Title: Delivery Complications
Date: 05 December 2014
Summary: Hot Rod ordered delivery. Blast Off, Blurr, and Exodus complicate it.
The last time Exodus met Hot Rod was actually the first time he met him. And Hot Rod had told him to look him up in Nyon. Consequently, that is exactly what Exodus is doing. Or, more like, has been doing for the past several cycles. Seems like Hot Rod has made himself scarce these days--at least to Exodus. Or it could just be that Hot Rod can never be found when someone is looking for him, because that's just the way he is.
But today he's simply wandering the streets of Nyon, looking for a joint to hang out at when he sees Hot Rod. Funny how he turns up as soon as he stops looking for him, yeah? "Hey!" he calls out, "Hot Rod! I've been looking all over the place for you."
"You found me!" Hot Rod turns with a wide grin even before he identifies the voice. He's quick with his smile just as soon as he's recognized, as soon as he gets the attention of being called out. Yes, hello, here he is, feel free to pay attention to him.
The wide spread of Hot Rod's arms in a 'tada' gesture tilts at the best possible angle into the light to highlight the flames painted across his chest, which make him so very, very identifiable. "Hey! I remember you." His smile settles a little easier and more natural once he places Exodus. Not a cop. GREAT! "From the archive, right? I probably should've given you better directions than Nyon, mech."
Someone else here is fairly easy to identify. That being Blurr. He's Hot Rod's friend! And he...kind of knows Exodus. He saw him at the archives, too. "Is that the mech we saw at the archives?" he asks the obvious question. "He didn't say his name, did he? Or did I just forget again?"
Exodus looks amused at Hot Rod's and Blurr's reaction to his arrival. He grins. "No need to talk about me as if I'm not here. My name is Exodus, if you forgot," he says kindly, "and don't worry about it, I'm sure you meet enough people on a daily basis."
Except when Hot Rod spread eagles his arms Exodus gets the wrong message and thinks Hot Rod wants him to hug him in greeting "..." He's a little puzzled, Hot Rod's friendly enough, but he never pegged him as the huggy affectionate sort--and quite frankly, Exodus doesn't know Hot Rod that well. Nevertheless, he leans forward and hugs him very gingerly in an uncomfortable manner, laughing a little.
Lesson learned: be more careful with choice of grand poses or people will think you are trying to hug them. Hot Rod makes a note somewhere beneath the baffle. Maybe something with his hands on his hips instead? Next time. /Next time/. Now it's an awkward pat on the shoulder and moving /right past/ that uncomfortable little hiccup with a laugh of his own. He seems to find it funny, with the easy self-assurance to take it in stride.
"Uh, yeah. Right. Exodus!" Hot Rod inclines his head to the city around them and says, "Better than the archives, right?" as though Nyon has /anything/ to offer over Iacon. He looks around the city with an obvious swell of pride as he sets his hands on his hips, lesson learned. He ends in a grin at Blurr that is just a little sardonic. "Your memory," he tsks lightly enough.
The roar of engines can be heard overhead. If one happened to bother looking up, they might note that the sound of the craft (which gives a roar only a large aircraft, like say a shuttle, might have) doesn't quite match what the observer would *see*. For all they would see is what appears to be a Seeker jet. But the truth is obscured, thanks to a hologram disguise. For this "jet" is actually Blast Off, in space shuttle mode, in disguise. And he's here with a job to do, much as it /irks/ him to be relegated to a "mere transport". Talk about *humiliating*.
Just as he had thought might happen earlier, his teammate Swindle had indeed tasked him with transporting a cargo of bombs and energon rations. His contact and destination? Hot Rod and Nyon. He's been grumbling to himself about it all the way here, wondering just how Swindle even talked him into this- being a wanted mech and everything- but the conmech gave him the holodisguise, assured him nothing could *possibly* go wrong and promised him it would be /worth his time/. And so now he makes a final approach towards a nearby landing site, hoping to unload his cargo and get the heck out of town before someone tries turning him in, claiming conjunx endura with him, or who knows the slag else. Hot Rod will soon get an annoyed-sounding radio message, courtesy of the huffy shuttle. << Where are you? I don't have all day. >>
"Hey, it's like he says, I meet new people all the time." Blurr defends himself, folding his arms. He watches the awkward hug thoughtfully, chuckling. "Wow, I didn't know you guys were so close already, did you two go through some kind of life and death experience together?" Is he serious, or is he just teasing them? It's not quite clear.
"Figures, " Exodus says, grinning at Blurr. "But you'll remember my name next time, right?" he says, giving Blurr a cheeky look.
"Nah," Exodus says, "I love the archives. Mostly non-biased information for free. And you know what they say, knowledge is power. But Nyon isn't too bad. I live here, you know, funny how I didn't run into you until just now." When Blurr makes an intentionally awkward comment about them being close friends, he just laughs it off, rubbing his helm. "Well, no.. " His faceplate lights go pale with embarrassment.
"I'd say close proximity to all those librarians and archivists kind of serves as a life or death experience," Hot Rod says very seriously before he gets a distracted look. It's rude to comm and talk, and yet--!
He radios back to Blast Off: << Wow, your timing is /terrible/! I'm here, but-- >> Hot Rod sends a location ping, easily found from above in the open air of Nyon's rusted streets. << --so is Blurr. Swindle seriously made you carry it, huh? >> He sounds a moment from a laugh, and the smile spills over onto his expression.
Hot Rod catches up to what he was saying after a brief pause, saying, "They shush pretty hard, you know!"
"Huh?" Blurr doesn't get what's so embarrassing. Oh...it seems they don't quite agree on what kind of relationship it is. Oh okay that -is- awkward...time for a new subject!
The young racer peers curiously at Hot Rod. "What are you laughing at?" He glances around, as if searching for something that Rod might have spotted that was funny.
Blast Off receives the ping- and the information about Blurr. Grrrrreat, just great. << *Sigh* Blurr. Of course. Why am I not surprised? >> The shuttle makes his landing, resting in his alt mode as metal cools from his trip. << And YES. I told you I'd get stuck with this anyway. But I am assured it will be worth my while. >> (It better be.) << Then get rid of the racer, and get over here. I cannot stick around long. >> Because everyone should drop what they're doing for him, of course. He's one of the IMPORTANT PEOPLE.
Exodus glances over at Blast Off as he arrives, and nods courteously at him. He sighs at Hot Rod. "I'd.. beg to differ. And I don't think it's possible for you to be .. 'shushed' to death." He laughs, looking amused. Hot Rod is such a child. "Look," he says, "I've been telling quite a few people about this political resistance movement you've started--"
"What? Uh. Librarians!" Hot Rod tells Blurr /really convincingly/. (He's not convincing.) << Why don't /you/ get rid of him? >> "Totally dangerous. See? He thinks I'm funny." Tipping his head at Exodus, he radiates satisfaction. Yeah, he's hilario-- uhhh. He moves right from smug to startled. "Hey, hey," he breaks in before Exodus can go on, "now's not really the best time." He can't help but glance at Blurr and back. "And that might be ... overstating it. What do you mean /quite a few people/?"
"So you're laughing at yourself?" Blurr asks. Of course Hot Rod is laughing at himself and thinks he has a great sense of humor. The racer tilts his head slightly at Exodus when he mentions that he's told a lot of people about the 'movement'. Not the best time for what?" Where is Exodus going with this?
"...right." Exodus looks.. really unconvinced. Hot Rod isn't going to persuade him into thinking libraries are dangerous places. He shakes his helm, looking amused.
"Well, when is the best time? If you always say, I'll just be ready when the time comes, you won't be ready until it's too late." He pauses, rubbing his helm. "As in.. I tried to tell everyone I knew? Look, if you ever want to go anywhere with this, you're going to need more people to support you. There's significant interest, that much I know." He sighs. "I'm sorry if I'm coming off as rude and pushy. I don't mean to. But I'm just afraid all the good you've done so far is going to go to waste."
Blast Off gives Hot Rod a loud, annoyed, oh-so-put-upon huffing siiiiigh through the radio channel in response. << That would require me to BE SEEN. >> He sits there, grumbling engines softly as he debates what to do. It appears he's going to have to *transform* so he can go see what's going on and how to hurry things along. But... transforming with cargo inside is gonna be... uncomfortable. He'll have to shunt the cargo to a special spot in subspace and it's doable, just... uncomfortable. UUuuugh.
And so he does transform, and instantly feels a bit squeamish. Standing and equilibrating a bit, he shakes his head, then proceeds towards the assembled group. And no, he doesn't look like himself. He still looks like a Seeker, thanks to the holodisguise. Exodus nods politely to him, so he gives a brief nod back and hopes neither he nor Blurr recognize him. He wastes no time with chitchat. "Hot Rod... where do I leave your.... gift?"
Hot Rod looks like a mech with a rapidly growing headache. He knuckles his helm, pressing his thumb against his brow before dropping his hand. He's lost most of his smile as he looks back at Exodus. Instead, he looks thoughtful. It's terrible. He hates thinking. "Look, I'd be happy to clarify things for you sometime when we can sit down the two of u--oh are you kidding me?" He whips his head around as Blast Off ambles up to stare at him. Then he does another double-take, uncertain as he considers the Seeker form. << You look ... different. >> "Look, I can comm you an address," he says with an increasingly harried tone. He tries to keep one eye on Blurr, but it isn't always easy.
Blurr nods at Exodus. "You know he's right, Hot Rod! If there are people who want to help, you should get them involved. The more support you have, the better. Everyone has resources and skills they can offer." Maybe most of them aren't as rare or as lucrative as Blurr's...but still. "And yeah if you don't let the people who care help, you'll never get anywhere!" Then he frowns at Rod's stressed appearance. "Hot Rod? You okay? Primus I don't think I've ever seen you look uhm distressed before."
Then the disguised Blast Off walks up. Examining the mech, he arches an optic ridge at him. "You sound familiar--do I know you from somewhere? Did you get a new paintjob recently?"
As soon as Blast Off speaks, Exodus recognizes him. Even though he doesn't sound exactly like himself. But he doesn't say anything, instead, he just gives him a friendly wink and smiles.
"What is there to clarify, Hot Rod? I'm not at all confused about where you're going with your 'movement', if you will. You've taken on the position of a leader, but you're trying desperately to avoid responsibility. " Yes, that word. He sighs. "And I don't think that's going to help you in the long run. I yearn for change, just like you. And I'd be sorry to disappoint those who want it as much as I do. You have a lot of potential, Hot Rod. But you need to channel your talent."
Blast Off looks at Hot Rod, and the flame-bedecked mech's miserable look is returned right back at him. The shuttle does NOT want to be here. << I can't exactly parade around places like this right now... especially with mechs like Blurr around. Swindle gave me a holodisguise. Well.... >> He blinks. << I don't know if *gave* is the right word... >> He's sure it's gonna cost him. Somehow. He glances to the other two and asks Rod, << What are they doing here anyway? You working with *him*? >> He glances to Blurr, frowning under his faceplate.
And Blurr seems to recognize...something. The Combaticon stiffens momentarily, then turns his head briefly before looking back. "I... it could be. You're that racer, right? I've attended some events from time to time, I think I've seen you at a few. And I got a new paint job not long ago. Do you like it?"
Exodus winks at him, and the shuttle blinks, tenses.... then just sighs and looks away. At least if Exodus knows who he is, he hasn't seemed inclined to go psychotic or anything. Just please don't bring up any conjunx endura ceremonies, kthanxbye. He listens to them speak, wondering what this is all about- and also wondering the wisdom of discussing it with Blurr standing right there.
Hot Rod groans. Maybe because Exodus said responsibility. In fact, he /definitely/ gets a pained look at that, so it's as good a guess as any. His shoulders slump. His spoiler wilts. His head falls. This is terrible. "This is really just -- a lot," he says to Blurr, without quite clarifying what it is a lot of. IT'S A LOT.
"You know Nyon needs help, right? I mean, look around," he says to Blurr, to Exodus, to himself. Finding strength in his words, Hot Rod's manner settles as he goes on. "That's what it's really about. I didn't exactly ask to lead anything," he kind-of-sort-of whines.
What a leader. What a vision.
<< No! Not really, look, like I said, this timing is /terrible/ why don't I just give you an address? >> Hot Rod shoots rapid-fire at Blast Off.
"I thought so!" Blurr beams, grinning. The racer notices Exodus' friendly smile, and the Combaticon's brief stiffening. What's he so nervous about? He's been training all this time, at the Decagon, to be extremely observant. It's a skill essential to any good spy, even though much of it is just common sense. For example, if someone is nervous, it's likely they're hiding something or lying. Keeping that in mind comes in quite handy during interrogations!
Turning to the miner he asks, "So you know him, then?" Back to Blast Off. "So what's your name, maybe I'll remember it. I -must- know you, the paintjob's probably just throwing me off! But don't feel bad, it isn't just that you're a super forgettable person or anything, I just tend to forget people's names or get them wrong. Just ask them." he laughs and waves at the others.
But Hot Rod is being all vague on him, like always. "A lot of -what-?" he prods further as he is wont to do. Seriously Hot Rod you didn't expect him to just leave it there did you? "I mean, yeah Nyon definitely needs help but it's hard to have an organized effort without some kind of leader, right? And if you don't do it, who's going to?"
"I've seen him around before," Exodus replies in response to Blurr.
Exodus just gives Hot Rod a sympathetic smile. "He's exactly right. I know it's overwhelming, but you started this. Don't you remember why you started it? I know you never asked to be a leader. But if you weren't made of the stuff of leadership, you wouldn't be where you are right now. Everyone who looks up to you and stands by your side even when the government gangs up on you would have long disappeared and lost interest in your cause by now if they didn't see something in you that was worth following.
Blast Off gives Hot Rod another exasperated siiiigh over the radio comms. See Hot Rod? I take your angst and raise you some self-pity. << I just sincerely hope you are not buying supplies from Swindle and handing them over to mechs like *Blurr*. You DO know he can't be trusted, right? >> (Because Swindle is so much MORE of a trustworthy individual...) He does accept the address, though. << Very well. I shall leave them there. I hope you APPRECIATE all the trouble I had to go to to get here... >>
Returning his attention to Blurr, he blinks at the JUST forgettable line. "Uh... of course." He keeps his tone even, despite the fact that he is very much NOT liking being this close to Blurr. "Understandable. My name is Pinnacle. I enjoy flying ...stunts and feats of skill. As I'm sure you can appreciate yourself." He nods to Exodus. "Yes... I enjoy the High caste events... such delightful things."
Hot Rod /does not look encouraged/. This is the kind of thing that one might assume would go right to his head and inflate his ego to a degree previously unheard of outside of myth and legend. It'd totally be the kind of myth and legend where the cocky hero's wings melt off, too. Bad end. Notably, however, it does not.
It's impossible for his ego to be completely untouched by the words, by the /attention/, after all. Hot Rod straightens like a mech shouldering a heavy burden. << It's for /Nyon/, not for Blurr. Besides, he can't help it! >> he insists in defense of Blurr's lack of trustworthiness. It's a lackluster defense. "Look, maybe you're right," he says to Exodus, "but if you know people who want to volunteer or something, we should probably sit down and talk about it when it's the two of us. You too, Blurr, if you want to help," he adds with a somewhat strained smile at his friend. Buddy. Pal.
Exodus sighs. "Hot Rod, I know you've gotten this far without shouldering too much responsibility." He said it, again. "But I think you're at a point in time where you actually need to step up and take more of a leadership role. Otherwise, your movement is going to come to a halt. Come on mech, I know you have it in you. You should have heard the way Drift talked about you. It surely takes a certain someone to bring out the silver lining in a mech like him." He laughs when Hot Rod says they should sit down and talk about it. "Well...about that. I was going to ask you to...nevermind. Maybe it's too much for you to handle all at once."
"Of course I want to help, didn't I say that before?" Blurr questions, suddenly looking kind of hurt. How could Hot Rod forget? Or -is- it that... "Frankly I'm kind of surprised that you haven't really given me anything to do or actually ever -told- me anything, because I'm not sure where you'd find someone -else- with talents like mine." It's almost like he hangs out with him but really doesn't trust him, how can someone be a friend, or buddy, or pal without trust?
Back to that weird 'seeker' frame. Actually, he sounds a kinda like Blast Off. Not just the voice itself but just the way he -talked-. And Blurr might know a way to get him to sound a lot -more- like Blast Off. Grinning at the name, the racer throws an arm around the mech's shoulders. "Pinnacle! Oh I should have known, forgive me! I remember now, you were the one crawling on the ground at the tracks looking for chipped off paint of mine for your collection." he laughs and pats 'Pinnacle'. "Well mech maybe sometime I'll let you show me that collection, I'm actually a little curious on what else you have...." A slight pause. "You know the last time I saw you, you were so excited that you could barely talk, now you seem so much more reserved. Were you on circuit speeders or something?"
Blast Off sighs once more, but keeps it internal this time. He responds to Hot Rod: << For your city, I can understand. But Blurr...? Being able to "help" it or not makes it no less foolish to willingly mingle with him. But... not my problem, I suppose. Not once I get out of here. >> Or so he'd like to think.
Exodus mentions Drift, and Blast off has to wonder how he gets himself surrounded by so many people he doesn't like, or who know people he doesn't like. But- he doesn;t have a lot of time to think about THAT, either. Blurr suddenly throws an ARM around him, and he reacts instantly- it's just too much for the standoffish shuttle. "I BEG your PARDON!?" He tries yanking himself away, then realizes that might not have been the wisest thing. "I... I mean, that was NOT me. Maybe that was another Pinnacle? One who just... looked like me?" Yeah, that'll work.
Hot Rod looks visibly torn between whatever it is that Exodus was going to say and Blurr /right there/. "Wha--." He cuts off the question before he can quite finish it. Looking between the two of them, he settles on the latter. "Mech, talents like yours are once in a generation." He tries to flatter his way past Blurr's hurt. /It'd work on him/. "It's great that you want to help, but I don't figure you're really best used running weak energon rations to people, right? Just gotta figure out how you can help is all," he says with an easier smile. The smile doesn't last. It falls right off his face when Blurr goes for Blast Off. He wipes his hands down his face. And it was such a nice day, too. "Ha ha ha don't be shy, look, Blurr, Pinnacle's shy. It's okay. Blurr's pretty cool."
Exodus perks when Hot Rod nearly finishes the word 'what'. His optics brighten and he turns to face Hot Rod, his expression extremely hopeful. "Oh? You're actually up for doing me a favor?" he asks Hot Rod, giving the mech a small smile.
Exodus glances over at 'Pinnacle' for a moment, the slightest hint of concern crossing his features. He's not too good at keeping cover, is he?
Score. That 'I BEG YOUR PARDON' was way too obvious. Plus, if he were a -good- spy, he would have played along with it so as not to draw suspicion. Blast Off is totally not a good spy. He shouldn't have been asked to go undercover, honestly. Who asked him to do that? Seriously. It wasn't Hot Rod, was it? Well okay let's be honest with ourselves, who -else- would make such an outrageously foolish request?
Blurr sighs at Hot Rod's attempt at consolation, though. It doesn't really help. "Really? You can't figure out how -I- could help you? Do you even -know- what I can do? See maybe this is why you need more support!" Right back to Exodus' point, yep. Nice try, Hot Rod.
As for 'Pinnacle', the racer lets himself get shoved away, though he stays close. Feigning surprise, he gives Blast Off an incredulous look. "Whoa, mech! What got up -your- tailpipes? You were practically leaking from excitement the first time I shook your -hand-." he frowns. "Do you have some kind of personality disorder? Because I'm pretty sure that -was- you. Maybe you should see a doctor. You're going to show me that collection though, right?"
Blast Off is a lot of things- including quite neurotic in many ways- but he's not stupid. BLurr's insistence that he knows "Pinnacle" seems awfully suspicious to the shuttle, and he knows he goofed by reacting so strongly. Still, on the off chance Blurr *is* actually still fooled, he's going to have to play along. He tries NOT to lean away from the oh-too-close-for-comfort racer. "I... well, you see..." He puts up a hand, gesturing a sort of shrug. "Alright... you got me. That... was me, but..." he glances around like he's making sure no one he KNOWS he listening. "I... was hoping to avoid recognition. It was ... kinda embarrassing, after all, you know? But yes, certainly... sure... I'll show you my collection. Soon! I'm such a...such a fan, after all!" Look, he used contractions and "kinda". And he fanboyed at Blurr. Ugh, he feels so coarse and common and dirty now.
A wiser mech would ask to hear the favor first. Hot Rod just goes, "Sure," as he weighs Exodus's smile in a distracted fashion. Trying to keep watch on what is going on with Blurr and Blast Off, he'd probably agree to anything, only half-listening. "Think you're embarrassing him, Blurr."
Exodus grins. "I'd like for you to make a formal appearance. Because there are a lot of people interested, you know? This would be your chance to clarify with them exactly what it is that you're doing, and get them on board if they are in fact willing to support you. Do you think you could handle that? I can probably get people to bring drinks, and I might even be able to find someone willing provide some music." He looks at Hot Rod hopefully.
"Embarrassing him?" Blurr laughs, then turns to 'Pinnacle'. "But you really aren't the type to get embarrassed I mean you should have -seen- yourself! But at least that sounds a -little- more like you." Nice try Blast Off. Really, it was a good effort. But it's too late to try to fix his earlier goof. The racer already knows Pinnacle is Blast Off, and that Hot Rod must have asked him to go undercover. The question is what exactly he's doing here. Blast Off wouldn't just walk up to Blurr like that unless he had a good reason to approach. "Hey, you know what why don't I show you some -real- racing secrets, just you. And maybe I'll let you add one of my old trophies to your collection." The racer grins.
Blurr suddenly looks excited at Exodus' suggestion. "Oh, like one of those racing rallies? That sounds like fun! Where would we do it?"
Blast Off gives Hot Rod a brief look of the fly trapped in a spider's web, then returns to attempting a smile at Blurr. Hologram face or not- it still *hurts*. This smiling stuff is HARD. "Heh...heh... I, uh, right. Yes... YEAH. That'd be AWESOME." Blast Off wants to curl up under a rock with every uttered word. I mean really, he can feel his IQ dropping with each syllable. "I just need to go do something... but perhaps sometime soon?" He starts edging away. "Oh darn, yeah. Look at that time!"
"Yeah, sounds good." Hot Rod is definitely not paying attention like he should. He agrees without thought, without reflection -- yes, yes, this is hardly unusual for him. The idea is before him, and of course he can do it, why not? That's not a terrible idea at all. /In so many ways/. It's not until Blurr responds so eagerly that the words seem to finish working through his processor: "Wait, what?" Blast Off is free to escape and drop off his presents because Hot Rod's not paying attention at all.
Exodus laughs a little at Blurr, shaking his helm. "Not.. quite. Similar to a rally, yes, but much less public. We don't exactly want the government to get wind of what Hot Rod is doing." He beams at Hot Rod. "Great! I'll figure out a place where we can all meet. I think there will be a lot of people interested and excited to hear that your speech will be the highlight of the night. I'm looking forward to it myself."
"Oh, so a -secret- rally!" Blurr looks even more excited. "And Hot Rod's giving a speech? Awesome! I can't wait!"
'Pinnacle' seems to be in a rush to get away, which is totally not characteristic at -all-. Pinnacle wouldn't -ever- want to leave Blurr's presence. That is if he actually exists.
Blurr arches an optic ridge at him. "Uh...okay mech. But maybe you should go see a medic, really, you're acting kinda weird." The racer lets Blast Off go for now, but little does he know that the speedster had actually planted another one of those tracking devices he'd used before when the shuttle had been sent on those space missions when he'd put his arm on his shoulder. It won't last forever, but since when was that an issue for someone as fast as Blurr? Blast Off has not gotten far by the time Blurr nods at Exodus and dismisses himself. "Well I'm excited! Let me know where the party's going down, okay?" Fwoosh. Off he goes to follow Blast Off...wherever the trail might lead.
Blast Off listens to Exodus speak of secret movements against the government, and he certainly approves of the idea- just wonders how effective they will be now with Blurr aware of them. He's unaware of the tracking device for now... and just wants to get away. Unload that cargo and GET HOME before anything else happens. "Yes...yeah, I may do do that, see ya around!" Nodding to the others, he heads out....still feeling queasy carrying all that cargo around in root mode.
"What?" Hot Rod repeats. He's going to have to step up his game. Maybe he can get someone to write his speeches. Too bad his best speechwriter-of-the-future is in the HOSPITAL WITH HIS FACE BLOWN OFF. He's mentally two steps behind as Blast Off leaves and Blurr zooms off after, but despite that, he finally relaxes. Glancing over at Exodus, he says, "Look, we've got to work carefully around Blurr--." It's a complicated explanation that follows, but nothing is ever simple.