Dirge unplugged the wire in his forehead, and looked around. The station was empty, its crew now on their way to the Users' secret prison, likely never to be seen again. That thought made him smile. It was just a shame the worst of the lot would never face justice.
The leader, Nominet, would never be tried and imprisoned. Thunderwing, the Architect's puppet, had made sure of that. And as for the Architect himself, who had helped Nominet, given him access to prophecies.....
Dirge began to laugh hysterically. After calming himself down, he slammed the 'Purge' key. A treasure trove of data, evidence of Nominet and Zatla's machinations, momentarily flashed out of existence. Their shipping invoices for weapons, their member lists, their lists of war veterans and judges they planned to assassinate, all vanished in the blink of an eye, now only existing in Dirge's mind.
With this final task completed, Dirge left the station, an empty shell, with no indication that terrorists had once lived there. Several ships were already swarming around it, their captains arguing amongst themselves as to who was actually first to arrive. They'd start shooting at each other soon enough; they always did.
The Lantern's mind drifted back to the Architect's treachery. He'd been grateful to the Users, served them loyally. It was only fitting. They had found him, rescued him from his endless isolation, given him a new lease on life and a new infallible cause to which he could pledge himself. It was all he could ever want, but it was too good to last. Megatron and Zeta had both turned out to be liars; logically, the Users had to follow.
To take his mind off the Architect, Dirge began reading files on his new destination. It seemed that Nominet had been receiving weapons from a high-ranking member of the Corrantian army, one General Raskulinecz.
The Corrantian army wasn't exactly a great military force. Corrantia had once been a rich trading world, but a massive recession caused by Blackout's raids on Z'traa and Nebulos, its nearest neighbours, had taken a heavy toll. Disastrous austerity measures caused public anger, which provided an opportunity for a group of army officers to stage a coup. A year-long civil war ensued, and only ended when the Great Beings intervened. From them on, Corrantia was a puppet state, propped up by foreign aid and run from the shadows by Great Being 'advisors'.
After the Uterio War, the Corrantians decided they had had enough. The next general election was won by a landslide by the Corrantian Nation Party, with 98 out of the 150 seats in the parliament. Its charismatic leader, Alexander Schroeder, became president, and pledged to restore Corrantia to its former greatness.
He certainly seemed to be trying. Flying over the capital city, Dirge counted dozens of buildings being constructed, or re-constructed.
His ponderings were cut short by an approaching fighter ship. Dirge's onboard computer quickly identified it as a Wadi-made, sixth-generation Scorpion-class ship. In other words, far too expensive for the Corrantians.
"To the unidentified vessel. You are approaching a restricted area." the pilot barked over the radio. "Reverse course now."
Without responding in any way, Dirge turned and flew away as fast as possible. Distracted by all the data, he'd been going in completely the wrong direction.
He left the city limits, and was now flying over a dense forest. He was looking for a little log cabin, by a lake.....
After an hour's search, he finally spotted something that fit the description. He dramatically swooped down, zooming over the lake and scaring a flock of birds, and transformed. He miscalculated his landing slightly, and ended up falling into the lake.
He sighed, and slowly stepped out of the water. "My feet are gonna rust....." he could be heard to mutter.
Indeed, the log cabin was just in front of him. Dirge approached and looked at the door, wondering whether he should knock or rip the door out of its hinges.
In the end, he opted for the second approach, and shot the door, blowing it to bits. He stormed into the living room, to find it empty. Noting a funny-looking mirror in the wall, Dirge scoffed and moved onto the bedroom.
Raskulinecz jumped up in his bed, as did the young woman by his side. They pulled up the blanket to cover themselves, and stared silently at the brightly-coloured robot that had just invaded their privacy.
"General Raskulinecz, I presume?" Dirge sneered.
Wearing a hastily pulled-on T-shirt, Raskulinecz reluctantly left the bedroom and sat down on the couch. Dirge chose to stand, just as much out of anger as out of a desire not to break the couch.
"Nominet." he said.
"What?" Raskulinecz replied. "Who's that?"
Dirge smiled. "I never said it was a person."
"Well, I figured....."
"You're a terrible liar, Mr. Raskulinecz." Dirge said. "It is indeed a person. A terrorist, in fact. And you've been sending him weapons."
Raskulinecz looked at the floor and sighed. "It had to come out someday. I told him it was a bad idea, but he insisted."
"You told who it was a bad idea?" Dirge insisted. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it out loud.
Raskulinecz began to stammer. "He said he'd have me killed if I said....."
"And I'll kill you if you don't say. At least you have a chance of hiding from him. I'm right in front of you."
"Fine. It was a User. You don't refuse a User, man! I mean....."
"Of course not. So, a User told you to send weapons to those terrorists. Did you know what they were planning?"
"He said it was best I didn't know. Plausible deniability."
"Well, Mr. Raskulinecz, he was wrong. You should know. They were terrorists. Neo-Uterians. They almost blew up a city full of innocent people, just to throw me off the trail." Dirge's voice was soft, menacingly so. And it only got worse.
"I don't hold you responsible, of course. You couldn't have known. But the Architect should've. Because he's listening in, isn't he?" Dirge suddenly turned to the mirror, and knocked on it.
"State of the art User tech, isn't it? Listen, Architect, I don't know what kind of game you were playing with me and Nominet and Zatla, and I don't care. But I do care that you put a whole city in danger for it. You used me. I hold you responsible."
He punched the mirror, smashing it to bits, and immediately left the house, not even bothering to say goodbye to Raskulinecz.
Back at the User HQ, the Architect calmly crossed Raskulinecz's name out of his notebook.
It seemed like such a good plan. Secure the terrorists' cooperation with a fake copy of ZFT, then get a Corrantian general to work with them. Dirge would expose the conspiracy (and Thunderwing would kill anyone who knew the truth, of course), and the Corrantian government would find itself in hot water, having been seen helping Neo-Uterians. Maybe they'd even have to step down. It would have been a huge blow to HYDA. If only Nominet hadn't talked. If only Thunderwing had killed him with the first shot.
And now, not only had he lost that game, he had also lost a loyal Lantern.
What a mess.