Title: Mysterious Missing Bugs

PCs: Arcee, Chromedome, Ironhide, Ratchet

Location: Maccadam's Old Oil House

Date: 21 October 2014

Summary: Arcee's all still concerned.

Chromedome treads into Maccadam, slow-paced and sober. "I couldn't promise too much. My world has been fairly small. For certain kinds of police business, I may be able to give some direction, certainly."

"Okay, well...I was wondering if you knew about any research that was being conducted on insecticons," Arcee asks after picking out a suitable table for them. She orders a 'fizzy'...something really light, probably the equivalent of tonic water or soda.

Chromedome increases the side of his eyeplate in an approximation of modest, curious puzzlement. He orders dark and strong. Of course. "Research? I'm afraid not. I am in forensics, after all." His voice grows briefly warmer. "Although if I may be honest with you, I am interested in angling more toward scientific inquiry-- still, I have certainly examined my share of Insecticons. If that would be helpful."

"Possibly," Arcee says. "I was wondering if perhaps you've heard any strange rumors of tests being conducted to determine the sentience and/or intelligence of insecticons. You see...I had a rather unique one in my possession, and...the police forced me to give it up. Now, they won't tell me where he's been taken. I would really like to be able to see him again. He was my pet. It's been very upsetting not knowing where he is. But I think *someone*, *somewhere* who works in these areas can point me in the right direction. I don't think he's dead. Believe me when I tell you that this particular insecticon was unlike any other."

"I see. That's why you were in the police station earlier," Chromedome easily remembers. "I can't say that it's passed through my hands as evidence. But if Prowl didn't know, I'm afraid I don't either." He tap-taps his fingers against the table. "My guess, and this is only a guess, is that your unique pest-- pet, my apologies," he does at seem truly apologetic for the slip, "might have struck some higher-up as dangerous. Certainly, people and things have been routed places I cannot reach before. Certainly, there are always rumors." He stops tapping his fingers to steeple them together. "When you say 'sentience' and 'unlike any other' are you speaking of an Insecticon who is in fact self-aware?"

"Oh yes, he could talk," Arcee insists. "I know it sounds crazy, because he began life as a tiny little thing..." She cups her hands together in a bowl-like shape. "Back when I was aide to Senator Proteus, he could fit in my hands...I cared for him until he began...evolving, at which time the Senator told me to get rid of him, because he was getting too big to house in the office. Eventually, he evolved to the point where he could speak, ask questions...that's when Prowl told me he'd place me under arrest if I didn't surrender him." She sighs softly. "I've regretted it ever since. Even though it was the 'right' thing to do, it feels terrible. I can't help but think my poor pet is out there in some lab. If you happen to hear of...anything in that realm of study, please let me know?"

"He could talk, hmm?" Chromedome is all interest over the peak of his steeple. "And Prowl doesn't know where he went. Unusual behavior for an Insecticon, indeed. Startling to passerby, I imagine, and Prowl is all about keeping the peace." A brief pause. "I'm happy to listen out, but as I am, I would hardly know where to start. Labs somewhere -- that's just rumor, friend," he distant-eases. "Where did you find your friend?"

Ironhide enters the establishment casually, optics scanning the bar for potential signs of trouble. It's an old habit that he won't break any time soon. As long as he's been on security detail, some behaviors have been worn in spark-deep. Signalling with a nod to the bartender that he's off-duty and not packing anything, he makes his way forward, keeping to himself for the time being. Arcee and Chromedome catch his attention but only for a few seconds; he gives them their peace as he makes certain he's several seats away from them.

"Well, to be clear...Prowl never said he didn't know where Kickback -- that's the insecticon's name -- was taken, so he might actually know. But he deflects when I ask him. He just tells me to 'trust them' and my questioning shows a 'lack of trust'. Arcee shrugs. "Basically, that means, 'don't bother me about it anymore', in so many words." She pauses a moment to sip her fizzy drink, then mentions, "Kickback originally began as the Senator's pet, and he was too busy to care for him, so as his aide that responsibility fell to me. And one day we had a...strange dignitary come visiting. Very strange mech. And he DID something to Kickback, injected him with something. That's when he began to change very rapidly."

"He has a name?" How fascinated Chromedome sounds. "That the Senator gave him?" He titches light, a sound almost like a cough, and ingests a little oil. "So you're telling me that your pet is the result of some kind of experimentation in the first place. I can speak to Prowl, but perhaps any unknown researchers are simply curious in duplicating the process for other Insecticons. Who was the dignitary?"

Ratchet strolled into Maccadam's as if he owned the place, having visited the establishment so frequently that his picture was in the menu with energon wine listed as his favorite drink. He passed by Chromedome and Arcee, picking up bits of their conversation and feeling as if he heard the name Kickback from somewhere, but he couldn't remember at the moment. It would seem the energon had already taken effect before he even ordered it! The medic sat down at the bar, spotting Ironhide a few seats to his right. Another gruff mech he was happening to meet (the first being Kup). "Haven't seen you in a long time!" he commented cheerfully as he ordered his drink from the bartender.

Ironhide brightens a bit at Ratchet's greeting, smirking a little. "Well if it ain't the up an' comin' star of Deltaraan medical," he muses in a Tesaran drawl. "Yeah, I been busy over at Kolkular. Looks like it's gonna get nasty down there in no time." He has a mug of hard enerbeer. "An' you?"

"Well, yes, Senator Proteus named him, I think," Arcee admits with a small grin. "And this visitor we had...let me think."

Arcee recalls that meeting, and she's quiet for a long moment. Finally, she turns toward Chromedome again with a sudden startled motion. "His name was Tarantulas. I'm pretty sure that was his name. Not sure if that means anything to you."

Ratchet was humbled by Ironhide's greeting, his cheek plates heating up slightly. "I wouldn't call myself a star, per se," he replied. "I'm just doing my job." He sobered up at the mention of Kolkular's approaching fate and shook his helm. "More uprisings?" He sighed. "I don't see the point in all of this. Surely there are other ways to make a statement without so much .... /violence/." Granted, the influx of injured soldiers kept him from the woes of boredom, but he still found it unnecessary.

Chromedome processes, and then appears briefly surprised. "Oh. My. Yes, it means something, but only a little. I wasn't entirely sure he actually existed." He shakes his head, pressing his fingers close together. "I had heard he likes making -- bargains." Again, Chromedome sounds mildly fascinated. "And that they're always bad ones. But again, I thought he was mostly a legend. Apparently not."

Ironhide shakes his head. "I can't say I like it, but some of those mech don't feel like there's any other choice. Some of 'em got reasonable grudges, but the rest? You take a bunch o' low caste workers an' put 'em into oilsports like them gladiator pits, an' yer just breedin' trouble. They'll get a taste for killin' and it won't stop."

"I'm not sure what kind of a legend he's supposed to be, but he was really strange," Arcee admits. "I can't discuss what he was there to see Senator Proteus for, as...well, I was contracted not to discuss such things, and it wouldn't be very proper to bring them up. But I will tell you that he was very rude...he grabbed Kickback and announced that he wasn't being 'fed' properly...which is ridiculous, I tended to him and he was fed plenty. But that's when he brought out some sort of...very sharp needle, and pierced Kickback's little armor plating. I was so mad. I asked what happened, and he told me that he had just 'fed' Kickback. So to this day, I have no idea WHAT he did to him, but it brought about sentience. And really remarkable evolutions."

"Hmm." Chromedome leans back in his chair, neglected dark oil briefly unneglected. He sips. He thinks. "A gift from the legend, then. But maybe a poisoned one. You understand Kickback might actually be dangerous?" he posits. Sips again. "That said, anyone with that much knowledge probably knows his way around any unknown network of labs, wouldn't you think. I don't suppose you know where Tarantulas lives."

That was ... difficult to process. Low caste citizens compared to mindless animals trained to slaughter. He admittedly never paid much attention to the lower castes. Perhaps he was just bred that way like so many other higher castes, or he just treated every patient he had as an equal. Both views were probably right. "Well," he said. "How are our forces doing cracking down on this? There's no one to send in to just stop it?" As if it were that easy!

"Oh yes, well...I understood that when I gave him up to the police," Arcee admits to Chromedome, "Because he's getting quite large now. And while he's remarkably intelligent, I'm not sure of his...maturity to handle situations. So absolutely, he could attack someone. But I don't think he would attack me, which is why I'm hoping to find him again. I know for sure he would listen to me. As for Tarantulus? I really have no idea, and I'm not just telling you that because it's classified or something like that. All I know is, he was just 'visiting' he probably came from quite a distance. I don't believe he resides anywhere around here."

Chromedome's eyeplate narrows in something like disappointment. He finishes his oil. "Too bad." He sets the empty container down. "Hey. It may be that once whoever's looking at your friend confirms he's stable, he'll be released. But I'll look into it for you. I'd be curious to look at him myself."

"Thank you so much. Just...keep an audial out for any talk of strange insecticon behavior research...I just don't think he was killed, he was too 'strange' to die, that's just my hunch. Someone must have wanted to research him. I'm not against research, but...I want to know that he's alright, that he's being cared for and not hurt," Arcee says. "If I'm not allowed to keep him as a pet anymore, that's fine...he's probably evolved way beyond 'pet', anyhow, but I do still care about what happens to him. Which is why I've been looking. I do appreciate you helping me out. In return...well, I work for Elita right now. Mostly office aide-type programming. Should you require documentation creation or archive research, maybe I can help you out in return!"

"Mm. Well." Chromedome's hand lifts idle. "If you help me, I may be able to help you more effectively. If you could check the archives for any mention, however apocryphal, of experimental labs, I'd be happy to check them out for you." He makes a small laugh-like. "I anticipate a couple of weeks of poking at abandoned storefronts and dark alleys, of course. But I will talk to Prowl, additionally."

"Sentinel Prahm's preparin' troops in Kolkular outside Kaon," Ironhide reassures Ratchet. "But ain't nobody doin' anything about the pit fights. I hear it's because there's money t' be made in it, but I can't say for sure. I got no part of that. Last security detail I did before Kaon was Ibex, guardin' a racer that someone was tryin' t' shoot." He takes a drink out of his mug; it's well refined high-grade, and particularly potent - not something for a light-weight, that's for sure. "But I don't think it's just gonna be a matter of bustin' heads to put people in line. Somethin's got them riled up."

"Well that's a relief," Ratchet replied, though he honestly didn't feel reassured. He wondered if they ever tried to talk to the Senate about their problems. "The streets are starting to get a little unsafe here, too. I might have to hire a bodyguard just to get home." He smirked, lifting the wine to his lip components briefly. "Hey, maybe I could hire /you/," he teased. "I'm more your speed than a /racer/.~"

"Sure, I can do that!" Arcee exclaims, realizing she has a great resource in the Hall of Records -- and a great ally in that adorable little archival-bot...Rewind was his name, she thinks. Maybe she could get him to help, too! "Well, thank you again, I don't want to take up too much of your time, but I'll give you my frequency, so you can reach me. I'm going to be in Altihex on assignment for a little while, but I can always travel if you want to meet up somewhere," she tells Chromedome.

"Wonderful. I'll give you mine." And verily, Chromedome does. He lifts himself to his feet. "I hope to speak again with you soon. After your assignment, perhaps. It was a pleasure."

"Likewise, and thank you again, sir." Arcee cordially shakes Chromedome's hand before heading on her way. She seems much more upbeat now. While Chromedome didn't have any answers regarding her former pet, he was in a more tenured position to *learn* more, should word of the experiements leak out into the scientific community. And that gave her hope. He also seemed to have pull with Prowl which she also didn't have, being such a young and unproven rookie.

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