Title: Origin Of the Species
Location: Grand Imperium, Iacon
Date: 09 August 2014
Summary: Tarantulas pays a visit to Senator Proteus and plays veterinarian with his pet. Arcee and Blast Off are creeped out.
Senator Proteus' Office, Upper Level of the Grand Imperium
Proteus is at his desk, a large picture window behind him, various objects of high quality Polyhexian art hanging on the golden walls. A separate desk for interns and secretaries is set up not far away, to the left of the entranceway door, and a set of red tiles like carpet stripe the floor from door to desk. Chairs are set up in front of Proteus' desk, which has an input terminal and name plaque.
The right wall is set up as sealed enclosure, like a zoo exhibit or terrarium, housing a young Insecticon.
Arcee is currently at her desk finishing a few documents, which she sends to Proteus as soon as she finishes with them. With a smile, she pulls out a small bag of energon goodies, and heads over to the sealed enclosure to feed the little Insecticon. "Want a goodie??"
Kickback immediately becomes excited, chirping away. He stands on his back legs and paws at the transparisteel 'glass' like housecat. He knows where that food panel is, and he's right underneath it.
Blast Off walks into Proteus' office, his expression unreadable. His steps are long, confident ones that hint at someone with a natural confidence and easy agility. Upon arriving, he instantly scans the area... and his optics fall on Arcee. Hmm. He's met her before, and as far as she knows he's simply a scientist in Vos. This causes him to falter a moment, but... he has been summoned, so... he proceeds in quietly, nodding to Arcee, then looking over at Proteus.
Proteus adjusts some paperwork of sorts on his desk. "Ah, good, you're here, Blast Off." The chirping pet does not get his attention at the moment, but he is pleased that Arcee is doing a good job of taking care of things. "I am expecting a .... /unique/ guest. Please do not be alarmed, but having a formal military presence in this office is something of a necessity when dealing with the ancient monstrosity that is about to come calling." His expression pulls into a disgusted sneer.
"Ooh, you ARE hungry!" Arcee speaks cheerfully to the little Kickback, dispensing a few goodies and a whole lot of kindness toward the mini-mech. She casually glances over to see who the guest is, and she blinks in surprise. It's that scientist guy!! What's HE doing...here??? But she only stares for a moment, because staring is rude, and she quickly goes back to tending to Kicky.
Blast Off nods to Proteus, looking the part of the complete and utter professional. Which isn't an act, really. "I do not expect to be... alarmed by much of *anything*." And indeed, he is pretty confident he can handle about anything that comes his way.
He glances to Arcee and the Insecticon. The Insecticon is hardly noticed, but he again nods to the femme. He'd have preferred she not know he was here, but what is done is done. "How are you this evening?" He asks politely.
"Very well, thank you," Arcee says to Blast Off politely. She knows better than to ask any nosey questions HERE, but she might ask them next time they meet up. Probably one of the times when she decides to sneak out of the building. It's just too interesting out there on the streets!
Kickback is nibbling away at energon goodies like the reasonably content pet he is. Blast Off is noticed however, the little antennae waggling in the mech's general direction. He rocks back and forth on his legs, as if trying to get a good look at the large two-legged object meandering around.
<< Senator, he's here to see you, >> the intercom on Proteus' desk announces. The mostly blue, red and white mech sighs heavily, pressing the return button. "Send him in, Gateway." He settles back against his chair. If he were a human, he'd need some alkaseltzer for the ulcer this meeting is sure to give him.
Blast Off gives Arcee another polite nod. Then he tries to concentrate on his job, though that bothersome Insecticon distracts him once or twice. Hmm, so Proteus keeps one of those pets, eh? He never did get the appeal of a pet. Then he turns to watch towards the door, his stance fairly straight and at attention... yet there is always a certain cool, aloof detachment to it as well.
Arcee has been tempted a time or two to open the enclosure and try to pet Kicky, but she's pretty sure that would get her bitten, so she hasn't yet attempted it. She certainly would if she *could*, however. For the moment, she is VERY keen on finding out what sort of a meeting this is, and why Blast Off's here for it.
The doors slide open, and standing there, half shrouded in a stylized hooded robe, is an Arachnicon.
This is highly unusual to say the least; Cybertronians with beast forms are generally classified as disposables - or worse, as the beasts they transform into. The fact that this one is not only addressing a Senator, but is also wearing the attire of a Functionist Guildmaster, says that he is something far beyond the ordinary.
He's also aged, as far as one can tell age with robots who fancy themselves to have immortal sparks. He has an ornate cane in one hand, the top styled like the imagined visage of Mortilus himself, and he moves with a slow, steady, forward-hunched gait. In the shadows of the dull, scabby red cloak, multiple yellow eyes are glowing.
"Ahhh, Senator," comes a rasping tenor. "So good of you to let me visit."
Inside the enclosure, Kickback seems to sense 'danger' and immediately hides himself a hexagonal honeycomb 'cubby'.
Blast Off 's optics narrow slightly as the Arachnicon enters, and he can't quite hide his immediate distaste. There's a surprised glance towards Proteus, like... who IS this guy and WHY is he here?... But ah well, he'll find out soon enough. ...Maybe.
Arcee gets a worried expression, and backs up against the enclosure in an unconscious gesture of discomfort.
"Yes, well, it's not often I have such an ... /honored/ guest," Proteus replies, carefully chosing his words to be a hollow show of formality over a veneer of disdain and tension. "Do, come, have a seat, Tarantulas. You must have something important to say to have travelled all the way from your distant home."
Tarantulas takes it all in stride; he seems to relish the discomfort his very presence gives, savoring it like the rich boquet of a well aged wine. He stops in mid stride to look directly at Arcee for an uneasy amount of time; part of his optics rake over her while the others simply stare at her face. Eventually he turns away, cackling under his breath, before seating himself in front of Proteus' desk, long thin spider legs curving over his shoulders like skeletal wings. He stares at Blast Off for a moment as well, the light filtering in from the window behind the Senator outlining a faceplate edged in fanged pedipalps. "Your new assistant is quite lovely. You always did have an eye for femmes," he compliments. "But a -bodyguard-?" He wheezes a sick little laugh. "Kyaahahaha. It's almost as if you have something to be worried about."
The insecticon in the enclosure peers out of its cubby and boldly hops down, walking over near Arcee. It spreads its little wings like fans and emits a series of drumming sounds from stamping its little legs against the bottom of the cage.
Arcee isn't quite sure what to make of the new 'guest', except that he's thoroughly repulsive to her. But for the sake of whatever diplomacy that must happen in this meeting, Arcee must keep her thoughts to herself. Glancing down at Kicky, she gives him a sad, uncomfortable look. Now more than ever, she wishes she could open the enclosure and carry the little Insecticon around for a while.
Blast Off ...is really not happy about having his cover blown, and he will need to hand Arcee some story about this... but later. Right now? He remains silent. There's a glance towards Arcee and Kickback, then quickly back to Tarantulas... who deserves close scrutiny. Blast Off's quiet presence and cool demeanor hint at someone who knows full well how to handle himself should combat arise.
Proteus' optics narrow. He doesn't like being threatened, or having anything held over his head. ( This is all Nominus' fault, ) he thinks to himself. ( Now I'm left to deal with this disguisting -relic-. If only I didn't need him around! ... Then again, how many Primes have said as much before.... )
"Would you care for something to drink?" the Senator offers politely, sidestepping Tarantulas' attempts to bait him.
The Arachnicon is paying attention to the Insecticon. "Collecting exotic and dangerous game, are we?" he asks absentmindedly. "I might enjoy a drink of -that-."
"/That is not an option/," Proteus firmly denies. "I paid far too much for that one for it to be so casually drained."
Tarantulus chuckles. "Oh -fine- then," he relents. "Triple filtered energon would be nice. Something off the shelf to your right, then."
Proteus almost seems to develop a tic under his left optic as he forces a smile. Through tersed lips, he says, "... Arcee, would you be a dear and get the guildmaster a drink from my shelf of -private reserve black label engex-?" Yes, he's having to part with the good stuff he keeps for himself.
Blast Off continues to stand and watch, ready for... whatever is needed.
"Yes, sir," Arcee says with some relief, grateful to be focusing on something other than how completely disgusting this guildmaster is...because if she thinks too much on it, she won't be able to hide it in her carefully neutral expression.
As she passes Blast Off, Arcee gives him a quiet glance, then she begins fixing the diginitary's drink. Once she's done, she offers it to Tarantulas, much like a waitress.
"Ohh! Thank you my dear!" Tarantulas says cheerfully, accepting the drink. For a half second he's not as creepy. Just... kind of like an old man. Well, maybe the kind of old man that goes on panty raids. "Hmmmn, yes, the message, ah what was it..." He taps his faceplate with a clawed finger. "Oh yes! Most of the outliers have been... recovered. Such a shame what happened to the academy, but fires are prone to happen in experimental energon labs."
Proteus folds his hands together loosely at the level of his mouth, resting his elbows on the table. "Excellent. Has... -adequate housing- been arranged for them?"
Wait, outliers? Academy? Wasn't that Senator Shockwave's academy...?
The insecticon is now rooting around in his enclosure, pulling and gnawing at the 'branch' of a metallic tree-like bit of mechanical flora.
Blast Off exchanges a glance with Arcee as she walks by, though his aloof demeanor remains. But there is the slightest arching of an optic ridge towards her, as he shares her immediate dislike for Tarantulas.
His full attention then returns to their... guest, and Blast Off remains silent and watchful. The description of Shockwave's academy and the outliers are noted, but he gives no outward appearance of having attached any special significance to their discussion. But after having met an outlier briefly once, and seeing her condition, he understands this "housing" they speak of is probably some euphamism. Again, though, he says nothing... just focuses on being the professional he is.
Undisturbed by outside interference, the branch inside the Insecticon's enclosure hits the ground inside with a noticeable whump, muffled by the presence of the transparisteel wall that separates him from the rest of the office. The bug lands on the ground right along with it, seemingly going about his normal everyday activity as he begins to drag the branch along the bottom of the cage.
Proteus glances over at the cage, but seeing nothing more than a mindless creature doing what mindless creatures do, he returns his focus solely to the Arachnicon in front of him.
"Yes, though we are missing three that were identified before. It seems that Senator Shockwave had them spirited away before his arrest. More's the pity on that, but I can assure you that Shockwave is being given all the time in the world to think and recover from the loss of his Academy," Tarantulas smoothly replies.
"And you have yet to provide me with payment for my services in this regard, Senator. I never took you to be a cheapskate."
Blast Off casts a quick glance as Kickback makes noise, but he's soon back to watching the events unfold. He is inwardly amused that Arcee has "taken refuge" beside him... ah, if only she knew. But perhaps her trust isn't entirely misplaced... he would do her no harm- unless she had a target placed on her back, of course. But even that rankles him... he prefers to be his own master, not led by these chains he finds bound around his neck these days... thanks to mechs like the two standing before him now.
Listening, he realizes that that outlier he met must be one of the three escapees. But he has no loyalty to Proteus, and he's not going to offer this information to him.
Blast Off also tenses slightly at that last comment, ready for trouble....
Arcee has to pretend like she isn't listening, or else the Senator might request a mindwipe of the cycle's events. She turns to the enclosure, crouching beside it and quietly unlocking the bottom panel.
Proteus makes a face and puts his hands palms down on the desk. "What do you think I -am-, a match-maker?" he snaps irritably. "Where am I even going to find someone who can stand to be in your presence?"
Tarantulas clucks his 'tongue'. "Well, if you're going to dash my hopes and dreams," he sulks, mock wounded. "Maybe I'll just have to inform Sentinel about--"
"FINE!" Proteus interrupts. "/Fine/. What did you want again?"
Tarantulas' optics go over to Arcee. "Well...."
Inside the enclosure, the insecticon has drug his branch over to the bottom panel. He moves to the back of the branch, and begins to push the stick against the door.
Blast Off remains standing, ready to bring a weapon out of subpsace should it be required. Otherwise he continues to remain silent. Though Tarantulas' last comment has Blast Off glancing over at Arcee as well. Hmm. He doubts Arcee will like where this is going in short order....
Arcee opens up the bottom panel on the enclosure, and motions Kickback over. "I see what you're doing there...you're no dummy, are you." Presumably, she said that...to the critter. Not to the esteemed guest.
Proteus frowns, snapping his head over to the enclosure. "Arcee, what are you -doing- over there--"
The insecticon springs out of the enclosure and leaps into the air, giving off a tiny war screetch as he lands on Tarantulas!
Blast Off blinks.... what the slag? He takes a step forward, but... he hasn't received an order yet, and it *is* sort of... amusing? Odd, though.
"Oops!" Arcee is pretty sure THAT wasn't supposed to happen; how did that little bugger move so darned fast?? "No, come on now, Kicky, leave him alone. Stop that, now!" She tries pulling Kickback off Tarantulas before the little baby gets crushed.
Arcee isn't going to make it in time for that - Tarantulas snatches the insecticon out of the air in a swift ovement of one hand. For someone so old, his reflexes are frighteningly sharp. He brings the struggling creature down to chest level. "My my!" The old coot doesn't seem to be bothered at all. "Using tools at -this- stage? I'd say you probably /under/ paid for this one, Proteus." He turns the bug over in his hands, bringing extra limbs into play, examining wings and legs, as Kickback chirps in distress, wiggling to try to get free.
Proteus looks half-way between horrified and relieved. Arcee gets the -frowning of a lifetime- for letting the pet out, but the distraction from Tarantulas' previous line of conversation is welcome. "What do you mean?" he asks.
"Have your bodyguard come over here a moment," Tarantulas requests. He looks up at Arcee who is probably right nearby, and worried. "Yes, you too, my dear. I believe he thinks you're his queen."
Arcee gives Blast Off an embarassed look, then she looks at Tarantulas in surprise. "He...what? Well...I suppose that makes sense. Pets do imprint. I'm really very sorry he attacked you like that, sir, I don't know WHAT'S gotten into him..." She offers to take the Insecticon back with a polite gesture.
Blast Off blinks again, looking from Proteus to Tarantulas to Arcee... He makes no move right now, but if Proteus indicates he should head over, he will... while watching warily the whole time. He doesn't trust Tarantulas at all.
"Blast Off, do as he says," Proteus says, eager to indulge the distraction (and put yet another body between himself and the Arachnicon).
"Insecticons, even young ones, will defend their queen - that is, the master of the hive, the one producing the hatching pods. You're probably the one feeding him, so he behaves as if you were his progenitor," Tarantulas explains. One of his hands goes under the robe (no, not like that), and withdraws what looks like a needle - and he injects it into the insecticon! Kickback squeaks in discomfort, before Tarantulas hands him back to Arcee. The little bug seems a bit dazed.
"What in the world did you just /do/?" Proteus demands.
Blast Off refrains from letting out an annoyed sigh, and does as ordered. Again- warily.
Arcee gasps, snatching Kickback away from Tarantulas protectively and clutching him. Was this pet abuse?? What was going on here?? "Kicky, it's okay." She has NO idea if it's okay or not. She thinks Tarantulas is horrible.
The Insecticon starts twitching. "Just some necessary nutrients, I assure you," Tarantulas smoothly replies. "Energon goodies alone aren't going to cut it, otherwise he'll be developmentally delayed. Oh - and you're going to want to put him down."
Proteus is getting sincerely annoyed by this wasting of his time (and abusing of his expensive living room decoration), but he has to grit his dental plates and bear it. At least... for now. "I /see/," he replies tersely, trying to force a smile that only makes him look ridiculous.
Blast Off remains standing near Tarantulas and the struggling Insecticon, and he already knows Arcee won't react well to Tarantulas' last comment.....
Arcee totally does NOT trust Tarantulas at this point, but...she sees the look on the Senator's face and...decides to be cooperative about this. Watching Tarantulas cautiously, she gently lowers Kickback to the floor and places him there.
Kickback staggers like a drunk or a few seconds. The plating of his exoskeleton seems to lift up slightly, hold for a few seconds, and then turn into a mass of small sliding and clattering plates. The insecticon -gains- mass, now going from the equivalent size of 'small cat' to 'medium sized dog'. His wings, extended, snap shut.
"Now, bodyguard - you're a scientist aren't you?" Tarantulas asks Blast Off. How did this guy even /know/? "What is your field of study?" He asides to Proteus. "Find me a flying type. Preferably something -special-," he says, as he finishes his drink and sets it down on Proteus' desk.
Blast Off gives Tarantulas a steady, even gaze. "...Yes." He glances towards Arcee, then back to the spidermech. "Astrophysicist." Blast off isn't a mech of many words, especially to someone he hardly knows. Or trusts. At the mention of flying, he glances to Proteus. HE is a flying type, of course, and indeed something special... but it's not his place to say so here... nor is he sure he'd want to volunteer for whatever Tarantulas is lookin for.
Arcee stares at Kickback's strange transformation. "..." She crouches down, touching his head gently in concern. She realizes he could probably bite her hand off, but after everything that just happened, she has an intuition that maybe she's safe from sudden attacks.
"What did you do to my pet?" Proteus demands, rising from his chair.
"I *fed* him. Did you buy this creature without knowing even the -slightest- thing about its life cycle or care? -- No, of course you did. You're *you* after all, my dear Senator," Tarantulas smoothly replies. "I have given you a *gift* in this pet. He will go through two more burst-transformations before reaching adult size, and then you will have a hive master. If you care for him, you will have something worth more than you paid for."
The spider addresses Blast Off, "Ah yes. I will be in contact with you --" He holds up a hand to silence Proteus' worries. "-- you will have a place at my table, if you so choose." The spider turns on his heels and pushes his chair aside. "Take good care of him, Arcee.... and no offense, but you're simply too *pink* for my tastes." Apparently he thought she could be picked up as easily as that! He resumes his hobbling gait out the door, leaning on his cane, though, as fast as his previous motions were, it's doubtful he actually needs it
Arcee stares at Tarantulas as he makes his way out. While she's somewhat relieved to know that he didn't just euthanize Kickback but instead did him a favor, she isn't sure what to make of his OTHER comment. It's just too icky for her to contemplate. Quietly, she looks over at Blast Off, and makes a quick 'Ugh' face.
Blast Off blinks at Tarantulas. He glances at Proteus, then back, and feels slightly... annoyed by this all. He doesn't like being ordered around, and he likes even less to be so... clueless on what he's getting involved with- and there are so many things he's still catching up on. After a pause, he finally asks, "...About what?"
Then he glances to Arcee and Kickback. interesting... he doesn't know a lot about Insecticons but he realizes something odd is happening here. He returns Arcee's look, though he simply raises his optic ridge slightly- again.
"You'll be better off to forget you ever saw him, Blast Off," Proteus grumps, sitting back down in his chair. "It's been the duty of Senators for generations to ... /endure/ his presence whenever he comes calling." The question is, -why-?
Kickback, satisfied that the evil spider is gone, goes back over to the enclosure. He's almost too big for the opening, and certainly will be by the next time he changes again.
The insecticon unlatches the lock himself and walks into the habitat, reaching a clawed foot out to close the door behind him.
"I'm...forgive me for that, please, I was only trying to get something in his enclosure, I didn't expect him to come out and fight the guest," Arcee says apologetically, hoping she isn't in too much trouble. Even if she is and if she needs to work extra hours, she'll just have to use some of those hours to monitor the amazing evolving pet.
Blast Off actually finds himself wanting to let out a small *huff* at Proteus' comment... for HOW is he supposed to /forget/ him if the spidermech comes /calling for him/ later? It is only his sense of pride and professionalism that prevents him from doing so.... but he quietly thinks to himself that Proteus is probably as feeble-minded as he is annoying....
Then he glances towards Arcee and Kickback again, and notes the Insecticon's behavior. Hmm. It would appear that cricket is getting ...smarter. Are they *supposed* to do that?
"I didn't expect it either," Proteus gruffs, looking at the glass on his desk. The old coot actually slobbered down the side, and now his perfectly good triple filtered engex is leaving a ring on his solid platinum desktop.
"... He said that Kickback is going to get *bigger*. That... may be a problem."
"Blast Off, do you have a lab you can keep him in? ...If you don't, that's okay, I'll find a place for him." Arcee isn't sure *where* she'll house a rapidly-growing insecticon. Maybe she can sweet-talk that uber-rich, uber-popular guy into letting her rent a place on the cheap.
"Just get rid of it," Proteus interrupts, getting a polishing rag from his desk to try to clean up the mess. "I don't care how you do it, but get rid of the Insecticon. Any gift from Tarantulas is more likely to be a trojan horse."
Blast Off turns his gaze to Arcee, then narrows his optics as he glances at Kickback. "Well... I *do* have a laboratory, yes...." He looks to her, "Though if you had something else in mind, you are welcome to try it." He isn't sure if he wants an Insecticon around or not.... he's possibly a quite interesting scientific subject, given the odd show of intelligence... but... ew, *Insecticon*. Hmm.
"Yessir," Arcee says to Proteus sadly, then she turns to Blast Off and gives him a hopeful look. "...Oh, thank you so much. I'll come by every day!" she promises. "Kicky just needs a bigger home."
Kickback says "home."
Proteus s-l-o-w-l-y turns and looks at the bug.
"By the end of the day, please," he adds to his instructions.
Blast Off blinks again, this time staring intently at Kickback. A flash of intrigue flickers across his usually "aloof" optics, and he glances over at Proteus. He gives the Senator a nod, then glances to Arcee. His look is one of possibly shared interest now... this is most definitely ODD, after all, and the scientist side of him IS becoming more interested. "Understood, Senator."
"Wow! Did you just say 'home'?? You're so smart!" Arcee seems as impressed as the Senator is creeped out. "Thank you so much, Blast Off."