2017-07-20 Swap Meet

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Swap Meet
Date 2017/07/20
Location Lost Light - Science and Medical - Science Labs
Participants Perceptor, Brainstorm, Wheeljack, Sandstorm, Flame, Conduit
Plot Topsy Turvy
Summary It's a meeting of the minds to try to figure out the cause of the body swap. Also, Brainstorm debuts his Unicron tracker.

Where once the communal labs were neat and filled with the tools of science, they now sit nearly barren. Much of the specialized equipment is gone, either outright destroyed or in various states of disrepair. All of it is littered across the tabletops, not organized into work stations by discipline as they once were.

The storage compartments along the back wall remain largely intact, but the locks that held them closed before are often broken or missing. The sorting system has been given up - the section labeled 'picometers' is full of a motley assortment of clamps, for example, and little else is actually found in its proper location. A few of the cabinets have holes punched directly through the doors, and most of the hinges squeal when opened.

The isolation rooms are the only section that seems to have survived entirely intact, with little more than the occasional crack in the transparasteel viewports or doors that now scrape against the floor and sit ever-so-slightly misaligned in their frames. Some of the bolted-down workbenches have been forcefully pulled up from the floor and now wobble when used. Others have been removed entirely after being damaged beyond repair, leaving drill holes in the deck. The door to the storage area sits ajar, revealing a largely empty room, and the sign on the smaller door next to it reads " AZARDOUS MAT IAL: no unauthor try."

According to Rodimus, the ship's science and engineering department has been hard at work trying to fix their little body issue. Well, as hard as you can work with hands that aren't yours and a frame that's not quite right. Now with the pressing matter of fixing this before scouting parties run into more of Unicron's harbingers or worse, it's all hands on deck to brainstorm a solution- or at least a hotfix.

Perceptor's pacing, tapping two steps one direction, pausing for a moment, then walking in another. The meeting hasn't begun yet and he really doesn't expect most of the team to arrive early - they've almost all got frame and locomotion issues to worry about and he's hardly going to admonish anyone for that. Still, heading the department means calling the meeting, which means waiting, and waiting means more draw on his increasingly strained patience.

Brainstorm is one of the lucky few who's escaped the affliction going around the ship, which might seem suspect to some, even though he keeps explaining that, as much as he'd like to, he can't claim credit for this one. Not this him anyways. It could very well be the work of another him.

That, of course, doesn't mean he's going to be particularly early. Nor does the fact that he's once again barricaded himself in his workshop that's right there. He's busy saving the ship and the universe you know! When he does deign to finally pop out, it's with an excited look on his face, a circular device of some sort in his hand, and a cheerful "Just us, huh?"

It doesn't take too long for others to begin to arrive, though in his case, Wheeljack isn't coming from the direction of his lab, as he usually is. He may have finally gained access to it after Sandstorm's... less-than-welcome entry to his lab, but there are still plenty of things in it that he's been having trouble handling, and plenty of other things that he simply can't hold due to the size difference he's now working against. The sheer mass and strength of Strika's body is still difficult to adjust to when it comes to delicate tasks, and delicate tasks are what make up most of his work. "Oh, hello," Wheeljack says, pausing in the doorway as he comes in, nodding to the two of them. "....Oh, it's Wheeljack, by the way."

Locomotion issues indeed. Having spent some time now in Static's frame, Conduit has grown familiar with its troublesome leg and how it generally slows him down, thus his slight tardiness. What's more, there's the pain associated with it, which thankfully hasn't flared since his recent scouting mission. Maybe he's getting used to it. It certainly helps him keep his normally dour mood dour.

Conduit isn't usually one for these science "team" meetings. He prefers working alone. It doesn't help that there's barely a Decepticon on the team. However, the circumstances essentially require it, so he limps only slightly reluctantly into the area. He peers at the Aerialbot for a moment before guessing who it really is. For some definition of "really". "This is Conduit," he announces, as he gets himself to an area away from the center, where there are things to lean on.

Sandstorm, being Sandstorm, is certainly not going to be one of the first mechs in here for this meeting. He skirts in after Conduit, picking a spot to stand beside the nearest wall, sort of part of the group while remaining mostly outside of it. He's not a 'big brain', after all, he's just here to see what they're going to come up with, maybe throw in his two cents if he feels like it (read: probably). He goes to cross his arms over his chassis, but when he spots Wheelstrika here, he leaves them hanging at his sides, the duct-taped Autobrand prominently on display. He doesn't announce who he is. Let them guess, if they care.

Flame has been conspicuously absent since the chaos of the body swap, even missing a shift or two for his lab tech duties. There is good reason. A loud skittering in the ceiling announces his arrival, the former firetank bursting out of the vents with a deafening clang. The grate falls in a heap on the floor. Waspinator's frame looks twisted in a way that shouldn't be possible; however, this frame's resilience continues to shine through.

With an annoyed huff, almost looking like he's trying to firebreath out of the bug's frame, Flame straightens himself. "How doezzzz he get anything done in thizzzz frame?" he mutters to himself. It's a piece of junk held together by duct tape. He doesn't understand the vent thing either. Never again.

Perceptor gives an informal wave to Brainstorm, then gestures to the rest of the arriving team. "Not for long." He supplies, nodding with each clarified introduction and frowning slightly at Wheeljack's body- if he remembers correctly that's Sandstorm, the personality looks like a match- with a bit of disapproval, but no reprimand is forthcoming. "I'm Perceptor, though I should hope you've already surmised." Look at all that confidence in his department.

The Aerialbot's mouth is open to continue when he gives an involuntary jump and slight dying noise at the ceiling grate slamming into the floor. A few seconds to regain composure and he's back to talking. "Right. That's enough to start with. You're all aware of the current state of affairs onboard the ship, yes? Before I elaborate further on my own findings, I'd like to hear what, if anything, you all have managed to observe or deduce in the week since this began. If you could all refrain from analyzing each others findings until we've all presented them, this will go more smoothly." Then Perceptor gestures to Brainstorm to start them off, looking expectant.

"And I'm still Brainstorm" Brainstorm adds to the introductions as he looks over this rather colourful ensemble. Not that it wasn't colourful before, but it's kind of unusual to see all these faces gathered, here.

His own face looks mighty pleased when Perceptor gives him the first word "Well, as I told Percy the other day, it could be something that's forced people's sparks to transmit signals into the wrong location, and simply swapped brain module data. I'm still working on getting a swapped pair to let me run some tests. I also have something that will help with the Unicron problem" he holds out his device, which, round as it is, also turns out to be sporting a pair of horns. Those might be antennae though.

If he still had his helm fins, Wheeljack's would be flickering sheepishly. Instead, he rubs at the back of his helm, shifting in his place as he looks at the room. "Not much here, I'm afraid," he has to admit. "I've been having some, ah. Equipment problems." Which is to say, he's been breaking his tools half the time. Not to mention, his access to his lab has been hampered, and he's had to take the time to make sure there's a new, more tamper proof lock... Sandstorm, across the room still wearing Wheeljack's body, gets something of a look for that. "I can say that although we're in the minority, not all of the swaps seem to be a direct reversal. Sandstorm, Strika and I have been rotated, so to speak, in our frames."

Conduit listens and ponders until it's his turn to speak. He's observed that Static's frame has serious problems and deduced he wants out of it, but those findings seem ... unhelpful. At least when put that way. "This frame has control pathway issues in one leg, which have continued since my occupation. I believe others continue to experience physical problems just as their frames' original owners, instead of those problems moving with the original occupant. It implies that the neural ... swapping, or rotation, is limited, perhaps only to the brain module. Although it is interesting that Rodimus has taken on Soundwave's telepathic abilities, which one would have expected to be linked to the brain module. Those did not transfer." He looks with mild interest at Brainstorm's device. If it's relevant, wonderful, but otherwise ... ugh, meetings.

"I've noticed that." There's his two cents already. Sandstorm doesn't have much in the way of explanations, but he sure can give his observations. "Outlier abilities seem to have stayed with the frame, but some stuff didn't. As far as I know, whoever got Minimus had to be popped out of the armor." At least, that's what he assumes, after having seen it transported to the medibay with its chest damaged like that. Creeping around the science deck had its advantages. Noting Wheeljack's look, Sandstorm cycles his fins through some cheeky colors. They're not blindingly bright, not like the last time he and Wheeljack spoke, but they're not the usual comfortable level, either.

Sandstorm's gaze falls to the device Brainstorm has brought, indicated by the cant of his helm, as his optics are still hidden behind that new visor. He lets out a snort. "What, you gonna give it a model of itself? I don't know if that's the kind of flattery that will get us out of this."

Flame's frame straightens up, trying to take on a confident and disdainful pose. It looks somewhat ludicrous in Waspinator's body, but there's little question as to who has been swapped into the bug's frame. "You want my findingzzzz? I'm a lab tech, not a medic," Flame remarks, giving a derisive snor- buzz. It sounds more like a buzz. Of course, anyone with an inkling of his past would know the irony of that statement. If Flame had been allowed to practice this is the very sort of situation where his expertise would have been invaluable. If nothing else it makes him feel a little better to hold it back from others.

Perceptor nods along to each mech's relay of information, giving a commiserating smile to Wheeljack and nodding sympathetically to Conduit. A disgruntled look is sent Waspinator's way before he composes himself again, settling in for a long explanation. "You're mostly right- Outlier abilities are tied to sparks, not processors, so it stands to reason that the abilities would stay with their respective bodies provided the spark hasn't been moved. Since Rodimus and other mechs who have been transplanted into outliers have retained the abilities, we can rule out anything effecting the spark."

There's a short pause where Perceptor vents, crossing his arms before continuing, "Brainstorm and I discussed probable causes prior to this meeting and agree that it seems to be some sort of signal scrambling, and the preliminary data from my ongoing investigation into the internals of our guest from Unicron seems to back this." He tilts his head, eyeing Brainstorm's latest invention. "What does the device do?"

"Well, if it was sparks remaining in our original frames, we'd expect to see more... personality shifts, wouldn't we?" Wheeljack says tilting his helm and frowning, the corners of his mouth pulling down. "Not that I'm any expert at sparks, but they're a key feature of a living Cybertronian for a reason, and it's not just as a source for outlier abilities. But by signal scrambling... you're not talking... wirelessly controlling other mech's frames or something, are you? I'd think we'd see a lot more mechs keeling over motionless in that case." Wheeljack is already tapping at his chin the way he would with his facemask, though his attention quickly turns toward Brainstorm and his device, when Perceptor comments on it again. Any news is good news here, and Unicron still is a present threat, after all.

Brainstorm's optics narrow in almost a smiling way in 'Wheeljack's' (is that you, Sandy?) direction "Well, I could give it to it, considering that I can find it now. This" he holds out the device "Is a Unicron tracker. A real time Unicron tracker, so we don't have to rely on reports of places he's already visited to find him. I made it after poking around the body - bodies? that me and Trailcutter (and that other guy, whoever that was) brought from Clemency!" See, Percy, he has his own body to poke at!

Perceptor's explanation sends Conduit's own brain module spinning. Apparently, still functioning in his own frame. "The signals must be strong enough to traverse quite a distance, since some of us have been off on missions since the swap. Subspace transmissions, perhaps." Conduit can't speak to personality shifts, though Wheeljack has good points. "It's unlikely that we have been implanted with transmitters all at once, so either our own frames are powering it, or some external force is arbitrating it." Well, now, a Unicron tracker is significant enough to Conduit to be worth potentially derailing the meeting for, but he doesn't have any questions about it quite yet. He'll see where the discussion goes.

Sandstorm tunes out of the talk about sparks and mixed signals. Not his gig. Instead, he remains focused on Brainstorm and that little thingamabob he's got for fighting Unicron. Probably fighting. It's Brainstorm. Or-- "A tracking device, huh?" Sandstorm moves forward so that he can look closer at it, fins flashing in interest. "There a reason you made it look like that, or were you just going for a theme?" The talk of a 'body - bodies?' has his optic ridge shifting up on one side, shifting his visor to match it. "Oh yeah? Well, first we have to get close enough to Unicron to attach this thing - unless you're saying you figured out how to track it more accurately than we have been, without getting near it."

"Not necessarily," Perceptor looks to Wheeljack, holding up a finger in the universal sign of intelligent points. "We essentially control our bodies through frequencies and electrical pulses, and with the distance and speed at which subspace transmissions are capable of traveling it isn't in the realm of impossibility." He practically beams at Conduit, snapping his fingers in the mech's direction. "Exactly! Most of us suffering effects haven't been out on scouting missions so some sort of implanted device isn't likely, or would have been found by medical examination." He's bouncing a little on his toes, it's adorable when Fireflight does it. "From what I've been able to tell it looks like Unicron smuggled the device responsible onboard within 'Frumble' during our exchange. Whoever was responsible for engineering it must be an absolute genius, until just recently I would have classified such a device as an impossibility but, well."

Brainstorm gives Sandstorm a sour look. Everyone's a critic! It's a Unicron tracker! And it works better than that. What is he, some amateur? "It can track Unicron from kiloparsecs away! The HAVBLP (he pronounces it hav-blip) - the Horrific amalgamation of vaguely body-like parts has a non-Cybertronian component. It was something that was corrupted by Unicron, and was drawn to The Thingy. The Unicron tracker works on the same principle. We don't have to be anywhere near him to know where he is."

Perceptor's explanation has him turning back to the microsco-jet again "It could be hidden in people's subspaces, like the ticks. If someone would hold still long enough to let me get some proper scans..." he looks at those gathered. Volunteers?

At the word 'Genius', he can't help but narrow his optics, half in pleasure, half in competitiveness. It was definitely another him, he's sure of it, and he intends to outdo him.

Hmm. Well, if it's for science... "Might as well," Wheeljack volunteers, with a lot less reservation than one should probably have about being scanned by Brainstorm. "Though maybe we should scan someone who isn't switched, for confirmation that it's a difference." You know, for science! He's sure Strika won't mind, considering the danger he presents to the rest of the ship when he can't control his frame. And at least this way he's offering a decent contribution to the investigation.

Sandstorm is starting to look almost bored - it's a farce, he's extremely interested, but working Brainstorm up usually makes more exciting things happen. "Nice acronym." Hilarious acronym, more like it. Horrific amalgamation... "So what you're saying is you're tracking the equivalent of a license plate eaten by an organic shark? Well, whatever works, I guess."

Attention drawn back to Perceptor, Sandstorm switches topics. "So if you found the device in that horrorshow of a cassette, we should be able to reverse the effects, shouldn't we? Tinker with the device until we get it to undo what it's done." Simple, right? Like switching a vacuum from suck to blow. Totally the same.

Conduit does feel a small swell of pride that Perceptor was already thinking of subspace as a transmission medium. And Brainstorm's idea of a transmitter in subspace combine with it nicely. "So perhaps the device is hidden in Frumble's own subspace. That would free it from size constraints. Searching the subspaces of those affected is certainly still a wise path to pursue. Brainstorm, I also volunteer for a scan." The sooner he can get out of this frame, the better.

"If we can successfully remove the device, yes. Once we have it we can reverse-engineer it or... turn it off. It depends on how the transmissions are being scrambled and how the device is powered." Perceptor nods, rocking back to his heels and composing himself a bit more. "Ah- I should have- It's in Frumble's frame. Or, was. I followed through on a hypothesis and while I haven't received all the results of the surgery yet but we should be able to begin engineering a fix by tomorrow at the latest."

"No, I'm not saying that" Brainstorm shoots Sandstorm an annoyed look. What's this guy even doing here? Wheeljack - the actual one, and Conduit get more approving looks. "Great!" There's even that telltale twinkle in his optics. That's definitely a good sign. Finally, Perceptor gets a somewhat annoyed, but also curious look "Care to share at least some of those results with us, since the rest of us weren't invited to the party?"

He's here specifically because he doesn't really need to be. Sandstorm just 'grins' in the face of Brainstorm's annoyance, and while Brainstorm's distracted by Perceptor, he might even reach out and try to poke one of the tracking device's horns. Well at least it looks cool, and he would like a more in-depth explanation of how it works. Maybe later. "Yeah, Perceptor, you bring enough for the class?" Sandstorm crosses his arms this time, attention falling squarely back on his boss. "You brought us all here to share notes, right? So share."

"Ah, already located, then." Conduit isn't as miffed as others here. There's still likely to be a few surprises left, knowing where the device came from and what it does. "Without a portion in subspace, it is likely very advanced indeed. I hope that there are no failsafes to it being extracted." There's already one dead !cassette on the ship. "Given its mode of operation - assuming it does use subspace - checking Frumble's own subspace and ours still seems prudent."

Perceptor frowns, which looks a bit more like a pout right now. "That's the extent of it at the moment. Results are still processing. Until then, we have a box that's probably the cause of all this." He shoots a disapproving almost-glare at Brainstorm, he had to fight to get clearance to even conduct the vivisection in the first place. "Brainstorm, if you could work with Wheeljack to reverse-engineer the box, and Conduit I'd like you to investigate that subspace hypothesis, we can either confirm or rule out the existence of some extraneous hardware. I'll disseminate the final results from the surgery as soon as they're available." In other words: He doesn't have notes, just the confirmation that they've got some sort of signal scrambling box and successfully avoided killing a mech to get it.

Brainstorm returns that frout (pown?) with a scowl of his own. You vivisected someone without him, and didn't even take notes? And he can do this without Wheeljack too. Actually, he'll probably have to either way, given the other engineer's current, uh, state. Still, at least he gets the box! That's actually pretty great, if the twinkle in his optics is anything to go by. He'll be reverse engineering alright, and not just because they need a solution. Imagine what sort of weapon he could make out of this! "Consider it done!"

"Of course." Conduit already has an idea or three of things to try, foremost among them fashioning devices to monitor and to block subspace transmissions. He'll need his own volunteers at some point, but failing that, he's never hesitated to use himself. In this case, his "self" would be Static, but oh well. Such are the risks of Science. Still, finding his swap pair and convincing him to partake in some experiments would make things easier, and findings faster. And maybe he could get back into his ship, too.

Perceptor nods, smiling at the group. "Fantastic, I'm confident we can have a solution and explanation within the week. Thank you all for your time, you're dismissed." That went... better than expected.

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