Title: New Part, New Friend
Date: 01 December 2014
Summary: Exodus is only looking for a spare tool part, but he ends up discussing Hot Rod and political resistance movements with the shop owner, Torque.
An outskirt town of Kaon, bordered by the Manganese Mountains to the west and the Sonic Canyons to the east, Kalis occupies a narrow stretch of flat land that winds over difficult terrain. Composed mostly of a massive highway stretching between Ibex in the north and Kaon in the south, the Kolkular fortress serves as a checkpoint and bottleneck between Kaon and its major neighbors. A massive underground powerplant that provides power to the planetary datalinks, Teletraan-1, lies beneath the surface. Most of Kalis' population reside in buildings and workstations carved into the sides of the mountains like pueblos to the west, roads climbing up to the table lands of the Tagan Heights. To the east, others live in pathways alongside and down into the cliff faces of the Sonic Canyons, where rare materials used to make protoforms are gathered.
Midday has struck in Kalis, and those fortunate enough to get a work cycle break are out and about, looking for a place to grab a quick drink. Others are wandering around, on work related errands. One such mech falling into that category would be a tall and broad miner, by the name of Exodus. One of the mining tools he uses frequently is missing a part, so he's meandering through the streets of Kalis, looking for a mechanic who might be able to fulfill his request.
Consequently, he walks around until he finds just what he's looking for. He stops in front of the shop and peers in with a small smile before entering.
"It's a good thing you came in when yah did. Those treads were really worn out." The voice of a femme can be heard within the shop as Exodus approaches, its source sitting at one of the raised tables in the garage-like shop and currently tending to another miner. "Don't wait so long next time, okay? I don't want you to get in trouble or anything." The femme beams and pats the larger mech on the arm before he thanks her and heads out. With her business finished she immediately gets to work wiping down the bench and her tools, always one to make sure her work environment is up to medical standards and not like a chop shop.
Only when Exodus' bulk blocks the light of the entrance does Torque look up, antennas flicking up and a warm smile washing across her features. "Afternoon!" Standing upright, she wipes her hands clean and waves him in. "Not one of my regulars, I see. What can I do for yah, stranger? Name's Torque, by the way."
He offers her a kind smile back. "Good afternoon." He nods. "A pleasure to meet you, Torque." He pauses, glancing down at her hands momentarily before extending one towards her. "My name is Exodus. I'm looking for a spare part for this tool. Hopefully you can help me out?" His green optics meet her gaze straight on.
Torque doesn't even hesitate to take the offered hand, meeting it with her own and shaking with a surprisingly strong grip for her size. "Nice to meet you, Exodus. Y'know, I swear I've heard that name once or twice around here." Retracting her hand she shrugs and cants head slightly when overlooking the tool he produces. "Mind if I..?" A motion to take it, and when allowed she overturns it in her hands a few times before nodding. "Mmhm, I see what you need, just a klik."
Setting it gently on the table, Torque smiles once more up at the big mech and moves off into the back room where the sound of searching about can be heard moments later. "I don't carry much mining equipment, to be honest." She pipes up over the clatter of stuff. "But some folks've got it built in so I kinda have to these days. Luckily yours is a pretty standard tool."
After a minute she returns and motions to one of the wheeled stools hanging around. "Here, have a seat and I'll fix it right up for yah." A foot hooks around another stools and pulls it over to the bench, Torque dropping atop it and hauling up a toolbox up beside her. "So you're a miner, eh?" She tries to make small talk while working, glancing over now and then. "Heh, I get plenty of you mechs in here."
His optics light up. "Hey, it's not everyday I meet someone I can actually shake hands with," Exodus says with a light chuckle. He grips her hand with both of his, giving her a warm and friendly smile. "Glad I stopped in." He lets her take the tool, nodding.
However, when she says she'll fix it for him, his optics widen and he doesn't sit down like she asked him to. "Oh no, you don't have to.." He steps over to her side and makes like he is going to try to take the part from her. But when he sees that she's already taken out her toolbox, he stops, and his hands fall to his side. He smiles a little, laughing quietly. "Yeah. No surprise there, I guess."
Torque flashes a smirk up at the mech. "Hey now, it's my job to fix things. I'll only charge you the part, not the installation fee, promise. Gonna be just twelve shanix, by the way." It's a relatively simple procedure, so luckily Exodus won't have to wait long. Still, the femme enjoys to talk while she works so she continues on, speaking without taking her eyes off her work. "So what do you do over there, if I can ask? A hauler?" A moment to pause and flick optics across him. Yeah, he looks like he could carry a lot.
"Whatever you say," he says, grinning through feigned exasperation, "after all, how could I say no to someone as polite as you?" his optics twinkle, and he moves to the other side of the table, so that he can face her while she's talking.. and working. "Yeah.. I'm a carrier transport. You could say I do all the heavy lifting--but I'd beg to differ. I like to think that every aspect of my work is a team effort," Exodus remarks. "What about you? How long have you been running this shop?"
Torque waggles the end of her tool slightly in his direction and grins. "Knew it. And heh, that's a good way to see it. I swear, some of the oversees and whatnot that drop in don't feel the same way about their fellow mechs. Must be all the power goin' to their heads." She shrugs and makes a few final adjustments. "Handful of years, I'd say. Better than working back in Iacon General, if you ask me."
"Anyway, here you are." The femme smiles and slides the tool his way across the bench. "Should be running just like it used to. Anything else I can help with?" Amber optics shift up to meet his, trademark smile remaining. Despite being midday things are still a little on the slow side, so she's eager to do something.
"Well, I try to be the light at the end of the tunnel, you know?" Exodus says. "Some of the mechs at the sect I supervise need it. What good is power anyway," he comments. "a true leader inspires, encourages, and organizes."
He smiles when she returns the tool to him. "You didn't have to. I could have done it myself. But, I suppose, I'm sure you needed the business anyway." He hands her the twelve shanix and then some, paying the installation fee anyway. "You could let me buy you a drink," he says kindly, "but only if you want to. No pressure."
"If only there were more that thought the same way." Torque shakes her head thoughtfully, though perks up and looks concerned when she swiftly counts the shanix he hands her. "Er, hey, think you overpaid me. I only sai--" She pipes up, about the return the extra money, but halts when he offers to buy her a drink. Amber optics widen in surprise and antennas shift upright only to fall back a little as a faint blush crosses her face.
"Well, I uh.." A glance out the open door confirms the lack of business today and she concedes with a soft smile back to him. "..Why not. Doesn't look like it'll be any busier today, so I think a little break'd be nice. Where'd you have in mind?"
"Nah," Exodus says sincerely, "trust me, you don't want a clone of me running around," he says lightheartedly. When she starts to comment about him overpaying, he just waves a hand dismissively, shaking his helm. He starts for the door, holding it open for her politely. "There's a little joint on the corner just down the street. They're pretty decent and their service is fast," he says.
Torque figures she won't win if she tries to give him the shanix back again, so she simply subspaces it and puts her tools away before following him out and locking up the shop. "Oh yeah, I know it. I go there now and then after work." The shorter femme beams and strolls alongside Exodus, thumbs hooked on her hips in lue of pockets.
It's a relatively quiet walk since it's just on the corner, but once they grab a seat inside Torque is nothing but chatty, glad to have someone new to talk to. "You know, it's not often I let my patients take me out for a drink." She jokes, sipping on her heavy mug of dark violet engex. "Good to get out, though. Surprised you don't have to hurry back to mines like some of the others do. But anyway.. Tell me about yourself, Ex. You been working the tunnels long?"
"Good, I thought so, it's pretty popular," he says, following after her once they exit the shop.
He sits down across from her, meeting her gaze steadily, green optics surveying her. "Patient?" he laughs, he looks amused. "Alright, if you want to play doctor, I suppose.." He grins. "Well.. I do have to get back to work eventually, but even if I get harassed for being late, I think it will have been worth it." He pauses. "Yeah... it's all I've ever known. I don't really know any miners who have worked any other job," he says, "but enough about me. I want to know about you." He gives her another small smile.
Torque pauses with mug halfway too her lips and corrects herself with a sheepish clear of her vocals. "Er, customer. Sorry, I'm still stuck in my medic days." With that said she tries to focus more on him, thoughtfully sipping on her drink and nodding all the while. "I hear yah. But you know, that doesn't mean you can't do something else. I mean, look at that Momus guy."
As for talk about her? Well, that earns Ex a little smile in return and a rub to the back of her neck. "Ah, well, not too much to tell, really. Used to work in Iacon General, but I saw these area needed more help so I decided to set up shop here. Pretty much what I do all day. That and.. well, spend time down in the ring in Kaon." She says that last bit quietly as it's not something many want to admit. "It's rough in Kaon, but it gives me a chance to help patch up mechs who need it when I'm not fighting."
"Don't worry about it," Exodus says politely. He smiles and shakes his helm. "No, I don't think I will. I like the people I work with a lot. Yeah, they endure a lot of suffering, and watching them go through it is painful. But I want to be there for them through everything, and see them come out on the other side. It draws us closer together, you know? It might not be the high life, but it's rich in and of itself in its own unique way," he says.
"That's very admirable," he compliments her. "I think it takes struts to come anywhere near Kaon." His optics dim a little with concern when she say she fights occasionally. "Thanks," he says, "for setting up shop here. The people here need it, and I know that's a sacrifice on your part." He smiles at her.
Torque nods in response, a bright gleam in her optics and a smile growing even more on her face as she lightly smacks a hand on the table in enthusiam. "Exactly. Make the most of what you've got, I say. From what I've learned, you don't need shanix to be happy, just the mechs around you." Leaning back in her chair, Torque raises her glass a little and chuckles. "Heh, Kaon folk don't scare me. If they wanna start trouble, then one good knock to the jaw and they go runnin' off."
Expression softens when Ex talks about being here, optics scanning the slight ripples in her glass until she looks back up to him with a kindness on her face that's not usually seen these days. "No thanks necessary. I couldn't sit by while mechs were going without care. I know Ratchet's got his clinic around Rodion, so I figured I'd follow his example and come here."
Sighing softly, Torque leans in and continues, though her voice lowers so that it stays between them. "Folks seem to be caring less these days about the lower castes. I know I probably shouldn't be saying it, but.. well, they work hard and are Cybertronians too, so they should at the very least get proper care." She would say more on the matter, but because they're in public she keeps her mouth shut for now and slumps back. "That's how I see it, anyway."
Exodus laughs a little, amused. "Yeah, you're right. You seem like a gal who could hold her own, too." He smiles, tilting his helm to one side, studying her momentarily. "Of course it isn't necessary," he says warmly, "I'm simply thanking you because I want to. You deserve it. And not enough people say thank you these days. I just wanted to make sure you felt the appreciation you're entitled to." He looks her in the straight in the optics, his green gaze perhaps piercing her. "You're absolutely right. But if you really believe that, don't you want to /do/ something about it? Cybertron isn't going to get better by itself, you know."
"Well I appreciate the appreciation. It's my job, in a sense, and I'm glad to help everyone however I can." Torque smiles happily, but his intense stare appears to catch her off guard somewhat. She can be tough when it counts, but in reality she lingers on the more passive side, so it isn't a surprise when optics avert down to her drink when he talks.
A few beats pass before she can return his gaze, biting lip softly and tapping thumb on her glass. "Ideally, yes. But I wouldn't really know what to do, to be honest. I'm just a medic and a mechanic, so I just try to make life a little better one person at a time. I dunno if I'd be cut out for something world changing." Just what is he getting at..
"That's great to hear. 'If only there were more that thought the same way,'" he quotes her. Exodus leans closer, his body language challenging her to look him in the optics. "Well you're already making a difference by helping the people around here. But you know, if everyone thought they weren't cut out for world changing, nothing would ever happen. It only takes a single block to stop the falling effect of many blocks placed in a line." He gives her a small but encouraging smile. "Besides, I heard about this guy, named Hot Rod. He's starting a political resistance moment. You ought to join.”
Torque is tempted to shrink back from the challenge, already looking unsure, but she steels herself enough to meet green optics with her own. "I've heard the name before.. Rumors don't paint him very well these days." She frowns, brows knitting in concern. "On the other hand, I've also heard some good.. But I'm not sure. I think I'd have to meet with this Hot Rod before joining up with anything." Torque believes in equality for all and whatnot, but she's also cautious about these resistance groups popping up lately. It can be hard to tell who's truly the good or bad side..
Exodus laughs. "Yeah, no surprise there, but I mean that in the best way possible. I know he's trying to maintain a good reputation, but with how the government is these days, doing the right thing can end up with you being the villain according to everyone else. He.. could probably use some improvement, but I think he has a lot of potential." He nods. "Don't worry, you're not the only one who's said that. I've got quite a few friends and maybe then some who are interested in what Hot Rod is doing but want to meet him. Next time I see him, I'm going to ask him if he'd make a formal appearance, so that those interested can hear about exactly what it is he's trying to do and get to meet him up close and personal." He looks hopefully at her. "Would you come?"
Torque has to drop her gaze when asked the ultimate question, dimly glowing optics settling on the mug in her hands and studying the surface, as if looking for the right answer. It wouldn't hurt to just show up and meet him.. would it? And she'd still have a choice to decline, so... "I guess I can't say no to that." Optics lift and she smiles weakly at Exodus. "But I can't promise you anything, kay? I'm just goin' to meet the mech and see how I feel about all this."
To punctuate her agreement, Torque tilts back her glass and drains the remainder of her drink before setting it back down and grinning. "I'd be more than happy to sit around drinking all day, but I'm not one to stay away from the shop too long on a business day. You should stop by on my day off and maybe I'll let you buy me another drink." She chuckles softly and stands, bumping Ex playfully on the shoulder with a fist. "Thanks for this, by the way. Have a good one back at work, I'll see ya later." And with a friendly wink she strolls on out of bar to head back to the workshop, leaving Ex to enjoy the rest of his drink.