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2018-09-17 Deteriorate

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Deteriorate
Date 2018/09/17
Location Soundwave's Mindscape
Participants Rodimus, Penchant, Soundwave
NPCs Evil Soundwave
Scene GM Koi
Summary Armed with manifestations of code, Rodimus and Penchant seek to stop the destruction of Soundwave's mind by his transplanted double.

Rodimus and Penchant were asked to wait. And so they waited. And waited. And waited. On the outside, it was hours- maybe a couple of days. But inside, to them, its felt like weeks. In that time, they've grown more accustomed to moving around someone else's mind. Manifesting their own coded objects and fighting the attack codes the other Soundwave sends after them. Indeed, they look like Ravage and other cassettes- Soundwave always looks away before these figmentations are dispelled. In that time, the spires above have curled, so close to grasping this both endless and finite mindscape within their claws. But they haven't clenched yet. And, finally, they're ready.

The plan is simple: Let the other Soundwave- evil Soundwave as some point out- take the last portion of processor he doesn't already lord over. And while he's distracted, face him head on and trap him. If he's contained, he can't spread- leaving Soundwave to take back his mind without threat. Its a simple plan. Easily said. Now it has to be done.

Soundwave hands over the manifestation of the trap- which a looks like a unique set of cuffs- to Penchant and Rodimus, holding one himself. He's smaller, having gone from charming to cute to concernting but still taller than Penchant. His edges have gone soft and he's lost some detailing. But he's still got that visor. "This is it. This works or..." His lips press into a thin line.

As the time stretched, Rodimus -- in all his impatience -- both metaphorically and literally burned for action. The anxiety is real. Without point of reference to an outside frame that might tell him what's going on, he can only assume awful things. And he's helpless to do anything, here or there, and honestly he was pretty awful company for a while.

He got over it.

It's an act of active trust that allows Rodimus to release that anxiety, and it's a trust he maintains with thoughtful, studied care. He trusts the medics, he trusts his command staff, and he trusts his crew. And he trusts Soundwave, and his cleverness and the strength of his code, and he trusts Penchant, and that sneaky, forgers mind. The smaller Soundwave becomes, the less charming it is, but there's that aggressive act of trust that keeps Rodimus grounded. He reaches sometimes when it gets bad, pressing his hand against his own chest, but the fear bleeds from him: sometimes visibly, sweating gray-green from his armor.

Rodimus is clear and bright now as he reaches for Soundwave, taking the cuffs, and stroking just a single finger over his arm. "Or we try again," he says in determined rejection of any other option.

Penchant certainly tries to be helpful during the downtime. His attempts to lighten the mood became less frequent by the time Soundwave's visor grew less distinct. With the perceived time stretching out, it was easier to doubt, easier to think on the what-ifs, to dwell and worry. Thankfully he had other frames to tuck against when it seemed particularly bleak. He didn't like destroying the images of other tapes either.

Taking the cuffs, Penchant stares up between his two crewmates. "Yeah. No problem."

Soundwave shoots a look up at Rodimus. "Or you two try to get out and back to your minds," he corrects. He's not trying to be cynical. He just has primary access to his logic processes and failure is definitely a possibility. He vents, the lights all around flickering dimly. "Okay. I can get us to him. We just have to act fast. Are you both ready? Last chance to back out."

Rodimus's gaze sweeps Soundwave's features like he's thinking of saying something, thinking of doing something, even as the rest of him says, "Ready."

"Soundwave, you don't want us to back out, so let's just do this," says Penchant. His spurs are OUT and "sharpened" as much as "coding" would allow.

Soundwave sighs but smiles. He doesn't want them to go- but he's not going to force them to go through with this. He reaches out, placing one hand on Penchant's shoulder and the other one Rodimus...'s hip. "Thank you. Then let's not wait any longer."

The lights of Dead End flash blindingly bright, sending the three of them into a white, bodyless void. Just as they experienced when they first arrived, traveling across synapses as a collection of conscious thought. They're traveling a longer distance, a more winding path, but they've done this a few time. All is going as it should- until it isn't. Something is torn away, shafted down a different line and separated.

Rodimus and Penchant pop out, back in a bodily manifestation before popping out in a lengthy hallway. A very lengthy hallway with the door at the very end is purple and shaped like the Decepticon sigil. Soundwave isn't with them.

Rodimus shakes the sensation of travel with a twitch of his shoulders, a hitch of his spoiler, and a shake of his head as he straightens to face their new setting. He glances the length of the hallway, and then down to Penchant and-- and???

"Soundwave?" Rodimus calls, pivoting.

"Soundwave?!" Penchant repeats, more sharply. "...Maybe the transport just messed up. He's smaller now, something could've... Uhm." He trails off, staring at the door on at the end of the hallway. In the span of a few virtual weeks, he'd recreated his old alt mode, a luggage cart, which he flips into (it's very very small) and speeds for the sigil.

<FS3> Penchant rolls Recon: Amazing Success. (8 1 5 6 1 7 8 7 8 2 6 5 2 7 5)

There's nothing behind them. Not a wall or more hall. Their eyes just gloss over it. Wherever they are, this is where it begins. And it leads to the door on the other end. There's definitely no Soundwave. There is a strange sense of nostalgia- of deja vu, as they look around.

For Penchant, its the shape of the windows. Just like the hotel he would service so many years ago on Cybertron and all the more noticeable as he drives by in his old alt mode. He can even pick out the crown moldings and exactly what floor these window panes resided on. Rodimus can see a collection of dust- no, rust- along the edges of the wall. And, faded, is familiar graffiti. The graffiti of home- the Rust Narrow slums.

Rodimus's hand curls over his chest, which at times carries a shadowed, colorless imprint of an Autobot badge, lingering half-formed here in Soundwave's mind. It's deeper now, pressed into the metal of his hood like a stamp. Then his hand falls, curling at his side, and he moves forward, driven toward the door and what lies beyond.

Penchant pulls off a double-take in cart mode. His headlights kinda' tilt to one side, eying the windows and molding. "Cardsharp's... Wha'?" He shakes it off and vrooms ahead on his hover pods.

Yep, no mistaking the influences they've had just by being here. Even at the deepest part of Soundwave's mind. There's touches of them.

But there's only one who's influence could make that door that looms ahead. It looks sturdy. It almost makes one question if they can even get in.

Facing that tremendously sturdy door, Rodimus allows no doubt in his spark. He reaches for it -- with one hand, first, on the handle, and the other hand pressed flat to the door's surface. To the door's giant, purple, Decepticony surface. He glances to the side, at those hints of rust, and then allows his gaze to flicker offline as he holds on to that visual.

Rodimus pictures the door rusting away under his hands, the hinges loosening, breaking, and allowing them through.

    <FS3> Rodimus rolls Presence+presence: Failure. (2 2 6 4 1 5 3 4 1 3)

Rodimus spends 1 luck points on fuck u.

    <FS3> Rodimus rolls Presence+presence: Great Success. (8 7 6 8 5 4 3 8 5 3)

Penchant is back at Rodimus' side (shin) in root mode, cautiously keeping an eye on their six. Which is nothing but void. But still, SPOOKY VOID. It's hard not to just bask in the nostalgia of the hotel hall, though.

Nothing happens.

Not for the first beat of hope, at least. As Rodimus keeps his hand pressed there, from it grows veins of orange. The door creaks as the veins spread and grow until, overlaying the Decepticon sigil is an Autobot one. And then that too vanishes, both corroding in a soft whumpf of rust dust.

Inside, however, is pristine. And it holds no recollection of hotels or slums. Instead, it is a magnificent throne room, with a wonderful 360 degree view of the ruins being chocked out by barbed, sharp building. Despite the familiarity, its not Megatron but Soundwave who sits in the throne- though there's no mistaking those swirls decorating the throne's back.

Soundwave looks up, holding a crystaline orb in one hand. A beam of light races along the facets within the sphere- darting around but finding no way out. His gaze narrows. "You two? He must have been desperate. How pathetic."

"Seriously? A throne?" Rodimus, on stepping, takes the first, most important, and absolutely vital and necessary step to critique the decor. "Man, you are just embarrassing yourself. Even Zeta'd think twice about that one." He crosses the distance between them with a confidence betrayed by the urgency in his gaze as it locks on the orb in Soundwave's hand. It's not hard for him to guess what that might suggest. "You're nothing but a virus with bad taste."

YEAH. Penchant doesn't say that aloud, but his fighty stance suggests righteous agreement. "One way or another, you're going to give us our Soundwave back. The superior Soundwave."

Soundwave's visor flares and with it, the floor grows red. Hot and red and Rodimus is suddenly treading molten metal- sinking into molten metal. "I am Soundwave. And I've won. You see this?" He brings the orb around, holding it tightly in in his hands. Like he's resisting crushing it. "He thought he could sneak up on me. Ha! Well, wasn't he surprised. Soon, he'll tire and detiorate into nothing. I am superior, as you can see." As he says this, it soothes him and the floor cools and begins to solidify again.

The heat means little to Rodimus, but the sinking -- that's a problem. He stumbles, and begins to flounder, before reaching out to draw his hand over the surface of the metal and shape it into the familiar curves and angles of his favorite (only) hoverboard. He hauls himself up, shaking globs of molten metal from his frame and back into the now-cooling surface of the floor. The hoverboard's frozen, stuck midway at an angle.

"Touchy subject, huh? The truth hurts -- but not as much as this will." With that, Rodimus pushes himself forward, with only a slight hitch to aside a quieter, "Penchant, catch him." Then he's dashing to cover the rest of the distance between them with his fist drawn back to deliver a punch straight at Soundwave's stupid face, to knock the orb loose and into Penchant's hands.

Penchant takes a few steps back, away from the molten metal Rodimus manages to wrest himself from. But he remains alert, and ready to spring into action when Rodimus directs him. He zips after the speedster, flanking him, hands outstretched.

    <FS3> Opposed Roll -- Rodimus=presence+presence Vs Soundwave=hacking
    <	Rodimus: Success (4 6 3 2 3 1 1 7 2 6)          Soundwave: Good Success (1 3 7 4 1 4 7 4 3 4 5 1 2 4)
    <		Net Result: Soundwave wins - Marginal Victory

When Rodimus gets close to sling his punch, he finds that this Soundwave is much, much, MUCH larger than he might have anticipated. Easily Magnus-sized, he seems to have grown as the other Soundwave shrank. But he's taken aback by the surprise, his grip on the orb loosening. It wobbles in his grasp. But it doesn't fall.

Soundwave snarls and stands, towering over them and letting loose a jagged piece of sound that makes the air ripple and sharpen to try and spike Rodimus. "I am Soundwave! This is my mind and I won't let the likes of him take it from me." The air pops and hisses heatedly around him.

Rodimus's armor is thicker than it was as Hot Rod, thicker than it was at the start of the journey, as he gained height and mass on his rebirth. But as the sound pierces the air, he finds he has to build it thicker yet, layering on strength in a flickering memory of Magnus's colors and shoulders before it blends back to the brilliant magenta and gold of his colors. "You're an interloper," he insists, fierce as he braces against the assault.

Penchant keeps his focus on that orb. He lingers off to the side, staring intensely at the space behind the throne. With a moment of concentration, Bluekite manifests, and reaches over, bracing one oversized hand atop the seat back, hurling the heel of his other palm at Soundwave's back. "You were a transplant," Penchant hisses. "You were supposed to be dead already. I felt sorry for you before, but it's clear you're just a monster."

    <FS3> Opposed Roll -- Penchant=Telepathy VS Soundwave=Hacking-4
    <	Penchant: Good Success (6 3 6 3 8 2 4 3 4 8)          Soundwave: Success (3 3 3 7 1 6 3 2 6 1)
    <		Net Result: Penchant wins - Marginal Victory

Columns of fire erupt around the room, heated air coiling around the room. "I am Soundwave! And you had me killed!! And I will take my life back no matter- oof!" Soundwave is knocked forward, catching himself but not the crystal orb. It tumbles out of his grasp and clinks against the ground as it bounces and then rolls. But doesn't break.

Soundwave snarls and the room- exempting all that Rodimus and Penchant created- changes. Melting into cool pools of flat surfaces. Mirrors. Hundreds of thousands of mirrors. And so many reflections of themselves- and the orb. He gets up and moves to retrieve it- the mirrors showing him walking left. Right. Upside-down. "I will deal with both of you after he is gone," he growls.

"Nice work, Penchant!" Rodimus calls, diving for the orb as it drops. The disorientation of the thousands of mirrors catches him off guard, and he stumbles. For a moment, he looks uncertain.

Looking at the thousands of orbs, uncertain of which one might be the real orb, Rodimus seems at a loss. He doesn't dare smash through them, and risk harming the real Soundwave. And which one--? When there are so many? No carefully coded construct is going to help him here, no matter how cleverly shaped the flame. It's not mind that guides him, but spark, and the Matrix within that's linked to the sparks of every Cybertronian, every colonist. And to Soundwave. He closes his eyes, folds his hands over his chest, and then steps forward to reach for the orb containing Soundwave.

    <FS3> Rodimus rolls Presence+50: Great Success. (8 4 7 2 6 8 4 5 5 5 7 3 6 4 1 1 1 2 2 5)
    <FS3> Rodimus rolls Presence+50: Amazing Success. (3 8 1 7 5 4 7 1 6 1 7 4 1 7 5 5 8 1 8 7)

Rodimus spends 1 luck points on i'll keep spending luck try and stop me.

"Thanks!" Penchant sends Bluekite charging into the mirrors - only to stop the drone short when he catches a glimpse of the orb in the reflections. Many orbs. "Frag," he curses, leaving his construct to pursue the blue slivers walking in different directions. He bonks into the glass enough times that his helm brim begins to dent upward like a duck bill.

Rodimus's hand dips into the glass of the mirror. His fingers don't spread across a flat, solid surface but pushes past. Into the reflective glass. Its cool, the good swimming by his fingers like mercurial water. Rodimus reaches out, reaches past, and with the guidance and help of the Matrix, he finds something solid. And round. And warm. Not with anger, and hate and regret but with the electric tingle of life.

And when Rodimus pulls his hand back, he's holding the orb.

"NO!" The other Soundwave roars, the mirrors melting away with a splash around them, bringing them back to the throne room. He looks ready to charge.

"I got you," Rodimus says with quiet reverence, unspeakably affectionate as he cups the orb to his chest. He sets himself to take the charge and absorb the blow, focusing first on sheltering the sphere by bringing it past the armoring of his hood to settle next to his own spark. There's it's kept safe and guarded beneath the shadow of the Matrix's protective frame.

Penchant startles when the mirrors splash away. Hell yeah Rod's got it! Oh scrap there goes Soundwave. Whipping his cuffs out, Penchant directs Bluekite to stride over, scoop him up and hurl him squarely at Soundwave's back.

    <FS3> Penchant rolls Telepathy: Success. (1 4 5 5 6 1 7 2 3 1)

Penchant spends 1 luck points on reroll.

    <FS3> Penchant rolls Telepathy: Great Success. (7 8 8 8 3 2 8 1 3 1)

Penchant is missiled at Soundwave's back. It happens quick, quick enough to not see. For thought to not catch up with it. Soundwave was preparing to attack Rodimus and then he's on his knees, the cuffs around his wrists. He stays like that until, with a quick bwip- a pop of updated coding- and he's nothing more than a cassette player alt mode. A contained box of Soundwave.

Penchant, Rodimus, their creations, and the cassette player are left in a white, empty void.

Rodimus, turned and braced against a blow that never comes, straightens. "Nice work," he tells Penchant -- and then shifts, plates of his chest transforming back as he withdraws the sheltered sphere and its captured light. He cups it in his hands as he brings it forth a little helplessly. Okay. Do your thing. Any time now.

Penchant teeters when the Soundwave he'd cuffed pops into cassette player mode. He stands and stares, cautiously dusting himself as Bluekite dematerializes behind him. "Phew! Not gonna' lie, didn't think that would work." He looks up at the orb Rodimus extends. "How do we... get him out of that?"

Something whispers through them. Its not one voice but a collective. They say, "Break it."

From the little cassette player is another voice that's realized exactly how dire his current situation. It begs, "No, no. I don't want to die!"

Known for bold, decisive -- read: foolish -- action, Rodimus ... hesitates. He looks back at Penchant. All of the uncertainty and doubt that he doesn't say lie painted in the twist of his features, the tremble of his hands. What if--. What if.

Penchant looks just as lost. He looks between the orb and the tape player, then back to Rodimus' doubting expression. "Sounders? What- What do we do? What if it hurts you? What if you're... lying."

"Break it," the collective repeats. Not urgently. But patiently, Like a teacher guiding a student. "Break it."

The only Soundwave that answers Penchant just reiterates not wanting to die. Not again.

Rodimus looks back at Penchant, holding his gaze like an anchor. For a moment, it seems like he might say something. Then, with a shudder, he closes his hands over the sphere, and squeezes them tight over it to shatter it in his hands.

Penchant can only hold his proverbial breath, and try to tune out the tape player, or what he hopes is the tape player. He flinches and braces when Rodimus crushes the orb, helm turned away. Can't watch.

The orb shatters, the light within breaking free and into the ground. It ripples and they watch in rapid realtime as a city grows from the ground around them. The buildings stand tall, not all of them totally there or rebuilt. But no spires, no barbs. The city ripples out, the slums of the Dead End on the outter edges with odd touches of the Rust Narrows. Kaon with a new hotel or two, New Iacon as it was, and in the most recent- in the inner circle of the city- is Rigard with Swerve's bar and a door leading to what one assumes is the Lost Light Bridge. Its not perfect, not whole. But it's Soundwave's.

Penchant and Rodimus are standing in the city center, where's there's erected statues of different people- including them- all around. A rather large one is covered in a black tarp. As Soundwave's spark stretches out into his mind, he forms as well. Just like the city, from something small and old to the larger, more familiar him. There's a glimpse of him at that charming size, then the shape he took during the war, faceless, and finally caught up to the present. He pauses, and then reaches out to put a hand on top of Rodimus's head. "Better."

Rodimus swats Soundwave's arm to the side when he places his hand atop his head.

Then, Rodimus leaps for him, arms wrapping around Soundwave. He reaches up to pull Soundwave's head down against his own, fierce in his embrace as he says, "Don't you ever make me do that again."

Penchant doesn't care if he's butting in on this moment. He's going to cling to Soundwave's shin, as usual, and bury his helm against a knee. Yes, the mindscape is beautiful (even the slums, somehow), but he can't quite admire it now, thoroughly overwhelmed. "D-don't send us back yet. How do we know you'll come with us?"

Soundwave's fingers dig into Rodimus as he holds him. "Do what?" he asks quietly, a tentacle snakes to grab Penchant up and hold him to his side. Nice and close. "I suppose you have saved my life many times. Both of you." Beat. "Thank you." The tentacles ruffles Penchant's head. He'll come back. If he didn't, he wouldn't be able to hold the real you.

"I was afraid I was going to kill you." It takes Rodimus a long moment before he's willing to pull back enough to study the mindscape past Soundwave's shoulders. He winces at the damage before more familiar sights ease him back to a less strained stance. His arms linger in their drape, fingers hooked in a loop at the back of Soundwave's neck. "You're welcome."

Penchant grumbles against Soundwave's metal. THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER. He finally tilts his gaze back towards the new structures. Then the tarp. "What's that," he asks, stress painting his tone flat.

Soundwave's head tinks against Rodimus's one more time before looking at what Penchant is talking about it. He stares at it for a long time. "... No one important. I'd very much like to go home now." And hold them for real. "I'm sure you two are as well. Ready to wake up?"

Rodimus glances over at Penchant. Knowingly. They both know who is under that tarp. He makes a face, as much for that as for the prospect of what they'll face. "Okay, but keep your audials turned low because I'm pretty sure First Aid's gonna break a siren when we wake."

Penchant winces faintly. From the notion of what's beneath the tarp or First Aid's scolding, it's unclear. "We've been gone for weeks, right? We're gonna' catch hell. Wait. You're the captain, Rod! Just pardon us."

Soundwave chuckles. "I think I'd like to hear that. Hear everything. It feels like forever..." He takes Rodimus's hand and gives it a squeeze before leaning forward to tap their heads together once more. "See you soon," he promises. And as soon as there's a tink of helm on helm, Rodimus's visage is gone. Then Soundwave hoists Penchant up. "You can rest in your favorite slot for however long you want when we awake," he promises Penchant before holding him tight. And then his visage is gone too. Both sent back to their bodies. And, uh. Hopefully the right ones.

Soundwave only takes a moment to look at the cassette player laying among the monuments at his city's center before deciding it can wait. He has more important things to do. And then he wakes up.

First Aid's sirens definitely go off.

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