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2016-07-23 Locker Check

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Locker Check
Date 2016/07/23
Location Mirage and Beachcomber's Habsuite
Participants Red Alert, Mirage, Beachcomber
Summary After some complaints about questionable scents, Red Alert visits Mirage and Beachcomber's room to hunt down the culprit.

A lone wisp of smoke curls from the 'workstation' centered perfectly against the far wall, carrying with it the heady scent of incense. Closer inspection reveals that the workstation has been converted into a makeshift shrine, a detailed mural painted on the wall behind it. The outline of a hand is filled with elaborate iconography from many different sects and religions, but prominent among them is a t-cog being cradled in its palm. Airy drapes pinned to the ceiling above the shrine radiate around the room, fluttering with every small movement.

There is an invisible dividing line through the room. On the side with the window, the room is devoid of all but a few decorative flourishes. The only clue that it has been lived in is a line of datapads perfectly tucked away on a hexagonal storage shelf, alert sentinels ready to be picked up, read, and enjoyed.

On the other side of the room, every inch of wall space not used up by the room's monitor has been overtaken by the same hexagonal storage shelves in a range of bright colors. An eclectic range of items are stored there, perfectly entwined like lovers, in an oddly meticulous attempt to fit as many things in as limited a space as possible. A small, blue hammock is suspended by the side of the recharge slab (which has been converted into a daybed). A solitary crystal charm brazenly dangles over the invisible dividing line, threatening to destroy the balance of the room.


The worst of the discomfort had faded away from his injuries, and the scout is finally back to his old self. While he still has a few check ins left with the medic, and his right arm could use a few tweaks, Mirage is getting back to his old habits. Including cleaning. In the few days since he'd returned from Dunia and been confined to his berth, the room had become something of a mess (or at least it is in his opinion). Right now, he is trying to inch across the line dividing the room in order to wipe down the rock dust from Beachcomber's desk.

As he passes the door, though, he pauses and quirks an optic ridge at Beachcomber. "Do you mind if I open the door? It's getting a bit stuffy in here."

Beachcomber sees that inching, Mirage. He sees it and he's endlessly amused by it. He tries not to laugh but he can't help grinning at the spy's antsy-ness over less than a quarter centimeter layer of dust. It wasn't as though the Lost Light was a sterile environment - the Medbay and one of the labs are likely the only really clean places on it at all. Well, and the decontamination chambers by design, obviously.

Still, he'll have mercy on the injured mecha and make a clear, obvious showing of dampening a cloth with saline solution and wiping down his desk. Is that better, Raj? You can stop 'sneaking' now, silly bot~ "Sure, mech, go for it," Beachcomber chuckles, unable to quite help himself.

Red Alert is skulking down the corridor outside, making his rounds as usual. Patrols have been a part of his life for a long time, and he used to throw himself at them with gusto, but lately he's started to get the sense that there is something more to life than his work. That he's missing out on something while making his rounds. So it's with a distracted and slightly annoyed demeanor that he stops outside Mirage and Beachcomber's habsuite and sniffs the air. Yeah, he can smell it. The complaints--both official and circling the rumour mill--are true. There's something weird going on in that habsuite, and he needs to get to the bottom of it.

He sighs. He really doesn't feel like doing this right now, but he steels himself for the task and steps forward to knock on the door. Like it or not, there's a habsuite search in his immediate future.

At the exact moment that Red Alert steps up to their hab suite, the doors whoosh open. Like creatures freed from a cage, wisps of smoke curl around Mirage's frame and drift into the hallway. The scout gives a surprised intake of breath to see him there. It does not take long, however, for Mirage's golden optics to narrow with suspicion. Red Alert has a reputation; Mirage has only ever had bad experiences with wild accusations and being held for questioning. The two do not mix all that well.

While this development is not welcome, Mirage is all decorum and politeness. "Red Alert. What an unexpected surprise. Is there something I can help you with?" he asks, tilting his helm imperiously as he examines the intruder.

Once the door opens and the haze of incense is pulled out into the hall, there's a noticable quality difference to the air that makes Beachcomber's head duck sheepishly. Maybe they should get an air purifier or something, all this thin smoke couldn't be doing wonders for Mirage's vents while he's healing. There wasn't exactly a window they could open - maybe he should get smaller sticks? Or cut them in half? It didn't have to burn for as long as he tended to leave it going...

Hearing Mirage utter the Security Officer's name shook the geologist from his thoughts and he slipped his way over to the doors to peek around the frame. "Hey Red~ Sup, mech? Come to pray at the shrine?"

Red Alert visibly flinches as the door wooshes open, but he rights himself a second later and tries to look professional.

"It's nothing like that," he says in response to Beachcomber's puzzling query. "I'm here because there have been a series of complaints made about the--" oh Primus the stench is overpowering from this close-- "atmosphere in your habsuite. I'm here to make an inspection. I have the paperwork." He rummages around in his subspace and produces a form, which he hands to Mirage. It details the specifics of the complaints: smoke, unusual smells, suspicious chemicals. Red Alert is already trying to peer around Mirage to get a glimpse of the inside, squinting through the haze. "I'll be as brief as I can."

Of course that's what this would be about. Mirage can't help wondering if someone put Red Alert up to this, if it has more to do with rumors about him than the 'atmosphere of the hab suite.' A little more forcefully than needed, Mirage yanks the forms away from Red Alert and starts to peruse them. He tries his best to keep the scowl from his faceplates.

"I see the paperwork, but I don't see your credentials," Mirage remarks, holding out his other hand. "I hope that won't be a problem?" It's a completely ridiculous request (as everyone knows Red is in security) but he's allowed to make it. It's all a part of the system. And it stalls things, even if only for a fleeting moment.

Beachcomber pats soothingly at Mirage's arm as he squeezes around him to approach Red Alert and offer a smile as well as his hands. Mirage was ill at ease, and for good reason, but Beachcomber thought it better to show he wasn't afraid. At most Red could confiscate things and put him in the brig, but it wasn't as though he couldn't synthesize more or pick some up at their next resupply docking. A temporary annoyance, but nothing detrimental. "Sorry about the smell - that'd be the incense on the shrine to Adaptus. We have a few people that come to visit it so it stays lit for prayers and meditation."

Well, a half truth. Torque came to visit and she liked looking at the painting, so it kinda counted as a prayer right? Same difference. "We'd set out offerings for him instead but that's likely to get messy quick - and probably attract retro rats or something next time we dock. You know how they sniff out any fuel or snacks left lying out. I don't mind them, but most people seem to get a little twitchy about their skittery little claws and twitchy little whiskers."

Red Alert's natural frown deepens as Mirage subtly makes an already unpleasant job ever so slightly more difficult. Red forces himself not to get irritated as he fishes out his badge and passes it over. No one likes their habsuite to be searched, it's only natural... He tells himself this as Mirage finishes studying the paperwork, and Beachcomber babbles distractingly about--what? Shrines and rats and all kinds of nonsense.

Red Alert suppresses a sigh. It's going to be a long inspection, isn't it?

"That sounds like a fire hazard," Red Alert grumbles at Beachcomber's words. "I'll have to take a look at it."

The scout makes a horrified noise at the suggestion of such vermin in /his/ living space. While he wants Red Alert gone, he is not sure he's willing to go so far as play Disney Princess with retro rats. He does, after all, have dignity. After a very thorough search of Red Alert's documents, he heaves a heavy sigh and shoves them back. He's had enough experience with security to know its air-tight. Did he expect anything less of Red, though?

Still, maybe all of this can be averted. "A search is hardly necessary," he remarks. "If you'll give me a moment."

He glances apologetically at Beachcomber before disappearing back into the swirling mists. He returns with a handful of incense sticks and shoves them in Red's direction. "If you're looking for the source of the smell, there you are. Your job is done. We promise to find something that burns a little less strongly next time around. Give my apologies to your complainants."

The best way to get rid of them is to give them what they want. Hopefully that will hide the things Mirage is actually concerned about.

A fire hazard? ..........seriously? A fire hazard. That was the complaint to be made. When there are people like Hot Rod and Firestar who actually make fire with their bodies. And people like Whirl and Wheeljack who set things on fire for fun (probably). His incense sticks were a fire hazard. Really. Really. His teeny little sticks of scented powder are an inspection-worthy fire hazard. Really.

Beachcomber restrains himself from pointing out the obvious (and arguably discriminatory) flaws in the Security Officer's logic, though, and makes an appropriately mournful noise when Mirage hands over the aforementioned scented sticks. "But Raj! What will we put at the shrine without the incense? It's a meditative aid, aromatherapy, etcetera etcetera."

Mirage has a talent for making Red feel more irritated by the second. He waves the incense away, trying not to gag on the heavy flowery scent, and gives Mirage a stern look.

"There are no shortcuts taken in matters of security. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a job to do. Properly." And since Beachcomber and Mirage have been uncooperative so far, he abandons etiquette and tries to squeeze his way through the door, hindered somewhat by his overlarge shoulders and the other mechs standing in the way.

Mirage cannot hide the scowl when Red Alert elbows in. Part of him is expecting it, but he really had tried his best there a moment ago. If Red Alert is going to invade his sanctuary, though, it will not be a fun experience. The scout settles in just behind Red Alert and tails him around the room. He stays just far enough that he cannot be accused of interfering, but it is clear that he is watching and following.

"If you insist," he snaps. "Though you'll not find much else than what I've already shown you. Contrary to whay my roommate's humor, I do like to keep my quarters meticulous."

His optics dance to Beachcomber again, and he feels his spark drop. He really does hate to give away his things and speak like this, but he wants Red out of the room more for Beachcomber's sake than his own. Hopefully he will understand. "We'll find a substitute, Beachcomber, I promise. We cannot expect everyone to respect Adaptusian ways."

"Aw Raj," Beachcomber mourns softly again, but scoots obligingly out of the way for the Security Officer. It's hardly the first room check/confiscation he's been through - maybe the first on the LL but hardly the first in his life. And it's best to be out from underfoot - the less it looks like you're trying to hide, the less places they tend to pry. Though, then again, Red Alert was particularly meticulous as part of his reputation. Ah well. C'est le vie.

Not wanting to get kicked (on accident, he's sure), Beachcomber clambers up to his hammock out of the way and settles in, gesturing to the shrine. "It's not about a lack of respect, Raj. It's alright. We'll just ~adapt~ to the situation like he'd want us to do~ But that being said, Red would you like to pay your respects to the Guiding Hand while you're here?"

He's finally inside, and for a moment Red feels relief. He can do the inspection, confiscate the goods, and get out of this awful situation once and for all. It should all go smoothly from here.

Should.

But then he feels the familiar prickle of optics on his back, and hear the soft footfalls of the former spy falling in behind him and

No

No

Not that

He freezes save for the twitching of his fingers, his hands flexing unconsciously as he fights down a familiar panic.

Watching him

They're watching him

Always waiting in his shadow

He turns abruptly as Beachcomber speaks, putting his back to the wall and letting the prickle along his plating and in his head dull as he vents deeply to calm himself. The air is still heavy with smoke and the smell bothers him in a way he can't describe, but the ventilations help. He catches some of Beachcomber's words through the fog, something about the Guiding Hand and paying his respects. He cycles his optics in a blink, and looks at the gestured shrine, as the words slowly settle into place like leaves drifting to the earth. Beachcomber is asking him if he wants to pray.

"I haven't," he says lamely, then shakes his helm and tries again. "It's been a long war and I haven't had much opportunity." He looks at the shrine and then back at the incense Mirage is still clutching. "It might be conducive to my inspection to see how it's done, and what you do with the, er, incense..." He trails off, feeling awkward about what he's about to ask. "So you can show me, if you like. How to pay these respects."

The edge of Mirage's mouth twitches once more. Stepping towards Beachcomber's hammock, he holds out the pile of incence for the minibot without a word. Of the two of them, he is much better equipped to show how he uses them. Mirage himself is known to be somewhat mysterious and elusive in his worship. While Beachcomber may see him about his rituals upon occasion, Mirage's faith is not one that encourages conversion. The days when he had shown it proudly were also long gone, lost to the war, as many considered Adaptusian ideas to have close ties to functionalism. It invited trouble to be too outspoken.

"Very well. If you wish to inspect our piety, I am sure Beachcomber can oblige. As you may have noticed already, he is ready and eager to open to share such things."

Beachcomber takes the sticks with a small nod and a smile, tucking them against his forearm to keep them straight while he twists and levers himself down to drop from his hammock. He selects one from the bundle and sets the rest on the berth. A moment to retrieve a heat coil stick from his desk drawer and he lights the tip of it and blows out the flame. The ember simmers at the end of the stick, a thin line of white smoke coiling from the tip as Beachcomber swirls it lightly around the shrine before settling it into the holder to burn.

"Okay, Red, the traditional way is to put your hands together like this and hold them over your chest when you pray." Beachcomber demonstrates, fingers curled and clasped in a particular way. He might be making some of this up. Or he might have studied and worshipped somewhere differently before the war. Either/or, it was hard to say. "And after a short prayer we'll sit-" Beachcomber plops himself down on the floor in front of the shrine, off to the side to make room for Red, and folds his legs up with his pedes atop his knees, "and we'll offline our optics and let our senses expand and extend our sense of self, in order to feel the energies around us and commune with the universe."

Red shuffles forward, trying to ignore Mirage's unsettling presence and comments, and carefully watches Beachcomber begin the rite. He tries to mimic the hand gesture, but he feels weird and insincere for having nothing to pray about, and so after a moment he drops his hands and settles for watching Beachcomber. The incense, he discovers, is properly secure in the holder, and shouldn't be of any trouble were it not for the smoke. He mentally files this away as he settles by Beachcomber's side and watches the end of the rite. He can't fold his legs like Beachcomber does--his leg kibble is bulky and intrusive--but he tucks his legs close to his body as he sits so his knee joints are almost against his chest.

He's not sure about communing with the universe, but being quiet and still is relaxing after his brief brush with panic, and he lets himself sit peacefully for a spell.

Mirage steps back to his side of the room, letting Beachcomber work his unique brand of magic. Kind of. The scout's gaze remains on Red Alert through it all, always watching and not letting him forget it.

"Breathe deep," Beachcomber hums, gesturing with his hands to simulate air being drawn into the body. "I know the scent is overwhelming at first, but as it settles into your vents the aroma becomes familiar and soothing. It helps to block out distractions from the olfactory senses, and wraps around you like a safe, warm blanket." More hand gestures. Slow, practiced movements as he talks, his voice a similar slow, patterned tone. "Meditation is about learning to communicate - with your own body's needs and desires, and with the greater cosmic energies. In this case, it's about opening yourself up to feel the presence of the Guiding Hand. We dull our physical senses to external stimulus to allow our other senses to expand further past our physical forms and reach out to those guiding forces. Stillness of the body, darkness from offlined optics, the cradling aroma of incense, and the focusing hum from the engine. Let it resonate through your core, and out through your limbs bringing your whole chassis into harmony. Try it with me, Red: Ooooohhhmmmmm..."

He can't. He can't shut himself off completely. He can still hear talking from one of the nearby rooms. Laughter. An echoing clang from somewhere in the hall as, in a fit of anger, a foot connects with the wall. And, somewhere in the pipes, something is dripping, a sound which has steadily been grating on his nerves. And, when it isn't his too-sharp hearing, it's the lingering prickle of gold optics in the back of his helm.

"I--" Red Alert says suddenly, standing up. "Appreciate your hospitality. But I should finish my inspection."

Watched

He is being watched

Unblinking

Escape

Need to escape

He shakes his helm again. There's no way to truly relax in a place like this, no matter how Beachcomber tries.

"Inspecting our religious habit was not enough?" Mirage interrupts. Ouch, his barbs keep on getting worse and worse. The scout is finding he has less and less patience for this farce of a search. "How very thorough of you."

Mirage suddenly stands, heading towards the door. He'd mostly remained here out of concern for Beachcomber, but he sees that the minibot is right at home. If Beachcomber feels no need to hide his own secrets then it is not his place to get involved. That and he knows Red will find nothing on his side of the room. He is thorough enough. "I believe I'm finally well enough to visit the library again. I don't need to stay for the search, I assume?"

"Alright, Red, that's fine," Beachcomber hums softly, offering Mirage a sympathetic smile. Poor Raj. Poor Red too - he's really out of sorts, isn't he? Beachcomber's well aware his alternate lifestyles and rituals aren't always welcome to everyone, so he doesn't blame the mech for being twitchy. He stands, offering his hands to Red Alert in a show of fellowship. "Go ahead, mech - all the samples in the storage wall are labeled with its contents, half-life rate, date of acquisition and place of origin. Percy made me move my more volatile samples to the communal labs so some of them will be empty, but feel free to inspect them if it'll help you feel better. And we'll tone it down with the incense."

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