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 Post subject: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:51 pm 
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Posts: 88
This isn't a scene, it's a request for a scene. A query, perhaps.

I summon.. Iron Chef Psycko!

If memory serves me right, we have seen many incarnations of their past, their present, and their future, years down the line. But there is a gap, the unanswered question of how does present become future. Now, Psycko-san, show us why your cuisine reigns supreme!

Tell us:
In what scenario would Prism actually, finally and truthfully, ask for Lightspeed's hand in marriage?


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:34 am 

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Chairman Ribo, that is a fascinating question. Honestly, I never thought about it before- somehow the timeline of their romance seemed to skip over it. I will take time to gather the ingredients, plan the preparation, then cook up a potential scene!

*gong, fireworks, starts cooking*


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:51 am 

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(Okay, finally did it. This turned out to be longer, talkier, and more emotional than I thought. Hope you like it, Ribs.)

Prism:
"There's a reason I never ask anyone for advice. It's not a matter of pride. Even I have made mistakes from time to time. True strength lies in making mistakes and pulling yourself back up from them. Crying to others for help may head off mistakes here and there, but in the end, you're only perpetuating your own weakness. It would take a great dilemma, a life-altering decision, to make me care to seek advice."

---------------

Prism sat back in the chair like he owned the entire office. To Lexicon, the actual owner of the office, who sat behind a luxurious imported wood desk, it was mildly irksome to witness. But he was used to hired guns acting like they were in control of everything. Lightspeed stood nearby, looking out the massive plate glass window at the lights of Prime City below. Hovercars whizzed importantly back and forth amidst the skyscrapers, weaving between shimmering holographic ads suspended in the air. Lightspeed's face could be seen reflected in the glass- almost blank, dour, business-like. Prism's, on the other hand, had a self-assured smirk on it.

"The important thing is that you leave absolutely no trace of your having been there. My former colleague Deadline is quite busy with the colonies, otherwise he'd send one of his men to tend to this matter himself." Lexicon said smoothly, hands steepled before his face. He was a young 'bot, younger than either of the mercenaries in his office, and possessed of a fastidious nature.

"The colonies aren't unreachable from Cybertron. Why not call your colleague?" Prism asked. He leaned forward expectantly. "Because you wanted a couple of expendable mercs to dirty their hands in you and your colleague's stead. I have to warn you, hints that I'm going to be set up as a fall guy make my price tag go up that much higher. ...Pardon me, our price tag."

Lightspeed made a 'meh' sound from her place at the window.

"I have no intention of stabbing you in the back, Mr. Prism. Just fix this problem and the both of you will be quite admirably compensated." Lexicon replied.

"It'll do." Prism stood up, and gestured for Lightspeed to follow. She looked at Lexicon doubtfully, and then headed with her boyfriend out of the office.

---------------

Prism's visor magnified the ring between his index finger and thumb many times over, until he was able to examine every facet of it. He turned it back and forth before his gaze, his mouth set in a little frown of concentration. Filch drummed his fingers nervously atop the case as he watched Prism, who- Filch couldn't help but notice- was very muscular, very heavily armed, and very frightening- observed one of the few high-quality pieces of merchandise on the Happy Customer.

"It's good." Prism finally pronounced, and Filch let out an inaudible sigh of relief. Prism set the ring back down on the counter and asked the price.

"Twenty-five thousand credits is the usual asking price for that particular cut and size, I'm afraid-" Filch started to say. Prism glanced at him, and before Filch could hurriedly start quoting down the price, essentially haggling to himself, Prism started to reach into his hip compartment. He started to count out credits, a stack of high cred notes, and Filch's optics widened.

"Very good, sir! You're a man of taste and distinction! Class act, from top to bottom, and when the little femmebot sees that gem, I can tell you, she'll backflip straight to the roof!" Filch said happily, thinking of all the ways he was going to improve his shop off of the money.

Prism watched Filch put the ring into a little metal box with cushioned insides, then took the box. He gazed at it contemplatively, seeming to struggle with himself for a while. Filch feared a change of opinion and request of a refund, but what he got was far more surprising than that. When Prism looked back at him, his visor seemed to have grown a little wider and even an iota uncertain. Then he asked Filch a question.

"Would you spend your life with someone you'd kill for- and who you know has killed for you?" he asked.

Filch blinked. He thought it over for a moment.

"Er...I guess that depends on why the two of you would kill for each other." he replied.

Prism nodded after a moment.

"Well put. I believe I'll find a second opinion." he said, and headed out the door.


-----------------

As they sped through the air in their beast modes, their light managing to stick out even amongst the neon maelstrom of the Prime City skyline, Prism spoke up to Lightspeed over their private comms channel- still, in all these years, unbroken by any would-be decrypter.

//"I've gone ten minutes without being vexed. Are you feeling alright?"// Prism asked Lightspeed.

//"Are we in a rut?"// Lightspeed asked after a moment. //"That guy Lexicon back in his office- seems like we've seen a thousand of him. Corporate criminals who don't have the bolts to do anything themselves, so we get called in to sweep it all clean so his precious office doesn't get dirty. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Unicron's team. We had our own agenda back then. We were players. Now, everyone thinks we're utilities."//

Prism hovered under a low-hanging antenna, wings flapping so fast they were almost a blur, and resumed his flight pattern near Lightspeed.

//"I don't do ruts."// he replied shortly. //"Any course of action I have ever pursued in my life, I pursued because I felt, deeply and truly in my spark, that it was the best thing for me to do. If I tired of what I was pursuing, I'd stop- or, simply change my objective. Change the rules. That's what we've always done best."//

//"He's underestimated us, hasn't he?"// Lightspeed replied. Prism thought, even though she was in firefly form, that Lightspeed may have been cracking her sardonic smile just then.

//"So many have. It's a fatal mistake, then as now."//

----------------

"You're crazy."

"I certainly must be."

Prism massaged his temples, willing his neural net to block out the annoying pop music blaring from the jukebox. His cousin Threatener was deep in his cups, his elbows on the table between a small forest of empty electrahol bottles. But Threatener's optics were clear enough, and he spoke without a slur. He was looking at Prism with a mixture of awe and disbelief, as if encountering an alien creature for the first time.

"No, listen. Listen. Getting married? You? Hey, guys, check out my kickass new ankle bracelet, with really heavy iron ball and chain accessory! I'm gonna drop it on my toe! Ouch! I'm gonna drop it on my toe again! Ouch, again! Rinse and repeat for a billion and twenty years!" Threatener said, punctuating each of the theoretical toe-smashings by smacking his palm off the table.

"I never heard you bash matrimony before. Why the sudden fit of hatred for this apparently sacred institution?" Prism asked. He'd had a drink or three himself, but was handling it fine.

"Pfftt, sacred. I got blitzed and married a '72 Pinto once, thought she was an Autobot milf. The annulment took place at a DMV in Milwaukee. It's not marriage I'm bashing- it's who you want to get married TO, Andy Capp! Lightspeed is...she's Lightspeed! She's got issues, dude! Have you two ever gone a day, even one day, without an argument? You told me yourself she's controlling, she's vindictive, she's jealous, she's-"

"You can't remember when I advised you against stealing that Time Shard, but you can remember the times I've gotten mad at Lightspeed and listed the reasons I hated her at that particular moment." Prism interrupted.

"Firstly- I never did anything to damage history. As far as anyone knows. Secondly, all that stuff is true! If she's so bad, and you guys fight so much, why do you want to make it so you're, like, legally bound to put up with that happy-crappy forever??"

Prism took a swig of his drink and set it back down. He looked at Threatener now, seeming to realize certain things even as he spoke them.

"Because she has good qualities too. She speaks her mind. She's forthright about what she wants. She's taken responsibility when no one else would. I can honestly say that she knows things about me no one does, because I wouldn't allow anyone else to know. And I think I know the same about her. She challenges me to be even better. She won't settle for me simply being the best. I have to be -her- best."

"So what, you gotta get hitched to prove she's never gonna meet a man as committed as you?" Threatener asked skeptically.


---------------

Prism and Lightspeed transformed in midair, landing nimbly on the roof. Before their insect parts had even completely finished tucking away into their backs, they were running towards the door on the roof. Prism lifted his foot to kick it open, and Lightspeed stopped him, with a hand on his shoulder.

"No proof we were here, remember?" she asked, and drew a device from her belt that she attached to the door lock. A few blips and bleeps later, the device chimed and the door slid open. Prism took point, heading down the stairs with his burst-shot pistol drawn, and Lightspeed followed, juggling a dagger from hand to hand.

They moved swiftly and efficiently. A guard patrolling a lower landing of the staircase barely had time to let out an "urk!" before Prism had knocked him cold with one hit. He propped the body up in a corner and pulled the key card out of his belt. This he tossed to Lightspeed, who tested it on a door marked 'Collections'. The door chimed and slid open. She nodded to Prism and they headed in.

As they walked, they glanced around. There were tall shelves covered with boxes, there were filing cabinets, there were thick chests locked twice over. Lightspeed glanced around for a while, moving quickly. She seemed to be at her best in the middle of a mission- quick, alert, her mind working seemingly at five levels above everyone else. Prism had to admire it. She was perhaps the only femmebot up to his level, he felt. She paused, and pointed.

"There it is. Come on."

---------------

Prism set the sword down on the weapons rack. Mandate stood before him, as still and calm as ever, though his body, like Prism's, seemed to be a network of superficial nicks and cuts. Only a few went deep enough to register pain, but one of these was still enough to almost test Mandate's perfect self-control. Prism had won this round.

"You should've known better." Prism smirked, as Mandate carefully sheathed his own katana.

"Forgive me, Prism, but you challenged me to this match." Mandate pointed out politely.

"You should've known better than to accept." Prism said with amusement. "I believe we're three to two now, in my favor. Although those two you won, hrm- I'm still not quite sure of their legitimacy in the record. At least, based on this abysmal performance-"

"There will be quite enough time, I am sure, to reflect on our history and consider how we have fared against one another, without resorting to taunts and recriminations." Mandate replied. His voice was still perfectly civil. Prism just couldn't get Mandate to crack, even a little, no matter how much he needled him. "Would you care for some tea?"

"It's not going to be some tea ceremony, is it?" Prism asked, half joking.

"I have learned long before now that, among your many virtues, respect for tradition is not included. We will simply sit, and drink tea, and discuss what is on your mind." Mandate said, kneeling before a small table. Prism knelt before the other side of it.

"Then you already know." he surmised.

"I am making broad assumptions based on thin conjectures, but yes, I believe I know what you are considering." Mandate replied, pouring steaming tea into Prism's cup. "Do you wish me to 'Irish up' this beverage? That seems to be the preferred course of action for men standing atop the precipice you now contemplate."

"Did you just make a joke? You don't joke."

""On the contrary, I am fond of the occasional jest. Though I must say, I do confess to a loathing of knock-knock humor. It may even be that I indulge in the occasional humorous remark, which, alas, surpasses the notice of the company I keep." Mandate said. His face was still a diplomatic blank, tho Prism might have fooled himself into seeing a ghost of a smile.

"I've never asked you for advice before. I've never asked -anyone- for advice before these past couple of days. I suppose it doesn't take telepathy to work things out. You're betrothed, Mandate. To four femmebots. Is it all you hoped for?"

"I sought out those fine maidens because I deemed it the wisest strategy to pursue." Mandate sipped his own tea.

"Strategy?"

"Certain interests were properly aligned. A quest of monetary and intellectual gain. And, if I may speak candidly, there were elements of pride to it as well. My accomplishments as a male."

"Trophy wives? Your wedding-to-be is some kind of proof of prowess? And the corporate merger angle, I mean- money, power, influence. That's what made you decide to marry these femmebots?"

"Certainly. Most of them. It was mutually agreed upon."

Prism leaned back on his haunches, shaking his head. His tea had sat almost ignored.

"It's a good thing that defeating you always puts me in an excellent mood. You'd have me dunk myself head-first into lifelong commitment just to prove how manly I am. Trophy wives-"

"I would not dream of telling you to do such a thing." Mandate interjected. The minute breach of etiquette in interrupting him startled Prism into silence.

Mandate continued: "You must not become too attached, Prism. Are you not marrying Lightspeed as a conquest?"

"Heh, no. Well..." Prism considered it. "If I -did- want to conquer her, it'd be no easy task. Actually, it might be one of the very few things I can't do. No, Mandate, I don't want to conquer her. It's more complicated than that."

"So you are marrying for love." Mandate said.

"Yes. I suppose so."

"Love is a rare and beautiful thing- in truth, it is nearly nonexistent. I am unconvinced that is what you and Lightspeed have. Do as you will. If the two of you can find love with each other, my blessings go out to you. Otherwise..."

Mandate sipped his tea, and inclined his head to Prism.

"Your funeral." he finished.


----------------

Prism and Lightspeed looked up and down the long iron box. It was heavy, thick, some four feet long and three feet deep. Lightspeed glanced at the computer lock, which required a 17-digit code, and surmised that it was too complex for her to decrypt in the short amount of time allotted to them for this particular heist. She bent down and lifted one corner experimentally, then grunted and set it back down.

"Okay, time to put all those show-off muscles of yours to use, Prizzykins."

Prism sneered, bending down and putting his back into it. He fared somewhat better, lifting the box a couple of inches from the floor, then one of his servos gave an alarming twinge and the box crashed back down. Lightspeed looked at it with a new light of disbelief.

"It's got to be antimatter. Or heavy metals- maybe vibranium? No, vibranium's not that heavy."

"I'm less concerned with what's in this box than with what a pain in my well-sculpted skid it's going to be to get it out of here." Prism replied.

"I'm pretty sure I have some kind of an anti-gravity doohickey I got from Pestilence. I just have to make sure it's calibrated right, or we'll manage to crash that box into the ceiling- or, this would be fun, make it ten times heavier than it already is." Lightspeed said, fishing around in her belt.

"Never mind that. We'll both carry it." Prism said, lifting one end again.

Lightspeed's optic ridges raised at that, then she nodded and lifted the other end. Between the two of them, it was a struggle, but they managed. They started to maneuver it towards the exit door, unaware that a small army of security personnel were headed their way.

-----------------

"State your reason for visiting."

Prism was put, briefly, at a loss for words. The prison guard looked up at him impatiently.

"State your reason for visiting." he repeated.

"Seeking friendly advice from a terrible source." Prism said, finally. The guard shrugged, then buzzed Prism in. Prism sat down on one end of a quadruple-thick force field. This window was the width and height of the room, gleaming pink and crackling with energy. The door on the other side of the room opened and Sin walked in, his hands and legs bound in heavy-duty manacles attached to one another by thick bolts. He grinned at seeing Prism.

"Hey! I hope you didn't forget to put a file in the cake this time! Is it devil's food?"

"Hello, Sin." Prism said neutrally. Sin waddled his manacled self as best he could to the chair, then plopped down on it. He looked at Prism speculatively. Prism hadn't visited him since the arraignment. It could be seen as quite the cold shoulder, for old academy friends.

"I just got out of solitary last week. Some of these so-called tough guys go all wishy-washy and complain to the warden just because I got a little frisky in the shower. And then in the cellblock. And then in the basement, with the ropes and the knife and the gags- sheesh."

"I was so sure that having so many roughneck Predacons around would do wonders for your rehabilitation." Prism said, his voice oozing with sarcasm.

"Write your Tripredacus Council today and urge them to build more coed prisons! It'd double my productivity!" Sin replied, snickering. "But, you know, I do what I can. I'm remorseless, you know. I got life sentences stacked on top of each other like dead Girl Scouts in a suburban woodshed. Rehabilitation just isn't gonna take. I'd have been executed but, well, I can't be killed! So here I am, draining tax dollars by the minute. Feeling pretty happy about it, too. What'd you want to see me about?"

Prism paused- at a loss for words for the second time today, another first. Why -was- he here? Talking to the devil on his shoulder? What did he expect? Sin was a monster who Prism had palled around with because, at times, Prism had been something of a monster himself.

"I'm thinking of marrying Lightspeed." he said finally.

"'Bout time." Sin responded almost immediately.

"The immortal hedonist endorses monogamy?" Prism asked with some surprise.

"I'm a people person, Prism. Or maybe I'm a 'bot 'bot? Point is, I believe that keeping everyone you meet filed away as a 'to-do list only' sort of limits your interaction with them. I mean, hey, sometimes impulse hits and you just wanna ask that cute little chick at the bar, 'does this rag smell like chloroform to you?', do your deed, then get away while the getting's good. But sometimes- sometimes...you want to stick around. Some people have layers, and you gotta keep peeling and peeling and peeling, because that's the best of all. That's what keeps my interest."

"You can't learn everything about someone just by raping and killing them. I'm stunned." Prism said flatly.

"Well, maybe if you really draw it out...no, you know what? You kinda can't. You have to get to know them first. I stuck around you for a long while...ah, don't get that weird look, I was only gonna lure you to me if you were curious enough to try, and I definitely probably wasn't going to kill you. Let me try to compose my thoughts here. The guards keep beating me with sticks and rattling my brains around."

Sin leaned forward, manacled hands clanging against manacled knees, and looked at Prism with interest.

"A femme like Lightspeed comes along once in an almost never. You could spend years poring over every detail of someone like that, then she'd upend everything you know and make you start over. Of all the crazy crap you've gotten yourself into, all the stuff you've attacked head-on because you had to conquer it, why wouldn't you go for this?"

Prism found himself nodding a little.

"Plus, she's really hot. That helps." Sin added.


-----------------

The guards burst in with force, and immediately began laying down scads of 'suppressive fire'. In Prism's experience, suppressive fire meant shooting everything in sight and hoping the targets were green enough to get scared at all the noise and start shooting back wildly, making themselves into easier targets. He and Lightspeed glanced at each other once, then sent the long box flying forward at first few guards they saw. It collided with them, knocking them to the floor, and then Prism and Lightspeed headed straight for the guards.

Mechfluid spattered across the walls with each blast of the gun or strike of the daggers. So much for not leaving a trace. Yells of pain echoed in the hallway, punctuated by thumps and clangs of bodies hitting walls or slamming into the floor. Prism felt acutely aware of Lightspeed's presence right next to him, her legs slamming kicks outward, daggers flashing, her body contorting into all sorts of incredible acrobatic maneuvers to evade the gunfire. And soon, too soon, the advance guard was dead, lying in heaps around them. Lightspeed looked at Prism like she dearly wanted to work out their energy some more, and Prism reciprocated the feeling, but she just gestured to the crate. Prism hefted one end, and Lightspeed the other, and they headed back for the stairwell.

"I think we left more than a trace that we were here." Prism noted.

"It's alright. I've got a plan." Lightspeed replied.

"You've always got a plan." Prism smirked.

"That's right."

------------------

Sphinx crouched on the far end of the rooftop. She looked down at the Prime City skylight, then back at Prism. He was staring down at the same lights, visor narrowed. He and Sphinx had concluded the bulk of their conversation, and he felt as perplexed her existence and philosophy as ever.

"What is this building?" Sphinx asked, looking behind her shoulder.

"Lightspeed and I are doing a job here tomorrow night." Prism said absently, looking at the little metal box in his hand. "The bot hiring us will think we're bringing him a crate. It's not really important."

"Mmm." Sphinx nodded. There was comfortable silence for a while. Then she added: "Have you come to a decision?"

"I have." Prism said. Sphinx just looked at him with those luminous, inscrutable optics of hers. Prism wound back, and pitched the box with the ring inside it off the edge of the building. It plummeted into the night between the skyscrapers, and disappeared from sight.

Prism turned to leave, and then stopped, looking back at Sphinx.

"Thank you." he said. Sphinx nodded, then unfolded her jeweled wings and took off into the sky. Prism didn't watch her fly away like he usually would have. He had someone else on his mind.


------------------

Prism and Lightspeed set the crate down on the rooftop, and Lightspeed made the call for a civilian transport to come and pick them up, no questions asked. You could make contacts like these if you did the kind of work that the two of them did. As they waited, she glanced over at Prism.

"We can crack this thing at our leisure then decide exactly what to do with it. I vote 'sell to highest bidder'. If Lexicon can manage to make himself into the highest bidder, then hooray for him, we didn't backstab him. Otherwise, I didn't like his attitude anyway, did you?"

"I bought you a ring." Prism said abruptly. Lightspeed looked curiously at him, and he continued.

"I had planned to ask you to marry me. I still do. I bought a somewhat expensive ring with a little shiny gem on it, like the humans do, and I had it in my pocket yesterday. I spent the entire day, and the day before that, asking other bots for advice because I didn't know how to approach this. First time I ever waffled about -anything-. So, last night, I pitched that stupid little ring right off the side of this building."

"Why'd you do that?" Lightspeed asked, tilting her head.

"Because it's a trinket. It's a rock. It's a gimmick. It's wholly inadequate to sum up my feelings. If that angers you, fine, but I've never shyed away from angering you. I've never shyed away from showing you any of my feelings. Any of them. I don't think any relationship I can ever have will be as complex, and as frustrating, and as fascinating, and as beautiful, as what I can have with you. I can't sum that up with a stupid rock. In the end, I decided nothing could sum it up, so I'd better throw out the little rituals and trinkets and just talk to you about it."

Prism walked forward, taking Lightspeed's hand in his, and gave her a smirk. Not a smile- a Prism brand smirk, arrogant and self-assured, because that was who he was, and who he'd always be.

"I love you, and I think you're good enough to spend the rest of my life with. Will you marry me?"


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:57 pm 
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Lightspeed's optics met Prism's. She was surprised, perplexed, and.. "I'm," she paraphrased skeptically, "good enough for you."

A sinking feeling was setting in for Prism, but he kept up his air of confidence. "You're the best."

"I meet and exceed your standards. You can see yourself living with me. You--" Suddenly Lightspeed scowled, and turned her head to the side. Prism knew that reaction well, it was one of her silent radio conversations demanding her attention. She let go of his hand and walked briskly towards the edge of the roof. "You, you, you," she repeated. "Sense a pattern?"

She reached the edge of the building and peered over, quickly and carefully. Then, she flung the stolen keycard out over the side. "Cleanup crew's at the door," she explained tersely. "You." She considered her words, as she walked back towards Prism. "You are not ready for this."

Prism took a step forward, and his visor blinked. He'd been braced for rejection, expecting it almost. But he didn't know what this was. "How do you mean?"

She came closer to him, and touched him on the shoulder, "You don't fully understand what it would mean for us to be married. Maybe I don't yet either." She kissed him, on the forehead, and leaned in close. "I love you too. But I won't be your wife just to feed your ego."

The wind was whipping up. They looked up to see an emergency hovertransport, white with a large red Autobot symbol on the side. Ride's here.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:13 am 

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Prism watched the emergency hovercar set down on the roof, and Lightspeed conferring with the professional, stone-faced bots who had climbed out of it. Prism had a small frown etched on his face as he considered Lightspeed's words.

Not ready for it? Since when was he not ready for anything? They already lived together most of the time, and had been about 90% monogamous throughout the years of their relationship. What about a ring and a registration would change that? Nothing, right? It'd be a ceremony and a honeymoon and then business as usual- correct? But then, Prism asked himself, if there's no real change, why did I hem and haw so much over asking in the first place?

He had to shake his head a little. Tigress. Logic and his Purification. The Beast. Cage. Prism had been toe to toe with some of the deadliest beings in the galaxy and thrown himself into it- now he was quibbling over this? And yet, he couldn't keep from turning it over in his head. He had wanted Lightspeed to say yes, maybe more than he wanted to admit.

"-left a hell of a mess down there. You getting on?" Lightspeed glanced back at him. He nodded, climbing onto the hovercraft, and helped Lightspeed and one of the clean-up bots load the large, heavy box into the transport. Following that, Prism sat back in his seat and lapsed into a contemplative silence.

This was going to be trickier than he thought.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:54 pm 
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Lightspeed sat in the transport, one optic looking out the porthole at the city passing beneath them, and the other optic watching Prism. Her eyes of course weren't literally focused on two different things. She left that sort of creepiness to the Mindfields of the galaxy. Instead, two threads of her conciousness were focused on different parts of her visual field.

One thread was looking out to make sure her plans were going smoothly. The transport was flying southwest, towards Prime City's main repair ward -- precisely the heading a bot expects from a medical transport. Once they got close, they'd circle low then head out from the ward towards their actual destination. The foot of the building they robbed was quiet, with nothing nearby of note except the van she was looking for, labeled on it's side, "SHAZBOT Cleaning Polishing Spiffygood!"

Further out, there was a disabled energon tanker truck. It had taken a wrong turn into the bad side of town, and the driver was new on the job, and golly gee, she's never been to a big city before and now she's plum lost! She did what her employee manual told her. She put out a call for help on the public frequency and hoped there was a big strong bot out there that could help her.

Coincidentally, the streets were full of Vehicon bikers, rabidly converging on an empty spot of highway that just happened to be right on the main route from PCPD precinct HQ to the building Lightspeed and Prism had just taken off from. There were siren flashes down below now, followed by the flashes of small explosives and laser fire. Inwardly, her thread of conciousness grinned. Sometimes the oldest tricks were still the best ones because yes, most bots really are that stupid.

All of that was Lightspeed's minor thread at the moment, though. The major one was using much more processor power, though it didn't have a clear train of thought. Should she be happy he proposed? Was he really serious, had he thought it through, or was this what Prism always did, charge straight ahead as soon as he thinks he sees the way forward? At least he was going in the right direction? And, it was the right direction, wasn't it?

"You know," she finally said, "that was a pathetic excuse for a proposal."

Prism smiled and let out a "heh." Yeah, he had to admit, it was.

"It doesn't have to be a ring," Lightspeed continued, "but I do expect some sort of bauble. And if it is a ring make sure it's combat-ready. I saw a security tape once, this woman put some kind of energy charge on the gemstone and she punched straight through an adamantium safe door. I should show it to you, you'd think it was so hot. Oh, slag, she had a female partner, too. I bet they used it on each other. I don't know what the tech was, th-Oh! Pestilence. Talk to Pest." She paused. "I don't know, I'm just rambling."


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:28 pm
Posts: 97
Prism smirked a little. "No, you're not. My cousin rambles. You always have much more interesting things to say."

"Trying to feed me compliments, now?" Lightspeed asked.

"Not thit time." Prism shook his head a little. "It's the truth."

He paused, glancing at the transport driver, as if to briefly ascertain his trustworthiness. Ah yes, he replied to himself, that's right- nobody's trustworthy in Prime City. As of now, Lexicon's dainty corporate manicure hands are probably itching to wrap around both of our throats. Situation normal, all slagged up. Prism looked back at Lightspeed.

"Can you still access visual memory records and play them back from your holo-emitter?" he asked her.

"Sure. I can also still walk in a straight line and speak galactic Basic." Lightspeed said.

"Then show me that security footage. I'll see about procuring you a bauble..."

Some time later, the transport made two stops. It let Prism off on a random street corner, where he jumped out quickly, transformed to beast mode, and flew off into the sky. Shortly thereafter, the same transport let Lightspeed off at a hovertrain tunnel station entrance. The couple had agreed to split up for now, for two reasons. One, to make it harder for the enemies they'd just made with that heist to track them, and two, so they could have some time to think matters over. As for the protoform matter, it was still in the transport, but that didn't mean Lightspeed wouldn't remain 100% vigilant on where it was going and what happened to it. The drop-off point for that was known to both of them. All that remained was to avoid getting killed before they met back up again.

--------------------

"Ma'am, there's no need for it- my men are quite capable, I assure you- er- I have the utmost confidence that the package will be recovered, and-"

Lexicon winced as the private comm channel in his head let off another burst of rapid invectives. The femmebot on the other line remained calm and cordial- what made it wince-inducing was the brutal way she cut down all of his rationalizations and poured her logical assertions of his incompetence on top of them like cement. At this precise moment, Lexicon looked young indeed- too young to be trying to cut himself a swath through Prime City's insidious black circle of corporate espionage.

"You're sending agents over? Is that wise? My security cam footage will show both visits- er- yes- no, as a matter of fact, I greatly appreciate the aid. Yes. I will prepare a briefing for them, Miss Infinity. Wait, what? You're teleporting them? But that's Greater Force technology, highly classified and illeg-"

Lexicon was startled into skidding his chair backwards and sending datapadds on his desk crashing to the floor when a shimmering singularity opened up in the middle of his office and expanded into a white portal. This was no smooth transfer- three 'bots stepped out and the portal shut itself back up with a gunshot like bang of air rushing in to fill the void. Lexicon stood up slowly, gazing at the three new entrants.

The one in front was young, younger than him in fact, but far more frightening. A Maximal, compact with defined musculature and possessing a pale gray coloration, he had iron chains wrapped around his forearms and metallic wings curled up around his back. His face gave the impression of a veteran boxer, square-jawed with firm cheekbones and a slightly bent nose. But the optics were what made this young Maxi scary- they smoldered red, and radiated anger and impatience.

"Icarus! Your mother speaks highly of you to me-" Lexicon started to say, wanting to get on the new arrival's good side before having to speak to Icarus' two cohorts.

"My mother doesn't speak highly of me to anyone. I'm not interested in becoming your friend, pencil-pusher. Just tell me about the robbery. Today."

Every syllable out of Icarus' mouth seemed rife with irritation and disdain. Lexicon shifted his footing uncomfortably, and pressed on.

"Well, I can show you security footage- their names are Prism and Lightspeed. They, ah, are fairly well known in some circles. I hired them to acquire some valuable material- as you well know, your mother had an interest in it, but they seem to have chosen to betray their mission and take it for themselves."

"Did you at least remember to track them?" Icarus asked. His two 'co-workers' continued to stare at Lexicon unnervingly.

"Well, Lightspeed is notoriously hard to 'bug', as it were- I arranged for an agent of mine to follow them at a discreet distance, but there were some complications involving a tanker truck-"

"You don't know where they are." one of Icarus's cohorts spoke up. He was the tallest of the three, broad-shouldered and barrel-chested. Lexicon couldn't quite place his faction, tho he'd have guessed at one of those Vehicon prototypes. This 'bot's body was heavily armored and colored in red, orange, and black hues. His arms ended in round cannon-like turrets, from the sides of which emerged spindly black fingers. Emerging from his torso out his neck was an eternally burning flame, in the center of which was suspended a gaunt, grimacing black face.

"Er, not at this moment." Lexicon admitted.

The burning 'bot stepped forward, reaching out with his spindly fingers for Lexicon, but Icarus stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

"No point to it, Pyroclasm. At least not now. She can track them." Icarus nodded to the third member of their group, a petite femmebot who stood silently between the two much taller male 'bots, cloaked in a flowing white robe with a hood that obscured most of her face.

"As for you-" Icarus turned to Lexicon, who managed not to flinch. "Just have our money ready when Prism and Lightspeed are dead."

And with that, Icarus, Pyroclasm, and the mysterious cloaked femme had disappeared into another portal, leaving the shaken Lexicon to tidy up his office.


----------------

A short time after having been dropped off by the transport, Prism had touched down outside a fairly nondescript warehouse building with a triple-bolted door. This place was located on the outskirts of Prime City, and as Prism well knew, it was just one part of a hub- the femmebot who owned this place never committed to just one locale.

He considered the bolted door for a moment, placed a palm to it, gathering all the kinetic energy he'd stored up over the course of the heist earlier, and punched through the bolts with one concussive blast. The door swung open and he walked into a sterile, spotless room with many small, porous vents in the white walls. His brisk, confident stride seemed to slow down abnormally before he was suspended mid-step, then floating in place. His visor scanned from side to side and his fingers twitched with eerie slowness as the inertia field gripped him. A youthful, upbeat voice sounded over the loudspeakers:

//"Hi, Prism! You know, you could've just called me ahead of time."//

"Ttttff." Prism tried to speak, but his lips were fighting a losing war against the inertia field.

//"I get five break-ins a month. This holds them in place while I figure out what to do with them- usually I just put them into stasis and drop them off somewhere."//

"Frrremm!" Prism retorted.

//"What? Hang on-"//

The inertia field was dialed back slowly, and Prism found himself able to move freely again, his feet touching solid floor once more. He shook it off, an expression of irritation crossing his handsome features, and walked to the other end of the room, banging on the door. It slid open immediately to reveal a young moth Predacon femmebot wearing a heavily-equipped tool-belt and goggles. She slid the goggles up onto her forehead and smiled up at him.

"See how the smash-your-way-in, ask-permission-later approach doesn't always work?" she asked.

"It worked a couple of hours ago. I'll explain about that, but in the meantime-" Prism looked speculatively down at her. "I'd like to talk to you about a wedding ring."

Pestilence blinked.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:16 pm 
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Earlier, on the transport

"Where will you go?" Prism asked. About a cycle ago they had tenatively decided to split up for a while. Neither of them bothered to define how long that was. Probably days. Possibly weeks. Almost definitely less than a stellar cycle.

"I'll get near a transit hub and figure it out from there," Lightspeed shrugged, "It's best we don't know each other's locations."

Prism smirked. Moreso. Sometimes it seemed like his full range of facial expressions was just varying degrees of smirk. "You mean you'll actually turn off all those bugs you have on me?"

"What bugs?" Lightspeed answered, "Your big mouth is the only homing beacon I need."

Incoming comm. //Insectoid Predacon couple reported breaking in at 1401 West Prime. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that?// It was one of her few useful Maximal contacts, going back to her days on CA. And the Rock. And later she realized she'd run into him in Prime City even before that. She had to train her processor not to expect straight lines in long term memory. And anyway, regardless of the timestream, Stripe was damned nosy.

//Nope, not a thing.//

"Hmph," said Prism, oddly not in the mood for rejoinders. He looked over at one of the transport guards, who didn't appear to be paying attention to either of them. Instead, his gaze was fixed firmly on something else. Prism's visor flashed. "We should open the case now."

Lightspeed nodded upward, realizing the same thing. "Right." All things being equal, they'd have opened it in a bunker on the dark side of an asteroid, but there was the matter of secure transport. And in that matter, it was well known that in any gang of thuggish escorts, no matter how well vetted, trained and paid, there would always be one bot who couldn't resist a mystery box. Lightspeed crouched down and examined the lock. "Hm, looks custom. Hybrid mechanical-passkey." She grimaced.

//We had a deal.//

//Yep, I don't get caught doing anything illegal in your city. I'm not about to get caught, am I?//


"Ma'am," said the guard behind her, "I can assist."

"You're a cyber-lockpicker?"

The guard shrugged. "It comes in handy, for our customers."

"I'm sure it does," she said, and waved her hand to offer him the lock. The guard picked up a toolbox by the bulkhead, set it down by the crate, opened it up and got to work.

//Y'know I can't protect you. I have to put you and your boy on the list of suspects.//

//Shady insectoid Predacon couples are a long list. No actual, y'know, evidence then?//

//Y'know I can't tell you that either. But, that fake distress call? Seems like your M.O. Seems like your M.O. when Plans A and B didn't work out, actually. So maybe, just maybe, you're in a little deep and need a way out.//

Before long the guard had a mechanical snake, liquid metal skeleton key, signal analyzer and two crowbars working on the crate. Lightspeed and Prism looked on with skepticism, but within a few cycles, the crate cracked open.

The crate hissed as it opened. White vapor billowed out. It was all suitably dramatic. Lightspeed recorded every instant. Finally the contents, shimmering and silvery, were revealed. Raw protomatter. The clay from which Cybertronians were formed. Very few bots really knew where it came from or how it was made. Most bots only ever saw it as a finished protoform. The raw stuff, full of infinite possibility, was never let out of a few licensed facilities in Cybertron's capitol. Licensed by the Maximal government, of course.

"New plan," said Lightspeed, "We're keeping this."

"For what?" asked Prism, "Oh, no. No, no no."

"It does look like enough for, hm, fourteen, fifteen baby bots?" Lightspeed teased, "Maybe it's fate."

Prism took a deep breath, "If we were meant to handle all those kids, they wouldn't have been bouncing around the multiverse at the age of three."

"Maybe. I don't know. Think of who the buyers for this would be."

Prism frowned. "It would end up being made into something that tries to kill us, wouldn't it?" He further considered for a moment. Yep, every scenario, things that try to kill them. The main variations were just in when, how many, mutant or supersoldier, and how it turns out to be all his cousin's fault. "Alright, we hang on it it, for now. And you'll take a radio correspondence course in protoform engineering, I'm sure."

"Nah, I'm sure Lexi knows one."

Prism glanced at Lightspeed. She was grinning that grin of hers. "Be careful," he said, "Don't get too clever."

"You don't get too overconfident." She took a step towards him, and poked him on the chest. Prism smirked. They kissed.

//You know, Stripe, I've heard a rumor that this corporate bot, Lexicon, was trying to get his hands on a crate of raw protoform matter that just happened to find it's way to Prime City somehow, despite being registered to the Action Potential Institute, Serial number 13A22-120EL9, Lot 06. Funny how rumors can be awfully specific sometimes. I think a field agent should be assigned to investigate.//


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:15 am 

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Prism and Pestilence walked out of the porous white room that housed the inertial field, through a narrow metal corridor, and into a small elevator. It was cramped, holding only just enough room for the two of them to stand shoulder to shoulder. Pestilence pressed a button beside the door marked 'Lab' and, with the abruptness of a bullet being fired from a gun, the lift blasted downward. Prism could see flickers of light whipping past the seam in the elevator doors as the lift hurtled downward, then sideways, then upward again, then vertically for a long stretch, then down again, dropping in speed, and finally settling gently a short walk outside Pestilence's lab.

They got out of the elevator and walked through a low hallway. Pestilence navigated it quite easily, but Prism had to duck his head a little to keep from scraping his skull along the ceiling. As they walked, Pestilence spoke up cheerfully:

"Now, I'm assuming you're not talking about a wedding ring for me. You finally popped the question to Lightspeed! Or, she popped it to you?"

"I proposed to her." Prism replied, his antennas scraping along a light fixture.

"Good! You know, I always did think you two made a great couple. And not just because of the similarity in beast modes, though some maintain that -is- a good romantic sign for Beast Warriors. I asked if she popped the question first because you guys have this really cute battle of wills going on all the time- figured it'd be a race to see who could show they were willing to take the plunge first."

"A little more thought went into it than that. Actually, thought's still going into it. She hasn't quite said yes yet- we talked about some other, more material way of declaring my commitment. A ring, to be precise. You can help me." Prism said, and then paused as the corridor ended and they walked out into the lab.

Pestilence's nest resembled a small three-level parking garage that had most of its space packed with weaponry on towering shelves, tools, construction equipment, giant freight-moving machines, massive hunks of raw building materials, computer mainframes, and barrels of chemicals and radioactive substances. There was no immediately apparent way of rising to the second level or the third- but then, Prism supposed, Pestilence could just flap her moth wings up to the higher levels any time she wanted. The ceiling light fixtures were dimmed to provide a surprisingly homey, comfortable ambiance. There was a background noises of clanks, whirs, chirps of various self-running machinery, and below that noise, what sounded like synth-pop blaring from a radio somewhere. Pestilence and Prism walked through the spacious center of the lab and under one of the overhanging levels, where the winding shelves and stacked boxes of equipment formed a tight honeycomb of passageways, alcoves, and mini-workspaces.

"I was doing a bit of tinkering when you came calling. Security camera alerted me to your presence, but the intruder system's set to automatically deploy- sorry about that. But hey, want to see what I've been working on lately?" Pestilence asked enthusiastically.

Prism shrugged noncommittally at that. Pestilence, taking that for a yes, promptly took a left into one of the narrow corridors between shelves. As he followed, Prism glanced around at the things on the shelves and standing on tables in the alcoves. He saw an open laptop with a three-dimensional CGI green head superimposed on the screen, spiky-haired and overtly polygonal, like an old Earth video game avatar. It was apparently in sleep mode, judging by the big word-bubble Z's emerging from its mouth. He saw what looked like a combustion engine suspended by a chain from the ceiling- it kept accelerating itself up to speed and then disappearing with a flash of light, before reappearing on the end of the chain and starting the acceleration over again. In a very thick quintuple-padlocked glass case on top of a table, Prism saw what seemed to be a miniature black hole, swirling and sucking in dust motes inside the box. Then he stopped short as he saw something very large that occupied its own corner of the lab, sitting under a spotlight.

"Is that-?" Prism started to ask himself, then strode briskly over to it. It was unmistakably a satellite, set on top of a large concrete dais. Half of the orbiting fins were stripped away, and most of its internal machinery was littered on the floor around it. Large panels on the side of the satellite had been removed, leaving space enough for the petite Pestilence to crawl inside. As if to prove this, Prism could see that one of the abscesses in the satellite's side was filled with schematics, power tools, and empty energy drink cans.

"An EMP satellite, yeah." Pestilence said as she walked to Prism's side, flashing him an abashed smile.

"An electromagnetic pulse weapons array." Prism nodded, looking over the satellite. "Just having this in your lab violates about a dozen provisions of the Pax Cybertronia, I'd bet..."

"Seventeen provisions, actually." Pestilence replied. "But it's not like I'm actually planning to use it- I'm just taking it apart to learn more about orbital tech and deployment. It doesn't even have the firing gear inside anymore. But I've got much cooler stuff I can show you than that."

"Cooler than a beam that can shut down every 'bot within a two-mile radius of the blast?" Prism asked skeptically. Pestilence just grinned and took hold of his arm, pulling him off in another direction. As they headed between the shelves, she kept up a running commentary, pointing out menacing-looking gear sitting on the shelves.

"-that's my epoxy thrower, it's actually gotten too good, I need a jackhammer to bust through the epoxy foam once it's hardened...that's a stealth rocket launcher, the rockets actually have their own individual cloaking fields to mask emission trails, very sneaky stuff...those are servo override grenades, they lock up the entire skeletal structure of a 'bot...ah! Check this out, this is really neat."

She steered Prism into an empty work-space where a table with a single lamp on it stood in front of a blank wall and a stool. Pestilence stood Prism in front of the blank wall, and put an empty energy drink can atop the school. Then, walking to the lamp, she switched it on, bathing Prism in an eerily bright glare and throwing out an unusually dark, vivid shadow behind him on the wall.

"What's this do?" Prism asked, narrowing his visor against the harsh white light.

"Throw a punch in that can's general direction." Pestilence directed him from behind the lamp. Prism looked at the can, which was a good four feet away. He shrugged, throwing out a light jab in its direction- and then his visor widened in surprise as his shadow-self mimicked his punch, knocking the can off the stool with a very tangible punch.

Pestilence let out a squeak of glee, clapping her hands. "It's my Hard-Shadow Lamp! It gives your shadow weight and density, good for catching enemies by surprise."

"I have to hand it to you, Pestilence. Another me is an excellent idea." Prism complimented her, smirking as he flexed the biceps of his right arm and watched the shadow-Prism flex a very solid arm of its own.

"Only problem is, you have to be standing in front of this light for it to work." Pestilence said as she switched the lamp off. "If I can figure out how to make this baby portable, I know a couple of black ops contractors that'll be all over it. Hey, there's something else you have to see, come on..."

She grabbed Prism once again by the arm and urged him further down the corridor. Prism allowed himself to be led, glancing around idly as Pestilence peered along the shelves, stopping at a shelf just outside the more cavernous center area of the lab.

"Where'd I put that thing...I need to work out a filing system...ah! Here it is!"

She stood on her tiptoes, straining to reach a top shelf, then gave her moth-wings a bit of a flutter for added height. She set back down with a pistol-sized weapon gripped in her hand. Its smallness was a stark contrast to the gigantic railguns and grenade launchers that seemed to populate her shelves, yet it was this unassuming device that Prism knew to regard cautiously as she aimed it point blank at him.

"What does-?" he started to ask.

"Trust me, this'll be cool." Pestilence said, and pulled the gun's trigger. A small but very sharp dart burst out of the barrel, imbedding itself in Prism's neck. His visor scrambled over in snow, a loud ringing sounded in his ears, he was aware of a guts-churning upheaval of everything around him...and then his sights cleared and he realized with shock that he was now standing on the ceiling.

Prism went very still, his visor narrowing and widening as he tried to adjust to this alarming reversal. He didn't dare tread an inch off the floor, lest he go plummeting three stories down and land head-first on the floor. His visor readouts were bringing back gibberish, and the shelves around him seemed to stretch out into infinity. He tried to reach for the dart jutting from his neck, then noticed with another shock that the once-tiny dart now seemed as big as a dagger. He tried to wrap his hand around the massive dart, but his fingers seemed distant and tiny, swiping uselessly around in midair. Pestilence walked a few steps across the ceiling to him- despite the fact he knew she must still be near him, she still seemed as far away as though she were on the other side of the lab, and her voice reverberated as though from a great distance.

"Reppilf Dnim eht ti llac I!" Pestilence's tiny voice carried across to him.

"What?!" Prism asked distractedly, still waving his small hand uselessly at the giant dart in his neck.

Pestilence reached out and plucked the dart from his neck, and with a spin and a flash, everything had inverted itself back to normality. Prism realized he was still standing on the ground-level floor, and the dart was in fact quite tiny. His visor readouts were normal and Pestilence was right next to him, speaking normally.

"I said, I call it the Mind Flipper." Pestilence said. "It sends an electric pulse to your neural net and completely warps your senses. Up is down, right is left, near is far. It's non-lethal, but extremely disorienting. I'm thinking it's got great law-enforcement applications. Zap an unruly suspect with this and see how focused they are on resisting arrest when everything's bass-ackwards!"

Prism nodded, a little more shakily than he'd have liked to admit. It occurred to him, not for the first time, that Pestilence could be very dangerous if she wanted to be.

"Let's halt the lab-rat routine for now, and talk about what I came to talk about." Prism said firmly.

"Sure." Pestilence replied amicably, stowing the Mind Flipper back on the shelf. Prism handed her a disk and she walked to one of the many computers in her lab, sitting down in front of it and sliding the disk inside. After a moment, the security footage Lightspeed had shown Prism started up. The same femmebot punched through an adamantium door, and walked inside, her following activities no longer within the camera's field of vision. Pestilence watched the video once, then looked back at Prism.

"Interesting gear that femmebot has. So you want me to build you some kind of a biff-pow ring? That could be a really interesting foray into micro-tech, I've been doing some research-"

She paused, glancing back over her shoulder as the video repeated. Now she watched it much more intently, then played the video again, and then once again, her youthful face moving closer and closer to the screen with each play-through.

"It couldn't be...in such a small size? I've never...but maybe..." she muttered to herself. Prism just watched her, content to let Pestilence's mind move at its own advanced pace. Suddenly the moth femmebot began to type rapidly at the computer, opening up a cybernet browser and moving rapidly through all sorts of different encryption screens.

"What are you doing?" Prism asked her.

"Hacking into Autobot government files." she replied casually, as though she was doing no more than playing a few rounds of Minesweeper. After a few moments of frenzied typing, she nodded, pulling up some highly classified schematics and pointing them out to Prism.

"Well, I'm not completely committed to this hypothesis- you might say I'm not marrying it, hee- but I think that ring is a tiny piece of the Matrix of Leadership."

"The Matrix?" Prism repeated with surprise.

"Just a tiny piece of it! But apparently, even a small stone like that packs a punch. I've already magnified the video to compare the cut. And that looks like it is a bit of the Matrix." Pestilence said, looking with intrigue at the security video.

"But that's a Predacon." Prism indicated the femmebot on the video. "Only Autobots- and I suppose Maximals, by extension- can use the Matrix of Leadership."

"Sure. Greater Decepticon and Predacon scientists than I have dropped careers into trying to reverse-engineer an equivalent for their faction." Pestilence nodded. "Could be someone finally worked out how to do it- if only in little tiny size. Enough to pack a vault-shaking punch, anyway...I need to know more to be sure, which means you need to track down our burglarizing friend and find out more about that ring."

"I need to?" Prism repeated.

"Well, yeah!" Pestilence returned. "How awesome a wedding ring would THAT make? Lightspeed will love it! You HAVE to get it!"

"It is far more impressive than the first one..." Prism mused. "Any estimate as to which bank that is?"

"First Factional Bank of Cybertropolis." Pestilence returned automatically. "The serial number on the vault door is a match. It's a hop, skip, and a wings-assisted jump for a firefly with Transmetal capabilities. Check it out and get back to me, I'll give you my frequency so we can stay in radio contact."

Prism nodded, glancing one more time at the computer screen. If anything was going to prove his worth as a fiance, it'd be bringing his betrothed a chunk of the most coveted prize of the Decepticon race.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:09 pm 
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Lightspeed paced on rough, unfinished steel ground by the train tracks. Overhead, sleek lev-tracks criss-crossed and merged on their way into the main tunnel to Prime Station. Down here it was a forest of massive but crude I-beam supports, and primitive steel railway tracks weaving through them, headed into the lower levels of the tunnel, or branching off to the industrial districts. A long line of boxcars passed by slowly, squeaking its way through a junction.

She was just about to run out of patience and break radio silence to ping for location when the dumpster finally rolled down the ramp, banging its way over the bumps. It was, she had to remind herself, right on time. And, she reminded herself, a few cycles of having to trust in a driving AI and basic GPS certainly beat trying to resupply on a planet where RWAD (Waste Removal Automated by Drone) wasn't commonplace.

She climbed up the side of the dumpster drone, and opened it up. Stench wafted out immediately. She thought she'd parked it someplace quiet, but from the smell of it a fast food joint, a frat house and a tenement full of organic immigrants had popped up on that block in the last day. Lightspeed turned away and turned off her air circulators as she worked the lock on the control panel. Immediately upon getting it open she pulled the compressor lever. The inner walls closed in, and crushed the assorted black bags, used mechfluid filters and half eaten Oilcan Nachos Grandes into a neat cube, and pushed it aside. After that, she pried open a hidden inner panel of the control panel and typed in a code. The false floor of the dumpster opened up, revealing an assortment of bronze bot parts, and a modified R-chamber.

"Hey, Lady L, you there?"

Lightspeed half awoke from her nap and turned her head to see the viewscreen. If it wasn't someone who had her direct line, it was either a job, or something not that important.

"We don't need any spare parts right now, Scrapheap," she said lazily. Not that important.

"Oh, no, no, this isn't a sales, well it's not that kind of sales call. I got something special, just for you." He pointed at her through the screen and smiled with his soot-caked teeth.


Scrapheap was either the fallen scion of an arms dealer, a Junkion descendant of low morals, or just another crazy Pred with an obsession with trash and good business sense. He was another of Prism's old acquaintances from Primus knows where, the kind he'd never say a word about until they bumped into him randomly on a job and suddenly he's Prizzy's long lost best friend (note it wasn't always a "he", but the "she"s tended not to live very much longer) or he just suddenly remembers about when it's convienient. In Scrapheap's case, they were stranded in space with missing limbs and a broken CR chamber and Prism randomly remembers how to get to this guy's pocket junkyard dimension by hacking a subspace disposal unit. If he'd simply told her about that in the first place...

No, she was too hard on him there. She knew almost from when they first met that Prism's storage core was a tangle of repressed memories. She'd never fully gotten out of him just what his father had put him through, and she probably never would. She knew it involved underground fighting tournaments. The fighters would've had a constant demand for replacement parts and enhancement hardware. And, in tournaments that fought to the death, a constant supply, too.


Lightspeed sighed. "Fine, just make it quick, skip the pitch already."

"Certainly, certainly. Take a look!" The viewscreen went to black momentarily, then switched to shakey handheld video of an empty fembot shell propped up against the wall. She was bronze, transmetal in finish but looked like a vehicular alternate mode, with two wheels on her back. She was tall, thin but powerfully built with strong curves, accentuated by art deco styling, like something you'd expect to see coming out of a flying saucer. There was something morbid about admiring her beauty though, beyond just the rusted joints and dull black visor that attested to her nonliving status. She wasn't a she anymore, just a nicely sculpted assemblage of metal, found and put on display.

"Okay, you've got a dead Maximal. So what? She was pretty, it's a shame."

"ah-Ha! You would think she was pretty!"

Lightspeed just stared quizzically.

"She's you!" Scrapheap explained, or thought he did.

"It's.. Please don't tell me you're trashpicking alternate universes now. Trust me, it will not end well."

"Oh, no, no, this universe, uhm, I actually had to have a very awkward conversation with the seller about the difference between junkyard and mass grave, but they did have a few items too good to return. I can't say more right now, just, do some research first if your travels take you to the Orion sector."

"Right, so, again, this has what to do with me?"

"It's a perfect match, that's what! I mean, you know -- well you couldn't possibly know -- but you know how hard it is for me to find spare parts for you."

"You mean the stuff with cheap armor and the wrong sockets?"

"Well, yes, and I took that back. My fabricator has run more overtime-- anyway suffice it to say that it's rare I find even a servo joint that fits that shell of yours without some tweaking, and now I've got a complete match!"

"Okay, that's great, I'll keep it in mind, but like I said I don't need any spare parts right now."

"Spare? Bah! You gotta get down here, L girl. I'm talking total makeover! See how the other side lives for a day! I mean, I don't know your line of work exactly, but you gotta have be needing an alter ego sometimes."


Ten cycles later, a different fembot climbed out of the dumpster. She was bronze and black, with yellow optics behind a clear visor. A facemask and helmet covered the rest of her head, with the V-shaped crest on her forehead elongated into two pointed antennas. Decorative ridges ringed around her head, forearms, legs, hips and bust. Three exhaust pipes extended diagonally forward from each side of her torso, and two large disc-like wheels hung off of the back of her shoulders.

Each of her upper arms, long and well muscled (servoed? motored?), bore a red Maximal insignia on their side, as did the top right of her chest just below the shoulder. On the left side of her chest, just above the bustline, identifying her as Inspector Luz, PCPD Inter-Jurisdictional Investigations and Extraditions Division.

As she emerged, she heard a whooshing overhead. Damn. The 0630 Cybertropolis express was running on time for once. She transformed to motorcycle mode and fired her rear ion jets, speeding off to literally catch a train.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:48 am 
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Icarus crossed his arms and breathed heavily. He was trying, and failing, to muster up some patience. "Arkana, do you have them yet?"

If the white robed fembot heard him, she showed no sign of it. Not a flicker in her white optics. Certainly, given the size of her ears, volume was not the issue. Her hood was off now, revealing her strange complexion. Her beast mode was a tree dwelling feline from the dark moon of 83 Leo Bb, and it showed in her large ears, eyes and whiskers, but more unusual were the intricate swirling and weaving boundries between her silver fur and transmetal skin. Her fur itself was metallic in composition, shining like Earth's moon in the light, soft as organic fur when caressed gently, but razor sharp against the grain.

She sat cross legged and motionless atop an invisible ledge, staring at the holoprojector perched on an invisible table before her. Both ledge and table were tangible only to her, unless she desired to draw someone else into her world. At the moment, she did not. Her attention was on the images of Prism and Lightspeed coming out of her holoprojector. A new image or video, 2D or 3D, would cycle in every few nanoclicks, unless the first two fingers of her right hand, hanging in wait over the Pause and Next buttons, said otherwise.

She knew these two. She could feel it. But she could not place them. What streetcorner, what dream or nightmare had she seen them in before?

She vaguely registered Icarus's questions and pacing. He would have to wait. She noted him conferring with Pyroclasm at the main console now, discussing retrieval of an "artifact". This was a personal effect of the prey, something she sometimes needed if she could not find their path based on a name (sometimes fake) and a few nanoclicks of video. They were talking about a ship now, apparently they had found where the fireflies docked. Icarus remarked that the ship would undoubtably be rigged to explode. Pyroclasm just laughed at that. "I could use a warm bath," he said.

Arkana spoke suddenly, and in an angry voice not quite her own, "Why do we even bother with self destruct? The good guys always escape in time and we get stuck having to buy a new ship and new gear."

Pyroclasm turned around. "What? Can you do anything but spout nonsense?"

"Wait," Icarus stayed him. He saw her eyes, glowing bright white. "Let her continue."

Arkana spoke again, now with a different affect to her voice, "Actually," she hinted cleverly, "I've been talking to Pest about that, and I just got this from her. Good I could use one of-- Oh no, what does it do? Nothing, it's just a container for a portable invertable black hole."

Icarus looked at Pyroclasm. "Looks like you don't get a bath."

The girl's eyes returned to normal, and she shut off the holoprojector. "I won't need artifacts. They are following seperate paths now, but both go through New Iacon."

"Cybertropolis," Pyroclasm translated.

Arkana put her hood back on slowly, and lowered her legs to the floor. Black hole. The most common type of singularity. She had only ever seen the least common type. In her nightmare. The first one. The Will and The Coordinator. Often she'd doubted that dream was even real. Never had she imagined that the Originators not only survived, but in this verse, two of them on this planet, and her job to capture or kill them both.

Stole the merchandise then kept it for themselves. Yes, they may have been on to the right idea.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:18 am 

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Finding a way to Cybertropolis- or New Iacon, as it was known to some- was fairly easy for Prism. Even without the aid of enhanced insect wings and internal propulsion engines capable of flying at a decent mach or two, a lifetime spent on Cybertron had left Prism familiar with the various routes between major cities. As he flew, he made seamless course corrections, weaving between towers and underneath bridges. He felt better now than he had in quite a while, now that he had a task to throw himself into. It beat the hell out of soul-searching and pontificating on relationships.

Approaching the Cybertropolis skyline, he swept low, transforming back to robot mode in midair. Flipping end over end, he snagged the guard-rail of a hovercar overpass and hauled himself up and over the rail in one smooth motion. Glancing around calmly, Prism spotted his destination- the First Factional Bank of Cybertropolis. As he crossed the street, not particularly fussed about getting in the way of passing hovercars, he magnified his visor on the front of the building. The bank was closed, the only access to its Maximal-protected funds the all-night ATM. Prism watched as the ATM transformed into a hulking 'bot, who stretched its arms, yawned, and trudged down to the street corner to get a coffee before retaking his post.

Prism didn't have any financial transactions in mind. Passing by on the left side of the bank, he walked into a narrow alley, stepping over a small drone that was busily scooping trash off the pavement and into its mouth. Prism stood in front of the flat metallic wall, which was festooned with Maximal army recruitment posters, advertisements for affordable femmebot escorts, and flyers for a Punctured Aorta reunion tour. Prism ignored these as he traced his palm over the wall thoughtfully, looking up it. Zooming in with his visor, he saw that there was an overhanging ridge on the side of the bank a couple of stories up. Prism didn't bother transforming to beast mode this time, simply folding out his wings and flapping them rapidly, hovering up to the ledge and snagging it in his hands. He pulled himself up onto the ledge and, leaning against the wall, glanced left and right. There: A maintenance tunnel grate, thoughtfully bolted shut. Prism smirked.

Moments later, the ruined grate had been laid beside the open tunnel, and Prism was moving inside. The tunnel was meant for custodians to get easy access to power cables and ventilation systems. Prism doubted this tunnel led to the vault- that'd be too easy- but it'd get him into the bank. There'd be a host of security systems, but he wasn't interested in a heist- he just wanted a look.

He opened up an encrypted comms channel to Pestilence. "Pestilence? I'm inside the bank now. Business hours are over, so I figured I'd show myself in."

//"What's your entry route?"// Pestilence asked, sounding intrigued. She'd never monitored a bank break-in before.

"Maintenance tunnel." Prism grunted in reply as the ducts, growing more cramped, began to force him to move hands and knees through the winding corridors.

//"It's a classic. You guessed just beating down the door wasn't going to work this time, huh?"//

"I had that feeling." Prism replied flatly, and then abruptly stopped crawling. There was a softly glowing blue shield in the middle of the vent. It emitted no sound save a faint humming from its generators, which had emerged from the wall at the sound of footsteps in the maintenance tunnel. Prism's visor narrowed and he got a sour look on his face. He hated fancy security measures.

"Pestilence, there's some kind of a barrier here. I have a theory that punching through will do something annoying to me. I'm transmitting a picture now."

Prism brushed his fingers to his temple, as if pondering a deep philosophical question, and his visor briefly flashed white. There was a pause, and then Pestilence's voice was back in his head.

//"Oh, it's a neural destabilization field. Pretty standard-issue stuff, really. I could crack that no problem, if I was there. But somebody isn't a nice guy who takes pretty girls to bank break-ins..."//

"If I'd known you wanted to come, I'd have had the pleasure of telling you 'no' in the first place." Prism replied irritably. "What does this thing do?"

//"It'll shut down your neural net like one collossal full-body Blue Screen of Death. I mean, you won't actually be dead dead, but you'll be waking up in Cybertropolis PD lockup with one zinger of a headache."//

"Heh." Prism sneered. "Maximals do love their non-lethal countermeasures." Experimentally, he reached out and brushed the tips of his fingers across the field. They immediately went numb and he felt warning jolts travel up his arm. He withdrew his fingers, frowned at them, then spoke:

"Can this be shut down from within the tunnel?"

//"Yup. They give the maintenance bots the code. Look around the edges of the barrier, there should be a numeric pad. I'm guessing, oh, probably about an 8-digit sequence set to change itself on a daily, maybe even an hourly basis."//

Prism leaned against the side of the tunnel, having to squat down just to get a good look at the pad. There was a digital display readout with eight blank spaces, and a keypad underneath of the numbers 1 through 9. On one side of the screen was a Roman numeral counter that showed alternately highlighting numbers III, VI, and IX; and another counter that kept precise track of the time of day, with a small button next to it emblazoned with an image of a clock. Prism's sour look intensified.

//"Send me another picture? ...Okay, I see it. How's this work, then? Just sit tight, let me think..."// Pestilence pondered. //"Maybe the time counter references Galactic standard time and the Roman numerals reference planets? Third, sixth, and ninth colony worlds...nah, that's not it. Maybe the clock button references Earth-style clocks, you know- where III is 15, VI is 30, and IX is 45?"

"That's still two digits short of an eight-digit sequence." Prism replied, now feeling thoroughly annoyed. Lightspeed was the pro at things like this- he would've been happy to smash his way through the front door of the bank. He'd tried the stealthy way, thinking it'd be less hassle, and now look: Here he was, being confronted with one of the few things he wasn't good at.

//"Alright...hmm...maybe it's actually a letter-to-numbers cipher? Then each I would translate to 9, V would be 22, and X would be 24- hm, that's nine digits all together. I guess that's one too many."//

"That's it, I'm getting back out of this tunnel and smashing my way in." Prism said.

//"Hey, you're just giving me pictures! I need more data to work this out. Actually, I need a video feed, that way I can see how the clock's moving."//

"Clock moving..." Prism muttered, shaking his head, and with a light shrug of his shoulders, as if to say 'I'm tough enough to deal with it in case this sets it off', he pressed the little clock button next to time counter. It went blank for a moment, then started counting down from 60.

//"Prism? What'd you just do??"// Pestilence asked.

"I haven't decided yet." Prism mused, looking at the counter. It was at 38 now.

//"I told you to send me a video feed! You just-"//

"Hang on." Prism said, holding up a hand as though Pestilence was right near him. Now he was focused fully on it. The counter was at 3, 2, 1- then it reset back to 60, and started counting down again. Prism looked at the Roman numerals, and watched them intently for another 60, and then one more 60.

//"Prism, what are you-"//

"Shut up, I'm decrypting." he said, frowning. Then he punched in a code: 36993966. There was a pause and the blue field shimmered out of existence. Prism smiled a little, and continued crawling through the vent.

"Maximal countermeasures." he smirked, feeling redeemed at having broken a code himself for once.

//"You opened the barrier? What'd you do?"//

"The clock counted backwards from one minute, then would start over. I counted how many times the Roman numerals flashed during a minute. Eight flashes, always in the same sequence. It's not exactly the Gordian knot, so I'll avoid patting myself on the back excessively...I see someone. I'll contact you later."

Prism was now moving rapidly through the cramped maintenance tunnel, spotting a wedge of light around the corner with a shadow moving back and forth in it. Moving around the corner, Prism saw that a ladder was set into the wall, moving downwards a few feet, and that this ladder ended in front of a doorway. From the seams of this doorway, a light was illuminating that whole section of the maintenance tunnel, and a shadow was moving around. Prism descended the ladder as quietly as his heavily muscular metal body would allow, and when he was inside the doorframe he leaned against it, placing his visor to the seam. Magnifying as much as he could, he spotted a lone Maximal security guard walking by to the right with a cup of steaming coffee and into the adjacent room.

Prism waited a few minutes for the guard to possibly walk back, but he didn't show. Grabbing the door's handle, Prism very slowly opened it, then shut it behind himself. He then retraced the guard's steps to the left, not bothering to conceal the sound of his footsteps, and, seeing a breakroom with a coffee machine, took a mug of black-and-green bubbling energon coffee for himself. He then strolled back along the guard's path and into the security room, where the guard sat watching a number of TV screens. The Maximal turned around to look at Prism as he approached.

"Hey there. I'm here to relieve you of your shift." Prism said calmly as he strode towards the security chair.

"Who are-" the guard started to ask, but before he could finish the question, Prism had reached out with one hand and bashed the guard's head as hard as he could off the edge of the console. The metal edge bent inward, sparks flew, and Prism spun around and smashed the guard's head again off of the nearest wall. The young Maximal hit the floor, knocked cold and sporting a nasty dent on his forehead. Prism then took a sip from the cup of coffee, which had remained firmly clenched in his other hand the whole time. He grimaced, and set it aside before sitting down at the security console. Now, poring through the security video archives, he contacted Pestilence again.

"The refreshments here are terrible. Now, the date on that video was about...seven months ago?" he prompted her, as he brushed his fingers over the touch-interaction screen of the console, bringing up new folders of video archives.

//"Thirty weeks to be precise, so seven and a half months."// Pestilence replied. //"You already know the time, you saw the video yourself- but, you should be able to access the visual records of all the bank's cameras from that day."//

"Like, for instance, a camera inside the vault..." Prism murmured, bringing up the appropriate folders. Now he saw the break-in from another perspective. Before, he'd seen the Predacon femmebot from the back, her actions recorded by a camera mounted above the vault door. Now he could see from inside the vault, via a camera mounted in the corner of the ceiling, and saw the footage again- the door seeming to first crumple inward, and then blast off its hinges to go skidding across the highly polished vault floor. The femmebot walked in, stepping over the vault door like it was a fallen tree trunk on a nature walk, and Prism got a good look at her face for the first time. She wasn't young- actually she looked a little older than him- and she had a harsh, angular face with yellow optics that always seemed to be rapidly darting back and forth. She seemed to have a reptilian beast mode that translated to a smoothly scaled body and curved fangs that just barely showed when she opened her mouth.

She stopped short, looking around the vault, and heedless of the chaos taking place behind her, moved directly ahead. The camera panned slightly to follow her, and she stopped at a safety-deposit box. She began to open it up, and here was a surprise- she had the key to it on her. Prism concluded she must have stolen the key, and, as she opened the box, leaned in with interest to see what she would withdraw. But then she suddenly stopped, looking up at the camera, and lifted that hand. He saw a glimpse of her ring, then there was a blinding flash of white that ended in static. The screen flashed 'CAMERA 21 MALFUNCTION'.

//"What do you see?"// Pestilence prodded Prism over comms, sounding frustrated at not being with him in person.

"Altogether too little. She didn't want any visual records of what she took. But there is an upside- I've gotten a good look at her face, now." Prism said. He wound the security camera footage back until he had a good frontal shot of the intruding femmebot once more, and took a picture, which he promptly sent to Pestilence.

"Run this femmebot's face through the directory of Predacons with criminal records. Should be a fairly simple hacking job for you." he directed her.

//"I don't have to hack for that. Predacons break out of prison so often that publically accessible mug shots and criminal records are considered a basic safety need for everyone in the general area."// Pestilence replied, half-joking, half-prideful. //"Give me a moment..."//

Prism waited, drumming his fingers on the table. He glanced over at the young Maximal guard; he was going nowhere. Prism was half-considering taking another swig of the horrendous and yet oddly compelling coffee, when Pestilence's voice chimed in his head once more.

//"Her name's Sliver. She's currently doing time in the Cybertropolis Penal Compound for Predacon Offenders, pending transferral to the maximum-security prison in Darkmount. She's being held for attempted robbery, breaking and entering, assault on an officer of the CPD, resisting arrest, all of that good stuff, but here's the thing. I couldn't resist doing a -little- bit of hacking, and CPD records of the arrest say there's no evidence of what she stole. Whatever was in the safety deposit box is missing, and so was the ring she broke down the vault door with. Her lawyer tried saying they couldn't hold her based on the lack of those two pieces of evidence, but they were still able to put together enough legit offenses, plus outstanding warrants, to lock her up for a long time."//

"She's in a local prison?" Prism asked with a bit of surprise. He was already standing up from the desk and walking back towards the door to the maintenance tunnel.

//"For a little while longer, anyway. Sounds like a good window of opportunity to me."//

"I agree. And here I just visited someone in prison a few days ago..." Prism shook his head, and started to climb back out the maintenance tunnel. Idly he wondered how Lightspeed's investigation was going.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:46 pm 
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Inspector Luz sat silently on the hovertrain, window seat, browsing over the news feeds. Two megacycles to Cybertropolis; her cycle mode could make that time or better, and her regular firefly mode, with transmetal ion boosters on maximum burn, thirty cycles. But, law enforcement lived on a budget, when on official business doubly so. When hiding in plain sight, she'd learned long ago, you had to go all the way.

Of course, what her com systems and data processors were up to was a wholly different matter. As always. Protoforms, protomatter. The science and the business, whatever she could find out and the closer related to the "Action Potential Institute" or the seedy, incestuous corporate universe of Prime City the better. It was rough going, though. The corporate workings were behind many a curtain. The science, much of it Lightspeed thought stretched the definition. Esoteric papers on nanite self bonding fidelity in the mesospace, written in Quintesson. Comparative studies of Cybertronian developmental psychology in English and Mandarin. She hadn't known what a pan-species endeavour it was building Transformers nowadays. Maybe Logic had been (is?) on to something after all.

Maybe not. The pure science was what got published. Practical knowledge, engineering, the sorts of disciplines Lightspeed excelled in within her own field of communications, these were tougher to unravel. As it was in comms. A long ways seperated basic theory of radio waves and transwarp from intercepting and decoding a Maximal command communique. To sum it up, even she couldn't fake expertise on a few megacycles study, and she was just going to see what she could find in person.

The Inspector stepped out of the train, under A3 Station's grand dome, at mid-morning. It was strange to walk out with the great masses of Maximals in broad daylight, just going about her business like anyone else. When she saw a bot stare, it was just at her badge or her legs. No scared strutless civvies running to security. Heck, she was security. She'd had this shell a stellar cycle now, had her alter ego and legit commission set up with Stripe for most of that, and she still wasn't used to it.

(On that setup: It came out of old debts, and a mutual understanding forged over a few beers on CA. They were comfortable trusting each other, to a point. She was right up pushing on that point now, and she knew it. But she knew Stripe's priority was quenching the corruption in his city- as long as she could give him a lead on that and didn't get the PCPD in a slag, her leash was long)


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:18 am 

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Following the break-in at the bank, Prism decided to lay low for a night and recharge himself. He had secured himself hotel lodgings, paid the clerk not to remember his name or face, and had put himself into sleep mode in a decent room. It was better than the old Unicron's Mercs lodgings, anyway, which wasn't saying much. After he powered back on, Prism had clicked on the holo-vid news network and enjoyed a good smirk at the reporter's story involving a break-in at the bank, with no money taken and no leads on the suspect. A short while later, Prism had checked out of the hotel for his return to the Cybertropolis Penal Compound.

If you weren't blessed with a flight mode, it was a long drive through a labyrinthine series of subterranean highways and along towering overpasses just to get out of the city, and then that much longer of a drive over metallic plains and between belching smokestacks just to get within sight of the prison. Prism transformed to robot mode, landing a short walk away from the gate, and approached it at a leisurely stroll as he eyed the prison distastefully. He'd managed to avoid a stint in any prison thus far in his life, miraculously, and preferred to keep it that way. The compound was flat, gray, boxy, pretty standard design. The outer wall of fencing consisted of a humming orange energy field, and further inward was a wall of thick steel bars. Prism guessed those bars were composed of alloy so dense they wouldn't be bent by an Optimal-Large. The gate, such as it was, was two joined metal rods some twelve feet tall. The orange field emanated from either side of the bars. A guard drone who was literally built into the watch-tower swiveled his head, along with a very impressive gatling laser arm, back and forth. Prism stood a ways outside the watch drone's visual range, contemplating the situation, before placing a comms call on the encrypted line to Pestilence.

"Pestilence, I'm at the prison for Predacon offenders in Cybertropolis. I want you to access this place's record for prisoner visitation appointments and forge me an appointment with Sliver about now. And make sure that appointment record gets wiped in a few hours so my tracks are covered."

//"Hello to you too."// Pestilence said with some reproach, but he could hear her fingers starting to fly over some keys. She missed the mercenary outfit and the covert ops, he could tell. //"Are they still using the Garrison Mk III sentry drone?"//

"It's certainly some kind of drone. It's attached to the guard tower, and now I'm within its visual range. Do you have my name down in their records yet?"

//"The Garrison's easy to fool, don't worry. I'm accessing the list of appointments now, and because you're just so pleasant, I'll put you on the VIP priority list too. What's the big deal about secrecy, anyway?"//

"I don't need some nosy police officer matching a break-in at the First Factional Bank of Cybertropolis to a known troublemaker like myself visiting the last femmebot to rob that same bank. Ties together too easily."

//"You're pretty well covered, now. Between you and me, most stationary drones have crap for long-term memory archives. Of course, if it's got access to criminal records..."//

"I'll call you later." Prism said, cutting off the comms channel. He approached the outer wall of the prison, glancing up at the very tall metal rods. The garrison drone immediately swiveled its head, its beady single red optic, and its laser arm to face Prism.

"Sir, you will halt! State your business at this prison." it rumbled.

"I'm visiting an inmate. You'll find it on your list of appointments." Prism said, looking at the simplistic yet very heavily armed and armored drone with an iota of concern. If it decided to start firing, events would rapidly become interesting and potentially dangerous. Sentry drones were programmed not to think, nor to miss.

"Sir, I am scanning my record of prisoner visitation appointments!" the drone announced lowly, and its single optic dimmed for a moment before flashing back on. "Sir, I have completed scanning my record of prisoner visitation appointments and your name and identity are verified therein! Welcome to the Cybertropolis Penal Compound."

The two tall metal rods that comprised the entrance to the prison unhooked from one another and started to slide apart, forming a widening gap in the energy field. Prism strode through this gap quickly and purposely, and the metal rods slid back in place behind him. As he walked to the inner wall, approaching a guard outpost with a thick bolted door and a pair of overhanging gunner's nests, a Maximal stag on one of the nests hailed him.

"You! You're Prism, right?" he called down, after a quick glance at a datapadd that verified the sentry drone's list of programmed appointments. The Maximal guard disappeared behind the gunner's nest, and clanking footfalls sounded as he descended a spiral staircase on the other side of the outpost and then, with a series of grinding thuds of releasing locks, swung the unbolted door open.

"Weren't you just here a few days ago?" the guard asked, stepping closer until he was right in front of Prism and glaring suspiciously up at him.

"I'm a Predacon. Most of my friends are in jail." Prism sneered. "I have to admit, it's easier catching up on old acquaintances when they're all in one place."

"And I'm sure you've done enough to land yourself in here right alongside them." the guard returned, optics narrowing. "But it's not my place to draw the line; just to see that bots like you don't step over it. Check your weapons."

He banged his fist against the side of a deep sliding drawer that opened up from the side of the outpost's inner wall. Prism smirked, drawing his burst-fire pistol, and dropped it in the drawer. He followed up by placing his pulse rifle in the compartment, then a couple of grenades, and then a nasty-looking knife.

"I seem to have left my axe at home." he noted sardonically, and the guard frowned, banging the compartment shut. He reached into a pouch on his side and drew out a thick metal collar that unclasped at the side. Prism's visor narrowed as he saw it, and he looked defiantly at the smaller Maximal.

"If you try putting that on me, I might do something that steps over the line." he warned him.

"Relax, pretty boy. We can't put full-power inhibitor collars on visitors, some pesky bleeding-heart Pred rights law. But this chip by itself'll be enough to mess with any nasty internal weapons you might have. Hidden blades, turret compartments, bombs in your sparks, I know all the tricks you Preds like. You will wear this, or you will turn around and leave." the guard threatened.

Prism took the small, blinking blue device that the guard had pulled off of the collar, and his lip curled as he affixed it to his chest. Immediately his internal sensors warned him of a modifying presence on his shell, accessing his weapons systems. His Transmetal kinetic absorption power shut itself down, and the visor laser trigger went neutral. Even his muscles felt somewhat weaker than usual. Prism glared at the guard, who just nodded as though he'd asked Prism to do no more than sign a waiver, and turned to accompany him into the prison's exercise yard. Prism rubbed his chest where he'd placed the inhibitor chip, and walked in.

Past the guard outpost stationed at the inner wall, the rows of thick alloy bars formed two large caged squares on either side of a narrow walkway. Each square had one main door going back into the prison, and each square's perimeter was surrounded by gunner's nests overlooking the two separated exercise yards. The reason for having the visitor's walkway be situated between the two yards was simple- it was the same walkway that new inmates took, and the screws wanted them to have a nice long think about their situation as they were led towards the prison. Prism glanced around as he walked, taking a look at the inmates milling around the exercise yards- talking, exercising, playing a game of cards or just lurking in the corners. The left exercise yard contained all the male Predacon offenders. The right exercise yard contained all the female Predacon offenders. Coed prisons weren't unheard of on Cybertron; the general consensus being that Predacon femmebots were more than capable of taking care of themselves against their male peers.

When Prism and the Maximal guard were within ten feet of the visitor's door, a sudden clash of metal against metal caused them both to turn their heads to the left. Sin was leaning against the bars, clutching them both in his hands, and grinning at Prism. A full-strength inhibitor collar was wrapped around his neck, but it didn't seem to have depleted his good spirits any.

"Priz! You came back! I knew I'd been campaigning for conjugal visits for a reason!" Sin called out to him.

"This is all I need." Prism muttered under his breath.

The guard looked from Sin to Prism, memory dawning on him. "Oh, that's right...you visited that bird boy last time. You two closer friends than maybe I realize?"

"He certainly wishes it." Prism muttered even lower, as Sin reached through the bars, only just barely able to fit his arms through them.

"Are these two exercise yards brutal or what? So much tasty femme metal, a mere twenty feet away...it makes a grown mech weep. Hey! Speaking of tasty femmes, how'd Lightspeed take the question? Can I expect my best man invitation any day now?" Sin said with a leer.

"Get your arms back in between those bars or I will snap them clean off, Sin!" the guard shouted at him. Sin responded by flashing him a pair of middle fingers, and continued to address Prism:

"Well? Where are you two holding the wedding? Is Sphinx gonna be the maid of honor? I'd so like to see how she looks in a dress..."

That did it. Prism strode over to the left side of the visitor's walkway, shoving the guard out of his way, and grabbed Sin's outstretched arms. He pulled Sin as hard as he could into the reinforced alloy bars, and Sin's head banged off of the bar with a reverberating -CLONG-. Sin let out a yelp of surprise, pulling his arms back into the yard out of Prism's grip, but the firefly was too fast for him, snatching him by the inhibitor collar and pulling his head back against the bars once again. CLONG! The guard watched with bemusement at first, then a little smirk, as he watched Prism hammer Sin's head into the bars again and again, berating him all the while.

"Let me make this perfectly clear to you." (CLONG!) Just because I have known you for a long time, does not make us friends. I don't like you. (CLONG!) I don't find you amusing, or interesting. It does not inspire my pride and admiration to have a mass murderer and deviant rapist as a (CLONG!) friend."

"You know, you don't even try anymore." Sin said, leaning against the bar, a thick dent in his head and one optic cracked, yet his voice remained as steady and lucid as it'd been moments before. "I used to believe we had something. Used to."

Prism grasped Sin's inhibitor collar tighter, as though to begin smashing Sin against the bars even more viciously, and then let go. Sin didn't stagger, but smiled crookedly. Prism gave him a disgusted look.

"You prey on the weak and small because you can't risk that anyone stronger might actually manage to kill you." he said. "Mind your tone around me, before I decide to have a real attempt at it myself."

He turned back to the guard, who, while having nothing but contempt for the visitor, couldn't find it in himself to protest anyone beating up Sin. Prism took another couple of steps before turning back to face Sin.

"Try to make yourself useful in here. Sliver and I have got enough to deal with." he said, and opened the door to the prison himself, where two more guards were waiting to see him to the visitors' room. The Maximal who'd been watching the outpost glanced at Sin, and saw the raven had wandered away, holding his head. The guard returned to his outpost.

Sin avoided the glances of any of his fellow male inmates as he leaned against a wall, holding the dent in his head. Did it hurt? Not in any way that Sin didn't thoroughly appreciate. Prism's words, however, that might give a mech pause. He rubbed his hand over his collar, and paused. Something very tiny had been slipped onto his neck. He peeled it off, looking at it. It was a patch of microcircuitry about the size of a dime; it looked like one of the fancy high-tech espionage devices Lightspeed concocted. Sin experimentally placed it on his collar, and was immediately rewarded with internal updates of his weapons and unarmed combat systems booting back up to full strength. Sin grinned, a frightful sight to behold.

"Looks like my birthday's come early this year." he said, and settled down to wait. The least he could do was let Prism have his visit with this Sliver, and then have left for long enough to secure an alibi. Prison was about to become much more fun.

---------------------

Prism stepped into the familiar visitor's room, once again seeing the quadruple-thick force field halving the room. He sat in the metal chair on one side of the room, waiting. When the guard had asked him his purpose for visiting Sliver, Prism had had a brief mental lapse of cover story and finally had to settle on 'old girlfriend'. It might not hold up under scrutiny- i.e., she was sure to ask him who the hell he was when she walked in- but it'd have to do. The door opened up and Sliver walked in, shuffling under the weight of manacles on her legs and feet, bolted together. She paused, looking at Prism uncertainly.

"Who the hell are you?" she asked in a rough, raspy voice.

Prism's fists fell by his sides and he made an annoyed sigh. "Just sit down."

Sliver regarded him cautiously for a moment, and then shuffled over to the seat, slipping down on it. Even in his cautious mood, Prism couldn't help but admire the smooth, sinuous way she bent into the chair, even under the weight of her restraints. She was a very attractive older femmebot, covered in sleek metal scales. When she spoke, he could see bent fangs back in her mouth, and her yellow optics regarded him with a quick, darting gaze. They sat facing each other in awkward silence for a moment, then Sliver spoke first. Her s-words seemed to hiss out of her just slightly, not enough to really show, and her optics narrowed at the sides rather than the tops as she looked him over.

"Are you Predacon Secret Police? I don't see a badge."

"PSPs don't have badges." Prism replied, and Sliver smirked a little. He continued: "I'm not affiliated with any organization. I'm here pursuing my own interests. Did you use a very special ring to steal something from a bank several months ago?"

"I didn't leave the bank with anything from its vault, therefore, I can't have stolen anything." Sliver hissed, giving him a teasing smile. She continued to stare at him- in marked contrast to her usual quick, untrusting little darts of the optics, now she was gazing at him intently. Prism took it for a gaze of attraction at first, then realized it was different from that- she looked like she was trying to remember him from somewhere.

"I don't give a damn what you stole." Prism replied, mostly honestly. "I want the ring. Or, at least," -he leaned closer to the force field- "What you know about where it came from. A tiny piece of the Matrix, or something very like the Matrix. That's quite the betrothal trophy."

Sliver's smile widened. "The ring? I dumped that first chance I got. Subspace buffer with one another access point, basically like a pocket teleporter. Not that the prosecutor could prove it. You like jewelry, big bug?"

"My fiancee does. I can pay you the value of that ring and then some, if you tell me where the other end of your subspace pocket- if that's what you used- deposited it." Prism said in a business-like tone, hoping it could be this easy. Of course, it wasn't.

"What the hell's good money to me? It won't get me out of here. It doesn't fix anything. It doesn't fix my past and it doesn't fix my head!" Sliver hissed, seeming to lose control of herself for a moment. Prism tilted his head.

"Your head?" he repeated, and she shook her head rapidly.

"Both the ring and the take went in the pocket, never to be found again. I can't help you, P...P-something. I know your name. I've seen you." she murmured. Prism leaned back in his chair, scowling as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. He didn't have the time or the energy to try to charm this femmebot.

"Yes, well, you've probably seen me on holo. A Most Wanted or something, old vids of the Tigress conflict, I don't blame you for remembering my face. It is quite a good-looking one." he said in a bored tone. "You're not going to tell me where you dropped the ring, are you?"

Sliver just looked at him, and shook her head again.

"Nor the coordinates of your subspace buffer so I can try to locate it on the network?" Prism prodded her.

"I don't know that tech stuff myself." she replied.

Now Prism was really annoyed. A dead end, and even the catharsis of smacking Sin around didn't make up for it. He stood up from his chair, calling out for the guard to come in and collect Sliver. The door started to open behind her and she looked at Prism with something almost like panic, struggling to think where she knew him from.

"I know you. I swear it." she said, as the guard started to help her to her feet, manacles scuffling against the floor.

"Sure you do." Prism grunted, turning to leave, and she called out:

"Who is Cage?!"

Prism stopped mid-pace, and slowly turned to look at her. His visor widened incredulously. Seeing she'd hit paydirt, Sliver just looked at him expectantly.

"I don't know who you're talking about." Prism said evenly.

"Yes, you do. I've dreamt about him. I've dreamt about you. Somewhere very far away. A space station! I've never been there, but something big happened there, and then every -where- and every -when- got mixed up. I keep almost remembering things. It's driving me insane. That's why I took what I took!"

"What? What did you take?" Prism asked, as the guards started to drag her back through the door on the other side of the field. "Where is the ring?"

Sliver opened her mouth to answer, and the door slammed shut. Prism's frown deepened, and he turned on his heel to leave. He was silent all the way back out the visitor's door, and up the walkway between the exercise yards, and even when reclaiming his weapons from the verbally abusive guard. Lost in thought, Prism walked back out between the two metal rods of the outer energy field, transformed to Beast Mode, and flew away.

Two and a half hours later, there was a riot at the prison.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:49 pm 
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The main facility of the Action Potential Institute was one of the many egg-shaped suspended buildings in the district of Cybertropolis's upper spires known as Pod City. The district was so named due to its distinctive architecture of pod-like structures suspended at various heights from spindly thousand foot towers. It was also so named because it was the center of Cybertronian R&D in stasis pods, protoforms and the like. Since most of our readers are Earth-born, the best comparison may be to Silicon Valley. The "pod" buildings were created to accommodate having many cutting edge and potentially dangerous research labs packed into a tight urban space. Each was thickly shielded, self contained, backed up, flight capable in emergencies, and in most cases had contingency systems for quarantine and self-destruct. Most sensible Cybertropians tended to steer clear of a part of the city full of large self destructing buildings suspended in midair, but this generally suited the denizens of Pod City just fine.

Agent Mime of the BDC stood on one of the suspended bridges, waiting for this Inspector Luz.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:02 pm 
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A bronze motorcycle with police flashers pulled out on to the bridge. This would be her. Agent Mime noted this and simply continued the pacing around the causeways he'd been doing for a quarter megacycle. As the cycle passed, he raised one arm as a halfhearted flagdown. The cycle continued on, and for a nanoclick he thought she hadn't seen him, but then he heard the motor stop behind him. The inspector pulled to the side of the bridge and coasted to a halt, then transformed and started walking back to him. Mime turned around and nodded.

Inspector Luz approached this bot. He was a typical security officer at first glance, only he was translucent. Under the outer skin, quickly discerned to be holographic, he was a white and black featureless stick figure of a bot. He looked more like a gaming droid or-- she paused a half step but decided this wasn't a decoy droid. He had a fully physical and genuine badge affixed to his holographic chest. She read it. "Bilateral Disarmament Commission?" the Inspector said with a tilt of her head, "I thought Detective Mol was my liason officer."

The bot's holographic face smiled, and moved its lips in not-quite-sync with its tincan monotone voice. "Good morning Inspector Loos I am Agent Mime. Sorry we could not notify you protomatter smuggling falls directly under BDC jurisdiction we are handling that aspect of the case now as a legal matter." As he spoke, his chest animated to show a screen, which rapidly scrolled through the relevant legal codes, permits, and intergovernmental agreements.

Luz scanned and processed enough of it to ensure it looked legit past her ability to spot legal BS. Meanwhile, Agent Mime extended his hand, which she shook. It felt unexpectedly real.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:33 am 

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A long drop below the suspended bridges of Pod City was the 'parking lot', so to speak- private hovercars and public transportation dropped off the various scientists, security personnel, civilian tenants, politicians and dignitaries of the Action Potential Institute. So when a big black hover-van pulled up near the base of one of the towers and let out Icarus and Pyroclasm, no one batted an optic. Infinitech was very careful to keep their identities- at least in connection to their less-legal clandestine activities- very secure.

The two thugs stepped into yet another pod- this a wide silvery sphere that tapered out at the bottom like a Hershey's Kiss. Its glass doors slid shut and it began to ascend towards the suspended walkways. Pyroclasm looked out over the network of bridges, and glanced at Icarus.

"Why don't you just fly around overhead and look for her?" he asked.

"I doubt a wanted Predacon mercenary will simply be strolling around in public showing off herself. She may be in disguise, or even cloaked. We'll just have to stay perceptive." Icarus replied as the elevator stopped and they got out on one of Pod City's bridges.

"So how do we know Lightspeed is even here?" Pyroclasm asked skeptically.

"Arkana's tips are usually good. Just...try to blend in," Icarus said, looking up at the massive Vehicon and shaking his head a little, before they started to walk amongst the Pod City patrons, searching for their target.

--------------------

Prism and Sin had a spot. That sounds romantic, but it was really more of a conveniently secretive place to meet and discuss matters that couldn't be freely discussed in public between a dangerous mercenary and a sadistic mass murderer.

Prism was standing in the ruins of a burned-up nightclub. The fire had been years before, back when his relationship with Lightspeed was still new, and back when this area of town had boasted a swinging and successful entertainment district. The fire had burned all that business away- now the Hot Ticket was a rotten tooth in the cityscape, all blackened hanging girders and charred walls. It hadn't been demolished or renovated in this time because it had proved to be a popular hangout for the criminal element- there were Pyrexia pills and broken Charge needles scattered in the corners, along with graffiti declaring the dominance of this gang or that gang, this femme's number and that she would show you a good time, etc.

The squatters and the junkies cleared out when Prism was around. He had it booked as his private meeting spot, permanently. He stood in the middle of the burnt dance floor and watched as Sin swooped down from the night sky with Sliver in tow. She was conscious- clinging to him and looking around fearfully. He set her down with care, yet she immediately staggered away, clutching one of the club's few standing pillars in a leaning one-armed hug.

"Oh, look, you didn't rape her on your way here. I'm a little surprised," Prism said, deadpan.

"Not for lack of temptation!" Sin grinned at him. "All those smooth snake scales sliding around on me...sinuous -and- erotic. Nah, she just doesn't like heights."

"Guh." Sliver shook her head a little, and shivered. "Snakes are meant to stay low to the ground, not...swooping, and diving, and aerially maneuvering."

"How grateful is she, huh? I started a riot for you! Well...I started the riot for fun, but I was also taking the time to break you out. Try to appreciate it," Sin told her, and turned to Prism. "When can I expect payment?"

"You've got payment. You're a free mech for as long as you can manage to keep from getting recaptured," Prism told him bluntly. "Beyond breaking Sliver out, I have no use for you."

"Not even a little slap, a little tickle? I think that's rude for friends not to get reacquainted after such a long absence..." Sin reached out, brushing a hand over Prism's cheek. With startlingly quick reflexes, Prism snatched at his hand and clamped down on it. Servos cracked and squealed, but Sin barely reacted.

"I took a risk helping you," Prism growled, keeping his hand clenched on Sin's. "Normally, I don't care what you do with your time, but things may start to snowball from here and I don't need you drawing attention to me. So try to walk the line a little...just until the heat's off. Or I'll bring you back in and happily collect the reward."

Sin pulled his hand free of Prism's, and remained inches away from him, optics locked on Prism's narrowed visor. Sin's grin remained in place, but now it was tight, frozen, and a great deal of menace was lurking behind the mirth.

"Don't fuck with me, Priz." he said very slowly. "I'll stab you full of holes."

"I'll find a way to kill you, and make sure it hurts. But only if you force me to." Prism said, glaring right back.

After a long pause, Sin relaxed into an easy smile and clapped Prism on the back. "Hey, Sinny say relax! I'm just teasing you, musclehead. I'll let you have your private chat with the lady."

Sin vaulted over the bar and rummaged around underneath. He came up with a warped glass bottle filled with murky brown liquid. He surveyed this bottle with a critical eye and announced: "Trion's Brewery, 2146. Good year! And only slightly melted."

He took a big swig of the bottle, and tossed off a salute to Prism and Sliver.

"Got a whole list of things a free mech needs to go do! Catch you on the flip side."

With that, Sin spread his wings, and with one hard flap that sent scraps of ash and broken glass scattering, rocketed up into the night sky. Prism watched him go for a moment, frowning, then turned to look at Sliver. Having had time to ground herself, she looked much more composed, walking forward to sit on a burnt chair and giving him a speculative glance-over.

"You're better looking than I remember from the dreams," she commented.

"Now that is a good place to start. No small talk, I approve." Prism replied, striding over and sitting down across from her. "You've been dreaming about me."

"Sure. You, and Lightspeed, and Cage, and all the rest. I've seen faces, dozens of them, of beings that I've never met. A space station I've never been to. A battle I've never heard of." Sliver said.

"What makes you think there's anything to these dreams? Maybe you're one of those psionic Transmetals everyone's so fascinated with." Prism said, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair.

"I'm nothing special. I'm just a regular femmebot- with a little bit of a violent past, maybe," Quiver said, folding her arms as well. "I was happy just pulling jobs here and there, some legit, some not so legit, then- a couple years ago, maybe longer- then my life went to the Pit. I thought I was going crazy. I saw it all end- I saw everything get ripped apart."

Prism just looked at her quietly. She waited for him to add some smart-alecky comment, realized none was coming, and continued.

"I read up on all these egghead articles about parallel universes and alternate timelines, all this really theoretical stuff. I mean, it's pretty straight with you. Says there's an infinite number of alternate timelines and universes, but they're all kept apart. They're separate, I mean. Well...in my dream...there were these things. Crystals? Pieces of crystals? Shards, that was it. And they did something bad. This guy, Cage...he messed up everything.

"In my dreams...there was a fight. Almost a war. And every universe and all the beings that were in them, were torn apart, just screwed up royally. Someone fixed it. I think you had a part in fixing it. But that had its own side-effect in patching everything back together different. You know, 'til all are one'? Well, I think 'all are one' means all universes now, because everything's just mixed up together now. We're in a big pan-dimensional blender, and it's wrong. I have these memories I shouldn't have, all warped and splintered together, and it drove me crazy."

"That's why you broke into the vault? To steal something that would alleviate your craziness?" Prism prompted her after a moment of her just staring into the middle distance.

"That's right," Sliver said softly. "My husband...before he died...got it from one of those big corporations. Real meta-science stuff. A portable hole in a container."

"A hole?" Prism repeated.

"A hole through to whatever universes are left after Cage broke everything down and you guys patched it back together. Do you get me? This is a container where you can open up a- I don't know the term for it, it's like a singularity that opens up into a tear in space and time and just dumps you where you need to go! Anywhere and any-when! That's how I got the ring, with the Matrix of Leadership. We went back to before the Great War and took a piece of it."

"You took it? From who?" Prism asked.

"There's an alternate universe where a couple of invaders from the future kill Optimus Prime before the war ever started." Quiver said, and gave him a disturbed look. "My husband said he found it therapeutic."

"You said he died. Why keep the ring after that?"

"So I could use its power as an edge. After he died, I...I went further off the edge than I was before. I mean, he was crazy, I get that, but I was crazier. I was going to go back to that space station. Back to Cybertronian Alpha. Stop Cage myself. And all of this-" Sliver gestured around at the club, the ground, the sky, as if to indicate all of the universe they were in- "Would be split off just like before, just like it was meant to be."

There was a full silence between them. Prism stared at her, honestly unsure what to say in response to...a madwoman? A scam artist? Or someone very alone and very unstable who needed help? He finally leaned forward in his chair and looked at her.

"Maybe we can help each other," he said.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:06 pm 
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Pod City


The Agent and the Inspector began walking to the Institute. Its main entrance, with design inspired by a classic space bridge portal, was the one architectural flourish on the otherwise smooth and windowless pod building. "So, you're familiar with this place?" asked Inspector Luz.

Mime's holographic face gave a slight nod. "The BDC conducts regular inspections of API activities falling under our jurisdiction including protoform handling transmetal and technorganic research."

Luz nodded. The BDC was the first bi-factional authority founded in the wake of the Great War, pre-dating even the Pax Cybertronia treaties. It was key to establishing trust for both sides to downgrade their weapons systems and combat enhancements built up over the millions of years of war, and the BDC was established to ensure that both sides stuck to their end of the bargain. By the time Lightspeed came online, the BDC had just passed its high water mark. It exerted huge influence over both governments, and touted an ideology that the best way to ensure peace was to strip Cybertronians of all built-in weaponry. Lightspeed's shell was technically illegal, and in her early days she had to put a great deal of effort into staying off the BDC's radar. In that era, it was a wonder that she even got built in the first place. The irony was that the BDC's draconian policies wound up concentrating the most talented and dedicated combat model engineers into a handful of government exempt programs and underground efforts, and produced a quiet renaissance in bot design. Overwhelming firepower was out; concealed weapons, enhanced physical prowess, dual-use abilities and power in small packages was in.

Of course, the BDC eventually overplayed its hand, the population and governments pushed back, and it became clear the prohibition was just causing black markets and secret projects to flourish. The Action Potential Institute started out as a secret Maximal initiative, which eventually became independent, official, and subject to reasonable regulation. The Greater Force War, proof that powerful external threats were real, was thought to be the nail in the BDC's coffin, but the Beast brought it back from the grave. Nowadays, technorganic viruses, GF technology and dangerous metascience were the BDC's major concerns.

"So," said Luz, "You would know their employees, clients, donors, contractors, vendors...?"

"Correct but I am sorry we cannot share these lists with other agencies."

"Of course, but you must have some idea who might be involved in protomatter smuggling."

"Insufficient information to filter How did your department learn of the serial number?"

Luz glanced at the agent for a moment. Her goal here was to seem cooperative while giving out as little actual information as possible besides what might lead her to a clue. She was starting to get the sense that Mime was playing the same game. "Oh, just an anonymous tip from a throwaway subspace mailbox. It would've been rotting in the archives by now except the serial checked out. Legally we can't get a warrant to trace it, and chances are it was bounced around a bunch of proxies first anyway. It also pointed the finger at a DTC middle manager, but so far we've got nothing concrete from that. We assume it has to be from an insider, perhaps the thieves themselves. Our best hunch is they were hired for corporate espionage against Manpower, the heist went south, their employer got POed, and so they tipped us off to divert some of the heat. It kinda matches up with their MO for the getaway, too."

Mime nodded again. "Do you have any suspects for the thieves?"

"Yeah, too many. Kind of the same deal as your Action Potential contacts list."

"API protomatter transport company is a Manpower subsidiary," Agent Mime droned, "DTC middle manager involvement is likely but not the endpoint A typical MO in these cases involves laundering goods through multiple organizations Requires knowledge contacts resources Small number of networks account for all known cases however networks are fluid new parties likely involved."

He projected a quickly scrolling list of names:

ASSASSIN'S GUILD (FOR HIRE, see KICKBACK)
MAXIMAL CLASSIFIED GOVERNMENT AGENCY 3B
PREDACON CLASSIFIED GOVERNMENT AGENCY 5 (see SOUNDWAVE)
PURIFICATION (see SERVOTRON)
ARCTAN
AVIAK
CRYOTECH
GLITCH
KICKBACK
RATCHET II
RATCHET III
SERVOTRON
SOUNDWAVE, et. al.
SUSPECT 8702

"Hm," said Inspector Luz. She had some ideas where to steer this, but didn't want to tip her hand. The Assassin's Guild or the Predacon agency (obviously the Secret Police) would have contacted her more directly. The Maxi government and those in tight with it would usually be not clever enough to divert suspicion by using a Predacon agent, or too paranoid about a doublecross. Cryotech's gang was all either dead, locked up in Cocytus, or lost on some time-travel escapade.
, but her cover would have no way to know that. The Aviak she knew died on the Rock; he could be back after the merge, but he seemed like too much of a loner in any case. That left.. a couple bots with a zillion contacts that were famously impossible to track down, a couple others she'd never heard of, and whatever "suspect 8702" was. These thoughts ran through in the space of the word "hm".

She elaborated. "We've got a whole bureau for the Puries, but this just doesn't smell like them. Otherwise most of the crime in our burg is corporate cartels, corruption and gang violence. So-- hn." She jerked her head slightly at a security camera above the Institute's entrance, which they were now walking up the steps to. Mime noted this, and shifted his posture and holographic appearance to appear more authoritative. Straight back, wide shoulders, square jaw and shiny badge. Luz tilted her head. "I've gotta ask what your story is sometime. This inspection thing can't be your original function."

"To control nonstandard technology we must deploy nonstandard technology."

"You're the exception to your own rule. Nice. So what kind of bad guys do they have you take down?"

"Classified."

Luz sighed. "Right."


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:41 pm 
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Across the street from the Institute, two bots leaned over the railing, watching the smoke rise from the smelting pools a thousand feet below.

"How do you know it's her?"

"Besides that I recognize her face, her body's a perfect match besides some switched out kibble and a paint job, and this radio monitor hasn't shut up since she got here?"

"What if that's all coincidence?"

"And it's also a coincidence they're investigating the exact crime she just committed? Think about it, why would she come here? To track down the boss before we track down her. Posing as a cop gives her cover and gives her access."

"Alright," said Pyroclasm. The railing began to glow red as he gripped it, "This let's do this!"

Icarus held up a hand. "Wait. Let them go in and start their little tour. If they're going where I think they're going, we'll have her trapped like a bug in a jar."


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:45 pm 

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Icarus and Pyroclasm walked along the bridge, heading closer to the Institute. The network of suspended walkways looked complicated from the ground, but once you were actually upon them it was easy to tell which way to go. Bots walked to and fro along the bridges, some entering the pod elevators to move downward or further up. Every so often a flight-enabled 'bot would simply vault over the railing and either convert to beast mode to fly to another area or kick in a jet propulsion system to blast his or her way there.

The API wasn't easy to spot unless you knew where to look- it was just one of the many pods, except for that portal entrance. There was a massive construction yard nearby- smelting pools, giant robot crane arms, conveyor belts moving robot parts. Torsos, heads, spark chambers gliding their way along in separate rows. Some 'bots found that creepy. Others found it inspired in them a warm parental feeling. Lightspeed might feel the same way, Icarus thought with a derisive smirk.

"I don't think she's here just to find out what she stole," he muttered to Pyroclasm as they moved closer towards the Institute. "Suppose she's here looking to do something with what was in that crate?"

"Could be. Raw protoform in there. Enough to make more'n a handful of bots. Could be she and her man want to build them some new allies." Pyroclasm grunted. As he stomped along the bridge, civilian 'bots gave him curious or fearful stares and made a wide berth of his path- where he stepped, he left large, glowing red foot indentations in the metal walkway.

"If you're looking for soldiers in a hurry, you don't build them- takes too much time to program, too much time to train. If she's not selling the protoform...then she must want the long haul." Icarus theorized, rubbing his chin as he looked down at the Institute. He glanced over, seeing the red footprints Pyroclasm was leaving behind, and scowled.

"You're leaving a trail for everyone to see, and making a scene." he said irritably, pointing at the footprints.

"Yeah, yeah- cooling system's a little out of whack, I need a tune-up," Pyroclasm replied. "I'm holding it in as much as I can- I vent all at once, this whole bridge goes down in pieces."

"So why didn't you have the Infinitech medics work on you before we left?" Icarus demanded.

"Hey, I don't need a systems overhaul to handle some leggy little PSP bimbo, okay?" Pyroclasm snapped, jotting the smaller Icarus in the chest with a stubby finger. "As soon as we grab her, I can unload all this excess heat right down her throat."

"Then I'll make sure you get that chance. Come on." Icarus turned and they started moving down a flight of stairs to the nearest elevator. One short and smooth pod journey later, they were stepping out of the lift- red footprints sagging the elevator floor behind them- and towards the API. They walked right past the main visitor's doorway and to a service door around left of the building. Icarus walked up behind a custodian and, without breaking stride, slammed an elbow into the back of his head. The 'bot hit the ground and Icarus picked up his key card. He pocketed it, and made a transmission.

"Sending coordinates now- I need an immediate upload of the Action Potential Institute's blueprints." he said lowly. Pyroclasm glanced around as Icarus went still, optics flashing as the Infinitech aides jacked into his neural net and delivered the complete floor plans. Icarus finally nodded to the other thug, and with a quick swipe of the card, they were inside and looking for Luz's signal.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:17 am 
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Action Potential Institute


Agent Mine and Inspector Luz strode through the lobby, an open atrium possibly more befitting to a museum. It was complete with exhibits, demonstrating API innovations of note: The nanoprecision hand unit, typing in a blur at 1200 words per minute; The portable emergency medical pretender shell; The first in-bot DNA scanner; And spanning the back wall, a giant aquarium full of exponentially evolving cyberfish.

As they approached the reception desk, a man waved to them. Agent Mime projected a holographic smile of recognition. "Greetings, Dr. Hu," he droned.

"Agent Mime, welcome as always," beamed the doctor. He was human, but heavily cybernetically enhanced. The white lab coat he donned hid most of it, but Luz noted that his hands matched the super fast one on display, and his feet were transmetal. Most obviously though, he wore a Cybertronian style helmet, and his eyes were replaced by optics, which glowed in a muted orange. The rest of his face was fully human, Chinese in enthnicity, bright and youthful yet weathered. "You've brought a friend today!" Dr. Hu observed. Luz discerned a hint of bemusement from him.

"Doctor Hu, this is Inspector Luz of the Prime City Police Department."

Luz extended her hand with a professional smile, and nodded as they shook. He looked curious about her, understandably. "Good to meet you," said Luz, "I'm just here with the Agent for some fact finding. I have a few questions related to a case, but I'm sure you'd rather.." she made a glance about the busy atrium.

"Oh, Yes of course," Dr. Hu said. He led them through the sliding doors to an inner hallway of the institute. Lightspeed had taken all her usual precautions for entering a new facility while on a mission. She'd noted all exits from the outside -- only a rear loading dock and a rooftop helipad in addtion to the main entrance. A surveillance slash comm relay unit was planted on another nearby building, facing the API's entrance -- Pyroclasm had gotten his flames under control just before entering its viewing range though, so no alarm bells as of yet. She'd searched public imagery, maps and architectural documents of the building -- Alas, there were no architectural docs to be found. All she had to go on for interior layout was blueprints of other pod buildings and her recollection of the place she'd gone to for her transmetal upgrade several years ago.

The hallway was short, and opened up to a circular indoor courtyard. This didn't match the layouts she had on file at all. A spiraling ramp and glass elevator could take you up to the fifteen floors of balconies looking down on them. The lower floors appeared to be set up as a medical facility. Above them was one floor of offices, and then the rest just had nondescript halls and doorways- presumably labs. Dr. Hu led them to a quiet corner off of the courtyard. "So," he said, "uh, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Well," said Inspector Luz, "Part of my job is to follow up on some of the stranger leads we get in Prime City. We had a major break-in last night, and then we got this tip that it was all about a vat of protomatter. Probably it's just another piece of noise, except we got a lot serial number, and it checks out and is registered here."

"Hm. What number?"

"It's on this warrant."

"Uh huh, I see. Well, right this way." Dr. Hu led them towards another short hallway. "I have to say, I don't see how our protomatter could have gotten to Prime City. We don't distribute, and Agent Mime here can tell you, our security is well above the standard."

Luz nodded, "I don't doubt it. I just have to see that the vat or tube or whatever is where it's supposed to be." They came to an elevator. It was big and metal, not glass, and Dr. Hu had to plug into a dataport to activate it. After a few nanoclicks it opened. The stepped in. It went down.

As it got underway, Dr. Hu turned to face both her and Agent Mime. She noted that his bearing was loosened up now, but he also looked a bit more serious. "So," he said, "This is.. awkward. I'm not very comfortable with 'intrigue', it's just a waste of thought energy, so." He paused. Mime's holographic face had a bit of a scowl on it now, and Luz was reacting by supressing any reaction. "I'm an exoskeletal design expert," he explained with a wave of his hand in front of him, "So Inspector, I know that's not your original armor casing, and I know it's probably meant as a disguise. Maybe you work undercover, I don't know, but I can tell your designed function is espionage and you're probably kind of wasted on this kind of police work."

"Doctor," Mime chimed in, "Did you have to tell her that, I am trying to confirm her true origin."

"Yeah, ok, " Dr. Hu tilted his head and smiled, "That's the other thing, Mime, I know you're only interested in this because you think she's in league with your mother."

Now Luz blinked. "His mother? And who would that be?"

"Please do not play dumb," Mime droned. He was turning a shade of red now.

Luz rolled her eyes. "If everyone knows, there's no harm saying a name."

Mime responded, "Glitch who while we are at it I know still has ties to this institute."

"And I'm connected to this bot I've never heard of before today, how?"

Mime glared. "Again do not play dum-- cancel." he looked at the doctor. "Actually it is possible she does not know."

"Oh." Dr. Hu took a pursed breath. "Awkward again. ..So.. again, exoskeleton expert, and yes, Ms. Glitch did help found this institute and she was one of my academic advisors, so I know, Inspector, that your body model is one of her early gray market designs."

The lift was at it's floor now. No one moved to exit. Luz was still calm, but critical. "So I'm automatically one of her minions?"

"Maybe," said Dr. Hu. He glanced at Mime "He probably thinks so. But Glitch would have custom built you, in secret, and, oh, more awkwaard, please tell me you know your spark origin?"

Luz crossed her arms. "She might also be my mother."

Dr. Hu smiled weakly. "Aand even if you truly don't know of her existence, she's been known to plant hidden software directives in her creations."

Luz gritted her teeth. Whether or not she'd had malicious code installed at the factory, she took the implication that she'd gone her whole life without ever detecting it as a professional insult. "I maintain a clean codebase, thank you." She she had to remind herself that she was still playing a Maximal, to stop from following up with a physical threat. She took a deep breath. "Any more personal revelations?"

"Uh," said Dr. Hu, "Not at the moment." Mime just stayed silent.

Luz took two more deep breaths. "Alright, give me a nanoclick. Compartmentalizing." She exhaled. "Okay. So. How about we go ahead and serve this warrant, so we can get to the bottom of this?"


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:08 am 

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Icarus and Pyroclasm made their way through a series of cramped maintenance areas and access hallways, steadily tracking Inspector Luz's signal. Any techs the two of them passed didn't bother to address them or request identification, a convenience borne of two great assumptions: No one but authorized personnel is supposed to be back here, so they must be authorized to be back here; and, authorized personnel who look like -that- are not to be screwed around with.

Pyroclasm bumped his head on another low pipe and grunted, rubbing it a little. His eyes narrowed upon his black metallic face suspended in open flames, as he looked down at the palm-held device Icarus was using to track Luz.

"She's gone down another elevator," he rumbled.

"We'll just have to find one that goes to the same level," Icarus replied. The muscular young mech pushed past another technician and started to descend tight, cramped access stairs.

"What's the rule on collateral damage?" Pyroclasm asked, heavy feet thudding and clanking on each riser as he followed the winged, chained Maximal.

"We find Lightspeed, kill her, and anyone who gets in the way will have an eternity to reflect on just how stupid it was to get involved. Use all force necessary."

"All right, but if I get going, we might wreck most of this place."

"So what?" Icarus snorted, his deeply ingrained cynical views seething through. "She'll be dead and we'll be gone, and Infinity can buy off or PR-spin any damage if we get traced. And it's just a bunch of protoforms and construction materials- as if the planet needs more Cybertronians. Come on. I want this bug squashed."

They pushed through an access door and began heading towards the atrium, ambling along at a slow pace, careful not to draw too much attention before everything went down.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:46 pm 
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Dr. Hu stepped out of the elevator. Luz followed, but Agent Mime stubbornly stayed put. "Unwise to grant security access to this bot," he said.

Luz crossed her arms. "Look, I'm just an officer trying to do my job. I know you don't trust me. I'm out of jurisdiction, I'm not a cop by function, and I may have ties to your nemesis, who's shaping up as a primary suspect. I wouldn't trust me either. I expect that HQ will have to consider taking me off this case after they get my next report. But right now all either of us has is coincidence and suspicion. Nothing goes any further without hard evidence."

After a moment, Mime stepped out. "I am watching you."

Doctor Hu led on. He explained that these sublevels were for sensitive research. Protomatter, exotic energies, and research with SICO-NS's (Semi-Intelligent Cybernetic Organisms - No Spark), among other things. As they passed the closed doors of a behavioral research lab, they heard a chorus of whoops from "Four Cylinder Howler Monkeys," as Dr. Hu called them. Next they entered a large industrial space. With giant closed vats, connected to numerous monitors, wires and ceiling pipes, it appeared to be a chemical plant of some kind. "We call this the Brewery," said the doctor, "This is where we cultivate our protomatter. Through the security doors to our left we have our filtering and containment stages."

"Why no extra security just to get in this area?" asked Luz.

"Well, at the cultivation stage, we're starting with just a mixture of nanites and raw materials, and ending with an unstable fluidic matrix. It doesn't transport well until we filter, condense and package it, which is why that area is secure, and our maturation and storage chamber is even more secure."

"That's where we're going?"

"Of course. Straight ahead."

They reached another security station, where Dr. Hu was greeted by name, had his credentials and biometrics scanned again, and signed in his two guests. The three walked through an energy barrier, and then a small blast door opened. They walked through into an airlock chamber. As the first door closed, Lightspeed's reception went down to 2-8%, which started to make her nervous. The second door opened, into a garage-sized chamber. Along the sides were floor to ceiling racks of pod-sized protoform containers, identical to the one Lightspeed and Prism had stolen except that each was connected to a small monitoring system. Another rack was in the center, with smaller canisters of protomatter. There was just enough space in between them to move the containers in and out one at a time. They entered, and the second door closed. Lightspeed's com systems got nothing but empty, deafening silence.

Dr. Hu had explained on the way in that the chamber had independent shielding and climate control systems, not only for security but for the health of the maturing protomatter. "Let's see, Lot six," he searched along the wall, "Serial.. thirteen, A twenty-two.. EL nine, here it is."

Luz and Mime walked over. Luz slipped behind Dr. Hu to his other side to get a closer look. It was a sarcophagus with blinking lights on it, just like all the others. "It hasn't been tampered with?"

"I don't think so. Or-- Hm.. the ampimetre gauge doesn't quite match the digital readout. I did bring a dipstick reader." The human reached over the top of the protomatter case and unscrewed a cap with his fingers. His hands and at least part of his arms, if one hadn't noticed yet, were robotic. Once uncapped, he retrieved from his person a long, thin metal rod and ran it into the protoform case. There was a wire at the base of the instrument. He connected the wire to his datapad.

He looked at his datapad. He looked at the monitor on the case. He looked back. "Son of a.."

"They don't match?" surmised Luz.

"Not at all. This is MPI-1020, standard mass produced.. well pardon me but it's swill compared to our stuff."

"MP," said Luz, "Manpower?"

"Yes."

Mime hologrammed a look of concern. "How could this have been accomplished?"

"Less than ten employees have access to this room."

Luz interrupted, "We'll need a list of those employees."

"Of course. I can also give you our contact for secure transport services. It's a Manpower company, I'm afraid."

"So they would have been able to prepare and send you the phony case."

"Yes, but past the loading dock, we take possession. And these data readouts never leave this area of the facility. Someone also needed to have deep protomatter expertise and know our mixture to fake the readings. This was a brand new mixture, too."

Mime reacted to this with a single word, "Glitch."

Dr. Hu shook his head. "Our communication with her is very limited. And you know very well she's locked in the Lunar Asylum."

"Hmph," Luz grinned just a bit, "You'd be shocked how much damage can be done with 'limited communication.' Hm, if I were you I'd be sure to hold on to all records of that communication. Meanwhile under this warrant we do need you to give us the com logs of any employees and contractors working with protomatter here, and your protomatter delivery and shipment logs. And of course this case and readout are now evidence."

Dr. Hu hesitated a moment. "Right. Certainly. We'll just need a day to.. Did you feel that?"

Mime nodded. "Affirmative low frequency vibration if this is anomalous it may represent a threat."

The lights went out and the door clicked once. Luz's onboard lights and Mime's holographic projector quickly provided new light sources. "Lockdown mode," Dr. Hu explained, "If there's a security breach, no one gets in or out of the vault."

The room shook again, more noticeably. Luz crouched down and touched one hand to the floor, just before another vibration. "It's coming from right outside." she got out her weapons: a standard blaster pistol in her left hand and an electrified baton in her right. A second baton was holstered in her left forearm.

"Coincidence?" said Mime.

"This might be my fault," Luz answered. She got into position against the wall to the right of the only door. "Can you shield the doctor?"

"I can do better," said Mime. He placed himself in front of Dr. Hu, and then they both disappeared.

"Alright.. What if I need backup?"

No response.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:56 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:28 pm
Posts: 97
Icarus and Pyroclasm stopped in front of the vault door. The guards were down, the electric barrier circumvented, and now they were facing the blast door. Icarus scowled at it. As strong as he was, it was designed to withstand a Cybertronian's blows. But not the kind of heat Pyroclasm could generate.

"Melt this thing right off the hinges," he gestured, and the huge and bulky mech stepped forward. He started to slam his fists into the blast door, denting it only slightly and causing it to shudder in place. The metal face silhouette suspended in Pyroclasm's neck of living flame smirked, and he took hold of the edges of the door, digging his fingers in deep. Jets of steam hissed from his shoulders, white-hot coils glowed deep within his torso, and he started to pour volcanic heat into the door. It grew red soft around his fingers, and he kicked the blast door inward, tearing it from its hinges with a ear-piercing shriek of rending metal.

Inside the vault, Luz winced as she heard the door crash down. They were in the airlock now.

Pyroclasm walked to the second door, his metal face now smiling. He did enjoy this part of the job. No more wetwork, no more low profile. Smash, grab, and kill. He started to hammer his smoking-hot fists into the second door, pummeling the thick metal plates, while Icarus checked his weaponry. An auto-fire pistol and a silenced pump-action shotgun. He drew the pistol first, keeping it leveled on the door, just before Pyroclasm melted the hinges and kicked it down. They stepped into the protoform chamber and Icarus cocked his auto-pistol.

"Lightspeed! Come out here, now!" he called.


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 Post subject: Re: A Long Awaited Proposal
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:55 am 
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Inspector Luz was standing upside down on the ceiling, straight above Icarus, with her pistol aimed at his head. They didn't see her yet, and she had a perfect angle to shoot into the flamethrower's neck hole (presumably his weak spot, though a projectile weapon would be better here than a plasma blaster) whilst dropping into a scissor hold on the brawler. Alas, her cover came with strict regulations against sneak attacks, and instructed that she target the suspect with a drawn weapon first, even if she knew the other guy was the bigger ranged threat. She could plot other opening moves around those constraints, but giving the enemy the chance to react drew a larger contingency tree. In the meantime, she had to start with standard operating procedure.

"Police!" she announced, "Disarm your weapons, you're under arrest."


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