Title: Making Friends
Location: Underneath Nyon
Date: 08 December 2014
Summary: Hot Rod and Flareup make new friends!! Not at all lying!!
It is only natural that those who live above should turn on those below out of fear of things that might attack from the dark. A group of troublesome hotheads -- not Hot Rod's hotheads, mind you, it's just that Nyon is kind of the sort of city where you find a lot of hotheads -- might go and throw firecrackers into the open pit of what was once a subsurface transport station. Nothing out of the ordinary, there. They might target any gleams of movement in the dark with casual, offhand maliciousness. It's sadly common. They might get attacked by a feral -- something -- that was backed into a corner, hounded, pursued, and attacked and escapes for freedom the only way it can: through them.
Three bleeding idiots make their way out of a tunnel, crying about it, and it doesn't take long at all for word to reach Hot Rod, whose powers of gossip are frankly miraculous. He's just that charming. "Cool," he says, standing and tossing to the side a datapad he's been writing on for ... days. /Days/. There's like nothing written on it, either. "Let's go check it out." And so they do.
"So what're we expecting to find here?" asks Flareup, who probably just happened to be in Hot Rod's vicinity when he learned there was adventuring to be had. "I don't understand why you have these bots living underground. Nautica says they're just regular bots with different alt-modes, so why aren't they up here?" WHY IS YOUR SOCIETY SO RACIST, HOT ROD.
"What are you-- oh, Insecticons?" Hot Rod stands at the edge for only a moment before clattering his way down broken stairs and over fallen walls to dive into the unstable dark. He flicks on his headlights. "I guess it could be Insecticons, but we haven't had a hive around Nyon for -- I don't know. It's been a while. Insecticons eat stuff--" Matter. The word he wants is matter. "--and make energon, so they kind of eat down. It makes sense for them." Why do you assume all societies have to be like YOUR society, you ethnocentrist. "Man, I hope it's not Insecticons. I was hoping for sparkeaters."
Flareup's eyes go wide and excited. "Do you have sparkeaters?" she says in an awed whisper. "We just have /stories/ about them. Have you ever seen one?" She's only briefly distracted from the subject of Insecticons, which surely Nautica has talked about more than sparkeaters, at least in recent days. "You'd think you'd all be nicer to them if they made energon," she says, frowning, as she follows him down.
"Sure!" Hot Rod says with a degree of enthusiasm that one does not typically carry for sparkeaters. "And I'm pretty sure I saw one." So basically no, then. "Yeah, that whole thing is why kidnapped a bunch of them in the first place, I guess." He steps lightly along the broken ground, sure-footed despite the uncertainty. "Some cities grow up right alongside them."
Flareup shoots Hot Rod a mildly skeptical look for his enthusiastically vague response re: spotting sparkeaters. It looks similarly displeased with his answer about Insecticons. "It doesn't sound like you've given them much thought."
Hot Rod gives Flareup a bemused smile. "Who? Sparkeaters? Insecticons? Giving things a lot of thought isn't really my strong point," he admits. He tucks his head to avoid scraping his helm on a broken bit of masonry. There are burn and blast marks from the peewee explosives that were tossed in earlier, but no major damage.
"The /Insecticons/," Flareup says with an impatient huff before she shifts nearer the burn marks to get a brief but closer look. Cause she's the expert. Or something. YEAH THOSE ARE TOTALLY MINOR. "Just kinda sounds like you're writing off this whole community under your feet like all the others here."
"Nah, they're cool," says Hot Rod with cis white boy carelessness. "You should meet Kickback. You'd like him. It wasn't just Nautica I pulled out of the Institute, you know?" ('I'.) "There just hasn't been a hive in Nyon for a long time. We were never like Stanix or Polyhex. Scrap, we'd probably be better off if we were. Hey -- look! That one didn't go off." He turns his light toward a firecracker that hasn't been detonated.
Flareup's brow lowers over her optics, briefly thoughtful. "I think Nautica mentioned him. An Insecticon?" She follows his headlights to the undetonated firecracker, reaching for it. "Not very exciting. I mean, this is pretty low-grade stuff. Make a little noise and not much else."
Hot Rod makes a disappointed noise. "Not sure if that makes it better or worse that they were throwing it down here. I mean, if there actually was anything here, you'd probably want something bigger to actually damage it." He flicks a finger at the firecracker in her hand. "Yeah, Kickback's an Insecticon. Total nerd, too. He actually came by because he wanted an alt-mode like mine. Still can kind of tell he's an Insecticon, though." Just like you can tell Hot Rod's an ego.
"Kind of a waste," Flareup agrees, pocketing the firecracker. "Tossing them around. Unless they were getting attacked by something that was nervous enough to run off at some loud noises and bright lights--" She spreads her hands wide with a shrug. "Guess it's possible, if it lives down here."
"I don't see anything, either," says Hot Rod with deep disappointment as he looks out into the dark. Someone with sharper eyes might catch a hint of movement where he is not looking, however, as something low and lean moves back into the dark. Light glints off of many-jointed legs.
"I'm sure we'll find OH PRIMUS WHAT IS THAT." Okay, so maybe sometimes creepy crawlies in the dark /are/ a little scary. Even if they're sentient. Flareup certainly startles upon seeing that maybe-glint off maybe-legs.
"What?" Hot Rod startles, yes, but he does not fall back. He glances toward Flareup, first, then looks back to follow the direction of her gaze. A flicker-flick of long limbs disappears around a fallen wall and vanishes into the dark. "YES." Hot Rod dives forward with inappropriate enthusiasm. "Did you get a look?"
"It looked like -- a leg?" After the initial startle, Flareup seems less troubled by such things, and a little embarrassed by her initial reaction. "Hey!" she calls after it. "I'm -- sorry, you just startled me!"
Hot Rod gives Flareup a puzzled look that grows into curiosity. "You think it can understand?" By the time they get around the corner, there's no visible indication of anyone else down there with them -- but there is a crack in the wall that leads into deeper tunnels, and a skittering scrape beyond.
"Why not? The Insecticons can, even though apparently most Cybertronians think they can't. Why not whatever's living down here, Insecticon or not?" Flareup sets her hands on her hips as she forcefully /educates/ Hot Rod like a privileged girl from the suburbs. "Come on." She races off towards the sound of the skittering, peering at the crack in the wall. "I don't think your head will fit."
"What about a sparkeater?" Hot Rod's grin flashes in profile as he races side by side with Flareup to crowd in next to crack. There's a noise from beyond like a hiss, then other. The sounds layer over each other. There's little to see beyond a vague impression of moving shadow. The lights they carry can only go so far into the dark. "I'm not sure your /aft/ will fit. Let's find out." And by that, he means him first, of course.
"Maybe they can, too," Flareup says stubbornly. "Maybe it's just that no one's bothered to try." THE SPARKEATERS ARE MISUNDERSTOOD, HOT ROD. "/Your/ aft -- outta the way." It seems that the femme has taken issue with the mech leading the way, and shoves a bit trying to squeeze past him to go first.
Between Hot Rod's head and spoiler and Flareup's aft and sass, neither of them are going anywhere. "Oh, come on!" he says, nudging her to the side. "Let me through!" As they squabble, the noise retreats deeper into the dark.
"Let /me/ through," Flareup argues. "Primus, you're such a /Cybertronian/." Yeah, that's an insult now. She just made it up! Shove shove.
"Uh, yeah!" Hot Rod refuses to take it as an insult. He strains against the opening and against her, trying to push her away. The already weakened stone cracks once, but before either of them can do anything about it, it gives way to spill them through side by side in a sudden tumble and a shower of dusty and small, sharp stones that lodge deep in their joints.
Wow, what a terrible consequence that wasn't at all predictable. Flareup /whumps/ onto the hard ground with a distinctly /uncomfortable/ noise. "See what you did," she mumbles against the stone.
I know. Who could've possibly seen /that/ coming. Hot Rod groans, less for the pain of the fall and more for the nasty ding of his spoiler, bent at the tip. Poor baby. "I've got rocks where mechs shouldn't have rocks," he vaguely complains, then turns over carefully onto his back so that he can sit up. He doesn't quite get that far. As he turns over, the light shines on -- well, it's not exactly clear /how many/ there are, or even quite certain what they are. Sparkeaters? Maybe. The creatures are thin and feral, but they crawl over each other in a slither and scrape in a way sparkeaters aren't exactly known to do. Insecticons? Maybe! But this is no friendly Kickback and friends: these are lean, hungry, /scared/ -- and the hissing picks up into a rising chattering warning. There are no distinct words.
"That was totally your fault," Flareup adds, in case that wasn't clear, as she tries to push herself up off the ground. And then she spots the Insecticons. Her first instinct is startle, but her second is a rather purposeful attempt at nonaggression. "Hello," she greets the -- uh -- hissing bunch. Hissing, chattering bunch. "We won't hurt you," she attempts. "We're friends!" She smiles. A+ ally!!
A is not for ally!! Flareup's smile is met with a strike from the dark: one of her lean and feral friends slides from beneath another to lash at her with fangs and claws. One becomes two becomes a half-dozen as the noise level rises. It's not quite loud enough to miss Hot Rod going, "Out, out!"
"/Hey/!" Flareup cries as the strikes scratches across her face, having the audacity to sound offended. SHE WAS SAYING HELLO. But then Hot Rod is yelling, and she can't really deny that her new friends aren't particularly friendly. She scrambles to her feet and out the way they came.
Hot Rod lets her go first, this time, with a lash of flame that sends Flareup's new friends back into the dark. They are not pursued as they head back out into the tunnel proper, but they really look like a pair of winners: scratched up, battered, covered in dust, and retreating from little more than shadows. "Friends, huh?"
"That's just /rude/," Flareup says, starting up a whole line of complaints. "I mean, we were just trying to say hello. I even /said/ that we weren't going to hurt them!" While invading their home. She finally tromps out with Hot Rod, swatting at dust, and reaching to touch her fingers gently to her face. "How bad is it?"
Hot Rod glances back over his shoulder, but the crack in the wall remains silent. After a moment, he relaxes. Looking back at her as they head out toward the light, he says, "Probably terrible." He nudges her with his elbow and then jogs ahead to turn and walk backward, facing her. He is probably going to run into something, eventually. The only mystery is whether she will warn him. He reaches to replace her fingers with his own, tilting her chin with a light touch so that he can see the scratches. "Oh, yeah, that's terrible. Your face, I mean. The cuts aren't too bad."
The answer is no. She will not warn him. Flareup glares at him, immediately snatching for the fingers on her chin so she can twist some of them back in retaliation. "/Your/ face is terrible."
"Ow!" Hot Rod protests, then he slams into a pillar at his back. "OW! Slag!" Between the twist of his fingers and yet another ding on his spoiler, he is well and truly cowed. "You could've warned me," he sulks as he falls back in next to her to trudge toward the surface. "Did you get a good look? They did /kind/ of look like Insecticons."
"Oops." Whether or not Flareup is truly apologetic is hard to tell. She doesn't do anything so clear as apologize. "I mean -- I think so? I haven't really -- seen a lot of Insecticons." She trudges after him. "But they looked like what -- people say they look like."
"I guess I'll ask Kickback. Or Nautica," Hot Rod adds with a sigh. He moves like an old, old man as they climb back out. Oh, he is sore. And he has a pebble in his foot. "They have their own language, I guess. Some of them might understand us, some of them might not. They might not have even known what you said."
Flareup considers this with a thoughtful turn of expression as she limps along. "So maybe we should try coming back with Kickback? He'd be able to talk to them, right? And then they'd know that we were friendly."
"Yeah. Nautica, too. She speaks -- whatever it is." Hot Rod frowns a moment then waves away the detail. Details are for chumps. "Scrap. Where could they have come from, though? Nyon really hasn't had a functioning hive in ages." And it's not like anyone did anything to /massively disturb the lower layers around the city lately, /Hot Rod//.
"Of course she does." Nautica immediately knows /everything/. "I dunno. I mean -- they live underground, right? Couldn't they have just come through the tunnels?"
"Maybe." Hot Rod looks a little puzzled, but shrugs it away with a, "Don't know why they would, but they obviously have. Not sure how to keep more people from getting hurt until I talk to one of them, though."
"So we come back with Kickback," Flareup says, now with an air of finality. You are just proving her plan to be perfect, Hot Rod.
"After I dig those rocks out of my legs, maybe," Hot Rod old-man-grouches.
"You're such a newly-forged," Flareup scoffs, then winces as some joint doesn't quite sit right.
"Ha. I saw that wince." Hot Rod's hand twitches like he's tempted to give her a friendly little shove, but he actually checks the motion. Instead, he just thumps her shoulder in a pat. "Let's get back. Next time someone joins up, we should make sure they know first aid, don't you think?"
"Ugh. Shut up." Flareup frowns over at him, but nudges back against his thump-pat. "Yeah. Um. Someone back at the embassy knows stuff."
"What!" Hot Rod makes a noise of wounded outrage. "Well maybe someone in Nyon should know stuff. How do they feel about blowing things up?"
"Uhm." Flareup attempts not to look guilty. "I mean. They don't /really/ know. Well, Nautica and Chromia do. Kind of. But." Shut up her explosions are great.
"Nautica does?" Hot Rod perks up for her and not for Chromia. Mean. "Hey, is Chromia always so--." He breaks off. What's a good word for it.
"Yes," Flareup immediately says. "She's always so Chromia."
Hot Rod says, "Ugh." Then they are back to their base, so he makes to veer off to the side. "I'm going to go unbruise my dignity. If you see Nautica or Kickback before I do, let them know, would you?"
"Definitely." Despite her bruises and scratches, Flareup offers Hot Rod a fierce smile before they part. GO TEAM.