2018-06-06 Cranky

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Date 2018/06/06
Location Cybertron
Participants Minimus Ambus, Penchant, Rodimus, Soundwave
Summary Everyone in this scene is a cranky baby except Penchant.

Excited questioning had been suspended when Tempo's tunnels began to rattle with distant, vague tremors. A sign to shut up and move onward, further from the surface. The path had widened to reveal some sizable reinforced doors, and the Autobots peering through a small window were only a LITTLE wary of Soundwave's recognizable frame.

It's dim within the makeshift refugee chamber, and the ceilings are low, low enough to make Chimera and Soundwave stoop. The survivors tuck away in their own corners, eying their visitors briefly before turning back to what must be escape plans. Rigardians pass through with weaponry and crates and disappear down different tunnels. It's all very hectic and cramped.

Luckily for everyone that Rodimus doesn't take up much space. He has not ceased in his attempts to wiggle free, and his expression -- bright and laughing when he first spotted Minimus -- has swiftly soured in the face of the frustrations of communications. He gives one last mighty heave in an attempt to break free of Minimus's hold.

Soundwave is not a fan of stooping- especially not with being so top heavy now with his chest all full of cassettes. So he's found a spot to sit in, in the corner of the Autobots that took them in. He's turned away from them as much as possible without facing the wall. The glow of his visor is hazy as he focuses on listening for Turmoil or any of his troops.

He's ignored the shaping protoform the others brought along. Occasionally, Soundwave will catch himself glowering at it and then quickly look away to some corner. Back to ignoring, keeping his abilities trained for the sounds of Decepticons.

The adventures of Minimus and the cranky, wiggly, wriggly Rodimus have consisted largely in a lot of of running commentary from the former to the latter about his attitude, deportment, and general impossibility. The lecture is probably as familiar to the juvenile sized Rodimus as the warmth that backs it, but it also hasn't done anything to improve Soundwave's mood.

"Really, what would you _do_ if I put you down?" Minimus asks, hoisting him back up to eye level. He holds him in the brace of both hands, feet dangling but eye to eye. "Will you give me your parole and agree not to go running off like a speeding fugitive?"

"Soundwave!" Penchant kicks Soundwave's shin with zero fear of retribution. He gestures over at Minimus, emphatically. "It's Rodimus! Hello? Our captain?" Then, he turns and balls his fists in buzzing elation. "I've never seen the metal take form before. How long do you think it'll take?" he asks Minimus.

Rodimus rolls his head on his stubby little neck in an exaggerated sort of silent sigh and then shrugs at Minimus as best he can. If it's agreement -- and it is -- then it's grudging. His eyes narrow, though, and he winds back a foot in a threat to kick that he doesn't actually go through with. He looks over at Penchant, then Soundwave, with a simmer of frustration live and snapping in his gaze.

Soundwave's head snaps to Penchant, engine rising to a growl. The kick doesn't actually do much so, with fierce warning in his visor, he looks back to the spot he was looking at before. His fists tighten whenever the thing is called 'Rodimus'. Otherwise, the protoform remains ignored.

Minimus Ambus very carefully, tentatively sets Rodimus down on his feet. He doesn't immediately let go, bending down with his fingers curled like warm shackles around the small frame, but then he says, "All right. I trust you," and stands up to brace his hands at his hips and frown.

"I was the _younger_ Ambus," he tells Penchant in a tone of mild exasperation. Does he look like he knows how childhood works.

Penchant looks hurt, then confused... then angry, and finally dismissive when he abandons Soundwave with a wave. Okay, fine, he's in denial. "You have a brother?" he asks Minimus, brow quirking beneath the brim of his helm.

"Alright Rod, I'm going to take a peek in your head, so you can communicate until your, uh, vocalizer forms?" Penchant sits on his knees and focuses on Rodimus' bright optics.

When released, Rodimus wobbles only a moment before his stance firms. His feet, fortunately, are quite broad and a good and steady base for his lopsided self, even with that oversized spoiler. Seriously, did it get bigger? He looks back at Minimus and bonks his head against his knee before turning to face Penchant with relief. He waddles closer with obvious eagerness on his flip-flap-floppy feet.

"Penchant," Soundwave says sharply. He leers at the cassette from where he sits, disapproving. "That is enough." He ticks his head, a silent instruction for the cassette to return to his side. Away from the protoform.

"You have no authority to give anyone orders," Minimus states flatly. "You resigned. Penchant, by all means."

Penchant jerks from the sharpness of it all, along with Howlback and Frenzy who linger nearby. Soundwave is serious. And also kinda' the authority, so Penchant almost gets up, until Minimus reminds him of the resignation. Oh right. His nervous smile fades when he returns his focus to Rodimus. "If I can't prove it's him, I'll leave it be," he promises Soundwave. The abstract tendril of thought breaks across the fringes of Rodimus' mind and curls inward, searching for words in particular.

<< "About fucking time," >> Rodimus says, his cross snarl evaporating in an effervescent relief. COMMUNICATION. A very tiny bean with a very large frown, he asks, << "What the hell happened?" >> What he really means, though: is this my Cybertron? Are these my people? Where am I?

"I'm not ordering Penchant as an officer," Soundwave says with the distinct impression that he's speaking through gritted teeth. But with that mask, its impossible to confirm for sure. "I am ordering as his deployer. You are entertaining nonsense. Both of you. That is not-- It's enough. Penchant, return."

It would be a lie to say that Minimus speaks with absolute certainty when he says, "I believe it is him. You retrieved the Matrix yourself." He lifts his chin in a surly defiance, glowering at Soundwave. "I will not be accused of nonsense by Megatron's _willing patsy_." He sneers the last emphasis with all the salt in the world. Rod must be so glad he's back.

Penchant's features brighten fiercely when Rodimus curses right into his mind. It's him. Definitely him. "He asked what happened," he relays, cautiously. Then Soundwave buckles down, and Penchant's happy expression levels out when he turns to peer over his shoulder. "I-I wouldn't go that far, Minimus. We're on the same side here...! Heh..."

"Megatron took New Iacon. And, well, Tempo. We're in Tempo right now, underground," he tells Rodimus. "Soundwave and Minimus returned to save some crewmates that got left behind as they were fleeing."

Rodimus looks grateful, so far as he can, his expressiveness muted by his half-formed face. Even the points of his helm are only suggestions at this point, and he still lacks a mouth. But. Grateful, as he looks back at Minimus, when he vouches for him. His expression gentles, frown easing. Then: willing patsy. Megatron took New Iacon. And Soundwave refuses to -- just refuses. Everything.

With a great lack of dignity, Rodimus waddles over to Soundwave and stares up at him in a silent challenge. His thoughts, so far as Penchant can sense, whirl in a general what the fuck that's not quite formed into anything directed. He is waiting for Soundwave to listen now, for Soundwave to listen and to explain.

"He says what the scrap," Penchant quickly informs. And censors.

Rodimus glares back at Penchant for this edit.

Soundwave bristles. "I did retrieve it. And when I found that trinket I found Rodimus's ashes with it." He looks ready to launch into more but the fire is snuffed quickly. He looks over Minimus and then away.

To the protoform that's waddled it's way over to him.

Soundwave stares. "Waste your time on this protoform, I do not care. But I heard Rodimus die- so do not tell me that thing is him." His stare turns frosty glare.

Minimus's fists clench, his jaw hardening. For a moment he is a brilliantly loud point of silent outrage on the telepathic / systems auditory horizon, like an extremely small sun.

Then he seems almost to cut in a few filter circuits. Self-control was always something he worked on. His voice altogether mild, he says, "It's almost pitiable, how much and how _frequently_ you have chosen to be wrong." With almost no variance in his intonation, he says: "If you call him a thing again, I will lay you out flat."

Oh boy. Penchant gets back to his feet. "Minimus, a little mercy here. Soundwave's... Uhm..." He looks back to Soundwave, pleading with his pained stare. "Humor us. Okay, wrong word. Indulge? Please. Or see for yourself. He's trying to talk to you. Come on."

Rodimus struggles -- visibly, audibly to those able to hear (and listening) -- with the harshness of Soundwave's response. It takes a lot for him to remain there even a moment longer, and his look back to Minimus -- to his certainty, his solid, staunch support -- shows a wavering that otherwise doesn't make it to the level of his body language. But -- he remains. Just that single moment, looking up at Soundwave.

Soundwave's engine growls again, optics rising just enough to look at Minimus. But his gaze slides to Penchant. To whom he owes a great deal. He vents tersely.

"I will indulge you briefly." Soundwave shifts on the ground so he is facing the protoform. He can hear it's sentio metallico moving, parts cooling as internal mechanisms solidify. His fingers curl but he looks at the little being's optics for the first time yet.

"Mercy? No." Minimus folds his arms over his chest. "Not from me. He can seek it from Rodimus. He's better at it."

Penchant vents a sigh and rubs his brow. Then, to Rodimus, "After you... died, Soundwave joined Megatron. I went with him. I, uh, had a plan. But as you can see, things unraveled a little. Oh, and Starscream is on the Lost Light. Don't worry, Ignition has prevented him from taking over the crew."

Rodimus files an outraged mental note on all of those points that Penchant mentions, but focuses here and now on Soundwave.

While Minimus might be over there talking up his mercy, the first thing that Rodimus does is perhaps cruel. The last thing that Soundwave heard from Rodimus was, << "--please," >> and he hears it now again. Please, listen to him. Please, see him. He meets Soundwave's visored stare, and searches them for recognition, because all he can see in the reflection is nothing that he identifies with: small little round grub-bean. Gross.

Soundwave peers into the little bean, listening intently. And--

Soundwave rears back as if in pain, scrambling up and forgetting how low the ceiling is. He bashes his head against it with a low bleat from his vocoder. Hnn. Soundwave crouches, holding his head. His fingers dig in deep.

His shoulder cannon onlines to point at the protoform. "This is a trick! That thing was created by Shockwave- something Megatron can torture me- us- with. I can't let this pain us further."

Minimus Ambus surges forward with startling speed. He immediately puts his body between Soundwave and Rodimus, blocking with a fierce intensity in his blazing scarlet eyes. He says, "I already warned you once," in a voice with the depth and growling certainty vibrating from his reinforced core outward. "One more move and I take you offline."

Penchant quickly decides that NOPE he doesn't want to be right here in this spot and Rodimus probably shouldn't be there either, so he tries to hoist Rodimus into his arms and wow this metal stuff is super heavy. He darts off to the side and flattens against the wall beside some crates - and now their fellow good guys are getting all spooked.

With Soundwave's cannon suddenly aimed at his significantly undersized face, Rodimus reacts about as you'd predict: a moment's frozen surprise, followed by a sense of DEEP exasperation before he surges forward to headbutt Soundwave's knee--

Only to hit Minimus's back, instead, and then be hauled off to the side by Penchant. There's a muted hum from his throat, suggesting a frustration-fueled acceleration of the formation of his voccalizer, and a dimpling of metal as the rest of his features begin to form. Probably so he can yell.

"That isn't Rodimus!" Soundwave shouts at Minimus as he thrusts a finger at the shaping protoform. "Rodimus is dead. That thing is a hapless spark you your thrusting your own desires on. It might not even be a proper spark. Just sent to hurt us." Soundwave shakes his head, one hand rubbing along his brim. "Maybe you can take hope being taken from you, but I cannot, Minimus. I cannot afford..."

Soundwave sighs, hand dragging down to hold his face. "And you don't get it. I heard him die- I heard his spark song just go silent. That thing can't be him. So I would appreciate it... If you wouldn't call it Rodimus any longer."

<FS3> Minimus_Ambus rolls Willpower: Failure. (4 4 5)
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Minimus Ambus=unarmed Vs Soundwave=unarmed
<       Minimus_ambus: Great Success (4 7 2 6 3 6 3 4 7 8 7 4)          Soundwave: Amazing Success (5 7 8 1 7 1 6 7 8 5 7 6)
<               Net Result: Soundwave wins - Solid Victory

Minimus Ambus hauls Soundwave up out of his seat with the wrench of his arm, snarling in vicious outrage, “That’s three more times you’ve called him a _thing_, you--” in the midst of his forward motion. The seat itself flips and crunches against the wall as he smashes forward, slamming both hands into Soundwave’s chest and upper shoulder. The bulk of Soundwave’s frame is difficult for him to handle, however, and while momentum bears them both back away from Penchant and the precious protoform he defends, and in his medium frame armor, he lacks the ready access to the unutrium skeleton that permitted him to so easily dominate their last fight.

Penchant looks woefully conflicted, and his grasp tightens around Rodimus as if he were a comfort bean. Some learned instinct prods him to go and back Soundwave up, buuut. Minimus is a Phase Sixer now, he's pretty damn sure that happened. When Rodimus starts humming, Pench sets him down and gives him a little space. "What? What're you... Is something wrong?" Obviously everything is wrong.

Rodimus is not a comfort bean. He thrashes, paddle-like arms pushing at Penchant at he tries desperately to get between Minimus and Soundwave. The hum rises, breaks into voice with the split of metal: Rodimus's voccalizer produces a sound resonant with layered tones -- his own voice, yes, but also not, rounded, almost a chorus -- as he bursts right past any calibration. He cries, "Stop!"

Baby's first word: knock it the fuck off.

Soundwave's feet slide against the ground, sparks flying from the cloven tips as Minimus initally pushes him back. But he grinds his heels in to come to a stop. His engine snarls from the assault and he retaliates. He grabs Minimus to physically throw him back and away. Armor flares, cannon warming.

But he freezes. He... Stops. The light in his visor flickers before he looks over at Penchant. But that wasn't Penchant. His optics slip down to rest upon those bright, blue saucers. Matrix blue, really. He doesn't say anything. He just stays there, frozen. Watching. Waiting.

Minimus wrenches and thrashes against Soundwave’s grip in more of a spastic flail than a concerted attempt to break his hold. There’s the beginning creaking scream as a small rip begins in one of the seams of his armor--

He stops when Soundwave does. His lip curls back from his teeth in the frozen rictus of a snarl for a beat.

He rasps from within the containment of the grapple, “Technically I don’t think you get to give orders either, Rodimus.”

_Technically_, some things never change.

Penchant slumps against the nearby crate. Maybe Rodimus can smooth this out. Hopefully soon, because the surrounding mechs have begun to pick up their weapons, albeit very nervously.

As Penchant slumps, Rodimus peels away and steps forward. He holds Soundwave's gaze as he advance, that very familiar blue narrowing now, before he steadies himself with a careful cycle of his yet-incomplete ventilation systems. It's a little high and wheezy.

"Resigning was stupid, anyway," Rodimus tells Minimus as he pushes him back with a blunted limb. "Stand down, both of you." He certainly acts like he gets to give orders. His voice steadies, falling into a familiar register.

He hesitates a moment, then looks back over to Soundwave. It's still a pretty sharp angle upward, but it's notably closer than it was when they first settled down. Growth spurt. "You might be right. Maybe I'm not who I think I am. Maybe I am a trick. A tool. A weapon. I can't think of anyone who would be able to tell more than you. And if I am--." He breaks off. Well, enough said. Everyone probably knows how Rodimus would finish that sentence if he was any kind of good fake. "But maybe you're wrong, and maybe this one time -- just this once. We get to have this."

Soundwave's visor narrows but the pause in combat has brought him some clarity. The clarity to remember he wanted Minimus along and that fighting among themselves is stupid. With a soft huff, he sets Minimus back down. His optics never leave the protoform.

"It doesn't work like that," he says. Not for him, anyways. He's Soundwave and according to recent history, he doesn't get to have anything. "But are you willing to prove you aren't a weapon, then? I'll give you a chance to reconsider that." No holding back for the baby.

Minimus shrugs and shakes himself all over, like a hedgehog rattling its quills after finally escaping from being trapped inside a woollen mitten. “Of course he’s willing to prove it,” he snap-grumbles. “He’s Rodimus and you just made a dare, you towering hypocrite.”

"It's not a- He's not a weapon! Look at him!" Penchant gestures broadly, as their Autobuddies and Rigardians start to collect their belongings and disperse down the halls. Probably because the distant tremors were growing a little a louder, a little lengthier. The rust and grime from the low ceiling dislodges with a subtle rattle.

Rodimus points a finger at Minimus. Or -- well, he waggles a paddle in his direction. Fingers in a couple of hours, maybe. How dare he say something so completely accurate??

"Weapons come in funny packages, Pench." Rodimus spreads said arms. He is a funny package. Then he looks back at Soundwave, his first sharp retort traded for something gentler, but more vulnerable: "I need to know, too. Please."

Soundwave moves forward before stooping before before the protoform. "You are shifting and changing, the vibrations of your particles, and now your voice-- It is difficult to hear. I need to be closer. You can fake memories. Personality." He reaches to pick the protoform up- with ease, mind you- and press its soft, warm metal to his audio. "But nothing could replicate his spark." He listens intently.

Minimus stands very stiff and very tense as Soundwave does this, because Soundwave was literally just threatening to shoot the protoRod a minute or so ago, but he doesn’t actually move to interfere.

Penchant sidles across the wall to stake out behind Chimera's snoozing form. Now they're all alone in this lonely, dim chamber.

Rodimus shows no sign of tension, unlike Minimus. He's either who he thinks he is, or he's dead as soon as Soundwave decides. He trusts him enough to believe him -- or at least, enough to risk it. There's a thin thread of wary uncertainty that this is actually his universe. Megatron's in charge, Soundwave's his lackey again -- maybe he just got shunted over into another dimension? Weirder things have happened. Regularly!

His spark is newborn bright, newborn powerful, as it thrums in the heart of his pint-sized frame. It is the same song. It's a new verse, perhaps: no spark is the same from one moment to the next, always shaped by experience, and he's had quite the experience. But that sense of determined hope, of forceful optimism, is 100% Rodimus.

It's a song so familiar, Soundwave could sing it, knowing every note by heart. His own spark yearns to memorize this new verse.

His grip on the protoform tightens and it looks like he's going going to squeeze. But instead, his hands shift to better support and craddle the little protoform. They should probably go and follow their allies but he finds his legs just aren't responding. He just sits there and holds the shaping bean.

It's not possible. Impossible, in fact. He's dead, he should be dead. But... He's here. Soundwave can't just ignore what he hears, not anymore. Even if it can hurt. Besides, if there's one person who can defy the odds, its-

"Rodimus," Soundwave says quietly, hoarsely. "You are Rodimus."

Minimus can’t decide if he’s going to be relieved or infuriated by the confirmation. Of course it’s Rodimus, Penchant already confirmed it was Rodimus. He’s certainly relieved that Soundwave isn’t going to try to murder him anymore, so he settles on that, and grumbles with a cranky shifting of his weight and an aligning bristle of his scorched and broken plating, “And you owe him an _apology_.”

"Whew," Penchant says, hopefully loud enough to lighten the mood. "Yeah, see? Can we finally act like this is a really great thing? Now, what are we going to do about our crappy situation? We're pinned down here until we secure another shuttle."

"See? Told you," Rodimus says like he was 100% convinced and had no doubt at all. But it's easy enough for even Minimus to read the lie in the slump of his frame. A crackle of laughter answers Minimus's demand for an apology, and then he just settles in to snooze while the others make their plans. He and Chimera have been going for a while. She already got her nap. Now it's his turn.

Soundwave looks at his handful of snoozing Rodimus, then to Minimus. "Another time. We must make haste." He stands, holding Rodimus close to his chassis. With all the bodies in there, it's nice and toasty. Neither Chim nor Mini will be getting Rodibean anytime soon.

"We can discuss further escape plans once we are in a more secure, temporary hiding spot. Come on, we are behind the Autobots and Rigardians." Attention mostly on Rodimus, he marches out the exit everyone else went through, taking the protoRod with him.

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