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Title: Racers and Spacers

PCs: Shiftlock, Breakdown, Knock Out, Hot Rod, Blurr, Blast Off, Nautica

Location: Maccaddam's Old Oil House

Date: 19 September 2014

Summary: Folks of all stripes meet and mingle and Macaddam's.


++ Maccadam's Old Oil House ++

Maccadam's Old Oil House is an old and respected establishment, run by the  mysterious moustached, gold-plated mech that shares the joint's name. The lights are pleasantly low, but not so low one can't see everyone clearly;  pleasant music, also at a low-key, is played in the background by a      Cybertronian who turns into a piano. A stage in the back is set up for various local entertainers. The oval bar is center to the oil house, and  the wide floor in the dome-shaped establishment has tables and chairs suitable for all sizes and frametypes. Booths line round wall, and near the doorway are large picture windows facing the street.                       

The floors are a deep burgundy-red, while the bar, tables and chairs are a deep polished tan. The walls are dark gray, and a series of hovering  automated lights follow patrons and servers around the bar, providing  individual illumination on demand. A stained-glass like dome at the top of  the bar is designed to look like Cybertron, with all five moons surrounding it.                                                                        

The regular bartender, another moustached mech, is mostly a cool slate blue, with a bow-tie-like decoration across his 'collar'. A pair of  incredibly tough, large mechs act as bouncers, as Maccadam does not allow  fights in his establishment. All are welcome, regardless of frame, caste or ideology. Regular patrons to the establishment may find their picture on   the menu accompanying a favorite drink.                                    

Shiftlock's optics are immediately on the two newcomers. She recognizes them from the Ibex track, but she'd not directly confronted them. At least, not like this. She only mimiced Halftrack for a short period of time , after all. Intrigued and feeling emboldened by her return, she gets up out of her booth and decides to go rattle their cages. It'll pass the time until she can find Drift at the very least.

Breakdown turns his head to give Knock Out a sidelong kind of look as he moseys -- bumps, shoulders, and generally, with glacial inevitability, moves toward the bar. "What are you worried about, your constitution?" He weights his arm on the edge of the bar and turns the bright glow of his eyes toward the bartender. He orders largely by a non-complex code of finger wiggling -- here, there, at Knock Out, at himself, fingers coming to rest on angled points when he's done so. It's possible that he could notice someone coming toward them, but he seems fairly content to exist as a bulwark in the stream of cybertronian traffic, forcing others to wade around his presence.

While Breakdown attempts manual communication -- that's a real Cybertronian language if you do it right! -- Knock Out is left a bit more free to allow an unimpressed gaze of to slide across the room. Shiftlock's approach catches his interest mostly due to a sort of nagging familiarity. He narrows his optics as if trying to place her somewhere in the annals of his memory. It's possibly mildly insulting. He should be quicker to remember.

"Are you mechs new here?" The copper and black fembot decides to greet the other grounders. "Because I can make some drink recommendations, if you're interested." She moves without any reservations to get closer to Breakdown and Knock Out, coming within swinging distance of Breakdown, since Knock Off is on the other side of the taller mech. She waits to see how they react to the offer, looks at faces, optics, how they stand. Most people tell the truth with their bodies instead of their mouths, and she's good at picking up the signals.

A study of Breakdown's kinesics reveals a few things, most notably that he is half-consciously aware of the position of the very large bouncers in this bar, and has situated himself at an angle to the bar keep Knock Out away from the bulk of the crowd. He shows little sign of nerves or discomfort. He seems, on some level, mildly amused. "Haven't been here /lately/," he says. He's probably not lying about that. "You get a cut of the profits on the menu?"

Knock Out is considerably less aware of his surroundings than his companion, from the rather carelessly self-assured posture he carries himself in. "I know you," he informs Shiftlock, rather than be polite enough to answer her questions. "You're a racer," he eventually decides, giving her a closer up-down inspection upon deciding her identity.

Two answers she likes.

"No, I get nothing," Shiftlock says to Breakdown, the grin spreading across her face a good indicator of how pleased she is with that observation. Hands on her hips, she shifts her weight to her right leg, her own posture relaxed - she's comfortable with where she is, and she's engaged and interested in the two mech's she's speaking with. The slight lift of her spoilers and doors gives that way. "I just enjoy meeting new faces."

She glances over to Knock Out. "Though I suppose I'm not that new if you're familiar with me - I get that a lot. I seem to be that person on the edge of everyone's peripheral vision. I am a racer, yes, but not in the speed category. I'm more about flying on wheels."

The steady flow of patrons in and out of the establishment hiccups as a new arrival crosses the threshold, takes a few paces inside, and then pauses to sweep the bar in brief study. One might easily mistake his pause as a /pose/, standing framed by the door all red and orange and gold with flames on his chest. /Flames on his chest/. He holds himself with a certain something that flirts along the line between confidence and arrogance, and often seems so very young.

Hot Rod's moving a moment later, side-stepping out of the path of a patron intent on exiting with implicit apology in the flash of his smile. The smile lingers as he ambles in the direction of the bar with a glance across Knock Out, Breakdown, and then Shiftlock. His gaze skips back to the first as he oh-so-rudely imposes himself into their conversation: "You've got a scratch," he says, miming a line cut up Knock Out's back where, naturally, he can't see it. "Deep, too." He takes an elbow at the bar on Knock Out's other side to wait for the bartender's attention.

"Knock Out is all speed," Breakdown would rather say than discuss his own race track hijinx, which are dirtier, more stunt-y, and less classy-looking. Also, he's just less smug in general, and if you don't get some measure of entertainment from the smugness of your friends, you just don't hang around with Knock Out. The upswept angles of his bladed pauldrons make for really /great/ shrugs. The shift of his weight turns a familiar weight of glower up the bar and his sigh seems to rumble in the depths of his chest. "/That/ guy," he says. It's the best and most welcoming greeting (no). /That guy/.

"I like to think I'm speed /and/ brains," Knock Out corrects mildly, examining the pointed length of his fingers in an idle fashion. Until /that guy/ shows up and /inserts/ himself /without invitation/ into the conversation. "/What/." He can't help it: he must look. Of course, it's impossible for him to actually see his own back, which means he ends up twisting in a panicked circle, trying to find the /scratch/.

Speaking of speed, and racing, and all that. Only the most famous racer on all of Cybertron decides to make an appearance here and now.

As per usual, Burr is surrounded by a throng of adoring fans and colleages, and of course, quite a few people jump from their seats at the tables or at the bar and hurry over in an attempt to get a good up-close look at him, or maybe they'll even be lucky enough for him to hear them ask for an autograph or picture.

The crowd gets bigger and bigger, and soon enough it seems like the bar's -entire- population has attempted to cram itself into a spot right next to where Shiftlock and her new acquaintances are currently seated.

Shiftlock puts a hand over her mouth because she is trying so very hard not to laugh at Knock Out turning in circles like a gearhound chasing its tailpipe. She casts a look towards the guy with the flaming chest, and this gets a raised optic ridge. /Well/. -Someone- is trying to make an impression. And here she is with only a stripe to her paintjob.

She hops up to the bar and has a seat. "Polyhexian please," she orders. "So, we have Knock Out--" She looks at Breakdown. "I'm gonna guess your name is Magnus or Gigantron--" And then over to Hot Rod, "--And... let's see. You're 'Burnout' until proven otherwise."

The sudden influx of people, however, is immediately cramping her style. "... Sweet Primus only one mech has the exhaust to draw this many slagflies."

Breakdown looks ... annoyed. It's not an unusual expression for him. The angles of his face are distinctly set, all raptor edges and narrowed eyes. He lifts his hand and drops it on the bright curve of Knock Out's shoulder, essentially hauling him back in toward the bar -- and obstructing his need to continue to twist around and try to chase his own tail. "Give me a break," he says.

It's not exactly squaring your shoulders when they are configured as Breakdown's are. He presents the outthrust of his spare tire as additional protective barricade. "Burnout sounds about right," he says with a jerk of his head angled up the bar. "The name is Breakdown."

Meeting the lifted ridge with a wink from his own optics, Hot Rod only widens his smile. He watches Knockout try to find the scratch with the deep satisfaction of a bad job well done. He hardly gets time to enjoy the reaction before Blurr and his attendant crowd ... well, /crowds/. Hot Rod pushes himself back up against the bar, arms and shoulders bumping, spoiler clattering and threatening to spill drinks lining the edge. "Hey, hey, someone's got friends. Watch out, you might get another scratch," he tells Knock Out. Helpfully.

"Do I look like the type to burnout?" He turns his attention past the other two mechs. "No, come on. Or Burnup, either," he adds before Shiftlock can suggest it. "It's Hot Rod." Of course. "Didn't catch yours." His voices raises with each word to cut through the clatter and chatter of Blurr's fanclub. He rises to see over it with inevitable curiosity.

Shiftlock does actually laugh at all this, briefly. "Nice to meet all of you. I'm Shiftlock and I'll be your trouble for this evening." She looks over her shoulder at the crowd. "Especially if Blurr sees me." The Polyhexian is passed over the bar to her: It's a glass of glowing fluid that swirls with orange, red and gold, like the color of a smelter. To add to the effect, there's a silvery liquid topping it off.

"Where is it?" Knock Out hisses at Breakdown as he's bodily hauled back in towards his friend, voice a half-whine. "It's not there, is it. There's /nothing there/. I am /literally going to murder him/." He turns back to the others, looking considerably more irritated than five minutes ago.

"Are you sure that Cold-Dead-Ember wouldn't be more fitting?" he asks -- tells -- Hot Rod with precise syllables. "Stifled Flame? Watered Down--" His /incredibly creative/ tirade is interrupted by the mass of adoring fans that a certain famous racer seems to necessitate. "/UGH/," he says with even more emphasis. "He's even worse than you."

Hot Rod might get a peek at the center of attention, and he shouldn't be surprised that it's Blurr. After all, Blurr is one of THE most famous Cybertronian racers to ever walk the face of the planet. He's currently standing next to another racer, a crimson-colored one named Fasttrack, and enjoying some Nightmare Fuel Lite.

Hot Rod's paintjob attracts his attention, though. Yes, even through the huge crowd. And yes it's that obnoxious. He mutters something to Fasttrack, as a smirk crosses his face. Fingers are pointed and there's more snickering. "Nice flames." The racer comments with a chuckle, thinking that he must have done it just to get Blurr's attention one time. There are fans who are that crazy, yes.

Blast Off arrives at Maccadam's, stepping through the door while reading one of his customary datapads. Now if *he* were to see Blurr, he'd likely just leave... but right now all he sees is some big, noisy crowd. As long as he can avoid the obnoxious riffraff, he'll be just fine. The shuttleformer is not flashy... no, in fact he's rather muted shades of brown, purple, and gray. But he /likes/ that he doesn't stand out like a sore thumb. In fact, what kind of secret-assassin would he be if he did?  

Blast Off makes his way to the bar, ordering his usual enerwine. Turning to look around briefly, he doesn't recognize most of the other mechs around... and nor does he care- there seem to be a lot of groundpounders in here, and why would he notice them anyway? However, he does see Shiftlock. The shuttle freezes a second, then blinks and simply turns away and accept his drink.

"Come on, pipe down already, no murdering in here," Breakdown says, with that loving warmth and charm that makes him such a cozy friend. "Just leave him in your dust the next time you race, like /always/." His hand falls off the curve of Knock Out's shoulder -- though finger points weighted it, he by no means scraped the finish. "Scrap, what a load of dustsucking losers," he grumps about the crowd with a flick of his glow-bright gaze toward the ceiling.

The drinks Breakdown ordered for himself and Knock Out are less cool than those of others, probably because they were whatever he could get on the cheap that couldn't be mistaken for something with which to use as cleaning fluid instead of fuel. It's amazing what you can specify with finger waggles.

"You could hide behind me," Hot Rod rather improbably suggests to Shiftlock. He glances at Breakdown, who is both closer to her and bigger than any of them, yet fails to retract his really terrible idea or in any way moderate it toward sensibility.

Hot Rod meets Knock Out's suggestions with a relentlessly, ruthlessly cheerful, "No, it's Hot Rod. Hey, if you're jealous, you could go ahead and get some flames painted, too. Perk up your dull finish!" The brightness of his expression waxes to brilliance when Blurr -- ooo~ it's Blurr!! -- and his buddy catches his eye and send what is /surely/ only the most /sincere/ of /compliments/ toward him. Hot Rod gives Knock Out a rather pointed side-eye. See. SEE. BLURR LIKES IT. "Hey, thanks! Nice ... race the other day." (Bet they've never heard that one.)

The bot who enters not long after Blast Off, however, might well stand out. Perhaps it's because of the bright shade of blue that dominates much of her color scheme, or the odd transparent faceplate she has. More likely, however, it's the fact that she's carrying a large wrench with her. Nautica pauses just inside the doorway, glancing about at the crowd. So many new faces! So many fancy drinks to order! She makes her way over to the barmech, looks around for whoever seems to be having the best evening so far, then points to that bot and says, "I'll have what they're having." Just because you're smart, it doesn't always mean you have common sense.

Blurr is listening to the other things Hot Rod is saying, too. He laughs, finding it amusing. Especially the part about suggesting that Knockout needs some flames, too. He gets up and moves over toward them.

Sure, Shiftlock can hide behind Hot Rod, especially since he's the one attracting the celebrity over here...-that- would be a-great idea!

"Thanks." The speedster grins, extending a hand. "You probably know my name already, but what's yours?" he asks. Yep, -Blurr- just asked you your name.

Knock Out , on the other hand, seems more attuned to the sense of snigger in Blurr's compliment, and so is looking smugly satisfied when Hot Rod turns to brag. "A /paint job/ is not the same as a /finish/," he tells him pityingly, because clearly poor Hot Rod is too dumb to know the difference. "Go get a wax."

He turns slightly towards Breakdown to take his drink of the pair, sharing a look of smug victory that his friend will /surely share/ because he's Breakdown and that's just how they roll. When Blurr approaches and actually deigns to continue conversing with Hot Rod, Knock Out aggressively rolls his optics. At least Breakdown is allowed to pat his shoulder. ONLY BREAKDOWN.

The weak energon spriters that are trying to pass as drinks get Shiftlock's attention more than anything else in the bar - the noise, the Blurr, the Blast Off trying to pretend he doesn't see her - no, she's looking at what Knock Out and Breakdown are drinking.

Her impish demeanor smooths into something else, something radiating compassion and warmth. Multiple bartenders are on duty, some coming out of the back to deal with the crowd, and Pianobot has cued up something lively in the background. Shiftlock leans over and says something to the bartender quietly. The large mech frowns and says something back. She retracts a panel from her upper right torso, just out of sight - and the bartender's optics get huge. The scowl leaves and is replaced by something between surprise and -fear-. He nods quickly, and begins filling up three glasses with premium, triple-filtered high grade.

The glasses are delivered to Hot Rod, Breakdown and Knockout in specific. Shift grins. "It's on me, guys."

Blast Off waits for his drink to arrive and turns to see Nautica enter the bar. He raises an optic ridge at that... wrench, then watches as she orders a drink from someone who looks like they may already be /far/ over their allocated limit on fun. But he says nothing.. he's not particularly social or inclined to tell others how they should live their lives... and expects the same in return.  

Knockout's comment gets overheard, especially as he goes on about finishes and waxes, and Blast off studies that mech as well. Hmm. Well, he's got *some* fashion sense, perhaps, but... he's still quite bit too...gaudy. There's the slightest shake of his head. Then he spots Blurr... ugh. Great. The shuttleformer shakes his head again, and just waits for that wine to arrive.

It may be assumed that a glance exchanged with Breakdown, by Knock Out, is in kind. He doesn't have any commentary to offer on fashion choices, though.

Breakdown spends a moment unusually still at the drink switch going on before him as if he's sorting through a number of potential reactions, like, /scrap/, that's kind of embarrassing, being foremost. The compromise he reaches with himself is to kind of grunt on his way to a, "Thanks." Drawing the drink over, the points of glow that are his optics widen as it becomes apparent just how nice that was. He turns a longer look over Shiftlock, and he lifts it in a toast.

There's something about Knock Out's tone needles beneath Hot Rod's satisfaction, turns his gaze away, restless, to alight curiously on Nautica -- or, really, Nautica's wrench. Before Knock Out's pity can dim the blaze of his smile, however, there's Blurr, and Blurr's hand, and wow! Hot Rod's delight rekindles.

Hot Rod meets the clasp with a steadiness that speaks better of him than much of the rest of his mannerisms, and laughs. "Yeah. I think I might recognize you. Name's Hot Rod." He does not hold on to the point that it would be awkward for all involved. He releases Blurr's hand after a completely /reasonable/ length of time. "Wouldn't you find it kind of hard to part the crowds long enough to actually get a drink here?" he asks with honest curiosity, just as a drink /miraculously/ appears at hand. He looks from the bartender to Shiftlock with wide optics and a low chuckle. "Eh, never mind. Seems the drinks are magic." He salutes her with the glass, because there is no world in which he is more rude than Knock Out's buddy. /No world/.

"--oh." Knock Out look uncharacteristically taken aback by the sudden expensive drink in his hand. "Well. That's /excessively/ generous of you." Which is /way more nice a thank you than Hot Rod's just saying/. His attention lands on Nautica in passing, but he doesn't find her wrench as interesting as some, alas, and he most redirects his attention to sending hate vibes at Hot Rod and Blurr. "I'm sure Blurr here could just order one of his slaves to get him a drink if he wanted," he drawls in a tone that is not so much dripping with sarcasm as it is currently several leagues underwater in the sarcasm ocean.

The drink proves to be a bit more expensive -- and potentially stronger -- than she might have expected, but Nautica offers the bartender a cheerfully polite thanks nonetheless. Then, with drink in one hand and wrench in the other, she wanders down the bar towards the friendliest-seeming knot of bots. Right now, this looks to be the set with the flame-painted bot who stared briefly at the wrench. This does take her past Blast Off, so she offers the other bot a smile and a wave with her wrench as she edges by. When she arrives, it's just in time to hear the remark about slaves, which earns a slightly alarmed look

"It's a long drive to Ibex," Shiftlock explains to Knock Out and Breakdown. "I have a soft spot for racers, and, well, you deserve a drink as classy as your finish." She sips her Polyhexian, and lets Hot Rod distract Blurr -for- her. She's not interested in making a scene just yet - but she's loaded for Omega Supreme if the blue speedster wants to start it in front of a crowd.

"Besides," she adds, "-everyone- should be able to get high caste energon. The fact that energon is graded by caste is a rather damning commentary on this planet."

Blurr laughs, shaking Hot Rod's hand. He's not so bad. Not as crazy as some. "It's nice to meet you, Hot Rod." And then Knockout makes a comment about slaves. "Huh?" The racer just looks confused. "Sorry pal, I don't catch your meaning. Literally I don't think I've ever even -heard- that word." He grins. "Have you?" he asks Hot Rod, then shrugs at Rod's question. "Heh, honestly if I want a drink I just run past everyone."

Wait an astrosecond, was that Shiftlock over there by the mech who just insinuated he had slaves? Yep, a glare is tossed her way, but nothing more for now. Blast Off isn't noticed, if so he's ignoring him for the time being.

Blast Off blinks at Nautica and her wrench, but she's gone before he can even... think of a reply- if one was even needed. The shuttleformer's wine glass finally arrives, and he reaches for it. Well. He'll get his drink, some light reading, and then be on his way. The talk of slaves gets another optical ridge raising, but he's not going to start talking to a bunch of (mostly strange-and I do mean *strange*, as far as HE'S concerned) racers... including two that he doesn't even really want to be noticed by, anyway.

Breakdown shifts in a slow shrug. He's not large enough for tectonic to be the appropriate adjective, but aspirationally. /Aspirationally/. He sips his drink and goes, "Only social commentary I make is the I ain't social kind," with that surly blue collar edge-- well, contextually, not blue /collar/. Though he's got a lot of blue paint. . . "Think my pal here was mostly talking about the, you know--" He seems unwilling to let go his drink and instead only makes one-handed air quotes, with his other hand, spikily, mid-air. "--'hangers on' following you around, friend." People who say friend: friendly? Not friendly? It's a fairly flat use of the word for somebody addressing his social better. No social

"Well, I don't know if it's /quite/ up to the standard of my finish, but I do appreciate the sentiment," Knock Out replies /oh-so-graciously/ to Shiftlock. Look, he's trying. Kind of. This is what it looks like for him. He turns a supremely skeptical and not so mildly irritated gaze back to Blurr. "Sorry, can't really hear you above your /crowd/ of /unpaid workers/ following you around." He smiles. It's super pleasant. Totally.

"Wow, is that what this is?" Hot Rod rather ... tellingly asks with a look at his drink as he takes a sip. He stiffens at Knock Out's tone and gives him a sidelong look that lingers long enough to turn into a direct challenge. "Hey, look, come on," he says, somewhat inevitably leaping to the defense of one who truly needs no defending. He rolls his shoulder with the slipped shrug of his spoiler toward Blurr, and warms back up toward a quieter sort of humor. "Yeah, I bet you could, at that."

At the edge of a line that goes Shiftlock-Breakdown-Knock Out-and then himself at the bar, Hot Rod's reflexive smile of greeting invites Nautica to append herself, alarmed look at Blurr or no. "You expecting to have to fix something?"

The sudden social gauntlet thrown into the mix earns a curious look from Nautica. "It's more a matter of cost than caste, isn't it? I mean, it's not /illegal/." The question is made politely, but somewhat hesitantly; perhaps she's not been out on the streets as much as she could, and isn't as certain of this as she could be.

But then Hot Rod draws her attention, and the she turns towards him with a bright smile. "Oh, you never know when you might need a wrench. They're very useful! You can fix things with them, you can use them to prop doors open when you're carrying things..."

Shiftlock now decides that the time to be an aft has arrived. She leans over the bar to look at Nautica. "Actually it is illegal in several polities, particularly Petrex. Any town with a strict bent towards ratioism is pretty keen on making sure the good stuff goes to high castes. Disposables have to drink the left over chemistry sets from primary programming schools."

She then grins widely, saccarine sweet at Blurr. "Hiiii~" she greets with a positively Kirby-like mien. "My neck's feeling much better now, thanks for asking. Also your apartment doesn't have a big enough video monitor. You -clearly- need one that's an entire wall."

"Pfff." Blurr gives Knockout an exasperated look, then turns back to Hot Rod. "Primus, what's -his- problem? Obviously they're not workers, they just want to have a good time. I couldn't make them go back to their hab suites if my life depended on it!" he laughs.

Nautica then catches his attention, and he nods at her comment. "Yep, that's all it is. Just ignore the conspiracy theories." At that he gives Shiftlock a very -pointed- look. Ugh, he wants to punch her. Like -so- badly right now. Granted, he -could- get away with it, because he's Blurr, he can get away with -anything-. At least that's what he thinks. But it wouldn't be good for his reputation. Instead he just smirks at her. "You know I was -just- thinking the same thing! I should get one, after this. And you're welcome, you know me, I always try to care about my fans." Because she must be a fan, too. Like everyone is.

"What a good time," Breakdown mutters. Or growls. It's kind of a growl. His optics narrow briefly, their glow muting with their blink as he lifts his drink for another cautious, measuring, judicious little sip. Still not letting go of it. He's subtle. Shifting to bump his pauldron against the sleek curve of Knock Out's, he says, /wholly unaware of any irony that may be entailed/, "Can't think of anything more /fun/ than following around some fancy guy 'cause he's won a couple."

Blast Off reads from his datapad... a historical document, since he likes those. They help him catch up on lost time. He watches Blurr and Shiftlock go at it, and thinks well- better them than me. Then he's back to gazing at Nautica and her wrench... what the slag is it with her and that huge monstrosity? "...Isn't that thing heavy?"

"/Ugh/," Knock Out says in distinct agreement with Breakdown as the larger bot leans in closer. Apparently deciding to save himself the irritation by ignoring Blurr and Hot Rod's presences, he looks to Nautica next. Hello, Nautica. "You sound like a much more /feeling/ bot than most," he compliments her solemnly. "Most don't even pay attention. Did you say you're from off-planet?" Look how nice.

Not-so-sotto vocce, not sotto at all, Hot Rod addresses Nautica while rolling a pointed look across his shoulders back toward Knock Out and Breakdown: "Well, they keep it up, I'm going to start thinking you go around remarkably well-prepared. But maybe we'll get lucky." (He doesn't sound like he thinks the failure of a bar fight to form is actually lucky.)

"Pretty sure the itch making him so cranky is just the scratch in his paint," Hot Rod tells Blurr with the reappearance of a cocky sort of smile. He flicks a pointed look in Knock Out's direction. Remember. Remember that scratch. That is totally there. That he didn't 100 completely lie about.

"Oh, I can," Nautica offers Breakdown, helpfully, as she takes a sip of her drink. "Rebuilding an old quantum engine. Or designing a /new/ quantum engine! Or working on a particularly interesting bit of quantum theory. Or..." She pauses as if it finally sinks in what she's saying, and then admits with a slightly self-deprecating smile, "I /may/ need to get out more."

Blast Off's query earns a shake of the head. "No. Well, a little. Honestly, I don't really need it anymore, but it's habit." Turning to include Knock Out as well, she adds, "I was the ship's engineer for the delegation from Caminus; when you're the quantum mechanic for an entire ship, you never know when you'll need a good wrench."

"Blurr, you probably can't name half the polities of the southern hemisphere. Life is not rosy for the rest of us. Besides, didn't you hear? Sentinel Prime cancelled the Ibex Cup this year. He's putting all racing on hiatus until the energon shortage and the riots in Kaon are over," Shiftlock says to Blurr. "You're a half a hic from becoming obsolete."

The noise Breakdown makes of this reminder is a kind of low grating sound, ground from some inner depth, as if his voice is somehow suffering under strain behind his closed mouth and the downward, glowering pull of his optic ridges. This is not a happy face. He sips his energon crankily and gives Nautica a look that suggests at least mild baffle.

"If you believe that leaky squirt about your wax job again I swear I'm going to /give/ you a scratch to worry about," he threatens Knock Out. Who believes him. Anyone?

Blurr laughs at Hot Rod's jab about the totally nonexistent scratch. "Yeah, that's probably it, I mean what else could it be?"

At Shiftlock's information, he just shrugs. Whatever that's supposed to mean. Maybe he'd heard it, maybe not. Or maybe he doesn't believe it. If he does, his reaction is surprisingly dull. He -should- be devstated...but somehow he isn't.

"Sure." is all he says, his tone flat and unreadable.

Blast Off stares at Nautica, then remembers it's rude and glances away. He is a gentlemech, after all, it wouldn't do to be rude. "I.... see." (No he doesn't.) However, her mention of quatum engines does gain his audio... as a space shuttle himself, he is naturally interested in anything that could be used in space travel. "You work on quantum engines? Ship's engineer? Have you been involved in aerospace for long?"

Then he looks back at Shiftlock and Blurr, narrowing his optics as Blurr seems rather... unmoved by something that ought to have devastated him.

"You wouldn't dare," Knock Out whines to Breakdown with a hint of pout in his voice. He narrows his optics at the big bot just to make sure, but to his longtime friend, it's surely obviously that, deep down, Knock Out trusts him to never, ever scratch. Ever. He can't help the pull of his gaze at Blurr's latest comment, the pointed angles of his shoulder lifting with a hint of tension before he refocuses. "Let's get out of here. This is ridiculous."

The mention of political unrest, of canceled events and forced caste distinctions, clearly is something Nautica's still feeling her way through. So it is that Blast Off's query earns a relieved smile. "Oh, yes; I'm a quantum mechanic. Well, and a quantum theoretician, and a bit of an armchair historian." Because science. "But quantum mechanics are my favorite. They said I was one of the best on Caminus, that's why I was part of the delegation." There's a slightly wistful edge to her tone, despite the cheer; perhaps she misses work on the ship.

Weight settling on his heels as Shiftlock drops her words with all the weight they deserve, Hot Rod ducks his head back over his drink. It serves to hide the shift of his expression, but there's no missing the grimace that lingers. Fancypants uptown beverage turned in his hands, he slides it back onto the bar. He gives Breakdown an unimpressed look at his happy face, despite all wisdom and common sense, then lifts his head and glances away from Knock Out all careless and ~whatever~ when his taunt fails to score. "Yeah, wow, quantums," he says as he totally catches up to the rest of the conversation around him. How about those sciences.

Shiftlock hmms at that, examining Blurr. Something's wrong, and she's gonna find out what it is - whether Blurr likes it or not.

"Nice to meet all of you, but I really should get going - I have some Empties that are waiting for me. The idiots at the Rodion Police Station seems to think that being forced out of work is a crime - arresting the homeless for being homeless. It's insane. Nevermind the fact that people seem to get beaten in their cells regularly." She finishes her drink and stands up, walking around towards Hot Rod.

"Here," she says, passing him a wafer thin circuit card. "It's my personal frequency. You ever feel like a race, let me know, I'm always looking for a challenge. Haven't found many that are brave enough to run underground though."

Finally lowering his drink, Breakdown gives Knock Out a look and starts, "But," but whatever he was going to say is arrested when Shiftlock hits up /the other guy/ for a /race/, and he gives him a frownish nudge instead, jerking his head in a gesture between the other two. What. WHAT. "Frag that," he mutters, a little pushily. "/Challenge/."

Ugh. UGH. "If you want a /challenge/, I'd look /elsewhere/." Knock Out is physically incapable of not saying this. /Incapable/. He barely even needs the nudge from Breakdown, but it does help him step right into the mix.

Shiftlock looks surprised at the other two. "Oh all right then, I hadn't realized you were keen on the underground circuit. Very well!" She tosses another circuit card to Breakdown. "You two can keep in touch as well. That is..." And she grins just so very toothily, "... if you can stand the sight of a -demolition derby-."

Blast Off nods to Nautica, and actually shifts his posture to face her just a little better. He's not sure just *what* Nautica is, if she turns to a space craft or not, but if she works on spacecrafts she can't be ALL that boring and inferior. He's still the picture of haughty, detached poise, but at least he's becoming slightly interested in what /someone/ is saying. She might actually be worth his time. Blast Off pauses to glance at Shiftlock as she leaves... and an optic ridge raises again. Looks as if she's gone back to her old cover. IS it cover? Is it real? What is she up to, anyway? That's something HE may try and find out, whether /Shiftlock/ likes it or not.

Then he focuses on Nautica once more. "Quantum theories are fascinating. "As a spacecraft," he waves a hand importantly, "... I have heard a few here and there. And of course, I am familiar with the incredibly intricate and *sophisticated* systems required to launch into orbit and soar on one's own power through the vast reaches of space." He pauses to sip his wine glass.

"Caminus? I used to travel there..." His look darkens slightly, and his tone gains the faintest icy edge. "Before space travel was banned."

"Breakdown /is/ a demolition derby," Knock Out sniffs. "And we /are/ the underground circuit. We'll be seeing you." He lifts the angled line of his chin and swans off towards the door. Breakdown you got that card right.

It's probably pretty inevitable that someone with /that frame/ and /those colors/ would visibly perk up at the prospect of being marked a new challenge on the tracks. The smug just wa-a-ashes over Hot Rod. It relaxes the set of his shoulders, armoring shifting and resettling in something less than a shrug. The lines of his body language open all 'hey, look at me -- who can blame her -- i am great' in his confidence. He smiles. "I'll do that," he promises Shiftlock as he takes the card. "You've got a good eye -- and hey, thanks again. The drink was great."

Blurr doesn't say much more. He seems to have lost interest in Hot Rod, for now, and in pretty much anything else that's being said. There is certainly somtehing off about him. He rightly should have brazenly denied Shiftlock's claims that the races were being suspended, whether it was actually true or not.

So that stoic response was rather uncharacteristic of him. Finally, he just gets up and wanders off to go talk to some other people who are more interesting, or maybe who don't make him think too much about his plans for the future...

"You're very welcome Hot Rod," Shiftlock replies, and as she heads to the door, she folds into the crowd of Blurr's onlookers.... and isn't there anymore. It's as if she disappears.

Of course Breakdown got the card. He looks after Knock Out already breezing off in mild consternation and quickly lifts the rest of his drink to knock it back, his optic ridges shifting a high kind of near-shrug like /of course/ he's not letting that go to waste. "Fff," might almost have been to become some other word, but instead he turns and moves to shoulder through the crowd before anyone can run Knock Out over or something.

"Oh! I don't meet many people who have been there," Nautica replies enthusiastically to Blast Off (who is totally her new friend). "I miss home; it has been a bit hard to find a space here for myself. So I keep studying, and tinkering. I'm hoping that someday I'll be able to make a stable quantum engine pod small enough to mount on someone's alt-form, and give them proper long-range jump capability without having to have a ship." Because everyone should have a hobby. "What do you do here, now? With everyone grounded, I mean."

Blast Off is rarely *anyone's* "friend"... or certainly he'd be surprised to hear someone even thought of him that way. But still... there are *annoying* people (most everyone) and then there are *tolerable* people. And Nautica is quickly shifting into the *tolerable* category.

He lifts his wine glass to swish the liquid around lazily, then sips and replies, "Fascinating. That could be a game-changer for Cybertron and those capable of space flight. Not only could someone such as myself travel with more effeciency, I could push further, faster... there are economic ramifications, resource-gathering would be expedited..." He gazes off, considering the possibilities. Until... oh wait. There are NONE. Not right now, because space travel is prohibited. He lets out a small sigh. "IF we could fly, that is."

He looks over to the femme. "I am working as an astrophysicist in Vos. Plus conducting other... scientific studies on the side." Of course, it's mostly a cover for his assassin work for Senator Proteus, but ... she doesn't need to know that.

There are more quantums. And astrophysics. And politics. Hot Rod gets the lightly glazed expression of one in over his head and determined not to show it. He eases his way on out with a casual saunter that admits no weakness or failure in /his/ processor or databanks. He's just going -- over there. (Probably to make some very excited status updates in some very important social networks.)

"Can you imagine it? Being able to sail through quantum foam as easily as cutting through the water?" Nautica's enthusiasm is palpable; another science-bot to talk to makes for the best bar night ever! "Well, not /literally/ through quantum foam, of course; that would end very badly for everyone involved. And possibly nearby planets too. But metaphorically."

She takes a sip of her own drink, then pauses; that is /very/ strong. She puts it aside; maybe someone else will pick it up. "While everyone's grounded and I can't go home -- and there's no starships to work on -- I suppose I should really find a longer term position somewhere. As a researcher, or a tech, or something."

Blast Off is not likely a scientist on any level equal to Nautica's brilliance (though of course the egotistical shuttle would beg to differ), but he does have some scientific knowledge- especially of anything a mech needs to know for space flight. He's also an avid reader and simply enjoys learning about the (few) things he loves... like space. So he leans in just a bit more, folding his hands in front of him as he speaks.  

"Yes... there are hazards to altering the fabric of space-time.... but great potential rewards, as well. I've been studying quasar radiation..." His tone drops, "from a distance..." and continues more normally. "And that ties in to quantum gravity theories." He tilts his head thoughtfully. "You could possibly enquire at the laboratory I work in at Vos... there is probably room for someone who added something of value to our research. Vos is also a pleasant city... though it *does* have Starscream as a ruler."

"It does," Nautica agrees brightly. "Though quasar radiation is probably more immediately important as a navigational hazard than anything else. But in quantum mechanics, it can always be more than one thing at once." She waits expectantly for the shuttle-bot's response to her brilliant joke.

The recommendation of Vos, meanwhile, earns a thoughtful look. "I had thought about speaking to Elita. She was the leader of our delegation, but she's very busy lately." Which is perhaps something of an understatement; it's sort of like saying 'Cybertron's a little tense' or 'that guy with the flames has got something of an ego'.

Blast Off lifts his glass for another sip... then his optics flicker and he just... sits there, looking at Nautica. He recognizes the joke, but he's just not... the laughing type. It doesn't come naturally. So he sits there as the data feeds in a loop a few times, until it finally dawns on him that he is probably supposed to laugh right now. Another "blink" and then... he allows himself a small chuckle. And that's... as much as anyone usually ever gets from the aloof and detached shuttle. He gives her a small nod.

Then the shuttleformer considers the rest of her statement. "Ah yes... Elita One is from Camius, as well, is she not?" He knows full well that she is- in fact he spoke to her not long ago. But again- he's trying to keep that side of his "job" secret. "There aren't many of your kind here on Cybertron, are there? You must... miss it."

The chuckle, small as it is, seems to please Nautica. Most people don't end up laughing at her jokes. (Granted, most people don't understand her jokes.) But then, talk of missing home causes her attitude to sober. "I do," she admits, glancing down at the wrench she carries. "I mean, I like adventures. I like learning new things, and seeing new things, and building new things. But I'm not as fond of being stuck on one planet. But at least there are a few places to go swimming."

Blast Off is rather intelligent... no genious (again, he'd be quick to protest that assessment) but certainly no dullard either. He places his wine glass down and nods. Yes, it's possible Nautica could even go from the *tolerable* category to the *interesting* category. Someday. Maybe. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, after all.

"Indeed. Curiosity is one sign of intelligence. And wanting to explore the universe another. I meet mechs here who have never set foot outside of Cybertron... and do not wish to. *That* is a pity. They have no idea of the granduer that is out there. On Caminus- and many other planets." There's a.. is that a wistful look? It's a little hard to tell, given that he's wearing a faceplate, but he does seem to gaze off into nothingness a moment. Then he returns to reality... which isn;t as pleasant, so he takes another drink. Then nearly does a double-take. Another blink, and he turns to stare. "....Swimming?"

"I would say curiosity is the /primary/ sign of intelligence; if you aren't curious, you never learn," Nautica replies. "That's why I don't like this tension; instead of being curious, everyone tries to keep their head down. To pretend they don't see or hear anything that might cause trouble." After a moment, she adds a little sadly, "Even me."

The query about swimming, however, is more readily answered. "My alt-mode," Nautica explains, tapping her transparent face-screen, as if this explains it. "I'm capable of limited spaceflight, but I'm primarily a submersible. And if I can't go explore out there," she gestures up, "no one stops me from exploring down /there/."

Blast Off can't really disagree... but times are difficult. Odds are she has no idea just *how* ...difficult they currently are. The corruption and nastiness he's seen in just the last few solar cycles have left him deeply troubled. He stares off to some distant point for awhile before bringing the drink up for another, longer swallow. "True. But certain times call for just that kind of behavior. And it is a sign of intelligence to recognize that and use one's wits to ensure one lives to see another day. So that one may be... curious once more."  

Blast Off's violet optics brighten slightly at the mention of space-flight. Ok, that does it, if she's space-flight-capable she's definitely NOT riffraff. How could a space flier ever be such a thing? The rest though... gets a confused blink. "Submarine? I have not... encountered many of those. However... some say that the oceans are akin to space in a way. Vast, deep, and largely unexplored. A... frontier of their own."

"They are," Nautica assures her new shuttleformer spacebuddy friend brightly enough, even if there's a faint wince at the mention of how unusual submarines are. The whole form-determines-function movement that seems so prevalent on Cybertron has, perhaps, made her slightly more self-conscious of her unusual alt-mode than she was before. "In some ways, even less explored than space. After all, even when they don't have a spaceflight mode of their own, plenty of bots go into space in larger ships. Like the one we came here from Caminus on. But how many ever go underwater, into the oceans?"

Shaking her head, she happens to catch a glance of the chronometer and startles. "Oh, Primus! Is it that the time? I'm so sorry, I promised I'd go meet up with someone; I'm about to be late." She moves to stand, offering Blast Off a smile. "It was nice to meet you, though."


Blast Off doesn't catch her wince, or, if he does... he doesn't understand it's significance. But then again, he's not the most socially asture of individuals. But he listens to the rest. "To a degree. Though space is ....infinite. The oceans are not." He nods to her as she leaves. "Yes. A pleasure.... which is sadly quite rare." Then he goes back to finishing his wine so that he may return to work.

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