Title: Kidnapped to Kaon
Date: 08 October 2014
Summary: Everything that could possibly go wrong on a first date at a matchmaking business...
++ Iacon ++
Gleaming gold, silver and blue as far as the eye can see: the capital of Cybertron itself can be breathtaking to behold. Architecture both old and modern reflect a sense of stately order as well as artistic beauty, with gentle arches, gilded domes and spiraling towers that rise into the skyline. Even the walkpaths and roads are copper and bronze, the maintenance workers here diligently tending to them to prevent any kind of rust and corrosion. The city itself almost seems alive, with glowing power conduits in circuit pathways running along the streets and buildings, powering external lights and glowing holomatter signs. Cyan-colored crystal and glass windows reflect the hue of the sky in day, or glow from internal lighting at night.
Populated mostly by high caste and above, Iacon is the seat of Cybertron's government, military and intellectual class. At the end of the main road into Iacon is Trion Square, which features an enormous video screen, every bit as big as a combiner, constantly flickering with news feeds, state-sponsored messages and advertisements. Translucentia Heights, the most elite residential area on Cybertron, is nestled into a corner of Iacon's living quarters. Energon refineries, technoversites, merchant plazas, a nurturing creche and even a nature preserve fall within the massive polity's boundaries, making Iacon one of the few completely self-sufficient cities on the planet.
Arcee has been 'missing' for a number of cycles...off doing...well, it isn't clear what she's been doing, but she's finally returned to Iacon. And how, she's somewhat different. Gone are the Senate embellishments from her armor...and she seems to have been refitted with stronger armor from faceplate to feet, to withstand more rigorous events than she would as a mere office assistant. Clearly, she has a new assignment.
Another day, another destiny.
Deep in the heart of Iacon, a small crowd is gathering around a business that appears to have just opened a decacycle or two ago. A massive, neon sign is plastered to the front of the building : Corresponding Conjunx. And then in smaller lettering just below the illuminated text a small description is as follows: Can't seem to find that ONE who can fill the void deep down in your spark? No worries, we'll find that special person for you!
One of the employees is standing outside the building, doing his best promote the new business. When he lays optics on Arcee, he rushes over to her, waving an information data pad in her faceplates. "Ma'am! Do come inside and sign up ! We're having a special, the first 100 customers will all receive a free match!"
Arcee blinks in surprise. "Free match?" she echoes. Well, what harm was there in a free match? With the luck she's had, she needed all the help she could get. "Why not," she decides.
"Excellent!!" The advertiser says enthusiastically. "Right this way," he says. For some reason, he looks really relieved. He ushers her to a very comfortable and cush seat in the lobby and hands her a number. "When your number is called, go up to the front desk and they'll assign you a room number. Your match will be waiting for you there," he says, although his cheerfulness sounds forced. He keeps avoiding optic contact with her too, like he's guilty or something. He hurries off before she can ask any questions.
"Right, thank you," Arcee says, having a seat and glancing around the waiting area. This is...rather convenient. Almost TOO convenient, she thinks.
The room Arcee is in must be for the fems. And they all look very.. nervous. Some of them even look kind of terrified. Others give her sidelong glances then whisper quietly to each other. Some are even crying? But before Arcee can ponder all of this for too long, the drone at the front desk calls her number.
Arcee frowns slightly, then heads up to the front desk and hands the drone her number. "I hope it's my lucky day," she says, not feeling particularly lucky anymore.
The drone hands her a room number. "Good luck," the drone says in a bland tone, "may you find the conjunx endurae of your dreams. The room you are assigned to is straight down the hallway to your left."
If Arcee is to follow the drone's instructions, she'll find herself in a large greenhouse like room with a vaulted ceiling. All around her is beautiful crystal foliage, making for a rather romantic atmosphere. There are a few other couples in this room, but they are on the other side. The number she's been assigned corresponds to the numbers on the benches which are placed an appropriate amount of space apart along the path she is walking down.
"What a strange business this is...at least this particular area is a little less worrisome than the waiting room," Arcee murmurs to herself as she strolls down the pathway, sort of enjoying the atmosphere as she makes her way to the rendezvous point.
The couples on the far end of the room seem very happy though, so maybe she shouldn't worry. Or should she?
Because When she arrives at the rendezvous point, the mech waiting for her there might look familiar.
Yeah, isn't he the one Blast Off had warned was trying to kill her before...?
He doesn't appear to want to kill her though--nor does he seem surprised that she's his match. "Hey," he says smoothly, "remember me?"
Arcee looks startled, then laughs. "Oh, come on. You have /got/ to be kidding me," she exclaims. "Now come on. Tell me the truth, why are you here."
"...." he just arches a brow ridge at her. "Because... I'm supposed to protect you. Discreetly." He laughs, and stands up. "You're actually not supposed to know that I've been shadowing you--because the assassin that's after you is one of your... 'friends', if you'd like to call him that."
Arcee tilts her head in confusion. "But...wait, if you're 'supposed to be protecting me', then who sent you??"
"The Autobots. They hired me." Drift lounges on the bench. "I tried out, back in the day. But they wouldn't let me in. Then, after I worked as a security mech for some data archivists in downtown Iacon, I guess they came around? I don't really know why they didn't just get a regular Autobot to come be your bodyguard. Maybe they think I'm disposable." He frowns. "But hey, I like being paid. So, hell why not." He stands up and puts a hand on her waist. "Let's take a walk, shall we?" He flashes her a charming smile.
Arcee hms. "Well, okay..." She still seems skeptical, but Drift's explanation *seems* plausible to her, and she doesn't have enough life experience to draw upon to decide whether or not Drift is fabricating his story. She follows him, but her expression is much more puzzled than it is beguiling.
"Oh come on," he says, stepping in front of her. He takes her hand playfully. "Ease up a little. Don't worry--I'm sure this is all going to work out fine. Now that I'm here.." he grins. "I won't let you get assassinated." He winks.
"Okay..." Arcee still seems a little unsure, but Drift's certainly friendly enough. "So...help me to help you, here. You know who this assassin is, yes? What's made it difficult to get rid of him so far?"
"He's fast." He shakes his helm. "And if you're thinking it's that annoying blue racer, no, it's not him." He sighs. "I think you should be careful who you trust. I mean, a lot of people might seem trustworthy, but are actually just looking to use you. And then backstab you, if necessary. Trust me... I speak from experience." He gives her a pained look. "I used to have a lot of friends who were low caste or disposable. They got laid off by the government for Primus knows what. They did what they could to get by. Then.. one by one, they all somehow either disappeared or wound up dead and beaten into pulp in a dark alley." He looks away. "I'd hate to see something like that happen to you."
"Yeah, that's...that's happening a lot," Arcee admits. "It's hard to know who to trust, because you're right, these things are happening all the time, and...and you *have* to trust someone, that's the only way you can hold a decent job or make connections or anything like that." So far, Drift's making a lot of sense to her.
”… thanks. It's nice to know that someone agrees with me, even though the way things work around here is kinda fragged." He touches her face gently. "Hey.. sorry if you came here actually looking for a conjunx endurae. I know.. I'm nowhere near worthy." He gives a bashful look. "But I thought I should tell you about some of the stuff that's been going on. You have a right to know, after all. Maybe I can just buy you a drink?"
Arcee grins. "Oh, I...probably wasn't looking for anything like that," she admits. "I mean, I'm still young and that sort of connection -- with anyone -- it takes a lot of time to figure out. Probably longer than I've even been functioning." She doesn't seem particularly enamored with Drift one way or another; however, she does seem a good deal more comfortable and less skeptical than when she first walked in. "And sure, if you want to go somewhere and talk some more, that would be fine."
He just laughs. "I mean, I almost thought you weren't going to show up. I mean, I did pay the guy to make you come in here, but you came here quicker than I thought you would." He grabs her hand and heads for the nearest building exit. "Hey, you'll get to take a spin in my new ship..."
"New ship, hm?" Arcee chuckles, this guy certainly was in a hurry! She almost had to take leaping strides to keep up with him.
He grins at her, squeezing her hand and looking straight into her optics. "Yeah... you'll love it! Don't ask where I got it from though..." He winks, giving her a cheeky look
And wow, his ship is... well, pretty out of this world. Literally. It's not Cybertonian tech. The ship's aesthetic is pretty bizarre yet avante garde looking. Drift makes a show of tossing the keys up before allowing them to neatly integrate with his palm and... his helm? There's a strange little needle that snakes up from the part of the key in his palm all the way up to his cerebral circuitry. The ship hums to life as they walk up the gangplank. And then it does something very unexpected. It turns pink and white, resembling Arcee's color scheme. "It responds to my brainwaves. And I just made it look like you. What do you think?" He looks over at her, his expression searching for approval.
Arcee laughs in surprise. "That is.../crazy/," she exclaims, looking delighted as she eyes the outside of the ship, and then grins in Drift's direction. "Better watch out for theft, this will be the envy of every chop-shop operation on the planet. I can see how having an individual processor link like the one you have would definitely deter theft, though! /Very/ clever." She continues following him onto the ship.
"Yeah... it has an amazing cloak ability too, so that helps keep it on the down low." He grins. "I'm glad you like it." He gently ushers her into the shotgun seat in the cockpit.
The ship then rises up, and they're off.
Drift glances over at her. "You know, I'm surprised at how little attention you get. I mean, I would have expected mechs to be running up to you, wanting to pledge themselves as your conjunx endurae everyday." Is... he just saying that because it's now apparent that they're headed towards Kaon?
Arcee enjoys the view on the big screen, then she glances over at Drift. "No, I don't get that at all, actually...up until very recently, I was just an office assistant," she admits with a shrug. "I gave the whole thing some thought, recently...and I've decided that if it happens, then...then I'll just know that it was the right thing from the get-go. It isn't something that can blossom from desperation."
He smiles at her. "...that's such a shame. I'm sorry to hear that. I don't know if I can agree with you though. Because I think a lot of times you don't know how precious something is to you until you have it ripped away. " They're riding over Wreckage Row now, and the ship is... descending? Where exactly are they going for a drink?
Arcee peers at the viewscreen curiously. "...Where are we?" she asks, looking bewildered.
"...hey, don't worry about it," he says casually, "I thought I'd take you somewhere a little less conventional..." But he actually sounds far away, and if Arcee is to look over where he was sitting a moment ago, she won't find him there. In fact, she'll notice that the ship is changing, transforming. The shotgun seat she is sitting in is no longer shotgun--it's moving backwards, towards the back end of the ship. The walls shift to Arcee looks around, suddenly feeling really worried. "...Look, what is this about?" she asks the empty (and rapidly dimming) room. "I'm being honest with you. I own nothing of value. I'm not upper caste. The least you can do is tell me what it is you want."
For a moment, there's dead silence. Then she can hear footsteps coming towards from behind, as the seat she's sitting in suddenly clamps her down, effectively rendering her a hostage.
Then she can feel Drift's hand on her shoulder and his voice whispering in her audio receptors, "do you remember when I told you to be careful of who you trust? Clearly, you didn't take my advice." Then, he steps back, laughing a little. "I'll tell you what this is all about," he says, optics narrowed as he turns to face her. "A long time ago, the Autobots killed my friends. And I never forgave them for that." Oh my, what is he holding in his left hand, is that a bomb with fasteners on it? This can't mean anything good for Arcee.
"Look, I had nothing to do with killing your friends. Like...ZERO.. Absolutely nothing at all. Whatever you think killing me is going to do to bring your friends back, it's not going to work, I guarantee it," Arcee says, kind of wishing she had been a little more paranoid in her short, short life. Even Blast Off had told her that! She begins struggling fiercely.
"I don't care," he snarls, "Autobots are pure filth. They step on the poor, and confiscate from the needy. I don't know what kind of twisted law you slaggers live by, but whatever it is, it's far from what real justice is. This," he says, yanking her subspace compartment open and shoving the bomb inside, "is justice. You get exactly what you deserve, for carrying on the rotten legacy of those fragged Autobots who held me down while they slaughtered innocent disposables who were barely scraping by. I mean, hell, what did they ever do wrong?! Besides /exist/?! They were my friends, and the only thing on this pitted planet worth living for. It's so easy for you to plead your cause, claim you had nothing to do with it and that your death won't bring them back, because you've never had to watch all your friends die brutally. What pathetic thing and cowardly thing to say anyway." The bomb has little automated fasteners that drill into Arcee's armor and clamp themselves there. When they've all locked into place, the timer on the bomb beeps and lets out hissing sound.
Arcee listens, and feels like she should probably be much more terrified than she actually is, but it all just seems pretty surreal.
She's not even screaming. While she did struggle quite a bit, she stopped after realizing that she probably didn't stand much of a chance of getting out of this, alive or otherwise.
After Drift plants the bomb inside of her, she realizes she's being very quiet. Or maybe, it just seems very quiet in here because Drift stopped talking, and she isn't screaming. (Quick, say something, hurry up!! Beg or plead or something!!)
Arcee pauses as the bomb beeps, then hisses. Then she looks over at Drift. "Anyone ever tell you that you've really lost your mind?"
He kneels and is now attaching a small device that appears to be a tracker equipped with a small camera. "When you have seen all the things I have seen," he says very grimly, "you kill so that you do not become a victim of your own agony. I can't live knowing that my friends died for nothing." He turns and leaves the room, and suddenly, Arcee can feel the ship moving again, ascending.
"Yeah, well this isn't bringing any of them back!" Arcee yells. "Hate to break it to you! Doing this won't raise them from the dead. And you're not the only spark who's ever been in pain, felt betrayed, or anyting *else* which makes you think you're on some noble mission and not just going through motions like a complete and utter lunatic!"
At this point, Arcee doesn't much care if Drift's listening or not; she's just venting because she knows her time is probably short. "Seriously! You're pretty crazy to think that your own personal pain trumps everything and everyone else in existence. What were you saying about pathetic and cowardly? Yeah, I think that applies to you!"
The ship is transforming again, and the walls that were once enclosing her are sinking into the floor. She will be able to see Drift in the cockpit now. He glares at her, fists clenched, optics simmering with rage. He gets up and within seconds is next to her. He slaps her hard in the faceplates. "And what the /hell/ do you know about pain? Or betrayal or anything?!" he rages. "You don't know anything! You've lived a cush life, with everything you've ever wanted at your fingertips! Of course I'm not the only one who's been victimized and beaten down. Have you ever been to Kaon? I think /not/. My friends can't be raised from the dead. But if I can put a stop to the tyranny that is killing more and more innocents everyday, then I will. And /you/ are part of it. And you have no shame whatsoever. You are an idiot, naive, cruel--"
All of a sudden, Drift stumbles backwards, looking faint. The ship is starting to do some weird things... like, all the rooms in the ship are starting to disappear and the walls are shifting again--no, wait, not just shifting../cloaking/. And soon, they aren't visible anymore. Arcee will find that she's suddenly seeing some dark back alley of Kaon. Around her, she can see some miserable looking disposables huddled in a corner--and Drift? He standing besides her, but doesn't appear to see her. He looks different, too. Next to him is another mech, carrying several containers of energon.
"Gasket," Drift addresses the mech carrying the energon. "You shouldn't have, the Autobots are on patrol tonight--" The other mech shakes his helm and hands him the container of energon. "Don't worry about it. Here.." But Drift doesn't take it for himself. Instead, he rushes over to the Empties lying prone on the ground and starts pouring some into each of their mouths, as several of them are incapable of even feeding themselves. "T-thank you.." one of them manages to stutter.
But their relief is short lived. A group of Autobots are arriving at the scene. They don't look pleased. "I assume you didn't pay for that," the commanding officer snaps at Gasket, who looks afraid but stands his ground. "Hand it over," the officer demands. But of course, Gasket refuses. And that's when all the violence begins. The Autobot officer commences to give Gasket a beating before blasting his helm into shreds, while the other Autobots restrain Drift from helping his friend. Then, the officer casually strolls over to the empties and kills each of the helpless bots. In a fit of frenzied rage, Drift manages to break free and kill the entire Autobot patrol team.
Then everything is fading to black, and Arcee can feel the ship touching the ground...
Arcee winces as Drift comes over to take out his unmitigated rage on her, and she half-expects to explode right there in the room. She steels herself, waiting for the intevitable explosion, but instead finds herself reliving the very incident that drove Drift straight into this madness to begin with. Of course, she remembers, this ship is plugged right into his crazy processor, so it has the ability to play back those memories.
Ultimately, as she watches the scene play out, she feels saddened, and reminded all-too-much of her close encounter with 'darks' under the plate in Vos, during one of her first ventures outside the Senate building. She can remember the anger there, the hatred from those poor wretches... (They want nothing more than to kill you,) she remembers hauntingly.
Then, the soft bump of the ship touching down brings her back to reality. She steels herself for more resistance. Resist, she must.
Drift is still nowhere in sight. The lights haven't come on yet, so she still won't be able to see anything. Then she can feel the clamps on her wrists and legs retracting, and all of a sudden, light. She's being dropped into the middle of a busy street in Iacon. But of course, everyone's too busy to notice her sudden appearance out of thin air, since the ship is cloaked.
She'll also notice Drift has sent her an encrypted message via her private comm. It reads as the following. "<You must find Blast Off, Rung, and Onslaught. Bring them all into the same enclosed area with yourself present. Don't try to get out of this. If you do, I will know. I can track you, as well as see you>"
But perhaps Drift isn't the monster that he appears to be. If the ship reads his brainwaves and obeys accordingly--then what kind of command was the playing back of his memory a response to? Had Drift somehow, subconsciously, wanted her to see that? And if so, why...
Arcee says nothing, she just...stares blankly ahead, until she suddenly senses she can move her limbs. Then, as she tests her movement, she simply appears on the busy street in Iacon. "<< You're mistaken if you think I even know where these individuals even are, >>" she sighs. OK, that's...partly a lie, but mostly the truth, as she only really *knows* two of them, and met the third one *once*. And she wouldn't even knowingly cause someone's death. So yeah...she's pretty sure she knows how *this* one's going to turn out. Not well, for sure. But she has to go through the motions; what other choice does she have?