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2018-05-20 Outliers Can Break

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2018-05-20 Outliers Can Break
Date 2018/05/20
Location Lost Light- Mess Hall
Participants Hound, Trailbreaker
Summary Hound checks in on Trailbreaker, who has some bad news.

While energon is available at various dispensaries around the ship, the Mess Hall serves as a hub for special events that involve consumables prepared beyond the standard grade beverage. It's a wide room, one third of it serving as the kitchen. The brassy counters are stocked with pots, pans, blades, whisks, scoops, and many other odd tools used in the creative preparation of the volatile energy source. A massive, high tech oven can be seen beyond the serving counter.

Rows of steel blue tables take up the rest of the room, with modular seats that can be stowed in the panels of the floor. The centerpieces are random, usually someone's donated craft, or various otherworldly flowers from the botany lab.

The kitchen is open to anyone willing to cook, with energon provided by the storage team.


It's been a long week, for everyone on the ship. Quite possibly it's been a long week for everyone in the Universe. Whatever the case is, Hound knows it's been a long and trying one for him, even with the sudden additional help in the form of Fritz now acting as his secretary. But it's over. Unicron is... well. Not destroyed, but certainly pacified. Quelled. The immediate threat is gone. And while there's sure to be more of them in the future (the Galactic Council and the Quintessons are surely going to be an issue sooner or later), for now the ship as a whole has some space to calm down, to celebrate and to mourn, to recover.

And there's one particular recovering member of the crew that Hound is hunting for now. He'd heard about the incident, but he hasn't had a moment to spare until now to search out the crew member in question. So the moment he sees Trailbreaker come into the mess hall, Hound is on his feet, energon forgotten on the table, making his hurried way over to the slightly larger black 'former. "Trailbreaker!" he calls out as he comes closer.

Trailbreaker does not have a tall glass of Enjex in front of him, or a bottle, or anything like that. He's poking idly at a few cubes of solidified Energon, sometimes stopping to type something into a datapad. Recently released from the medibay, and gratefully so, he's been given strict instructions. Take it easy, be kind to your tanks for the love of Primus, come in for regular check-ins every day, and stay off the battlefield for now. All of which would be fine for him.

He's also been given a whole lot of bad news at once.

But he still manages a grin, a tired-looking one, when Hound arrives. "Hey! C'mon over! How ya been? How were the celebrations?" He laughs a little. "Can't believe I missed 'em just cuz I was laid up. Go figure, right?"

Hound's response is a brief smile, though it's not as enthusiastic as it might have been, as his optics trail over Trailbreaker's frame, the energon in front of him, the datapad. He pats Trailbreaker's shoulder with one hand, squeezes. "I'd heard you were in the medibay," he says, "but I'm glad you're up and about again." He grabs one of the seats at Trailbreaker's own table, leaning his forearms against it. "I missed the celebrations myself," he admits. "Too much to take care of." And honestly, in the wake of some of the news, he'd felt a little bit guilty about jumping into it with abandon. "How're you doing? Better?"

"Uh, that depends on your definition of 'better?' The good news is, I'm back on my feet, obviously. Stopped feeling like I'm cooking from the inside out, though I still need a few more coolant treatments. I'm less nauseous, which is good cuz Fireflight's been bringin' me sweets and stuff." Trailbreaker can't help that blush slipping through his cheekplates. "The bad news is, uh, I can't drink for a week. As in drink-drink. No overcharging myself cuz it stresses my frame and blah blah. But just a week, right?" He immediately feels a little awkward blurting that out, knowing how Hound seems to worry about his drinking. "And also..."

His hands flex open and closed. The smile fades. "...How much have ya heard."

It's good to hear as much as it is worrying, and the interplay of those two emotions is obvious in Hound's expression, the set of his shoulders, the angling of his audial panels. "Glad you're on the mend," he says, "and that Fireflight's been visiting you. Wish I could've come down sooner." And the regret there is genuine, even though he stops himself from reaching out to give Trailbreaker a pat on the shoulder again. Instead, he curls his hands into fists on the table, tucking his claws away. His expression takes a turn for the solemn. "About your injuries? I know how they happened but Ratchet doesn't share the specifics with me."

"Aw, you're busy, mech. Been workin' real hard. I'm, uh, I'm proud of you," Trailbreaker says quietly, certainly not so he can avoid talking about his problem. "You've come real far, ya know?" And silently he wishes he could keep up.

He leans forward, resting his chin on one of his hands as he holds the other out, turning it palm-up for Hound to see. The broken lenses have been plated over with a circle of raised metal, still showing signs of the burnt, bubbling paint surrounding them. "I overloaded it. I burned it out. I...it isn't working anymore, Hound. They don't know if it ever will..."

It's a dodge, but nevertheless an effective one, making Hound duck his helm as his audial panels twitch. "I've been doing my best," he says with a half-shrug. "I'm just glad things came out... as well as they did." It seems wrong to say they came out fine, but compared to the Cybertronian war, this is... well. If only they'd known sooner, if only the Knights had been able to fix this problem long ago, when Unicron had first rampaged. But the threat is gone.

The reveal of Trailbreaker's hands, however, is enough to completely break Hound away from thoughts of Unicron and the battle. He hisses in sympathy as he looks at the metal coating and the remnant burns. "Oh, 'Breaker, that's... I'm sorry."

Trailbreaker shakes his head, quietly pushing his uneaten food away. "It feels selfish to be mopin' about it when heroes lost their lives. People I knew, too." He's gonna be pouring one out for Rodimus and company soon as he's allowed near Enjex again. "And cared about. But I guess in some ways, it's kinda funny? Like Shockwave used to speculate that Outlier abilities could change and strengthen or weaken over time, and warn me that overuse could deplete me. But I doubt he knew about this. You can just...up and break it! Ha, could just write an old, super-overdue term paper on that, huh..." The laugh sounds bitter and joyless.

He goes quiet. "Hound. I'm the forcefield guy. What am I gonna do now?"

Hound finds himself wincing, his hands tightening, briefly. He can't hold them in fists for too long, conscious of the marks his claws might leave on his hands if he does, but unsure what else to do at the moment in reaction to the defeated laugh coming out of Trailbreaker. "'Breaker, you're not..." he starts to say, then cuts himself off, reconsidering that. "You're not just the forcefield guy," he amends. "And you've still got plenty of recovery time ahead of you."

"...I know. It's a little hard not to panic," Trailbreaker admits. "It's like it's something I've had with me all my life, something I knew I could do if I needed it, and sometimes I resented it. A lot, in fact. Bein' an outlier's...weird." That sums it up, doesn't it? "But it was-it is part of who I am. So the idea of havin' to adjust to a new normal, I guess...well, I've never been the most adaptable, I guess." He subconsicously rubs a finger over his palm, then looks up at Hound and remembers the audial panels.

"Aw slag, Hound, I shouldn't be ventin' this to you. Not after what you've been through..."

"Huh?" Hound blinks in confusion, his audials twitching, then realizes what Trailbreaker must mean with a start. His expression breaks out into a wry smile. "Oh. Naw, 'Breaker, it's... I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anyone else. I'm glad it won't." His shoulders hunch, briefly, before he forces them to even out again. "But you're not kicking me when I'm down, or anything. It was a lot to get used to, sure, but it'd be hard for me if my nose stopped working, too." He grimaces a little just imagining it. It'd feel like being blind, and just the thought is uncomfortable.

"...If your nose stopped working, you might sound all stuffy like when your vents are clogged. 'Hi, I'b Howd, Auddobot Cobbad.'" Despite himself, Trailbreaker finds himself laughing at his own joke. It doesn't last, but it briefly takes his mind off his own misfortunes. "Uh, see, cuz that's how organics sound when somethin's wrong with their noses and uh, anyway." He resets his vocalizer. "I feel kind of...defenseless. And helpless. I protect people, ya know? How do I do that without this? I'm not fast..."

The wry smile turns more genuine, as Hound makes a snort of genuine laughter himself. "It'd be just my luck to be the first cybertronian to ever catch a cold, wouldn't it?" He says, shaking his helm, but letting the moment pass as Trailbreaker does. This time, his arms end up crossed as he leans against them and the table, his optics dropping toward Trailbreaker's cracked palms. "I can't say you shouldn't feel vulnerable without them, but it doesn't all have to be about fighting, 'Breaker," he says.

At Hound's words, Trailbreaker falls quiet, looking back down at his hands again. "...Guess I tend to forget that after all this war. Me, the so-called pacifist." His heavy shoulders shrug. "I mean, I might have to, ya know, retire from the battlefield. Okay, 'retire' is a heavy word. I can still use a stun gun or non-lethal charges for sure. Thought about getting leg guns for that purpose one time, actually. But I mean, maybe this is a wake-up call? Like I should be doing somethin' different...what do you think?"

"Well, you know me," Hound shrugs. "I don't mind the chance to not fight any more, Autobot or not. If you think you can do that, there's nothing wrong with it. If you still want to defend people on the battlefield, you can do that too." Hound pauses, then his audials perk up. "Or... hey, you remember that job I was talking about last time?"

Last time, last time. Trailbreaker was sober last time, right? Yes. Hound seems to distract him from drinking a lot, mysteriously enough. "It was...diplomacy, right?" His visor-shaded optics widen and he does a double-take at Hound. "Wait, me? A diplomat? You were serious 'bout that?" He sounds rather shocked, but not...negative.

"I sure wasn't joking," Hound responds, leaning forward. His optics are lit up now, and he's grinning, pleased with himself for having come up with a response. "You'd have to work toward it, but you've still been doing the whole ethics committee thing, and if we're going to deal with the Council and the Quintessons, we're going to need someone talking for the ship and for Cybertron. Someone who's not Starscream, anyway." he makes a face. "And it's still protecting people, so it's the kind of thing you want to do, right?"

"Well if it's me or Starscream, slag, sign me up yesterday." Trailbreaker tries to see the best in everyone, but goodness. "I just, uh. Heh, right when I need liquid courage and I can't have it, right? And I mean, workin' towards it is better than sitting around moping about myself, which is what I'm sure I'm gonna keep doing. Rodimus...wouldn't want that." He'd want Teebs to go and try to be his best self, right? The person Fireflight thinks he is. The person Hound seems to think he's capable of being.

"...You got books on it in the library?"

"I don't think you need a drink to do this," Hound says, then catches himself, glancing briefly down at the table. "I mean. Sure, it's not easy. Some days I look around and wonder when everyone decided I was someone worth listening to. But they're listening, so I should do right by them, right? And it's worth it, to do what I can. And I know you can do that too. Rodimus was good at that sort of thing." That's why they're all here, isn't it?

Hound brightens more, when Trailbreaker asks that, then pauses. "Uh. I don't actually know. I never really looked... I'm not all book smart. But that means you'll give it a shot?"

"You're too modest, Hound. You got that natural confidence and aura that makes people wanna trust you. And you got that positivity. How'm I supposed to mope around if you're here makin' so much sense and being such a great friend?" Trailbreaker finally smiles again, for real this time, and stretches. "But I mean, I guess between us I am more of the nerd, ain't I. I just wanna make sure I'm doing it right, maybe read up on how it's done. Our species has to have had some positive diplomatic relations in the past, right? With someone, ever?" He rubs the bridge of his nose. "Talking to aliens might be fun..."

"I do my best to be a good friend," Hound says, smiling awkwardly but genuinely. "Not that it isn't fun, but you're welcome to have it. Last time I tried I ended up in jail," Hound says, shaking his helm. It was mostly the Quintessons' fault, to be fair, but still. He also bit Soundwave. It was far from one of his best moments. "I'll just visit their planets to explore." He sits back, finally, relaxing his arms. "Tell you what, I can ask Fritz to look it up for you and send some recommendations over, does that sound any good?" He feels a brief pang of regret, that the one he'd usually recommend talking to isn't there any more-- Lieutenant is another casualty of the end, here, another place where their efforts failed. After a moment, he brushes it aside.

"Eh, wouldn't be my first time in trouble. Did I ever tell ya about the time Windcharger and I tried to throw a party on the roof of the Academy? Eh, for another time." Trailbreaker realizes he's rubbing his palm with his finger digit again, and makes himself stop. Going to be hard to keep from doing that. It feels wrong. "Would ya...do that for me? Thanks, Hound. You are a good friend." He smiles over at Hound and pulls his tray back up, though it's hard to say if he has any intention of eating any of it.

"Course I would," Hound says, nodding. Doesn't say that if there's anything he can do in the wake of Trailbreaker's injury to help him, he wants to do it, to distract him from the loss. "But c'mon, what's this about a party? We've both got the time for it." Hound taps the edge of the claw. "You can tell me while you're finishing your energon, and then I'll let you get your rest." And get back to work himself.

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