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Title: Gray

PCs: Arcee, Blurr, Hot Rod

Location: Nyon

Date: 24 January 2015

Summary: Things get complicated.


Iacon rises brilliant around Hot Rod as he runs hot and fast through the streets. He keeps to the speed limit -- although it's probably killing him a little to do so -- with a care that is quite unlike him. With the flames painted bold across his hood and the spoiler rising at his back, it's hardly as though he's subtle or low key, but his careful observance of the rules of the road suggests he is trying to avoid any unwanted attention.


Unusual, for a guy who /thrives/ on attention.


Hot Rod passes through the outskirts of Iacon, avoiding the crowded interior. He picks roads that provide as quick a path from southeast to northwest as possible: to Nyon, and from ... well. It could be Vos. It could be Kaon. Maybe he went to go stare at the tracks at Ibex! That's nice and inoffensive, right? Whatever it was, he's on his way home. Casually. Like you do.



Hot Rod may be a fast one, but he certainly isn't the -fastest-. And definitely not while he's trying not to speed. He also may be trying to avoid unwanted attention (wait unwanted attention -exists- in Hot Rod's book?), but seriously with that flaming paint job he isn't exactly difficult to pick out for anyone who might be -looking- for him. Come on Hot Rod if you wanted to do things that required subtlety, you really ought to at -least- leave off the flame decals, if not the bright red-orange in general.


Speaking of looking for him, he has a good -friend- looking for him. Or rather, tailing him. Yes, Blurr has been following him from behind a few other mechs on the road for a while.



Once you've gone flame, you can't really go back. Try and it's all questions, knowing looks, snide comments. It's too late for Hot Rod. He's committed. It's flames until death, subtlety be damned.


He's not exactly known as the most observant guy around, so the fact that he steers toward long stretches of road on the outskirts of the city where traffic thins and it becomes harder to follow him without being spotted must totally be a coincidence, right?



Blurr does his best to stay with the crowd so to speak, but that seems to get more and more difficult as Hot Rod steers away from the more populated areas. Still, he stays on the trail, hanging back a distance with the hope that he won't recognize the racer's altmode from far away.



Must be coincidence. Nothing about Hot Rod's path alters from what someone would expect from a guy on his way to Nyon. He skirts the edge of the city, heading through a more commercial district. It's there that he slows as traffic picks back up, giving Blurr far more room to hide.


Eventually, Hot Rod transforms, heading in to hit Iacon's idea of a dive bar. It's pretentiously low caste, in the manner of high caste brats who want to pretend to slum it while being totally safe. At least they probably serve ironically cheap drinks, right?



Blurr keeps hiding behind other traffic. Eventually Hot Rod seems to have reached a destination of sorts, and he watches as the flame-painted mech enters a dive bar. He takes note of the specific location, and waits until the other mech has disappeared inside before flowing in with a group himself.



Hot Rod has not gone for ironically cheap crappy drinks. He's actually tucked just inside the entry, past the first rush of noise and light, and cooling his heels. He bounces his foot in a nervous burn of energy as he watches the flow of traffic beyond. Spotting a flash of blue in a group -- admittedly not an uncommon color; way too many people are going for blue; MORE SHOULD GO FOR RED -- he leans to get a second look with a narrowing of his gaze. Wait, is that--.



Is that Blurr? Oh yes. Well there are certainly a lot of blue people, but Blurr's design is one that you really couldn't mistake for someone else's. He's a celebrity, after all, he has to be ultra-stylish and attractive. For the time being, he acts fairly normal, as if he's just slumming for whatever reason, and makes his way up to the bar. No one else seems to notice that he's here, or perhaps they've noticed but are refusing to believe he'd actually come -here-, and this person who looks like a famous athlete is actually just a knock-off. Which is probably the more likely reason. But perhaps Hot Rod -knows- better.



Hot Rod plants his feet. No more nervous fidget. He pushes off his feet to stride forward and grabs Blurr by the elbow with a friendly, "Hey!" Friendly. Friends. "You know, I thought I saw you. Funny, huh." He glances over his shoulder, not at all nervously, to see if there is anyone else with Blurr.



It doesn't appear that anyone else is with Blurr, at least for the moment. The speedster turns around quickly, not that he is startled but mostly because he just does -everything- fast. He gives Hot Rod an equally 'friendly' smile. "Hot Rod," he greets. "What?" he laughs. "What's funny?"



Keeping an eye on the door just in case that changes, Hot Rod smiles. "Oh, you know, I try to find humor in everything. It helps." He cuts a glance back at Blurr, smile fading as he faces him directly. "It'd probably be really ridiculous if I thought you were following me, right?" Although his tone is largely confrontational, there's an earnestness beneath that really wants Blurr to (believably) deny it.



"Maybe," Blurr sighs, ordering a drink from the menu. For the time being, no one else comes in looking like they're with the speedster or anything. "I mean, you don't seem to enjoy my company as much as you used to." he says, sounding slightly dejected. "I guess you and I will never see optic to optic."



"I can't get past the people you killed arresting Shiftlock, Blurr." Hot Rod is unusually subdued as he speaks. His voice is low, flat. He matches /sounding/ dejected with /looking/ dejected, drooping right down to the shrug of his shoulders. "You wanted to do what was right, once. What happened to that? Remember when we saved Feint?"



Blurr sighs. "Look, we've already been through this. I did it for -her-. For Shiftlock. Because she needed it, and she has -potential-. What kind of life were those empties going to lead anyway? They were never going to make it off of the streets, if we're honest with ourselves. A quick death was one of the more -merciful- options, really." He shrugs. "But like I said," he grabs his drink as the bartender slides it over to him, and takes a small sip. "We're never going to see optic-to-optic anyway so what's the point of arguing?"


Now that Hot Rod's been talking to Blurr for a bit by now, he may notice that the speedster's colors look sort of...dulled, as if someone had mixed some grey in there at some point, but it doesn't look like a modified paint job, either.



Maybe Hot Rod notices, maybe he doesn't, but he doesn't comment, because he gets /immediately/ caught up in arguing: "They had potential, Blurr!" They will just agree to disagree on there being no point in arguing, then. "Everyone deserves a chance to do something. Shiftlock started out like that. You don't get to say that it doesn't matter just because you didn't know their names." Which they totally had. Really good names. "How do you think she'd feel about that, anyway? She'd hate it. If she's anything like she was. She'd /hate/ it. Come on, mech. You're better than this."



Blurr looks back up at Hot Rod, and being this close he'd probably also notice that the racer's optics look paler than usual as well. "No, she always had potential, Hot Rod. More than most. You just didn't know. There was a reason why Ratbat wanted her. She's -special-." Of course she was, just like Blurr himself was. But he's not about to give Hot Rod any more -privileged- information. "I was just making sure she had the opportunity to see her maximum potential fully realized one cycle, because that certainly wasn't going to happen on the streets of Nyon."



Glancing from Blurr to his drink and then back again, Hot Rod gives a short, sharp shake of his head. "Maybe there really isn't a point to arguing. What's wrong with you? You don't even /look/ okay." He sinks back on his heels and folds his arms. He glances restlessly back toward the door, but returns his gaze to Blurr.



Blurr smirks. "I told you so." he remarks. That is, about there being no point in arguing. "I'm fine." he dismisses the comment about not looking okay, even though he definitely -doesn't- look okay. "Why can't we just agree to disagree?" If Hot Rod is looking for any other Autobots or enforcers he won't see any right now. "If everyone thought the same way, we'd be living in one hell of a boring world." He seems to be forgetting that this isn't just a matter of red vs. blue.



Nope. Hot Rod's just jumpy. Like someone who definitely isn't carrying any illicit goods. In Iacon. Cop central. He gives Blurr an almost disgusted look. "Well, definitely no danger of boredom." Looking at Blurr's drink again, he hesitates, then says, "Take care of yourself -- and don't take this the wrong way, but if I keep running into you? It's not going to stay friendly. Enjoy your drink," he says, then turns for the door.



"What happened to 'agree to disagree'?" Blurr asks, disappointed. He sighs and turns back toward the bar and away from the door. "Well fine, if you attack me, I guess I'll have to defend myself." Though once Hot Rod's back is turned, he slides off of the barstool and slips back into the crowd, intending to continue trailing him. He looked nervous, the way he kept glancing at the door--like he had something to -hide-.



That would be accurate. Moving quickly to leave, he pauses only once to glance back and check that Blurr is still by his drink. On finding that he /isn't/, Hot Rod curses. He pushes his way out the door and back into the street to sedately and law-abidingly zip toward Nyon.



No, Blurr isn't still by his drink, because he's climbed onto a balcony out front and is watching Hot Rod drive off. He waits a breem, letting the other mech gain a bit of headway, then jumps off down onto the street, transforming before he lands to speed off after him. He'll find out what Hot Rod is up to yet!



Hot Rod's just making the long drive back to Nyon like a completely unsuspicious person, that's what he's up to. There's nothing to see here! At the outskirts of the city he pauses outside of one of many abandoned buildings to pause and look around. He couldn't look more suspicious if he tried. He waits to be /absolutely sure/ that the coast is clear. That he can see. And he's not exactly observing with professional experience, here.



A completely unsuspicious person, eh? So what was with all the nervous glancing at the door back at that dive to see if anyone was with Blurr earlier? The racer sees him stop in front of an abandoned building ahead, and swerves off of the road and into an alleyway that meanders behind the defunct structure. Primus, Hot Rod could really use some training, to do the kind of thing he's trying to do. He might catch sight of -someone- who had been behind him veer off of the road, but would he suspect it's Blurr still tailling him?



Too bad Hot Rod's all on his own! He'll just have to fumble his way into it or fail trying. (Maybe both!) Once he goes inside, there's a scraping noise from inside the building, then silence. He doesn't seem to be coming out.



Blurr transforms, standing up to peer in through the many cracks the building probably has. Once Hot Rod is out of sight, he dislodges one of the broken windows and climbs in, staying as quiet as possible. He starts a scan of the interior, searching for any sign of the other mech or of where he might have slipped off to.



Just slightly out of alignment, a mismatched tile turned out of pattern indicates access space to the tunnels beneath the city. From Blurr's /own/ experience with them recently, it's probably pretty easy for him to overlay a mental grid and work out that there's a major thoroughfare not far from here that the smaller access probably connects to.



Aha, Blurr had expected as much. He's certainly familiar with much of Cybertron's subterranian areas, and isn't surprised there's an access here. He moves the tile aside and slips down into the depths, where he again searches for evidence of which way Hot Rod might have gone...



SURPRISE. As Blurr slips into the tunnel, he's got a second to react (which is an eternity for him, really, so let's just assume he goes ahead and--) and shield his eyes before a low-tech flashbang -- emphasis on the flash, not the bang -- dazzles his sensors. Despite shielding, enough leaks through to leave an impression. By which we mean a pause. That wasn't very friendly of Hot Rod. There's a distant, fading sound of Hot Rod's engine gunning down the tunnels. He's outie.



Blurr definitely wasn't expecting that, but being able to move and react as fast as he does has advantages in a plethora of situations, this being one of them. He throws an arm up, though he doesn't get to turn completely away so he is left stunned for an astrosecond or two. But even after he recovers, he doesn't pursue right away. Let Hot Rod -think- he's lost his 'friend', first. So waits a moment before transforming once again and taking off through the tunnels after the flame guy, shutting his own lights off and following's Hot Rod's pinprick in the distance. He knows these passages well enough!



Hot Rod knows the passages a little better than just well enough, but Blurr is also a little faster than just fast enough. The cramped and often crumbling tunnels are dangerous to traverse at high speed and with low lights, but that's apparently just what the two of them are doing. This is not safe driving. Do not try this at home. The path that Hot Rod winds toward is Blurr's marked before. Recently. Explosively.



Blurr keeps following him, but as he continues to make his way through, the terrain starts to look familiar. Oh no, Hot Rod was headed toward the trap Blurr had set earlier that was supposed to have served its purpose already but since Swivel had put up that stupid warning sign, perhaps the smuggling run had been delayed or re-routed. Unfortunately the sign had been removed by now, though. Slag it. The racer speeds up, rushing past Hot Rod and transforming to stand up right in front of him. "Hot Rod!" he throws his hands up in front of him, hoping the other racer won't run into him...



It's a near thing: Hot Rod pivots, banking hard in a tight turn in the narrow tunnels. He sheds momentum (and probably a few layers of his tires) as he tumbles into his transformation. He ends planted on one knee before rising to regard Blurr with surprise. He looks first incredulous, then angry. "Still following? Blurr, come on!" Then he tries to push past him.



But Blurr keeps in step with him to attempt to block his passage. "I can't let you go that way." he insists. "I know these tunnels, that's an old maintenance passage that hasn't been used in vorns, it's crumbling and bound to collapse at any astrsecond!"



Hot Rod steps the other way. OMG stop blocking him. "/I/ know those tunnels, and I know people who use them all the time!" Who may or may not have been the people Blurr was setting a trap for. Who knows. It's a mystery. Hot Rod certainly keeps troubling friends. "Why would you even need to know, them, anyway? Isn't your place in the races, bright lights?"



"I'm a courier, too." Blurr explains, continuing to block Hot Rod. Trying to get past someone who can move that fast is hard. "When you can move as fast as I do you tend to find yourself with a lot of spare time on your servos. So you do -more-." He groans, as Hot Rod seems adamant. "Look, just go a different way, okay? It's dangerous, I promise you. I was just there recently, it almost fell on -me-. And you know how I am." He doesn't know anyone more lightfooted and agile than Blurr, right? Suddenly he looks alarmed. "They aren't supposed to be used! Like -who- is using them all the time?"



When Blurr blocks the other direction, Hot Rod just steps right up to him, instead, to see if he can force him back a step. "People who have no other choices, Blurr. That's who. There's a lot of stuff in Nyon that isn't supposed to be used. Buildings that were condemned. And you know what? It's still the best some of them can do, because they sure can't afford /Iacon/." He speaks the name with a snarl, then steps forward again. Bump, bump. "I want to see it for myself."



Blurr does back up just a little--Hot Rod is certainly stronger than he is physically. But he doesn't give in just yet. "Well maybe they don't have a choice because they're doing things that they -shouldn't- be." He argues. Hot Rod just keeps coming. Ugh. "Hot Rod, I'm telling you this for your own good, if you go anywhere -near- there, you could drop it on yourself! I can't let you do that, I mean we may not agree on everything but ....but we're still friends, right?"



"If we're friends, why are you following me?" asks Hot Rod. He doesn't back off, but he doesn't keep pushing /quite/ yet. There's very little about him that suggests he is about to listen to wisdom and go find another path, though. This is a temporary distraction. "Who says they shouldn't do it? The Senate? The same people who took their choice away in the first place?"



"Because I care about you. And I was afraid that you....that you'd--waitsoyoumeantosay..." Blurr suddenly looks downcast, having realized that Hot Rod just implied that they -weren't- friends any more. He doesn't answer the other racer's question about the Senate. He turns his face away sadly, staring at the ground. "So be it, then." he says quietly, and suddenly weapons emerge from his arms, pointed at Hot Rod. "Turn back now, or I -will- shoot you."



"I mean--" Hot Rod hesitates a little, especially when Blurr looks all downcast and sad and STOP IT STOP LOOKING SAD. "I mean you're not acting like much of a friend, Blurr. I want to be your friend, but I can't if you're doing this. If you're hurting people." His expression firms. "I'm not turning back. And you're not going to shoot me."



"Yes I am." Blurr retorts, determination in his voice. And he follows through with his promise. Or at least he tries to.



[Combat:] Blurr misses Hot Rod!



Hot Rod is almost too slow to react because he is /that sure/ that Blurr's not going to do it. Even though he goes 'Yes, I am.' NO HE ISN'T.


...yes, he did. Knock Blurr's arm to the side, Hot Rod pivots. "Blurr, stop. You don't want to do this. Why /shoot me/?" He didn't mean it, right?



"Why not?" Blurr fires again. He can't let Hot Rod trip the explosives prematurely, now can he? Not that he's going to tell him that! "We're not friends anymore, remember? So why should I treat you any different than I'd treat anyone -else- refusing to comply?"



>> Blurr rolls one ten-sided die and gets: 10.



"/Stop/!" Hot Rod is swiftly getting used to the idea that, yeah, Blurr really is trying to hit him. The second shot is evaded as surely as the first, and he reaches for Blurr's arms to hold them in place. No more shooting!! "Is it really just that simple for you?"



>> You roll one ten-sided die and get: 7.

>> You roll one ten-sided die and get: 1.



Hot Rod manages to grab Blurr's arms and hold him down. He struggles against the flame-painted mech's grasp but he wasn't exactly built for strength. Okay he might be stronger than Blast Off but that isn't saying much. "Let go of me!" he cries out, and attempts to knee him in the chest.



>> Blurr rolls one ten-sided die and gets: 4.



When Blurr knees him, Hot Rod's foolish enough to let go and step back to catch his balance. "Are you going to stop shooting me?" he asks. (He should've checked before letting go.)



Yeah, he probably should have checked. "Well are you going to turn back and take another route?" Blurr insists, and goes right back to shooting. "Hot Rod, this doesn't have to be difficult. All I'm asking you to do is turn back and take an alternate route, how hard can that be??"



>> Blurr rolls one one hundred-sided die and gets: 40.



Clearly impossible. Hot Rod pushes past Blurr at the cost of a shot scoring his side. Paint blisters and peels back as the shot bites into the metal beneath. He hisses in surprise -- /surprise/, on the /third shot/ -- but still says, "Not going to happen! Definitely /not/ going to happen." Now he's just doing it because Blurr doesn't want him to.



"I'm not going to stop shooting you, then." Blurr answers. He watches as a shot finally hits its mark, scoring Hot Rod's side. But clearly the mech is so stupidly determined, not even getting shot at is going to stop him. So he flips out a stun weapon, intending to knock him into stasis lock so he could slowly drag his aft out of the tunnels and leave him elsewhere. That should at least buy him some time to figure out how to deal with this situation that Swivel created with her stupid warning signs!



>> Blurr rolls one one hundred-sided die and gets: 98.



Clearly Blurr doesn't actually want to shoot Hot Rod. It's the only rational, reasonable explanation. That, or a curse. Despite leaving a trail of singed air in his wake from the shot that /did/ hit, Hot Rod continues forward. /Of course he does/.


Despite everything that one might come to expect from him, Hot Rod doesn't quite run headlong into things, just in case Blurr wasn't lying -- or just in case Blurr was lying for all the wrong reasons, as may be more accurate. So while he very /nearly/ runs into the trap that Blurr so carefully set for another, he stops just short of it on catching a glimpse of something not quite right, buried and hidden. If he wasn't already suspicious, would he have seen it? Unlikely. He stops, briefly oblivious to Blurr behind him.



Blurr continues after him, determined to stop him before he reaches the old tunnel....and he's too late. Hot Rod won't be able to see anything amiss at first glance, though. It seems nothing is off with the passage? But if he runs a light scan, he'll find that the entire thing is rigged with pressure-activated explosives all strung together. Step on one, blow up the entire thing. Meanwhile, the speedster continues to try to drop Hot Rod with his stun weapon.



>> Blurr rolls one one hundred-sided die and gets: 40.



You know what they say: practice makes perfect. So focused is Hot Rod on the scan and its results that he's easy pickings. He has time to maybe make a brief noise of surprise before Blurr drops him. What a good friend.



Blurr curses. He'd started scanning it already, hadn't he? Well, hopefully he hadn't gotten enough information to prove anything. Carefully, the racer laces chains around Hot Rod's arms and begins to drag him out of the tunnels and leave him on the streets of Nyon.



Yeah. Just leave Hot Rod on the streets of Nyon. Let's hope he wakes up with all of his parts. Have fun dragging his sorry aft out of the tunnels. Blurr should consider a different job. Maybe something where he doesn't have to drag people -- FRIENDS -- out of tunnels.



Arcee is patrolling in the area. She could probably be back at the station attending yet another seminar, but she overheard a few officers talking about how she might be taking a shine to Prowl. Which is, of course, *completely* ridiculous. She only goes to those seminars to learn things. That's the ONLY reason.



Nyon doesn't get a lot of patrolling. It might be getting a lot of /activity/ lately on the part of /certain security forces/, but generally speaking the police presence is pretty minimal. There are obvious signs of this just about anywhere you want to look in Nyon, and if someone happens to look, say, on the side of the street, not far from an access to the city's tunnels, one might find one more mech passed out on the street. This mech happens to be EYE-CATCHINGLY RED. Although turned away, that spoiler has to be identifiable /anywhere/.



Arcee definitely notices that bright red paintjob, and she gasps in surprise, making her way toward the tunnel entryways. "Oh no..." She shakes her head in dismay, dragging Hot Rod over to prop him up in a sitting position against the tunnel wall. "Hot Rod, get up. Come on." She very gently shakes him, hoping his systems will come back online on their own and she won't need to drag him to a free clinic.



Once she has him turned around and propped up, it's clear that Hot Rod was recently shot at close range. He's not leaking out and he's in no immediate danger (other than the obvious danger of being passed out on the streets of Nyon), but he's clearly had a rough day. He stirs when Arcee shakes him, and it takes him a second to focus on her. The groggy glow of his eyes sharpens markedly once he identifies her and he startles back, which only has the effect of slamming his head against the wall. "Oh -- /ow/. Primus." He glances past her, but he still seems a little out of it. "Arcee?"



Arcee is absolutely no medic, so she doesn't want to chance any emergency repairs because she might just make Hot Rod's injury even worse. "I'll take it as a good sign that you remember me," she says with some relief. "...Do you remember who shot you? Because you definitely have a nasty blast injury."



After a moment, Hot Rod says, "Yes." He sounds a little bleak, and a lot disbelieving. He glances at Arcee with an almost accusatory edge to his gaze before looking away. He places a hand to his side, carefully checking the severity of the injury, then drops his hand. He looks around again and asks, "What, just you?"



"...Yes, just me," Arcee says with a confused expression. "I was just passing this way and I happened to see you near the tunnel entrances, out cold."



"Lucky, then." Gathering his feet beneath him, Hot Rod pushes upright. He's a little unsteady. "I sort of thought maybe you were going to arrest me and I'd have to resist and then it'd just be awful for us both." But apparently more awful for him, if standing is extra challenging.



"Um, *no*," Arcee insists, remaining close in case Hot Rod suddenly keels over. He doesn't seem particularly steady to her. "I wouldn't arrest you, what are you talking about?? Maybe that shot dinged your processor or something...I wouldn't do something like that."



Hot Rod gives Arcee a long look. "Why not?" His tone is faintly challenging; his gaze is direct. "What if someone ordered you to?"



"If...if I was ordered to, then I'd want to know why, and it had better be a *good* reason. Not just 'do it or else'," Arcee insists.



Hot Rod shakes his head. "Yeah," he says, a quick smile there and gone again with his words. "Too many variables. And besides, the question's really what it'd take for you to do it without anyone there telling you to." He gives her a more serious look and says, "I wish you'd stick to working other cities."



"What's that supposed to mean??" Arcee exclaims. "If I was 'working other cities', then I wouldn't have found you down here, maybe some thieves would have picked you clean of all that pretty armor. Look, if that's your way of telling me to get lost because we can't be friends, I...I don't care. I've been 'disowned' by a bunch of fair-weather friends already. And I expect for it to happen some more, as a matter of fact. I don't need any friends, I only need to...to do the right thing. And that's what I'm doing."



"I've got friends! They totally would've found me," Hot Rod says with delusional optimism. Completely delusional. Especially considering a friend just shot him. RIGHT, FRIEND. "I'm not telling you to get lost because we can't be friends -- I'm saying because we're friends -- /because/ of that. I don't ever want to end up in a place where your idea of right and mine are that far apart. How can you think you're doing the right thing when you /saw/ the Institute? Both of you saw it! You know what they got up to, how bad it was, and you helped bring it down. And now you're working for them. I don't get it, Arcee."



"No I'm not," Arcee says. "I don't work for them at all! I was in a raid to bring down one of those places. No way would I work for them."



Hot Rod makes a /deeply/ skeptical noise, then just vents in a long sigh. "Yeah, okay. I say 'yes, you are', and you say 'no, I'm not' and then we do that ten times and you shoot me. I'll skip it. It's all the same system, though. What makes what you are doing right?"



"Because things are...very deeply unequal in our society," Arcee explains. "And the more disorder there is, the more that upsets the balance. We can argue about who *should* be in charge, and what laws ought to be in place, but my main point is that there *has* to be an order to things, or everything's just going to erupt into anarchy and lawless chaos. It will be a major disaster. That's why I think I'm finally doing the right thing."



"Ugh," says Hot Rod, /super maturely/. "But it's unsustainable! You're doing everything you can to support the current order, but it's a flawed and unequal order that has lead to corruption of the powerful and exploitation of the weak. That's not going away. Every day of it just weakens the supports that are holding it up. Closing your eyes to the way things are here--" He throws his hand wide, indicating the mess of Nyon's streets. "--and insisting order must be maintained is the kind of thing that is going to lead us to disaster, Arcee. And you're walking into it blind."



Arcee bites her lip, and stares at the ground. "..." She's run out of academy answers, at least for now. "Did you want to walk to a free clinic or something? I think you have a few leaks. Look, you're puddling." She points at a few small puddles of mechfluid in Rod's vicinity. "I didn't want to argue with you about politics or anything like that, but you're hurt. I just wanted to make sure you could get repaired soon."



When Arcee changes the subject, Hot Rod watches her a moment, but doesn't push it. He looks down with a chagrined expression. Is that his? ...yeah, that's his. "Yeah," he says, then repeats himself, "Yeah, okay." He pushes away from the wall. He's steadier than he was, but he still just woke up after being shot. (Twice, technically.) "Arguing about politics ends up with people shooting each other too much, anyway," he tries to joke. It's not a very good joke.



Arcee nods, and walks alongside Rod, doing a quick map search for the nearest clinic. "No kidding. I thought the most peaceful mech I'd ever met in my life was going to hit me, last time I saw him, he was just THAT mad. I kind of hate politics, to be really honest. But it's impossible not to take *a* stand. You have to stand for something. Or you're in greater danger than if you try and accept everything. Mechs aren't going to like it when you don't agree with them 100 percent of the time. I don't always agree with you, but I think you're very interesting, I mean...you make me really, seriously think about these things."



"Thought you said you didn't want to talk about politics," Hot Rod teases. The nearest clinic isn't that far, but just as she's getting directions, he sends her a quick comm with the location of a /different/ clinic. It's a little farther, but not that bad. "Let's go here. I've actually, uh, got something for them." He looks vaguely shifty, and glances away from her a moment before looking back once he has his features more or less arranged into an expression of innocence. "I'm glad you think about things, anyway. I don't agree with you about the most important thing being order -- but I know you're right that it can't just descend into total chaos."



Arcee smiles and shakes her head. "Oh, alright. I won't even ask. Long as you're sure you're okay to make it there on your own power." She walks along with him. "Right, well I mean, we can disagree on the details. And who knows what the future's going to bring, right? This new group in Kaon...who knows for sure."



"I don't know what to think about them," Hot Rod admits, when what he /probably/ should be doing is going 'Decepticons bad'. He's honest, instead -- honest to a fault, maybe. "Drift's joined them. He's going by Deadlock. He doesn't seem to remember much of anything." He sounds unhappy about it all. "Were you there, when they hit that factory? Can you talk about it?"



"Oh really? ...Wow, I didn't know that about Drift...or, uh...Deadlock," Arcee mentions. "And yeah, I was part of that group that hit the factory, matter of fact I teamed up that night with Orion Pax. We handled the administrative offices and the security guards while everyone else was freeing those housed in the lower chambers. It was quite something."



Oo, Orion Pax, oooo. Hot Rod gets a little starry-eyed. It's either fluid-loss or hero-worship. So hard to tell which. "He was -- oh, no. The Decepticons, just recently," he clarifies. "In Altihex. I heard one of /them/--" He doesn't specify who. He is so discreet. He is the very soul of discretion. "--say that no one was actually killed like the news says. I was kind of curious how it looked on your end. Do you know?"



"Well...I'm really not sure how everything unfolded in the main area...that is, the actual factory floor, where the victims were," Arcee explains. "But Pax and I took out a few guard drones, for sure. The place was rigged to explode in case of a sudden raid, but we managed to stop *that* from happening just in time."



"/Explode/?" Hot Rod looks exasperated. "You know, there are just too many people putting bombs on things. Why's it always blowing things up. No creativity. No shooting things up, no setting it on fire, no, people just go straight to bombs," he complains. "Two words for you: collateral damage. It's like everyone's too busy thinking about hitting each other and not whoever is stuck in between. And I'm including Senate forces on that one, you know. They barely pay attention to middle castes, and definitely not anyone under that."



Arcee grins. "I know you hate the Senate, but I think it would be cool if you were a Senator," she suddenly says. "Because you'd definitely torque off ALL of the other Senators with your ideas. But I like your ideas, because they're very original. How do you know Orion Pax?"



Hot Rod laughs. A little. A tiny, itty bitty little bit. "I'd be dead before the end of the first day," he says, which is optimistic of him. He might just be dead before he even set foot inside any fancy-pants Senator building. "I don't really -- know him, know him," he says, sounding unusually shy about it. "I started paying attention when he went in and spoke to the Senate. Some of the stuff he said -- it needed to be said. But people listen to him, they respect him. They don't listen to us, down here. Not if you're form Nyon, or Kaon. First time I'd talked to him was with you. Went back, talked to him and Elita, setting up that hit on the Institute. Talked to him about keeping an eye on a friend. He makes an impression, you know?"



"Yes, he really does," Arcee agrees. "You know...technically, if I'm on the side of the Institute, then he is, too. Which is not me trying to start an argument, because I don't think it's true any more than you do. But 'technically' it's the truth. What I'm trying to show you is that there's many, many shades of grey in this conflict. I think it's important to take that into consideration before letting emotions make decisions."



Hot Rod looks sO OFFENDED. He opens his mouth to protest, but gets no farther than a squawked, "He is not--!" before he shuts up and lets Arcee finish. "Yeah, but he was /against/ it. And so were you. And so was /Blurr/, once upon a time, but now I don't know what he is. I know everyone working for the Senate isn't bad, Arcee. I really do. You're great. And I even know that some of the Senators -- okay, like, two, maybe -- aren't terrible. But we're talking so few of you, against so many of them."



"Yeah. My old boss was not a nice guy," Arcee admits with a smirk. "That was Proteus, by the way. And I feel like what I'm doing *now* is such a step up from what I was doing before, but...I don't know. Lots of things to consider." She looks at Rod with some concern. "You doing alright? You sound a lot better. We're almost there..."



"He hit me with something weird, I guess," Hot Rod grouses. He looks bewildered, betrayed -- but also pretty much annoyed. "This--" He gestures at his side. "It's not as bad as it seemed. That's not what put me into stasis lock. Yeah. I'm okay. I better--." He starts to reach as if to draw a package, but pauses, obviously, and instead just awkwardly folds his arms. "I can probably make it the rest of the way on my own." After another pause, he says what he probably should've said much earlier: "Thanks, Arcee. For checking on me, yeah, but also just -- for being an okay person."



"Well, okay." Arcee smiles warmly. "And you're very welcome, just take care of yourself, alright?" What IF Prowl ever wanted her to go track Rod down? She just didn't have an answer for that. But for the moment, unlike Rung and Blast Off, he hadn't yet given up on her, and that meant a lot. She gives him a quick hug, then begins heading off in the other direction.

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