Title: Building a Monument
Date: 8 May 2015
Summary: In the aftermath of Zeta's death, Overclock recruits some help to make a memorial, and to gather a personal favor.
-- Radio: A: Global -- Overclock says, "Feint, are you online?"
-- Radio: A: Global -- Feint says, "Yes. Surprisingly, yes."
-- Radio: A: Global -- Overclock says, "I'm Overclock. We haven't met yet, but I'd like your help."
-- Radio: A: Global -- Feint says, "... Very well. How, and in what regards?"
-- Radio: A: Global -- Overclock says, "With a monument I'm building and... also something personal. I'm in Nyon."
-- Radio: A: Global -- Feint says, "Very well."
To those absent during its destruction, the desolate ruins that mark the former city of Nyon can be spark-chilling. The streets are littered with collapsed buildings, unidentifiably scorched bodies, and scrap detritus leftover from wholesale destruction. It's few and far between of life now, save for a small salvaging effort started by a freshly-branded Decepticon.
Overclock knows these streets now - not as Hot Rod knew them but the present, hazardous and crooked pathways. The femme's walked them from one end to the other and is now doing so again in search of usable materials for her project. A rough pedestal has been forged from unpolished metal and set in a clearing nearby and three piles are slowly taking shape beside it: one for useful scrap metal; one for workable, smelted material; and a third for any bodies the Insecticon's search unearths. It's lonely work for now, but the posters only went up recently. Overclock is hoping for help.
Feint's arrival is neither ostentatious nor aggressive. She slips in from above and transforms halfway to the ground, landing with a gentle thud of narrow legs and delicate heelstruts. Her visor turns first to the statue, then to the beastformer near it. "Overlock, I presume?" she asks politely.
Overclock turns at the flyer's arrival and nods. "That's me," she affirms. "Thank you for coming."
Feint remains at a cautious distance, almost forgetting that she can no longer unintentionally affect others with emotions. Still, old habits die hard - and may be misinterpreted. "You're welcome. What can I do for you?"
Finding some willingness from the UAV, Overclock mentally relaxes a bit. She's worried for an entirely different set of reasons. Rising up, she transforms into her root form for the sake of having arms again. Arms can point at things.
"I'm trying to build a memorial statue but that's not something I can do by myself. I'm gathering raw materials here," she gestures to the pile of scrap, "smelting it to make it workably pure," to the pile beside it, "and then I'll remelt it once someone with more knowledge of architecture arrives to make it into a recognizable shape." The masked femme pauses and then turns her hand more sombrely to the fourth pile she's been making. "I've also been finding bodies... and storing them here. I doubt they can be identified but it's only right."
"I'd appreciate help with anything."
"..." Silence, as Feint looks at the corpses, and then back at the beast.
"It's very kind of you to do that," she admits after a moment of thought, voice soft and gentle, lowered out of the weight of her own unhappiness. "I'm not entirely sure how I can help. I'm not strong. I'm not an artist. I'm just a medic, and now? I'm afraid for my life."
Overclock's tone softens as she picks up on the flyer's emotion. "Then carry a small load," she suggests. "Or help me find good raw material. I'm relying on everyone's help adding up. Zeta's dead and thank Primus, but that's how we'll have to live when there's no one telling us what to do."
The Insecticon makes no move to draw closer least she spook Feint but she does ask carefully, "Why are you afraid for your life?"
"Because Megatron is in power," Feint admits symply.
Overclock sighs and bows her head for a moment before returning her gaze to Feint. "I don't know the details but I'm sorry for what happened to you. I'm not asking for help on behalf of Megatron." She hikes a claw to the empty pedestal. "*Everyone* has suffered and there are too many dead to count - here most of all. Orion Pax seems like an appropriate martyr to recognize first. Hopefully Nyon will get its own recognition afterwards."
Gambling a little, the Insecticon sends a short-range radio burst in an attempt to set up a more private line as well.
Rumbling in from the direction of Iacon, a large green transport makes it way to where Feint and company are. As it gets closer, it slows down and then stops. "Sorry, I got lost, and then the road that I was supposed to take had been exploded and I had to make another turn and and..."
"...I finally had to stop at a fueling station and ask directions." he admits with an embarassing undertone before Bulkhead protoforms into that large and orbish shaped root form. "Uh, I ain't too late, am I?"
History wasn't always a happy thing to cover, but covered it had to be a Rotor Craft can be seen up in the skies over the city that was once Nyon. Bulkhead would know that would be Cascade from the alt mode and Overclock might suspect it given their past encounter. A record of aftermath of Nyon was needed. It needed to be saved, a reminder of the cost of falling prey to the lure of control and power. Also a cold reminder of the price innocents would pay. She's been mapping the ruins for some time and now comes in for a landing, transofrming and standing upon one of the ruined Omega Sentinels.
"It's a nice enough of thought, and I thank you to honor him in this way," Feint replies. "I simply... I can't focus at the moment. Especially here. The entire area simply -bleeds-." She's having a difficult time expressing what she's seeing.
The voice of new individuals startles her out of her outlier-induced headache. "Hmm?" she asks, turning to look at the others with a blank face.
Overclock turns as she's visited upon by the large green mech. She'd smile if it would show on her face. "Not at all, the work is just beginning. I'll take sculpting help if you've got the skill, otherwise any servos you can offer hauling good metal nearby," she explains, pointing to the pile of gathered scraps. "To start we mostly need iron and titanium." Looking up to Cascade, she spots the familiar green-eyed femme and adds for her benefit, "Loads big and small are useful, as is marking good sources of material."
"Bodies I'm keeping separated," Overclock adds, indicating a more tragic collection of metal that's started as a consequence of her search.
< It's not an easy place to work, I know. It's cooled but I can still barely stand the smell... > Feint isn't forgotten. < Can I help? >
Then Bulkhead does take a good look around. And then pauses. "Oh." he says as he takes in the devastation, and his jaw sets for a moment in thought. It's a lot of the big sparked mech to take in. But then Feint gives him a blank look and he skitters backwards a few steps. Blank face - scary.
"Ah. Uh. I heard there was a meeting here. And uh, just thought that I'd stop by and.. uh.. it's a private meeting and I totally interupted it and doing something nice for Pax is great and all that, but maybe I should think about rebuilding.. uh. Maybe. I don't even know if there's an engineering guild anymore." he admits as Bulkhead rubs the back of his head, confusion coloring his expression as he looks towards the others.
"Oh hey, Cascade." he says as the third femme protorforms. "I.. uh.. uhm. Whoops." he offers sorta helplessly. The big mech just looks around and then goes to find a pile of scrap before sorta sitting on it to think.
"Process, process, process." he rumbles, as he pulls out a juice box to sip on and consider.
Cascade looks to see Bulkhead and the down seeing Overclock, and Feint as well. She takes a moment to pause from her recording work and leaps down from the top of the ruined drone. AS she does so she land in a crouch before rising back up.
"I'm just ... making a record of the aftermath of what happened here. It shouoldn't be forgotton, or we may doom a future generation make mistakes like this one again..."
Feint flinches a little as Bulkhead retreats from her. She's used to that, unfortunately. <It's the energy here,> she shortwaves to Overclock. <It's like a fog. I can see the misery. Spacetime has been bent here... it's like a bruise on existence.>
"I apologize for making you uncomfortable, Guildleader Bulkhead. Some of us are damaged in less obvious ways than empurata."
Overclock nods to Cascade in silent consent of the historian's activities before turning to the retreating form of Bulkhead and eyeing the mech oddly. At least that's probably what the masked femme is doing, she might be checking out his aft instead.
< That's what the air says too, > she transmits back to Feint, trading sense for sense. < Don't linger if it's too uncomfortable for you... but please if we could still talk. >
Bulkhead nearly chokes on his juice when Feint makes a statement of fact towards him. Cough cough - wheeze - hack! "Wrong pipe!" he finally manages as he coughs a few more times, and then gets a confused look.
"-Y-You just startled me, that's all," he tries to offer, though lame, it's honest.
Don't ever watch 'Organic Attackers from Omega Epsilon Nine' with him. When the organics peel and eat their victims (fruit) it always sends him hiding behind the couch for a few minutes at least.
And don't even get him started when they go fishing and then all the things they do to said fish. TERRIBLE TERRIBLE THINGS.
"It's fine, really! You still have a great personality?" he offers, oh so lamely.
"I'd like to think I still have thrusters that won't quit but I'll take it," Feint replies, her visor displaying a :) image. "I realize that outliers are a little frightening. At least at this point I won't be hunted for my spark - I imagine the functionist council are trying to make their way offworld to save their own mesh."
<As you wish,> she radios back pleasantly.
An outlier? That's quite the admission and it's one that earns Feint the continued attention of the group's Insecticon... beastformer... whatever she is. Are you really an outlier? What can you do? Is that why you have such big wings? All possible questions perhaps but a more pressing one dominates Overclock's thoughts, not so easily swayed. < You're a mnemosurgeon, right? >
Cascade looks around for a moment at the wasteland and seems lost in thought for the moment before she speaks up.
"This place their's an alien term I heard once. It smells of ghosts here."
She doesn't quite /grasp/ it but she gets the idea this place is just /wrong/ to her.
"Scrap? Huh that doesn't matter so much with the caste system smashed... I... I'm honestly happy it's gone.."
It's Feint's own damn fault for pointing out her thrusters, because Bulkhead, bless his spark, looks.
"Oh. Yeaaah." he trails off for a moment before he slaps a hand to his face. "Sorry!" he offers quickly and lamely as he stands up. "You're all busy I'm sure with your planning and chron... chron.. recording history!" the large mech just wants to find a Bulkhead sized hole around to go hide in now.
This is the same mech that can reverse engineer about anything he can get his hands on and helped with ground-bridge technology.
And then he realizes that Overclock is staring at him and it just gets worse. "I-I really should.. uh.. there's a building somewhere that needs my help!" he sputters as he pushes himself up from his large pile of debris. That's when Cascade mentions.. ghosts. "Ghosts! They eat your face and take over your body!" he flails before he feels the rumble underneath his tactile sensors. He manages a startled, "Uhoh.." before the debris suddenly collapses under the mech's weight. The collapse sends him tumbling downwards into the transport grid below, throwing a plume of dust, rust, and debris high into the air. Well, at least the area was already pretty well flattened, being Bulkheaded doesn't make it /much/ worse.
"I'm fine!" comes the muffled cry from below. "I'll just uh.. find my own way out!" And then find a place to hide and pretend that this never ever happened. Nope. Or at least a way back to the surface.
Cascade looks at Bulkhead and seems to be quite worried fror him. She sighs for a moment as she looks down and strts to see how she can help the big guy get out og there she looks a bit sheepish to the other two femmes.
"Maybe I spent a bit too muych time off world. Sorry about that Bulkhead. I didn't mean to scare you like that."
One visored femme looks at another apologetically as a piece of rubble bounces off her frame. Overclock sighs and shakes her head as she walks over to the pile Bulkhead has buried himself inside and transforms mid-stride into her Insecti-hound form. "Stay still, I can dig," the chimera instructs simply as she begins to claw and chew her way into the metal.
"I'm fine, really! There's a tunnel, I think it heads back to Iacon." Bulkhead offers before he starts to make his way down the tunnel to...
...probably get lost for the next few hours again.
Feint regardes Overclock with caution. <... Yes, why do you ask?> she questions hesitantly. She is all too aware of the general Decepticon attitude towards those with her particular set of skills.
< Because I'd like you to teach me, > Overclock asks directly to get the request off her intakes.
"No." The request is denied out loud. "You have no idea what you're asking. These skills are a curse, not a gift, and as a Deception I would only doubly tell you no."
The force of Feint's rejection draws a momentary pause from the Insectibeast. She'd expected a 'no' up front but the change in tone was still jarring. "Please," it's the first thing that comes to mind. "Don't dismiss me out of hand. What's wrong with teaching me?"
"For the same reason that interfacing with multiple strangers is a bad idea. It has the potential to do damage to your own mind in kind," Feint explains. "But furthermore, Megatron despises it, and anyone who knows it. I expect he'll be making it and all who practice it extinct in short order."
"That doesn't make it less necessary," Overclock disputes. "You know better than me how many people have been damaged in ways no soldering iron can fix and there promises to be plenty more. If learning it is a risk to my health, I'm willing to take that risk."
"That is what psychometry is for. Helping subjects to reroute and reprogram their own damaged programming and data sectors is a safer and more lasting method of mental repair. Mnemnosurgery was created for only one purpose: Destroying free will. It's practicioners as as disposable as its subjects."
Feint remains resolute. "That aside, you're still going to bring Megatron's wrath down on your head if you attempt to be come a mnemnosurgeon. You're signing your own death warrant. What could you possibly want or need that would drive you to that end?"
"Because psychometry can't fix me," Overclock replies, letting the statement hang in the ash-filled air. "And even in the best case it can only fix someone willing and mentally able to fix themselves; you're just serving as a guide." "I'd like to learn that too but it's not enough to help on its own," the Insectibeast emphasizes.
Feint ponders this. "What is the problem then? Perhaps I can try to fix you without handing you a tool that will get you executed for treason."
Overclock shakes her head. "If I thought it was that easy I'd have just asked you to 'face me or however you do that kind of work. I need to have the skills myself; I can't just rely on you every time I'd need them used. Maybe not the advanced stuff but the basics, and any extras to help the patients psychometry can't reach."
"If I'm lucky Megatron will see the benefit one cycle," the black femme muses. "If not, I think I can stay far away. I'm a new recruit - except that he's seen my bare mechanisms I doubt he even knows me."
"Believe me, he won't." Feint is resolute in that belief. She knows too much. "But you still haven't told me what the problem is that requires this skill set. I'm not budging until I know."
"I understand," Overclock acknowledges as she looks around then abruptly beastforms and heads away from the memorial site. < Follow me. I already said too much near a populated area. >
< All right. > Feint transforms into her aerodrone altmode and zips upwards, keeping track of Overclock from a high altitude.
The chimeric hound glances up as Feint ascends away, then bounds off comfortable that she can keep up. It's not quite full speed thanks to the ash that's accrued... everywhere, but having traversed the whole of Nyon more than once over, Overclock finds the refuge she's looking for halfway across the city.
Climbing up the shattered exterior of a crippled and lopsided building that at one point was high-rise housing, the Insecticon shifts back into her root mode and waits for the the other femme to join her.
Feint isn't long after, touching down seconds after Overclock transforms again. She folds back her wings and compresses herself down as much as possible, to take up less space. It's a gesture of deference. "I'm all sensors," she offers lightheartedly.
Tucked into the shadows offered by the remaining architecture, Overclock leans back against a cracked wall and lets her tail lazily hang beside her. As an Insecticon and a scorpion at that, the seclusion is a calming influence. Even so, the femme's optics flicker as she considers how much she should say.
"First, I don't assume you know much about Insecticons..."
"There were plenty in the lower depths of Kaon. Nice enough frametype, very unique in mind. The waveforms around them were fantastically beautiful. I'm certain it's a form of language," Feint begins. "But I cannot say I am an expert, no. My work as Megatron's prisoner too up far too much of my time for casual studies."
Overclock's EMF flickers in a distinctly Insecticon manner as she smiles beneath her facemask. She can't help feeling a little embarrassed at the accidental compliment - although it's tempered by being directed it seems, at others. "I... might be able to teach you a little more about us, if you'd like to trade knowledge," the black femme offers delicately. Not all of that knowledge is really hers to give. "But... the Hive, that's life. That defines life for Insecticons," she explains, returning to the topic at hand. Claws rest atop the head of her alt-mode and her ash-covered Decepticon mark by proxy. "I'm a... I'm a failure as an Insecticon, there isn't even a word for me in our language. I can't make my own drones or my own hive. I need help, and I think mnemosurgery can do that."
"I don't know how altering or removing memories is going to help you. That sounds like a frame issue," Feint replies, tapping the chin of her visor, trying to study Overclock through the glass.
"Not mine, drones'," Overclock clarifies. "Like I said, if my mind was the issue it would be easy, but with a little reprogramming I think I can at least get other drones to cooperate. It would be tedious, but better than this..."
Feint unexpectedly pauses. "What... kind of drones?"
"Hunters, nurses, swarmers... any kind," Overclock answers easily. "A hive is incomplete otherwise. Even without being gifted drones from my queen, there are wild hives without any self-awares. I can find them... but I don't think I can help them without your help first."
Feint relaxes visibly. "Oh thank Primus, I thought you meant another kind of drone!" she gasps, tipping her hand without meaning to. "But -- you'd be doing damage to these drones physically. Sensitivity to ultraviolet light is a side effect of mnemnosurgery - do you want these drones to develop rust blisters just to try to control them?"
"What other kinds of drones are there?" Overclock asks in bewilderment. "Maybe... I didn't know about that, but wouldn't it wear off after a while?"
"Not unless you completely replace the body, and even then, the scars and damage on the brain module remain." Oh dear, she mentioned the other ones didn't she? ... Well, this might be a good time to edge further into forbidden territory.
"The Vehicons," Feint says. "They're drones too."
Every minor sign of life in the small twitches and whirrs of Overclock's frame stop dead. "You're the one..." she whispers in realization. "You made the Vehicons? How?!"
"I did it as a means of therapy for a single individual," Feint says. "So when I say I'm familiar with insecticon wavelengths, you can gather how. I created a simple network for the purposes of sensory feedback, and nothing more. It's all about the frequency of the spark, Overclock. That is what makes one what one is. Mnemnosurgery is a poor, blunt tool for something that requires the precision of a proton microscope."
"Heh... hehehe..." Overclock giggles at the apparent absurdity before her mirth flash-boils into a bitter anger. "Simple... do you have any idea how hard it is for me to do that "simple" thing when it's supposed to come naturally to me!? I've tried to synchronize a hatching pod, dozens of times, and I can't. I physically can't!" The Insecticon's engine revs loudly before she realizes who she's yelling at and the chimeric femme tries to collect herself again.
"It might be a "poor, blunt tool" but it's better than having none at all..."
"How many times will I have to tell you no, Overclock? There is another way to do what you want. It took me over twenty-thousand years to go from a disposable mining scout to a medic and engineer. I had to struggle to solve the greatest problem of my existence, and it nearly cost me my life multiple times. That being said, what I have learned I wish I could -forget-. Even after death and suffering it is not worth it to learn this skill."
"I want you to find Megatron, and ask him if you may learn mnemnosurgery. Tell him your problem. If he allows it, I will teach you what paultry skills I have."
Overclock thinks on that and gives Feint's response proper consideration now that she's cooled off enough to do so. With that she's got an offer in hand, she could take it straight back to Megatron, but... "You're wrong, there is no other way," she disagrees gloomily. "I'm surprised you didn't even ask why I look like *this*," the chimeric Insecticon gestures to the mismatched influences to her frame. "I can't make my own hive because my spark's not right, I don't know if it's mild spark rejection or what it is..."
"I'm supposed to have two bodies," Overclock explains. "Not like a conjunx or whatever you hollows call it, but the same person in both of them. That's what - I guess you'd call it the 'old me' - was before one of the sparks got transplanted into a hatching pod. Psychometry can't fix that either, but maybe with mnemosurgery if I can find a flickering spark among all the dead on the surface..." The femme trails off with quiet, hesitant optimism.