2015-08-26 Disappearing Act

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Disappearing Act
Date 2015/08/25
Location Hedonia
Participants Arcee, Brainstorm, Pipes, Tailgate, Ultra Magnus
NPCs Schockdrop, Crankcase, Fulcrum, Krok, Misfire, Spinister
Plot Hedonia
Scene GM Mia, Tez
Summary A guy in a track suit, a mad scientist, pink Beatrix Kiddo, and Verity Carlos with a baby walk in to a bar...and find their search for the Circle of Light rudely interrupted by some unexpected company

Ah, Hedonia. A peaceful planet with a thriving, multi-cultural tourism trade, highlights include The Lube Pits, the Simultronic Suites, and the Temple of the Raging Prism. Hedonia is galactically noted as /the/ place for shore leave.

Too bad the Lost Light isn't here on shore leave. The Lost Light comes in (eventual) pursuit of Ignition and her team of Circle of Light-kidnapping drones. Sure, they were a little delayed by a planet full of crazy organics that wanted to rip out their sparks and crush them, but that's just life on the Lost Light!

So here they are. But Ignition's ship is nowhere to be found. Rodimus dispatches Ultra Magnus and a carefully selected team (possibly chosen by throwing darts at a list of names) to go find out what the deal is. Has she been here and gone again? What? What's the story? Go be busy while he gets ready for some ... purchases.

It's sad but true that Hedonia has a reputation for saving the best spots for organics only, which means holomatter avatars for blending in with the local populace. Thanks to Rung and Brainstorm, the programs have been improved, but Brainstorm is along for debugging in the field. So here they are. After a hard day of searching. They've found nothing. No trace. It seems that the Lost Light made good time, beating Ignition to the planet -- or perhaps she was never headed here at all. It's with this in mind that they stop to refuel and compare notes at a local bar.

The first thing Ultra Magnus does on arriving at the bar that radio contact has established as their rendezvous point is check all the fire exits and speak to the proprietor in all seriousness about his emergency preparedness plans. It's at the closure of a long day's canvas that has found, perhaps, less imposing seriousness from his holomatter avatar than might be expected from someone used to the Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord.

As she walks past the bar with its populace of random organic aliens from the direction of the nearest of the fire exits, the image of Verity Carlo absently twists the bangles at her wrists. Her eyebrows are frowning as she claims a seat. "The premises appear to be health and safety compliant," she says by way of greeting.

"Yeah, this is a really nice place," Pipes agrees, more eagerly than the bar likely deserves. He plops himself (well, his avatar) down in a seat at the same table. He tugs a bit on the sides of the blue track suit he's wearing, adjusts his trucker cap and overly large glasses, and settles back into as "cool" a pose as he's able to. Although he clearly cannot stop twisting his head here and there, taking it all in.

Who brings a baby to a bar, anyway? The crew of the Lost Light, apparently! Hedonia's been interesting thusfar, or at least what Tailgate can see of it past different sets of shoulders. This holomatter thing isn't quite as fun as the biomatter ones. "I have to say, I was expecting something a little more... hm." Tailgate's hat is pulled low over white curls, and the clothes reflect a beskirted little frame with a coverall'd top half. They've for the moment, placed him on someone's back. Who gets the honors? "I can't even see past your head."

So here they are, on Hedonia, famous not only for its tourism attractions, but also for its weapon dealing underground. And here's Brainstorm, stuck with search an rescue duty. Did they /really/ need him to come along? What could possibly go so wrong that he'd need to fix it on the spot? Sure, these are mostly un-field tested upgrades, and thus prone to having bugs here and there, but do they really need him here?

But no, here he is, or atleast his avatar is; a 20-somethingish human male in what could be recognised as a lab coat, if people wore them with the sleeves rolled up an the coat itself hanging open to show the teal shirt under it, with complete disregard to any form of lab coat wearing regulations anywhere. Sitting with the rest of the group, the engineer is absentmindedly rubbing his wrist, as if he's feeling like something's missing from it. "Great" he mutters their XO comes back from the saftey inspection of a facility he has no authority in "If I'm going to get caught in a disaster, I'll make sure to do it here" his voice carries a certain amount of annoyance, as if he would preffer to be somewhere ... else

Arcee is not particularly keen on this avatar business, but she's just satisfied that the program does all the design work ahead of time so she doesn't have to put any thought into it, because she's got better things to do.

Arcee has a seat beside Pipes, frowning in annoyance as she can't actually have a drink. Her avatar appears with long blonde hair and curvaceous figure, zipped up into a pink jumpsuit with white stripes running down the sleeves and pants, and some very formidable-looking white stiletto boots which, if real, could probably cause some serious harm to an organic with a single kick. She also sports a utility belt with some nasty-looking holo-versions of her actual weapons on it.

It's a pity that the bar that they have chosen is organic-only, leaving them trapped in their holoforms. Think of the drinking they could do! The stories they could share! But no, organics. There's a sign. It's not the first sign that they've run into on the planet, showing just a hint of anti-mech prejudice even here.

The bar is doing a brisk business: there's a table in the corner which appears to be occupied by slightly lizard-like puppies; a pit nearby is filled with a blob; some slightly more familiar figures, humanoid like them, are seated at a table nearby. A tall, dark woman with an extraordinary loud laugh is slapping the shoulder of a slighter figure with an impressive chin face-first into his drink while the others at the table -- a man with a hat covering half his head; a woman with the most impressively resigned look this side of Ultra Magnus; a blonde woman with an absent gaze -- mostly ignore the noise. A cluster of semi-transparent humanoid figures with crystal cores take exception, crossing over to have a /word/. The place is lively. Why are they meeting here, again? (If in doubt, blame Rodimus.)

"My canvas of the locals has led to no immediate results." Ultra Magnus sits very straight and prim, heels together. It is probable that Verity Carlo has never sat looking like this in all of the whole of her life. The bangles are right, the backwards cap is right, the dark fluff of hair is appropriately mussed, and the crinkle of vest over long-sleeved tee and short denim skirt over black leggings and combat boots; the extra hip-slung belt that appears to serve no functional purpose. "Have any of you come up with anything since last radio contact? Aside from attitude, Brainstorm. I'm reasonably sure you had that before."

"Oh, I got some neat stuff from some of the curiosity dealers!" Pipes digs into his fanny pack - professional-sized, of course - and produces a few gadgets which he places with some care on the table. "There's this plastic thing with a crank and a little cutting edge - supposedly it's for cutting root-like plant forms into thin ribbons. And then there's this radio-wave receiver with these cute little buttons for activating frequency presets. And, oh, a tablet computer. I already have a bunch of those, but this one is a nice matte black color." He looks around hoping for signs of approval, perhaps interest in his finds.

Arcee sighs as Pipes shares the little cache of crap he's collected, and she pinches the bridge of her nose as if she feels a royal headache coming on. "...Not a damn thing, here," she admits. "I think we've been deliberately misled."

"Only the idea that we're wasting time searching like this" this is torture for Brainstorm. It's like tying a dog to a tree and then placing a bone just out of its reach. There are so many other things he could be doing right now "I mean, where could someone hide so many people in this place without everyone in the next star system knowing about it already?" Pipes' souveniers earn a raised brow "Looks archaic" he observes, picking up the reciever "What do you need it all for?"

"I like ribbons." Tailgate chirps from his makeshift perch behind Magnus. That's what it is. "We haven't gotten anywhere, really, and that bothers me a little more than it ought to, I think." He's looking over at Pipes' various found treasures now.

Pipes looks at Brainstorm with mild surprise. "I need it for my collection, of course! Earth artifacts. It's my hobby. I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting items to add. For example, that - be careful with it, would you? - is actually a receiver in a form factor optimized for installation into Earth ground vehicles, and can support two different modes of receiving audio signals using radio waves. And look how small it is! I mean, well, /we're/ small right now so it looks big, but it's really so small! I mean, how could I pass that up." He keeps his eyes trained carefully on the radio, with a look of mild worry on his face.

There are those that come and go from the bar constantly. One such individual is a tall, lanky man with wild white hair. Were he not here, perhaps he would be better suited to making a deal with some shady Earth Europeans outside Lone Pine Mall near midnight. dressed in big rubber boots and gloves, his lab coat matches Brainstorm's but where he differs is the smug look on his face. One step inside the bar and he eyes the lot of the Lost Lighters. Eeeeeeeyes them.

This man turns his head and puts a finger to his ear. "Oh yeah, I got them boss," he mutters to himself. "How do I know? Who else would be such a ragtag lot of random folks that don't look like they go together! Hah, and we're supposed to be naturally suited for disguise. Hah," he chuckles to himself. "Let me get into position," he sighs softly then as he angles towards the bar.

The conversation between the semi-transparent crystals and the humanoid organics is getting louder. A small, violet-tinted crystal pulls away from the other two to square off against the tall woman with the loud laugh to have a discussion. An escalating discussion. The man with the magnificent chin pulls his friend's shoulder, trying to draw her back from a brewing fight: "Just had too much to drink," he excuses past her. "Probably couldn't even hit," he adds in a mutter.

"Just watch me, pinhead!" The dark woman shakes the restraining hand free while her dark hair wings behind her in the considering toss of her head. The other trio of humans just exchange /glances/ and start finishing their dri-- oh, no. Their glasses are empty. Not even a trace of liquid left, in fact.

"Noted, Pipes. Thank you." Ultra Magnus's poker face is better when it is Verity's. The beetling of her brows is not very subtle. It is possible that his thanks were not entirely sincere. "Investigation is not a science of immediate result. It requires--" But whatever else he was going to say, he pauses in mid explanation to look over toward the rising escalation. He turns slightly, half-consciously reframing his position in the seat so that he faces outward toward conflict rather than presenting Tailgate in that direction. (Tailgate may not actually /be/ a baby, and yet--)

Arcee sees the newcomer approaching the bar, and she turns her attention on him. She notices the argument at the adjacent table, but for the moment, she's not paying them much attention. The argument at the table near the bar draws her attention momentarily, but she glances back toward the white-haired man.

“Like I said, primitive" Brainstorm spins the reciver in his hands, looking it over "Don't worry, I won't break it. It's probably broken already anyways" maybe Pipes will let him take it apart, just for the fun of it. Before he can ask, however, the noise at the nearby table draws his attention away from the trinket "Looks like things are about to heat up." he notes, giving the exit a brief, but meaningful look.

"Hey, it was getting good..." Tailgate angles his head around to try and watch some more of the confrontation from afar. Magnus, you and your Magnusing. But he gets it! He's small, yadda yadda.

The white haired man, totally not Doc Brown, finds a place to sit at the bar, but makes sure it is one that gives him a good view of the table that the Lost Lighters are sitting at. He noticed Arcee staring at him, of course, but the guy gives her a wink and a grin for her attention. He then catches the arm of a waiter, whispers something to him and a few moments later a bottle of something will be delivered to the table. This 'Doc Brown' gives Arcee a knowing salute once it is dropped off. As he does it looks like he is talking to himself again.

"Get ready. You won't have long once it goes off. A skip in the signal, just a reset - maybe more, we'll see - but when it does we can pinpoint where these bots are bunkered, I assure you."

Pipes turns around in his seat to see what Ultra Magnus and Brainstorm are looking at. "Whoa," he utters quietly, "are they going to have a fight or something?" Keeping one eye on the situation between the organics and crystals, he slowly retrieves the plastic gizmo and tablet from the table. He'd like to get the receiver back from Brainstorm too, but anxiety about the brewing fight keeps him from asking for it back at the moment.

"You should really do something," the man in the hat murmurs to one of his companions.

Resignedly, the shortest of the women stands. It would be hard to pinpoint what gives her the air of command, unless it is that accompanying /desperate exasperation/. Certainly something, again, that Ultra Magnus might recognize in a like soul. "/Sit down/."

The airy blonde speaks up to say, "You'll miss." She looks up from a study of her hands to watch in fascination.

"Shove it, losers." And with that, the dark woman pushes Mr. Chin back into a chair so that she can launch herself at the shortest of the crystals. They tumble in a flail of limbs. Her laughter rises bright and loud as tables overturn and chairs topple.

There's a moment's confusion, a flicker of darkness, and sense of unsteadiness. When the lights return -- after just a moment, a /second/ -- there is no sign of the other group of organics, and the smallest of the crystals is the most surprised yet. The Lost Lighters find their holoforms glitching out, blinking and fritzing.

"Hey, what's going on?" Pipes holds up his avatar's hands, the fingers of which are phasing into and out of existence. He looks down at his body and glances at his fanny pack, both of which are also flickering. He instinctively clutches at the fanny pack with both insubstantial hands, hoping to keep its cargo from falling out.

Well that's just great, something did happen after all! "Hang on, I got this..." If anyone cared to look, Brainstorm's avatar is probably even more unstable than anyone elses, and looking fairly distant and unresponsive, as these things require no small amount of focus and right now, most of his attnetion is elsewhere, focusing on running diagnostics to figure out what's going on here. Surely he couldn't have missed a bug /this/ bad!

Arcee glances around with some alarm, as she notices the Lost Light party's avatars begin to flicker. For whatever reason, she looks at Brainstorm expectantly. He's the science mech; he should make himself useful and fix this mess!

As his avatar futzes in and out of reality, Ultra Magnus looks down at himself in visible dismay. His first, "What the--" cuts off, and it might be some kind of morphic resonance that leads him to utter the sounds, anyway. Her face crackling in and out of focus, it is in visible and fierce consternation that it temporarily reforms as Magnus demands: "/Brainstorm/," because, in case of disaster, holler for tech support. And then he goes, "Can you trace that transmission?" Tightening the straps that hoist Tailgate, he grips the imaginary straps with his imaginary hands and goes, "We may need to regroup."

"Got you now you dirty Sca-.... oh!" The white haired man has stood and pointed a device at the table with the Lost Lighters at it. And by coincidence hit the near table where that argument broke out. What this white haired man had expected to happen didn't, as he notes with a loud, "Scrap, there are even more of them!" It takes him a split second to realize what this means, that who his intended-unintended targets must really be.

This white haired man drops the conical screwdriver-sized device he held and turns (lab coat) tails to make a bolt for the door.

Tailgate tugs down on the holomatter's cap as things flicker, and his voice is low, unsure. "Pretty sure you're right. Organics aren't supposed to malfunction visually." Tailgate looks around at the bar itself, searching out any weird looks. He spies the guy in the coat turning heel. "Magnus, there!" Well, he's running too-- hard to miss that.

In the large parking lot where the Lost Lighters true bodies wait, the air shivers and ground rumbles with the sudden stir of movement. Several large vehicles suddenly start. A jet screeches suddenly into the air.

Since Arcee's been keeping a watch on the white-haired man, she instinctively bolts after him as he makes a run for the door. Who knows what her aim is, as she certainly can't do anything to stop him. However, if he heads toward the parking lot...perhaps she /can/. She doesn't even notice the device he drops.

There is nothing that Brainstorm missed, not bug-wise at least. Rather, it should become immediately apparent that it was an outside influence that has caused this disruption in (holographic) service. The device the white-haired man used generated a localized electromagnetic pulse, one tailored to specifically target Cybertronian holoavatar projections.

"It's EM interference!" Brainstorm's avatar finally refocuses a bit as the engineer finally works out the issue "Our avatars won't work well while we're close to the source. We need to get out of here, or regroup" Odd is the day when Brainstorm agrees with Ultra Magnus, but it does happen from time to time.

The disappearance of her opponent /deeply/ disappoints the short crystal, who rejoins her friends with a confused grumble. They are the first -- but not the only -- to turn baffled glances toward the Lost Lighters. As weird as it is that the others are just /gone/, the continuing weirdness of the unstable avatars draws the eye.

"Move," Ultra Magnus orders grimly. Like Arcee, he moves in pursuit of the fleeing white-haired man, because whenever there's someone fleeing the scene of a crime, that's also where you run. As vehicles roar to life in the parking lot, the frown furrows across Verity's expression as she flickers in and out. "/Who is that/," she demands as she charges for the door, and it looks a hell of a lot like Verity Carlo is about to wreck something if only she can stay corporeal long enough.

Perhaps the speed at which a holoavatar can move is tired directly to the function of the projector that makes it? In which case Arcee's projector is top notch. She'll catch up to this 'Doc' as he makes it outside to the parking lot, on the *other side* of it from where all of those vehicles are starting to move. 'Doc' was trying to get to a dark helicopter parked there, one that might be familiar to someone who has hunted down so many Decepticons? The frame is very much like a former one, a communications scrambler that was known as Shockdrop. A criminal long before he was a Con, one always willing to work for whoever paid the best for his illegal services. a record worthy of a lawman knowing! Arcee can catch up to him just when his holoform reaches the craft with crashing success. This would be at the same time that Ultra Magnus (and Tailgate) catch up too, so he can address all those that got to him. "Argh, you weren't supposed to be here, none of you were. Well, *they* were. They are who we came here for after all, not you. So if you know what's good for you, goodie-good, let us have them!"

"OK, time to go. Uh, thanks everybody! Thanks. Good times." Pipes hops up from his seat and swipes the radio bobbling in Brainstorm's glitching hand, dropping it back into his pack. He walks hurriedly towards the door after Arcee and Magnus. His collector's eye notices the cylindrical tool that the white-haired man dropped; intrigued, he scoops it up and stows it as well before exiting the bar.

As they chase Shockdrop through the streets, a ... small handful of other vehicles are hastily leaving the parking lot. The jet in the sky gains company in the form of a helicopter -- not Shockdrop, but similar. Decepticon sigils wink on their frames. The device Pipes has nabbed is ideal to be held in such a fleshy palm! (Think sonic screwdriver) There is a flashy twirly bit at the pointy end and a spinning mechanism at the butt end. The on/off switch is a simple slider where the thumb would naturally rest. For as long as it is on, anyone close to Pipes is going to experience a great deal of holo-disruption!

Woo! Gonna get the guy! Hi-ho Magnus! Tailgate's reaction, as he is unused to avatars, is to grab onto his seat very literally and hope that he can't fall off or anything. He turns his head to look where Magnus can't. Baby monitor.

"If you know what's good for -you-, you'll stop right there!" Tailgate is-- absolutely not threatening at all, even with a fist.

And here they go again. Can't a ground mission ever go smoothly? Well of course not. What fun would that be? With his attention no longer split between two different things, Brainstorm moves after the others. "Whatcha got there?" catching up with Pipes as the other mech snatches something off the floor, the engineer cranes his neck to try and get a peek at the device "Let me see!"

Once they get out into the parking lot, Arcee begins to realize what took place inside the bar, and more importantly, who was behind it. She stops short of the copter and quickly turns toward 'Verity', thinking this is /probably/ the point at which they ditch the avatars. Because she can't really kill things very well in this virtual getup.

There are no unread postings on the Global Bulletin Board.

"O-ooo-o-ooh, th-thisss s ss?" Pipes stutters as he pulls the device out of his pack. "That organnn n ic with thwhithar droppppppp think. Hey I'm reallllly hvngtrb leee conceeeeeennnnnnnnnn"

"No," Ultra Magnus tells Shockdrop on general principles. As the situation heats up in the parking lot, Verity scowls as she fritzes and fuzzes with Pipes's approach. "How many of them /are/ there," she says, and then vanishes, reverting to the real body that roars to life in the parking lot. Tailgate is left temporarily aloft, straps loose where a moment ago they were hooked around Verity's shoulders.

Light flashing in a searching beam, the armored carrier that is Ultra Magnus, rocket launches ratcheting to life as he orients himself, calls out inevitably: "Decepticons! Identify yourselves by order of the Duly Appointed Enforcer--"

As soon as Arcee is ready to abandon the chase, holo-Shockdrop grins. She gets it. Why he was slow enough to be caught. It wasn't distance he needed but the LLers's concentration he needed to attract. Coming after him means now he can make his getaway. He doesn't know who of the Lost Light is here with him, but then he doesn't need to know. 'Doc' vanishes with a fritz as Pipes gets near enough.

The real Shockdrop speaks up as the rotors spin and he starts to lift off. "If you know what's good for *you* then you'll stay low until all this blows over," the longtime con chuckles. "Just let us have those losers and you don't even need to say thanks for the favor we'd be doing us all!" He lifts off. "Besides, now that the Hedonians know there's us folk here they're sure to put this whole place on *lockdown*!" For some reason that makes him laugh *really hard* though that gets droned out by the roar of the blades that whirl him up into the sky.

"A-aw scrap" as his own avatar begins glittching badly aswell, Brainstorm realises what the device is "J-just drop i-it" he manages before finally giving up on it, and dropping the ruse, returning his full attention to his actual body. Ultra Magnus had better not start insisting that he give chase. That guy looks like trouble

Nope. As Ultra Magnus's frame roars to life, there's a squeal of tires. Nope, nope, nope.

The two ground vehicles (with a plus one of a dangerous K-class bomb tied onto the roof of one) /peel out of there/. The quickest path to the exit means that the larger of the two ... kind of goes /over/ Pipes. Just a little. A little roll over his hood. Some tire tracks across his front, a hard shove. The jet and helicopter above keep pace with them, following the lead set by the smaller vehicle as they race to the outskirts of the city just ahead of Shockdrop.

Tailgate can't float, unfortunately. He's not very intimidating when he falls onto the ground with a thump, "Ah!" before his avatar clips out as well. His vehicle kicks into life in the wake of Ultra Magnus doing the same. Like this, however, his primary aim is to stay out of the way. Lots of people getting run over up in here!

Arcee backs out of her avatar, and it vanishes. The engine of her vehicular mode roars to life, and a rocket launcher pops up on her rear spoiler. The only thing that's stopping her is the possibility that they'll need to abort the mission should things get violent.

But if Magnus shoots first, she's just going to start firing. Ultra Magnus starts to rumble out of the parking lot in pursuit, but stops for two reasons: one, his troops are scattered, the other forces are already en route out, and he doesn't really have enough information to pursue; and two, they're supposed to be robots /in disguise/ right now, which means that charging out as an armored carrier and firing rockets after disappearing Decepticons is the kind of thing that will really wreak havoc on his reputation.

Oh. And is that Pipes? That's not good either.

Reverting to root mode, he contacts the others over their communicators: "Regroup. Decepticon presence unexplained. I suspect we will need to find a different rendezvous point. And we may be looking for more than just the Circle of Light."

Pipes's shoulders droop a little as he looks down at the neat little thing with its spinning and flashing parts. Reluctantly he drops it, and his avatar phases back to being at least somewhat present. He dashes back towards his true body to drop off his purchases before deactivating his holoform, but pulls up short as a ground vehicle vaults over his parked form, bouncing it on its suspension and smearing tire marks over it. "Hey! Oh, c'mon! That was uncalled for!" Once the vehicles pass by, he tosses his fanny pack into his window and immediately disables his avatar.

Brainstorm might technically be armed, but unlike his more warlike companions he's in no hurry to activate his own weapons. He does, however, start his engines, and, using the parking lot as a short runway, take to the air. Where he's more mobile in this mode, and it's safer. And he can see more from up there too.

It's going to be a busy night.

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