Title: Paying Respects

PCs: Orion Pax, Scattershot

Location: Dead End

Date: 3 March 2015

NPCs: None

Summary: Scattershot returns to Dead End to pay his respects to Shiftlock and gets an unexpected visitor.

++ Polyhex ++

Majestic purple hexagonal structures as far as the eye can see: Polyhex is 
renown for its efficiency and its wealth. The center of trade and commerce 
for the entire planet, most of the polity is dedicated to business.        
Merchants selling everything from chronometers to disposable caste slaves  
within its quarters, and the entertainment centers feature comedians,      
actors, singers and dancers. The smelting pools, formed by a natural plasma
vent, are host to metalworking artisans who use the molten pits to shape   
and forge art. Darkmount, an ancient fortress from the days of the Age of  
Wrath, settled on a cliff overlooking the smelting pools, now serves as a  
home to the stinking rich. Banking facilities, energon reserves and the    
Cybertronian stock market set the economic pace for the rest of the world. 

Not all of Polyhex is wealth and glamor; towards its southern quarters,    
scrap yards have been built to make profit even on slag and waste through  
recycling. A corridor of old, forgotten low caste residences near Rodion   
empties into the Dead End, Polyhex's infamous slums: Here the              
decommissioned Empties roam, scavenging, grifting and panhandling to keep  
themselves alive.                                                          

Returning to the scene of yesterday's action, Scattershot is currently standing in the main area of the battlefield that almost was. A hand rubs the back of his head and he lets out an exhaust. "I don't even know why I came here." he admits to himself as he looks about him. "It's not like it's going to change anything."

"This is where it all started for me," says a voice from to the edge of the Dead End street. A tall red and blue mech, truckform, strides into the area, optics sweeping over the scene. He approaches Scattershot, unarmed, unthreatening. "Changing things, making a difference in people's lives. That's what motivated me."

The voice behind him causes Scattershot to clutch his rifle for a moment, but when he makes recognition, the Technobot puts away his rifle. "Ya know, Pax, I'm supposed to be busting your pipes back to a nice cell in Decagon right now." he points out with a smirk before he turns his attention back to the area. "Last cycle, three lives were nearly snuffed because one mech didn't feel he could make a difference anymore. Thing's are goin to scrap and their ain't slag that anyone's doin'. Even Prowl seems content to just watch it all burn."

"Prowl isn't going to move. He isn't convinced that anything's wrong," Orion Pax assesses. "He's focused on the application of law, on tactical deployment, on order, on details. He was a mechaforensics officer before Sentinel promoted him. Used to order full disassembly autopsies on every body." The former cop looks at the scenes of battle, and he seems to be burdened and troubled as well. "Sometimes you can become so focused on the minutiae of exit wounds that you forget you're looking at the shattered remains of a once-living mechanical being. Someone who had hopes and dreams, until they were stolen in one violent act."

"Heh. Are you going to arrest me, officer?" Pax asks Scattershot with a note of humor.

"You don't see me pulling out cuffs and telling ya that you get Magnus as a lawyer, do ya?" the Technobot comments as he shakes his head as Scattershot spits to the side. "I ain't a cop, I'm a soldier. And I thought I had seen a lot of scrap. But I ain't never seen times like these." he admits. "We have Senators torturing and killing their own slaves when they turn on them, we have empuatas goin' crazy over dead femmes, conflicting orders, the Captain of the Trionian guard is going arrest happy with everyone, and when /Hot Rod/ makes sense, I know it's the end times. Speakin of him. I saw him the other day in Iacon. Slaggin fool actually showed up at the state funeral and didn't expect to be recognized."

Orion knew it was getting bad, but being cut off from the command structure, he had no idea how divisive things had become. When Scattershot mentions Hot Rod, however, Pax indulges in a moment of laughter, brought on by amusement and disbelief. "That sounds... very much like Hot Rod. Shiftlock put a lot of faith in him. Spoke well of him."

"Yeah, well, she ain't speakin much anymore." Scattershot grumbles. "They knew she was a risk to be taken, and she just disappeared from the funeral like.. poof. Exhasut in the wind." the Technobot shakes his head and grumbles. "To make it worse, with Nyon cut off, we have no idea what's goin on there. They blame Rod, but he says that isn't on him, but he's gettin' his own little army together. And with anyone with an Autobot symbol immediately seen as a threat there, it's not much that can be done."

Dropping into a seat on one of the benches in the area, the mech just looks disappointed. "It wasn't that long ago that only thing I had to worry about was Tyger Pax's security. I didn't have to talk much. Just listened to what was going around, desciminated my orders, made it work for me and my team. Now? I find myself questioning damn near everything that comes across the net and trying to figure out what I should follow and what I shouldn't. And now Sentinel is declaring war when we're still conscripting soldiers at rifle point. How's that supposed to work?"

Pax follows Scattershot and has a seat next to him on the bench, and looks across the way, where an abandoned relinquishment clinic stands, the same one that was raided months ago, liberating friends and allies. Decepticons, Police, Nyon Rebels, all coming together against one abyss of utter corruption and darkness. It gives him hope. It gives him trepidation. The Institute was just the distant rumble of thunder across the horizon. The storm has not yet arrived.

"I was where you are, friend," Pax says. "I did my job in Rodion. I worked this beat, trying to uphold the law, to serve and protect. I believed I could make a difference, if only I tried hard enough. The future seemed bright, and everything was normal... Right up until my officer brought two miners in from Maccadam's. There'd been a barfight between the miners and a pair of military recruits. Typical caste-based arrogance, and the miners simply had had enough. The charges were trumped up, and the miner they hauled in was a frightened mech with a datapad in his hands."

"I read the datapad, read his writings, and the more I read, the more my world came crashing in around me. Too much made sense, and it was as if my optics had been attuned to the dark reality of what was going on around me. The Senate was institutionally corrupt, and one of my officers - the empurata who went insane over Shiftlock's dead - tried to kill this miner before he could leave the cells. The Senate had forced his hand, and I did what was right. I interviened. It cost two good officers their lives in the end, and the one good Senator that tried to help me was arrested and disappeared."

Pax looks over at Scattershot. "They're afraid of anything they can't control; it's called the 'clampdown' for a reason. Standing up to Sentinel and the Senate cost me everything, but looking back on it now? I'd do it again. I'd do it again every last time, because it was the -right thing to do-."

"Yeah, well all that magical bonding is gone now." Scattershot says as he opens up a side compartment and takes out a small gathering of mecha flora. One of the advantages of being the Captain of the Protectorate of the high castes is that you get access to things like that. "I was visited by an empunata in Tyger Pax yesterday. She refused to transform because she knew how the mechs and femmes there would look down on at her. That ain't what I signed on to do." As the straightens out the petals of the small bundle of flowers, he considers each one of the blooms.

"You at least got to see what was going on from the outside and if you look hard enough, I bet every last one of us has a story of caste against caste hate. But I never thought I'd see it in the ranks themselves, Pax. I mean we bicker and argue, that's just a fact of every-cycle life. But Springer is trying to press charges against Whirl in the murder of Shiftlock when he was nowhere around the scene of the attack from what I can tell. It's utterly ridiculous and stupid."

Rising to his feet for a moment, he crosses the street and kneels down, setting the small colorful bokay of oranges, whites and yellows on the street near the Institute. "Can't get into Darkmount, kid, so I figured this would be the next best place. Sorry I couldn't do more to help ya. I tried. I saw ya hurtin. Saw the anger and fear, and I could tell it was eatin ya up inside. I know how it feels. Was the same way when they started workin on me at Tyger Pax. Always an upgrade, or let's try this, or how does this work. Those fraggin monsters may have done a number on ya, but we didn't help much either. And I suppose what Jack did for you and what I tried to do for ya didn't help much, and I'm slagging sorry, Shiftlock. Ya finally got to get some rest though. Ya earned it, but damned if I ain't gonna make sure someone pays for what happened to you. At the Cons hands. At our own energon-stained mess. Fraggers." Standing up again, he comes to attention and offers a salute to the small bokay. "At ease, Shiftlock. At ease."

And then he turns his attention back to Pax. "There's a lot of talk. Talk ain't going to make that bokay turn back into Shiftlock. Something's got to change. And if it doesn't start with us, where will it start? How far will the bad things get if good sparks do nothing? Can you answer that?" he asks him critically. "Because right now, I need an answer before I decide what I'm doing next."

He'd wondered himself.

Orion watches as Scattershot places that bouquet, and feels a weight of failure in himself as well. He'd tried to smuggle her away from Prowl when she told him his story (all at once) and hide her in his residence, but he had work, and he was often simply not there. He should have predicted she'd be restless and bored, eager to try to please him like a newspark out of nurturing, but work. Duty. They called him away. In the end, he left her alone, and like a toddler she'd wandered out of the house, into the street and was gone. She'd been passed from hand to hand, house to house, like a difficult foster child, and no one had stepped up and taken responsibility. No one had time or capacity to do what was necessary and right by her. She hadn't died from gunshot wounds. She'd died from collective, irresponsible neglect.

"We're headed into a new dark age," Orion answers. "The Senate will use the Decepticons as an excuse to engage full control of everything; I'm certain you've already heard of "personality adjustments". Thought warfare is alive and well, and before long, the corrupted elites will simply take away our free will itself, and there will be no revolution, no escape. There will only be a long, slow march into a living death... forever."

"Look around you, Orion." Scattershot says as he turns to look at the turckformer. "We're already in the dark ages and noone wants to admit to it." he admits as he steps back. And since Scattershot can't read minds, he can't add his own two shanix to Pax's thoughts on Shift.

"The Decepticons may make a convienent excuse, but it ain't stopped anyone in the Autobots from not carrying out their orders." he chuckles. "Just not all of us are ready to go on that path yet, Pax." And with that, the Techno decides to change the subject. "How're you doing on supplies and such? I know you're out there having to scrap, but if ya need anything..?" he prompts gently.

Orion stands and walks over to where Scattershot is, looking at the ruins and the bouquet. "It stopped me," he admits. When the technobot commander changes the subject, his mood lightens a bit. "The only thing I could really use right now is information. I'm not the only one out there, so I have friends, allies, and we do all right for ourselves. The enforcers keep coming, and when they run, we salvage what they leave behind. It's been ... " He tries to think of the right phrase for the situation. " ... sufficient."

"Yeah. Well, I'd suggest ya get yer aft over to Nyon before Hot Rod turns the screws on Prowl's audials too hard and he gets the entire Autobot army marching through there." Taking out his datapad, Scattershot considers for a moment, and downloads the latest reports from the datanet, patrol rosters, and other information usually locked to command personel. "Give me your datapad, Pax." he says as he looks up to him.

Orion reaches into a side compartment and takes it out, handing it over to Scattershot. "I'd wondered about that; it was my next stop."

As Scattershot does the data transfer, he makes sure to transfer the data to a small mem stick first so it doesn't look like he downloaded the data directly to Pax's pad, if they were to check such a thing. Considering that you know..

After the transfer is complete, Scattershot passes back over Pax's pad and comments. "Damn, I guess Blast Off got in a lucky hit after all." And with that, he puts his fist through his own datapad. "I'll just have to request a new one."

Pax does nothing to hide the humor he finds in that situation. Taking the datapad, he tucks it safely back into that side compartment. "Roller tends to have the same kind of 'equipment malfunctions'. He tries to blame it on Damus."

"Yeah, well, strange times we're living in, Pax." Scattershot says with a chuckle. "I better get back to my patrol duties. And ya need to get back to whatever it is that wanted criminals that are trying to fight the power do. Ya know, posting graffiti, wearing masks, making bad datanet videos. Taking selfies." A smirk as the Technobot throws a salute Orion's way. "When ya need me, my radio frequ's on there. Take care now." And with that, he takes to the skies, converting modes to launch higher up.

Orion transforms and drives out of the Dead End on a course to Nyon. "Will do, Scattershot. Will do."

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