2018-05-09 Quint Trade

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2018-05-09 Quint Trade
Date 2018/05/09
Location Caetilax's Warehouse -- A Titan's Head
Participants Minimus Ambus, Soundwave
NPCs Caetilax, Shk
Scene GM Tez
Summary Soundwave and Minimus go to collect a very important device from a Quintesson.

It's hard to find a Quintesson who is willing to deal with Cybertronians right now. There are Quintesson agents purporting to share what they promise is 100% real genuine Quintesson tech, but actually Quintessons have been thin on the ground in the wake of the activation of Tyrest's repurposed switch.

It takes a Soundwave-level information scouring and a Minimus-level attention to deal to dig up the one agent who might actually be a genuine Quintesson's front. Do they have a storage device? Sure. What are they willing to trade? --let's deal.

When they arrive at a cozy, galactic backwater, they find the dealer's base of operations is an ancient metrotitan. Or -- most of one. It's not clear what happened to the rest of it, but the head serves as base and the mouth as a docking bay. Come on in.

Once their craft has landed, the jaw shuts and the bay pressurizes again. The aesthetic is space warehouse chic: bare, and designed more for storage than anything else. Then, an interior door slides open and a three-limbed organic creature with a slightly unsettling radial symmetry wobbles on out. Three eyestalks turn to face the Cybertronian craft.

It took time and sleepless nights to be able to locate this place. Soundwave, thankfully, has found sleep eluding him anyways, allowing to finally pinpoint their destination. Its unfortunate none of his sources told him what this wares house was. He grimaces beneath his facemask the whole time he's docking.

"Is there anything in the Tyrest Accords about desecration of the dead? They shouldn't have this," Soundwave grates out of his processor. Already his threadbare diplomacy skills are being worn thin. He stands, flexxing his servos, to approach the exit. He pauses just before heading out. "If things go unexpectedly, they have sparks in around the lower part of their torso- in my experience. Best to aim there. But I don't believe anything will go wrong." He's got a Minimus in pocket JUST IN CASE, though.

Then Soundwave opens the shuttle door, heavy steps thwumping with every step. He might be putting a little more weight behind each step than normal. Stomp stomp. He glares at the organic- gross- and says, "Are you in charge here?"

Being methodical is the kind of thing that Minimus does for fun, so it's not that this didn't take extended effort, but it's not the kind of effort that Minimus Ambus tends to complain of. He offered a vague sourceless reluctance about the mission that he refused to be pinned down on, and agreed to go nonetheless, supportive and solid at Soundwave's side and frowning as he delivers a somewhat inevitable lecture: "Well, yes, but they're not signatories of the Tyrest Accord. They're signatories of the galactic code, and the codex has notable measures about religious freedom for practitioners, although in so far as the care and treatment of the fallen there are a few provisions that would need to be interpreted in order to reach--"

The doors open. Minimus Ambus closes his mouth. His frown setting deeper into his brow, he resets his vocalizer in the low clear of his throat, and paces much more quietly at Soundwave's heel, his hands a loose clasp behind his back. He looks uncomfortable, although probably not because of organics.

The sound that comes from somewhere beneath the central dome of the creatures head is sort of ... bubbly. It sounds like bubbles of air popping out from beneath wet sand. There's some splorching. It's translated to speech by a device wrapped around one of their limbs: "My name is--" It's unpronouncable, what follows, "--but you can call me Shk. I am Caetilax's agent, but she's said she would prefer to deal with you directly. You're Cybertronian, aren't you? She's something of a collector of your technology." After a brief pause, they add, "Non-military. So, it's hard to find good examples."

Just in case the flat, robotic monotone doesn't make it clear enough, that was totally a diss.

Shk ambles off in a rolling, three-legged stride. Their limbs thump-thump-thump as they roll forward into a receiving area where a Quintesson awaits them. She is seated, with only a single face, and a curving, elongated skull or helm that wraps down against the back of the pod of her body. Her limbs -- and there are a lot of them, even for a Quintesson -- are gathered in several strands. One lifts as they approach. "Come, sit."

Soundwave is something of an expert in monotone, which makes the diss just dig in deeper. He considers the mess Shk would make if he was stepped upon and how he needs this Caetilax on decent terms to get what he wants. With a terse vent he says, "Affirmative, we are Cybertronians." He cuts back on any of his own insults. But, by Megatron, does he wanna let loose.

Soundwave glances to Minimus before following stiffly behind Shk, close enough that there were a few times it looked like he might trample the squishy thing. He doesn't. His glower flits from the organic to the Quintesson, crimson light narrowing further. He comes to an easy stop in a parade rest. "Negative. Preference: to stand. Designation: Soundwave." He nods his head in minute greeting. "Do you have the device we require?"

Minimus Ambus comes to the slow and horrible realization that he is the tactful person in this negotiation, and the sound of his mental gears being forced to shift is one with which Soundwave is probably familiar. There's probably a gear or something being stripped in his transmission.

"Thank you for your courtesy, Caetilax. It must be difficult to be a collector of Cybertronian non-military curiosities considering what happens traditionally to collectors of our military ones."

Right. Tactful. Riiiight.

"I know who you are. Who you both are," Caetilax says, glancing over at Minimus. She leans to the side to murmur something to Shk, who wobbles off on an errand. "Of course I have it. All that you need and more. But what will you offer in trade?" she asks, leaning forward. Her limbs unfurl as she moves, radiating out like the many-limbed furl of a sea anemone. "You are both something of curiosities yourselves, aren't you."

The last Quintesson he met claimed to know 'Soundwave' as well. But he didn't suspect is outlier ability. Or how much a threat he truly was. Soundwave vaguely wonders if the same goes for Caetilax. As he tries to listen to her thoughts and let Minimus handle diplomacy- He was Magnus for centuries, he'll be fine!- thos limbs unfurl.

Soundwave's heel skids back, both of his thick-corded tentacles snapping out. They hover around him, biolights rippling quickly along their length. He eyes her numerous set warily. "Negative, I don't understand what you mean. What would you like in return for the device we require- you may keep the 'more'. We have no use of it." Soundwave is no business expert but he did used to work for one. There he learned the art of the trade and you never bid first.

Lip curling back from his teeth, Minimus Ambus stands with his fingertips twitching just a little at his side, and his chin lifts. "Neither of us is for sale," he says crisply. The skitter of his glance chases Shk's departure, and then returns to Caetilax.

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Telepathy: Great Success. (1 3 7 4 1 7 5 1 3 6 8 8 8 3 4 1)

Caetilax is very aware of Soundwave's outlier abilities, as it happens: in fact, she's aware of outlier abilities broadly speaking, and finds them fascinating. Finds Soundwave fascinating. Finds Minimus fascinating, and is low-key salivating for a glimpse of his spark. As Soundwave's tentacles emerge, however, something new catches her attention:

"That's -- hmm, interesting, that's blended technology, isn't it." She looks to Minimus, contains her disappointment -- they'd look so great on her wall! -- and says, "I will take those." She wiggles a few tentacles at Soundwave's tentacles.

Light flickers and flashes across the band of Soundwave's visor. Surprised, perhaps, that a Quintesson scientest knew less of him than this business owner. Put on edge by how she views the two of them... But certainly she can't know the extent. Minimus's specialness has definitly been underwraps. He stares at Caetilax, as if he could get answers out of her that way.

Soundwave's tentacles slither backwards through the air, away from her's. "Negative, these are also required. And intensely attached. Not for sale nor trade." He glances to Minimus, as if to ask him what he's about to offer is legal or not, before saying, "But I can upload some data and schematics of them in exchange for the device."

Minimus resists his first impulse. It is not diplomatic. Metal shifts over his body in a rippling straightening, and there's a faint radiator hiss that seeps from him as his hands close into fists to either side. He offers no commentary on the legality of Soundwave's offer, so it can't possibly violate the Tyrest Accord.

"I take it the Quintessons have evolved beyond simple economic transactions." Minimus's voice is a little dry. "I understand that the exchange rate is not favorable for Cybertronian funds at this point, but there are other alternatives."

"I'm not interested in data," Caetilax says, sneering at Soundwave, "unless you want a few schematics of storage devices you lack the materials and the facilities to manufacture. In that case, by all means, we'll trade data for data. If you want something, you will give me something." She regards Minimus speculatively. Sizing him up. He's something-sized. "What alternatives do you suggest?"

Soundwave's engine growls as his offer is denied but it simmers down into a faint hum as he begins to think. He mulls over the content of his subspace. Nothing of interest there. He thrives on data. He's ninety percent data and that's not enough. Not this time. "Is it a requirement that our offer be something physical? I can offer information." That's... Different from data. Sort of.

"Galactic credit?" Minimus Ambus does not have an unlimited amount of this ready to hand since most of it was spent back when the Lost Light desperately needed it. He frowns very slightly. "I am the sole beneficiary of a licensing account, in galactic credit, for a textbook publishing company on Kolos V," he says. This is about as exciting as it sounds like it is when he says it. He's helping. Somehow he was also not anticipating the trade agreement portion of this excursion and vaguely expected Soundwave wanted him along in case someone needed to get shot.

Caetilax curls a good six of her tentacles up at the side of her face ... body ... thing, and leans against them. It's not unlike someone tilting their cheek against their hand as they stare in puzzlement. Minimus's offer received a courtesy consideration and a firm, "No." She looks back at Soundwave, then says, "I'll have your upgrades, or his spark. I will take either that Quintesson-Cybertronian technology, or the upgrades to your hearing. You may choose. I am not interested in data or galactic textbook publishers. I am interested in Cybertronian technology. And if I can't have you, I will take -- a curiosity."

Soundwave's tentacles curl and if they could tie themselves in knots, they most likely would. The biolights beat not franticly, but anxiously. The rest of him bristles, armor reflexivly giving him a bit of aggressive poof. "I see," he says. He considers the offer for a long moment of silence.

"No sparks. My... Upgrades to my hearing are the most impressive. If you were to take them, would you use them? They should not be wasted on display," Soundwave says in careful monotone.

Minimus sighs an exaggerated sigh and says, "We came to negotiate in good faith and we are instead treated to yet another in our growing catalogue of evidence that every Quintesson we meet is interested in little more than butchery." He gives Soundwave a sharp look for this line of inquiry, his jaw tensing and shifting, but he doesn't offer anything more in addition to the ... tact.

"You are welcome to leave," Caetilax says, fixing Minimus with a direct look. The ends of her tentacles thrum like the lash of a cat's tail. "Your invitation does not extend to insults, Cybertronian. I will give you a moment to compose your apology."

To Soundwave, she says, "What business is it of yours if the hardware sits on a shelf? I'm a collector, not a scientist. There may be others interested in them, but your upgrades would be mine. If you do not wish to part with them, I've offered other choices."

"I know the choices," Soundwave says abruptly. Here, he reaches up to rest his hand to the back of his neck. His fingertips brush the inhibitor attached there. Another brief glance to Minimus. "I will remove my upgrades and hand them to you in exchange for the device, which you will hand over concurrently. But first I must see that you have the device before we can confirm this deal."

"You may have mine in exchange for yours, Quintesson." Minimus lifts his chin and gives her an imperious look. His imperious look used to be more impressive. It used to have a lot more Magnus behind it. But the scarlet flare of his eyes is steady, fearless and without compunction. "Since you did literally just demand my spark as a trade concession." He turns a disbelieving look at Soundwave but doesn't argue with him aside from what incredulity his features may convey.

Caetilax glances to the side and calls Shk's name -- Shk's real name; she's had practice. Shk returns with a fairly chunky looking Quintesson data device nestled in between the stalks of their eyes. "Perfect, thank you," Caetilax says. She wraps tentacle after tentacle after tentacle around it and then looks to Soundwave. "Well?" She waves a few other tentacles in Minimus's direction, casually dismissing, "I'm sure we could have worked something out if it came to that. You're so primitive. Now -- Soundwave?"

Caetilax glances to the side and calls Shk's name -- Shk's real name; she's had practice. Shk returns with a fairly chunky looking Quintesson data device nestled in between the stalks of their eyes. "Perfect, thank you," Caetilax says. She wraps tentacle after tentacle after tentacle around it and then looks to Soundwave. "Well?" She waves a few other tentacles in Minimus's direction, casually dismissing, "I'm sure we could have worked something out if it came to that. You're so primitive. Now -- Soundwave?"

Soundwave's attention is glued to the device. So close. He almost doesn't have to think about this or !Rodimus ever again. He extends his tentacles out to take it from Caetilax. "Patience. The upgrades, not like Quintesson-based technology. More difficult to remove sections," he says, fiddling with the inhibitor on his neck.

"<< Minimus, >>" Soundwave comms as he stalls. "<< I am going to remove my inhibitor and give it to Caetilax. I'm unsure how long this ruse will last if at all. In any case, I will require some assistance in being guided back to the ship. We must leave quickly- you will have to drive. Is that understood? Can you do this? >>"

Minimus blips back a quick affirmative. It appears that if he has moral qualms about bilking this Quintesson out of her materiel, he is prepared to classify them under the line of dirty tricks that enable cops to do STING operations. Aloud he merely says, "Quite," accepting the nonapology and returning it in kind.

Caetilax keeps her tentacles wrapped around the device, thanks, as Soundwave fumbles with the technology. "Do you need assistance? Shk--" Again, proper pronunciation. "--could assist." She tries to downplay her eagerness to have a piece of Soundwave. She fails.

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Deception: Failure. (3 6 5 2 6 5 4 4 3)
Soundwave spends 1 luck points on I WANNA STEAL.
<FS3> Soundwave rolls Deception: Good Success. (5 8 1 2 2 4 2 3 7)
<FS3> Soundwave rolls Presence+Presence: Good Success. (6 2 2 7 2 8)

Soundwave glances to Shk and, beneath his mask, his nose scrunches. Gross. "Negative. Assistance not neces-ssk!" He manages to remove the inhibitor, synthesizer squelching as the tide held back rushes to meet the shore of his mind. Thankfully, he's got a few levees in place this time to brace himself initially. And they're not in a massive city- just a dead titan's head.

Soundwave's knees bend, shoulders curving before he thrusts the inhibitor out for Caetilax to take while his tentacles reach for the device again. His other hand tries to grab Minimus's shoulder to brace himself. "Thanks. Done. Going," he spits out of his vocalizer as a farewell to the Quintesson. He's keeping it together.

"Indeed. We won't trouble you any longer." Minimus is already backing away, turning for the door, cued by Soundwave and, frankly, it doesn't take acting for him to want to get the hell out of here.

Greedy as she is, Caetilax lets them take the storage device, freeing her tentacles to grasp the inhibitor. That is, Soundwave's outlier upgrades. She turns it over, fascinated, and stares at it without a scientist's understanding.

But Shk--. They are too different for Soundwave to understand, even with his outlier abilities unchecked. But Minimus can read a certain doubt in the way their eyes turn from Caetilax to the Cybertronians and then back again. Their eyes narrow.

It's not far for them to scramble their way back to the ship, and they've just hit the entrance when there's a fleshy thump-thump-thump of Shk wobbling after them. The artificial voice squawks: "Wait! Stop, get back here!"

Soundwave stumbles, feet dragging and catching at he follows Minimus all the way to the ship. Its hard, its painful. The buzzing of electric lights eat at the mental defenses he's been trying to shore up and write for the last few months. But worst that grating rattle, the fleshy inflation. The garbled bubbles and pulses of organic meat throbbing through his head.

"Stop breathing!" Soundwave shouts at Shk. Just stop. Being. Alive. And loud. Then he enters the ship, manages to find a good spot to sit, and then just holds his head.

Minimus more or less thrusts Soundwave's frame the rest of the way inside the hatch and slams his hand on the controls. He tells Shk, "Request denied!" as the portal hisses shut, and then lunges for the cockpit, the launch sequence already begun remotely so that all he has to do is take off.

He is not the best getaway driver in the history of the galaxy, but he can at least launch a ship with a little bit of a head start. It is time to go.

"I'm a party to fraud now," Minimus tells Soundwave in a gloomy, Marvin-the-Android tone as the thrusters roar into life and send them rocketing away.

Now that the inhibitor is gone, Soundwave is going to hear all about it all the way home.

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