2016-09-01 Quid Pro Quo

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Quid Pro Quo
Date 2016/09/01
Location Habsuites
Participants Roughshod, Conduit
Plot Denied
Summary Roughshod needs donations. Conduit needs to get back onto his ship.

Rows of twinned habsuites line the halls of the residential deck with a shared lounge at the far end.

Note: This scene takes place while the Lost Light is stranded on Desudesu V.

Roughshod is one of the security mechs tasked with checking the ship's cushions for change, so to speak. He's going up and down the habsuite halls, gruffly demanding 'donations' of unused keepsakes from Autobots, and notably being a lot more polite with neutrals and Decepticons. There's a semi-full crate against his hip as he raps his knuckles against the next door. "Alms for the poor!" he barks, then laughs at himself.

The habsuite door slides open, revealing Conduit on the other side. He has been attempting to acclimate himself to this, his new home, but his side of the habsuite is barren at the moment, except for the standard recharge slab. His roommate is likewise missing. He looks at Roughshod, his optics fleetingly alighting on his badge, and then at the crate. After a silent moment that is almost long enough to be awkward, he responds. "You are collecting ... shanix? In a crate?" His voice is deep, but not intimidating.

Oh good, a purple. But it's the weird occultist newbie. Or whatever he is. Roughshod hadn't checked the logs lately. "No..." He tilts the crate of wares so the contents are visible. Someone gave up what looks to be a lobbing trophy. There's a few mech-sized hand-held games, next to a broken datapad and decorative energon flasks. "Stuff. Got anything you want to get rid of?"

At that Conduit smirks (yes, he is capable of humor) and pivots to one side slightly, gesturing to his side of the habsuite. "I'm afraid not. My belongings are still on my ship. I've yet to retrieve them." The last sentence carries a grumble of frustration.

Roughshod stands a solid moment, staring blankly. "Okay." Another pause. "You... wanna' go get 'em? I'll wait." Pause three. "Hang on. Are we keepin' you under house arrest or somethin'... I heard-" He hesitates, then lowers his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "I heard you killed all your shipmates, s'at true?"

Conduit's optics widen, then narrow, then widen again. His shoulders sag slightly. "No, I did not. At least, directly. We powered on a device and it seems that they were killed when it overloaded." He vents. "It was ... an accident." His own pause. "I would like to board my ship, but Soundwave ... suggested I not go alone." HINT HINT.

Roughshod rolls his shoulders to hide the mild slump of his displeasure, assuming the precaution to be some type of emotional thing. "A'ight, fine, let's go. You ain't gonna' break down whimperin' right? I'm no good for that sort of thing, y'know. No trainin' for it." He hefts the crate and makes for the docking bay, beckoning lazily.

Conduit is surprised that Roughshod is so quick to, well, take his hint. He hasn't had luck with anyone else. A trace of a smile appears on his face, and at the risk of upsetting the apple cart (horse joke. check.) replies, "No. Are you?"

Roughshod laughs, brassy and sharp, "Nah." He's not shy about conversation on the way down to deck six. "If you ain't attached to it maybe we can scrap your ship for parts. Seems we're keepin' everyone's fragged-up ships in th' bay now."

"Hmm, I'd rather not. It's been useful to me." Conduit wasn't aware that the Lost Light was accruing a collection of others' ships. Then again, the Lost Light is pretty humungous, so they are easy to miss. "I'm also hoping to ... un-frag it, although I need to see how ... fragged it is."

Conduit's ship, Xal's Blade, rests innocuously in one of the many docking bays. It is not a large ship, but it is significantly bigger than the typical shuttle. He presses a palm to an access panel to open the side door, which slides away obediently. Conduit makes a mental note to lock down the ship again, now that those who "swept" it no longer require access. The door opens onto a curved hallway, and Conduit leads Roughshod along it to an open area, full of workbenches and computing consoles and other scientificy-looking stuff. An elevated platform on the other side houses the bridge. Conduit stalks to the very center of the chamber, glaring at an empty, raised podium of sorts. It shows signs of damage, as if something had torn at it. "It's gone," he growls.

Roughshod is about to regale Conduit with the strangeness of Blackstorm's attachment with his own busted ship, but quickly gets drawn up in the interior of Xal's Blade. "Huh," he grunts, dropping the crate on a workbench. "Looks like a research ship or somethin'. S'matter? What's gone?" A quick sweep of the damage leaves him drumming his chin.

"Very astute, this is a research ship." Conduit is pleased that Roughshod recognizes it as such. He points a finger at the vacant podium. "What's gone is the latest object of my research, and what likely killed my crew. I shall have to make some ... inquiries."

Roughshod is suddenly a lot more interested. "If ya' reckon any of the crew stole it, we're gonna' hafta' tell Tailgate." He lifts a wary optic ridge at Conduit's notion to inquire himself. "What is it, some kinda' energy source? You made any enemies yet?"

"Tailgate," Conduit repeats. "I've heard the name. Thank you, I shall inquire with him first." He is again impressed with Roughshod's inquisitiveness, although he doesn't even know his name yet. "We weren't sure what it was, beyond rumors and speculation. It was supposedly a device for tapping into the life energy of sparks. We couldn't know for sure until, well, we turned it on. That was a fatal mistake." He looks around the workspace, as if perhaps the device had merely rolled over somewhere. "Enemies? None I can think of, beyond those we've made simply from our badges."

"If it's dangerous in any regard, /I/ have to make sure it's reported missing. Unless you wanna' swear you'll do it this evening. Don't bother writing anything up, just go to him directly." Roughshod gives the space another once-over. "...Wait, you were going to donate the thing that killed your crewmates?"

Conduit turns to face Roughshod and tilts his head. "It is potentially dangerous, if it killed my crew. I will report to Tailgate as soon as possible, but it seems advisable to report it yourself, if only to alert him quickly. I'm downloading a physical description to you now." Then he remembers his part of the bargain coming here. "Oh! No, no. I wouldn't. I just needed to check on it right away. I ... forgive me, I do owe you a donation."

Conduit walks to a double door at the forward end of the chamber, and palms it open. Inside is a laboratory, cozier than the main workspace, its curved walls lined with what appear to be specimen containers, each in its own coded slot. "The ship was frozen in deep space for some time, and I keep my creations in cryofreeze, so I believe ..." Conduit activates a central console, and indicator lights blink to life across the shelves. He sweeps his gaze around the room. "99% survival rate. Excellent."

"Alright. Thanks." Roughshod surveys the room, maintaining his wariness. He's not so sure he likes the word 'survival' in this context. "I can't accept anything /live/, doc. What is it..." He pauses, white optics scanning the shelves, "What is it you research exactly, mech..." Seems Conduit is just as nameless.

Conduit is clearly pleased to show off his work. "Nanotechnology. Specifically," and he carefully retrieves one of the containers, "nanites. Entities which bridge the gap between life and non-life." He places the container on a flat table, and reaches into a cabinet for a block of metal, which he places beside it. "Now ... ah, I never got your name. I am Conduit. So what sort of donated item are you seeking?"

"Roughshod," he answers quietly, watching Conduit's hands. "The stuff they use in medicine sometimes?" A smile finally tugs at his lips. "You're a regular necromancer, are ya'. Eh, anything these idiots might find value in. Could be circuitry made from gold, even. Iffen you don't have anything and you're just usin' me as an excuse to poke around your ship, that's fine, just say so, so I can get back to work."

Conduit considers. "Well, this is merely a block of base metal, but we can make something, perhaps, artful out of it." He holds a hand over the container, and shimmering swirls begin to flow across its inner surface. He lays the container on its side and opens its lid, and a small swarm of nanites flows out. It engulfs the block of metal, blobbing this way and that, and in a moment it runs back obediently into its container, which Conduit caps. The block has been reformed into a statuette of a winged creature.

Roughshod is compelled to lean in, further and further until he catches himself from teetering. "Wow... Would ya' look at that!" he exclaims, reaching to poke that statuette. "How'd it... how'd you do that? Nanites can do that?" Clearly he's not too versed in much of anything science-related, but that doesn't seem to effect his awe over it.

"These can." This is about as excited as Conduit gets; there's nearly an exclamation point on the end of that sentence. Still, he's happy that his nanites are alive and safe, and for the moment it's enough to distract him from the missing artifact. He places the container back in its slot, and its indicator lights blink cheerily. "I suppose I did use you to get back on my ship, Roughshod, but please take that piece as my donation. And if you need anything else, I remain in your debt."

Roughshod scoops up the small figure and gently places it in the crate. "Nah that'll do just fine. I guess take whatever else ya' need in here, if Soundwave's barrin' ya' without company still. So that's your own special batch? ...They're living? How do you... maintain them?" Conduit hasn't been shy about answering questions, so Roughshod continues to prod him as he makes for the ship's entrance.

Conduit caresses the shelf where he placed the nanites, and then leaves the lab to accompany Roughshod. "I believe Soundwave insisted on company only for my initial return here. Honestly, I don't know why." Nor will he try to find out. He's followed instructions and now he'll have free access to his own ship, thankyouverymuch. "I have many batches. They are not exactly living, but then again in a way they are. It is what I research, that line. They consume energon, like you and me, although at an accelerated rate. They require some care, but they can work wonders."

"I'm tempted to grill you on their exact use," Roughshod says plainly, back under the stark light of the docks. "But I'll be here all night. You've made my shift less boring though. Cheers. We'll hunt down your doohickey," he adds, fairly confident since their convenient discovery of Skydive's missing watch. "Couldn't have gone far."

"Thank you, Roughshod." Conduit is slightly alarmed now at being "grilled"; is Roughshod interested in the nanites because they may be dangerous, or for his own purposes? Conduit's experiments have not always been received well. Either way, the nanites will remain on the Xal's Blade for now; Conduit can work within the ship just as well when it sits in a docking bay as when it is free in space. He moves to return to his habsuite, but remembers how empty it is, so he spins back to re-enter the ship. He can retrieve some personal effects while he is here.

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