation myself rather than throw him to the wolves, so to speak. It is a grave accusation.. and one that must be proven before I'd bring it in a report. Others, well morals are few and far between you see."
She pushes off of that space of wall she'd leaned against, "Treason is a term I've heard too often as of late." Tone solemn, "And too readily thrown about in fits of pique. Without -proof-: There are rules even in /Decepticon/ machinations. Or were at one point." She snorts air out of intakes, "I do believe you, you see, Incognito of Tyger Pax. More-so the pity, but I do believe you. As for helping Soundwave?" She laughs a short, bitter sort of sound, "If he knew what you've told me.. I suspect.. well.. In any case, I've taken up enough of your time. I can see myself out."
"Then you and I have vastly differing views on Decepticon machinations, I fear." Incognito shakes his head. "My experience is that 'the rules' are a figment of a wishful imagination, a flight of fancy; it is only the whims of whichever individual holds sway in the moment that matters." He leans back in his chair. "But now is not the time for that sort of philosophical discussion, and I imagine you have plenty to consider as well."
Ghost shrugs, "I've got a vastly different view than most of my counterparts. I'd accepted that long ago, sir." Tone polite again, mask of indifference sliding back into a faint smile, single brow lifted. "No matter who's Commanding, the Empire continues to run on its own set of rules." Wry smirk as she steps backwards, shadows seeping out from beneath that white plating of hers, swirling up around her, "No, now is not the time.. But I would like to entertain such a conversation when I'm not.. working."