Title: Good Con Bad Con 2
Location: The Forge
Date: 20 February 2015
NPCs: Howlback, Garboil, Soundwave
Summary: Hook uses Shiftlock for medical experimentation, Barricade is a Sad Panda and Shiftlock becomes the new superhero TORSO GIRL.
Zephyr shows up to 'work' and sees that there's people here. She pauses for a moment inside the doorway, and a little off to the side, and takes a long look at the individuals within. When she doesn't recognize either, she simply contents herself with watching. Listening to the chatter on the Decepticon broadband makes her antennae twitch.
Barricade stomps down into the repair bay. Normally, having a prisoner would make him happy - he enjoys interrogation duty - but word has gotten back to him on exactly who this prisoner is, and he is, to put it lightly, deeply unhappy about this. The craiggy black enforcer frame makes his way past the other berths, not sparing a glance to those working on the wounded near him. The smaller medics move out of his way in deference - and fear. His reputation tends to precede him.
Garboil jets silently after, the cobalt vulture finding a perch in the rafters, watching the goings on with beady golden optics. The way he rustles his wings, flapping them idly, indicates his uneasiness as well. He's picking up on Barricade's inner distress as he watches everything in the medbay, like the good little oppressively intrusive spy he is.
Howlback saunters in behind Barricade, padding along on all fours with the standard aloofness one would expect of a feline. Her ears are perked up; she stops to look at patients now and again, tail tip flipping back and forth, before she continues onward after her boss.
A cycle or two later, the unofficial fourth of Barricade's entourage slinks into the room. Slipstream didn't seek to arrive with Barricade least she diminish his entrance yet also does not wish to be toof ar behind, should she miss anything. She is curious; of this prison, sure, but more so at what Barricade will do about it. Once inside, slipstream takes stock of who is here and she can do little to hide the recoil that flashes across her faceplate. She considers following Cade more closely but instead takes to the air, jetting up to join Garboil in the rafters. Unlike the birdie, she'll cross her legs and look on rather patiently.
As far as Hook is concerned, as long its not Lord Megatron himself, pits be damned what else was going on - this surgery was already on the schedule. Sure, a foot repair should not take as long as the good doctor put down on the charts for someone of his calibre to complete the work of. But noone said he could not carry out some other optimizations while he was in the process.
"My oh my." he comments to Shiftlock as he sets down the supplies. "It seems that just everyone wants to visit with our little would be spy." he states as he sets out the tools of his trade. "Now don't you worry your head about it none. Cap'n Barricade is a big old grump and he is a terror to criminals. But you're not a criminal are you? Just one of the many misguided sparks who just blindly carries out what the Senate tells you to do. It's rather sad, you know - the Senate is diseased and noone seems willing or able or just wants to cut out the infection. Much like your ankle here. If I left it untouched..." he gingerly moves the femme's foot, just to get her attention.
"And yes, I am aware of your presence, Soundwave. I will not harm your precious friend and comrade. Much." he chuckles slightly under his vocalizer as he shrugs his shoulders. "After all, she seems very ill-fitted for the coming vorns. So.. what is the word here. Underpowered? No no.. I can do better than that. Ah. Underwhelming." he nods in approval at that as Team Rocket - err Barricade arrives. "Good cycle gentlemechs and femmes. I am assuming you are here to watch an expert at work. Perhaps you could learn something that would be useful in your interrogation techniques, Barricade." the medical officer offers way too cheerfully and a smile towards Slipstream. "And you. Do you have any upgrades that are required at this time?" he asks. "Perhaps I can see how your style frame would work our young highness over there." He gestures with his liftboom towards Zephyr. "And try some of her ener-honey. It is delicious when mixed with enerx." he comments as he continues prepping his patient.
Zephyr inclines her head as Barricade enters; he's heard before he's seen so she's looking towards the door as he comes in. The two animal forms also get a similar silent greeting; after all, she has more of an affinity for them than most of the Hollows.
She tilts her head to the side to regard the Seeker femme that enters a short while later, antennae twitching forward slightly at flicker of recoil across her features.
"I don't care about the spy one way or another," she clarifies to Hook. "I come through here often." Timing just has it that it's never been while Hook was here. "As for my frame, I like it just the way it is." Her antennae press back against her head in a sign that she's not pleased with the notion of being altered in that way. "I have no desire to be Hollow."
"I am good, thanks. It is somewhat distressing that you think I require upgrading. I assure you, I do not," Slipstream winces down to Hook as she does her best to avoid much direct visual contact with his antics. "If Zephyr so wishes... but something tells me her nobility would recoil at being handled so... crudely," she jabs. With that she lazily reaches over to touch Garboil's back. An idle pet? It might appear so. Slipstream turns her optics to Barricade, watching him far more closely than the prisoner or anyone else in the room.
Barricade's shoulder plates raise reactively at Hook suggesting laying his hands on Slipstream in any manner but the most professional and necessary of ways. Overprotective boyfriend? You're -damn right- he is. He stops just short of the table where Hook is working on the prisoner-patient and simply stares at her, face inscrutable. Soundwave is going to pick up that while Barricade appears impassive, he's a raging storm of chaos inside. She wasn't supposed to come back, she was supposed to stay away, Hot Rod is a miserable useless failure, he wants to protect her, he's proud of her, and he's scared for her.
Shiftlock snorts at Hook. "Hey, what I can I say? I guess the Decepticons are big on warm welcomes. It's been a little while I wore the purple badge." She glares right back at Barricade, waiting for him to say something, DO something, other than stare at her like a big blank slab of black and purple.
"Now now, what makes you think that I would have nothing but the interests of the Decepticons in either one of you. Tsk. I'm not some grabby need a femme to set my spark aflutter mech like some." A hint of a smile towards Barricade. A dig on him? You betcha! "Ah yes, I know. So while you and Barricade stare longingly at each other, I shall handle your repairs. Oh, and I have a special surprise for you!" he comments as he starts to remove the items from the box and set them out. A pair of gauntlets, far too large for her arms are set out along with several wiring and connection systems.
"It seems that you have just the type of systems I need for one of my research projects. All heavy duty plugs, locks and magnetic handlers. It seems you were made for a much higher calling than crawling around in the scraps of the planet. Perhaps I can help you tap into that usefulness. Or you know, completely fry your spark. Either way!" he offers in his cheerful undertones as he continues his work, actually working on her pain dampeners and activating them to start the work on her ankle first.
"To change my form would be the same as indicating that there is something wrong or shameful about it," Zephyr says. "It would defeat the purpose of why I joined the Decepticons; to find a place of equality for my people. I could hardly be a symbol of that if I became anything other than what I am," she continues to explain, patiently. As for the matter of experimenting on poor Shift, well, she has nothing to say about it, though she watches with curiosity. She's certainly not a medic herself, or a 'nurse' as they call them.
She peers at Shiftlock. "You /were/ a Decepticon, but now you're working against them?" The notion seems to completely baffle the femme.
Garboil is fine with being touched, and flits up to try to land on Slipstream's shoulders. "Oh this is going to be -quite- a day, isn't it?" he smoothly asides. "Here we are, all a family again. Well. Almost a family, anyways."
Howlback sits on her haunches. "Sometimes, bird, you are haffkink too big a beak."
"Oh where's the fun in being silent all the time, Howlback? Sometimes it's better to share," Garboil teases, pleased with himself.
"You should try connecting to others sometime, Hook. It does wonders for the spark," Slipstream smiles quite cheerily from her perch up above. Barricade looks as though he is about to do something for her benefit which... well, she tries to soothe that. She's safe, well out of the doctor's reach. "before doing anything to her," she nods her chin towards Shiftlock, "Best to ensure Barricade gives his permission, yes? I do believe that prisoners fall under his direction." That might help to focus Cade back on track here.
Still, slipstream watches Barricade. His silent act alarms her. This femme, Shoftlock means more to him than she realized. "She is of more value intact, as herself," she points out. "She wants to be an Autobot? Make her earn that emblem. Use her to show how weak their side is," Slipstream suggests. "Let her see just how soft her side is willing to be." Garboil's move to her shoulder actually helps to calm her a great deal. She reaches up to idly touch his beak. "Sometime you simply must show me the family album then." She is now far more curious about Shiftlock's time with Barricade than she was before.
"Yeah, I was a 'Con. 'Cade here took me in. Isn't that right?" Shiftlock states rather pointedly at the Enforcer. "Took pity on me because my mind had been erased. Even tried to put me through primary programming school - and then you caught me with Whirl and that was that. Ripped out his struts and told me you'd kill me if you saw me again." Her anger is fierce and it comes out when she speaks. "So you gonna do it or not, tough guy? Or does Megatron have your bearings in the palm of his hot little hand."
Barricade's engine rumbles, low and threatening. His clawed hands flex. He's holding back.
"There are none worthy of such a distinction, Slipstream." Hook responds congenially. Even Devastator makes him go ugh, such underclassed sparks. The Constructicon keeps with his work however, not really concentrating on carrying on conversation unless spoken to as he works on Shiftlock's ankle. With the care of an expert he continues her repairs, this time not working on torturing the poor femme - noone's asking him to do that after all. "Now now. We can't have that, Shiftlock. I don't need him brutishly wrecking my work." A sudden increase in her pain sensitivity and a snag on one of her primary foot circuits should hopefully keep the child in line.
"Now, as I was saying. How much do you know about yourself, Shiftlock?" he asks as he finishes the repairs on the foot, but leaves the joint open for now as he works his way up to stand above the femme. Reaching down, he feels around and searches for her reception center. "Can't have you moving for this part, but it's okay. If you keep mouthing off, you will feel it all." he smiles slightly as he shuts down her motor systems and shunts the power into her receptors system. "Just answer the Captain's questions and this won't be any worse than I want it to be."
Realizing this sort of dynamic is way beyond her exprience, Zephyr watches with intense, yet oddly non-judgemental, interest. "You Hollows are very strange," she muses to Shiftlock. Her antennae twitch a bit at Hook's words, but she says nothing directly to the medic.
"It is hard to argue with the thought of being selective with your sharing," Slipstream answers down to Hook. "I could not agree with that more," she answers still as she watches Barricade's back. Were he not there in the way she might consider flying down there to slap around Shiftlock for her words, but she retrains herself. This is Cade's arena, not hers. "Think of what she could get us," Slipstream then suggests. "What it could mean to the cause. Big picture stuff," she smirks as she flicks a glance towards Hook, but her optics go right back to Barricade. "We could make demands of... anything. Return her for the rights to the moon. Our captive allies. They do still hold a Seeker..." Slipstream is very much a Seeker, by choice, and so does look out for her 'own'. "If they meet our demands then we demonstrate their vulnerability. If they deny us, we can show how callous they really are. Either way, we exchange her for a gain and little Shiftlock there can see what she's really fighting for."
Making a note of Zephyr's confusion, Hook comments, "It is not a matter of being strange, Zephyr. You see, the idea of group think is something that is share among both the insecticons, hollows, and others." he shrugs his shoulders. "As it will come the time that you will find the joy and pleasure of creating your own hive, there are those that find themselves dependent on the company of others." the doctor explains. "For some this requires many partners to share their experiences and feelings with which could be considered a great weakness, or rather.. harem building." A shrug of his shoulders as he starts the removal of Shiftlock's chest panneling. "For others they form a tight bond and connection with only one, either of their own make or the opposing make, that is femme with mech or mech with mech or femme with femme. These two carry out a courting ritual known as interfacing where they can share intimate knowledge of each others secrets. Much like you know what is going on with all the subjects of your hive." As Hook speaks, he opens up the spark chamber to Shiftlock and gestures.
"You see, here -" he points out for those that want to observe. "Shiftlock has a nexus core setup. Overly powered for her form, she was actually made perhaps to handle multiple connections to others at once - she is a bit small for a combiner project, perhaps someone thought her to be a concubine and handle many at once." Another shrug of his shoulders. "I believe it to be more the latter, because besides her magnetic grappling systems, she has no offensive or defensive weapons systems of any kind. Which makes her perfect for what I have devised."
"My theory is is that the spark that powers us could be used as a powerful weapon. Think about what power that could contain, especially for one so small." he chuckles at Slipstream's comment. "Is a spy worth a simple seeker though? Another shrug. "Perhaps that is not my decision to make. Anyway, as you can see here, these connections were made to power something - so I will give them something to power and see how long she can handle the strain of it all." he comments as he lays out his theorum for all, even as he continues his work, stripping the femme bare for all to witness.
His fingers move deftly, the experience of having made many modifications and upgrades to this point as the medical mech carries out his duty with a delicate touch and expert guide. "What do you think your value is?" he asks - really noone in particular, as he continues his work.
Barricade looks as if he might just snap. Anyone that's familiar with his body language can sense it coming, like the ultralow groans of tectonic plates pressing against one another just before the sudden release of an earthquake. Howlback gets uneasy and slinks out of sight. Garboil tucks in his wings and pulls his head down closer to his body. Shiftlock yelps as she feels a sharp jab of pain, 'disciplined' by Hook into shutting up. Barricade's impending eruption - does not happen. His plates lower and he settles into an eerie, focused calm, cycling through rage and bursting into neutral on the other side. He's completely dispassionate as Hook humiliates his former charge in public.
"I wasted my time on you," he pronounces coolly. "You knew the rules. You broke 'em. You were either too stupid to listen, or so impulsive and self-willed you'd never be good to anyone. You read the book, an' yet you still let that twisted wreck get into your head. You compromised all of us on a fraggin /whim/. Bein' a newspark ain't an excuse for that level of worthless. I've met hours-old security forces recruits smarter'n that." His engine cycles down and his external lighting dims to normal. "So this is you, 'all better', all 'grown up'. I'm not impressed." He walks around Hook so he can lean over and invade her personal space, his face inches away from Shiftlock's. "You're -dead- to me."
He leans back up, and turns away from the table, waving a hand dismissively. "Do whatever you want t' her, but keep her alive until Megatron decides whether she lives or dies. Her only value now is in what we can get out of her with Security Forces."
"Awww, I should have recorded that - I could see the exact moment you broke her spark, Barricade." Hook actually sounds sort of amused by the whole idea. Probably never had a date in his life - ENGINEER NERD ALERT. Once Barricade is out of the way, Hook pokes his head up. "This may sting a little." he offers. And with that, he takes a large cable, and starts an insertion at the base of Shiftlock's wrist and starts to thread the cable through the femme's arm towards her shoulder joint.
"You have an intimate knowledge of how people work, but you don't seem to hold any respect for those you work on," Zephyr observes to Hook. Still, she listens to his play by play of what he's doing with Shiftlock and watches with interest.
Then her gaze rests on Barricade for several long moments before flicking back to Hook. "A broken spark...interesting notion," she murmurs. Maybe she had been far too isolated in her small pocket of underground Cybertron. No wonder the surface people are on the brink of war with such volitile personalities. "I did not mean strange just for the notion of courtship; I mean all of this."
Oh. Well. How... intriguing. Garboil would have felt Slipstream teansing up as Barricade did. Watching him as intensely as she has been, Slipstream got caught in the building rage and when it doesn't come... she's a little disappointed? Impressed? She's mostly worried though for what Barricade must be going through. *That* is what makes her want to fly down there and rip out Shiftlock's gears. Look at what she's done! What he gave her! And her answer to that is... this. Barricade has just turned Shiftlock over to Hook which means that should she make it out of here, get exchanged or otherwise survive in any fashion... she can have a go at this newspark as well.
Slipstream settles herself under Garboil. She pats his chest to let him know it's 'alright' now. "If we're not going to exchange her intact, then how about a piece ata time? Despite the promise you see in her, Hook, you are correct that she cannot equal a Seeker. Yet, we need not measure her value to us but how much the Autobot cause is willing to assign her."
"... If I could make an obscene gesture I'd be DOING IT RIGHT NOW!" Shiftlock is absolutely furious, and her body is reacting of its own accord. Her t-cog (exposed) twists up as if she wants to transform. She can't. She's embarassed, exposed and Hook's little verbal (and physical) jabs are only working her up into a frothing rage. She knew she was being used in combiner experiments but not really the basis of WHY, not the physical aspects of it anyways, but she's too ticked off to give it strong thought. "OW! YOU RUST-SUCKING SPAWN OF A SCRAPLET, WHAT THE FRAG DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING TO ME?!" she demands. Loudly.
"My dear newspark..." Hook lifts a hand covered in energon and points it towards Zephyr. "When you work on as many patients as I do, you learn that this is an artform, not something that you put things like care and consideration into. I mean, everyone comes in here at some point complaining about everything from 'Oh, I got my arm ripped off' to 'Doctor, I didn't know he had iron mites when I agreed to interface with him'. And of course everyone self-diagnoses. I think I have a blown casket and I will go off-line if you don't treat me now." he snorts as he finishes threading the line through the shoulder and back into the femme's chest. Searching through his tools, the mech finds the proper adapter sleeve and works it onto the cabling. "You are given respect when you earn respect, m'dear insecticon. Now come closer, have you ever seen a spark adapt to a new hardware upgrade. It will be very interesting to observe. And since you are in here all the time, might as well make yourself useful." Hook offers with a snort.
"And I am pretty well sure that she will handle this procedure well, Barricade. Don't worry, she'll live enough so that you can continue to show her the folly of her ways - well, that is if your femme friend up there doesn't get her hands on her first." Mehehehe. Hook chuckles as Shiftlock demands answers and he grins. "I'm unlocking your potential. Or killing you. I'm not sure which. Let's find out." As he finishes tightening the cord, he affixes the gauntlet to the femme's wrist, drilling and locking it down into place, and sort of singsongs,
"Merrily merrily I say unto thee,
It's time to go in for surgery!
Anesthesia pumping through your veins; upgrading the poor spark drive,
Oh please, oh please, do not let her die.
Post-op's a slag, tortuous at that,
New parts in my body, feeling so whack,
But frag it I say, this could be more dire,
Hook could have set me on fire!"
A mild chuckling and then he shoves the connector through the heavy duty cord and pushes it through straight into her core. "I'd suggest standing back." he says non-chalantly. "If she doesn't adapt to the insertion of her spark, it could become voliatle, explode and that would be down right messy. But there's only an twelve percent chance of that happening, really, based on my calculations."
"Time to occupy ourselves elsewhere. Somewhere more useful," Slipstream suggests to Garboil. It is not that she is adverse to torment, especially when it is inflicted on those that earn it. Merely, she prefers to be the one delivering it rather that watching someone else carry it out. Plus, it might be best to try and lure Barricade away from here right now. He's had a chance to see what he needed, and to be seen. Is that enough. "With me?" She pushes off to alight to the ground.
She stops to look over her shoulder before sauntering out. "Barricade, there are new recruits to inspect, I believe." Work can be a beautiful distraction.
"I am more acquainted with simply taking apart bodies than I am doing anything /with/ them," Zephyr says, though she does move closer to observe. She knows she's not a warrior, has no desire to be one, but learning anything else new to make her more useful is something she has no issues with. Not that energon production isn't a valuable ability. "So then what do you respect?" she is curious to know. She's a little less curious to see an explosion, however, so she keeps an optic out for any indication of one happening; she's not the most sturdily built creature after all.
"How would making an obscene gesture help you out of your current predicament?" she has to ask Shiftlock. In fact, she doesn't think she actually knows any obscene gestures.
She turns for a moment to watch Slipstream head out, inclining her head as the Seeker femme moves to leave.
"Good enough for me," Barricade grunts. He doesn't want to watch this play out either. Howlback has long since left, and Garboil tolerates being petted like an animal (ugh, framists) for the sake that Slipstream is well-meaning. "Not a bad idea, madam," he agrees with the female Seeker.
Slipstream stops long enough to hold out her arm for Barricade to take on the way out. It's the best 'goodbye' she can think to give that turncoat Autobot on the operating table.
Hook waves an energon covered hand cheerfully. "Don't forget to use proper anti-virus protection~" he offers cheerfully, "...and you know, safe linking."
"Your poety sucks," Shiftlock mutters amid the increased sensory input. The worse it feels the louder she determines to be. She wants to wiggle against all this, fight, kick, protest, break things, but nothing responds. She just feels it all happening and there's nothing she can do; once more she's the subject of experiments, violated and altered against her will. Abruptly she goes quiet, remembering little things here and there she's picked up, trying to turn her focus inward and push away the trauma going on within and around her. Circuit-Su teaches one to calm the spark, to reach inside for strength and focus. To wait for the wind to blow against you before turning its direction in your hands.
The spark casing evolves.
With the noise like the jaws of a million metallic ants chewing their manibles, the casing's frame grabs hold of the cable, microscopic transformation plates no bigger than a few microkliks shift and rearrange themselves, reacting to the foreign material to encorporate it, contain it, envelop it, absorb it. Normal mechanoceullar regeneration could take days, weeks, lunations - but this is visibly occuring before the naked optic. Shiftlock's spark pulses arhythmically as her neurological systems assess the new hardware and almost -violently- assert mental control over it.
Hook almost smiles with glee, turning on his radio so that everyone can hear how /wonderfully/ Shiftlock is doing on the broadcast net. "Amazing. Simply amazing. Come look Zephyr. See how she adapts so quickly? That is /remarkable/!" he says as he works on setting up the gauntlet, and feeding the cable through for connection to the femme's spark. "Oh, this is just.. amazing. Indeed, if I didn't know better, I'd swear she's a one percenter for sure." he comments as he finsihes the connections for the other arm, slamming the cable home yet again.
"One percenter?" Again, the terminology is strange to Zephyr, though she does watch with interest. While the inner workings of individuals are not her forte, she can tell the rate of change is not normal. Self-healing usually takes much longer, when possible, and that is why having a medic is a preferable thing. "If this is a special ability of this individual though, how does that help you in other cases?" she asks of the very excited medic.
Be patient and wait for the pain to pass. Be patient and take control of the input. Become master of the output. No one cares if you suffer, Shiftlock. She keeps a tight focus on an internal place, on a moment of happiness, reliving it in her mind as a psychological retreat. She can do nothing about her situation now except to accept what comes, and if she is lucky, live through it. She considers all her regrets, and tries to make peace with them and herself, if this is indeed going to be the end.
The second cable is greedily accepted by the spark frame, working it in and healing over it as if it were a part of her own body naturally. Her t-cog, writhing in the open air, suddenly stops - and reverses its rotation. Its tines and gears turn in a new direction, and before Hook can close her up, she's transforming on the table, but not onto a car. Her plating slides in and around each other in an entirely new configuration, body changing shape and to a degree mass. CONGRATULATIONS, DOCTOR. IT'S A TORSO.
The sudden transformation catches him off-guard. He didn't expect her to suddenly do /that/. As she finishes her transformation and nearly taking off his hand in the process, he chuckles in amusement. "Hmm. Well, she seems pretty locked up for now and appears to be accepting her upgrade well. Let us give her time to convalese and we will continue later, hmm?" he says as he goes to wash off his hands. "Keep her strapped down. I will work on her later after I file a report."
Zephyr actually /doesn't/ care that Shiftlock is suffering, either positively or negatively. She is neither repulsed by it nor does she have any feeling of satisfaction regarding it. Pain is unpleasant but serves a necessary function. This whole experience is a curious one for the young Insecticon Queen. At one point she had been very angry about how her people were treated, but it seems the Hollows treat their /own/ pretty badly as well. Perhaps the surface folk are just terrible people in general. But, no, not everyone has been terrible; she has to admit that much.
Shiftlock is stuck as she is. She may not be coming out of it anytime soon, which ... makes her a really terrible conversation partner, for now.