28 July 2011
"Thank you for letting me tag along," First Aid says, walking alongside the taller light blue mech, falling silent as they pass through the customs gate with even less fuss than usual- First Aid is hardly a regular visitor but he's been to Crystal City often enough to pick up parts when working for Lifeline that the gate guards recognize him vaguely, and of course Hot Spot is a resident of the city itself. "I've been here a few times, but never with anyone that lived in the city. Where can we find this Greenlight of yours? She's your supervisor and your mentor, right?"
"I'm glad to have your company," Hot Spot replies. He's pleased to be back in Crystal City, although the feeling has a bittersweet tang. He doesn't plan on being here for long. Beautiful as it is, it doesn't feel like home any more.
He nods in answer to First Aid's question. "She's my superior. There's a park up ahead, she said she'd come meet us there."
With a quiet zip, Mouse appears from one of the many hidden routes he's come to know throughout the city. He appears behind First Aid and Hot Spot, naturally, and is surprised to see his new friend once again. Mouse transforms to Robot mode and gives First Aid's arm a gentle tug. "Hi First Aid!" Mouse exclaims in a cheerful manner, expecting a friendly greeting. "Who's your friend?"
The small RC Car transforms into the unbelievably cute-as a button Mouse, as the headlights fold neatly behind his head and give him his trademark appearance.
First Aid looks down, mildly startled, but well... Mouse just /does/ that sort of thing. "Hello Mouse." He smiles. "This is my brother, Hot Spot. He lives here in Crystal City, actually." There's a tiny, almost imperceptible pause before the word brother. "Hot Spot, this is Mouse."
"Hi there," Hot Spot says. He can't help but smile; Mouse is rather adorable. "Pleased to meet you."
"Ohhhhh, neat!" Mouse stretches out his oh and smiles broadly. He scoots in front of Hot Spot to get a better view, looking up at him. Mouse beams his cheesy two-toothed grin up at Hot Spot happily, "I'm surprised I haven't seen you around the city, I go all over the place." Mouse states factually, addressing Hot Spot.
"I'm sure you do," Hot Spot says kindly. "I work... worked for Greenlight, in disaster response. I'm sure a good bot like yourself keeps out of trouble."
First Aid smiles at Mouse. "I'm sure he does. How's the shield you were building going, Mouse?"
Hot Spot smiles politely and waits for Mouse's answer without speaking. He does, however, try to keep them walking, as he doesn't want to be late for Greenlight.
Mouse nods his head up-and-down enthusiastically. "Uh-huh. Murusa helps too. So do you work for disaster response too? Or do you help Murusa and Protofire sometimes?" Mouse asks, wondering if Hot Spot is another one of Crystal City's guards. *BARK BARK* Mouse's bumble puppy barks happily at his side, "Looks like Woofles wants to say hi too." Mouse smiles and pets him on top of the head. Mouse looks over to First Aid, "Oh! It's almost done thanks to your help with that transformation cog." Mouse smiles happily, "I also wrote a generic programming interface for it that's working quite well for me!" Mouse looks so proud of himself right now. "Murusa's gonna be so surprised!" He looks all excited to almost be finished with his project at hand.
Mouse drops Bumble puppy.
First Aid says, "Did you end up having to ask Murusa for help?" First Aid keeps walking too, although he slows down enough for the much smaller Mouse and his puppy to keep up if he wishes...
Hot Spot is a little worried about mention of the transformation cog, just in case its First Aid's own inability to assume his alt mode that they're talking about - as far as he's concerned, with the danger they appear to be in, the fewer people who know about that the better. He isn't sure though, and he doesn't want to accidentally reveal any information, so he doesn't say anything. Instead, he leans down to pat the puppy on the head, and tries to encourage it to jump up into his arms.
Mouse shakes his head and smiles, "Nope!" He walks along with First aid as he chats, "So where are you two going? Is it gonna be somewhere fun? What will you be doing there?" Mouse assails the pair with a dozen and a half questions, happily chit-chatting away with First Aid and his new friend Hot Shot. Mouse smiles as he goes over to where Woofles sits, and places his hand out in front of Woofle's nose, right in between Hot Spot's arms. "Up!" Mouse exclaims, and Woofles leaps up towards Mouse's hand, right where Hot Spot wanted. "Now say hi!" Mouse smiles as Woofles runs his metal tongue along Hot Spot's face, tail wagging happily with all the attention.
First Aid glances at Hot Spot- it's his trip, after all- but replies. "Hot Spot needs to talk to his supervisor, Greenlight, and I tagged along. It's nice to get out of Iacon sometimes, you know?"
Hot Spot laughs and straightens up, happy to carry Woofles and be licked. He's always been fond of pets. He doesn't walk too fast though, noting how First Aid slowed down for Mouse. "I'm thinking of joining the Autobots," Hot Spot tells Mouse (and Woofles), not only because it's true, but also because it might steer the conversation away from the risky combiner team subject.
Mouse nods with understanding, "Yeah, as much as I love Murusa and Protofire I wish I could go see other cities too! I wanna see Iacon someday, I think it would be neat!" Mouse explains in reply, hoping First Aid would extend him an invitation... and that Murusa would allow him to go. "Good boy, Woofles." Mouse reaches for a bumble puppy ener-snack and holds it in his hand. Woofles happily chomps it down, licking Mouse's hand. "That tickles." Mouse laughs and squirms as he walks along with the pair. "You don't like Crystal City, Hot Spot?" Mouse looks up at him and asks with youthful ignorance.
First Aid 's visor flickered- he hadn't quite realized that Hot Spot was even thinking about that, really- he tilts his head quizzically, but remains quiet.
"I love Crystal City," Hot Spot says, "But there's so much happening in the world, I just... I think I could do far more good out there than in here." He misses First Aid's look of confusion, indeed he doesn't even realize he never told his team mate about his plans.
Mouse frowns, "I don't think I understand." He shrugs, changing the subject. "I've been practicing at the coliseum on my own skills, and I've worked so hard to learn as much as I can about programming and building things. Building things is okay, but I like developing them more. I've almost built my shield and I've also built an electric helicopter! Based on my own design!" Mouse beams as he tells about his accomplishments, which are probably super small compared to the war effort.. but they are important to him anyway.
First Aid smiles and pats Mouse on the shoulder. "Everyone has their own things to do, Mouse."
"Good things, by the sound of it," Hot Spot says. "There's the park," he gestures up ahead to a glittering array of crystal foliage. "I think I see Greenlight."
"Lead the way," First Aid says to Hot Spot with a smile.
Hot Spot puts Woofles gently back down on the floor and heads towards Greenlight. He's nervous all of a sudden; what will she think? Will she approve? He has no idea. "Here goes," he says quietly, to himself.
First Aid follows Hot Spot, planning- now that he knows what the blue mech intends- to offer moral support. Hopefully Greenlight is as nice about things as Lifeline was...
Mouse kneels down and Woofles comes running to him as Hot Spot sets him down. "Good boy." Woofles licks Mouse once as he feeds the puppy another Ener-treat. Mouse stays with First Aid as Hot Spot goes to meet Greenlight. "What's your brother meeting her for?" Mouse asks quietly. [12:25:35] Hot Spot approaches Greenlight, noting with thanks that the others have fallen back (although he's sure they'll be able to hear anything he or Greenlight says). "Thank you for meeting me here," he says.
"He works for her here in Crystal City," First Aid explains. "If he wants to join the Autobots, he needs to let her know." It's a little more complicated than that, but he's not sure how much of the nuance Mouse will understand. "Want to sit over there? You can tell me about the transformation cog you installed on that shield?" He points at a nearby bench- well within earshot of Hot Spot and Greenlight, but far enough away to be polite.
Mouse nods, "Okay!" He merrily zips on over to the bench with First aid and his bumble puppy in tow. "Woofles, sit." Mouse commands and points to the side of the bench. He ties him up to the bench just in case, and starts blabbing along noisily. "I was able to make use of most of that transformation cog! I installed those parts into that shield and now I'm able to make it transform into various different shapes. There's a regular shield, small, large.. a round dome, a cube, and a thick tower." Mouse smiles.
"Hot Spot," The green femme says. "Good to see you. Can I put you back on the schedule yet?" Her demeanor is casually friendly- mostly normal- but her gaze keeps drifting across the park to the mechs Hot Spot walked into view with...
First Aid smiles at Mouse's enthusiasm and asks, "What about the coding that you were worried about to allow Murusa to use it?"
"About that," Hot Spot says, and has to resist fidgeting. "Something's come up. I..." He notes the direction of Greenlight's gaze. "I'm needed in Iacon. I'm giving serious thought to joining the Autobots. I... I just feel that I can do more good there." It isn't the whole truth, and that's probably pretty obvious, but he hopes Greenlight won't press him.
Mouse explains, "Right now it works off a couple cables, I want to compact those into the shield and have a direct interface. I wrote a generic transformation code for it and it works fine for me so far. Tested it myself! By the way First Aid, didn't you tell me last time you didn't have an alt mode since something's wrong with your Transformation code? I could look at it if you like!" Mouse smiles and kicks his feet idly over the edge of the bench, confident in his skills.
"Um, I don't think that's such a good idea, Mouse-" First Aid says carefully. "I appreciate the offer, though." He changes the subject again. "So how are you planning to integrate it with Murusa's systems?"
Greenlight nods, slowly. "You've really thought about this?" She sounds slightly dubious. She narrows her optics slightly. "You know we need you here- your team's been short handed the entire last orn. There was a cave in in one of the tunnels in the trade district, and we're still doing cleanup." She nods her head at the two mechs sitting on the bench. "Mouse, I know- kid's always visiting Murusa in joint meetings- but who's your friend, there? He got anything to do with your sudden interest in leaving us?"
Mouse looks over at First Aid and awwws, "But I've learned so much!~ And I was hoping to help you since you helped me so much with my shield." He looks.. defeated. "I guess all my studying was only for that stupid shield." Mouse hops off the bench and kicks the ground.
First Aid frowns. He didn't mean to make the young mech feel bad. "Your shield isn't stupid, Mouse- it's very impressive for your age. And I appreciate you wanting to help me. It's just... complicated."
"I've been thinking about this a long time," Hot Spot says. "And yeah, he does. That's First Aid, he's an Autobot medic, training under Ratchet. Some of the things he's said..." He pulls himself up short; that's team business, and he shouldn't be talking about it. "I know you're understaffed, but I don't think it's me you need. Have you been to Cubicron lately? Have you seen the mess out there? I can help with that."
"We send out teams to Cubicron when they ask, Hot Spot, you know that. If they don't ask for help, though, we won't make them take it." Unlike others, the implication is. It's not an uncommon sentiment in Crystal City, where the Autobots are perceived frequently as being a necessary evil to balance the Decepticon forces, but not without their own attendant problems. Greenlight says. "A long time, eh?" She vents air, an irritated sound. "The medic- how'd you meet him?"
Mouse only looks frustrated. "Forget it, First Aid. Forget I even tried." Mouse huffs and unties his bumble puppy. "Come on Woofles. Let's go." Mouse starts heading towards Murusa's house - but it's not too late to stop him. However, it clearly looks as if Mouse is really upset.
First Aid clambers to his feet and takes a few steps after Mouse before stopping to glance back at Hot Spot- he hates upsetting anyone, and Mouse genuinely wanted to help. "Wait, hang on!"
"Yes." Hot Spot looks at his feet. "A very long time." Then he glances up again, meeting Greenlight's optics. "You know I left because I matched the description of a mech the security forces wanted... Turns out it actually was me they wanted. First Aid was there with Ratchet when they first questioned me." He manages to stop himself from saying 'examined me'.
Greenlight's optics narrow. "Why were medics involved in questioning you?" Again, her gaze flicks to First Aid as he moves away from them.
"An anomaly in my energy signature," Hot Spot says with a shrug, trying to make light of it. He trusts Greenlight, but he still doesn't want to reveal too much. "Nothing serious."
If Cybertronians could cry, this would be a time. Mouse turns his head towards First Aid as he hears his name called and stops for a moment, his back still turned towards the medic. Woofles maneuvers himself between you and Mouse with a low growl, almost as if he knows his Master's distress.
First Aid pauses, not wanting to upset the bumble puppy (or get bitten...) "Mouse, there's more to the problem with my transformation code than you know about. I can't tell you all of it. It could get someone very important to me hurt."
"An anomaly." Greenlight sounds unimpressed- although typically, she reacts to worry the same way as to any other thing that irritates her, a habit Hot Spot is well-familiar with. "An anomaly important enough that they had to drag you all the way out to Iacon for their medics to poke and prod? And why'd he come back with you?"
Mouse shakes his head, "That doesn't matter. I could write an entire Transformation code just for you from scratch." Mouse still remains turned away, his voice barely audible. That's what I just did for my shield. Those code modules remain almost the same." Mouse sounds frustrated.
First Aid says gently. "I know, Mouse- but there's more to it than just my transformation code." His voice is perfectly audible to Hot Spot and Greenlight.
Hot Spot elects to ignore the irritation; he knows it's just the way Greenlight handles things. "He came with me to see Crystal City. He's a good mech, you'd like him." Although Hot Spot does believe this, he also believes their personalities might clash just a little. But then First Aid says what he says and Hot Spot can't help but wince.
Greenlight narrows her optics further and taps one foot, giving Hot Spot the exact same look she gives him when he screws up in a training exercise (which happens very rarely) or when someone asks her a stupid question (rather more common.) "I wasn't activated yesterday, Hot Spot." She raises her optic ridges in an 'I'm-waiting' gesture.
Mouse turns around so First Aid can see his pained expression. "And you underestimate me because I'm 'just a kid'" Mouse steps up to First aid, "Let me show you exactly just what I can do." Mouse has half a mind to shatter First Aid's armor on the spot, but holds his ground. Striking a friend is not what a good practitioner should do outside of the practice arena. "Come to the coliseum, I need to unwind now."
Feeling about five microns tall, Hot Spot exvents slowly and tries to work out what to say. "It's hard to explain," he says. He looks around; Crystal City is safe, he's sure of it. But he's been sure of a lot of things that have turned out not to be true. "I'm not who I thought I was," he says quietly, obviously for her audials only. "I don't belong here anymore."
First Aid shakes his head. "I'm sorry, Mouse- I can't- I need to wait for Hot Spot." He's very apologetic. "I'd be happy to watch you spar another time, though."
"You're a young mech, everyone feels like that- it's part of growing up," Greenlight says dismissively. "Your place is here, with the rest of your team, and your friends. Don't throw all that away for some idealistic, romantic notion about the Autobot cause."
Without another word, Mouse turns around and leaves. That's very uncharacteristic of him, and First Aid may have lost a very dear friend. Woofles barks angrily at First Aid, able to express the feelings Mouse does not.
Hot Spot shakes his head. "That isn't it," he says. "Remember when I first came here?" He doesn't, not really, but perhaps Greenlight will, and perhaps it'll help her to understand.
Mouse takes Bumble puppy.
"Mouse! Wait!" First Aid calls as Mouse leaves. He watches the younger mech go. "I guess I'll see you anther time then," He says, feeling terribly guilty.
"What about when you first came here?" Greenlight says, suddenly wary.
You paged First Aid with 'Feel free to run with whatever you think best for when Hot Spot first came there, btw. I have no idea what happened, but perhaps his memory only started to accumulate new memories when he arrived in Crystal City.'
"What do you remember?" Hot Spot says. "Because I wasn't built here, was I?"
First Aid watches Mouse leave with a sigh, before turning back to walk towards Hot Spot and Greenlight.
Greenlight straightens, glancing again back and forth between the two mechs. "Have I ever lied to you, Hot Spot?" She says, voice suddenly much quieter. "There are things that you don't know- that you shouldn't know. Things that could put you- and your new friend- in danger."
Hot Spot's jaw drops. "You knew..." he whispers. "You knew about... them, and you never told me." He's a little hurt, although he knows he has no right to be. Greenlight was just protecting him, protecting all of them. "Then you know why I can't stay here."
First Aid arrives back at the bench he started from just in time to hear that. "What? What do you mean she knows?"
Greenlight sighs. "I know a lot of things. There were- and remain- some very good reasons for the things I did. Whether or not they were the right things, remains to be seen." She glances at First Aid. "First Aid." She nods. "Regardless of the circumstances, it's good to see you."
Hot Spot's brimming with questions, but he isn't about to interrupt when Greenlight has addressed First Aid directly. He waits for First Aid's response.
First Aid blinks in surprise. "I'm sorry- um... pleased to meet you?" He's not sure if Hot Spot told her his name or... quite what just happened, or if he heard the previous conversation correctly.
Hot Spot glances around again, making sure no-one is within hearing distance. "Did you know that's why they wanted me in Iacon?" he says.
Greenlight shakes her head. "I had no idea, or I would have made sure you never heard a thing about it." She says. "How did you find out?" The second question is addressed to First Aid as well as Hot Spot.
"I was trying to load scans for an alt mode but received some strange errors," First Aid explains. "A software diagnostic revealed the extra data stored in my core, and Perceptor and Wheeljack were able to decrypt it- or some of it. The memories are ... fragmentary."
Greenlight's statement that she would have made sure Hot Spot never heard a thing about it makes him a little angry. He fights it, but this is his team she's talking about. Regardless of the danger, he's better off with them, and with two of them unable to access their alt modes, and one in a very poor state indeed, they're certainly better off with him around.
He gives a nod to what First Aid has said, and when he speaks a measure of his aggravation is clear. "We found out a lot of things," he says. "And not all of us /were/ kept safe, regardless what you wanted."
"What? What do you mean?" Greenlight's shock is genuine. "You weren't with your guardian in Iahex?" She asks First Aid. "You were supposed to be in Iahex. I don't know about the others- basic security precaution, you can't tell what you don't know."
First Aid 's voice is carefully neutral. "I was found in Cubicron by Lifeline- she's a neutral- the only medic down there- after being attacked by empties. Coruscate- I assume you knew him- was attacked while guiding Streetwise, Blades, and myself to.. wherever we were supposed to be going."
Hot Spot nods again, and makes another effort to get his anger under control. "Do you have any idea what happened to Blades?" he says quietly to Greenlight.
"From your expression, I'm going to guess I won't like it," Greenlight says. "Where is he?"
First Aid doesn't bother to hide his anger at all, and his visor flashes. "He nearly starved to death in Cubicron. Streetwise and I were lucky- both of us ended up more or less adopted by individuals in Cubicron. Blades was living on the street, killing empties for the dregs of their energon to survive. For /decaorns/."
"He's safe now," Hot Spot says, and surprisingly he finds that First Aid's show of temper helps ameliorate his own anger. "But he's not in the best of states. If I'd known before, I could have gone find him, I could have helped..." He forces himself to stop, because he knows that kind of thinking isn't productive.
Greenlight says, "We did the best thing we could at the time, Hot Spot. You have no idea what-" She clamps her mouth shut on whatever she was about to say.
"And as long as I continue to have no idea... as long as/we/ continue to have no idea, we can't do anything about that danger." Hot Spot forces a sigh through his vents.
"He may be safe, but he's got a long way to go before he's...." First Aid struggles to come up with words to describe the horror of living on Cubicron's streets. "And Streetwise's dad- adopted dad, I mean... he's not a nice person, either, although Streetwise cares for him very much."
"What could have been so bad you had to split us up?" Hot Spot says, a pleading look in his optics.
Greenlight flares her intake vents, air flowing out sharply with a hiss, and narrows her optics, a thoughtful expression on her faceplates. "Alright- how much do-" She breaks off at Aid's words. "Not very nice? Does he have connections to the Decepticons?"
First Aid shakes his head. "No? I think? Don Vespa is pretty much a law unto himself in Cubicron- but the whole reason he started that vendetta with Lifeline was that he doesn't like her Autobot ties. Thinks she's not neutral enough for a neutral, I think."
Greenlight sighs. "Alright. From the beginning then- do you have any questions for me?" I- there's things I shouldn't tell you. Security measures. I /can't/ tell you some of it, not unless you ask the right questions."
Hot Spot stares some more. Vendetta? Against Lifeline? That really wasn't what he wanted to hear. And besides that, since when did Greenlight worry unduly about Decepticons? The anger abates, replaced by confusion." But then Greenlight opens up a little, and there's only one question at the forefront of Hot Spot's mind. "Where's Groove?" he says.
Greenlight shakes her head. "I can't tell you that- I don't know myself. What else?" She eyes First Aid, who remains quiet.
"Do you know where he was meant to be?" Hot Spot says, and suddenly all the other questions start tumbling out. "Who's after us? Why did you split us up? Can we really do what it seems like we should be able to do? Why were we created? Did you help create us? What's going on?"
First Aid adds, "What's Alpha's connection to us?"
"You were created in Iacon," Greenlight says. "By a group of us who were worried about the tide the war was taking. There was evidence that the project had been compromised, and the best means of security for a project of this sort is secrecy." She shakes her head. "I'm not a scientist, I never have been. Coruscate and I were among your caretakers from the time you came online. When you were sent into hiding, I volunteered to go with one of you."
"You mean you were worried about the Decepticons?" Hot Spot says. "Or something else?"
Greenlight nods. "The technology you and your brothers represent /can't/ fall into the hands of the Decepticons. They'd be unstoppable. Better to split you up, hide you in plain sight- a pair of newcomers to a city will pass unremarked where a group of five and their guardians won't."
"But surely we can't hide away forever," Hot Spot counters. "We could be useful out there, we could be helping people!"
Greenlight shakes her head. "Not forever- we would have been recalled to Iacon when the time was right and the danger had passed- in a vorn or two, perhaps. I know that sounds like forever, but really, you're all still so young. None of us- not Coruscate, not myself, not any of the engineers- wanted to send sparklings to war."
"We're capable," Hot Spot says. "And the longer we wait, the greater chance the danger will never pass." He's sure of it, just as he's sure that he needs to get to Groove as quickly as he possibly can.
Greenlight looks at Hot Spot with the same level stare she gives new trainees. "And you're so eager to rush off into battle why?" She sighs. "I'll ... I'll see what I can do. I don't have a direct way to contact the others, but I have a way that should get a message through. It'll take a few cycles. I expect you'll be going back to Iacon in the meantime?"
Hot Spot nods slowly. He recognizes that Greenlight has given ground, and knows he needs to be willing to do the same. "I want to keep them safe," he says quietly, talking of his team. "That means I need to find our fifth." He meets Greenlight's optics again, and this time his expression is resolute, if a little sad. "I'll miss you," he says. "I'll miss everyone here, but you know I need to be in Iacon."
Greenlight nods. "I know- do you want me to pass on a message to anyone?" She sighs. "They'll understand, you know. I swear, I lose more squad leaders to the damn Autobots..." There's no heat in the complaint- but mechs don't join disaster recovery teams because they're like to let the problems of the world sit and wait...
First Aid tilts his head, studying Greenlight, before speaking up again. "Do you think they're still out there?" He asks. "The rest of our creators?"
"Just tell them I'm sorry," Hot Spot responds to Greenlight.
Greenlight nods to Hot Spot. "I don't know, First Aid. We'll just have to wait and find out."