Title: Actions Have Consequences

PCs: Barricade, Shiftlock, Whirl

Location: Dead End, Polyhex

Date: 08 December 2014

Summary: One rash decision changes three lives forever.

Dead End is kind of a... dead end, as the name implies, and definitely not a place any self-respecting Autobot would be caught hanging around in for fun. Hence why Whirl is here. A lot. In fact, this is where he seems to spend a majority of his time these days. Why wouldn't he? It's gross, it's gritty, and sketchy as hell, there's barely any law enforcement to speak of, it's the perfect place for a degenerate like himself to mess about in.

Here's the rundown of a typical day for Whirl: Come out of recharge in whatever gutter or alleyway he passed out in the night before, meander around the shanty towns and scrapyards until he finds someone to roll over for cash or anything else that might be of value, spend it immediately on bootleg energon or any illicit drugs he can get his claws on, get zooted out of his mind, pass out in a gutter or alleyway, rinse, repeat.

Right now Whirl is at the 'mugging someone for small quantities of cash' part of his day. He looms in a shady alleyway, seeming to tower over the smaller, drug-addled mech cowering before him. One of his claws is wrapped around the other robot's neck to hold him still, using the other pair to smack and punch the poor guy around until he yields to Whirl his pathetic wallet.

"You say you don't have money, but I know you have drugs. Look at you!" Whirl leans in, staring the other mech down with his beady little optic. "I know you're an addict, I can smell it on you."

"B-but.." The victim shudders. "You don't have a nose!"

"SHUT UP!" Whirl punches him in the gut.

Shiftlock came here to check in on things - it was a place she frequented heavily when Drift was wandering around and, like Whirl, zooted out of his mind most of the time. Heck, he wasn't just using, he was -selling-, and when he wasn't either high or passed out, he was suicidally depressed. That's where she found him, helped him to a clinic, and tried nursing him back to health.

It all went downhill from there.

"Hey!" a fembot shouts at Whirl from behind him. "It's hard enough living here without people stealing from each other." Behind Whirl is a copper and black fembot, obviously some kind of car, folding her arms and looking as sternly at him as possible.

The sudden, stern voice of a stranger startles Whirl and distracts him just long enough for his would-be victim to scramble out of his grasp and make a break for it. "Hey!" Whirl considers giving chase but ultimately he decides it isn't really worth the effort, besides, he has this femme getting all up in his business and he should probably deal with that first. He turns around to fully face her, glaring at her with the nastiest glare someone like him could muster. "Great, looks like it's going to be another cold, hungry night thanks to you."

He leans in to stare at her closer. Real close. Reaaal close and reaal hard. "Unless you're willing to fork over whatever you have." He clangs his claws together in a threatening manner.

Shiftlock just smile at Whirl like he's a long lost friend. "Oh you don't have to go hungry or even cold. I have energon and I know of a good place to recharge." She glances at his claws, then back to his face. "Also those claws are really cool. They look like actual weapons!"

Whirl just.. stares at the femme. Her surprisingly upbeat attitude catches him off guard as up until this very moment he thought he was going to have to shake her down for anything worth fencing. He sees her optics fall upon his face, then his claws, and he prepares a good retort for when she says something horrible and degrading about his looks (as femmes always do) but finds himself not needing one. Is she for serious?

"I uh..." Whirl tries to collect his thoughts. "What?"

"You look awesome!" she announces as if Whirl was the greatest thing in the history of forever. No fear, no judgment, just pure admiration. "What are you doing in here, anyways? I mean, if you're on syk or stims, it's okay, I understand. I have a friend here that was frying himself on circuit speeders. It's hard to kick." She goes to a compartment on her thigh and opening it, pulls out a canister of energon, offering it to Whirl. "Here, if you need to refuel, take this. My name's Shiftlock, what's yours?"

"I... what?" Whirl says again with just as much eloquence as he did the first time. He really doesn't understand what's going on right now, or how it's even happening, and no it's not because of the cocktail of weird, illegal drugs he's on right now (though that definitely helps.) It's the sincerity of her comments, the fact that she's not just mocking him but that she really is interested in him and thinks he looks just totally awesome. It's causes strange feelings to arise inside of the mutilated mech, feelings he hasn't had in a very long time.

"Uhh.. Oh!" He strikes a little pose, claws on his hips, head held high. "I am Whirl and I have no known weaknesses. Seriously, I am invulnerable to everything and everyone. And I'm here because this is where I live." He gestures to the very alleyway they're standing i. "Seriously, I live here."

"I did too," Shiftlock explains. "I'm kind of... on the run a little bit. People want to kill me, so I came back here to hide for awhile, and see if my friends were still all right." She looks into the alleyway. "-- That can't be good, it's open to scraplets. Even the tunnels under here are safer."

Whirl shrugs. "I don't live in this particular alley all of the time. Just sometimes. There are also drugs dens, brothels, ditches, all sorts of places to catch a quick recharge." He looks over at the makeshift shelter he cobbled together the night before out of scrap metal. "You're right about the scraplets, though to be honest I prefer them over the weirdos you meet in the tunnels." Huh, him calling other people weird. How ironic.

"I assume you're not living in tents and tunnels though, eh? You're sexy, you seem smart." Kind of, she is talking to him afterall. "I'm sure you have some poor sap you're living off of."

"No, I earn my own keep. Data smuggler," Shift explains, completely comfortable with telling a total stranger her life story. Oh yes, she's being raised /correctly/. This is what you get when Hot Rod is your unofficial 'dad'. "You're right about the tunnels though, there are some pretty dangerous things down deep. I know, I've seen 'em. Had to outrun them or outsmart them, I think they were gonna eat me." She'd blush if she could about the sexy part; at the mention of it, her door 'wings' flick.

"Data smuggling? What an interesting and useful skill," Whirl says, speaking mostly to himself. He briefly wonders if there is a way for him to use that to his advantage and then decides, no, not now. Maybe in the future. "Oh, yeah, those tunnel folk are scary as hell and you're right, they were going to eat you. They eat anyone that comes down there, anyone that can't run away fast enough. Cannibals, that's what they are." Honestly, he doesn't know if that's true but it wouldn't surprise him.

He notices the little flick of the femme's wings and he steps closer towards her. Really close. Like, definitely pushing the boundaries of eachother's personal space close. "Soo..." He stares at her. "Are we going to interface now or something?"

"You mean you're not going to tell me I'm too young for that and call me a kid or something?" she asks back, leaning in right back.

She does, in fact, go way too far in that leaning until she's got her forehead pressed against Whirl's boxy face and is practically mashing her optics against his.

Having someone bonk their face against what used to be his face is probably the closest thing Whirl will ever get to kissing again and although it tears him up inside knowing he will never feel the tingles of excitement from nibbling a partner's lips during a make-out session again in his life, this is still nice.

"Pfffft, why would I do that? You're your own person, you can make your own decisions, good or bad. Like stepping in and playing the hero when you see someone getting mugged, for example."

"'Cause I'm only about a hundred and eighty three years old," Shiftlock replies, grinning widely. Hey, /this/ guy isn't all huffy about physical contact! Why, if this were Blast Off he'd be lecturing her and huffing about personal space and acting weird and awkard. If this were /Dirft/, he'd be attempting murder suicide for the tenth time in a row. "Didn't get any real training either, I got stolen after my forging and then used in medical experiments. So everyone treats me like a kid." She leans back so that she can look at Whirl's awesome shape and pinchy claws again; he looks /kinda/ like that purple Senator guy but not quite. "I wanted to just tell you that up front because the last guy that broke into my house and asked me to interface him kind of started a huge fight in my apartment. Energon everywhere. My life is weird."

Only a hundred and eighty three years old? That's pretty young! Too young for Whirl? Of course not. He listens to her story intently though his lack of face and range of expression may give the impression he's just staring absently into space. He gets the impression that she's kind of messed up from her experiences.

Whirl is totally into that.

The cyclops suddenly wraps his arms around Shiftlock's waist and pulls her close against him, the tip of a claw trailing down her back. Primus, it feels good to have someone in his embrace again. "Mmm, well, I'll do my best to not follow you home, break in, and bleed all over your stuff but I can't make any promises."

Suddenly embrace'd! Well, this is moving faster than Shiftlock intended; she just wanted to stop Whirl from possibly hurting someone and give him what she though he needed: energon. Apparently that's not the only need he has! She wants to feel like someone gives a slag, and that embrace is all too welcoming. If there's any danger here, she isn't aware of it, or doesn't care. "Bleeding is okay because I totally love fighting. Just please tell me that you've actually interfaced before because I swear to Mortilus that if I meet one more mech that acts like he's shattered every firewall from here to Tarn and then it turns out he doesn't even know what 'facing is, I'm gonna just shoot myself in the head."

There was a time when Whirl took it slow, when he savored the moment and worked the other person into just the right mood but that was a different time, when he was a different person. Now he takes whatever he can get whenever he can get it without any care of whether or not the other person is totally into it. He buries his face, or what counts as his face, into the side of Shiftlock's neck, his embrace tightening around her. The things he would do to her if he still could..

Whirl pulls his head back to stare at Shiftlock when she starts talking about her experiences with other mechs and their total inexperience in general. "Don't worry, interfacing isn't a new thing for me." He traces her cheek with the tip of his very dangerous looking claws. "Oh, and I /love/ to fight."

Bad decisions? SHIFTLOCK IS TOTALLY THERE. She's comfortable with the thought of being used, because it's a new and exciting experience and she's pretty sure that THIS time the other party isn't going to catch feelings. Maybe. Hopefully. Well, fourth time's the charm, right?

"Mmm, okay then... show me what you can do," she purrs, returning the embrace with some affectionate toying with the seams of Whirl's transformation plates. "... it's not gonna bother you that... well. I don't have an intact neural barrier...?"

Yes, there is absolutely no way this could possibly end poorly for either party. Whirl is completely and totally mentally sound in every way and is definitely not totally crazy and volatile, and he definitely would never consider doing something as ridiculous as stalking and obsessing over the first person to show him affection in who knows how long.

Yeup, this is all a really good idea for everyone.

Whirl lets out a low rumble at Shiftlock's touches and he gives a hard but playful pinch to her backside. He is so totally into this, and she's so totally into him, and everything is going great, but her question causes him to hesitate. She really is young, isn't she? A little naive, if it were. "Hnnng? Is that really something people care about?"

"Well there's this one guy that's all hung up over it but that's because he's Primal Vanguard so he's older than the Matrix," Shiftlock confesses. Oh sweet embrace and affection, even if it's temporary! It'll fill the void. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.

"Guy sounds like a loser with some personal hang-ups," Whirl says matter-of-factly without even a trace of irony. He takes his claws off Shiftlock's body just long enough to poke around at a panel on his side and unravel a modest cable. It looks like it's seen a lot of use and it's bent in a bunch of places and even a few nicks in the insulation. Oh yeah, Whirl is definitely no interfacing virgin and he makes this even more apparent when he reaches over with another claw and casually pops open a panel on Shiftlock's body like it was something he's done to her a million times before. "I'll give you this warning only once. I will not hold back." With that said, he makes the connection.

No holding back? YES! At last Shiftlock gets to be gloriously used, no strings attached! Yes, this is actually what she thinks she wants. No, it is not in the least bit normal or healthy. Right now she's just feeling pretty good about going into this with 'eyes wide open' and waiting to experience whatever it is Whirl has to give. She vents contentedly; at last she gets to help someone feel better. She opens the connection between their sensor relays, sharing her surface thoughts and letting Whirl's consciousness pour right on in, unfettered and unrestrained. There's nothing but honest warmth, curiosity and desire to give affection at the top of Shiftlock's mind, but it's ragged, foggy and suspiciously corrupted at the edges.

Whirl knew this this femme was going to be a sure thing when she let a creepy stranger put his claws all over her in a dark, sketchy alley in the ghetto but he's still surprised at just how willing she is. It's not usually like this and it's exciting to him to have someone who so clearly wants to be used. No doubt Shiftlock picks up on this, nothing but selfish desires and thoughts coming from his side of the connection. She wanted this, and she's going to get it.

Almost immediately after linking up, there are vivid sensations and visuals. There's feelings of terror, shocks of intense pain. Unfamiliar faces, twisted in sadistic laughter. The strong stink of energon, then the gradual loss of that sense and the others, one by one until reaching a state of complete deafness and blindness. The sudden shock of a forced system reboot, the lingering pain of a cranial ache. The memory of his empurata.

Every sensation, every feeling, every ache, every pain, every thing he ever felt, saw, heard during that procedure is laid out unabridged, uncensored for Shiftlock to take in. It's obviously something that has affected him very deeply, a traumatic experience that changed him into a person he no longer recognizes in his reflection.

Shiftlock is shocked, overwhelmed and almost subsumed by the amount of raw distress and trauma Whirl is dumping into her systems. Her sensors choke under the memories, struggling to keep up and make sense of it all. Too much too soon too fast.

While she may not be the toughest, sharpest or even most forceful thing on four wheels, she can -endure-. Mentally her resilience is very high, which is due in part to having been forcibly bonded to a shapeshifter for most of her existence. Her mind adapts to Whirl's trauma, programming architecture redesigning itself on the fly to accommodate this new type of consciousness. Almost instinctively Shiftlock attempts to bubble soothing compassion and affection around Whirl's mind, empathicly hugging him completely. All that emptiness and pain makes her pour back over into Whirl, overlapping him and cycling them up to synchronization at a rapid rate.

Beneath the surface thoughts there is a dense fog of blurred memories, some sharp and pronounced, others a haze, and the most striking thing is that this haze is from a duality: Shiftlock has been -two distinct people-, one in control for most of her life that is now suddenly gone. Memories of falling towards a smelter, confusion and horror from not knowing why she was slated to die right after forging; waking up in a white room with Senator Ratbat and a creepy spider staring over her: 'my gift to you, Senator', the old mech hisses. Drift trying to kill himself in a prison cell, egging prowl on to shoot him in the head. Wrestling with Ratbat, trying to kill him with her bare hands. Waking up on a table in a free clinic with -someone else crawling out of her body- while Hot Rod and Ratchet look on in shock and horror.

She's seen her own share of pain, but she doggedly refuses to give up, even on her enemies. She's convinced herself that everyone has, somewhere, a kernel of good that needs loved to grow.

No, this isn't right. This isn't right at all. This isn't how it usually goes down. Every time he unleashes that memory on his partner, their systems can't handle the shock and they completely break down; letting Whirl wreck havoc on them, taking everything and giving nothing in return. The compassion, empathy, and understanding coming from Shiftlock are things he did not expect her to give him and it truly surprises him. The experiences she shares with him only intensifies this; the mech pained at the horrific things she went through, but inspired by her resilience and determination to keep going.

All of this, everything about this, moves Whirl to his very core and he physically drops to his knees, arms clutching Shiftlock so tightly that she may walk away from this with dents and scrapes. It's like something inside him changed and all the firewalls he had tucked away to keep his innermost self private break down and reveal his true essence. He is not the deformed freak people see him as, and he's not the crazy thug he likes to think of himself as. He's a mech with the spark of an artist who was broken by his empurata and desperately wants to be normal. To have his life back. To be loved again.

Oof! The two of them are suddenly closer to the ground, which startles Shiftlock enough to make her hold onto Whirl tighter, trying to keep her balance and make sure the connection isn't accidentally severed by a cable being jerked out. That would be disorienting and painful for the both of them, like running headlong into a brick wall. Recovering quickly from the physical interruption, she is sharing Whirl's deeper sense of self, his inner pain, his hopes, his dreams, his loss.

Love. The little fembot is still innocent enough, still has enough hope and joy de vivre, that she responds to Whirl's inner wounds by giving out of herself memories of happiness, excitement, trust and love. The thrill of driving at mach speeds through the dark, seeing things in radar rather than the spectrum of light, of being able to grab hold of the terrain beneath her tires and forcing it to carry her her in endless two-dimentional flight over, under, through and across any obstacles in her path. Smiles and laughter. Wrestling and playful fighting to test her mettle against others in competition. Warm moments of gratitude in the optics of others for all the things she's shared with them.

Shiftlock blends easily and casually into Whirl, letting him do the same, to feel her, become her, experience her, and all she has to give. Her engines cycle up audibly from the pleasure of it.

Shiftlock is just so welcoming and without judgment that the walls Whirl has put up in his mind break down and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never thought he could, especially with a stranger he just met. There's casual interfacing, which Whirl is no stranger to, and then there's this; something better described as an experience shared between two souls. He's had it before, a long time ago.

The femme's pleasant memories cause Whirl to reminiscence his own good times. Before the wandering through the streets, before the empurata, there was someone special to him, someone he buried deep away in his subconscious. The memories are hazy, as if trying not to be seen, but what they reveal is plain enough. A like-minded mech in a bar. An interesting conversation became a physical engagement, a casual interface became a very close relationship. There's a memory of Whirl sitting at a desk, a vague vision of the delicate mechanisms of a watch. The feeling of his lips on his neck. An overwhelming warmness.

These are things Whirl hasn't thought about in a long time, a memory kept deep inside him to be seen by him and him alone. He didn't mean to share this with Shiftlock, it just sort of happened. He considers pulling the plug on this whole thing, not caring about the pain it will cause or what damage it may do to his systems. He just feels so.. vulnerable, it's almost too much for him. This wasn't meant to happen.

If she had any clue she was causing Whirl that much discomfort she'd back off entirely; as it is Shift is aware that Whirl is hesitant and uneasy, and she slows herself down, mentally cuddling up against him and just quietly giving him affection. In the process, memories not her own, left behind by the residue of a powerful Mutacon bleed through the thick dark fog that occupies 80% of her memory core: Space, travelling freely through the vast heavens, viewing suns and comets and ion storms, asteroids and thousands of worlds, nebulae and the dance of brilliant white-hot pulsars that sing in their own frenetic electromagnetic voice. Being intimately, physically connected and combined not to one or two individuals, but /hundreds of thousands/, a warm blanket woven around the soul, where all thoughts and feelings and personalities are shared, with the subtle undercurrent of worry -- all are becoming one.

This has shaped Shiftlock more than she ever knew, and reveals her own deep, empty ache: She doesn't understand why Cybertronians only want to be connected to one. She wants to be part of more, much more! There is a deep longing to be part of something bigger than herself, to be a supporting, unifying pillar within not a partnership, but a team.

Letting his private self be put out in the open for Shiftlock to see was the hardest thing Whirl has had to do in a while, but now that it's passed he feels almost relieved. The worst is over, now it's just a matter of being in tune with the femme and sharing her experiences with her. When he first turned around and laid his gaze upon her, he took her for a naive youngster with a habit of biting off more than she could chew but this interface has shown him that she is much deeper than that. She has been through so much, soon so many things, she is way more intriguing andf exciting than he originally gave her credit for. It's pretty awesome.

He's calmer now, content with just being there to share this with her, to feel the warmth of another's embrace. It's everything he's been longing for and it, well.. it just feels so damn good. So good he never wants to let her go, so even though he knows they can't sit here and interface for the rest of eternity, he puts it out of his mind and lives just for the moment as it were.

With the initial disparity of minds put aside after a rough tussle, Whirl and Shiftlock are synchronizing up, overlapping each other in a lazy spiral of back and forth between bodies, their processors and sensor systems coming into alignment. The over-stimulation is registering in a pleasurable way. No, they won't be able to stay merged like this forever: mental defenses will kick the connection to prevent them from overwriting each other into a single being stretched across two bodies. Nevertheless, a little of each will remain in the other as a subtle influence.

Whirl's grip around the femme finally loosens so he's not longer squeezing her like he's terrified of losing her. It's the first time since he lost his hands that he's felt totally at peace and although he tries not to think about it now, there will come a time when he hungers for this kind of connection again and will seek her out. Will he become just another name on her list of weirdos who break into her apartment and demand her attention? Maybe. Is it something he particularly wants? Not really, but it's nice to have goals isn't it?

After some time he finally manages to speak, having forgotten how to do so during their rather intense interface. "Hnng, Shiftlock, do you make a habit of interfacing with strangers in alleys?"

Yes, she'll be suspiciously dented. And Barricade will be -pissed-. Note: He is presently searching for her whereabouts. This might get ugly. Shiftlock is very content to remain in physical contact with Whirl, happy and contented to have given someone something they really needed. "No, I can't say that's something I do as a matter of habit," she laughs weakly. "Then again no one's gotten up in my face and asked me so directly either."

Whirl slides an arm around Shiftlock's shoulders and pulls her against him, his 'face' pressed against the side of her neck. "Ohoho, really? I'm going to see that as an accomplishment, you know." Being the first one to proposition her so directly like that tickles him but it's also not surprising that she's never dealt with that before considering what she told him about her past partners and their weird hang-ups. "I don't know where you're going or if I'm ever going to see you again, but if you ever want to do this again, I'm sure you'll be able to find me." He pauses for a moment. "No pressure, of course."

Dingdingding WE HAVE A WINNER. No pressure is the best kind. "Well I definitely want to make sure you're all right. I mean, if you ever need something like energon or a place to go, I'd be happy to help. I don't have much, but I have a place in Kaon in Wreckage Row. It's not glorious but it's better than an alley. Plus there's bars, and the Forge -- oh, do you know about the pit fights in Kaon?" Shiftlock questions, looking up at Whirl, comfortable with him.

Whirl is all too familiar with the fighting pits and the type of people who frequent such places. Hell, he was just there not too long ago making fun of some space shuttle dweeb and asking a medic to kill him. "No, never heard of it," he lies. Personally, he finds what she said about her place in Wreckage Row far more interesting. "So, since we just had this super intense experience with each other, is it cool if I come and crash with you for an indeterminate amount of time?"

"I don't see why not. I mean, I let pit fighters crash there all the time, seeing as how I am /technically/ Forge property," she says without a single thought to the consequences thereof. "I've even met Megatron in person! ... Guy's kind of dull though. All he does is brood."

Oh man, it's going to be funny as hell when Blast Off comes home and sees Whirl sprawled out on a couch, squatting in the apartment with everyone else Shiftlock interfaced with. What a great sitcom that would make. Her comment about being Forge property is meaningless to him, but what she says about a certain someone makes him completely freeze up.

And just like that, this wonderful experience is about to be totally ruined.

"I'm sorry, I think my head is still swimming from what we did but... did you say you met Megatron?"

"Yeah, I did once in the Forge," Shiftlock says. "You know, where the pit fights happen. He's a pretty big name down there now. Unbeaten record, fifty kills in the death matches." She sighs. "I probably shouldn't have done this with you seeing as how Senator Ratbat wants me dead -- maybe you saw some of that, but "the good Senator Ratbat"--" Heavy use of sarcasm and air quotes there. "--owns me, and experimented on me. I used to be one of his enforcers - until I tried to kill him and ran."

Whirl's mind is practically racing at this point. He knew Megatron didn't just up and die after they first met during his stint as a Rodion law enforcement officer but he hadn't been paying attention to the news and didn't realize Megatron and his ideals were gaining significant footing in the world. And now he learns the femme he just interfaced with so intimately is some kind of groupie of his or something? He sighs and rubs the side of his head with a claw. Hopefully Shiftlook meeting Megatron was a one time thing and the three of them wont end up in the same room together after this.

"If you're afraid you just made me some kind of target, don't worry. There's nothing the Senate or politicians can do to me that they haven't already done." He looks down at her and nuzzles his 'face' against her cheek. "Mmmm... besides, I'll kick his scrawny aft to pieces if I have to."

"They could kill you," Shiftlock points out. "And I don't want that to happen to you. You've been through enough already. I'm just glad I could give you something pleasant." She hopes it was - maybe stirring up old memories wasn't the best idea for either of them. At least for Shiftlock, it's cleared some of that fog; the difference in mental structure between the two of them has kickstarted some defragmentation routines, helping to segment and compartmentalize the remains of Mercury in her head.

"Death doesn't frighten me," Whirl says like the total bad-ass he is. "Not anymore, but since you're so concerned about it, I'll /try/ not to get brutally murdered by a bunch of corrupt politicians on your behalf." He gives her a tight squeeze, claws scraping ever so slightly against her armor. "And yes, it was extremely pleasant. I'm sure you enjoyed yourself as much as I did." At least he hopes so, she's pretty much the first person he's interfaced with where he actually gives a crap about how they felt.

"Yeah, it felt -great-," Shiftlock admits with a lazy, satisfied smile. "I-- I kinda like that you just went for it." Impulsiveness is a trait she appreciates.

And then reality comes knocking. Or rather, beeping; Shiftlock's hand goes to the side of her helm to take a call. "Hmm?" She frowns. "Oh come on I wasn't gone -that- long." Blink. "You're -where-?" Her hands moves away from her head, and she looks like a deer in the headlights. "Well -scrap-."

"It was easy to just go for it when you were so, so willing," Whirl says, a low rumble in his tone. Already he catches himself fantasizing about the next time they hook up because, let's be honest here, it's /going/ to happen it's just a matter of when.

He perks up at Shiftlock's little phonecall. "Problem? You know you can always come hide out at my place." He waves his arm, gesturing to the alleyway. "It will be great! You can put your stuff over there, and we can put a couch there.."

"You aren't by any chance wanted by the police for anything are you?" Shiftlock asks Whirl ever so casually. Yes, that's always a good sign.

Off in the distance, a siren is wailing.

"Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh...." Whirl waves his claw around. "Maybe? I did just get out of prison not that long ago afterall." He would've remembered doing something illegal though, right? Unless there were drugs involved, which there were.

"So do we just wait here or should we run or what? I mean, I'm cool with whatever. Cops are all losers, trust me, I know this."

"You know one named Barricade?" Shiftlock asks Whirl, standing up to try to look as dignified and not 'freshly fraged' as possible. "'Cause he kinda..." she mutters something incomprehensible under her breath.

Seriously? Barricade? It's like everyone she has every interacted with has something against him, or he has something against them, or whatever, it's just a bunch of drama. He lets out an exasperated sigh. "Of course it's Barricade. Out of all the cops in this damn city." Whirl stands up and tucks his interface cable away. "Maybe we should run. Yeah, let's get the hell out of here like right now."

"Oh he is going to be so pissed," Shiftlock sighs. And then: "Yeah I'm good with that. Let's go!"

Barricade is cruising into the Dead End now and the Empties are scattering like quail. No one wants trouble from the police, and this one has a particularly bad reputation for busting cranial chambers. Orion Pax is a supercop for doing things by the book and keeping a high amount of moral fiber. Barricade is his own kind of supercop. He has a flawless track record of arrests and a long, long trail of excessive force charges behind it.

<< SHIFTLOCK, >> he growls over an open comm channel to anyone that can hear. << FRONT AND CENTER. I AIN'T PLAYIN' AROUND. >>

The police don't really bother Whirl too much what with him having been a cop at one point in his life. Barricade is a completely different story though. Barricade was a well known name amongst the police force due to his... special brand of law enforcement, so as soon as Whirl discovers it's him looking for Shiftlock and not some ordinary Officer Shmuck, he takes Shiftlock's arm in his claws and takes off towards the only place he knows of in the immediate vicinity where they /might/ have a chance at hiding: a shady Syk den.

It looks about as it always does, dirty, smelly, and littered with the unconscious bodies of junkies. Usually when Whirl comes in here it's to get high as heck and maybe rob a couple people, but not this time. He rushes up a squeaky staircase with Shiftlock in tow, throws open a closet door and shoves the both of them inside before slamming it shut. It's a tight fit, extremely tight, Whirl is practically on top of the femme at this point but he's totally cool with that. "Okay, I guess we'll just have to live here from now on."

Shiftlock squirms, trying to get comfortable. "mmnf! Whirl -- look he's just gonna get angrier if I don't show!" she says in a loud, harsh whisper, as if somehow Barricade is going to hear her in a closet upstairs several blocks away. "I'm gonna guess that you -- ungh! -- know him?" She tries to get comfortable against Whirl but yeah, they're crammed in like sardines in a tin, and Whirl has a rack that could put Shockwave to shame.

It's very plausible that Whirl is just using this closet as an excuse to put his claws all over Shiftlock again but it's hard to tell because he seems kind of nervous at the same time. Eventually having two robots crammed in a closet meant for things much smaller results in the door eventually bending before popping right off it's frame with a loud bang. Whirl sighs. "Not really. Kind of. I mean, okay, so I was a cop once. Long story, I don't want to get into it right now, but basically Barricade is, as I'm sure you know, really serious about the whole 'being a cop' thing and that's really bad for me."

"Yeah, tell me about it, he's basically kinda-sorta adopted me," Shiftlock explains. "That's why he's out here looking, I got sick of Blast Off being an idiot and calling me a child and trying to flirt booze off this reporter chick right in front of me, so I told him to tell 'Cade I was going out for awhile." She laughs weakly. "Yeah I wasn't actually supposed to leave but I was tired of being all cooped up." She wiggles a little more. "Hold on there's room under your torso plate if I just get down a little lower..."

A short distance away, Barricade has begun searching for his protege. You can tell because of the screaming and loud noises.

Whirl just stares at Shiftlock. Just a cold, dead, unblinking, unwavering stare that burns deep into her very soul.

"Are you serious." It's not even a question at this point, just, really, is she serious? It's like Whirl is finally realizing that he's just made a very real, very serious, very huge mistake by getting involved with this femme. Yes, the interface was great and he's totally into her but, come on, really!? He snaps to attention when the sounds of screaming reaches his audio receptors. "Hnnng.... okay, this is bad. This is really bad BUT! But.. I'm going to fix this. Okay? I'm going to take care of this, okay?" Whirl takes a moment to compile himself. "Showtime, baby."

With that, Whirl jumps out of the closet, throws himself out the nearest window, and hits the ground hard two stories down. After rising to his feet, he pulls a gun out of seemingly nowhere (makes one wonder what other weapons he has hidden on his person) and starts firing it randomly in the air. "BOY I SURE DO LOVE BEING A CRIMINAL! I HOPE THERE'S NO OVERLY-ZEALOUS, FACIST COPS IN THE AREA TO STOP ME!"

That got someone's attention. Barricade snaps his attention to Whirl; he's got some poor Empty in his claws, trying to shake them down for information. The mech is leaking lubricant right down his legs, armor rattling, before 'Cade tosses him aside, and stalks towards Whirl.

"Scrap!" Shiftlock curses; Whirl's out the window before she can do anything about it. She really likes Whirl and she wants to be around him more, and that's not going to happen if Angry Cop-Dad murders him to death. She rushes to the window. "Whirl you idiot, don't! Just let me get down there and talk to him!" She turns on her heels to try to run down the stairs and get between the two cops before they kill each other.

"Well, well, well," Whirl starts, slowly sauntering towards Barricade, gun twirling about in his claws. How he even manages to do that, no one knows. "Just the aforementioned over-jealous, fascist cop I was looking for! You know, if you go around scaring the crap out of everyone around here, there wont be anyone left for me to take advantage of." He looks up towards the window when Shiftlock yells down to him and then snaps his attention back to Barricade.

"I don't know who that was but I don't think she was talking to us. Anyway, is there something I can help you with or are you just out on a power trip?"

Barricade is now angry for two distinct reasons.

The first reason is that Whirl is standing right in front of him. He's read the manifesto and various tracts of Megatron's polemics on suffering, inequality, functionism, and in particular, the mistreatment the miner suffered at the hands (claws?) of a rogue Rodion police officer. The same one standing in front of him right now.

Secondly, his erstwhile charge is calling out of a window - the same one Whirl jumped out of - to the aforementioned empurata victim, as if they are on good terms. That building is a known syk den, and that sort of trouble is just everything Shiftlock does not need to be involved in. Whirl is -clearly- to blame for all this.

"WHAT THE FRAG ARE YOU DOING WITH HER?" Barricade snarls, voice booming off the walls. "Don't even TRY to play dumb with me you rust-suckin' piece of slag!"

"Woah! No need to yell at me!" Whirl says, dropping his gun to the ground and putting his hands up in infront of him in a gesture of good will. "We're both adults here, I think we can just talk this out like regular people." If Whirl had a mouth he would be grinning like a crazy person right about now, it's just tickles him so much to see Barricade all up in a tizzy like this. It's also kind of scary, but whatever!

"Ohhhhh, you mean Shiftlock? Do you guys know eachother? I didn't the faintest clue!"

"Shoulda bolted her slaggin' feet to the floor," Barricade grumbles to himself as he stalks towards Whirl. "Answer the question, wash-out!" he growls.

Shiftlock all but stumbles out of the alleyway where the door to the syk den was. "Barricade PLEASE! Don't kill him, it was all my fault!" she pleads, running out to put herself between Bad Cop and Worse Cop. "He didn't do anything to me that I didn't want him to do!" Oh like that makes it all better.

Whirl slaps a claw to his 'face' and lets out a groan of frustration. "Shiftlock.. no, the whole point of me coming out here was to distract him long enough for you to get away. Ugh, you know what, nevermind, it's fine." The cyclops throws an arm around Shiftlock's waist and pulls her close against him, staring at Barricade the entire time. "The metaphorical cyber cat is out of the bag now, so I'm going to be up front with you. I interfaced her. Just now." He gestures over to some rundown buildings. "Right there actually, in that alley."

"It was /awesome,/" he adds.

Barricade facepalms. Hard.

Shiftlock laughs nervously. "Hah hah yeah well ah, like I said: nothing I didn't want!" She is JUST brave (or suicidal enough) to defiantly add: "Yeah, he's right. It -was- awesome."

Optics burning like a smelter, Barricade's oil pressure is ready to go through the roof. What looks like extra armor plating around his torso twitches and flutters - his docked deployers are reacting to Barricade's growing anger. "Do you just 'frag -everyone- you meet?" he snarls at Shiftlock. "Do you even -THINK- before you pop your plates?!"

Whirl gives Shiftlock a little pinch, mostly to further infuriate Barricade but also to show support (in his own weird way.) It's one thing for Barricade to get all pissed off and start screaming at him, but it's a whole other story when it's a pretty girl he's interested in getting the riot act. Whirl takes his arm off Shiftlock and steps between her and her angry father figure.

"Hey, back off, Officer YellsAlot. She's a big girl, she can make her own decisions including who she does or doesn't interface with. It's really none of your business, you creep." A slight pause and then Whirl tilts his head back. "Ooohhh waaaiiiit. I get it now. You're /jealous./ That's what this is, isn't it? You're just jealous because I beat you to the punch."

Admittedly Shiftlock does feel back about her impulsiveness. It's gotten her into endless trouble and she worries that her rash decisions will hurt those she cares about. Hurting others is the antithesis of everything she is - the words hit home, and she fairly wilts at the accusations. "W-w-well I just-- just!" she stammers, wounded.

Barricade narrows his optis, setting his jaw. "She tell you that she's barely out of primary programming school? That I found her hangin' around the pits, illerate, homeless and psychopathic stalkers tryin' t' kill her? That she was already stringin' along two mechs a thousand times her age 'cause no one told her any better?" he says with a hard, icy calm. "It's my business because /no one else gave a damn/ whether or not she lived or died -- and you? The Senate's good, obedient little /gearhound/ -- you're sniffin' around for easy prey, just like the rest of 'em." Barricade's hard gaze falls on Shiftlock again. "He tell you he's the one that tried to kill Megatron in that jail cell to shut him up? Yeah. /Yeah/. And you let -that- stick a cable in you 'cause you can't sit the frag down and THINK ANYTHING THROUGH."

Whirl crosses his arms and just lets Barricade go off, occasionally sighing and waving his claw around to encourage him to speed it up so they can all move on with their lives. She's young? Yeah, he knows that. She was a little gutter cretin and got involved with some crazy dudes and all that jazz? That doesn't matter to him, none of that does. Shiftlock gave him something he hasn't experienced in a long loong time and anything she's done or is going to do doesn't matter to him.

Then Barricade had to go and open up his mouth about /him/ and what /he/ did and /his/ mistakes. This causes Whirl to twitch just slightly. His accusations about sniffing out easy prey isn't totally wrong, but he still doesn't like hearing it. Oh, and that Megatron thing? Yeah, that is not something Whirl wanted to come out yet.

Without warning, without even a grunt of effort, Whirl lunges towards the other mech, claws swinging out to land a nasty hit across the officer's face.

If there's one particular skill that Cade has in spades it is the ability to cut others like a blade, right down to the spark, with words alone. Shiftlock is crumbling inside because she can't exactly deny what Barricade is saying, and she feels as if she let him down, big time. He'd done nothing but help her out of nowhere, and she'd disappointed him - and the cause - in a major way. It leaves her just stunned enough that she doesn't have time to react to Whirl suddenly slicing a claw at 'Cade's face.

Barricade is shut up as Whirl impacts him straight on, gouging a cut from cheek to chin. The surge of anger building inside him releases (finally) as he balls his hand into a fist and swings right back at Whirl's boxy head. Those twitchy things from before? They pop off Barricade, transforming into a blue bird and a blue Ravage-like cat.

There's a very good chance Whirl is either going to end up crippled or in jail just from doing things to Barricade's pseudo-daughter, not to mention he just struck an officer of the law and that's something they don't take kindly to. So with that in mind, he figures there's no reason NOT to go completely hog-wild and make this into a full on assault.

"Oh, how cute! You brought your pets!" Whirl laughs, taking Barricade's missed punch as an opportunity to nail him again with his other claw. "Bringing them out like that, it's almost like you want me to brutally murder them in front of you!"

He's too angry and there's already energon in his eyes. Barricade misses, leaving him open to another strike from Whirl.

That's when Shiftlock steps in.

She cares about both of them; no matter what Barricade has said she knows he's trying in his own way to help. She likes Whirl and while shocked that this is the horrible abusive enforcer that nearly killed Megatron, she saw into his memories, and knows there's more than just one side to that story. She's seen something in that rotorcraft she likes. "Stop it, both of you!" she screams, before running up behind Whirl and trying to tackle him to the ground, to stop the fight before it gets worse.

Garboil circles uneasily overhead and Howlback moves out of the side, wanting to strike at Whirl, but unwilling to potentially catch their future (or so they hope) potential dock-mate in the crossfire.

It's too late for Whirl now, the seal has been broken and once the anger starts flowing there's no stopping it. Everything Barricade said about him was true and he was just proving it with how he was presently acting. His claws are quickly becoming stained with energon but he doesn't seem to notice, or at least he doesn't let it discourage him from continuing. He rears back again, completely oblivious to Shiftlock's pleas or her attempt at stopping him, and takes another swing at Barricade, this time with an opened claw to give the officer's neck a tight squeeze.

"You brought this on yourself, Barricade! You couldn't just give me a break could you? You couldn't just let me have peace of mind for ONE cycle!"

Barricade's fury is only growing. He's twisted up like a knot inside, feeling betrayed by his student and charge, and feeling pure rage at Whirl, who is the embodiment of corruption and abuse of authority in his optics. He was taken off-guard by Shiftlock being so close to Whirl; he didn't dare unleash the full brunt of his skills on Whirl while she was practically in his claws. Now as the mutilated rotorcraft clamps down on his neck, his rage turns on full bore.

With Whirl in close proximity Barricade ignores the claw around his neck to lunge for Whirl's midsection with his own wickedly curved claws open, not for a punch, but for an open-palmed thrust, trying to sink his claws into Whirl's body, grasp the mesh and any components beneath. His optics brighten and he snarls like an angry dog.

Shiftlock, unable to grab hold of Whirl, has fallen off to the side, and is frozen in place, not knowing what to do. Everything is crashing down on her, and her well-intentioned but foolish choices may lead to someone's death. She just locks up, panicked. She doesn't know what to do anymore.

"Yessssss," Whirl practically hisses, leaning in close to stare down Barricade while he has him grasped in his claws. "The look in your optics, the anger.. I love it. I love everything about it." He brings up his second pair of claws, snapping them threateningly before the other mech's face. "That's the look I want plastered on your face when I kill you!" Unfortunately for Whirl, his luck seems to have just abour run out.

There's a shot pain that surges through the cyclops' body and then the warm sensation of energon spilling over his body. He casts his emotionless gaze down only to see Barricade's claws deep inside his body, grasping the delicate mechanisms and wires that make up his insides. At first Whirl is stunned and then.. he begins laughing. Not one of those fake laughs for dramatic effect, but a genuine one as if this was the funniest thing he's seen in a while. "Hahahaha! You got me, officer! You got me! Or... do you!?"

With all the force he can muster, Whirl jerks himself backwards and literally /tears/ himself away from Barricade, leaving the only thing left in his grasp a sparking mess of Whirl guts. The ground beneath the both of them quickly becomes stained with the mutilated mech's fluids, the trauma of having his robot guts ripped out just adding to the energon flow.

The jerking back slices deep gouges into the side's of Barricade's neck, and the energon is flowing. His vocoder is useless, torn by Whirl's pincers. He staggers back momentarily, the lines on his body glowing bright. He's an enraged bull ready to charge. He crushes whatever pieces of Whirl he had in his hands like overripe fruit, a sickening metallic *squelch* and a splatter of bright pink all over the glossy black of his body.

Howlback acts immediately - not to avenge her carrier but to go after Shiftlock. The blue panthress runs up behind Shiftlock. "Move! Now! You cannot stop zhis!" she commands, trying to snap the terrified fembot out of it. She bites into Shiftlock's doorwings and begins to pull her back and away from the fight.

Garboil wheels over Whirl's head. "Oh you are truly a piece of work aren't you - everything the writings said and more," he muses coolly, completely composed. He knows Barricade isn't going to be able to keep fighting like this, not with that wound - and he also knows that Cade's anger will get the better of him if the condor doesn't stop it. "Whirl, I'd like very calmly to ask you to SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN."

The alleyway /rattles/ with the sudden loud, booming voice coming from such a tiny bird; the harmonics of Garboil's voice resonate and crackle against the senses, attempting to confuse and terrify every listener in the same way Dirge's engines roar with frequencies of fear.

Whatever it was that Barricade just crushed in his claws was something Whirl needed. Not long after his dramatic display of self harm, Whirl's internal computers begin sending him warnings and alerts reguarding the imminent failure of his systems. His vision starts to get hazy, like he was on the verge of a blackout, and his body becomes weak as he continually loses more energon. Everything starts to become disorienting and distorted. It was starting to feel like a bad trip but this was no psychadelic journey, this was dying.

Whirl gives Garboil the only thing he can muster, a blank stare, before the creature's yelling affects him in a way he didn't think it would. It brings him to his very knees with a clatter and, all his strength having left him by this point, he eventually ends up on the ground; collapsing completly onto his side, not even the energy remaining inside of him to make any attempt (as futile as it would be) to stem the bleeding gushing from his open wound.

Shiftlock struggles against Howlback, pushing the cat away from her with all her strength, before Garboil's voice hits -her- as well. She's already terrified. The fear passes over her because there's no deeper pit of terror she could fall into right now. Confused and dazed, weeping without the benefit of tears, she struggles against outlier-induced panic, confusion, grief and horror. . . to get to Whirl.

Barricade snaps out of his rage, Garboil's vocal assault slapping him like the fist of reason. His hands go to his neck to staunch the flow; he opens his mouth to speak, but finds no words - only a gurgling sound, water over a rusty storm grate. He switches to internal comms.

<</LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE/,>> he roars at Shiftlock. <<LOOK AT IT GOOD AND HARD, GIRL. THIS IS -YOUR WEAKNESS-, -YOUR DISOBEDIENCE-.>> Garboil circles back to Barricade; Howlback is shoved aside, and sensing what the cop intends to do, lets Shiftlock shove her aside. She pads back to her carrier. <<If you can't follow orders, if you're gonna run around and do whatever the FRAG YOU WANT... You can /STAY HERE IN THIS ALLEY AND DIE RIGHT ALONGSIDE HIM/.>>

The words slam into Shiftlock's already breaking psyche as she crawls towards Whirl, wanting to save him somehow. She trembles with every slow, unsteady movement.

Barricade's optics narrow and he hisses over the comline with the soft finality of a grim reaper. << Don't ever let me catch you in the Forge again. You're not a Decepticon. You never will be. The next time I see your face, you're spare parts. You're /dead to me/. >>

Whatever conversation is happening between Barricade and Shiftlock is unheard to Whirl but he's not an idiot (despite the stupid crap he does, this being a perfect example) and he knows that some serious stuff is going down between them. And the worst part? He was completely to blame for it.

Now, being blamed for terrible things doesn't normally bother Whirl too much. It did at one point, but he's gotten so used to it that he's started taking the blame for things he hasn't done just to add to his already undesireable reputation. This was different though. This was him being a creepy weirdo, taking advantage of someone who didn't know any better, and then trying to murder the only person who actually gave a damn right in front of her. All she wanted to do was help him, and he ruined her life for it.

Whirl can only stare at Shiftlock as she comes towards him, though at this point she's just a Shiftlock-shaped blurr in his vision. He outstretches an arm to her, shaking and weak, just wanting to touch her once more before his body shuts down. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, voice crackling. "Everything he said.. was true. It was.. all true. I'm the reason for everything bad that has happened and will happen in the future. I'm a broken, selfish mech and I took advantage of you when all you wanted to do was help a poor soul like me." He wants to say more, he wants to tell her that their interface changed his life, that it was the first time since his mutilation that he felt like a normal person, a loved person, that he felt something special. But how could he tell that to someone whose life he just destroyed?

He hated to do it.

It may not seem like it, but Barricade is dying inside - not due to injuries, Hook and Scrapper will take care of those soon enough - but because he knew this would be the only way to save that confused little fembot's life. She had no idea Clench was slating her to fight in the pits, not in the light or middle weight matches, but in a life-or-death match he knew she would not survive. She was too kind and too giving to be a part of the Decepticon movement. Him? He could steel himself to the awful task of war that he knew was coming, but someone like Shiftlock would never come out of it whole or sane again. He had to drive her out, make her hate and fear him, give up any hope of enjoying her child-like innocence again, in order to save her life. He didn't want it to turn out like -this-, but for her own good, he had to drive home the reality that her recklessness was not going to lead to just her own hurt.

He draws a shock prod nightstick from his side -- but turns and uses it on himself, adjusting the setting to /roughly weld his own neck shut/ before holstering the weapon and transforming. He may leak interally but it would stay -inside- instead of pouring out. Garboil and Howlback transform as well as 'Cade opens his doors, the data slugs slotting inside. He roars his engines, and tears out of the dead end. The faster he gets to Kaon, the better.

The tires of the retreating cop car screetch with a painful finality for Shiftlock, another blow to her shattering, unraveling psyche. She takes Whirl's outstretched claw, and tries to pull him partially into her lap. She struggles to remember the training she had for this situation - the training Barricade gave her for live-saving first aid. "Shhh," she whispers, choking back grief. "There's a--there's a free clinic nearby. I'm going to try to seal off the leaks. I'm not going to let you die! Brace yourself, this is going to hurt." She reaches down to the mess of Whirl's abdomen and begins to clamp off and tie off busted energon lines with her hands. She's no skilled medic and her hands are slippery with Whirl's inner fluids, but it -will- buy him some time.

Whirl's not fully aware of what's going on around him at this point and it's taking everything he has just to keep from blacking out. He tries his best to stay focused on Shiftlock's face, feeling peacefulness in the comfort of her lap, but it's getting harder and harder to do so. He can see her mouth moving and he can sort of hear words coming out of it but it's unclear and unfamiliar, like she was trying to talk to him from far away. Even his own voice is unrecognizable to him as he blurts out a slurred apology, just one of many he gives her as she tries to save his miserable life.

Whatever pain such a desperate procedure might produce is simply meaningless to Whirl. As soon as he had his internals ripped out, his systems began to systematically shut themselves down in an effort to spare themselves from the shock and he is completely unable to feel anything; if his limbs weren't in his peripheral vision, he wouldn't even know they were still attached to him. Fortunately for the both of them, Shiftlock's work seems to stabilize him. For now.


It's a simple question. Why? Why is she trying to save him? Why does she care? Why wont she just let him die alone? Why does she still feel the need to help someone who royally screwed up everything decent in her life? Why any of that?

"Because I believe you're worth saving."

Shiftlock doesn't have the ability to be evasive about her feelings right now, her world has caved in and she's desperately grasping the last few straws of normalcy that she can. That means saving this mech's life; if he died because of her carelessness, she would never be able to live with herself. She'd be another broken Empty wandering these streets, babbling to themselves, shuffling from place to place aimlessly until she finally shut down due to lack of fuel and collapsed into rust.

She blames herself for this, not Whirl. It -can't- be his fault; she absolves him of all responsibility in her own mind, because her freshly maimed conscience is screaming guilt at her. What Whirl did or didn't do isn't registering yet. She's going into shock, her mind locking away all feeling to focus on survival and the task at hand. Carefully Shiftlock picks up Whirl. "Hang on, it's going to be okay. I'm going to get you to that clinic if I have to give you all my energon to do it."

It's not far away. Shift struggle to carry the bigger mech, managing on digital adrenaline alone, to race him towards Ratchet's clinic.

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