Title: Tunnels and Trouble
Date: 05 November 2014
Summary: Hot Rod has a GREAT IDEA. Shiftlock is cleaning up messes. Has cleaned up messes. Will clean up messes.
<< Hey, Shiftlock, I've got an idea. >>
This is how horror stories begin. Hot Rod is already on his way, zipping cheerfully beneath the open skies toward Kaon. There's a certain foolish boldness in that, but ... it's Hot Rod. He pushes the limits of what he can do for no better reason than because he can, which means he's headed in at high speed with a hot engine.
<< Oh hey Hot Rod? What's up? And -- idea about what? >> she asks. She's still busy cleaning up after Drift's mess and tending some injuries from Blurr in her apartment. She transmits coordinates and locking codes for her door so he can come right in. Probably with GUSTO.
<< I'll tell you when I get there. >>Hot Rod adjusts his course to take him to the right coordinates, enters the codes to open the door, and throws himself through still warm from racing the wind. Guilty as charged: he is gusto personified, bright and delighted. "Tunnels, Shiftlock. It's all about tunnels. Went scouting the Mitteous Plateau, which turned out to be a terrible idea, but what if we--." He breaks off when her state of self-repair registers. "Whoa, what happened to you?" His gaze tracks not only her injuries, but Drift's mess.
"Oh, Drift, Blurr, the usual," Shiftlock says dismissively, smiling. "Drift saw Blast Off in here and well, it was like putting a red Insecticon and a black Insecticon in a box and shaking them up. I had fun trying to keep them from killing each other. Drift just would -not- listen. As for Blurr - brainwashed, totally. One minute he remembers me and is nice, the next his optics glaze over and he starts spouting off about killing the insurgents."
Hot Rod rocks back with a duck of his head, but while he looks intensely, deeply disappointed by what she says about Blurr, he doesn't look /surprised/. "I knew it. I just knew they had their hooks back in him." He takes it personally to a surprising degree, and it mutes the enthusiasm he carried on entering. (He looks neither surprised nor disappointed by the Drift and Blast Off slapfight: he shakes his head.)
He crosses over to get a better look at her injuries, offering, "Need a hand? You'll have to tell me what to do, though. You confirm something I was wondering about Blurr, makes the idea more important. Blurr thinks we're going to go through the plateau to Nyon -- and I want him to keep thinking that. I want /you/ to find a way out through Vos, instead."
Shift's injuries are minor - just a shot in the back of the right shoulder. She's even working on it as she keeps cleaning up the spilled energon off the floor, almost done. "I actually have a doctor I can go to now, but I really appreciate the offer, thanks." She sits up and plunks the meshsteel rag into the solvent bucket. "I can do that. I need to get to Vos anyways, you'd be surprised how many Decepticon sympathizers are in there." She pauses for a moment and changes the subject slightly. "Have you ever been down into the deep tunnels? There are things -living down there-, Hot Rod... and I think they're /sentient/."
"Uh. Not ... that deep." Hot Rod pauses, then admits, "Although I think we stirred /something/ up when the floor collapsed. Arcee said she saw something." Rather than find this prospect, oh, you know, /reasonably daunting/, he smiles and says, "Cool, right?" It's probably worth noting that he does not offer to help clean. (Boys.) "What do you think is down there? We'll probably want to avoid going too deep unless we have to. People might be injured and Nautica and the insecticons will definitely have their heads kind of scrambled. Sounds like Vos is the way to go, though. Decepticon sympathy means they're unlikely to turn them in."
"I decided to -really- go deep. I'm getting in touch with my inner frametype." Shift seems proud of this and doesn't mind that Hot Rod isn't offering to help. She'd feel weird about people doing things for her out of random generosity, so far showing generosity is kind of biting her in the aft *cough*Drift*cough*. "I went down into places that are so old half the time the bulkheads are rusted shut. I know I've seen Insecticon hives down there, but there are, well, some kind of beast-type down there. Kind of nasty-looking, reminds me of that bird-animal thing I used to shift into. They didn't wanna talk, just tried to grab me, so I put pedal to metal. Turns out I drive faster than they run."
"I can find a way through Vos, yeah. There's a lot of tunnelwork under the city, and most of it's being ignored since ninety percent of the city flies."
It's a good thing that Hot Rod is here to completely fail at random generosity, then. He's practically reassuring. "Okay. Then you're in charge of finding a way through, and I'll let Nautica know to be at the south part the facility, tell Blurr we're hitting the north." Planning can't distract him for long, however, in the face of Shiftlock's other stories. "Whoa, really? I want to see. When this is all over, we should definitely go down there. Nothing to worry about as long as we're faster, right?"
The fembot thinks hard about this and is less than enthusiastic. "Maybe. I don't want to risk you getting hurt, though. I prefer to do this alone because I can't guarantee you're gonna come out of it alive. I can risk myself - others? I don't know if I could live with myself thinking I got you maimed. Or worse."
She has finished cleaning up the mess, and takes the bucket to the drain basin in the washrack closet. "So my job is gonna be leading folks out on the sly... I'll have to plan the route and clear it of sensors if I can. I don't want to take them too deep, especially if they might get injured, but the closer to the surface, the more risk of getting found out."
"What? That's slag." Hot Rod bristles. "I'm a big mech." Look at him, even straightening, standing up tall. "I can handle my own risks. I'll just go on my own, then. Because that sounds awesome." Adventure is too important to deal with planning, for the moment. This concern supersedes the other.
Shift pours the bloody solvent into the basin and sets down the bucket, running her hands through the washrack. "I know you're a big mech, but I'm going to be selfish about this and you're just going to have to deal with that." Stepping out of the washracks again she gives Rod the saddest most hang-dog expression ever. "If you died I'd be depressed forever. I'd blame myself and wonder if there was anything I could have done to save you. You really want me to wracked with guilt like that over a tunnel run?"
"Ugh, you look like Drift." Low blow, Rod. Hot Rod covers his face with his hands, because then he doesn't have to see the hang-dog look, but he can /feel it/. He drops his hand in an exasperated gesture. "Think about how much /less/ likely it'd be that /either/ of us comes back banged up if we go together!"
Shiftlock loses the expression which she was wearing just to torment Rod a bit anyways, sighing in surrender. "Oh all right," she smiles. "We'll do that sometime, but if you get eaten, it's your fault." She points at him with a serious business face just to make sure he understand.
"Yesssssssssssss." How do they hiss, anyway? Doesn't matter. Hot Rod certainly manages it. He pumps his fist with a childish glee that surely does /wonders/ to reassure her, then turns to face her pointing finger with a more-or-less (answer: less) serious expression. "Yep. Definitely my fault. This is gonna be awesome. You'll see. They will write /legends/ about us."
Now that /important/ matters have been dealt with, Hot Rod doubles back to say, "Anyway, I guess I'm on tunnel patrol too, so it's like my thing now. Orion Pax said I'm responsible for helping people get away." He looks very conflicted on this point. It is obviously complicated. Orion Pax gets a hint of starry eyes; responsibility gets reflexive aversion; /away/ and all that it implies gets sullen lowering of his enthusiasm. And yet, he seems willing to go along with it.
"Call me shocked that Pax is helping. You sure he's not just going to arrest all of you once we're out? Seems like the perfect opportunity for a sting." Shiftlock seems more demonstrably... -mistrustful- of authority. Moreso than usual.
"What? No! He's Orion Pax." The starry eyes return and Hot Rod says, "He's great. He's totally on board. If he's arresting anyone, he's arresting the people who are /running/ that place. Although good luck with that," he says, which is where /his/ mistrust of authority surfaces. "Even assuming he got anyone behind bars I bet they just slide right out on a Senate-scented trail of lubricant. Ugh. Anyway, they are going frontal assault, I guess, while we sneak people out the tunnels. Elita One is actually going to be leading the push down there: she goes in, I pull people out. You should've heard her, though. I'm pretty sure she wanted to march right in and tear their sparks out with her teeth. Nautica's one of hers, I guess."
"The big guy is willing to help, too," Shiftlock notes. "He said he has a personal issue with the Institute and with "personality adjustments". So you've got some gladiators willing to back you up with real torque and PSI."
"Who's the big guy?" asks Hot Rod with total and complete cluelessness. There is no one that corresponds to that description in his mental context of Shiftlock. It's not until the gladiator thing that he makes the connection: "Oh -- Megatron? Wow, big guy, huh? Man, that place is never going to know what hit them." Never has a less accurate statement been spoken. THANKS, BLURR.
"That's why I don't entirely trust Pax. If Megatron is gonna be there, is Pax gonna sit up and bark for Sentinel and arrest the 'Cons that come to help?" Shiftlock questions, sounding genuinely worried for the outcome.
"I already planned on keeping Drift away from Pax and the Autobots," Hot Rod says with a glance back toward the mess of the apartment. "It ... might not be a bad idea to do the same with the 'Cons. It /sounded/ like Elita and Pax had worked something out with Megatron, but it's not like I got any details on that." High level negotiations and Hot Rod? NAH.
Oh yes, make her job harder: No only does she have to avoid the cops and find a way through dangerous monster-filled tunnels but she has to find two back doors to a hidden brainwashing facility because the rescue party can't get along. "I'll see what I can do."
To Shiftlock's almost dispirited agreement, Hot Rod offers all the spirit she could /ever/ possibly want: "Great. This is going to feel good, finally giving them the punch in the face they deserve. Getting Nautica, the insecticons -- everyone who is /trapped/ there, being /held/. I hate that we've had to wait as long as we have, but it'll be worth it when it's all done."
And with that the fembot can agree. "Now that's something I can put my wheels on. I just hope we can pull this off! Not that we don't have a great shot at this, but sometimes even the best plans can go aft-end up."
Hot Rod grins with the cocky assurance of someone who has certainly met setbacks face-first (named Quantum and friends, most recently) yet does not appear to let that intrude on his version of reality. "That just means we improvise. Okay, I'm out. I'll let you get back to -- uh. Cleaning up messes, I guess. Good luck with that. And the tunnel thing. You're the best." It's like thanks, but not. Then he's headed out, leaving her to cleaning up after the disaster of her personal life.
Shift just shakes her head as Hot Rod rushes out and into action once more. "He's gonna get himself slagged. Or worse, he's gonna get someone -else- slagged," she mutters to herself. It does make her smile thought, at least SOMEONE wants to do something about all this - and he seems to think he can do it all on his own if he has too. "Can't argue with the size of his bearings though," she says to herself, fishing out the last of Drift's armor fragments from the couch. "Kid's got 'em in 'small planetoid' size."