2015-11-22 Efficiency Aid

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Efficiency Aid
Date 2015/11/22
Location Lost Light - Command: Ultra Magnus's Office
Participants Ultra Magnus, Nautica
Summary Nautica brings UM a report on engineering damage, as well as a nice little gift.

The nameplate by the door says: Ultra Magnus Executive Officer Wipe your boots before entering.

There's a large desk with a smaller chair opposite and a recharge slab off to the side. The desk centers the room, its largest and most prominent feature in an area distinctly spartan in decor. There is a nameplate on his desk. It says only: ULTRA MAGNUS.

The wall behind the desk is conspicuously empty. A small Rodimus star hangs on a tasteful black rectangular plaque on the left wall, in view of the main office chair.

It was an orderly retreat that brought Ultra Magnus back to his office after several hours of damage assessments, interviews, and one memorable elevator ride spent forcing Rodimus to go get his head checked -- and yet, still, a retreat. He has returned to this relative sanctum to regroup and reorder himself. Low music, mellow in tone and primarily instrumental with an emphasis on the woodwinds, pipes through the air as he sits behind his desk, sorting through data and, very occasionally, rubbing at his forehead.

The knock at the door is hesitant, perhaps reluctant to intrude when there's music playing inside. That, right there, is perhaps the first sign that it's /not/ Rodimus coming with some new headache. Indeed, outside the door is Nautica -- out of engineering for a change! The Camien has a bottle in one hand, a datapad in the other, and an unfamiliar tiny quadrupedal bot at her side. The little bot is done up in mottled brown and white, and vaguely resembles what might be the Cybertronian equivalent of an earth beagle.

The door is cracked, which is how the music escapes from inside. He rarely works with the door all the way shut. (Rodimus would just breeze on in anyways even if he did.)

"Come in," Ultra Magnus says. There's often music playing in his office; with the advent of a new entrant, as the door slides the rest of the way open, he adjusts the volume control from full sound to delicate strains of barely detectable background noise, and sits forward in his very large chair, elbows set against the surface of the desk, hands roofing over a datapad as he looks up.

"Hello, sir." Nautica slips inside, putting both the datapad -- a damage report for engineering, almost depressingly long -- and the bottle onto the desk. Something's a little off about the bottle; it shimmers as if reflecting a light that isn't actually there, a lightsource slightly off-true from real angles. The little bot makes a noise that could be 'woof' and bounds in after her, tilting its head as it examines all the things in the office.

Ultra Magnus looks from Nautica, to her report, to the bottle, to the quadruped, his gaze lighting on each in turn, and then looks back to Nautica again. His expression bears signs of the crinkle of a baffle. There are so many questions he could begin with. That's what this expression says. He reaches forward for the damage report first, a sigh coursing through his vents. "Nautica. I am pleased to see that engineering has stabilized enough for you to deliver this personally. Thank you. What, ah...?" He rephrases, then. "Do you have an estimate for how long you'll need for repairs, and are there any supplies or parts you'll need not currently aboard?"

"Oh! Sorry." Taking in the glance towards the little bot, Nautica reaches down to still the quadruped, which presses happily into her hand. "You remember Buster? The organic quadruped we brought back from that possible-future-earth? I wanted him to be able to experience more of the ship, so I built... well, it's sort of a reverse of what we did there. It's a platform an organic can be connected to. Synthetic Module for Organic Lifeforms, or SMOL for short. This way, no one has to worry about stepping on him, and he can visit other people." Straightening, she adds, "The damage is pretty bad. I can have us able to jump properly again within about three or four days, but we'll need to actually stop and take on supplies before everything's working /right/ again." Which, by Nautica standards for engines, means at 118%.

She doesn't yet explain the bottle.

"Our next scheduled stop is at Caminus," Ultra Magnus says thoughtfully, with a flicker of a glance towards his terminal screen, and then back to Nautica again. "Will that be soon enough to gather what you need?" He peers over the edge of his desk, and then rises, sliding to his feet with his hands bracing on its surface, as he looks down over to get a better look at the SMOL. "Would that platform support ... other Earth-based organic life?" he wonders.

"Sure," Nautica replies, patting SMOL's head with one hand. The bot makes a happy yapping noise. "But I don't know that I'd want to put a human in it. I haven't had a lot of experience with them, but they'd probably want a bipedal shell, wouldn't they? And... we can probably get the parts I need on Caminus. We don't have a lot of space travel there -- that's why we were traveling in the first place, trying to re-establish contact -- but I should be able to salvage some." Talk of her home colony seems to make her a little eager to change the subject, because she pushes the bottle towards Ultra Magnus. "This is something I thought you might be interested in. It's six-dimensional quantum engex."

"Probably." Ultra Magnus stares down at the happy yapping robot dog, or rather dog in a robot suit, in mild consternation. (Somehow, somewhere on the ship, Ravage is uncomfortable and doesn't know why.)

Rather than follow up on what pitfalls may or may not lie for Nautica on Caminus, he frowns a little at the bottle and does not reach for it, his hands folding behind him almost primly. "Ah ... six-dimensional..?" He hesitates, and then says, "I believed it generally known that I don't consume intoxicants, particularly not while on duty, but also in general."

"That's why I brought it to you." Nautica pauses, as if realizing that might not be precisely clear. "Because it's six-dimensional, I'm fairly sure it will get people anti-drunk. Brainstorm thought we should just take it to Swerve's, but I thought maybe we should bring it to you first."

Magnus looks blank. He looks down at the bottle again, and then back up at Nautica. "Excuse me," he says. "Anti-drunk?"

"Anti-drunk!" No matter how brightly Nautica repeats the phrase, this probably isn't clarifying things. After a moment, she seems to realize this. "Oh. Er, basically, if you were already drunk, it would sober you up. And if you were sober, well... you know how when you're drunk, it affects your ability to think clearly, to focus, or anything like that? Being anti-drunk is the same thing, but in the opposite direction. The more you drink, the clearer your thoughts are, the more focused and efficient you are."

'WOOF!' remarks SMOL, oh-so-helpfully.

"I've spoken with many an inebriated bot that appeared to believe that the more they consumed, the clearer their thoughts became," Ultra Magnus states with a deeply dry edge of humor filtered through his voice. He stands there a moment. "I can see how it might be a useful invention to, ah, correct some of the crew's habit of overindulging while at Swerve's," he says. "There are certainly some regulations with regard to inebriation on duty, naturally, but I know of none extant that address ... anti ... inebriation."

"To sober up when we needed them to, or to get everyone really focused right before something happens," Nautica agrees. "But it's really hard to make; I only managed to make two bottles of it, because you have to filter it through a disused quantum engine pod. And my one spare pod got... used." Not that she's still annoyed at Savant or anything. "So I thought we might want to bring a bottle to you /before/ letting Brainstorm start feeding it to random bots at Swerve's. I don't know if we really want some of the regulars hyper-focused and efficient. After all, it doesn't change /what/ you focus on... just how well you can do it."

"Um," Ultra Magnus makes a hummed noise that is not quite agreement, but is certainly acknowledgment. He picks up the bottle, gingerly, as though some part of him expects that it might explode when jarred. "Well, I'm not in a position to make a ruling on its safety for consumption," he says after a moment's study, though what he expected to be able to tell just from looking at it is unclear. "There's nothing that makes it illegal, of course, so in my post as interim security director I have nothing to complain of. Have you, er, perhaps you might provide a sample to Knock Out in medical?"

The bottle does not explode. Yay! Nautica, however, produces a couple of glasses. See? You could try it /yourself/, Mags! Just imagine being /hyper efficient/ when coming up with rules. She places them on the table, and smiles at the second-in-command.

Ultra Magnus looks abruptly much more wary (because you know how he feels about smiles). He puts down the bottle again, and says: "Have you tested this?"

"Yes," Nautica assures Magnus. This would probably be more reassuring if it wasn't followed up with, "The first batch, anyway."

Now he just looks a little awkward and uncomfortable. Ultra Magnus looks down at the glasses again, his hands clasped neatly, tightly, behind his back. "Wouldn't it be more efficient to use a test subject on whom the effects would be more immediate and noticeable?" he suggests, not at all like he's trying to avoid being a guinea pig. This is totally a rational reason.

"That's why I was thinking of you!" Nautica replies. "You're a very focused individual, so we wouldn't have to worry about, oh, a Decepticon spy becoming /very focused/ on how to destroy the ship, and it would prove to you that it's safe." She ponders. "Though I suppose we could always go offer it to the captain." What could POSSIBLY go wrong with making Rodimus EVEN MORE like Rodimus?

"No," Ultra Magnus says with a certain weight of fervence in his voice. "Let's leave him alone, shall we?" From the tincture of his frown, he looks more concerned than threatened over the prospect of extra Rodimusing. It's possible that he hasn't quite processed the Rodimus squared nature of Nautica's proposal, though. He says, "What exactly will these effects be again?"

"It's like distilling yourself into a purer, clearer form," Nautica offers. "So someone like Brainstorm, if he drank some, he'd be able to invent things faster... bend the laws of physics and reality more readily. For me, I'd be able to tune and adjust the engines more efficiently and more quickly. But someone who, for instance, is a fighter? They'd be better able to focus in battle, to really do damage." Rodimus would totally love this, wouldn't he.

"What ... kind of quantities do you recommend?" Ultra Magnus is still edging warily around this idea, trying to come up with more questions to ask before taking the plunge. "How long does the effect last?"

"Well, it works just like normal engex, in theory," Nautica offers, as she opens the bottle and pours some of the liquid into the glass in front of Magnus. It's very pretty, if unsettling to see light reflecting in a manner that just doesn't match any lightsource in the room. "But really strong engex. So drinking it to excess will make you /really/ anti-drunk, and it'll take a while to wear off. I wouldn't recommend drinking a whole bottle unless it's an emergency."

Ultra Magnus holds up the glass and eyes its refracting shimmer with a kind of continuing wariness. "But it is essentially a focus tool, not a ... personality alterant?" Is alterant even a word? Magnus is still frowning over this, not quite there to the point of being prepared to try it yet.

"It doesn't alter personality," Nautica assures Ultra Magnus. "It just focuses it. Intensifies it. Whatever you are, it just makes you more /you/."

Turning his thumb over the side of the glass, Ultra Magnus hesitates a moment longer, and then lifts it to kind of sniff at the liquid. "Whatever it is that you are, you say?" There's an almost humor in his low voice as he repeats this, mouth hooking in a sideways grimace. Then, in the spirit of inquiry, he takes an extremely tiny sip. It's possible that a tiny sip is all he thinks it might take, for, say, the tiny minibot inside him. Or else he's just being excruciatingly cautious. Though if like engex quantity is directly related to proportionate impact, it's hard to say what he can expect from so small a sip.

On the plus side, it tastes /good/. Smooth, without the burn one might expect from cheap engex. A pleasant flavor, a pleasant warmth. It'd be easy to drink a lot of it. And even that little sip /does/ seem to sharpen the thoughts a bit.

Nautica watches with obvious curiosity. Whatever testing's been done on this stuff, Magnus is probably the first person outside of engineering to try any. Yet.

Far from an aesthete about his fuel usually, because he primarily consumes it as -- you know -- fuel, to be used in context and not really enjoyed recreationally, Magnus is visibly surprised by the positive impact of actually good stuff in his mouth. He is still cautious in taking his next sip. Lowering the glass, he says, "I ... can possibly detect a difference, but..." He trails off, looking abstracted for a moment as one might expect from the quickened clarity of new thought.

Nautica leans forward, as if prepared to take notes. She's been hanging around with Brainstorm too much, hasn't she? "It doesn't make you actually /more intelligent/," she cautions. "But it might feel like it, because it removes distractions. It lets you use your full potential."

Ultra Magnus shakes his head slowly. His fingers twitch a little against the side of the glass, which he puts down. The thing is, given the contents of a drink guaranteed to make you more of what you are, when you're a compulsive workaholic, there are certain very nearly inevitable results. "Intelligence is no guarantor of efficiency," he says. "Many brilliant minds are incurably chaotic." He looks at Nautica, and adds, "No offense meant," to what could otherwise have been a sourceless comment guaranteed to insult no one. He sits down again at his desk, framing his hands around a datapad as he begins to call up unfinished tasks on his computer terminal.

These tasks... it's so /easy/ to break them down into component elements, to focus on individual pieces and complete them quickly, isn't it? Just imagine what could be done for the crew's efficiency if Magnus finished the entire bottle!

"None taken," Nautica answers easily enough, though it's followed with a slightly puzzled, "...I think?"

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the intensity of Magnus's focus is that he's now plunged into the tasks at his terminal with a methodical intensity that is possibly disturbing in its completeness, and if he hasn't forgotten Nautica is there, he has sort of forgotten that when people say things to you in a conversation, it's nice to answer them??

"Uhm. So, how do you feel?" Nautica asks, a little curiously.

"What?" Magnus doesn't even look up from his work, rapidly sorting out what appears to be a complex multicolored line graph. "Oh. I'm sorry. I have a lot of work to do. It's remarkable how quickly my processor seems to be functioning." I.e., if she leaves him in here with that bottle he's probably never going to leave his office again.

"So, ruled okay for shipboard use?" Nautica asks, already reaching out for the bottle. Mags, you don't need the rest of the Magic Quantum Engex, right? She'll just... take this elsewhere.

"I don't believe any of the current shipboard regulations apply," Ultra Magnus says, still sorting data with rapid flicks of his fingers. Boom, boom, boom. "It may be advisable to create an appropriate labeling scheme. Your comments vis a vis the impact of, say, providing it randomly to persons imbibing at Swerve's strikes me as particularly apropos." So, hyperfocused and more legalese, maybe.

"Uh-huh." Nautica pulls the bottle back, closing it up and putting it safely away. Perhaps Mags has had enough; he's a bit of an engex lightweight anyway. "Well. I'll leave you to your work, then." Hopefully she didn't just ensure he'll stay in his office for the next three ship cycles. "Thank you for helping me test this."

"Thank you," Magnus says, allbeit a little abstractedly. It's possible he has no idea when she leaves. There are charts to work on, after all.

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