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2016-10-26 Who Let The Dog In?

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2016-10-26 Who Let The Dog In?
Date 2016/10/26
Location PR-138
Participants Wheeljack, Bulkhead
NPCs Praeso, Dymium
Plot Animorphing
Summary Wheeljack tries to get an idea of what happened to Bulkhead and why he's acting so weird.

Wheeljack has spent the past few days trying to do his work as best he can with a large, enthusiastic... well, Bulkhead, in his lab. It could have gone worse. The problem is mostly the amount of attention that Bulkhead often requests in the form of petting or chatter. Wheeljack also tends to be hindered by the fact that, despite being reduced in size Bulkhead doesn't seem to be aware that he's not lap-sized. He's heard by now that Brainstorm has remained on the Elemen's station to help with the repairs of their device, and so he's finally made the journey over himself. Fortunately, it doesn't take long before he's making his way into the station, looking around curiously despite himself. "Hi!" he says to the first person he meets. "I'm looking for some information on the, um, accident that happened a few days back."

Life might be a little hindered for Wheeljack right now, but for Bulkhead, everything's going great! He gets pets whenever he wants, he gets to lie on Wheeljack's lap, sometimes he fetches things and helps with what Wheeljack's working on (before making it difficult to continue working on as he scrambles back into Wheeljack's lap), he gets to sleep in Wheeljack's berth...it's fantastic, and Bulk couldn't be a happier pupper if he tried. Which he doesn't have to! After convincing (read: whining at until Wheeljack said yes) Jackie to let him come along on the trip to the space station, Bulkhead remains at Wheeljack's side, looking around the station with interest. What interests him is mostly the smells. Food! So much food! Even if said food is whatever forms the fuel and energon the Elemen shops contain are put into. The first mech Wheeljack comes across says, "Oh, you're looking for Praeso? Follow me," before cheerfully leading the way to the labs.

Praeso and Dymium are both in the main lab with Dymium's project, along with a drone that is following their verbal instructions on what to fix, which tool to grab, etc. Immediately upon arriving, Bulkhead spots Dymium and growls. The cat-mech MRROOWS and darts behind the device, while Praeso swivels her head, large owl eyes narrowing in warning. Luckily for them, Bulkhead is an obedient dog.

When it's Jackie.

"Bulk chase?" Bulkhead asks, looking up at Wheeljack. "Bulk okay to chase Dym?"

"Thanks!" Is Wheeljack's immediate and cheerful answer to the guide. He keeps one hand on Bulkhead's helm, or his shoulder, when he can as they traverse through the lab. He can see the way Bulkhead is twitching toward the smells and sights of the station. Clearly having been through here before is not enough to stop Bulkhead from being utterly fascinated by everything going on in the lab.

When they do finally come to the lab in question, Wheeljack draws to a halt in the doorway, taken aback by the animal forms here as well. Clearly these aren't just their forms, as the guide who led him here didn't look anything like that. However, he's distracted from those thoughts by Bulkhead's request. "No, Bulk, no chasing anyone," he says, accompanying it with a pat to Bulk's helm. "I'm looking for Praeso?" he adds, turning back to the room's occupants.

Bulkhead's ears droop in disappointment, but then he receives a pat, and he's immediately happy again. Jack pet Bulk! "Ok. No chase," Bulkhead agrees. Dymium peers out from behind the device at this, tail twitching behind him. He's not about to come out just yet, even if Bulkhead has said he won't chase.

"I am Praeso." The snowy owl turns on her perch on a workstation nearest the device so that her head isn't turned in that eerie owl way any longer. It quirks to the side anyway, a clear sign of curiosity that Praeso would never give in her usual form - apparently she hasn't absolutely mastered the animal mind, or maybe she's just allowed some of the instincts to filter through. Who knows? "I assume you're here to ask about what happened," she continues, voice its usual drone despite the tilt of her feathered head.

Thankfully Bulkhead seems to be prepared to listen to him, and even happy about it. there's not much that Wheeljack could do to stop Bulkhead if he decided to go for it anyway. Bulkhead will get another series of absentminded pats while Wheeljack nods and turns his attention to Praeso, who seems remarkably composed compared to both Bulkhead and 'Dym.' "That's right. And to lend a hand, if you need one." Considering the drone, it seems like a distinct possibility. Then Wheeljack tilts his helm as he considers Praeso. "If you don't mind me saying, you seem pretty unaffected by the changes," he adds.

While Bulkhead leans into the touch, Dymium creeps out from behind the device, wary but feeling better now that the dog isn't going to get after him again. Though he's bursting to join the conversation, he doesn't, for now, not wanting to draw back Bulkhead's attention, and therefore resumes giving the drone instructions. Kind of proving that he, too, isn't as affected.

Praeso tilts her head in the other direction, clicking her beak a few times before she replies, "You say this because of him." A wing flicks toward Bulkhead. "The animal mind can be overcome, though I will not pretend that it is easy. Out of those who were changed in this manner, he is the only one who has reacted this way."

"Bulk like be dog!" Bulkhead barks helpfully. If help, more pets?

Because of the both of them, it's quickly becoming obvious that Bulkhead is indeed the odd one out in this situation. Wheeljack changes tactics with Bulkhead, moving onto ear scritches before he can get too bored and start shoving against Wheeljack's leg. In the meanwhile, he nods to Praeso. "I've only had the chance to talk with Bulkhead, of those changed. Brainstorm I might usually see, but I heard he's been here working with all of you on getting things fixed," he says. Which brings into question where Brainstorm is right now, but considering Bulkhead's reaction to Dymium, there might just be instinct problems there, too. "So to be clear, everyone else seems to have retained access to their... self?"

Praeso's feathers ruffle at the mention of Brainstorm, in a way that is likely unreadable to Wheeljack. "Brainstorm is working in an adjacent lab, at the moment," is all she says. Maaaaybe the crow vs owl instinctive hatred had gotten a little too much and they'd needed to separate themselves for a little while. "Yes. All of the others were capable of controlling the animal mind in some way in order to keep their own in control." She quirks her head again, eyes now on Bulkhead. "His case, I do not understand. It would require further study to find the reasoning behind why he was incapable of the same."

"Unwilling, it seems like," Wheeljack contributes, glancing down at Bulkhead. "Isn't that what you said? You like it like this?" He can only hope that when Bulkhead is transformed back to normal, he'll feel that it was a comfortable time, instead of a traumatizing one. In the meantime, there's other things to be taken into consideration. In particular, Dymium's work with the drone has captured Wheeljack's attention. "So what exactly did this? I haven't exactly heard back a clear report on that, either," he says.

Praeso does not take her gaze off of Bulkhead. "Yes, that is possible," she responds. "With how the rest seemed to quickly regain control, however, I would postulate that he is actually willing." Now she looks back to Wheeljack. "But I cannot say for certain without studying him in a controlled environment."

Bulkhead listens to all this, and the Bulk mind once more feeds the dog mind in order to respond. "Yes! Bulk like!" he says to Wheeljack, and then Praeso's words are processed, and his hackles rise, a growl starting deep in his chest. "No test! Bulk no want! Bulk stay with Jack!" The owl can't help her step back at the aggressive display of the dog, but Praeso, as if emphasizing what she'd hypothesized, quickly catches herself. "I would not study an unconsenting subject," she assures, and clicks her beak once more, feathers ruffling. She's clearly offended at the idea.

Before she can answer that last question, Dymium's attention is caught. "It's a project of mine!" he chips in proudly, despite everything that's happened. "It was built to help us be able to transform, like you, but it...." And here's where he wilts. "It malfunctioned..."

"No, Bulk, don't worry, no one will make you leave," Wheeljack says. He suspects that Bulkhead would be much more agreeable to the idea of tests if Wheeljack said he'd stay with him through them, but there's no need to do that unless it seems like something really is wrong. Besides, asking Praeso to do that would distract from repairing this, which would be detrimental to everyone affected.

Meanwhile, Dymium's sheepish admission has Wheeljack laughing. "That's just how it goes, isn't it?" he muses. He doesn't step closer, because Bulkhead is still right next to him, but his attention turns to Dymium, clearly interested. "So were you trying to give beastforms? How was it supposed to pair forms with alternate modes? We have T-cogs for that, but how were you planning on using an outside device to incite individual transformation?" Tell him more, Dymium, he's interested!

Bulkhead relaxes at that, leaning contentedly against Wheeljack's side, eyes closing halfway and tongue lolling while his tail wags. Jack keep Bulk safe. Bulk stay with Jack all ways.

Dymium perks back up at Wheeljack's interest and that comment. So he wasn't a bad scientist after all! "Yup, that was the plan! We don't need vehicle forms on our planet, it's partially organic, so I thought beast alts would work better! And this device would transform a mech based on, well, their personality! Um, as you can see." There's a sheepish glance at Bulkhead, but the pupper isn't paying attention. "Anyway! It was only supposed to affect whoever was standing here." And he pads over to the platform, where he plops his butt down and - he's halfway into the process of curling over to lick himself when he realizes and stops. Please pretend you didn't notice that. "It was meant to trigger a change in the mech's form using--" Insert handwavey science stuff here.

Good boy, Bulk. Wheeljack's just glad that talking to Dymium hasn't somehow drawn Bulkhead's attention back into the urge to start chasing Dymium around. He's still stuck in place, of course, which makes it difficult to get the good look at the platform and the device itself that they've been working on, but Dymium's descriptions are useful too, and Wheeljack is quick to start nodding along. It's more than enough to distract him from any animal antics on anyone's part, in fact. "So I'm assuming the personality parts have to do with the scans if the creatuers you used for alt-modes?" he guesses, his fins flashing in interest. "I assume, since you're fixing things, that you know why it didn't work as planned by now?"

"Yes, exactly!" Dymium says excitedly. He likes this one, though - he'd liked all of the mechs on the tour, too, except for Bulkhead now, what with the chasing and all. "And...yes, we think so. There was a malfunction in the proximity sensors - instead of detecting whoever stood on the pad, the device thought the entire lab was the pad." Even in cat form, Dymium manages to look miserable again. This boy cycles through emotions like a windmill, when he's not being excited. "That's what we're working on, trying to find where in the programming or hardware the malfunction stemmed from. And also, ah..." He droops further. "This project was never made to turn a mech back to a monoformer, so we have to do more work on top of fixing the malfunction..."

Wheeljack's nodding is sympathetic. It sounds very much similar to malfunctions he's faced in his own lab, and the attempts to fix them. "Usually the initial malfunction isn't what you actually have to change to get everything back to normal, it's what needs to be done afterward," Wheeljack observes. "I had to make a mass displacer using an entirely new method recently, for the same reason. I know you've already got Brainstorm on the team," he adds, "but if you could use another set of hands--" or a non-drone set of hands, "--then I'd be happy to stick around and help with the building."

Dymium giggles, his own form of sympathy. Oh, mass displacers! How silly they could be! Over the giggling of her (soon to be former) intern, Praeso says, "That would be very much appreciated, ah...Hm. My apologies, I did not ask your designation. You seem to have learned mine already, and that is Dymium." Another wing flick, this time toward the cat.

Bulkhead starts tuning back into the discussion, possibly because Wheeljack's interest in Dymium's prototype means that the petting has petered out. Instead of going after Dymium, though, he barks, "Bulk help! Bulk fetch!" And you get a headbutt to the leg, Wheeljack, albeit a gentler one than some have been in the past. "Yes? Bulk help too?"

"Oh!" Whoops, Wheeljack forgot to do introductions, didn't he? He was distracted by worry for Bulkhead, and then by science and engineering questions. Really, he needs to get better about that. "I'm Wheeljack, one of the ship's engineers." And also one of Cybertron's more infamous scientists, but that probably goes without saying. Even if Brainstorm is the 'ship's genius.' "Pleasure to meet you both."

The rest of Wheeljack's attempts at an introduction are interrupted by Bulkhead headbutting his leg. "Whoa!" he says, reaching down toward Bulkhead again. "Yes, you can help."

"Wheeljack." Praeso repeats the name, head swiveling as she regards him. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well."

"Yeah!" Dymium walks off the pad and does a few leaps onto the nearest objects to get himself onto the workstation beside Praeso, where he once more plops down his butt. His tail flicks behind him as he says, lacking any tact at all, "So what're you gonna do about him?" The 'him' is obvious, as Dymium looks to Bulkhead, who is once more leaning happily into whatever pets and scritches he is receiving. "Bulk help," he says happily, leaning his big head against Wheeljack's leg again.

"He's been working with me for the past week," Wheeljack says, reaching down to pat Bulkhead's helm as he presses it against Wheeljack's leg. "I'm sure he can help out here, too." He's pretty sure, anyway. Even the threat of being sent back to the ship alone would probably be enough to curtail Bulkhead from doing anything to interfere, in this state of his. Still, he turns his next comment to address Bulkhead. "And helping means that you're not going to chase anyone, right?" he says, petting along Bulkhead's neck.

Praeso's owl face manages to convey the slightest amount of doubt at this, while Dymium, even with the cat form, looks outright dubious. And in fact, Dymium, continuing to shove his foot (paw?) into his mouth, says, "For whatever reason, he's let the dog brain have control, you really think he can help?" His tone holds laughter, until Bulkhead growls at him. Wheeljack's petting is what keeps him still, what keeps him pressed against Wheeljack's leg, what has him relaxing again as his tail wags.

"Bulk be good," Bulkhead promises. "Bulk no chase. Bulk help." He even turns to lick at Wheeljack's leg, since he can't reach Wheeljack's face. Bulk mean it!

Wheeljack shrugs, all 'do you really think you can get him to leave?' as he glances between the Elemen scientists and Bulkhead, still pressed up against him. "I know, Bulk," Wheeljack says, hiding a sigh. If only Bulkhead hadn't succumbed to the dog brain so strongly... but it is what it is. "I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but he is an engineer," he points out. "Maybe he's not acting like one, but he knows what's what. Even like this."

"Oh, I have no doubt about that." Before Dymium can say something else stupid, Praeso steps in. "I do not believe that is what Dymium is attempting to convey." Her head swivels, eyes narrowing at the cat, who is immediately cowed. "If I may hazard a guess," she goes on, turning back to Wheeljack, "Dymium is expressing concern that, either your friend is too weak to fight off the second mind, or that there is something else going on that lead him to relinquish control. Either situation could cause complications in the delicate work we have ahead of us." She takes a moment to preen, face ducking beneath a wing, before she looks back up and adds, "Yet his presence should not hamper us." Her way of saying, yeah it would be way more work to get him to stop being, apparently, glued to your side than it would be to let him stay. Bulkhead, in the meantime, doesn't pay attention to any of this. He is getting Wheeljack pets and reassurance. This is all he needs.

"I couldn't say," is Wheeljack's non-commital answer to that. Privately, he's sure it's not that Bulkhead's mind is weak. He's proven himself an adept thinker long before this, and being transformed likely isn't going to change that. Of course, fighting it off requires wanting to, and Wheeljack has gotten the impression from what Bulkhead's said before this that some part of him likes the dog brain enough to not want to fight it off. Another thing to ask Bulkhead when he's back to normal, as well as why he so adamantly refused to leave Wheeljack's side. "Anyway, the sooner we get started, the sooner all of this is fixed, isn't it? Let's get to it!"

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