September 12, 2011
(War Room, Iacon/Cubicron)
Hot Spot's been working on the security logs for far too long. Prowl tried to make him recharge a few joors ago, but he just couldn't bring himself to, and instead lay awake, striving hard to pick up any hint of what was happening to First Aid. But the strange snatches of insight were absent, and all he knew was that First Aid wasn't where he was meant to be. So he went back to the war room, but he can't focus on that either. All the lists are done, and he isn't sure what step he's meant to take next. He wants to be out there, searching, not in here under security lock. With a sigh, he comes to the decision that he's been putting off for a long time now - he needs to tell Streetwise. He opens up a channel using the private comm frequency. //Streetwise?//
Streetwise blinks as his comm beeps in his ear. He ducks down behind the low wall, scooting towards a corner. There was shouting around. This was NOT a good time to call, but he too, sensed something amiss the past few days. He taps the comm. //Hot Spot? Is that you?// He was happy to hear the others' voice.
//It's me//, Hot Spot responds. //Do you have a moment?// Streetwise's evident pleasure to hear from him puts the ghost of a smile on his lips, but it soon fades. He sounds weary.
Streetwise glances over the wall, then settles down again. He paused, hearing the weariness. His own fuel pump skipped a push as he taps the comm //What's wrong?// He asked, frowning a little in puzzlement. He barely knew these mechs, and yet felt so much about them.
OK, time to say it, but Hot Spot pauses. Saying it to Prowl was one thing - they didn't /know/ then, not really. He suspected (and he's going to convince himself that was all it was, a suspicion), but he didn't know. He knows now, and admitting it to one of his team just brings it all home in such a horrible way. //Aid's missing,// he says.
Streetwise's' face falls. He slumps a little, a flicker of First Aid going through his head. He had a feeling... he could sense his brothers, and he could tell there was something off with Aid. He was moved. //... Do we know who did it?// He asks, his voice somewhat grave. His other hand tightened on his gun at his side.
//No,// Hot Spot says, and he has to admit that Streetwise's assumption that First Aid hadn't just gone off, he'd been abducted, had been his own feeling too. //I've been going through security logs since... since I found out. Prowl's confined me to base. Where are you?// Please don't let him be in a war zone, Hot Spot thinks, but Streetwise probably is.
//Cubicron. What happened?// Asks Streetwise, his voice rising a little. There was a rattle over the radio as he stood, starting to pace in agitation, not yet the calm, cool Protectobot he was meant to be, the nurtured violence of his upbringing having a bad affect on him //Do we know ANYthing?// His mind was already churning. Had he heard anything? He did not have the analytical power of Prowl. He looked around "Tiny!"
//I don't know,// Hot Spot says. //I've studied the logs. He could have gone off with any number of people. Iacon's locked down because of it. Crystal City too.// Hot Spot pauses to glance again at the data.
The door slides open near-silently, allowing Prowl's voice to carry into the room. "...given the circumstances. So long as you are accompanied by Hot Spot, you are allowed to remain in otherwise restricted areas. If you'll excuse me..."
Groove steps through the open doorway, nodding (presumably to Prowl) before the door shuts once more behind him. He catches sight of Hot Spot and waves, offering him a shaky smile.
//Yeah news reached us about that a few hours ago. We were wondering// Streetwise stops pacing, swallowing a little //Is Groove okay? What about Blades? Do they know?// he asks "TINY!" he shouts again, the radio picking it up. Gunfire could be heard a few blocks away
Hot Spot's out of his chair and enfolding Groove in a tight hug before Streetwise's words register. He steps back, suddenly a little embarrassed. "Sorry," he says aloud. Then he opens up the comm to Groove as well. //Streetwise, Groove's here, he's fine. Blades is safe too. Was... was that gunfire?//
Streetwise sighs, a little bit relieved at that. He still didn’t understand these feelings he felt, but relaxed a little. He looks up and over //Yeah. About six and a half blocks away in a north-northwest direction. Sounds like two tommies and some street level guns. Maybe a handmade one. I'm safe - I'm indoors, although the window is blown out, and well out of reach I promise. Groove! Hey man! So everyone else is there? What are the Autobots doing//
"It's alright." Groove says, not bothering to resist the urge to press closer to Hot Spot. //Hey, Streetwise. What's going on there? Why is there shooting?// The thought of one brother being missing and the other being in a war zone... He shudders minutely.
"Come sit down," Hot Spot says aloud and leads Groove over to the seats near the monitor he's been working on. He sits, and pokes at the controls, watching the data scroll. //You should come to Iacon,// Hot Spot says distractedly.
//The short version is that someone else wants OUR business in Cubicron, and of course we don’t want him to get it....// Streetwise's' voice fades a little near the end, as though his heart wasn’t in it anymore. Then he shook it off "Dammit Tiny, where are you..."" he taps his comm again //Hang on.// Then forgetting to turn his comm off, stalks out of the building "TINY! I been calling you! We gotta get to..." a pause "Near Iacon. The old observatory. Now."
In the background of Streetwise's comm, another mech is audible. "What the slag, kid, I'm busy keepin' watch over here. Go siddown and wait, yer dad'll be back soon and we can go on."
Groove follows after Hot Spot without any argument, listening to Streetwise worriedly. Sitting down next to his brother, he pulls his legs up, resting his chin on his knees and watching the console's screen without really seeming to see it. //Please, Streetwise?//
Hot Spot is too absorbed to do anything other than murmur at Streetwise and Groove. Then he freezes. "Prowl!" he snaps. "I've found something!" He patches the data through to Prowl's console, while bringing it up on his own screen for Groove to see. The vid plays out, showing a soundless clip of First Aid walking out of Iacon with Dually.
//... IF I walk right into Iacon, then NONE of us can help First Aid. They've locked you two up - and I ain’t aiming to be a prisoner for my own safety. I want to help our brother, and I can't do it sitting on my aft in that orange dome.// Remarks STreetwise, although his voice was softened. He wanted to be with them, but once bitten, twice shy. He drops the comm again, the 'transmit' button still going as he strode towards Tiny "You heard me! We are going to the Observatory, now! This is important!"
//"You're nuts, kid- you think I wanna get in trouble with your dad for letting you run off to those dumb Autobots again?" Tiny's voice is audible again, in the background.//
//"Would you rather you get in trouble for letting me go alone?// Challenges Streetwise. There's a click. He had just loaded a charge into his gun //"Because I'm going, with my sparksitter or not. I figure as Heir, I may as well start making some decisions around here you know." he steps right up to Tiny though, despite the height difference.
There's a pause before Prowl comms Hot Spot over a private line. //Thank you for your assistance, Hot Spot. I will put this information to use immediately.//
Groove makes a soft noise, watching the video with obvious distress. "He left with an Autobot? But... That should have been safe..." He almost misses Streetwise's response over the comm. //We don't even know where he is, Streetwise. We can't do anything anyway. Please come to Iacon?//
//"Kid, I'm sorry, but no, that's not how it works. Put the slagging blaster down, siddown, and shut up till the old man gets back." Tiny sounds irritated.//
"What, you don’t believe me? " Streetwise heard the bit about finding him, but he was occupied. "Because I will. So you have two choices - stay here and have Father come back and blow you away for letting me go, or go with me and tell him I bribed you and get the usual slap on the wrist. " he stared at Tiny, hard, his blue optics narrowed "Ten seconds to decide."
Hot Spot watches the vid again a few times. It's only a short clip, but it clearly shows First Aid and Dually walking out of Iacon. //He should have been,// he responds to Groove, but speaking audibly over the private comm. //Streetwise, Aid left Iacon with an Autobot. I think his name's Dually. I don't know if he's missing too.//
//'Slaggitall to the pit, kid," Tiny again. "Alright, what are we doing? Why the observatory?"//
//I'll go to the old observatory. That's real close to Iacon. We'll take it from there. I'll want to make sure I will be allowed to leave if I go to Iacon.// Notes Streetwise, looking quite smug at Tiny as he puts his blaster away. "Right! Let's go then, transform, we have no time to waste!"
Groove lets his legs drop off the chair, staring almost blankly at the screen as he listens to Streetwise and Tiny talk. He stays silent for a few moments, just thinking it over, before speaking up quietly. //...you don't want to stay with us?//
//You're coming to Iacon?// Hot Spot says, only just catching up. He can't help but be a little happy about that, even though happiness seems the last thing he should be feeling right now.
//Partways. it /is/ technically on lockdown, and I wont go in unless I have a promise I can leave whenever I choose.// Streetwise slowed though at Grooves' comment //It... its not like that Groove. I just don’t want to end up being held. After Ratchet attacked me and Prow's insistence... to be honest if Aid was somehow caught under Iacon's' protection it can't be as safe as Prowl thinks.// He notes, climbing into Tiny's' cargo area for the trip, rapping a knuckle as he was ready.
//There's a rumble as Tiny starts his engine, trundling off down the road towards the old observatory.//
That's a very good point about Iacon not being as safe as Prowl says, and it spreads a tingle of disquiet through Hot Spot's systems. He suppresses a shudder and glances at Groove. //I understand,// he says to Streetwise.
//Aid left.// Groove answers quietly, still looking at the console as if it holds some sort of answer. //He left Iacon and then went missing, not before. And I left Crystal City without permission, right through the front gates.// He looks and sounds a little guilty at that, but he felt justified at the time. //Iacon's only on temporary lockdown. It'll be over once they get Aid back. But if you don't want to come without being allowed to leave while it's still on lockdown, you don't want to stay with us to wait for him?//
Silent in the back of Tiny, Streetwise fidgeted. He wanted to pace. His anger was burning inside of him. The only other time he had felt this angry was when his father had kidnapped First Aid. He squirmed, scowling a little, then vents heavily //I don’t want to be a prisoner, Groove. I can wait for him near Iacon, and then when he's home... I'll come in, with the same condition/ He shook his head though, hunching his shoulders as he adds in a whisper //I'm sorry.//
//It makes sense,// Hot Spot says. //It's not ideal, but you're right, they probably won;t let you leave if you come in now.//
Groove hunches forward slightly, letting his gaze drop to the floor. He rubs absently at one thigh, not even noticing as he takes off some of the paint. //...alright.// He agrees finally, but isn't quite able to keep the hurt out of his voice. //It's your choice, Streetwise. Just... Please stay safe.//
//I always do Brother.// Promises Streetwise quietly //We'll be together again, I promise. //But you guys take care of each other too, right?//
Hot Spot notices Groove's agitation. He takes Groove's hand reassuringly, and also to stop him rubbing off any more paint. //We will,// Hot Spot says to Streetwise. //Call me if you pick up anything... You know.// He feels odd saying it, but the intuition has started to become more than just a weird quirk.
//Already have been. I knew something was wrong. I felt drawn a different direction than Iacon or Crystal City.// Remarks Streetwise //But that's it. Can you contact Prowl, and tell him I want to talk to him?//
//Shall do,// Hot Spot says. He speaks aloud - the comm line to Prowl is still open as it has been all along, so he should hear. "Prowl, sir," he says, "Streetwise would like to talk to you."
Groove wraps his fingers around Hot Spot's hand, squeezing hard enough to be just this side of painful. //He's not okay.// He murmurs over the comm line, //I don't know where he is, but I know he's not okay.//
There's another momentary pause before Prowl speaks over the comm. "Very well." He rattles off a comm identification number quickly. "That is a highly secured, direct line to myself. I will make every attempt to respond promptly."
Hot Spot transmits the number to Streetwise.
//right. Hang on Spot Groove. I'll be talking to Prowl. Feel free to back me up though// notes Streetwise, flicking across frequencies. //Autobot Prowl, this is Neutral Streetwise. Am I coming in?//
//Transmission received, Streetwise. Proceed.// Prowl responds, before flicking over to the channel opened to Hot Spot. "Hot Spot, go refuel. Red Alert and myself are processing the data you compiled at the moment, and you will be alerted as soon as we have anything."
Streetwise inhaled carefully //Hot Spot told me what happened to First Aid. I want in, to help. But if I can't be of any use, I don’t want to be made to stay in Iacon. I'm still my own mech, and I have protection. But this is my brother and I'd do almost anything to make sure he's okay.//
Hot Spot nods. "I'll be in the refectory," he says to Groove. After last time, he knows better than to argue with Prowl over things like this. //Be safe, Streetwise,// he says softly over the private comm, then heads off to do as Prowl said.
Prowl stays silent for a few moments before speaking. //Iacon is in lockdown until First Aid has been found and brought back. You are welcome to come to the city and assist, but you will be held to the same standard as any other mech on the base.//
//By that, do you mean by behavior and following the rules, or stay in there until lockdown is released?// asks Streetwise to clarify "//The first I can do. The last... depends how long the lockdown lasts. Eventually I gotta return to Cubicron.//
//Both. You will be expected to request permission to leave before the lockdown is lifted, just as any other resident or visitor in Iacon.// Prowl responds. //If you are not willing to do so, I cannot allow you in the city.//
Streetwise shifts a little bit at that, but then adds //"That sounds reasonable, so long as I am not refused permission to leave for any reason that you would refuse anyone else, and not just because of who I am.//"
There's a pause on Prowl's end. //I am not unreasonable, Streetwise. You will be treated the same as any other neutral who enters Iacon in such matters.//
//"Fair enough. My apologies for making sure, but past... experiences has made me wary./" notes Streetwise. He bangs on the floor "Hey Tiny! We're going to Iacon instead!" After a grumbled protest from his ride he continues //We'll be there shortly, myself and one partner, who'll stick with me. You've seen him before.//
//Very well. I will alert the guards that you are to be allowed into the city. Contact me once more when you have arrived. If there is nothing else?//
//... No, not really.// Admits Streetwise, sounding like he DID have more to say, but kept it to himself. he keyed over to Groove again //I'm coming to Iacon//
Groove starts a little in surprise, having mostly immersed himself in his thoughts. //...I thought you didn't want to?// He comms back hesitantly.
//I worked out a deal with Prowl. I wont be held by the lockdown any more than anyone else inside Iacon.//Notes Streetwise, sounding quite happier now
Then back to Prowl //We'll be there in an hour or so. I'll message ahead. Thanks.//
Groove's tempted to ask just what that entails, but shoves it away, focusing on the fact he'll have three of his brothers with him at least. //...I'm glad you're coming.//
//Acknowledged.// Prowl responds, //Goodbye, Streetwise.// With a quiet click, the comm line disconnects.
//So am I. // Streetwise pauses. //I... missed you guys. It kind of surprised me. Talk more there?//
//Okay.// Groove agrees quietly, swinging his legs a little as he stares at the floor. //We missed you too. See you when you get here, brother.//