Title: Game Face
Location: Ibex - The Circle
Date: 18 January 2015
NPCs: Fasttrack, Cipher
Summary: Arcee seeks answers from Cipher.
++ Ibex ++
Nestled to the right of the Magnanese Mountain range and occupying a wide,
flat plain, the city of Ibex is host to a major portion of Cybertron's
transportation centers. Used in ancient times to launch the long lost
Ark-1, Ibex is still home to the Central Spaceport, which runs shuttles
from Cybertron to some of its orbital stations and satellites, such as the
Messatine mining station, the lunar penitentury of Garrus-1. Transportation
hubs and development centers have sprung up all around the space port,
along with long stretches of test roads and airfields, where bleeding-edge
vehicle designs are researched and developed.
The primary colors of the area are white, silver and pale blue, with dull
gray roads and black and yellow hazard stripes interdispersed among working
areas. Hangars, spaceports, bullet-shaped buildings and domes are the
primary forms of archtecture. The Velocitronian Embassy is naturally
located here, close to the Speedia - the planet's most expansive and famous
racetrack, home to the Ibex Cup competition. The Ibex Center for Athletic
Medicine is here, where speeder frames are maintained, honed and developed,
pit crews are trained, and specialized fuel types are developed.
Cybertron's most elite club, The Circle, is located a short distance away
from the Speedia.
Though the planetary races have been cancelled and space travel restrained,
enterprizing (or bold) individuals have managed to gain access to locked
down facilities, taking advantage of the empty tracks and abandoned crew
stations for illegal races and illegal upgrading.
Arcee is back in her FAVORITE city. Why is she here? Well, it's either try and solve this strange situation with Blurr with the information Rewind so helpfully provided to her, or sit in the base and glare at that moronic joke of a mech, Rung. To her, that wasn't even a choice. Ibex it was.
While here, Arcee decides to stop by the Circle and peek around a bit, just in case Fast Track is schmoozing about there. Maybe he knew even more helpful information. Maybe he'd buy her a drink.
The Circle is busy and filled with elite types as usual, the multi-colored lights dancing across the walls as its patrons enjoy themselves at their tables or just mill about chatting here and there. It seems that today, Arcee is in luck. Fasttrack is sitting at a table with a few other mechs, playing some holographic gambling game. He can be seen punching the bot next time playfully in the arm and laughing.
Arcee puts her best game face on, and heads inside the club confidently.
Once she spots her old 'friend' the racer, she makes a beeline for him, and appears at the table beside him. "How's the luck holding out tonight?" she asks with a grin.
"I'm gonna get you one of these cycles!" Fasttrack is laughing as Arcee arrives. But his attention is diverted toward her immediately. "Heyyy! Well look here, that you Arcee? Wow, you get some upgrades or what?" he scoots over and pats the seat next to him. "It's been a while. How've you been?" he asks with a grin.
"Oh yeah, some new upgrades, a little custom plating, a promotion and some new assignments, life goes on, you know?" Well, Arcee decides that the 'promotion' part is kind of stretching the boundaries of truth, but perhaps someday she'd be...put through police academy or something. She was on the up and up now. She joins Fasttrack on the seat. "I've been great, how about yourself?? You always look like you're having a great time. Tell you what, if I had that going for me I'd be living the good life, too."
"Well, you look great." Fasttrack replies with a smile. He nods over at a drone passing by. "Hey, get this fembot a drink, will you? Put it on my tab." He looks back to her. "And you tell it what you want, all right?"
He momentarily turns back to the game, putting down his entry for the round. Various colored icons scroll across the table, blinking brightly as a bell-like noise sounds off. "Haha! Score!" Fasttrack beams, then turns back to Arcee. "Well congratulations on the promotion." he says, patting her on the back. "Yeah, well I definitely can't complain! I'm glad to hear you're doing well."
Arcee places an order for something a little bit fun that she's only seen served in this place, a certain drink that isn't particularly potent, but it has differently-weighted and colored fuel additives to give it a colorful 'layered' look when served in a clear drink container. Kind of like a sparkly, rainbow energex. Kind of cheerful. "Thanks! Say, you know a lot of mechs in this town...and don't worry, this time I'm not asking about Blurr," she chuckles. "But I *am* looking for someone whose name came up a little while ago, and I wanted to see if you'd ever dealt with him...his name's Cipher."
The drone takes her order and comes back quickly with the sparkly rainbow-looking engex drink. It's very pretty. The game goes on, with a lot of hooting and cheering and laughing. After another round, a couple more people show up at the table. Both are flight forms, but one is red and white with the red MSE insignia on his wings, and the other is more of a dark indigo color They are welcomed with smiles and invited to sit down, just as Fasttrack chuckles in an amused fashion. "Funny you should ask about him right about now," he laughs. "'Cuz he's right over there!" he says, gesturing toward the dark blue newcomer. "Hey, Cipher. This is Arcee. Seems she was lookin' for you."
Arcee nods and sort of...chills out, taking in the scenery and watching the newcomers. Then, suddenly, she looks toward Fasttrack in surprise, and her wide-opticed gaze then goes across to Cipher. In a way, she's kind of relieved, because THAT was easy. No hidden tunnels, false fronts, or bureaucratic nonsense to deal with. "Oh! Well, then...hi," she greets. Fasttrack definitely had an odd assortment of friends!
Well they were all IAA personnel. It was sort of a work party. Those were fairly common around here. Cipher smiles politely at her. "A pleasure to finally meet you in person, Arcee. I've heard many good things about you."
Arcee wasn't quite sure how to take that. Cipher *seemed* nice enough. But then again, Feint seemed nice enough, too, but she's the one who tortured Blast Off. And Arcee *thought* she was nice enough for a while, but now she's...some kind of monster?? She was very conflicted on who was 'good' or 'bad' anymore, which is why she often ended up in Prowl's office taking up *his* time with her silly, rhetorical questions.
"Well, thank you. I feel like I just crashed the office party," Arcee quips with an awkward smile. "But you know, I had a few questions."
"Of course, feel free to ask." Cipher gets up from the table, beckoning for her to follow. "In fact, we'll talk in private, in case there's anything you might not be comfortable mentioning in front of everyone." He starts to move over to a smaller table for two in a more isolated corner of the bar.
This was not how Arcee was expecting things to go down, at *all*. She envisioned something a lot more like running after a bad guy. So this very agreeable and polite mech has her really out of her element. She smiles at Fasttrack, excuses herself, and follows Cipher to get in a word or two with him. Her time in Kaon has emboldened Arcee to be more proactive in seeking out answers. "So...what is..." She rubs the back of her neck armor for a moment, trying to figure out how she could ask this. "I'm trying to find out the...relationship here, does Blurr work for you?"
Cipher takes a seat at the small table and motions for Arcee to sit down across from him, looking rather relaxed. "Does Blurr work for me? Well, not really. If anyone is working for anyone, it is I working for him." he laughs. "I just make sure he's at his best in the field."
Arcee tilts her head slightly, the confusion in her expression impossible to hide. "So, you *coach* him," she tries. If what she witnessed inside the IAA dungeon was any indication, then this mech is probably not a coach.
Cipher nods. "Yes, that's probably a better word for it. But not just for the races. Anywhere he goes, I do my best to make sure he performs at his best. Which is why I contacted you. I wanted to make sure that if he misbehaved, that would not compromise the assignment."
Arcee nods, then asks, "I see, and what sorts of things go into...performing his best?"
"Oh, there's a lot of maintenance and upkeep, naturally." Cipher says vaguely. "There's also counseling him whenever he is feeling depressed, to keep him from becoming disillusioned...." he pauses. "Do you know him well?"
"Yes, I've been his friend for a little while," Arcee admits with a fond smile. "I was even fond of him at one time, but like everything else in his life, he makes his decisions on an impulse, but even though he's made *that* decision I still think he's a good mech." She wisely decides to leave her private tour of the IAA facilities out of this conversation. "I guess I'm just trying to understand where you come in, that's all."
Cipher nods. "Yes, that's understandable." he chuckles fondly as well. "Ah, yes, he tends to be very impulsive. That is one of the things I try to help him with. It can be a good thing, but in many cases it gets him into trouble. He's still learning to apply it in the right situations."
"One thing I've wondered for some time is why the athletes need so much care, I guess. So much supervision over their daily lives. Daily maintenance, and checking in, that sort of thing. Now, I'll be honest here, I'm not much older than Blurr is, and I'm still learning about things outside of my realm of my own expertise," Arcee admits, as she twirls the colors around in her drink. "But it seems to me that the racers don't get a lot of autonomy, or, um...freedom. Why is that?"
"Well the races are very competitive, despite what you might think." Cipher replies with a smirk. "It's essential for them to be in top shape whenever they perform, and also to look their best as well. In this line of work, appearance is -everything-. As for autonomy...well what makes you think they don't have enough of it? They're free to come as go as they please, and are given their own wages." Generous wages, too. He arches an optic ridge at her. "Has he complained to you about feeling limited?"
"No, never," Arcee admits. "I just wondered, because it isn't every day that I get a special note about someone I'm working with, telling me to let you know if he gets out of line. It wasn't anything I had seen up to that point." Oops, hopefully that didn't just get Blurr in trouble, she thinks. "Maybe in order to really understand what goes on in the IAA, I would need to be on the inside and not an outward 'spectator'."
"Yes, it's hard to explain our inner workings to someone outside the company." Cipher says with a nod. "It's just...he is very young, I'm sure you know that. And we've both agreed that he tends to be impulsive, so he does need some special care. I just wanted to be -certain-."
Arcee stares for a long moment, wondering just how far she ought to take this slippery slope. Because if she doesn't play this right, SHE could be the next unfortunate spark bagged, dragged into a cell, and head-drilled. "I see. Are you his uh...his first coach?"
"No, unfortunately, his first handler, Axle, died in an...accident." Cipher says vaguely, leaning back in his seat a bit. "I was his replacement." He frowns, noticing her staring. "Are you all right?"
"Hm? Oh, absolutely, I just think it's all so interesting, that's all," Arcee says with a disarming smile. "And Blurr never really mentioned much of this, he doesn't really have the patience to go on about such things." (Axle,) she thinks. She'll need to get Rewind to find a postmortem report on him.
"Well," Cipher sighs and leans in a little bit. "You know, I'll be honest with you. The security forces have a rule against allowing people as young as Blurr to join them, but the Senate made an exception for him because he's well, -special-. They've always wanted to create artificial 'outliers' of sorts, and he was their first somewhat successful attempt at it. Axle came to them with his dream of creating the perfect racer, and it seemed to align with their goals so they let him have what he wanted. -That's- why they want me to be so protective of him, Arcee. He's so young, and easily swayed, we can't afford to let him fall into the wrong hands."
"Oh, I definitely agree with you," Arcee admits. Blurr *is* a special kind of mech. And it would be terrible to lose him to a less savory cast of 'handlers', like Megatron or Starscream or...any of those awful denizens of the Forge. "And now, I'm kind of starting to see why he needs to be watched so much." This doesn't take away ALL of her concerns by any means, but it makes her think that there's some reasonable forces at work. "I appreciate you explaining all of this to me," she admits.
"Of course, any time." Cipher smiles, and stands up. "Well I had better get back to it, before the rest of them start accusing me of being 'anti-social'." he laughs. "But if you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact me. Or if Blurr is giving you any trouble."
"Absolutely, and thank you for your time, sir," Arcee says in that routine respectful tone that the Senate has taught her so well. She stands, and lingers for a while...just not with the IAA crowd, as it might seem kind of intrusive. (Also, she can't bring her sparkly, multicolored fancy drink outside the club.) Once she's finished, however, she heads off with a number of meetings in mind: Feint, for one, and Rewind, for another.