Title: Pretty Words
Location: Nova Cronum - The Institute
Date: 26 October 2014
Summary: Nautica has an escape plan. But will she be able to hide it from Pharma?
Once again, Nautica is working a late shift at the Institute; perhaps she's avoiding her friends and their awkward questions, or perhaps she genuinely is caught up in the insecticon project. It could even just be that she's taking the opportunity to work uninterrupted in the slightly-quieter atmosphere that comes with the evening shift. She's taken her datapad and settled into a corner, perusing what appears to be a series of files on a wide variety of topics. Clearly she'd decided there's no point in concealing the full range of her skills from her co-workers any longer; the worst that can happen already has, hasn't it?
Has it, indeed? Some would be to differ. Nautica hasn't been dismantled yet, right...
Guess who's here late with her? Yes, you guessed right, it's Pharma, as before. He comes up behind her and stands over her shoulder for a few moments.
"You've been busy."
The Camien totally isn't startled; it's purely coincidence that she nearly drops her datapad when Pharma speaks. She takes a moment to collect herself before turning to look at him. "Well, someone sort of compromised my systems and told me to /keep/ myself busy," she replies.
"I didn't say it was a bad thing." Pharma grins, and sits down next to her. "The question is only what you've been busy -with-, of course." His optics wander over to the Insecticon enclosures for a moment, then back to Nautica as he leans in, lowering his voice into a threatening whisper. "You think you can evade me by talking to the Insecticons in wavespeech? Think again. I was the one who gave you that dictionary, remember?" Then he pulls away, smiling again. "An admirably clever attempt, however."
"Oh, I know you have a basic understanding of wavespeech," Nautica allows, putting her datapad away into her subspace pocket. "Though I had hoped that the lab's surveillance equipment had not been retrofitted to record EMF fluctuations. I suppose that was a bit much to hope for." The Camien femme leans back in her seat, perhaps unconsciously trying to put a little more distance between Pharma and herself. "But you had to expect the bars to be tested. After all, you must have had /dozens/ of prisoners -- of experimental subjects -- pass through your labs and across your table by now, at least; how many simply lay down and take it, without /some/ effort to escape?"
Pharma nods. "Good point. But given the research I've been doing surely you must have realized that it must have been." He says in regard to the surveillance equipment. "As for lying down and taking it--" he gestures over toward Kickback. "That one did. Out of devotion to his 'queen', as I'm sure you already know. Incredibly loyal. But...lately I've been thinking that he might just be biding his time."
"They're /sapient/," Nautica replies, a touch of anger entering her tone. She pushes herself up to her feet, trying to stalk past Pharma towards the insecticon cages. Towards Kickback, to place herself between the scientist and her insecticon friend. "Of course prisoners aren't going to just sit indefinitely, placid and compliant. 'This one', as you put it, was promised that if he cooperated he'd be released and allowed to return to his queen. So of course he did... but sooner or later, he's going to realize that wasn't true. He's not an /idiot/."
"Oh, but he isn't dead yet, is he?" Pharma laughs. "I never said -when- it would be, did I? I mean, he didn't even ask." He shrugs. "But maybe you're right, after a while he might start thinking it's never going to happen, if he's impatient enough. But you've talked to him, haven't you? So what did he say? -Is- he getting impatient? Losing -hope-?"
"You can understand wavespeech," Nautica replies, still standing between Pharma and Kickback's cage. It's perhaps unclear whether her shielding of the insecticon is conscious or not. "I'm sure you have an answer to that already, don't you?"
"Do I now?" Pharma smirks. "I never said I understood it. Why do I have to go to the trouble of figuring out how to interpret it myself when I have -you- to do such tedious work for me? After all you're the one who's so -into- everything including linguistics, and you do have your little wavespeech module." He folds his arms. "So go on, Nautica. Tell me everything they said. And don't bother lying because you know I can see everything that goes on in that brain of yours, and I doubt you're as good at lying as you are at just about every field of academia out there."
"Clearly, I need to consider taking up a new field of study," Nautica mutters, folding her arms in front of her as she watches Pharma. "And if I say no, you take me apart? Study my innards? What makes me tick? The only way to keep myself alive is to act as your translator... as your researcher...? How is this /any/ different than telling him that if he cooperates, you'll let him free to see his queen again? Sooner or later, you're going to take me apart /anyway/ when your curiosity gets the better of you, and we both know it. Or am I wrong?"
Pharma shrugs at her question. "I don't know about that, honestly. As I told you before, if you prove yourself to be more useful in one piece than in many, then I will keep you that way. If you fail to comply, if you resist...if you are difficult, that leads me to believe that you'd be more effective if I dismantled you. Simple logic really, surely someone as skilled as yourself can understand. Now," He folds his hands calmly. "If you cooperate right now, that would certainly help your cause."
"Yes," Nautica says, grudgingly, finally. Yet she doesn't step aside in blocking Pharma's path to Kickback. "Yes, he's starting to think you'll never release him. And he's scared; it hurts when you take him apart, and when you put him back together he feels wrong. I told him you were making /me/ take him apart to study, but I promised I would try to make it hurt less. He trusts me."
Pharma looks pleased. "Good. Very good." He brings out a datapad to document this. "I was hoping he'd trust you. I never said I'd never release him, though. Perhaps he just needs to put a little -patience- into practice. And if he's so sapient, doesn't he have the capacity to understand that all of this is for the -good- of Cybertron?"
He pauses, glancing down at the datapad momentarily. "So what else was said in your little conversation?"
"If it were for the good of Cybertron -- if you /really/ believed that -- you wouldn't be caging or leashing your subjects. Doing all this in secret." Nautica falls silent now, mulling the consequences of disobedience versus the damage of revelation. Finally, she admits -- grudgingly -- "I promised I would do everything in my power to get him free. To let him return to his queen."
Pharma tsks, shaking his head. "Oh, Nautica. You are so naive and idealistic." He chuckles. "It's almost sad. You see, you can't just expect that solving the monumental problems of this broken society is going to be just like a walk in the Helix Gardens. These things are -never- easy, in fact, they will most likely require -sacrifices- to be made. If you could exchange ten lives for a million, versus letting all one million and ten die, or versus saving the ten and letting the million die, wouldn't you save the millions? Haven't given that much thought, have you?"
"Pretty words. But how does this..." Nautica raises her hand, tapping the side of her head where Pharma put the little eavesdropping module in. "...help save Cybertron? If the goal was to have my help, you would have asked. You would have explained. But instead, you did this to try and control me. And to hold the threat of death, or dismantling, over me." She lets her hand drop, and shakes her head once. She turns to regard Kickback, recharging in his cage. "Maybe I'm naive and idealistic. Primus knows, I'm hardly a politician. But it seems to me that if you never question 'it's for the greater good', it can be used to justify a lot of horrible things."
"You're dodging the question. So you'd just let the millions die for the sake of the ten?" Pharma asks. "I was trying to ask you what you'd do in my place. But whatever, I guess you don't have to answer that right now. What do you have to answer, however, is if there was anything else said between you and the Insecticons. I want hear it -all-."
"It's easy to talk in generalizations, but they're not meaningful. If you could save the planet by killing the Senate, would you kill /those/ few to save millions? If one of those ten was /you/, would you sacrifice yourself?" Nautica is, apparently, not in the best of moods. But, resigned, she continues, "I promised I'd get him free eventually. I assured him that if I took him apart, I'd try to make it not hurt. He told me the other two here don't trust me. He told me a bit about the structure of hives, and tried to help me with my grammar and vocabulary in wavespeech. That's pretty much it."
"I would, actually." Pharma replies. "But unfortunately it's not that -simple-." He shrugs and moves on. "You mentioned that he thinks he'll never be released...and you also mentioned that you told him you'd help him get out. So did you two make any...-progress- in that direction?" He smirks, his tone of voice changing to one of mockery. Mocking her idealistic heroine-ism, no doubt. "Did you tell him you'd be willing to let me fry your cerebral cortex for his sake?"
"If I had told him that, do you think he would have accepted it?" Nautica answers, a touch sourly. "Though I suppose that works out well by your math; one life for three -- or more -- to get free would be a decent trade, wouldn't it? As for progress, if I had, you'd know, wouldn't you? It's not as if I can do anything without you seeing or hearing."
"I'll take that as a yes." Pharma again records something on the datapad. "As I said, I could figure it out myself, but it would take some time and work. So that's why I'm asking -you-. So what are they planning, hm? A diversion?"
"There /aren't/ any plans. All he said was that if we did break out, he would protect me." Nautica smiles slightly, bemused. "I suppose I count as part of his hive, or close enough; I may not be his queen, but I guess I'm /a/ queen. Because apparently queens are the ones that create new things." And that much, she knows Pharma heard, because Kickback spoke it aloud. But now, Nautica leans back against Kickback's cage, staring up at the ceiling with apparent exhaustion. "So, you've trapped me here. Taken away my choices. Made me an extra pair of eyes, of ears, of hands for this project. I've hidden away from my friends, from the other Camiens, because I would be terrible at lying to them. Congratulations: you've won. I'm here. So what exactly do you /want/ from me?"
Pharma still looks a bit suspicious...he'd -thought- there'd been something about Kickback having figured out how to open the locks. But perhaps he'll have to investigate for himself. "Well how far have you gotten on what I've asked thus far?" That being the Insecticon project. "That should be your highest priority, at the moment. But of course you're welcome to examine some of the other Outliers here."
"I've dismantled Kickback once and studied his systems," Nautica says, actually giving the insecticon his proper name. She doesn't seem pleased by this admission, though she moves on to the scientific portion. "I can tell why you always put them back together; the system starts to break down, doesn't it? Once it's outside of them for more than a cycle, there's degradation. There's an energy field /inside/ them... which rather bears out my theory, actually. Just like a cheat drive; if you don't have things /inside/ a proper stabilization field, they tend to tear itself apart."
Pharma nods. "I understand that." He makes note of this, and continues after a pause. "But given your incredible amount of talent, I'm confident you'll be able to at least create a prototype before long." He stands up, patting her on the shoulder. "Good luck." With that, he once again leaves Nautica to herself with the resting Insecticons.
It seems that if she is to have any hope of getting out of this alive, someone is going to have to incapacitate the winged doctor or whatever equipment he's using to pull her strings....
As Pharma leaves, Nautica clamps down firmly on the surge of victory she feels within. Best not to let him see. Oh, she'll be building a field generator, all right. But what that field stabilizes -- or disables -- may very well include something that her captor isn't expecting.