7/13/2011 Welcome to Iacon
When Ironhide had run the mech at the gate through his ident files, no name had come up, but the image was flagged as matching one with a current security warning, and a notice to escort the individual in question to medical immediately, along with tags for no known threat and no force to be used. (Ironhide might vaguely remember something from a few weeks back about Ratchet wrenching a civilian and attempting to take him to medical and causing a scene...) Easier to escort the kid himself, really.
Having no idea why he's needed, but perceiving no threat from the security mech, Hot Spot is content to follow where Ironhide leads. He is, however, a little curious, but he doesn't quite know what he needs to ask or how to go about it.
Ironhide would probably be amused that the mech didn't see him as a threat. But be as that may, the elder mech gestures with his hand to follow him. "Doc will want to see you." is all he has to say.
Hot Spot nods and follows. The mention of 'Doc' prompts a little tingle of worry, but he dismisses it. There can't be anything wrong with him, he feels fine. It's probably all just routine.
Ironhide strolls into repair bay with a mech in tow, "RATCHET!!!" he yells out in a full out bellow.
The Autobot CMO sticks his head out his office door in annoyance. "What do you want?" he asks Ironhide. Having the angry, old 'bot is never a good sign, and it usually means that he has to put aside some time to see to whatever's put the mech's tailpipe in a tangle. He grumbles, then trails off. "You're yelling at me because he needs new optic gels?" he asks, in reference to the apparently new mech in the room.
Hot Spot reboots his optics and takes an involuntary step back. The word 'Doc' had prompted an image in his mind, and the appearance of Ratchet has completely shattered it. And what's wrong with his optics? Hot Spot has no idea.
Ironhide smirks at the medic as he puts a hand on his hip. "I'm yelling cuz I never know if you are sneaking in a recharge in your office ya crankshaft." drawls the red mech. With his other hand he gestures back with toward the mech behind him, "You had this one on my 'bring him in' list, remember?"
Ratchet's optics narrow. Ohhhh. "Yes, yes I did," Ratchet replies, eyeing the younger mech closely. "Any other information for me?" he asks, staring Ironhide down.
Hot Spot looks from Ratchet to Ironhide and back again, but he doesn't speak.
Ironhide considers a long moment while meeting the docs gaze with one of his own. He's played the stare down game with the mech often enough by now he doesn't flinch, but then neither does the doc. "Just know I'll be keeping tabs on your last arrival. I don't need him running round scaring the civilian workers."
Ratchet snorts. "Then keep him fed, and he won't bother anyone, or so I've heard. Apparently energon goodies are the way to go," he replies. He turns toward the new arrival. "You're here to respond to the posted call, right?"
Hot Spot straightens up, trying not to look too confused. "Yes sir," he says, and ventures a tentative friendly smile.
Ironhide makes this snort that sounds like he hawked up a oil loogie through his vocorder. "Raight. Figgers." the mech drawls, then turns and sizes up Hot Spot again, "He don't bite." smirk. Then moves out of repair bay.
Ratchet rolls his optics at Ironhide's back, then settles down to business. "I'm Ratchet, CMO here, and I've been put in charge of a mystery that's implicated you," he says. "What's your designation? Faction?"
"Hot Spot, neutral," Hot Spot responds. He tries not to think about Ironhide's parting shot. "A mystery?" he says.
"Yes," the CMO replies, crossing his arms and appraising the mech while his memory trolls for what he's seen so far off of him. "My mystery is that I have three mechs so far with an anomalous -- and nearly identical -- ping signature. Two have been tested so far for an odd memory anomaly, namely that close to half their onboard memory is encrypted and loaded with memories they don't otherwise report having. A few of those memories are videos, including some with you in them." He vents air out slowly. "Now, unless something's dramatically out of whack -- and to be this far gone, I'd be impressed -- you should be presenting with at least the same ping signature, and possibly with the same encryption. Beyond that, it sure would be nice if you had some rational explanation for all this, but considering the other patients' experiences, I'm not holding my fuel pump."
Hot Spot slowly shakes his head. "I don't understand," he says. "What kind of anomaly? Do we have a virus?"
Ratchet frowns. "If it's a virus, it's one pit-slagging huge one, and it's been forcing massive data transfers this whole time. I'd like to see the idiot who'd code something like that," he says. "All of those affected have additional memory in their systems, but a significant portion of it is encrypted and unavailable without brute forcing the code to get to the memories. We've done that with one case, and that's how we found those memories. There's also code for transformations that the patient had no idea his body could do, much less that he was carrying the code for them. If you're worried about a virus, I wouldn't be. This is no virus." He rumbles in his engine. "Anything unusual? Strange patterns during recharge? Phantom limb sensations?"
"Phantom... limbs?" Hot Spot says. His faceplates crease and he glances down at his right arm. "Um no. No sir. No phantom limbs. And I recharge just fine." Although he might not tonight. He's begun to get that queasy feeling, like his fuel lines are constricting and the energon just isn't flowing fast enough. His frown deepens. "Is there something wrong with me?"
Ratchet grunts. Primus, the kid's going to fall on the floor before he can get any information from him. "Have a seat on that berth, Hot Spot," he says, indicating a place for the quailing mech to be somewhat more comfortable. "I have no idea if there's anything wrong, but I'm guessing not. There's too much here to be creating a problem, and you're clearly functional. Do you mind if I run a few scans to get an idea of what is going on?"
Obedient as ever in the face of authority, Hot Spot goes right on over to the berth and sits down. He hasn't felt this bad since his first callout to an industrial accident, where he was sure he'd be too late and everyone would die. He barely hears Ratchet's 'I'm guessing not', and grips the edge of the berth a little too tightly. He stares down at his knees. "Anything you need to do," he says, "please, just do it."
Ratchet retrieves a radio receiver and sits it next to Hot Spot's berth, then presses the record button. "Hot Spot, I don't see anything wrong right now," he says. "Whatever this is, it's not something that's been circumscribing anyone's operational capacities in any way. This is just a test to see if you're issuing the same signature the other mechs involved are." His optics narrow in concentration for a moment.
It takes most of a breem, but the door to the med bay opens with a hiss, and First Aid comes in. "Hi Ratchet. What did you need me for?"
Hot Spot's mouth is open, his vocorder engaged and a reply on the tip of his glossa, but then the door opens and another mech arrives. He stares.
Ratchet hmms quietly as he lets the recorder pick up both First Aid and Hot Spot. "First Aid, this is Hot Spot. Hot Spot, this is First Aid, my intern. First Aid was the first mech to present with that ping signature." He eyes Hot Spot significantly. "As you can see, he's completely functional."
First Aid's visor lights up. "You're in my memories!" He says happily. "I knew, you, then. Nice to meet you." He walks over to the berth. "Where are you from? How much do you remember- and how'd you end up here?"
Hot Spot reboots his optics a second time since walking into Ratchet's domain, and realizes how rude he's being. "Nice to meet you too," he says, although that frown doesn't seem to want to vanish, and the concern that he could be unwell has morphed into a rather odd lightheadedness - this is more than a little overwhelming. He tries his friendly smile on First Aid. "I'm very sorry," he says, "I don't remember you."
Ratchet coughs slightly from the side of the berth. "He'll be needing energon soon," he says, eyeing First Aid. He stops the recorder and plugs it into his data pad to retrieve the logged data.
"Its okay- I didn't remember anything until Wheeljack and Perceptor cracked the encryption on my memories- but you don't have to do that or anything, unless you want to, of course. Um, I'll get that energon now." First Aid crosses the bay and disappears into a door that leads into a supply closet.
The frown deepens. "I'm not sure I understand," Hot Spot says quietly. He managed to drag his optics up from his knees; his expression is more than a little helpless.
"I love having First Aid come through here for these kinds of cases," Ratchet says offhandedly as he watches Hot Spot's condition from out the corner of his optic. "See, when he passes close enough to someone with the same signature -- which you do have, by the way -- the pings actually change pace to sound out in synchrony. It's almost as though you're a group of brothers with the same signature." He starts entering information into Hot Spot's new records with Autobot Med. "I wouldn't worry about the encryption cracking," he says, facing Hot Spot directly. "That's nothing we'll force you into. Aid volunteered. You don't have to, if you don't want to."
Hot Spot finds himself nodding without really understanding what it is he just heard. He grasps hold of the piece of information that looks easiest to digest. "We have the same signature? How is that possible?"
The door to the supply room slides open and First Aid returns with a cube of energon. "I moved some more to the shelf from the larger container in the back, too, Ratchet, and updated the inventory logs." He walks across the room and sets the cube down on the end of the berth Hot Spot is sitting on, well within reach. "That's there for whenever you want it."
Ratchet snorts at Hot Spot's innocently asked question. "If I knew that, we wouldn't have a mystery on our servos," he says. "Thanks, Aid," he says. He blinks his optics and takes a deep vent. "I think you've got a lot to digest already," he says, eyeing Hot Spot's facial expression. "There are other tests we can run for more information, but they can wait for now. Aid's a good source to ask a lot of the questions you're bound to have," he says. The "so you should probably ask them" is silent, but implied.
"Um," Hot Spot says. He looks at First Aid, and tries to bring back his friendly smile. It's not First Aid's fault, indeed there's something genuinely reassuring about the mech - a damned site more than there is about Ratchet, although Hot Spot really doesn't like to think that way - but the situation is something else entirely. He gives the energon a cursory glance, but doesn't go to take it; there are more important things he needs to do. "Um," he repeats, "are you sure I'm the person you want?"
The CMO shrugs. "The pings are pretty much diagnostic of that, yes. You are the mech in the poster, are you not?"
First Aid adds, "Streetwise also had some oddities to his transformation cogs that are unique, but we haven't had a chance to check and see if I have them as well." He smiles again. "I'm really glad to meet you. Where are you from, anyway?" He seems awfully well adjusted to have come from Cubicron, so that seems unlikely, but he hadn't answered Aid's question before.
"Yes," Hot Spot says, giving Ratchet another helpless look. "I'm the mech on the poster. At least, I think I am..." But the questions are coming thick and fast from Ratchet's assistant, and Hot Spot wants to keep up, if only because it would be rude not to. "Crystal City," he says. At least he knows the answer to that one. He's about to ask 'how about you?' but remembers in time that he's the one being examined here.
Ratchet gives First Aid a significant look and transmits a firm order for the intern to stay with Hot Spot for the time being and answer his questions. He has a small smile on his face as he walks back to his office.
First Aid says, "I lived in Cubicron as long as I can remember, before I joined up- I worked for Lifeline, who's a neutral medic there- I still work for her on my off shifts when I can, too."
Hot Spot isn't thinking straight enough right now to realize that First Aid answering his unvoiced question might be considered a little strange. "Must be a challenge, working there," he says, and there's a quality to his voice that indicates he thinks it's the good kind of challenge.
First Aid nods with a smile. "It is, but I learn a lot- from her and Ratchet both. It's different kinds of cases, a lot of the time, and they have different specialties. What do you do?"
"Search and rescue," Hot Spot replies. He wiggles his toes self-consciously. "I put out fires, mainly, haul debris, that kind of thing. You're really sure it was me in that video, aren't you?"
"Well," First Aid says practically. "You're the right color scheme, right down to the optics, and the relative heights work- look, I'll pull it up if you want." He pulls a pad out of subspace and pulls up a file, handing the pad to Hot Spot. "The metadata on that says it happened about 2 vorns ago- there are two memories from the locked partition that have you or someone with your identical frame type and paint job in. You can look at it for yourself."
Hot Spot takes the pad, but he doesn't turn it on just yet. The bottom has fallen out of his world, all his certainties have crumbled, and he isn't sure if he's ready just yet to see what will replace them. "I believe you," he says. "I just..." He looks at the blank screen, his thumb hovering over the 'on' button.
First Aid looks serious. "I know it's a lot to take in- I'm sorry if I'm not explaining it very well. I got to find it out a little bit at a time, so I forget how weird it must all sound without all the slag from the beginning." He rubs at the side of his helm self-consciously. "It doesn't get any less crazy hearing it, really, and um... there's still more I should probably tell you."
Hot Spot lays the data pad down on the bunk, unwatched, but keeps his hand on it. He doesn't want to give it back just yet. "How about you take it from the top?" he says.
Heavy footsteps make their way between the buildings of the medical district of Iacon, approaching gradually. Gold and red steps around the corner then as Flare arrives, and then stops short in surprise at seeing Hot Spot there "Oh! I was not aware we had a delegation." the priest notes.
First Aid cycles air through his vents, loudly. "Right. We discovered the memory partition after- well, that's not really the beginning. He looks up at the sound of the door. "Hello, Flare." He says. "I don't know if you two know each other back in Crystal City, but if you don't, Flare, this is Hot Spot, Hot Spot, this is Flare. Hot Spot appears in one of the unlocked memories we discovered when we decrypted my memory, Flare, and I'm trying to explain the rest of what we've found and what that may mean for him, but I'm sort of making a mess of it." He takes a second to try and organize his thoughts better.
For the second time that joor, Hot Spot feels as though the floor has crumbled beneath his feet (or in this case that the berth has been whipped out from under his aft). The priest knows more about him than he does about himself, it would seem. He manages to wrangle a smile back on his faceplates - although he can't seem to lose the look of helplessness - and inclines his head to Flare. "Very pleased to meet you," he says. The only reason he doesn't stand is that Ratchet ordered him to sit, and First Aid has given no instruction to the contrary.
The Crystal City priest bows to Hot spot "A pleasure indeed young sir." he smiles, turning to focus on First Aid "Ahh. Well then, perhaps you should explain it timeline-wise. In the order you discovered it." he suggests. his manner calm and patient.
"As opposed to the order that it happened in, right." First Aid says. "So it pretty much starts with the fact that once I joined the Autobots and apprenticed to Ratchet, I didn't have much free time and getting back and forth to Cubicron is problematic- I got rides with people who could transform when I could, but I really needed to get an alt mode. Every time I tried to load a scan for an alt mode, though, I kept getting error messages about a conflict. Trying to work it out on my won wasn't working, so I went to Ratchet, and we did a more comprehensive scan of my software as a starting place since hardware didn't seem to be the problem- I'm built a little weirdly, we knew that from a previous incident, but nothing terribly unusual that Ratchet saw the one time he worked on me."
"When he scanned my memory, we found that I had partitions there that I couldn't detect, that were encrypted."
First Aid says, "I don't remember anything before waking up when Lifeline and Ratchet repaired me after she found me in Cubicron- I'd been attacked by empties and had some parts stolen. I never really thought about it, you know? I had a perfectly good life in Cubicron, and it seemed sort of ungrateful- Lifeline took me in, and taught me, and well, she's basically family, even though I'm not sure she feels that way about me."
First Aid says, "But Ratchet was concerned about what could be in my memory that I couldn't access, and it was a security risk to let me keep working here without knowing what was in my memory. We did a more detailed scan and decrypted the data, which is where that memory on the pad came from. Ratchet figured out the ping thing somewhere in there, and it turns out that another mech in Cubicron- his name is Streetwise- had the same ping and data structure I did."
First Aid says, "He's the one we found the cog abnormalities on- mine are unusual, they're a heavier alloy that's usually used for triple changers, which I'm not, at least as far as I can know. His is at a bit of an angle to the normal placement, and he's got junctures for sensory and motor lines that are just plainly in places they wouldn't be on normal mech construction. We haven't checked to see if I have that, yet, though, because yesterday got so busy."
First Aid says, "There was a feral mech in Cubicron that ... I felt drawn to. I wanted to help him, that was all, so I did, but it turns out that he has the ping as well. He's really nervous, and we haven't scanned him yet or even asked about it, and I've spent most of the last three cycles dealing with that and trying to find something for him to do here so he won't starve in Cubicron. He was... it was bad." First Aid shakes his head. "I'm not sure how much he'd be okay with me sharing- I don't think Streetwise would mind me sharing about him what I did.""
First Aid says, "Anyway- I know it's a bit much. But... that's what we found out, and the order we found it out in- and then you showed up here today."
"You went without an alt mode?" Hot Spot is more than a little shocked. The idea that First Aid would have to rely on others to get around - potentially on strangers - really doesn't sit well with him. He doesn't examine the feeling though, there's altogether too much other information to take in. Streetwise - the second time he's heard that name today - the feral mech, the abnormalities in design... He records it all, although it will take him a good long while to process, and he hasn't a snowflake's chance in a smelter of being able to absorb and understand it all right now. "There are two more?" He grips the data pad without conscious intent, tightly, although not hard enough to damage it. "Are they in the videos too?"
First Aid shakes his head. "Not the two I queued up- the rest of the videos that we decrypted are in that same directory, if you want to look at them. One of them is Streetwise activating... the others are vague. I /think/ our creators wanted to protect us, even if we got hacked, so that the others wouldn't necessarily get found if the worst happened."
Flare is quiet during this as he leans on his staff, merely listening to the two converse quietly, optics flicking from one to the other
"/Our/ creators," Hot Spot echoes. He isn't sure what he thinks of that, or whether he quite believes it. All he knows is Crystal City, his work, his colleagues. How could he have forgotten someone - several someone’s - so close to him they share a ping signature? He picks up the data pad again, and flicks it on. What he sees makes his fuel tank churn. "That's me," he whispers, then, as the second clip plays, "That's a gun... Why do I have a gun?"
"I'm not an expert, but the consensus is that that's a toy gun based on the way you're holding it." Aid says with a tiny hint of a smile on his face.
Flare was watching quietly now, and he asks "Shall I let your CO know that you'll be here a few days longer, Hot Spot?” in a gentle voice
Hot Spot plays the clips over; a toy gun, of course it is. He tries to resist the surge of disappointment, and fails. Then feels bad about it. He shouldn't want a gun, he's a rescue operative, not a soldier. But that doesn't stop the briefest of fantasies from flitting through his processor; racing through the chaos of war, protecting the weak, getting civilians to safety. He'd need a gun for that. /And a faction/, he thinks, but now isn't the time to indulge in fantasies.
He sets the data pad back on the berth. His knuckles knock against the side of the energon cube, and the contents slosh, releasing an enticing cloud of vapor. "I don't know," he answers Flare's question. He's not sure he knows much of anything anymore. He wants to pick up the cube, but seeing as Flare isn't also refueling, he doesn't consider it quite proper; and besides, that queasy feeling hasn't exactly gone away. "Perhaps I should, perhaps..." He looks to First Aid for answers. "Ratchet has to run more tests, perhaps it would be best for me to stay?"
First Aid reaches out, almost as if he was going to pat the larger mech on the arm, but isn't quite sure if the gesture would be welcomed. "Ratchet won't run any tests you aren't okay with him running. You don't have to stay, and I'll answer any questions I can for you whether you do or not."
"I will ensure your CO knows that you'll be here a while." notes Flare softly. He had moved forwards, and puts a hand on Hot Spots' shoulder "Take as long as you need. Decisions of fate, destiny, and desire should not be hurried after all." he was no longer smiling though. His face was actually quite serious.
"You should drink that," First Aid nods towards the energon- he's spent too much time the last few cycles seeing what the results of going hungry do to a mech's systems. "And take as much time as you need to think."
Hot Spot nods to Flare. "Wise words," he says softly. He gives First Aid an apologetic look and puts the cube on his lap, but still doesn't drink. "I've never been out of Crystal City before; could you recommend me somewhere to stay?"
First Aid scratches his helm again. "I've never stayed anywhere but the barracks since I got here except... Um... actually, maybe. Hold on a klik." His visor flickers, his attention obviously on a private comm channel for a moment. "I've got two options for you. You can have my berth in the barracks, since I'm not using it right now. I'm working on a special project trying to get Blades settled here in Iacon, and he's not in the Autobot barracks for a number of reasons. There's room for you- and he's another one of us- Ratchet detected the pings when he came in. He's pretty skittish, though- the barracks might be quieter."
"There's also the Red Guardian Inn in the commerce district of Iacon as well." adds Flare simply "Thus the choice is up to you." his hand drops as he steps away.
First Aid says, "Right, I forgot about that- I've only been there once, and it was kind of a disaster." First Aid nods."
Another one? Momentarily confused, Hot Spot can't work out whether Blades is the feral mech First Aid mentioned before or not. But it's more than his processor can handle right now. "I don't want to deprive you," Hot Spot says. It's a tempting image to stay at the barracks; perhaps he could see some Autobots, maybe even talk to them. But there's the outside chance that First Aid might need that bunk. "I think the Red Guardian will be fine," he says. He turns to Flare. "I'd be very grateful if you could show me the way."
First Aid nods. "You can take that data pad with you, if you want- the rest of the video from my memories is on there. Just don't delete any of my notes, please, I'm studying for my theoretical exams. And I'm pretty easy to find if you have any other questions- just comm me."
"I'm afraid I must depart now too - I need to return to Crystal City immediately " notes Flare "Primus' light guide you both of course."
"Thank you," Hot Spot says to both of them, and this time he doesn't have to try to get that smile back on his face. He does however feel a little guilty when he follows First Aid's instructions and drains the cube, seeing as he's the only one drinking. Still, it was (trainee) medic's orders, so it can't be that bad. He gets off the berth, and picks up the data pad. "Could you tell Ratchet where I've gone."
First Aid nods. "Of course. And ... I hope you're not too overwhelmed. I'm really glad to meet you."