Title: Third Time's the Charm?
Location: Wreckage Row
Date: 20 February 2015
Summary: Soundwave approaches Swivel, seeking to recruit her for a task. There have been others asking her earlier- will the third time be the charm?
++ Wreckage Row ++
"Sumna sumna doo doo doo gotcha mech by the neck twirl 'round somethin' somethin' ground... Dance fight split..." This noise, to anyone who hears it, would be Swivel singing a song to which she has forgotten most of the lyrics. Scattered words fade into humming as she walks down the street, having left an alley-way access to one of the few clinics. She occasionally taps the ground with the toe portion of her foot mid step before taking another stride, and occasionally swings her arms or sways her hips to the tune she is beating out. There was a reason this femme was not assessed to be a singer. While she isn't terrible, she's not very good. BUt then, she doesn't sound like she is trying all that hard.
This goes on for about a block before her hummin ceases and she slows her pace until she is stopped. She stands there for a moment, her optic ridges drawing together and a mortified expression slowly forms. She glances about herself, and then darts into the nearest empty seeming alley. Once she feels she is alone, she bars her forearm against a wall and leans her head into it. "Why can't I...."
Not too far behind the femme pads a sleek black figure. Feline in form, it blends in so well with the shadows it's hard to even detect by normal means. The shape belongs to Ravage, still following Swivel thanks for orders from Megatron himself. Soundwave sent the cat to track the femme and her movements, actions and routes. Swivel manages to go /everywhere/ and an individual like that sees a lot of different things and meets all sorts of (let us just say) interesting people. Soundwave has received gigabites of information from the feline spy (and Buzzsaw or laserbeak during the cat's breaks from the job). He has realized her ubiquity has promise. In fact, Ravage is about to be met with his friend the outlier...
Had Swivel the faintest idea she was being spied upon? Sometimes when she actually used her sensors, which she usually keeps offline to conserve energy, she'd pick up a blip of something suspicious, but usually attribute them to glitches. Usually. A few times she had behaved suspiciously as though she were aware of being watched, but never really went looking for the source so much as tried to shake it, not knowing just how prevailant Ravage and co. could be.
But that is no matter presently. Presently the femme's cheerful mood had ebbed away and was replaced with a flow of unease, disgust, and pity. The source? The broadband. She wonders why she can't bring herself to turn if off and stop listening when the things said distress her. She should. She can't. Her curiousity is a vice of hers and she is frail before its beck and call. As Swivel slowly slides down to a kneeling position, her forehead still against the wall, she is too involved in her own swirling thoughts to really notice Soundwave's presence, although her intuition is trying to awaken any alarm in her - tell her she isn't alone. Pity that intuition is often ignored.
Ravage stands silently watching the femme until his own keen senses detect a presence behind him. He doesn't even have to look- he already knows it is Soundwave. The outlier comes up behind the feline and briefly places a hand on the cat's head. It is a gesture between close friends, not master and pet.
Ravage stays behind as Soundwave approaches closer to the femme. While the telepath is nowhere near as stealthy as his cassette companion, Soundwave has an unnervingly keen ability to somehow just "appear" from the shadows despite his bulk. And so he does, emerging from the edges of light- a red visor the main thijng that gives him away, should Swivel look up. He reaches out with his mind, searching for Swivel's thoughts and feelings, catching some of that uneasy malestrom raging through the femme.
"You are... Swivel?"
"...Uh?" Her voice is soft, almost a whimper, but also a sound of confusion. She wasn't sure how long she'd been standing there, taking her time to let the negative feelings go through her so she could resume her chipper ways. But she had not expected to hear her name said, and not from such a foreign voice. She slowly pushes herself away from the wall and stands up. She glances around until she sees the red light of Soundwaves expressionless visor. "Yeah.... I'm Swivel..." she says. There's no point in denying it. Swivel crosses her arms over her chest and leans sideways agaisnt the wall she'd occupied earlier, her body language rather closed off.
"My name is Soundwave. I believe you know my friend, Ravage?" He reaches behind him and the cat pads forward, red optics fixed on the femme before the feline glances away. "You are... troubled?"
There was something familiar about the voice as she listens to it more, but placing it isn't coming so easy. Just a sense of chaos. Panic. Upheaval. But not because of the voice - just that it was part of it. She's sure if she focused on it long enough she could place it, for there were many such experiences in her past. Especially most recently. And speaking of more recently, Swivel's optics widen a little bit, seeing Ravage advance out of the shadows. "Oh... from the clinic! Very clever. Na'sure if I was rescuing Ravage or Ravage was rescuing me's the place was fallin' part." Swivel tilts her head this way and that. He referred to him as a friend, and so she is staring at Ravage with some scrutiny. She had met a talking hawk, so... maybe the cat wasn't one of the regular insipid, lower mechanical lifeforms. There was a time she thought things like YX-units didn't have a personality.
Swivel interrupts her own unprotected flow of thought and looks back up to Soundwave. "Wellum... 'ent mos'people 'round 'ere troubled?" Ooooh deflection.
"Affirmative." Soundwave replies in his monotone, yet harmonic, voice. "This is a time of great sorrow and struggle. People like you" he nods towards her, "And people like *him*", he nods towards Ravage... "Are caught up in a great tidal wave that threatens to tear us apart." The outlier's head tilts slightly, having caught snatches of her thoughts regarding YX-939. "You understand, don't you? That disposables, and beast modes, and even YX-Units have a life and worth all their own? That they have... sentience?"
Ah yes. YX Units. The voice. She'd heard the time she first met YX-939, at the Forge. It was muted and never directed at her, but it was there in the background during the chaos that broke loose upon Blurr being discovered. Although Swivel's arms are still folded her shoulders relax a little, making her body language just a little more relaxed. She could wonder how he knows all of this stuff, but frankly, she's gotten used to people just knowing things as of late.
"Nnnnnnn yeah, that word. Sentience. The YX units, well, group 5, I gave bunch o' 'em names coz they 'served more of an identity 'en jus' serial codes.... yanno?" Swivel stands straighter, no longer leaning one side of her against the wall. "Buh.... whaddya want w'me? Y'ent gonna let inta me li O'Rod or Blurr sayin' I'm part o' the prollem jus' coz I 'ent lifting' a finger to change things.... I 'ope not 'coz tha' talk's gettin' right old." If she was aware Soundwave could see through her facade, she'd probably talk just a bit more cleanly. Jokes on Blast Off. Other than dropping her H's or adding 'r' sounds where they don't belong, the femme can speak perfectly fine. Her manners are still base and common, though. She just feels safer talking like trash most of the time to the point it has become habit.
The fact that she has acknowledged the individuality of and named YX Units already sits well with Soundwave. Her understanding - all of it, not only the observations of the people around her but the fact that there is more to her than is obvious- is intriguing. So are the names she drops. As the outlier had gathered, she does get around- with all SORTS of people. "You are more astute than you let on." He observes.
Soundwave steps to a nearby wall and mirrors Swivel's body posture: bulky arms crossed as he leans slightly back. However, his demeanor somehow remains more at alert. If Soundwave ever truly relaxes, it's probably not while out and about on city streets. "No, I will not lecture you. Many of us must simply work hard to get by. To maintain our heads above the Rust Seas lest we drown in the corrosive backwash of oppression and turmoil. But in your travels you have met many people, have you not? A person like you must have a finger on the circuit pulse of society."
The femme is uncertain of whether the mech is mimicking her, or that's just a normal stance for him to assume. As a very small test she stretches her arms up in the air and then lets them hang at her side. She then fidgets and decides to put one fist on her hip. She does all of this while listening to Soundwave, an anxiety beginning to grow in her. However, she expresses this anxiety with a small laugh and subtle shake of her head. "Eh..... n'sure I'm followin'... yer words soun all fancy an' poetic... but I dun' really unnerstand all 'em fancy terms. Buh' lemme try.... yer syin' I'm, uh.... more aware 'en I seem.... an' uh... I'm wunner th'ard workers tryin' t'void bein' tossed aside loik trash.... an' byond that... ya lost me. Pulses? Society? Fingers?" Swivel laughs again dismissingly, again shaking her head as she glances slightly downward.
Soundwave doesn't move, his expression as inscrutable as ever. If he was mimicking her, he doesn't keep it up. Instead the mech remains poised and silent, listening to her speak. Ravage sits down next to Soundwave, glancing off into the distance every now and then as if hearing or smelling something of interest.
Soundwave nods. "Aren't you? You are looked down upon by many of higher caste. So am I. So is he." Again he makes a small nod towards the cat. "We are all in the same racetrack, trying not to be mowed down by the wheels of society. Beast modes are seen as lesser beings- not even sentient. Empties, like *I* was, are treated as dregs and rustwash. We not only denied a place at the table as the higher castes feast on the finest energon- they throw the table at us when they are finished eating." The outlier turns his head to watch a security camera fly far overhead, gazing at it until it fades once more from view. "Their spies are everywhere, too."
He glances at Swivel. "I once lived on the streets, so lost and confused I was barely coherent. I was nearly extinguished in the darkness. But then I met him- Ravage- and he showed me how I could focus and find some peace. It was a beastformer- one of the so-called least of our society- who helped set me free from my nightmares. He is a shining example of how we empties, we disposables and "trash" of society... should watch each other's backs. Should help each other out when we can. And sometimes... simply observing the way things are, and the way people are... is as fine a gift as any one can give."
Red flags are going up by this point, as Soundwave is illustrating a slight reflexion of some of her own experiences. While she had never descended into darkness, she has been tossed aside. In a day of global communication, a courier is not overly in high demand. It was really only when paranoia set in that her services began to pick up. Before then she'd have an odd job between scratching with the rest of the empties for any scraps she could. Yet... somehow she fought off the bitterness. Still, she feels a sudden kinship with this mech who appeared out of the shadows.
"Ravage... totcha all that?" Swivel parrots, almost a bit stunned. She doesn't mean to insinuate through her surprise that the idea of a beast being so civil is absurd, it just... surprises her. She's not sure why. But.... how did this mech... know to say these things to her? Swivel bites down on her lower lip hard, glancing away. This sort of talk... is alluring but she also knows it is dangerous. "Well, it 'ent fair... but I dunno wot 'fair' really is. I dun mind scraps cause I've lived offa 'em this long. Could do without 'aving the table thrown a'me. Coo do wi'out most thin's bein' thrown a'me. An' I'd dun like th'ole disposable thinger.... none... wa'was th'word ya used... sen'shint should be 'sposables. All the'makes a person wot they are is irreplaceable... the capacity t'feel love 'en hate 'n fear 'n relief... can't jus' be replicated. But I wunder if folk been sayin' tha'so long tha'most uppers dun e'en realise they ARE sentient. I din 'lize it 'till recently."
Now this mech really knows how to compliment a femme. Telling her what is valuable about her without making it seem like it was about her. Talking about things more important and vital than appearances. Sctarscream - 0, SOundwave - 1.
Ravage turns his head back at the sound of his name, and gives Swivel the slightest nod of acknowledgement- indicatation that the beastformer has indeed understood her words. He then turns to quiet monitoring of the surroundings. Soundwave replies, "Ravage saved my life, for I was about to be lost to the shadows. It was his small act of selflessness that changed my entire life. He and I have worked since then, trying to help both us and our friends get by in this world. For what I want more than anything is /equality/. I do not believe there should be a caste system. I do not believe one mech or femme should be assigned greater value than another, but that all are equal and all have an equal right to pursue prosperity and happiness." Dangerous words indeed.
"All people can feel love or fear or relief, all people have worth- and people on the edge like us may know that better than anyone. May be in a better position to bring that awareness to others than anyone." The mech pauses a moment, then adds, "I am not here to ask you to do anything you are uncomfortable with, or to go any further than you desire. But I ask you as one disposable to another... if you might consider being a pair of optics for me. So that I might be better able to bring succor to those who are in greatest need, and that I and my friends might remain one step ahead of those who would grind all the lower castes under their servos."
Here it comes. The recruiting. All of the words are gentler, more rousing of compassion than anyone else's attempts to sway the femme to essentially become a spy. Swivel is silent as she is weighing these heavy things out in her mind. She had made such a big stink about not spying because she needs to be trusted. If she loses her trust, then the very paranoid people who had spurred her recent boon will be quick to toss her aside again. And she would certainly not have the support of the government, for if even she were to offer to spy to them so that she may be taken care of, it would do no good since there'd be no one to spy on. This loop runs through her mind. Spying for an unknown? For a peer? No, maybe not spy.. but alert of injustices to? The silence from the femme stretches on as she continues to consider.
Finally the femme looks at Soundwave. "I'll tell ya wot I'm willin' t'do. If I come 'cross 'nuther 'sposable needin' 'elp.... I'll letcha know. It 'ent much, but I kint... be a spy. I told Blurr no, an' I'm tellin' ya th'same. If change is comin'... it wunt come easy an' wunt come quickly. Trust is needed f'me job, coz it's ther folk 'oo lost trust in... more convenient ways o' communicatin' that're me lifeline. An' I kint 'tray tha'trust t'enone. If I kint b'lieve in me'own 'bility ta be trustworthy, 'ow kin 'enone else be confident in me 'tegrity?" Oh the femme is pulling out the fancy words, even if she is mushing them all together in the jumble that is her speech. She looks back to Ravage as if seeing the cat, no, mech in a new light. Then she looks back to Soundwave. "Trust is m'only self defense."
It's not surprising to hear Blurr's name come up. Soundwave remains still as he considers Swivel's reply. It's not exactly what he had hoped to hear, but she is willing to at least give him *some* information, and that's a start. Speaking of trust- that's one way to build it. And who knows, over time she might be willing to give more. "Understood. You need trust to survive." The outlier unfolds his arms, standing once again to tower over the femme (he's a fairly large mech)... but his demeanor is not threatening. He merely stands there and nods to her, sending her a secure radio frequency. It's one that will get back to him, but can't be traced to him or his location. "Give as much or as little as you wish. Your observations: correct. Change will not be easy, but if each of us does what we can to support each other and stay one step ahead of those who would oppress others, we shall see Cybertron dawn to a more glorious- and equitable- tomorrow."
Ravage looks back at her, twitches his tail once as he lets out what's almost a ... purr?.. and then he almost seems to melt into the shadows like it was a trick of light that she even thought he was there.
Even if Soundwave isn't meaning to be menacing, the looming does make Swivel shrink just a little bit. It seems to be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. She quickly straightens herself back up again, though. "I'll tell ya what I kin that's relevant.... but wunt break confidence..." Swivel says very carefully. "Yeah... tha' shoon' b'bad. But, yeah.... Trust is m'survival. And an 'portant part o' respect.... which is wot everyone otter start with.... they may lose it... but they shoon't 'ave t'start wi'none... respect and love would set the world right." Oh how beautifully naive. Swivel finally finds one of her smiles. As she replays the conversation, she sort of feels proud of herself. "'Ope t'see ya in tha' future, Soundwave... 'n.... Rava -- oy where'd 'e go?"
Soundwave understands this... though trust is a less important issue to the outlier. He isn't one to blindly trust, but more than that, he doesn't often have to make a decision to "trust" or not. His telepathy informs him of the truth as is- the concept of having to GUESS whether someone is lying to you or not, especially if they are right there next to you... is far more foreign to him than almost anyone else on the planet. He glances in the direction Ravage disappeared in, "He has work to do."
Upon seeing Swivel's smile, the mech nods, "Affirmative. I look forward to seeing you again," his voice as flat and calm and oddly harmonic as ever. "We may be idealists, but idealists are needed to dream, and /dreams/ are what pave the path to the future we choose to build." With that Soundwave strides away, soon disappearing into the same shadows as his feline friend.
Swivel nods to Soundwave, and other than a wave and a goodbye, she really has little else to add. She gets the impression the mech doesn't make small talk and the like. Maybe it's the monotone. Maybe it is how he jumped into discussing her troubles before the weather or recent crime rates. She has a lot to think about, and has some decisions and calls to make ahead of time, before the situation actually arises. Yes. What to do if this and when that. Swivel lingers in the alley just a little more before she steps back into the street, her mind full, and her fuel low.