August 18th, 2011
First Aid is sitting at a table in the corner of the refectory. There's a mostly empty cube sitting on the table next to him, and a stack of datapads in front of him, including one propped up on another empty cube in front of him. He's humming and looks happily absorbed in whatever he's studying.
Hot Spot bounds in, still buzzing from his latest round of combat training. Then he spots First Aid and bounces on over, taking the seat opposite. "Hi, Aid!"
First Aid looks up as Hot Spot sits down across from him, and smiles broadly, moving the cube-cum-datapad-holder out of the way so he's not taking up the entire table. "Hi Hot Spot- how's training going?"
"Great!" Hot Spot grins. He gives the energon a glance, pulls an 'I knew I forgot something' face, and gets up again. "Back in an astrosec," he says, and rushes off to the energon dispenser.
First Aid just smiles and continues stacking his datapads into a smaller pile. He finishes off his own cube and leans back, stretching, while waiting for Hot Spot to return.
Hot Spot doesn't take long. He throws back almost all of the energon before he's even sat down. "How's Ratchet doing?"
"Pretty well," First Aid says. "He went down to Cubricon on some call out earlier this orn. And last shift, eh said my exams would be tomorrow, so I'm studying up." First Aid indicates the datapads in front of him. "It's just review, but I still want to make sure I do okay."
"I'm sure you will," Hot Spot says with perfect confidence. "You work so hard, it'll pay off." He drains the rest of his cube and sighs, a little drowsy all of a sudden as the buzz starts to wear off and his systems divert a certain amount of power to processing the energon. "You've heard from Ratchet since he got to Cubicron, right?"
First Aid says, "Yup, on both my shifts since then. I think it must have been pretty bad- Ratchet was a little quiet. I thought it was because Streetwise's dad was involved, Streetwise commed and told me not to worry, they were all fine, but nothing else." First Aid tilts his head. "Why?"
"Um..." Hot Spot lowers his voice, not really wanting to broadcast this across the refectory. "I heard Ratchet had a constructive exchange of differing opinions with Lifeline."
"He what?" First Aid looks confused. "They.. argued? Well, it's Ratchet, he argues with everyone." He shrugs. "I'm sure everything's fine."
Hot Spot frowns. "Have you spoken with Lifeline since?" he asks.
First Aid shakes his head. "No, do you think I need to? I mean, I think Ratchet would have told me if anything was going on, and Lifeline's not exactly all that easy to get along with, either. I know he worries when she's treating people he doesn't trust, like Vespa."
"Perhaps," Hot Spot says. "Are you still working for Lifeline?"
First Aid shakes his head slowly. "No- I resigned, at least for now. I hope she can find someone else, I know she needs the help down there even if she says she doesn't. But it's not fair for her to wait just because I'm stuck here again."
As far as Hot Spot's concerned, that sums it up. If First Aid resigned, then the rumour about him having been fired can't be true. "I hope it means you're getting more recharge," he says.
First Aid smiles and his visor flickers as he rolls his optics behind it. "Yes, Mentor, every day like a good sparkling. Anyway-" he changes the subject. "How's your training going? Do you know what you'll be doing once you're done yet?"
Hot Spot shakes his head, amused. "It's going well," he says. "My aim's improving, even if my maneuverability leaves something to be desired." He smiles. "They said something about frontline work, but there've been things said about providing cover for you and Ratchet. Honestly, I don't know what they think. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and being useful."
First Aid smiles. "That's great about your aim. What do you want to do, when you're done training? I'm hoping that with my certifications I'll actually be able to do more in the field. At least I'll be better qualified for helping with triage."
"I don't know," Hot Spot replies. "Whatever they need me for, I suppose. I'd like to be somewhere near the front though." Something occurs to him. "Have you seen our mystery mech lately?" he asks, meaning Alpha.
First Aid shakes his head. "No, I haven't. I did tell Prowl about him, though- they wanted to know who else might know about us and everyone I've ever told anything to about you guys." First Aid looks a little bit guilty. "I'm sorry about that, by the way. I never meant to get anyone in trouble."
"Hey!" Hot Spot says, leaning over the table and giving First Aid a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "It's OK, really! As long as Prowl knows, we can keep tabs on everything. And talking of people you talk to, have you heard from your friend Mouse lately?"
First Aid shakes his head. "No, I haven't. I'm a little sorry I didn't get to apologize the last time I was in Crystal City- he seems like a very nice person and I didn't mean to upset him, but I don't really know him so well that I'd comm him. Maybe Groove can make an apology for me."
Hot Spot nods. "I'm sure he can," he says. "I'd like to know he's all right as well. Although I can't see anything bad happening to him back h- in Crystal City." He manages to stop himself before saying 'back home'. He's not sure why it almost slipped out, possibly because it's all tied up with his new connection with Groove.
First Aid nods. "They keep saying Crystal City's really safe, though." First Aid offers a return comforting pat to Hot Spot's arm. He's still a moment. ".. Have you had any thing else happen with the... stuff. Moments of insight that you mentioned?"
"Not really," Hot Spot says. "I mean sometimes, but not at any predictable times. And I can't make it happen, it just... it just happens."
First Aid hums. "Interesting. Is it happening more? Anything new," He pauses. "Streetwise said it was happening to him- the same stuff as all the rest of us, some times, but not any one thing consistently. I'm wondering if we might all develop it. Whatever /it/ is."
Hot Spot nods again. "It could be a side effect of our programming, or..." He lowers his voice further. "It could be something our creators designed in. Do you think they might have?"
First Aid says, "I've been reading everything I found on combiner teams. I found this one bookfile- it's fiction, but well... I don't know. I wish we could /find/ them. There are so many questions I want to ask."
"May I see?" Hot Spot asks.
First Aid says, "Of course!" He rifles through the stack of datapads- there are eight or ten of them, several of them non-standard sizes that look to have been borrowed from somewhere- and comes up with his own battered personal pad from the bottom of the stack. "It's ... pretty good, if kind of silly. It's about a combiner team in the Quintesson war and their brave leader, Adroita."
Hot Spot takes the datapad and gives it a quick scan. Then a longer look. "Um..." He looks some more. "This is fiction, surely," he says. "And... That name's familiar. You don't think our Adroita was named after this one, do you?" He waves the datapad in emphasis.
"Our Adroita?" First Aid looks blank for a minute, the designation taking a moment to register. "/oh!/ I forgot- that was one of the names Alpha gave us, wasn't it!" He looks excited. "Maybe you could ask Greenlight? It says it's a historical novel, maybe it's based on something."
Hot Spot makes 'keep your voice down' gestures. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea," he says. "We don't want to go making people wonder why we're suddenly so interested in... you know." Discordia appears in a puff of smoke.
First Aid ducks his head. "Sorry- maybe I shouldn't have been looking through the library files, but I didn't tell anyone why or anything. But would it really be weird to ask Greenlight about the people in your memories?"
"Not weird," Hot Spot replies. "Just dangerous. I don't think she's keen on answering any more questions." He gives the datapad another look. "Does this say anything about what a... y'know, team, is meant to be like?"
First Aid sighs. "Yeah, you're probably right. Oh well. Maybe we can ask her later." He reshuffles his other datapads. "It... it says a lot of things. It's fiction, though. They can all talk to each other. Telepathically and stuff. I think it's pretty silly. It doesn't say anything about flashes of insight, or knowing if the others are okay- or where they are, either."
Hot Spot leans close and whispers, "What does it say about combining?"
First Aid replies, voice low. "I bookmarked it. Although really... it's kind of.... torrid. Don't let Blades see it." First Aid reaches over to steal his datapad back momentarily, punching it up to a bookmarked passage.
//"Intellibots, transform and combine!" Adroita's voice rang out over the chaos of the battlefield. The towering Quintesson warrior that had been threatening her staggered backwards with a shriek of fear visible on all his foul faces. "No! This is impossible!" The Quintesson says. "The last combiner team was disabled! Scrapped! SMELTED!" "Nothing is impossible, Quintesson!" Adroita snapped as her teammates rolled across the field to her, Illumina descending from above in her glider form with the sun glittering off her gold and crimson plating. The twins, Elucida and Eloquentia arose from the field, transforming and attaching themselves as Adroita herself transformed, becoming Intellector's shapely left and right arms. Only a step behind, Lux's engines roared as she caught up to her teammates, transforming to attach herself in the right leg position. Subsumed into the mind of Intellector, Adroita gave the command. "ATTACK!" //
"Wow," Hot Spot says. "That's descriptive. Not very technical though." He's a little disappointed about that, but the idea of calling 'Protectobots, transform and combine!' before leading the attack against the Decepticon army is very appealing. "Have you found any mention of mechs unable to access their alt modes?"
"Well, at the beginning of the novel, Adroita and Elucida argue all the time about who will be the team commander, but their commanding officer falls in love with Adroita and makes it her- I said this was very silly, right- and then they get combiner systems installed. I don't think whoever wrote it knew much about combiners. Or the combiners of the past were /really/ different. They all hae the same alt modes after they become a team as before, but we were built as a team, so I think it's different for us. or it's something related to the memory partitions," First Aid says.
Hot Spot has another look around to make sure no-one's listening. "Could be," he says. "Did you read about any teams that were purpose built?"
First Aid shakes his head. "Only in the historical stuff, and most of those are just records of the things they /did/, not what it was like to be them. I was hoping there would be an autobiography, or something, but if it exists, it's not in the library here. It was a long time ago, but still... There should be /something/. I wonder- Perceptor said that after the last Quintesson War, the surviving combiner teams disbanded- I want to know why, and what happened to them all."
He pauses. "It's not important, I guess, as much as figuring out what works for US. Alpha said something about knowing when it's time, or something, when it came to unlocking modes- the second time I saw him. I wonder if we just have to, I don't know, want it badly enough. Or you have to do something? I mean, you're the torso, so that means you're our commander."
Hot Spot freezes. First Aid isn't meant to know that. No-one is. Alpha said so. "Um... You haven't said anything about that to anyone, have you?" he asks.
First Aid shakes his head again. "Is this another thing I'm not supposed to have talked to anyone about? No, I haven't. I mean... it's Alpha." He half-smiles. "I didn't want anyone to think I was crazy, and at the time, I didn't have anyone to talk to."
"I, um, I think it'd be best if we kept it to ourselves?" Hot Spot says, but it doesn't come out certain at all.
First Aid tilts his head. "Well, yes, all this is supposed to be secret, but I thought we could talk about it with each other?" First Aid is trying to figure out what's upsetting Hot Spot.
"Perhaps not all of it," Hot Spot says. "I don't know. I mean, we don't know for sure that being the body makes me commander." The lie tastes like slag, but he doesn't feel that he has an option. Alpha warned him about it, and he doesn't want First Aid getting in trouble for something that he's not meant to know. Not yet, anyway. And there's always the chance that Alpha is wrong.
First Aid shrugs. "I suppose. We don't know you /aren't/, though. It's definitely not me or Groove," He laughs. "And I can't really imagine it being Streetwise or Blades, either. And I haven't come across a mention of a team where the commander wasn't the torso- or the central torso- one of the teams had more members."
Hot Spot just smiles in a shy way and shrugs. He doesn't know what to say to that. "Maybe," he says eventually. "I think we should wait and see how we all work together before making any claims though."
Hot Spots' comm chirps.
First Aid pats Hot Spot on the hand. "You'd be good at it. You already watch out for us."
Hot Spot gives First Aid a smile, then activates his communications hardware. "Sorry," he says. "I should take this."
It was a familiar voice. Streetwise. He sounded a bit weary "Hey Hot Spot. It's Streetwise. Obviously. "
First Aid nods and waves a hand- no problem, of course you have to take comms when they come in.
"It's Streetwise!" Hot Spot says to First Aid, gaining a good deal of his bounce back. He's so pleased to hear from his team mate that he doesn't at first notice the weary tone of his voice. "Hey Streetwise, maybe we can open a channel to First Aid as well? He's here too."
---comm--- "Can you hear this?" Hot Spot asks.
"Clear, but not TOO loud." remarks Streetwise, sounds audible in the background. "Can you hear me, First Aid?"
"Yes, I can hear you," First Aid says. "Are you okay? You didn't say what happened in that message the other day. I know Ratchet was down there to help, but he didn't tell me what happened."
"Are you all right?" Hot Spot asks, it having belatedly occurred to him that Streetwise sounded a little tired.
"Oh yeah I'm fine. Recharging now. " Streetwise pauses. "Well, Don Fiasco's decided he's tired of the Vespa family being around and is trying to drive us out. Bombed our card game."
"Bombed?!" First Aid sounds alarmed. "No wonder Lifeline needed extra help! Is everyone okay?"
"He what?" Hot Spot cries. "Why! That's... Scrap." All his drowsiness falls away and in an instant he's ready to go give Fiasco a piece of his mind. Possibly with his fist attached.
"I don't know about everyone else... one of our guys is gone though." Admits Streetwise. "You wouldn't have known him. He was right near the blast. They put a bomb on the door."
"I'm so sorry, Streetwise- you knew him, even if we didn't. Thank Primus you're okay!" First Aid says.
"Yeah. Bandage isn't as much of a quack as Lifeline seems to think. But what was with Ratchet and her?"
"That's awful," Hot Spot says about the dead mech, and means it, even though he knows that the mech was almost certainly some type of criminal. "You've heard about Ratchet too, then," he says.
"What are you talking about?" First Aid asks curiously. "I mean, Ratchet argues with everyone."
"Errrm... that wasn't an argument. That was a full-out row." remarks Streetwise. "We're talking wrenches being slung and insults to everyone and their turbopuppy. You didn’t hear about it? It's the talk on the street!"
"I heard they had a disagreement," Hot Spot says. "I heard nothing about things being thrown. What was it about?"
First Aid says, "But... Ratchet didn't say anything about it. And you know he has a temper. What were they arguing about, anyway? They usually agree on treatments."
"Errrm... well it started out as why First Aid wasn’t down there to help, then it escalated to full out... well, the Bots DON'T require people to join just to get help, right? " asks Streetwise, anxiously.
"Of course not!" Hot Spot cries. Just the thought of it was horrible.
"What? Of course- never! Why would anyone say that?" First Aid adds vehemently.
"Well that's what Lifeline believes. If I get time later I'll send you the full clip. They were arguing right in front of Father. Needless to say HE was amused. " remarks Streetwise. "Not sure how much time I'll have though. We're warming up for some business of our own."
"What kind of business?" Hot Spot asks. "Are you going to be safe?"
"But... why would she say that? She never said anything like that when I told her I wanted to join up," First Aid is still stuck on the argument, but Hot Spot's question jars him out of it. "Streetwise, be careful!"
"... Interfamily mob business. I'll be careful, don't worry!" reassures Streetwise. "I'll mostly be helping coordinating things. When we're attacked, we don’t just sit back and take it you know. " A pause. "I don't know about SAFE, there's no real safe place on the planet. But I'll be CAREFUL."
"You'd be better off here," Hot Spot says quietly.
"I know you won't leave them, but... please think about coming here, Streetwise?" First Aid says.
"No I wouldn’t." Replies Streetwise, sounding rather annoyed. "I don’t know how often they're feeding that line to you two, but Iacon is NOT as safe as they say."
"It has to be safer than Cubicron," Hot Spot reasons. "And what do you mean 'that line'?"
"Well, even if that is true- which I don't think it is, please don't tell Prowl, that, or I'm likely to end up confined to quarters or something." First Aid makes a deliberate attempt to turn the conversation down a lighter path.
"'It's dangerous out there, you'll be safe in Iacon'." explains Streetwise. "I hear it ALL the time, but it isn't true. And I also wont cower in someone else's base while my family... my OTHER family ... is out there in danger. Iacon is powerful, but it can't guarantee safety. Heck, the Decepticons target it a lot more than they ever have Cubicron." A pause. "I wont tell anyone First Aid, heh.
"They don't target Cubicron itself, but there's more than a few of them down there. Blades was attacked by one, remember? And Swivel." First Aid replies. "And they can get to you far more directly than they can get to us in here."
"I agree," Hot Spot says. "I understand your devotion to your family, but it could be putting you in even greater danger. It's not just the Decepticons who're after you now, it could be this Fiasco criminal and all the mechs who work for him!" He's aware that he sounds a little bit judgmental, but he's currently past caring.
"Not so true, First Aid. Father’s lair is probably just as secure as any Autobot base." notes Streetwise. He then sighed "So the Decepticons are after me? Why? I know Don Fiasco is, but he will find getting to me isn't as easy as he thinks!" he asked, sounding irritated.
"We don't know they're after you," First Aid says. "We're just afraid they are. Swivel's diary had everyone's names in it."
Streetwise is quiet, and sighs. "I know you're worried about me. I mean, I really am, but I'll be careful. It's not as bad down here as you think. I'm always careful, and avoid Decepticons anyways - even Father hates dealing with them. Just... have a little faith in me, okay? Our guys are good and will look after me."
Hot Spot sighs. "All right," he says. "I trust you, I do. I just worry."
"I know you do. It's what family does."
First Aid /doesn't/ sigh. "I have faith in you, Streetwise. It's the Decepticons I'm worried about."
"Then don't have faith in them. They're tough, but they also won't mess with us too badly - otherwise they would have already." chuckles Streetwise. "I'll keep in touch though, right? I do want to get together again with everyone."
"I'm glad," Hot Spot says. "And please, don't believe all that anti-Autobot propaganda."
"That wasn't quit what I meant," Aid says. "But yes, whenever you can get away, we'd love to see you." First Aid adds.
"I didn't think it was true, but I guess hearing it reassured myself." remarks Streetwise, chuckling softly. "I mean, I have visited Iacon, and I never saw any evidence of forced recruiting. I even yelled at Lifeline and Ratchet about it. They ignored me though."
First Aid shakes his head, even though Streetwise can't see it. "I don't know what was going on with them, really. I guess I'll ask Ratchet. Or Lifeline."
"Yeah. Anyways, better get going. I'll take care. Time to get armored up - We really need to figure out how to reformat to our altmodes it would make this REALLY much easier." he remarks. "See you two later?"
"Hope so, be safe, and take care." First Aid says, forcing cheer into his voice.
"Keep safe," Hot Spot says, although he really doesn't like the 'off to war' tone of Streetwise's comment. It doesn't strike him that this is a little hypocritical though.
First Aid sighs as the comm link closes. "I hope he /is/ careful and isn't just telling us that."
"Me too," Hot Spot says. "All right, I need to hit the washracks, and then I've got some studying to do. Strategy and tactics, should be interesting." He stands, giving First Aid a fond smile.
First Aid smiles back. "You're welcome to study out here, if you want. I have to get through the rest of this review too. Core damage stabilization techniques and anatomy for frame sub-classes."
Hot Spot 's smile widens. "Sounds good," he says. "I'll be back in a couple of breems."