hell is that noise

It would take much longer than a day - an evening, really, considering everything else that otherwise swirled about Joseph on any given day as the head of a military-aligned multibillion dollar corporation - to go through every nook and cranny of expense reports, spanning dozens of international manufacturing and administrative sites, but that didn’t mean Joseph had any inclination to leave stones unturned by his own two hands when paranoia was at the forefront of his mind. There had been certain pieces of current events, parts of a larger equation that was beyond an expertise that came and went as if with the wind, that couldn’t go ignored, and what he came of it was a collection of cloud-based reports that locked Joseph in front of his computer, searching for something - anything - that might have fed into the reasons for what might have been shift-based disillusionment. It was a wild goose chase into the unknown, a game of cat and mouse where the cat couldn’t get a bead on anything other than the breadcrumbs that had been left behind, but it was one that would always play out.

Especially against a roach like Cameron Hodge.

It went without saying that, in the repetitive notion of history, that the Public Relations Department would be the first due for some oversight - not that they had done anything out of the ordinary for an extremely unordinary situation, but the facts being what they were, it seemed to be a no brainer.

Recognized for the skills he had and perhaps not what he had wanted to be by someone he had followed around like a lost puppy, starved for attention, Cameron Hodge had been part of the puzzle that had gone unnoticed, overlooked and never a threat given the presumption that, like Candy, he would have been a help to X-Factor and their efforts rather than its ultimate dissolution. He had been trusted, a person of importance to Warren’s business efforts, but everything had been so one-sided and in the end, it had cost them both.

It had cost them all.

But in this life, one that wasn’t Warren’s to tamper with no matter how readily the lines crossed, blurred, and were otherwise erased, Joseph had all intention on not letting that happened - if not for the sake of those attached to the situation, for his wife and their family and the dozens of others who could find themselves harmed by such a mirrored event, then for the blood that boiled beneath his very skin, hot like fire, that felt inevitably wronged by such a petty thing as jealousy.

That was what it all came to, wasn’t it? It echoed easily enough - “you turned away from me and went to her” and, for that, Candy Southern had died; and though his retaliation had been swift, brought forth on the wings of Death against the monster that had become the disembodied head of his former friend, it hadn’t been quick enough to stop the worst of it - not when squandered funds had been used to build an army bearing smiles, menacing and mechanical, that contrasted their misdeeds against the mutant species; and the last thing he needed was a mutant-hating military to infect something much greater like a hateful parasite.

All it took was the right supply line, the right small flow of money that would be written off by accountants unless an audit hit their desk, the right manufacturing space and had Joseph not been as attentive as he had been, it might have completely slipped past his radar - the new manufacturing facilities, the part shortages blamed on a pandemic long-ended, the slow deliveries to foreign militaries as promised in long-laid contracts. Environment concerns and a recent implementation of workplace training - that could have very well been a part of it, but all would take investigation. Without proof, nothing was certain and nothing - not even a computer - could be trusted even as pages were bookmarked and concerning, if not suspicious, reports and financial line items were highlighted for further review.

Settling back, it had been the sound of something tapping in an erratic pattern that had pulled him from what was otherwise a dead stare on the computer screen. It was incessant, something almost forgotten given the rarity of its appearance, but the pieces were put together in due time as his search took him from his desk to the safe - rarely opened, always locked - hidden away in the closet. He knew what it was. He knew what it could do. He could very well taste the blood and acid in his throat, a call to his anger from the depths of space, now locked away for some time, but for what?

For this? Where the sharp metal of razor wings had failed, would the ring be of any help? Or was this feeding off of what it could feel, the anger felt from the depths of his being and the wrongs that had occured - perhaps not yet in this universe, but in another?

It was a moment more of staring before Joseph let out a sigh, exasperated, frustrated, trying not to alert anyone else though he was sure he could feel the telepathic itch of one such pup with concern in his wayward mind as it seemed Spocket was apt to do whenever there were stressful moments like this - an outing unintended and a fallout to be experienced, unavoidable, but perhaps manipulated into something softer with the right parties behind it - assuming, of course, Joseph had the right people on his side even if they weren't exactly privy to the situation from a first-hand experience.

“I really need to get rid of you already.”