(Intelligence Compound, Polyhex)
The spot typically occupied by Soundwave directly in front of the monitors is empty, although the doors to the intelligence center open for Nova as she approaches, although the monitoring screens are shifting through the images from around Cybertron, as usual. From inside the door, Soundwave is visible, standing to one side and apparently jacked directly into a data feed of some sort, a cable extending from his wrist to a console. He looks up as Nova enters, disconnecting the cable with unhurried movements and greets her with a silent nod.
Nova Black enters, her wings twitching as she walks into the room. She gives Soundwave a respectful salute, but her faceplates are set in a grim line. When she sees his nod, she speaks. "Sir, I made contact with the medic Lifeline in Cubicron and am reporting as ordered. I..." Her optics flicker. Better just to have it out. "Sir, are you certain this Lifeline suits our purposes?"
Soundwave stands as the console in front of him blanks into sleep mode. The screens on the wall, however, change, reflecting hours- at least- of surveillance video taken outside of - and inside of as well- the neutral medic's clinic, including a video of Nova herself entering the clinic. "Specific concerns of note?" His voice, as always, is so level as to be monotone, with an odd, metallic undertone.
Nova Black frowns, unsure how to express what she feels she needs to say. Soundwave isn't the sort of mech to go on hunches, and it's not like Lifeline flat-out told her no. "She took a long time to draw out. I expected that -- it doesn't make sense for someone in Cubicron to trust a 'Con, after all -- but even when I finally got her talking, it didn't sound like she wanted to be here. She said something like 'I'd always thought the Autobots and the Decepticons were the same' --"
She stops. Even just repeating that sentence is making her tanks roil a little. "And I have to say -- I've heard some slagged-up scrap from Neutrals over the years. Lots of 'em will pretend to believe *anything,* long as it means they don't have to take the plunge and make a choice."
She snarls. "They're kidding themselves. In the end, everyone chooses. One way or the other. And Lifeline -- well, the only reason she gave for being interested is because we don't pretend we're protecting everyone else. And I guess I can see that, but it -- it's not a reason to be one of us. If she talked like an opportunist, I'd see it." She chuckles grimly. "If she were a warrior spark who wanted to fight, I'd see it." Her wings fan out and her optics flare. "If there were things she wanted, liked, needed that went against the Autobots' sense of propriety --" she hisses "-- I'd see it.
"But 'you're the same?'" Her engines rev. "That's not an answer. That's an insult.
"I don't know what she wants. I know she's interested in coming here, but if the only thing on her processor is becoming one of our medics, I'll eat my own exhaust. Maybe it's just that she just has some little project of her own on her mind, in addition to helping us. I don't know. I gave her my comm link and I paid her nicely for repairs, and she said she'd be in touch. So there's that. But I'd be careful." She huffs noisily. "At the very least."
Soundwave inclines his head in a shallow nod. The monitors change, and Soundwave turns minutely to watch.
Although the monitors still feature the neutral medic and her clinic, focusing now on the footage of the Autobot CMO on his previous visits. Their argument- identifiable as such despite the lack of sound- is vehement, with a tool being flung at the Autobot's head just before he storms out of the frame. The scene replays on a loop, the two medics visible through the open door, then proceeding outside, the tool flung, the Autobot leaving. Soundwave watches silently, letting Nova wait as he deliberates.
Nova Black's frown deepens. "I know. I saw it." Her wings twitch. "And she did seem to think I was convincing. I just... angry is one thing. Devoted to the Empire, that's somethin' else. I've been both." Behind the visor, it's difficult to tell if Soundwave is watching Nova still regarding the monitors, but after another klik of silence, he nods again to the Seeker. "Speculation as to ulterior motive?" He finally asks.
"I... don't... know," she grinds out, gritting her denta. "I wish I had some sense of it. Doesn't make sense. She gets mad as scrap at some piece of Autoscum, which makes sense, and wants to come here, which would make sense, except she tells me somethin' that doesn't sound much like she likes us, or ever could." She revs her engines again. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to tell me why you sent me after her? There's plenty of machines in Cubicron that would make easier converts. Why this one -- *sir*?"
"Reasons: multiple." Soundwave says. It's unusual for him to answer a question from anyone but Megatron without a long pause, whether because he's (as base rumor would have it) reading the thoughts to determine the asker's motive or out of a habit of selecting his words with extreme care. That there are multiple reasons, however, he is apparently perfectly content to share with Nova. The rest follows after a more usual pause, though. "Recruitment of medics, always desirable. Specific individual, potentially serves multiple purposes if recruitment successful."
Nova Black snorts. "It usually take you that many words to say 'None of your business?' Fine, fine, I understand. I only asked because you asked me what I thought she might be up to, and I figured if I knew why you're so slagging interested it might give me a clue. Like I said, I gave her my private comm and she said she'd get back to me." Her wings click rapidly in a nervous gesture. "I'll bring her in here, if that's what I'm ordered to do, sir. I'll just recharge easier if I know you're keeping your creepy visor on her."
"Surveillance assured." He ignores the insult about his visor, raising one hand to rest on the security console. "Your interest: acceptable. Simply unexpected." The videos on the monitors change again. "This mechanism's connections, potentially informative- particularly due to past association with current Autobot medical staff." A still frame is brought up on the screen of Lifeline standing in the doorway, one hand in the air, apparently greeting the easily recognizable Autobot CMO and a smaller red and white mech. "Whether or not her loyalties are with our Emperor."
Nova Black smirks. "Huh. Didn't think you were going to answer me. Well, you'd probably be better at finding out what connections she had with those vermin than I would. She didn't like it when I mentioned that argument. And I know how to think on my wings, sure, but I'm not exactly subtle." Her grin widens. "Unless she volunteers some information or you've got something specific in mind, sir, I think I'll leave finding that stuff out to you."
"Seekers-" Soundwave flicks his claws dismissively, although the tone is level. "Subtlety: outside of your programming. Lifeline: potentially useful. As ally or information source." He pauses. "Discomfort with subject of argument?"
Nova Black nods. "She didn't like that I knew about it. Not one bit. I played it like I'd heard it wandering around Cubicron. Told her that I was good at listening for gossip. And that part isn't a lie, at least -- most 'Cons wouldn't know what to listen for in settlements like that. I don't know if she believed me or not, but it seemed to calm her down."
Soundwave makes an indeterminate noise of acknowledgment, turning slightly to view the security console while he considers this information. Is the neutral medic nervous because she'd been counting on her (former) Autobot ties to continue shielding her from other interests in Cubicron and is distressed at how fast the information had spread? Or something else. No way to be certain without interrogating her himself. "Recruitment attempt: acceptable. Further missions for recruitment and information gathering, desired?"
Nova Black's wings twitch in excitement. Sounds like she's done something right. "Yes, sir. I'd like that. I talked to Hookshot about his own life as a Neutral before he joined up, and I think he might be interested in going with me sometime also, if that's acceptable." Assuming the flighty little glider even remembers, she reminds herself.
Soundwave nods sharply, his attention still apparently focused on the console. "Arrangements can be made. Additional questions for me?" He asks.
Nova Black shakes her head. "No, sir. I just hope Lifeline proves worth it." She smirks, not particularly nicely. "In whatever capacity."
"Your sentiment, unnecessary but appreciated. Dismissed." Soundwave says, shifting his full concentration back to the console. His visor gleams red in the dim intelligence center.
Taking the hint, Nova leaves, wondering as she does so exactly what it means that her sentiments are "appreciated." Was that Soundwave for "Shoo; you're officially Being Ignored as of Right Now," or was that Soundwave for "I'm glad you let me know all of this, and I'm thinking it over?" She supposes she may never know, as she can't really ask that question now, and wouldn't get an answer if she did.
Soundwave says nothing, appearing to not even notice as he focuses on the reports displayed in front of him.