Title: Nothing Suspicious Here
Date: 21 January 2015
Summary: Whirl's not suspicious, Blast Off's not suspicious, Hot Rod's not suspicious.
While the dust has settled in the wake of Whirl's disastrous (see also: amazing) visit to the bar, the gossip hasn't. So it is that Hot Rod hunts him down to be a TOTAL NAG. What is his life that this is what he is reduced to.
Whirl isn't that hard to track down, just follow the sounds of gunfire and you'll find him. No, he's not shooting anyONE (as odd as that may be,) he's just shooting at one of the many abandoned, dilapidated buildings that litter the area. He appears to be taking this target practice/stress relieving activity very seriously though it's hard to tell with his lack of face and expressions and such.
Ah, the sweet sound of destruction. "Want a chair?" Hot Rod calls as he draws close enough for words to carry. He's the last thing from stealthy, audible in approach and visible as /anything/. "Because I hear you do great breaking things with chairs! I got a complaint, Whirl. A complaint." Which he is, in turn, complaining about.
Whirl stops shooting just long enough to turn his head and stare at the super obvious, wow-right-in-your-face-look-at-my-flames Hot Rod. He snorts and returns to shooting, though it doesn't look like he's even trying that hard; a lot of the shots go wide and merely clip the edges of the building. "So? Lots of people complain about lots of things, what makes this particular incident so special?"
They are pretty great flames, though, right? Amazing. Hot Rod makes sure to stop and pose when Whirl stares, or else maybe he's just stopped to take a look at the damage Whirl has managed to inflict thus far. (He always /stands/ like he's posing. It's impossible to tell when he really tries.) "I think--" And Hot Rod says this slowly, carefully, as though he can distance himself from words he finds vaguely distasteful. "--they expected I could get you to, you know, not. Destroy things. Why the hasty exit, anyway?"
Since it's apparent that this is going to be one of those 'serious conversations,' Whirl stops firing completely and turns to face Hot Rod. "Senate happened," the cyclops says matter-of-factly like that alone is enough to explain everything. "They came in looking for this guy.." A twitch of his claws and he continues. "Guy was a real piece of slag, he pointed me out in an attempt to distract those Senate cronies. I didn't want to deal with it so I left. Does that answer your question?"
Serious conversations. Seriously awkward conversations. Does Hot Rod look like Whirl's dad? --well, who knows, Whirl's not exactly sporting his mint-in-box face, but /anyway/ the age doesn't work. SO NO. NO ONE'S DAD.
"Yeah, Senate would pretty much cover it," agrees Hot Rod with a shrug. "What a piece of work, trying to throw you under the bus like that. Sounds like /he's/ the one they ought to be complaining to. I'll tell them that, too."
Whirl tries to act cool and disinterested, especially when it comes to people hurling empurata-based slurs and insults at him but it still sucks and it still hurts him a little bit, way deep inside. It had been a while since he's encountered such prejudice and it really rubbed him the wrong way. "Yeah, guy is totally insane." THE IRONY! Whirl then turns away, staring out at the decrepit landscape all around them.
"I saw Blast Off again the other cycle. At the bar." His voice is just a bit quieter, like this is something he's afraid of other people hearing even though there's no one else around.
"Sounds like it." Hot Rod is oblivious to irony. Whirl's fine. He's on the level. ...ish. Never mind. Although he doesn't much lower his voice, he does step a little closer as Whirl quiets. His tone remains open and conversational, however. LISTEN IN, CHUMPS. HE DOESN'T CARE. "Before or after they hit that factory?"
"After." Whirl sighs and turns to face Hot Rod again, his posture becoming more relaxed. He respects Hot Rod, as much as Whirl can respect anyone (especially someone with such a tacky paintjob) and he feels like he can be a lot more open with him than the small handful of other people he knows. Not too much though! Hot Rod doesn't need to know /everything/ that happens. "I don't condemn him for his part in that whole thing, but it's just a big slap in the face, you know? The Decepticons aren't just some small group of misfits doing petty anti-government protests, this is the beginning of a war. A big war." He sighs and shrugs his shoulders. "Things are going to change, I can feel it."
Hot Rod perks, right to the ends of his oversize spoiler. (And you thought the paint was bad. No one ever stops to ask if he /really/ needs a spoiler that big.) "Yeah? You get any idea of what really happened? There needs to be a better place to get news than that Senate-spun slag. If things chance, I'm all for it. Maybe there's a war, maybe there's not, but either way, it'll be better than this."
Whirl doesn't think Hot Rod needs a spoiler that big but he just hasn't had the chance to bring it up yet. Maybe another time.
"No, we didn't get a chance to talk about that. Our conversation was... short and to the point." That's a good way to put it right? Kind of vague, but still hinting that there was more to it than that. Whirl is all about being mysterious and dodgy, you know. "I'm also ready for a change but I don't think this is going to be the change we're hoping for. There's going to be a huge divide among us all. Among friends."
"I don't know anyone I'd count as a friend who--" Then Hot Rod pauses, visibly, obviously actually /counting/ the people who would, "--support the Senate." He winces through another pause. "I mean, if they had a choice. Which some of them don't!" He's awful quick to find excuses. "That's the thing, though, right? I mean, things have to change. Everyone agrees about that."
"Yes, things need to change." That's pretty much all Whirl has to say about that. He's too distracted with his own inner thoughts, thoughts of certain haughty shuttles and the inevitable war-time confrontations he's sure to have with him. He sincerely doubts that the next time Blast Off shoots him in the head, it will result in more than just blindness. And what if the tables are turned? What if Whirl is forced to kill Blast Off? Could he do it? Sure, he's shot at him before, or clawed at him, and gotten into vicious fights with him but killing him is something completely different and he has conflicted feelings about it.
"I don't know. This world is messed up."
Hot Rod watches Whirl, and while maybe he can't exactly read the muddled confusion of his thoughts, he can at least pick up on the distraction. His tone is sympathetic as he says, "It really is. The fact that I have to talk about brainwashed friends in the /plural/ says enough about how messed up it is, you know? You want to know what gets me past that?" Well, too bad, because he's not stopping. He's going to tell Whirl anyway. "It's this city. It's how much it needs help. How much we can do for it. Whole planet might need change, but I've got to start with one piece of it. When we got that stuff from the lab?" You know, when they totally mugged Jackie. "/That/ was part of it." Mugging is helping.
Speaking of haughty space shuttles, that very one is still in Nyon. Feeling just a little /too/ sober right now, he makes his way down a street not far from where Hot Rod and Whirl talk of war and difficult choices. He's still thinking of Whirl's ..."proposition". Still torn between a YES and a... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? But... but.... there is an undeniable appeal.... it is so wrong, and yet so right. And the curiosity about Whirl himself, those claws- and the sophisticated mech that might still lurk somewhere there under the surface.
There is also the matter of the city. Hot Rod loves Nyon? Well, guess what, Blast Off just *saved* it. Sort of. And for that he wants to make sure Hot Rod KNOWS it, too. Hot Rod will get a radio message: << Are you available? I have something I need to speak to you about. >>
Oh, THAT'S why they robbed Wheeljack? Whirl just thought Hot Rod was bored or something, he's not really sure why he does the things he does sometimes.
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, I know where you're coming from but.." Whirl sighs. "It's just discouraging. There's only so much a handful of people can do, will any of our efforts actually make a difference in the long run or are we just delaying the inevitable?" Man, he usually has these kinds of conversations while drunk. Makes it easier.
<< Sure. I'm here, >> Hot Rod answers easily. He sends a location ping along with the message to help Blast Off find him. It's conveniently close. How nice!
"It makes a difference to every single mech and femme we help." Untarnished idealism burns through Hot Rod, fierce as the fires plastered as a warning sign across his chest. 'Look out: idealist. May burn, definitely won't shut up.' "We're not delaying anything. We're setting groundwork for big changes. We really are."
So convenient, indeed! It's like fate is already at work! Blast Off makes his way over, striding in confidently. Ha. Hot Rod OWES him, and he can't wait to tel- oh. The shuttleformer stops as he catches sight of Whirl, and his optics widen. Frozen on the spot, there go those conflicted feelings again. And he stares. Then, abruptly, he breaks the stare and looks away. AHEM. Not affected at all here, nope. Um.... what was he here for again? "I.... uh..."
Whirl also can't help but freeze up and stare when he catches sight of Blast Off. Damn, really!? He wasn't expecting to see him so soon after their little conversation, he was expecting a few days to pass first, hoping time would make it less awkward for the both of them but no, Primus just loves screwing with him.
"I, uh.." Whirl scuffs his feet on the ground, looking everywhere EXCEPT at the Combaticon. "I should.. I should probably get going. There's uh.. other.. stuff.. I need to do." Yeah, totally normal behavior right here. "ANYWAY, thanks for the pep talk, Hot Rod. I'll TRY not to break anymore windows, okay?!" And with that he transforms and zips away as fast as he possibly can.
"Hey, Blast Off." Hot Rod seems first clueless, then confused by Blast Off's startle and pause. "What'd you need? I wanted to ask you what actually happened at the factory. Whirl said he never got around--" Then /Whirl/ is acting weird, darting off, and Hot Rod finishes, "--to asking you," in a failing voice as he turns to watch Whirl fly off. "Okay, bye," he shouts after him, but Whirl is probably too far to hear. That leaves poor Blast Off to be the target of his, "Okay, /what/?"
Blast Off goes back to staring at Whirl as the 'copter suddenly rushed out in a giant hurry. Apparently the shuttle's not the only one feeling awkward. Then he resumes staring in the spot he last saw the mech until Hot Rod brings him back to the here and now. Almost startled, he blinks and looks around, finally focusing on the racer. "Oh! Uh...." Blink. "Factory? ...OH."
Now he looks a little less lost and even more sober. "Ah. Yes." Great. Yeah, he probably would want an explanation. "I didn't kill anyone." That was what bugged Swift Blade the most, he figures Hot Rod's likely to be the same. "In fact, no one died, as far as I could tell. You don't actually BELIEVE the senate's propaganda, do you?"
Hot Rod looks at Blast Off like he's stupid. That is -- like Blast Off's stupid. OBVIOUSLY HOT ROD IS SMART. "No, I don't believe it, that's why I'm asking /you/ what /actually happened/. Come on, like I'm going to believe anything they put out." At least he's been distracted from asking about that awkward little hiccup, right? Wait, no: "So why the staring match?"
Blast Off lets out a mildly petulant little huff. "Well GOOD." Crossing his arms, he leans up against a nearby wall and answers. After a moment of deliberation, that is. "....You know that we will never defeat the Senate by simply sitting back and letting them walk all over us. To defeat their tyranny, we have to be more... proactive than reactive." His optic ridges narrow slightly. He hesitates saying TOO much about the mission, but he can say this, "It was the beginning- the beginning of being proactive. Of letting the Senate know they can't push people around anymore and taking steps to stop them. You saw where that factory was, right? It was one of the Sky Spy Network factories. Where they create the technology that invades our privacy every day."
Then Hot Rod has to bring up- THAT. The shuttle's arms uncross briefly before he forces himself to cross them again and at least TRY to look aloof. "I... I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Good." Hot Rod glances up and waves, then makes a rude gesture to follow. There /probably/ isn't /actually/ a sky spy tracking his every movement, but /it's the thought that counts/. "I'll be happy when those things are out of the air. Tell me that's step two, eh? Anyone who thinks they need that kind of thing to keep control, keep their power doesn't deserve the power they have." Glancing back down to meet Blast Off's attempted aloofness with a hint of incredulity, Hot Rod says, "Yeah, you do. Come on, mech, are you two going to start shooting each other? Last thing I need is more friends going after each other." Because they are friends now. Buddies. BFFs. (Okay, that's getting a little carried away. "What is this?"
Blast Off smirks at Hot Rod's little "gesture" over there and almost feels like following suite. "Indeed. I believe they will soon find that the more they attempt to tighten their grip, the more we shall just slip through their fingers. And the trickle will become a flood. Until the rot is washed away and the repairs can begin again. And that's what this is- very specific, targeted strikes. With purpose. Something I certainly am happy to help with." He glowers a little, optics darkening. "I am tired of running. I am ready to fight back."
And then hot Rod won't DROP IT. OMP. The shuttle glances away again, looking here and there... and one hand semi-uncrosses from the other in order to start picking nervously at the heat shields on his arm. "Wh-what? I..." More glancing about. "I..." Finally his head dips down briefly as he replies, "N-no. He ... he didn't want to... fight. No, it wasn't... /fighting/ he was looking for, at all."
There's a sort of flustered little gulp, then the shuttle looks intently at Hot Rod. "How... well do you know Whirl?"
There are few enough things that can make Hot Rod abandon his daydreams about anarchy, but Blast Off has managed it by getting flustered and picking at his heat shields. What. What is happening to him. "I -- well, maybe not that great, but enough to trust him." In this, many of Hot Rod's /people problems/ can be summarized in a line. "So you guys aren't ... fighting," he checks, a bit uncertain. Most people he knows tend to fight each other. It's just the natural order of things.
This is just making the poor shuttle even MORE nervous, and the picking increases until he finally manages to dislodge an actual ceramic tile. Blast Off looks down like he's surprised to see the tile materialize mysteriously between his fingers, then flicks the dark piece away. "So you... do trust him?" He stares fixedly at a... random spot on the ground. There is one thing the Combaticon has wondered- is Whirl really /that/ into him? Or is he, like, you know, a /player/ or something, proposing interfacing to every mech and femme he meets? You wouldn't /think/ so, but.....
Blast Off sounds much less confident than usual, though he somehow still manages to keep a little of that "cultured mech" accent and tone going. "Does he... well... you know, is he, like... /involved/ with a lot of people?" Of course *involved* could mean a number of different things.
All these /nerves/ start making Hot Rod twitchy, and he jumps as Blast off flicks the tiles away. He glances down the street. Is someone going to shoot them?? Doe Blast Off know there are Senate agents in the area?? WHAT. WHAT HAS HIM SO NERVOUS.
"I guess. Sure. Yeah, I mean he likes shooting off about things ... and shoot things, but who doesn't? He knows the Senate's bad, and he wants something better. He's not blind," Hot Rod says. "He stays out of anything with the Senate -- or with Decepticons. Usually. Because, uh, reasons. He's not poking his fingers--" Claws. "--into everything like some." (Like Hot Rod, maybe?)
Blast Off blinks and looks over at Hot Rod, who is now getting all nervous and twitchy over there FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER and that just makes the shuttle feel more nervous himself. So the heat shield picking only escalates as he goes back to staring at the racer. "Wh-what?" He glances upwards, wondering if those spying Senate types are watching right now and Rod knows something he doesn't. Then back to looking straight at the mech.
Oh yeah. Those claws. "He... doesn't do a lot of... poking around with those hands- er, claws, does he? I mean, I know he and ...Shiftlock...." his voice trails off. This is awkward.
"Oh." It's one of /those/ 'ohs' followed immediately by a long, "Ohhh!" Hot Rod sheds the nerves but acquires an unnervingly broad grin. "He's mostly kept his hands to himself, actually, as far as I know. Losing Shiftlock like that was rough on people." His smile fails as he speaks, and he's mostly sober toward the end. "I mean, I know she's not dead -- and she's in as good a place as she can be, with Orion Pax taking care of her, but. Well, you know. Anyway. No. So, you were asking if he was like -- involved, eh?" Abort, abort: his smile threatens to break wide again.
Blast Off is flustered enough by all this that at first all he can hear and respond to are those infuriating "ooohs" following by that big slag-eating grin Hot Rod seems to acquire momentarily. The shuttle glowers at that, then turns to look away again, still picking away in a near panic now. "Well, yes, it would be, and... and... well.... I- I didn't ask if he was involved for- for THAT. It's not like THAT at all! Just a random question. For... entirely no reason." Nervous glance around. "At all." Yes, he's entirely convincing now.
Then one little line hits him, making its way through all the embarrassment and fluster. Violet optics bore into Hot Rod's blue ones. "Wait.... what did you say? You KNOW WHERE SHE IS?!"
"Okay." Hot Rod's grin only grows. He super-duper believes Blast Off. "Have a totally random answer, then. Hope it's useful." He doesn't /quite/ leer but it is certainly a near thing. The abrupt shift of Blast Off's focus prevents any further teasing. "Yeah. She's got a guy looking out for her and he's going to keep her out of Ratbat's hands. She remembers some stuff, I guess. I don't know what. He said I could visit, but I haven't had the chance." He's been busy robbing people.
Blast Off huffs slightly at that near-leer, but is soon focused on more serious things himself. He blinks, waving both hands upwards and stepping away from the wall. "And you were going to tell me this- when?" HUFF. "Nevermind. You know where she is now? WHO she's with? Well, then go visit her. Arrange a meeting! Let's go GET her!"
"Go get her, then what? Do you know how to fix her? Do you have someone who can restore memories, if she's lost them? Erase programming, if she has it?" Hot Rod challenges. "One of the best medics in Iacon -- good guy, Ratchet, he runs a clinic in the Dead End," he adds, because that needs to be explained since otherwise /Iacon sucks/. "He said he couldn't do it. Rung wouldn't help. /Who's left/, Blast Off? Where she is, she's safe from Ratbat. She might even be happy."
For once Blast Off is all GO GO DO NOT STOP GO!!! and Hot Rod becomes the voice of caution and reason. This acts like a brick wall and the shuttleformer stops cold. Oh. Yeah. Those uplifted hands slowly glide down, and his go-get-em attitude becomes muted and somber once more. "Uh... well...." Then he just seems to wilt, armor plates flattening and hands hanging limply from his sides. "I... No." He looks away. "I don't know." Though that last comment causes his optics to narrow. HUFF. "If she's happy, it's an articially created happiness..."
That is pretty terrible, isn't it? It's a VIOLATION of the NATURAL ORDER. Hot Rod should never be the voice of reason. It gives him hives. His paint's bubbling. (Maybe not.) "Yeah, you're right. It is. And it can't last. But Pax is a good guy. There's no one else I'd trust with her. I mean it, Blast Off. He's the one mech I'd trust to treat any of my friends right, and he /knows/ the Senate isn't what it seems to be. So work on figuring out how we can help them. Once we've got that -- then we can worry about getting them fixed, you know?"
Blast Off studies Hot Rod, his face (despite the faceplate) conveying a mixture of grudging acceptance and restrained bitterness. None of this is right. None of this is as it should be. But Hot Rod seems to trust this "Pax" fellow, and it may have to be enough. For now. Hot Rod can be aggravating, but despite appearances he might actually have a good head on his shoulders. Maybe.
Whatever the case, the shuttleformer doesn't have any better ideas- unfortunately. He doesn't have anywhere to take a brainwashed femme. His voice sounds flat and a little bit tired. "Fine. I'll have to trust your judgement." He looks off into the distance somewhere, adding, "I will keep... searching for something. I'm just not sure if there IS something to find." His optics narrow again as a thought occurs once more. "But keep me in the loop. You /owe/ me, Hot Rod. Have you talked to Nautica recently?"
Hot Rod looks reflexively disinclined to do so: he leans back and looks rebellious!!! "Owe you for what? What do you mean, have I talked to Nautica recently?"
Now Blast Off can look haughty and self-important again. He stands tall, hands on hips. "You should. She can tell you how I just saved half of Nyon from blowing up. At GREAT personal risk, I will add."
"Cool, thanks," says Hot Rod with careless ease that ruthlessly undercuts Blast Off's attempt to self-important. He is extraordinarily nonchalant about it, but a close eye might note he looks briefly annoyed by it before putting on the carefree act. (OMG. ONLY HE IS ALLOWED TO BE A HERO.) "Anyway, I'm still keeping an out for someone to help, too."
Blast Off looks and feel and IS oh so COOL and IMPORTANT and AMAZING and- wait, what? The shuttleformer blinks and breaks the self-aggrandizement long enough to sputter a little at Hot Rod's casual wave. "I beg your pardon?! I expect a little more thanks than THAT." Slag, guy won't even bask in his glory or ask what happened. So naturally Blast Off will TELL him. "There was a device, one that Nautica was investigating, and...well, it had an explosive in it, and was triggered, and she put a forcefield around it but it would only last so long, and thus it was up to ME to carry it outside the city (and she DID say it would have probably taken out half the city) and that slagger BURNED, I can tell you, but I carried it away and jettisoned it JUST in time and- ARE YOU LISTENING to ME?"
HUFFFFFFF. "I saved half the town!" Nevermind that he was the one who brought the device there in the first place. Details, details! "At great risk, and thus you /owe/ me." Altruism? What's that?
And also: "Well, good. If you make progress let me know."
"So it sounds like Nautica's the one who really saved the day, huh?" Hot Rod needles. If he can't be a hero, neither can Blast Off!
Blast Off is beginning to seeeethe. Fists clench and unclench. "NO. She delayed the inevitable." Pause. "Well, she helped, yes, but... still she triggered the explosive too, and...well... it's just that." He shakes his head with an exasperated rasp of his ventilation systems. "She is, sort of, but the main hero is definitely ME. A HERO. ME." That sounds... so strange, actually. Then he points to his legs and feet. Patched up now, the repairs don't quite mask the fact that the rear part in shuttle mode got a bit scorched. The edges of his wings and tips of his rocket feet do still look a bit burned.
"ANYway. I saved half your city from exploding. Nautica was going to try to run on foot and get it away, and she would never have made it in time. But *I* am fast and skilled and zipped it away. So keep THAT in mind. You owe me. I saved your city."
"I'll be sure to tell Nautica thanks." A grin promises at the edge of Hot Rod's lips as he turns away from Blast Off all casual and dismissive. His gaze falls across Nyon, and he somewhat sobers. "Who planted the bomb?"
Hot Rod DENIES the Master DENIER of his (perceived) righteous glory and OMP! Grrr. The shuttle bristles a bit but finally tones it down. Oh yeah. Some of those details. "Quantum." He just leaves it at that. Not TOO many details here.
"That means it was probably your fault the bomb was even here in the first place!" Hot Rod says after a moment's quick thought. "Wow, I take back my 'thank you'. What were you thinking?"
Rain on Blast Off's parade WHY DON'T YOU HOT ROD. The shuttle runs through a quick gamut of emotions from surprise to righteous indignation to.... possibly just a tiny smattering of guilt. At least enough to have the decency to look furtively away. "It... well, I didn't *know* it was a bomb, Ok? I brought it to Nautica so that she could take a look and make sure there wasn't anything wrong. because Quantum gave it to me and I don't trust that mech. For OBVIOUS reasons." HUFFFF. "Then she found that yes, it was indeed booby-trapped and in fact triggered the bomb to go off. We didn't have much time after that." Another stare. "Well you know, I *could* have just left the city right then and there and ALLOWED it to explode. Why risk my neck anyway?" Glare. "So a THANK YOU in *certainly* in order."
Hot Rod is here to /flood/ Blast Off's parade /right out/. We're not talking a little drizzle. Hurricane-level rain. "/Quantum/ gave it to you and you didn't know it was a bomb? Come on, you had to have at least suspected or you never would've brought it to Nautica in the first place." Gaining steam and strength as he goes on, Hot Rod winds himself up in righteous indignation. "You may have done the right thing getting it out of here -- and I already thanked you for that. But don't ever bring that kind of danger to my city--" 'His' city. He owns it. "--again. I /won't/ see this place a bombed-out ruin just because you got a little careless."
And indeed, the parade's not only flooded, it's been canceled. Evryone can just go home now. This *isn't* the reaction Blast Off was expecting at all. And come on, OK, so maybe he shouldn't have brought the thing into the city but still OMP talk about rubbing his nose in a /tiny little insignificant/ mistake or two. Sheesh. As the racer continues berating him, the Combaticon's bristly sulleness only increases. By the end of the speech, Blast Off's fists are clenched and he's just glaring at Hot Rod. "I don't get careless. Maybe if Nautica hadn't *triggered* that device this discussion wouldn't even be necessary!" Yes, blame Nautica. That's classy.
"Oh, yeah, blame Nautica!" Hot Rod says, throwing his hands in the air in an exasperated gesture. "Don't blame the people trying to help you, mech." His hands fall to his hips in a gesture more nag than hero. Don't tell Hot Rod. "Next time, do it outside the city. Or better yet: don't accept presents from Quantum! Besides, what would Whirl think?"
Blast Off blinks and stares at Hot Rod again. FINE, bring REASON into this, pffft. This leads to a resumption of the earlier heat shield-picking, though the shuttle doesn't seem to even be aware he's doing it. Still glancing around uncomfortably, he finally spits out, "Well... no, I didn't mean it like *that*, it's just..." ARRRGH. Have we mentioned that Blast Off has very poor social skills? It sort of goes with a lifetime spent traveling alone in space. "I just meant that..." HUFFFF. "Fine. Well, I DIDN'T. Not.. totally, at least. He gave it to a ... friend of mine, who handed it to me, and... well..." Pause. Blink. Turn. "Wait, what do you mean? I figured Whirl would be *grateful* that I saved half the city here! Possibly half the city with HIM in it!"
Pause. "Not that that factored in my decision to save it at all."
"Oh, yeah, accepting strange gifts from the mech who played at being your conjunx, I bet he totally wouldn't care." Did Blast Off think that he was free of Hot Rod being a pest? /Never free/. /Always a pest/.
That bristling is getting worse but the heat shield picking slows, slowly replaced with a rising annoyance. Blast Off glares at Hot Rod. "He offered something I *wanted*. Something that sounded /just/ plausible enough to consider believing him. It was... a cloaking device. One that..." He glances away momentarily. "That would have allowed me back to space. I'm a /space shuttle/. Don't you think I want to grab an opportunity to go back there any time I can? He said he was going to meet me up there and finish this vendetta between us "for once and for all." So... I thought that maybe he DID mean that. He might have simply had a trap in mind up THERE, not down here. But...I had to make sure."
"So, 'oops' basically?" Hot Rod summarizes. He seems monumentally unsympathetic to a space shuttle's woes.
Blast Off is realllly starting to dislike Hot Rod right now. he expected HERO ADULATION and instead he gets grilled and rebuked. The shuttleformer is positively bristling with annoyed energy right now, fists clenching as he replies, "Not "oops". We FOUND the booby-trap and TOOK CARE of it. You think YOU would have done better?"
He fixes the racer with a baleful violet optic. "What do you want from me? I did what I thought was right. Even when that thing got triggered. It would have been far easier to simply live up to this *cold criminal* spiel the Senate's been trying to stick on me, save my own neck and let Nautica get blown up along with half the city. Sometimes I'm tempted to just *give in*... and BECOME that."
"I totally wouldn't have brought it into Nyon." No one mention 'Blurr' okay? Okay. Hot Rod says, "Besides, both of us know every word out of the Senate is scrap. You're better than what they say. So are the Decepticons. Giving in, becoming every lie that they tell about you: that doesn't go anywhere. That just gives them strength, fuels the fear that they use to keep people in line."
Oh yeah. Blurr. Blast Off is /just/ about to bring that up when Hot Rod placates the shuttle. At least enough that the bristling finally subsides and the Combaticon relaxes a smidge. Sigh. "Well, yes. And the Decepticons know this. That's why these targeted strikes are important. We'll chisel away the Senate piece by piece and finally be done with them. But people like you, and the rebels here, have to stay alert. The Senate may start retaliating- and you've been a thorn in their side as well. So we all need to remain careful- and certainly NOT believe everything we are told."
"You picked a good place to start." Hot Rod glances up again before returning a frowning gaze to Blast Off. "Did you guys get anything, any kind of proof? That's one of the worst things, I think, is how controlled the media is. It would be better if there was some kind of way to pass things underground, or get around the restrictions. I know I'm not the only one around Nyon who wants to know what really happened, and doesn't believe what we were told. And sure, I'll tell other people -- but it's slow, you know? I think that's important. Some way to get information out that they can't control."
Blast Off proceeds to lean back against the wall, more ...well, not at ease but less /tense/ at least... than before. He casts a furtive glance around before almost whispering a reply. "I got a few... datachips, plus soemthing on the computer, though it was corrupted. Unlike last time, though, I didn't get a chance to really peruse the data. The Decepticons do have the data, however, and were hoping it might lead to contacts, more technology in the works, or perhaps some locations to investigate later. I will tell you what I learn- provided it isn't... sensitive information, of course."
As for the radio systems, the shuttle shrugs. "Perhaps some sort of... underground network? Some mechs with the technological know-how can rig up a system that is hard to trace and communicate even during times of war and oppression. Not that *I* know how to do it, but surely there would be some who do?"
"I'll ask Nautica." Because that is how every single one of Hot Rod's thoughts that leads to 'science' eventually ends. Science? Time to ask Nautica. "Maybe she can work something out for our part of Nyon, at least, teach other people to build their own, get something up. You've got some kind of nerds on your side, right?"
Blast Off nods. "She might be the one to ask, yes." She's space-capable, she's obviously awesome! Nevermind that he was sort of dissing her earlier (But ONLY UNDER DURESS). Having some kind of secret relay system would be quite useful to both Nyon AND Kaon." He dips his chin in another nod of agreement, "Yes. I'm sure we have some mechs who can whip some kind of radio system up. One with some code that's hard to crack. One that could bring many a headache to the Senate."
"That's one of my favorite phrases, you know? 'many a headache to the Senate,'" Hot Rod repeats. He makes a happily little noise, like a content sigh. "It's not just Nyon and Kaon that deserve the truth, though. People in both those cities are already, you know, inclined to believe they are being lied to. It's the rest of them, all those middle caste bots who sit around and think life is good because they don't have it as bad as the rest -- /they/ are the ones who /really/ need to know what the Senate gets up to."
Blast Off considers that, looking oddly reflective. "...Yes. Even High Caste individuals are noticing something is... off these days. Admittedly, we were less inclined to actually *do* anything about it, for ...well, when you're High Caste you're comfortable. You're not wallowing around in the gutter in Kaon getting to know the tales of woe and rust." He shakes his head gently. "But even some High caste have their optics opened eventually. Or can. For the real problem here- or one of them at least- is that this is not sustainable. This society will fail the way it is going, and even High status won't save you from THAT. Not forever."
Hot Rod's tone is exaggerated as he emphasizes just how /impressed/ he is by that: "Wow. Wooow. Even /high castes/ are noticing something is off. Even /high status/ won't save them from that." He exaggerates the low caste pitch of his words, all rough-and-tumble Nyon. He drops it with an aggressive and shrug and says, "Not that you're wrong about that, of course. But it sure seems to take an awful lot to open higher caste eyes to what's every day life for some of us."
Blast Off's optics narrow. "Well.... *excuuuuse* me." Said just like he did in the G1 cartoon, too. His face lifts up as he manages to look haughty leaning against a wall in a delapidated sector of town in Nyon. "We were *comfortable*, Ok? Most people who are comfortable are not looking to rock that boat. It's Cybertronian nature." Hmph. "If you were High Caste you'd have preferred to KEEP that comfort too. Until it was finally just *knocked* away."
"Then maybe you should start making them /uncomfortable/." Hot Rod pauses a moment, then says, "Without the Senate using that to turn them against you." After another brief pause, he says, "Somehow." Look, he's still working on developing his strategic mind, okay? Okay. "There's no way I'd be as blind as some people are if I were high caste. No way."
Speaking of uncomfortable, Blast Off glowers a little at that, too. He doesn't like to actually have to *say* this, to admit it, but: "It's not like I am High Caste *anymore*." Thoroughly sullen now, he glances anywhere but at Hot Rod. "I don't exactly have anything to DO with High castes anymore, except in an old designation that does me *zilch* lot of good. Now I'm stuck..." He lifts a hand, gesturing around him, "Here. And worse, in Kaon. In the gutter."
Then he turns and does look at the other mech. "Turn it against us? No matter what we do, it gets turned against us. Again, I am a prime example." Then he lifts an optic ridge at Hot Rod's last declaration. "Oh really? Are you SURE? Say you lived a life like, say, Blurr's public persona... adored by fans, not needing a *thing*... do you really believe you'd even SEE half of what really goes on as you were whisked from one fun little event to another?"
"Some of us have /lived/ here all our lives, mech." Hands curling at his side, Hot Rod leans right into Blast Off's space with an aggressive bristle. "Maybe you might want to talk a little less about being /stuck/ in the /gutter/ when you're talking to people who call this home." The rest he ignores, of course.
Blast Off was a little too stuck in self-pity to notice that he was ~shuttling~ again. The Combaticon blinks as Hot Rod's suddenly all up IN HIS FACE. There's a small sputter and he leans back, optic ridges furrowing down. "I...I just meant that this is... not easy when you're used to a... different standard of life. I can't even find a decent...!" Mid-putting foot in mouth- he realizes that maybe that won't elecit a lot of sympathy, either. "I just meant that any drastic sort of change takes some gettting used to. And if you're used to comfort, used to a gilded cage, then you may have a tendency to delude yourself." Not that /HE/ does, of course.
Hot Rod ticks his brow up when Blast Off just about performs an amazing feat of flexibility by complaining about /wine/ or something. He settles back and crosses his arms over his chest. "Of course they'll delude themselves, and lie, and do whatever they can to keep their power and their pleasures. That's why I'm saying you take that away, maybe they'd pay a lot more attention."
"Oh." Blink. "You mean... like, strike a High Caste target?" Blast Off ponders that. "Well, yes, there are the excesses in Ibex, and certain rather... gauche events I've seen held in Vos, and.... Yes, if an event was disrupted, or supplies taken out... that would certainly start gaining some attention." The key is to try and get the *right* attention."
"Yeah. I mean, they'd almost certainly turn it around and be like 'look at how the bad, bad Decepticons are taking away your toys, everyone unite against them,'" Hot Rod agrees. He turns, leaning up against the wall and looking thoughtfully into the middle distance. "So maybe it's not hitting a high caste /target/, exactly, but still doing something that would ... take away some of their fun. Something they can't spin as easy."
Blast Off sighs and brings a hand to pinch at the bridge of his nose. "Yes. That's why perhaps a frivolous, wasteful target would be best. Or then again, perhaps it would be better to target the most *brutal* tools at the Senate's disposal. Targets that can provide video. But no matter WHAT we target, the Senate will provide its own spin."
He tilts his head slightly. "You should ask Nautica is she can rig up some video signals as well. Video might be even more compelling than audio alone. If we could get some video- SHOW this corruption firsthand... then perhaps that would sway the public. Use the Senate's own tactics against them. Except WE wouldn't even have to give it a slant- we could just show raw, unaltered footage."
"Huh? Oh, yeah." Hot Rod jerks his head back over to Blast Off with a quick grin. It would not take a genius to figure that he is considering going and punching some things himself. Him and his little band of merry misfits. "That'd be a shock to people, right? Actually seeing what their government gets up to." He laughs, though it rings a bit hollow. Straightening with a stretch of his arms and a glance along the street, he says, "Maybe I'll go ask her now. Tell her thank you, too," he adds with a smirk. "You know, for saving Nyon." In case that wasn't pointed /enough/.
"Indeed." Blast Off would wish him luck, too. Perhaps both their groups will actually get something done. You target here, we'll target there... and together we'll destroy the corruption and save Cybertron! Nothing could get in the way of that plan, right, or our teamwork? At the mention of thanking Nautica, the shuttleformer gives Hot Rod a slight glare. "You just ask her! *I* am a HERO! You still owe me." Maybe if he keeps saying that, Hot Rod will just eventually give up and agree? Then the Combaticon turns and begins to make his way back... well, back somewhere. To keep considering Whirl's... "offer".