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2018-08-10 I Want To Break Free

From Transformers: Lost and Found

I Want To Break Free
Date 2018/08/10
Location Lost Light - Science and Medical - Science Labs
Participants Wheeljack, Bulkhead
NPCs Tarantulas
Summary We all knew Prowl's trap wouldn't hold.

Some projects just require enough space and equipment that it's easier to work on them outside of the lab he shares with Bulkhead, which is why Wheeljack is actually outside of the lab for once, sitting by one of the workbenches lined with microscopes. With tiny tools in his hands, he's working on a piece of circuitboard under the lens, painstakingly wiring the thing together. It requires time and patience, and it's taken Wheeljack longer than he should to get through it, mostly because he keeps looking away from the scope to examine the figure standing still in the corner, jumping occasionally at unusual sounds and checking to make sure that Tarantulas hasn't actually moved.

The fifth time this happens, Wheeljack leans back with a frustrated sound and starts poking at his tools. "I think this one is scrap," he says with a shake of his helm. "Bulk, do you remember where the solder and circuitboard bases are kept?"

Bulkhead has been frequenting the common labs since his conversation with Prowl, to keep an eye on Tarantulas' status. Someone, apparently, removed the tarp he'd placed over the clear prison Tarantulas is being held in, leaving the mech visible to the rest of the room. He gets it, and also, he hates it.

It's why Bulk hasn't been doing much work himself, instead leaning against the workbench where Wheeljack sits with a datapad he occasionally scrolls. Most of his attention is on that mechaspider. Whenever he's noticed Wheeljack's startling out of the corner of his optic, he's gently placed a hand on the scientist's arm, but otherwise not interfered with his work.

"Yeah. They're in the storage on the left. Want me to get you more?" Bulkhead drags his optics away from Tarantulas to finally focus fully on Wheeljack.

Tarantulas is still, as he has been since he had been placed here. There hasn't been so much as an exvent coming from his directions. And yet... As soon as Bulkhead looks away, his visor flickers and brightens just two shades.

"Uh. Yeah, if you could?" Wheeljack says, with a flash of cheer in Bulkhead's direction as he begins to sort out the tools on his workbench, clearing away the scrapped pieces as he starts to prepare for another go at the piece he's trying to make. "You'd know better than I would. Hopefully no one's rearranged and put them behind... him, since the last time I worked out here." Wheeljack's laugh is a bit weak, as he starts pulling out a datapad to review his design. He's looking down, mostly focused on that instead of the room, so he almost misses the brief flicker of light from Tarantulas's direction. Belatedly, his helm comes up, fins brightening in momentarily alarm as his attention affixes on the container off to the side.

"They haven't been moved. Just give me a minute." Bulkhead's hand comes to rest once more on Wheeljack's arm, giving it a brief squeeze before he turns away toward the supply closets. With his back to that corner of the room, he doesn't notice the flicker at all.

"Do you want me to grab a few, just in case?" Bulk calls over his shoulder, obliviously pulling out a few circuitboard bases and some extra solder.

It's almost imperceptible to anyone not paying attention. Thankfully, at least one of them is- and Wheejack gets to see one of those eight, looming legs twitch. Just a hair.

"Yeaaaaaah, that'd be great, thanks," Wheeljack says slowly, not taking his optics away from the casing. His hands have completely stilled at this point. He's let the datapad lower back down to resting on the table as all of his attention remains fixed on that visor and the surrounding box. Still, for all his staring, he finds himself flinching when the leg just moves. "Hey, Bulkhead," he says, voice still slow, with an added note of tension. "What do you know about that containment, exactly?"

Wheeljack's tone has Bulkhead stilling, then turning around, glancing between Wheeljack and Tarantulas. He hasn't seen the movement, but his plating is beginning to flare anyway. "I only know what Prowl told me," he replies, carefully moving back toward Wheeljack, supplies in hand, as he too stares at the supposedly frozen spiderformer. "Some kind of translucent forcefield. And the program he's used on Tarantulas should be very difficult for him to wake up from - or so he says."

This time, the twitch is more of a spasm. Tarantulas's left hand clenches, hairs along his arm rippling with the coiling tensile cables. And then it releases back into the same, loose hold that its always had.

Except, this time, a silver, metal ball that he'd been holding slips out and falls on the ground. It shimmers with an electric charge, magnetizing in place on the floor.

"Difficult for anyone, or difficult for a friend of Prowl's?" Wheeljack says. It's impossible to hide the hint of skepticism in his voice as he does, especially considering the way he still isn't looking away from the cage to meet Bulkhead's attention. He gets up from his seat, taking a few steps closer to the forcefield. Not enough to get within grabbing distance of the thing, but still closer. His fins flicker as he leans in to try and get a closer look at the field. "I keep thinking I see him twitching in there," he admits. And then he jumps with a surprised sound as Tarantulas's arm moves and the object drops. "Like that!" he says, fins bright with alarm.

"Supposedly it's his own program used against him--oh, frag." Bulkhead, upon seeing the movement, the dropping of something that glinted in the lights of the room, immediately steps forward to place himself between Wheeljack and Tarantulas' prison. "I think--he's waking up. I told Prowl--you have a scanner on you, don't you? Can you tell what it was that he dropped, from this distance?"

Tarantulas doesn't move again. But the ball he dropped continues to ripple with static charge. Blue arcs of electricity jump from the metal of the ball to the metal of the floor.

"In the other room," Wheeljack says, edging slightly around Bulkhead to continue examining the sphere. "Because I didn't think I'd need it out here." He's learned his lesson, though. Never go anywhere without a scanner. But that said... "I don't like the idea of what that thing might do to the force field," he says, looking at the electricity arcing out of it. He casts around the room, looking for some sort of tongs or stick. "We should get it away from there."

Bulkhead's plating flares further, rising from his frame like the hair on a Ghibli protagonist. "You're right, we should. And by we, I mean I should. If you can find some tongs, I'll see if they can penetrate the forcefield from the outside and remove that sphere." He doesn't look back at Jackie, though he does reach a hand behind him to brush against Wheeljack's frame. "He's already shown he's interested in you, I don't want you getting too close in case he breaks free. We don't know what he'll do."

"Probably just hug me," Wheeljack points out, though he sounds unenthusiastic about the process of receiving that attention. "I think he likes me for some reason. Remember that web?" Still he nods-- even though Bulkhead can't see it a the moment-- and casts around. There's a set of tongs next to a furnace to the side of the room, and then brings them over toward the force field. It's only sensible to do it, since Bulkhead's going to need to approach anyway, and Wheeljack can't help but peer a little closer at both the sphere and the hairs lining Tarantulas's plating.

"Wheeljack, he liked Prowl too, and ended up stalking him for milennia. I don't think he's just going to hug you." But of course Wheeljack doesn't stay back, and Bulkhead releases a frustrated gust of air through his vents as he approaches the forcefield. He takes the tongs when they're offered, and though Wheeljack, OF COURSE, doesn't stay back, he still tries to shuffle a bit ahead of his husband. "Just--if something goes wrong, go get security, okay? Don't hang around for me."

Without waiting for an answer, Bulkhead turns back to the 'frozen' Tarantulas, reaches forward with the tongs, and attempts to pluck the small sphere from the floor.

The tongs push against the forcefield and as soon as it makes contact, there's a reaction. Electric charge arc from the ball on the ground, to the tongs, and bounces into Tarantulas's left hand. The ball, tongs, and something within the spider's grasp glows white with the charge. And for just a blink, the crackling electricity holds between the three object and it allows Wheeljack and Bulkhead a view not like their own.

Psychidelic sands and dunes, shape and reshape- their forms boundless and infinitely shifting. And the sky is a nauseating blend of blue, pink, and seafoam. It's there, like a window into another realm... Except its like they could reach out and touch the other side-

And then it collapses with a loud snap, a wave of electricity pulse shooting. Harmless physically, though it shuts down the local machines on this side of the lab and makes their HUDs go a little haywire. The forcefield collapses and with it, Tarantulas. He falls to the ground with a shudder, vents hacking and wheezing and his visor bright enough to blind a mech. His fingers dig into the ground, his body rocking.

And Tarantulas lets out a sob.

"He's not Overlord, Bulkhead," Wheeljack says, leaning around Bulkhead once again to keep a close eye on the rest of Tarantulas while Bulkhead is preoccupied with that orb. He doesn't want any more sudden movements to startle Bulkhead from the task that he's completing, especially if Tarantulas does seem to be slowly working his way out of whatever trance Prowl had managed to put him in. But Wheeljack isn't expecting anything like the vision that suddenly swallows them up. He makes a sound of surprise as the bright colors engulf them, twisting to look around himself and reaching out for Bulkhead for a reference point. It's gone almost as soon as it arrives, though the disappearance is just as disorienting as the field was in the first place. Wheeljack doesn't even need to see his own faceplates to know that his fins must be flashing in some very odd patterns, and he struggles to shut them down, dropping into a crouch to focus on getting his systems in order. It's only there that he notices the state of the former captive. "Tarantulas?" he says, without thinking.

<FS3> Bulkhead rolls Compassion: Good Success. (1 3 3 1 6 7 7 1 2)

Bulkhead grits his teeth, biting back a response about how Wheeljack's lack of self-preservation isn't cute, but. His attention is stolen almost immediately by the chain reaction his reaching causes, and he's frozen in place, watching the arc of electricity complete a circuit between the tongs, the sphere, and Tarantulas.

He fucking knew it.

The vision presented to them, via this circuit, is disorienting and dizzying. It throws Bulkhead off his guard, keeping him from shoving himself and Wheeljack away as was his first instinct. Though the electric pulse doesn't hurt, it's enough to startle further, and it keeps Bulkhead rooted to the spot until the sound of Wheeljack's voice - and the sound of Tarantulas, feared villain, mad scientist, lying on the ground sobbing - brings him back.

"Tarantulas." Bulk's voice is soft, and he takes a careful step closer, kneeling on the ground. "Hey, hey, you're free now. You're back. We're not going to hurt you anymore, okay?"

Tarantulas curls, the legs on his back holding him tightly. Like they can hold him together. "O-Ostaros... Ostaros-!" He says between the sobs and pained exvents. Heartbroken. "Ostaros, sweet Ostaros. Ostaros." He continues to croak until, after several minutes, he gets it together enough to lift his head. There's no mistaking his misery.

"H-H-He was different. He didn't like his name. What did Prowl do... What did he do to my Ostaros..." Vents hiccuping, Tarantulas slowly unfurls, reaching slowly for Wheeljack with his right hand. Not grabbing. Just... Reaching. "Please- please. I need to know where he is. He's big and broad and green... And the gentlest blue optics, no matter how hard he tries to look. Him, please. Tell me where Ostaros. Tell me he's okay!"

Wheeljack can't say he knows exactly what Tarantulas is like. He's only met the mech twice now, after all, and the first time was under decidedly different circumstances than this. So when Tarantulas actually reaches out toward him, he hesitates, not pulling away, but unsure about moving any closer, as he looks up to Bulkhead. His fins still aren't showing their colors reliably, but the confusion and concern is clear from his own optics. "Tarantulas, what happened?" he asks. He finally offers his own hand to Tarantulas's reaching one.

Bulkhead automatically reaches to push away Wheeljack's reaching hand, but he's also not looking, focused completely on Tarantulas. "I...I'm sorry. I don't know any Ostaros. I don't know who you mean. There are several green 'formers on this ship...are you asking for Hound? Or another 'former, from another ship...? Kup? Springer?" Even as he speaks, he's trying to keep Wheeljack's arm back.

Tarantulas clasps Wheeljack's hand, his own shaking. He looks around frantically, scattered and still collecting himself. "Ostaros! The spark I nursed, the being I created! He's so different, I thought... I thought I lost him forever. He..." He pauses, struggling to recollect. Trying to remember what he saw. Its fuzzy. "He's a triple-changer," he says, sudden awe in his voice. Surprised. And then deeply, profoundly proud. "My Ostaros, he's amazing. You... You should meet him Wheeljack! You and him- you'd get along so well, I can tell. You would love him- how could anyone not?"

Wheeljack resets his optics in surprise, as he's jostled between Bulkhead's attempts to keep his hand away and Tarantulas clinging to his palm. In the end he shifts slightly, to let Tarantulas keep his grip and still let Bulkhead take the forefront. "If he's an Autobot, I've probably met him before," Wheeljack says, bemusement tinging his voice, "though I've already got my own lovable green mech. But that's not the most important thing right now, I think." A triple-changer probably indicates Springer, from that description, but Wheeljack honestly isn't sure. If it weren't for the minor EMP blast they just went through, he might be comming Bulkhead to contact Prowl, though he's sure his conjunx is doing so already. "Why do you need to find him?"

Some of this situation is helping him not freak out. Wheeljack's reactions, mostly. And you can bet he's trying to bypass a way to comm Prowl, even if it's impossible due to that EMP. And maybe that little comment on 'lovable green mechs'. Anyway, Bulkhead shifts more in front of Wheeljack, though he doesn't break the linked hands.

"You said Prowl did something," Bulk prompts. He keeps his voice just as soft. "To Ostaros. Do you know what he did?"

The weird pedipalp-mandible things that front Tarantulas's mouth do a little ripple. As if agitated with the rambling of pointless conjecture, and all these none-answers. What aren't they getting?! "Yes! I have to find him-- you have to tell him where he is! I've missed him so much. And... And I have to tell him- he has to know- that I love him. I wanted to be there for him then, but I have to be there for him now. So I have to find him."

Tarantulas's visor dims... And then flares into a narrowed beam. "I didn't ever want to leave him but he-" he snarls, the fur alon his shoulders and back bristling- "threw me away. He took away Ostaros. HE ALMOST KILLED HIM! WHERE. IS. PROWL."

The concern that Wheeljack was wearing now rapidly morphs into alarm at the sudden change in mood. He pulls back, freeing his hand from Tarantulas's grasp even though he doesn't put himself behind Bulkhead's broad frame for protection. His optics flicker again and his fins light up for the first time since Tarantulas was freed, reflecting his sudden concern and wariness. There's a hint of a flicker, as he runs through his knowledge of the current situation (there's definitely not as much of that as he'd like), and says, warily, "I don't know where either of them are."

<FS3> Bulkhead rolls Compassion: Failure. (3 2 4 3 1 1 2 5 2)

Those pedimandis are super creepy, as is the way Tarantulas talks about this 'Ostaros'. Bulkhead straightens from his concerned hunch, and watches Tarantulas with a renewed suspicion. "I still don't know who you're talking about," he says. Some of the softness is gone, though not all, and his plating has begun to fluff up once more. "Prowl isn't here. I don't know where he is, either; I'm sure you know how secretive he can be. I don't know who Ostaros is, or where to find him. We can, however, get you out of here - out of your prison, and off this ship."

Tarantulas pauses what he's doing, looking between the two of them. "Why are you looking at me like that?" His hands brace on the ground. "Don't look at me like that- what have I done to deserve it?! What lies has Prowl told you? Just-- tell me where they are!"

"Look, Tarantulas, you're not making much sense," Wheeljack says, the fins flashing again in a complicated pattern. "Prowl seems to think you're some kind of danger, but whatever there is between the two of you, it's not like he's gone around telling us lies about it." He winces, a little, because just sticking him in a corner of the science labs isn't much better, but he continues on. "And we told you, we don't know where they are at the moment. Or who Ostaros is, especially if he's apparently as different from the way he was as you said. Just... take a moment to recover. What happened before you ended up here?"

Bulkhead's plating flares to its highest point, then comes back down. That hand that had been previously been trying to push Wheeljack's arm away now ends up resting on Jackie's shoulder. "You've been through something terrible," he says. "Prowl -- he told us you were a danger, but what he did to you was wrong. You're disoriented, and you're upset, and I get that, but you need time to recover before you meet with Ostaros again. Jackie's right, just take a moment to regain your wits."

"A danger- I'll show you who the danger is," Tarantulas growls, the tips of the legs on his back split open. And out shoots webbing to entangle Bulkhead and Wheeljack. "You think you're protecting him?! You think he hasn't already thought of a way to get rid of you when he needs?! I'll show you who you should be afraid of!"

Wheeljack is startled into a yelp at the sudden webbing, his hands coming up defensively in front of him-- which probably isn't the best move, in retrospect, as it means they're the first thing to be tangled up in the webbing and incapacitated. He doesn't tumble over and start sticking himself to the floor or something, which is the one benefit he'll consider having come from this. "What are you doing?" he says, alarm lighting up his fins as he looks at Tarantulas.

Bulkhead's first instinct, unsurprisingly, is to sling an arm around Wheeljack and pull him close; still not the best option, as this means they're not only webbed but they're webbed together, drastically decreasing the chances of one breaking free and finding some way to remedy this situation. "Tarantulas! I told you, we don't want to hurt you! We're trying to help--damnit!" His free hand transforms into one of his wreckers and he tries to bash at the webbing, to no avail. Even the spikes do nothing.

Before their eyes, Tarantulas grows. And grows. And grows. His shoulders press against the ceiling and it caves upward. "I'm going to have Prowl tell you something naughty," he says before transforming. Spidermode makes it much easier to spin the scientists up nice and tight. Then he attaches them to his abdoment and heads for the door, taking the silver balls he had with him. He takes out the entire wall without care. He's got one goal- and he'll reach Prowl by any means necessary.

Tarantulas is doing something weird to them, and Wheeljack DOES NOT LIKE IT. Fortunately for him, with a faceplate Tarantulas can't actually cover up his mouth or anything like that, but he can cocoon the both of them to the point where wiggling free is a complete daydream. Wheeljack waits in tense dread as Tarantulas goes through with his plans, and then the wall, wincing as the entire thing crumbles to rubble. It's only when the spider is gone that he glances-- or tries to-- in Bulkhead's direction, and says, "please tell me you got in contact with Prowl. This webbing's going to be harder to get rid of than a few stray strands in a corner..."

There was some part, in the back of Bulkhead's mind, that had expected this. The only problem was he'd expected to be wrapped up in Wheeljack's stead, not wrapped up with Wheeljack. Struggling against the webbing is futile, and they're wrapped so tightly he can't even transform his hand back - or transform the other into his second wrecker.

Unlike Wheeljack, Bulkhead has a mouth, and said mouth is quite firmly wrapped in spiderweb, so his "I'm trying," is rather muffled. He's at least touching Wheeljack, and can try his best at shifting his fingers in a comforting gesture, while he keeps calling, on repeat:

<<"Prowl. PROWL. This is an emergency message, Tarantulas has escaped and he's coming for you. Wheeljack and I are incapacitated--call security! He's headed straight for you, Prowl, hide yourself and comm Fortress Maximus!">>

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