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2016-06-22 Shackles

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Shackles
Date 2016/06/22
Location Common Lounge
Participants Whisper, Mercy, Skystalker
Summary Mercy and Skystalker come across Whisper in the lounge.

Whisper is sitting in the corner of one of the couches, staring intently at the broad light of the videopane. She is playing a game. It is a racing game, an old Cybertronian racing game with obstacle courses set in recognizable flashing splashes of cities on Cybertron.

More to the point, she is losing a racing game. Her wings quiver with intensity for all her focus as she grips the controller but she just can't seem to stop the computerized vehicles from passing her. Even in the video game, apparently, she is choosing nonviolent means of competition. Which means, in a game that is programmed for crashes and other dirty tricks, that she is aggressively, intently losing.

This is definitely not the most constructive use of her time ever.

Being a nurse is hard, harder than Mercy realized. The medic has had a hard time of her work since being demoted; not being able to do much more than apply proverbial bandaids when every instinct is screaming at her that she could repair them when people need help means that the femme is utterly drained by the end of her shifts. Today is no exception, and she drags her aft into the lounge with less pep than is usual in her step. The gaming on the screen catches her attention for a brief moment before she focuses on who is playing. "Whisper!"

Skystalker is sitting in the corner of the lounge with his nose in a datapad, one marked from the library on the back. He largely ignores the game that Whisper plays until there is a particularly loud explosion, when he glances up to see how badly she's losing. When he looks down again, it's just before Mercy's chirping grabs his attention back. He didn't know they knew each other. Hm.

Whisper startles at the sound of her name and the controller falls from her fingers as though they've gone nerveless as her head whips around. There is no pretending that she hasn't been doing this, and yet. Retrieving the controller she has dropped on the floor, and oh look, that was a total wipeout off of the game course, she resets her vocalizer in a low sound, and then says: "... hello."

Mercy winces as Whisper drops the controller. "I...uh...sorry," she offers to the femme, ducking her head slightly. She hadn't meant to startle her, really. Slinking off towards the energon dispenser, she decides to try a slightly different tactic. "Want something to drink?" Skystalker is missed...or ignored, but knowing Mercy, it's probably the former.

Skystalker is quiet enough that it's possible he's been missed the entire time he's been here. He does uncurl from his perch on the chair in the corner, wingtips fanning out in a tiny stretch. Hello. "Mercy." A greeting, sort of. "I heard you got demoted." Probably the last thing she wants to discuss.

Whisper rises from her seat on the sofa with a dip of one of her wings in a kind of angled shrug. She shakes her head. Tugging the controller gently from its mooring, she begins loosely winding its cord around itself. "Thank you, no," she says lowly, her voice quiet. Her gaze lifts to weight, her yellow visor pale-bright and thoughtful, on Skystalker, and then slides back to Mercy again, curious for the answer to his question.

Mercy goes still as Skystalker lets his presence be known in such a pleasant way. Sure, it's common enough knowledge now but that doesn't mean she's happy about it. After all, she -had- had good intentions with what she did, even if she'd been encouraged by someone who's motivations weren't as good. "I'm a nurse now," she agrees, simply, before she finishes getting herself a drink. "Come see me if you need a bandaid," she adds with forced cheeriness.

For what it is worth, Skystalker seems apologetic when she answers in such a way. Ah. Oops. He draws a hand up idly along his crest, fingers rubbing along his jawline and one of the prongs that frame his face. "I'm sorry to hear that it's true. You are very good." The datapad balances in his hand, loose between his fingers.

Whisper slowly finishes looping her cord around the controller and then begins a slow pace, prowling quietly over the surface of the floor as she goes to restore the controller to its resting place and to shut down the videopane. Soon all evidence of her breach of dignity will be obscured. Turning her gaze back, she tilts her head to one side, almost avian in her quizzical expression.

Mercy takes a small swallow from her drink before she shrugs at Skystalker. "I'm -very- good, but I'm not allowed to do much now. I'm too...foolish, he said." Whoever 'he' is. Mercy sends a brief look to Whisper, along with a light smile. "I haven't see you since...well, since you joined us. How do you like it?"

Skystalker watches Whisper put the game away. Maybe she'd do better with something less... firey. Crashy. Quicksight would probably know something, even if he would say it was 'training' When he looks back to Mercy, there is a tip of his head and a slight frown of sympathy. Sky can guess who He might be.

Whisper considers her answer for a long moment. Leaving the controller behind, she steps away, and then folds her arms in a loose cross over the angled lines of her abdomen. Then she says quietly, "I prefer it."

That answer gets a flash of a bright, genuinely pleased grin from Mercy. "Well...I'm glad you're here now, and not there," she informs Whisper, tone genuine. Drink in hand, she moves to take a seat on one of the nearby seats. She leans back with a soft groan. Tired medic.

Skystalker watches Whisper with a moment of intensity, something fitting for someone who might understand a little more about where she came from-- mentally, maybe. He was never a gladiator, but-- The starfighter vents a little, a puff of air to accent Mercy's own flop into a seat. "Either of you read any of this history thing yet?" Skystalker wags the datapad in his hand, glancing down to the lit surface of it.

Whisper gives Mercy a grave nod. She says: "Thank you." Then she turns her visor to Skystalker. Looking a little blank, she shakes her head, and moves with a few long strides nearer to his side, her systems humming faintly as she comes to a halt. She turns out her hand with a query in her glance. What history thing.

Mercy gives her head a slow shake to Skystalker's question. "No," she answers simply, sparing hardly a glance to the waed pad. "Is it any good?" she asks, trying for a light note in her voice.

Skystalker turns over the datapad to Whisper for inspection, then leaning back into the seat and crossing his legs. "I guess it needed to be made, huh? Well, I'm not far into it yet. But it is very much what it says it is. History."

<FS3> Skystalker rolls Stealth: Great Success. (8 5 2 5 8 2 7 5 5 6 7 8 1 5 1 3)

<FS3> Skystalker rolls Streetwise: Success. (7 3 4 2 5 3 2)

Whisper runs her visored gaze down the length of the datapad that Skystalker has shared with her, her expression turning into a faint frown -- at her brow, on her lips, as she considers it. When she hands it back to him, she says, "All history is perspective."

"What's the history?" Mercy asks - she doesn't reach for the pad; she's happy enough just to hear the summary. She extends her feet in front of her and allows her eyes to sweep from Whisper to Skystalker.

"Quite. I'm not far into it yet, but it seems like this was a collaboration. Lieutenant wouldn't have known about some of this." Skystalker looks up to Mercy again, a faint smile. "A history of the war. Written for outsiders-- he advertised wanting media to add to it."

"It is not only outsiders who need perspective on our history." Whisper's voice is so quiet when she says this it is almost hard to pick up over the general background thrum of the ship's engines where they coast in orbit.

Mercy ooohs softly, studying the pad quizzically from a distance before giving her head a quick, short shake. She opens her mouth to say something when Whisper's statement hits her, and she eyes her before she nods. "Well said."

"Once the media makes it in, I think I may leave a copy lying around the suite." Skystalker glances over his shoulder, just in case. "Quicksight is curious. Perhaps enough to poke his nose in." It may not be their first thought, but it is one of Sky's. "I may have some media to send him for this. I do not have much, but-- some very old things."

"I have nothing." Whisper plainly has some regret about this, for all that the statement itself is simply factual. She paces a few steps across the room from where she is, to come to rest with her servos fallen on the back of an unoccupied chair as she ducks her head. "I might have, once."

"The only media I have would be casualty reports," Mercy pipes up, sipping from her drink as she considers what it is that might be useful. "I don't tink that's the kind of thing he's looking for though." A huff, and Mercy eyes Skystalker. "I think he'd like things, older is better."

Skystalker glances up to Whisper at her words, amber optics tracking her movements and the slight sinking of her frame. The words make him want to reach out, but with another in the room his decision is hard to make, when he doesn't immediately do it. "He may go for that. To put something...tangible, for numbers." Skystalker's answer for the nurse is a soft-spoken one.

"I was able to keep some things over time, but--" Skystalker looks to Whisper, brow lowered slightly.

Skystalker glances up to Whisper at her words, amber optics tracking her movements and the slight sinking of her frame. The words make him want to reach out, but with another in the room his decision is hard to make, when he doesn't immediately do it. "He may go for that. To put something...tangible, for numbers." Skystalker's answer for the nurse is a soft-spoken one.

"I was able to keep some things over time, but--" Skystalker looks to Whisper, brow lowered slightly. "--the circumstances made it difficult."

Whisper lets a sigh cycle through her systems as she closes her servos more tightly over the back of the seat. She nods, once, slowly. "It is possible that there is ... still material of mine, somewhere on Cybertron, if it was not confiscated somehow when the Decepticons lost the war," she says. "But I'm ... not that person anymore. It doesn't matter. There will be many images for Lieutenant from others." This is more words than she has said in a row in like a month. It has probably exhausted her; that must be why the next thing she does is allow herself to fold down, wings drooping, into the seat.

"More for some than others," Mercy murmurs sympathetically. Finishing her drink, she leans forward and sets her empty cup aside. Another huff is given as she pushes up to her feet. She frowns gently as she catches the drooping of Whisper, and she takes a half step forward; "Are you alright?"

"One of our few blessings is access to our subspace, I suppose. Even then, it is hard to file much away." Skystalker answers quietly, watching Whisper move with an uncanny familiarity. He knows that feeling.

"Yes," Whisper states with certainty, although whether it is true or not is another question entirely. "I'm fine." She rests her fingers against each other in her lap and looks up at Mercy and then over at Skystalker. The barest hint of a smile lifts her mouth at one corner. "In the old days, I was not ... given to introspection."

Mercy doesn't look like she entirely believes Whisper, but there's really nothing she can do. She simply nods, then, and shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "Okay." she murmurs before she gives another nod of her head to both Whisper and Skystalker at the same time. "Well...um, good night." she offers, along with a soft smile.

"I can't remember a time when I wasn't." Skystalker smiles back at Whisper, his gaze moving to Mercy as she bids them goodnight. "Rest well, Mercy. Take it easy, hm?" He can tell she is just tuckered out.

"Oh, I remember." Whisper's voice is quiet but carries with it a slightly sour breath of laughter, a little rippling shiver that otherwise might have gone unexpressed. She gives Mercy a grave, serious nod, and says: "Yes -- good night."

Now that they are alone, Skystalker watches the door of the lounge a few moments longer, just for measure. When he is certain Mercy is gone, his optics flicker back onto Whisper. "I want you to know something." That may sound sketchy, but his tone is genuine. "We have some things in common. If you'd ever like to talk to someone who will understand--" Skystalker can't quite keep his gaze on her, and looks away, faltering. It will always be hard.

Whisper turns a focused, thoughtful look on Skystalker, as though she is drawing and renewing some intentness out of an inner corridor of her mind. She studies him for a moment, hesitating. She tilts her head slightly to one side, and then, slowly, lifts a hand in a slowly spreading gesture of fingers, their tips turning up and inward as she does so. There is plain curiosity in her expression, as the shift of light behind the band of her visor reflects a blink. "I have ... gotten out of the habit of words," she says.

Skystalker's wings are relaxed, though his eyes keep a certain furitive look about them, as if someone might wander in and make him clam up. He feels the need to say something, and if he does not say it now, when? "I had trouble too-- though I also understand your own circumstances were... very unique." Skystalker's vents spin in a near-silent cycle. "I only know that if I'd had-- someone who understood, once I was out of the collar--" His nervous look at the door makes him hesitate again, voice still gentle. "It could have helped me, back then."

When Skystalker says the word collar, Whisper's intensity sharpens significantly. There's a sharpening all about her, actually -- a snarling rev of the the jet engine at her core, like a burst of heat with her surprise, unlooked for. Her stare is a heavy weight, unrelieved by any restless fidget. Her stillness is remarkable. She says: "Could it have?"

As Whisper's watch of him sharpens, Skystalker remains seated, leg hooked over the other and the datapad idle in his grasp. His own stillness does not quite match her own by virtue of anxiety, though there seems to be a keen awareness of her gaze and her poise. For a moment he says nothing, the low hum of his systems a constant as he looks back at Whisper. Stares back, quiet. "I believe it. I didn't speak to anyone about it until I came here. Looking back ...I wish I had."

"How did you come to..." Whisper hesitates for a long moment in the midst of the question, her jaw working in a tautening edge as she looks aside, staring at the wall for a moment. Then she returns her visored gaze to Skystalker again, and the word she chooses is, "... freedom?"

"I was able to escape." Skystalker knows the circumstances of Whisper's escape-- he was there. So he keeps his own explanation as simple as he can, so as to not draw comparisons. "But only because the group that kept me at the time experienced a... leadership struggle. Coup, maybe?" He looks briefly past Whisper to the air. "They were so intent on one another that I suffered for that as well. I'd heard whispers about the war culminating. I thought-- if the war was really ending, maybe I had a chance after all. At that point, getting killed in an escape was ...better than being starved to death.

"I was able to escape." Skystalker knows the circumstances of Whisper's escape-- he was there. So he keeps his own explanation as simple as he can, so as to not draw comparisons. "But only because the group that kept me at the time experienced a... leadership struggle. Coup, maybe?" He looks briefly past Whisper to the air. "They were so intent on one another that I suffered for that as well. I'd heard whispers about the war culminating. I thought-- if the war was really ending, maybe I had a chance after all. At that point, getting killed in an escape was ...better than being starved to death."

"You freed yourself." Whisper's fingertips tighten against the arm of her seat. Her gaze on him is almost ... hungry. It's amazing how expressive of need a yellow-glowing visor and a tight, flat mouth can somehow be -- though what that need is remains a little unclear.

"Barely." Skystalker looks at his hands when he answers this time. "I took my arm apart to short the shackles. My master's men caught me when I set off an alarm in the docking bay. I'd already gotten the doors open-- I could feel the vaccuum-- so I finally fought back. I'd been passed around from master to master so much that I'd forgotten the taste of rebellion. The taste of desperation-- until that moment."

Whisper listens to this, watching him with grave and wide-eyed contemplation. When he finishes speaking, she lets a long low hiss escape from her depths, air cycling through her systems in a long winding down. Her shoulders slump as her head droops. She says, her voice very low: "I could not have freed myself."

"I know." Skystalker remembers the planet well. The starfighter's voice is nothing but empathy, and great care. "I'd never gone with the field team before but-- I knew that I needed to be there. Down there-- when they busted open the arena." His hands clasp together to keep from twitching, and his optics lift to watch Whisper again, color a warm amber that contrasts with the icy flickers of his biolights. "And now we are both here."

"I don't remember how many times I tried. They-- he--" Whisper breaks off. She glares at her hands as they fold into fists, and then looks away, somehow wilting even more than she was before as her hand curls against the angle of her helm. "All I had left was hate," she says. "I don't know what I have now. I have been trying to figure it out for months."

"All I had left was submission." Skystalker gave up at a point, and it lasted. He expels a small vent of air, wingtips tucked when he leans forward onto his knee to offer Whisper a ghost of a smile. "If it helps, I'm not so sure either. I think I am almost convinced it's something nice, though. Despite shortcomings..."

"What were you forced to do?" Whisper asks like she is probating at a sore tooth, gnawing after every last shred of similarity between their otherwise unshared traumas. She doesn't quite look at him when she asks.

"My first master bought me as a trophy. Not even a pet-- just--" Skystalker goes back in his head, the thoughts fleeting and his voice distant. "I was taught things, which is possibly the only good to have ever come of it.He passed me down like some sort of heirloom. From there I had several more masters. They got worse as the war went on. I fought, some, like you-- but they'd put too much money in me and it was always cut short." There is a pause, hesitation clear. His answers haven't given her much, for all of his words. Perhaps he has too many answers. "The last was a Decepticon squadron. Rogue, I believe. They never seemed to answer to anyone else."

"Decepticons taking Cybertronian slaves?" Whisper shakes her head. Her disgust is palpable, but then: it would be. The blazon of the Decepticon symbol still bears its place of pride centered on her chest, even after all of everything. "Discipline was lax indeed by then."

"I think they were loyal, once. Some of them spoke of such things. Never for long." Skystalker's hands link together, the compression of his fingers kneading against each other. "Towards the end the disloyal used the symbol as power. The Autobots weren't free of their own corruption, as evidenced by your own keeper."

"Yes." Whisper lowers her head again. A sigh trickles out of her as she looks at her hands. "At first, when the Lost Light refused to fight, we laughed. Perhaps because there were none left who had the power to weep, for the breaking we knew was coming. These strangers would break. As we all did." Whisper stares at nothing. Her voice comes in a low, hot rush: "When we landed, we refused to fight. I don't even remember which of us was the first to break. But they all knew who would win, once the blood began to fall. I was unstoppable. My own mechs. My own commander. My own people. I killed them." The words keep coming, a torrent, tidally crashing out of her as though these few truths between them have been enough to demolish a great dam. "Oh, some of them died in other fights, of course, but Crazy 8 knew what would break us. To destroy each other was to destroy ourselves. That is what I thought was coming for the Lost Light. For these strangers. I wanted so badly not to hate any of you for not breaking. I wanted so much not to hate any of you for saving me."

Skystalker listens, and little else; his expression settles into sadness, full mouth in a line as Whisper speaks. His hand draws idly along the lines of his face, fingertips lingering there in silence. A few truths to a torrent is more than he ever expected, but maybe it's just something that she didn't know she needed. Someone to say it to and not be judged for it.

"But you hate some of them for not breaking? For saving you when you couldn't save yourself?" Skystalker questions gently. "I'm sorry-- about what happened to everyone you had. It's probably not worth much to say, but, I want to say it. It's important to say, even if it's done and gone."

Whisper is silent for a long, long moment after this. Her fingertips set against each other in her lap, and there's a dimming of her visor as, behind it, her eyes narrow. There's a flicker as she blinks. She gives Skystalker a slow nod, and then after, she reverts to her careful stillness. Even the cycling of air through her ventilation systems seems, temporarily, to stop.

Maybe she even hates him a little for helping, but Skystalker can live with that. She's said enough to show that she trusts him even just the smallest amount. It's something to him, and it shows in the kind crease of his optics and face, and a posture to match. "Thank you, too. For sharing. We're not exactly the same, I know, but... you can trust me. And some of the others aren't so bad. I've tried to kind of-- start over. It's hard."

"It is." Whisper smiles faintly as she lifts her head again, returning the slant of her gaze towards him. "It is hard. I have lost ... all that was. This is-- something new. Everything is new. Even the oldest memory is different now."

"Yes. New. It's new and strange and so are all of the people, huh?" Skystalker gives her a brief, shining smile. The Lost Light is unique, that's for sure. "I'm glad you stayed with us, Whisper."

"I owe a debt of loyalty to this ship, this crew," Whisper says. She bows her head, but her smile grows as she shakes it. "I choose to honor that."

Skystalker nods slowly in understanding, his smile remaining as a calmed expression as he leans back into his seat again, hands closing around the datapad on his knee. She's a noble one, isn't she? It's good to have people with character around.

Thoughtfully, after a beat, Whisper adds: "And I -- try not to hate anyone."

That's reassuring, right?

Breath cycling through her in another sigh, she finally rises from the seat again, unfolding as though tension loose with the roll of her shoulders. She ducks her head, and then glances shyly past Skystalker rather than directly at him. She says: "... thank you." Then she turns, and starts to lope off across the room so that she can find somewhere to be very quiet, probably.

Skystalker nods again, to Whisper's half-look and the murmur before she departs. As she disappears into the habsuite halls, his vents exhale a held cycle, low, warm, and just a little shaky. Skystalker's optics shutter and flicker back to his reading, the rest of his thoughts wandering into the past once again.

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