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September 5, 2011

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Megatron Soundwave Vortex

(Polyhex Intelligence Compound)

It's been a while since Vortex was last in Soundwave's domain. Despite the low hum of machinery and the sigh of cool air through the long corridors, it's deathly silent compared with Cubicron. Creepy too, in a way that Vortex can appreciate. The kind of place he'd bring a subject, just to warm them up a little, get them nice and intimidated before the main event.

He stops before the door to Soundwave's inner sanctum and gives the security camera a blank glare. He only presses the buzzer to request access out of respect for Soundwave - or at least for his size, knowledge and firepower - because there's no way he hasn't already been noticed.

The door slides open just as Vortex's fingers brush the buzzer. Soundwave is nothing if not efficient, and having his subordinates cool their thrusters (metaphorical or otherwise) outside the door is a waste of everyone's time.

Soundwave is in his usual space in front of the monitors, but turns to nod silently in greeting at Vortex, waiting for him to enter the intelligence center. Vortex takes his cue and enters. He tries not to look too blatantly at the screens, not just because it wouldn't be politic, but because he doesn't want to be distracted. "Reporting, sir," he says.

"Details uncovered?" Soundwave asks succinctly. "Additional information acquired through other means as well."

"The neutrals are all shook up," Vortex says. "There was an incident between Vespa and Fiasco, two of Cubicron's crime bosses. Questionable relevance to us, unless we want to get involved. The rest you should already know from Hookshot..." He shrugs, giving a little pause for emphasis, just in case Soundwave hasn't heard this from Hookshot. "That fragile-looking mech you showed me, First Aid, I think he's the assistant of Ratchet's we've been looking for." He waits to gauge Soundwave's response before continuing.

Soundwave's nod is non-commital. "Additional information acquired suggests no long-term project under that mech's direct supervision, but security flags are suspicious for stated rank and time served with Autobots."

"He worked for Lifeline," Vortex says. "A while back. She tell you that? I hear he turned up outta nowhere, no-one knew who he was or where he was from. He worked for her a while, then left to join the Autobots around three months ago. Hasn't been to Cubicron since Lifeline's fight with Ratchet though. What's his rank?"

"Minimal," Soundwave sends a ping and offers a databurst of a file- a partial version of an Autobot personnel file for the mech in question. "Civilian, currently serving apprenticeship to Ratchet. Status amended to full intern approximately two cycles ago."

Vortex gives this some thought. "Ratchet doesn't just take on anybody," he says. "Something made him take a chance on an inexperienced newcomer."

Soundwave slowly shakes his head, agreeing. "Behavior, inconsistant with previous patterns. Data on previous apprentices incomplete, but suggests Ratchet has minimal involvement with training in initial stages for medics." He pauses, turning slightly to glance at the wall screens to his right. "Additional thoughts related to 'ger/ges' nomenclature disclosed by previous Autobot interrogated?"

Megatron enters from Security and Intel Complexes.

Vortex automatically looks to see what Soundwave is looking at. "Whatever it is," he replies, "they got it locked down hard. I still think the slip of the glossa - the 'ges' thing - is the thing we gotta look at, but it's not general knowledge in Cubicron."

Soundwave picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20. Soundwave rolls a 16!

Megatron strides into the Intelligence Compound with a vaguely irritated look on his faceplates. He would have arrived sooner, but, as usual, Starscream was making trouble and needed a talking-to first. He turns to the two intelligence officers. "You have new information for me?"

Vortex is a little surprised, although he just about manages to hide it. He gives a brief salute, only slouching a little, and waits for Soundwave to speak first. Soundwave bows, deferential as always to the emperor, and then... hesitates. Visibly.

"Results of previous investigation strongly suggest a conclusion, however.... likelihood of conclusion being correct is... incalculable." The conclusion, whatever it is, has put Soundwave right off his customary speech pattern. "I believe the Autobots are attempting to revive gestalt technology."

Megatron's optics widen visibly. "Gestalt technology? But it has been lost for vorns." Then his optics narrow, his attention fixed on Soundwave. It's not like him to hesitate like this. Megatron isn't certain what that means, but he is certain it means something. "Still, if they did have a way to restore such technology, it would give them a clear advantage. What leads you to this conclusion?"

This time, Vortex can't hide his surprise, but he makes a valiant effort at hiding his professional jealousy; scrap, Soundwave's good. "It fits," he says, jealousy giving way instantly to curiosity. "The talk of odd cogs and three forms, the 'ges_' project, it being led by medics rather than the weapons specialists." He looks up at Megatron. "One of the Autobots talked," he says. "Revealed something he shouldn't have, and then tried to cover it up."

"Primarily, lack of other options. Gerwalks, almost certainly nonsense. Ges-, uncommon phoneme leading word. In combination with gerwalk story and description of new frame type? Gestalt almost certainly word interrogation subject previously meant to conceal." Soundwave explains in more detail. "Working hypothesis: Ratchet's assistant: actually prototype."

Megatron's frown deepens. Then he nods. "Yes, that reasoning does make sense. Especially if medics are involved. But if this assistant of Ratchet's is a prototype, as you suspect... that means there must be others, as well."

"Others likely to be similar form, function," Soundwave says. "Additional research, required."

Vortex grins nastily under his mask. "My kind of research?" he asks, with the implied hint that he'd very much like to take this one apart, all for the glory of the Decepticon empire, obviously and not at all for personal satisfaction. "Exactly how tightly have they kept the little medic locked up?"

Megatron nods to Vortex, a smirk spreading over his silver faceplates. "Then that research must be done, Vortex, and as quickly and thoroughly as possible. We must determine who those others are. And we must, at all costs, keep them separated. If the Autobots have this technology and can use it against us before we can rediscover it for ourselves..."

Soundwave nods. "Additional information: can be acquired directly from subject." He pauses for a long moment, turning to the video screens and focusing primarily on the sources around Iacon- there are no permanent video feeds from within the military areas of Iacon itself. "Subject appears to leave the city only rarely in recent orns- and only when accompanied."

Vortex can't stop grinning; this, he thinks, is going to be a lot of fun. It occurs to him that if the Autobots really are developing gestalt technology, that might not be a good thing. But he has perfect faith in their ability to sabotage the Autobots' schemes as soon as the subject can be taken captive. "Thankyou, Lord Megatron," he says, pleased to have remained in favour long enough to be granted this opportunity (and pleased enough to give Megatron his title rather than just 'sir'). He turns to the monitors. "Do we know who goes with him?" he asks Soundwave.

Still giving Vortex a small grin, he nods. "So far, you have demonstrated skill and aptitude for interrogation. And you certainly seem to enjoy your work." His optics flare brightly. "But remember this, Vortex. *This matter is not a game.* If you fail, that failure will be a heavy strategic blow to the Empire. And I assure you that I remember failures, just as I remember successes."

"Most recent data indicates variable individuals acting as escorts. Known Autobots: Elita One, Prowl. Unknown truckform mech. Hammerstrike. Other medics- usually Ratchet." Soundwave says. Clips compiled from previous data are added onto the screen. The two non-officers are both large mechs. "Ruse likely required."

The implied threat sends a little shiver through Vortex's energon lines. Displeasing Megatron really isn't in his best interests, and the pressure to succeed along with Megatron's earlier statement about this needing to be done quickly adds a nervous edge to his anticipation. The best results, he knows, can take time. Lots of time. Still, there are techniques which don't take so long. "Understood," he says. "I won't let you down." He gives the mechs on screen some consideration, suddenly very curious about how much the Autobots know about him. "The medic will have known people in Cubicron," he says, "when he worked for Lifeline. Perhaps they can be useful."

Megatron mulls this over. "Perhaps they can. And if a ruse is needed... contact Makeshift. As expensive as he is, his ability to mimic other Cybertronians gives him a good chance of getting past whatever escorts surround First Aid." He grins. "And may very well be able to trick First Aid himself, allowing us to easily take him into our custody."

Soundwave nods. "We obey, Lord Megatron." He tilts his visor minutely, studying the screens, still displaying the videos of various mechs coming and going from Iacon. "Chances of capture unobserved and initially undiscovered by Autobots: significantly higher if subject captured away from Iacon."

Vortex nods and continues to watch the screens. "I take it Lifeline won't be informed," he says. "Just in case she has any residual fondness for him."

Megatron nods to Vortex. "I agree. She passed the test I gave her to prove her loyalty, but her distaste was clear, and she lost her temper with Starscream's prodding. None of that is unusual, no --" he makes a face, thinking about Starscream's taunts himself -- "but it does give us reason to be wary of her response to what we plan to do to her old friend."

"Technical analysis of systems- if subject is indeed a gestalt- need not involve Lifeline. Other medics, scientists, intelligence team, more than sufficient to document systems and modifications." Soundwave says.

Vortex is pleased by the responses. No irritating interruptions, and although he'll have to share the fun with others, no-one will be getting in his way. "How long before we can take him?" he asks, thinking of the things he'll need to do to prepare.

"A matter of days, I suspect," Megatron answers. "Makeshift is usually eager for what assignments he can get, especially from the Decepticons."

Soundwave nods his agreement. "Message relayed to Makeshift requesting specialty assistance for an operation." He says, efficient as ever. "Time for response, unable to estimate."

"Permission to requisition supplies as necessary?" Vortex asks.

Megatron nods. "Granted."

Soundwave looks at the monitors, apparently considering something. "Best chance of success requires subject off duty. Permission to delay non-routine operations with high likelihood of Autobot casualties?" His voice is toneless, as always, as if asking to avoid damaging or destroying Autobots is a usual occurrence.

Vortex bows his head to Megatron, and keeps quiet as he can't think of anything more that he needs to say. As for Soundwave's suggestion, it makes sense. He goes back to watching the Iacon monitors while they wait for Megatron's response.

Megatron frowns, not liking the idea of being kinder to his enemies. Still, strategy requires sacrifices on occasion. And it is imperative that the Decepticons do what they can to break up the gestalt and develop their own technology as quickly as possible. "Granted."

Soundwave bows to Megatron. "Soundwave: grateful. Additional questions or assistance we may provide?" He asks.

Vortex gives Megatron an expectant look and waits.

Megatron shakes his head. "No, not unless you have more to tell me. If not, you are dismissed. You have both done excellent work to obtain this information and deduce what it portends. I trust that you both will continue to serve the Empire well."

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