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2018-1-12 Polar Opposites

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Polar Opposites
Date 2018/01/12
Location Lost Light - Science and Medical - Science Labs
Participants Astrotrain, Skystalker, Perceptor, Brainstorm, Conduit, Wheeljack, Bulkhead
Summary A support meeting turns technical as the latest scientific findings are discussed.

The communal labs are neat and orderly, filled with the tools of science. Specialized equipment sits on workbenches organized by discipline.

The storage compartments along the back wall are carefully secured, sorted, and labeled.

The isolation rooms near the back the room are sealed from the rest of the chaos. A door to the storage area is labeled "HAZARDOUS MATERIAL: No Unauthorized Entry".


Another series of inexplicable events means another brainstorming meeting for the science - and now support- department. It's... odd, having more mecha to command and memos meant to go specifically to scientists didn't get sent to only the scientists. A few new viewpoints can only help matters though... right?

Perceptor very much hopes so. The meeting's been set up around the usual conference workbench with pre-loaded datapads containing bulleted lists of relevant information sitting out. Not that he expects anyone to need them but the sentiment is what counts. As the meeting hasn't begun yet, the CSO still has time to sit and page through his own personal datapad, jotting down notes and thoughts on the information contained within. Occasionally, his tails flick but otherwise he's relatively still perched on a stool.

It's hard to be late to a meeting when it's right outside of your doorway, but that's still a real threat with Wheeljack. In fact, from the way he leaves his workshop with his hands covered in bits of soldering slag and occasional streaks of grease, he might not have even realized. He stops dead in place when he sees the setup of datapads and Perceptor sitting at that particular workbench. "Something going on out here?" he asks, fins flickering brightly as he approaches, and reaches out to poke at one of the datapads and the information put on it. "No-- oh, wait! Is that now?"

Bulkhead is coming from a different direction today, and therefore he wasn't around to make sure Wheeljack knew about the department meeting. So when he walks in and sees that Wheeljack's here already, poking at some datapads, he lights up and steps closer, gently clapping a hand on the shorter scientist's shoulder. "Glad to see you made it," he says warmly, reaching for a datapad of his own and pulling out a stool to settle on. Because Wheeljack OBVIOUSLY remembered by himself! He's making such progress, Bulk is so proud. "Evenin', Perceptor."

Conduit slides in as quietly as usual. He expects that one of the primary topics of this meeting will be the contents of the Quintesson datastick, bought by himself at the cost of one cartridge of healing nanites. He was reluctant to part with them, but the alternative was clearly to be trapped indefinitely, as if in some sort of box. The tech level on the Quintesson research station is well beyond what he's seen, so escape or rescue would have been effectively impossible. So, all things considered, a good bargain.

Conduit's also submitted additional information on the nature of the religious impulses that were vexing the crew recently - not subspace, seemingly spooky-action-at-a-distance stuff with energetics like those of the Matrix or Vector Sigma - but that crisis seems to have passed. Mercifully. So many unknowns, it's frustrating, but perhaps this gathering of minds will lead to further insights. He sits with his back to a nearby workbench for now, doling out silent nods as others arrive.

Despite not being a scientist it was hardly the first or only time for Astrotrain to tromp into the labs. Half the time he got stuck with the deliveries to nerd central because everyone else was worried about being randomly blown up and not as capable as the burly transporter in surviving intact should such a thing happen. "For once I ain't here to drop off parts to fix whatever invention nearly blew us all up again, imagine that."

Wheeljack is not the only one at risk of missing a nigh unmissable meeting, especially given Brainstorm's habit of locking himself away from the rest of the world, and probably forgettign that it even exists, so as to work on whatever over-the-top project he's got into his head this time. He arrives even later than his groundbound coleague, the smell of something burnt still clinging to his plating, and his face burried in a datapad of his own. Despite that, he still manages to find himself a seat near Perceptor, although, he doesn't so much as look up, let alone offer a greeting. Unless "Can we hurry this up, I have a project to get back to" counts as one.

Perceptor looks up and sets his datapad aside as people begin trickling in. Wheeljack gets a poorly hidden laugh, Bulkhead recieves a hello, Conduit a nod, and by the time their last attendee arrives he's regained composure and is sitting prim and proper, prepared to start off the meeting right. "We're glad to have your attendance, Astrotrain." He says without a hint of irony, mouth almost tilting into a smile. "You're late." He reminds Brainstorm upon the mech's arrival, tapping lightly at his datapad screen.

"Everyone is, I hope, aware of our zombified crewmates and the research that has happened thus far into both the staff we believe responsible for this as well as the physiology of the afflicted? If not, allow me to summarize briefly: The afflicted appear to have sparks, though the energy that has replaced their extinguished ones matches the profile of unicronian sources and appears to be influencing their frames to operate above peak levels. This could, and appears to be, influencing their processing and decisionmaking capabilities. Medically, they appear to be fine, despite ah... enhancements to their healing and strength."

"Brainstorm's tests have revealed the staff appears to utilize some form of quantum conversion to force our own ah... for lack of a better word 'positive' spark signatures into something aligning with the 'negative' unicronian signature. We're still unsure how this process functions. With regards to our alternate selves, autopsies on a nearly intact corpse have revealed that the upgrades present on their frames appear to be implemented through some form of sculpting raw sentio metallico. Precisely how they came into posession of the materials remains a mystery at present." Perceptor stops, vents. "We need to find a cure or reversal procedure for the zombified mecha, it's something of a priority at the moment. I would also like to hear what progress has been made on the space bridges on the colonies and please bring up anything you feel may be relevant to the fight against Unicron."

It's a long speech that Perceptor goes through, and Wheeljack finds himself nodding along, flickering in interest, and scrambling for a way to write notes. Perceptor's just charging on through, here! There's so much information to get through, and not enough time to comment on all of it, so he starts writing things down immediately, getting rid of those helpful points up on the datapad in front of him in favor of his own heavily abbreviated and almost incomprehensible writing. The hurried note-taking lasts a few seconds after Perceptor stops, at which point Wheeljack looks at him for a few moments to raise his hand. "Well, if it's about our, um. Not-quite-living friends, they seem to have a bad reaction to the artifacts? I brought down my wrench-- just got it, so it shouldn't even have too much charge-- but just being near it made Lieutenant back away from it like it was going to bite him," Wheeljack volunteers. "Don't think that will heal them, but it's... something."

Well, that is... a lot to take in. Bulkhead does his best to note everything Perceptor's just thrown at them down, furiously scribbling at his datapad, a dataslug plugged into the port so he can take all these notes with him later. "So what you're saying," he pipes up eventually, without looking up from his notes, "is that our resurrected friends have had their spark energy replaced by Unicronian energy, essentially?" He bites at the inside of his cheek, trying not to look pained. It leads into Wheeljack's addition, though. "We've noted that the other zombies we've come in contact with react poorly to artifacts, so if Lieutenant and Pipes are operating on the same system of energy through that staff, it makes sense that they would suffer similar reactions. So are we looking for a way to revert their spark energy to what it once was? And if their sparks are extinguished..." He trails off, not even sure how to begin ending that particular thought.

Conduit takes in the wide-ranging conversation and employs his skill of not saying too much to add to it. "The Quintesson spoke of 'reverse energy mirroring'. Perhaps this 'reverse energy' imbues the undead knights we've encountered as well as Lieutenant and Pipes. It could be one and the same with 'Unicronian energy'. And the artifacts are imbued with normal energy, which would harm or annihilate it." "I'm busy" Brainstorm retorts, finally looking up to give Perceptor an annoyed look. Nonetheless, he remains quiet, if unashamedly bored looking, for the explination. Yes, yes, they all know this, and those who don't probably don't need to anyways. Can we move on?

"That's what I was doing before having to interupt myself for this" he mutters when Perceptor brings up the urgency of the zombie issue. "Pretty sure the fact that unicronian energy and spark energy don't mix is one of the first things I established on this topic. The artifacts are charged with our spark energy, so obviously anyone with unicronian energy would try to avoid them" this is louder, to the rest of the group, with a condescending note.

"And I already established the fact that they're oposites of each other too, without having to have any Quentessons telling me" he turns to Conduit.

Most of the science talk goes over Astrotrain's head, and that's pretty impressive with him being one of the taller mechs in the room. When some of the conversation shifts to fighting however, he's all over that. "We need to figger out how to better predict where and when the harbitches are gonna strike. So we can stop stopping them after they kill everything and start stopping em beforehand."

"If they're some kind of opposites-- the positive and negative energy signatures," Wheeljack says, fins flickering, "It's possible that they could mix and simply cancel each other out... Hmm. Did Pipes and Lieutenant have artifacts? Those store spark signatures and spark energy, after all. If we combined positive energy equivalent to their current spark energy, then used the artifacts to fill the void..." He stops, cutting himself off with a shake of his helm. "But that's just conjecture, of course. It'd take plenty of experimenting, and that's only if the two energy types don't have an unfortunately severe reaction when combined in pure forms. Was that all they said about reverse energy mirroring, Conduit?"

"Correct, Bulkhead." Perceptor jots down Wheeljack's observation, nodding. "If it's possible to convert the energy through ah- the reverse energy mirroring, as Conduit's discovered, then it should theoretically be possible to reverse this process." He frowns slightly at Brainstorm's condescention. Right. "Unfortunately, Astrotrain, that's something more suited to Intelligence, we've developed methods to track Unicron, more precise measurements would require resources we do not have." The scientist taps through his datapad, noting ideas and listening.

"Lieutenant had an artifact," Bulkhead replies, flicking a glance Brainstorm's way. Not helping. "No matter what we do here, it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of trial and error. We're bringing mechs back from the dead, back from Unicron's...well, influence, at the very least. We can start experimenting with positive and negative spark energies and this 'mirror energy' you mentioned, Conduit. Knowing that positive energies cancel out the negative, we can work from there."

Skystalker has been largely silent for the time, arrived at the meeting with his datapad out and notetaking in the interim. During a couple of places he needs to take his time with transcribing things, but the notes seem at least thorough by the time he is done and listening close again.The reversal of the energy seems to be of great interest to him, stylus working overtime. He is hesitant to amend the others with anything, but makes up for it with the quickness of notes. If he thinks of something, he'll chime in.

"That's all the thing uttered, Wheeljack, but the data he provided goes into further detail. However, certainly Brainstorm has already deduced everything about it, so I'll leave further conjecturing to him." Conduit takes the opportunity now to return his own glare to Brainstorm. "Astrotrain does bring up some ideas for applications of our findings, such as a way to detect these energies. Perhaps our 'zombie' friends could serve as indicators, or at least testbeds."

"Worked out a weapon based on that too" Brainstorm continues commenting as Wheeljack talks "And that might just kill them..." He looks ready to go on, but then he stops, his optics narrowing as he considers something. Thus, Perceptor and Bulkhead's comments go uninterupted. Infact, Perceptor, and then Conduit get an interested look "I still want that data" he waves a finger at the later before turning to the rest of the group "Lieutenant's artifact would still have his spark energy. I'm thinking it might actually work as a template of sorts in replacing the Unicronian energy, although, considering that they don't seem to actually have become different people despite having completely different sparks, that template might already be in them to begin with."

"I don't think fixing them with a weapon is the greatest plan. I'm sure your weapon works very well, Brainstorm, but... I'm sure it works well." Which, Wheeljack means to say, it seems likely to be very good at killing them. "I'm all for trying things, but this seems like a place to test pretty thoroughly first! They don't seem dangerous, at least...? Aside from being dead, and all."

"We'd prefer them alive." Perceptor says gently, head tilting toward Conduit. "Ah, I hadn't thought of that, if as many of their remaining numbers are the zombified mecha as it seems, tracking them shouldn't be difficult. I believe Pipes is a willing participant with regards to research studies." He frowns. "Lieutenant destroyed a datastick containing important resources for a future mission. They've both been deemed enough an unconcious threat to merit minders and detention. Ah... Regardless of that, the staff seems to be the key to unravelling the how of the reverse mirroring process. As I cannot get near the thing, someone will have to continue tests in my stead. Though she isn't here, Nautica's wealth of knowledge with regards to quantum physics may come in hand and I ask that whoever proceeds with this query wrests her from the engines to aid in investigation."

"So we have to keep an eye on them, then. Pipes may be a willing participant for research, but after what Lieutenant did, we don't want any more unintentional sabotage." Bulkhead takes a moment to do some more furious scribbling, his own chicken scratch not much better than Perceptor's or Wheeljack's. But he can read it, and that's what matters. "I've been meaning to talk to Nautica about some quantum mechanics anyway, I'll try and get her involved in working on the staff too. Between that and the research we've been doing into space bridges, I think we can hold her attention long enough to get somewhere." He cracks a teasing grin, even with his optics still on the datapad screen. Good ol' Nauts.

"I'm not saying to shoot them with a lethal dose” Brainstorm corrects, some of his former annoyance returning "I'm just saying that I already developed the technology for that. It would be easy to modify. And I sent Nautica the data I got from the staff -- no, wait, I was going to. I'll do it later."

"A weapon..." Conduit is an engineer at heart, after all, so scientific application is what interests him most. "Presumably to use against the armored enemies and not our compatriots. But, knowing how to harm something may shed light on how to heal." Always life vs. death for this Decepticon, and Brainstorm seems to have a similar bent to his thinking, so Conduit wags a finger at him in agreement. "The data resides on an isolated terminal in medibay. I don't know if it's been scanned and integrated into our network yet, so a trip there may be necessary in order to peruse it, Brainstorm."

"If worse comes to worse I can override the locks to our habsuite." Perceptor offers to Bulkhead. "She has to recharge on a slab at some point." Brainstorm gets a nod. "I would prefer you do so immediately following the meeting, I'm sure it will fit into your very busy schedule. Whichever of you prefers to pursue this simply... notify me, I would prefer to know where all our attentions lie."

"I've still got some shields to put together to help in dealing with skirmishes with the Harbingers," Wheeljack says, "But I can throw my efforts in other places if we need. Might be worth it to drag some medics into studying our current zombies. They probably know more about the finer details of a spark than we do." In fact, he notes that down, before looking up again. "As for those modifications, I'm guessing it's not a good source... and not the kind of thing we'd be best off replicating here, I bet."

Astrotrain is mostly just trying to keep up with the conversation. He pulls out a pag of enerchips and starts munching on them. Occasionally trying to crunch loud enough to be a general annoyance, just because he's still a jerk, but not actually disrupt any of the important conversations going on.

Skystalker clears his vocalizer. "Doesn't First Aid have some specializing in this field? Spark studies?" He asides to Wheeljack, wingtips lifting. He looks up and over to where Astro pulls out a bag of chips a moment later, giving him a light elbowing on the arm, palm up. Do you have enough for the whole class, sir?

Perceptor hums. "First Aid would be our resource on that, the development we've put into spark frequency studies is comparatively miniscule in relation to the time he's spent studying them in depth." Which is a good go-ahead to get the medic in on their studies. "The sentio metallico was a troubling find. It's certainly added after the solidification of the harbinger's frame. I don't know how they came by the material, it's very unique in how it comes about." Which is obvious, everyone knows how their species is forged.

Bulkhead's smile widens briefly for Perceptor, before he turns his attention to Skystalker and Wheeljack. "That's right, First Aid specializes with sparks, as far as I recall. Getting medical in on this is a great idea, especially Faid since we're focusing on sparks. He might have some insight for replacing what Lieutenant and Pipes have lost." He pauses, taps his stylus against his datapad. He then fidgets, frowns, fidgets again, and finally says, "Maybe it's...recycled."

"I'll send a message to them," Wheeljack says, tapping out what's probably a reminder on his note-taking datapad. "Ratchet'll probably want to know anyway, knowing him. And Knock Out," he amends. Bulkhead's hesitant suggestion makes him fall silent, however, looking at the other mech with dimmed fins. "Do you mean..."

"I would think that our Decepticon friends are the experts on that sort of recycling" Brainstorm adds to Bulkhead's guess, uncaring about the fact that there are Decepticons here "What he means is that the previous owners were probably not done using it, that is, they probably smelted mechs down a-la Grindcore." the weapons engineer straightens out and tenses, his optics narrowing slightly, and his voice taking on a harsher tone, a far cry from the earlier boasting."

Conduit was never directly involved with operations at Grindcore, being tasked with repairing Decepticons at the time, but he moved in the same circles as some who did. Healing and harming, two sides of the same coin. "It's an efficient, effective process. If the Decepticons perfected it, surely the Harbingers could make use of it. I doubt they would have any reservations." Conduit isn't here to be a 'Con apologist, and he maintains a blase demeanor about the whole idea.

"We have the parts to run further tests on." Perceptor offers, tone neutral if a bit saddened. They lost a lot of good mechs to Grindcore. "I'd like to know how they acquired it. It could also be a byproduct of some process within Unicron mirroring Vector Sigma's hotspot pulses." His attention tracks toward his hands, tails swaying idly behind his stool.

"I wouldn't put it past them, though it brings up the question of where they're getting the um. Raw materials. Though if they've already gone through it, maybe there wouldn't be anyone missing now." It's an uncomfortable thought, one that has Wheeljack shifting and lowering his optics to poke at his datapad.

Considering all the things he -could- do to make the nerd's life miserably, it's either really good or really bad depending on your level of annoyance that the most Astrotrain does is just chomp his snack that much louder while Brainstorm is so callously talking about Decepticon something or other. Just being rude is better than actually obstructing the efforts to save their skidplates from giant munching planet-god doom. Astrotrain isn't THAT much of an asshole.

Most of the time.

Brainstorm turns to Conduit as the Decepticon talks, his optics remaining narrow. He's not one for ethics either, but really? You're going to talk about it just like that.

The tension doesn't leave his frame even as the others continue, and his usual chipperness is missing entierly when he speaks up as well "Assuming that they develop the same way we do, they've had plenty of raw material in the form of their prisoners."

Bulkhead reaches out, rests a hand on Wheeljack's arm. "They've been blazing through the galaxy slaughtering worlds for Unicron," he says softly. It's something they all know, but he feels like he shouldn't speak too loudly about it. As if that will somehow insult the dead. "We don't know what other colonies are out there, or who we haven't made contact with yet from Cybertron." He also nods to Brainstorm. "And they could have easily used their own for the process. Although..." Chewing his cheek, Bulkhead glances to Perceptor, hesitant. "Metroplex insinuated that Unicron was once part of Cybertron, right? There could be some sort of process similar to Vector Sigma going on inside it. All that energy, all that power has to come from somewhere. I don't know if it's true - we can't exactly run experiments on Unicron itself just yet - but we might want to keep it in mind."

"Now -that- is a scary thought." Astrotrain's wings actually twitch a bit, and his are a lot more rigid than most of the flyers. "I hope yer wrong Bulkie, last thing we need is Unicron Uni-babbies and I doubt anyone in the universe has developed a condom -that- big."

"We can study what we have access to." Perceptor sighs. "In regards to the similarity, Sunstreaker's brought something to my attention. If Metroplex's videos are truthful... We may not be able to kill Unicron, not without destroying Cybertron in the process. He believes there to be some similarities between branched sparks and the pair of planets. We can't afford to dismiss the concern."

Skystalker, for his part, falls quiet again as the other mechs muse on the purpose and practice of Grindcore. On whether it's happening, in a way, once more. He looks to Bulkhead with considerable apprehension. "Do you really think they used to be one? I know it's been theorized... but.." He gives Astrotrain a confused glance. Nevermind. "So what would that mean? That we need to somehow... repair him? Both of them?"

"All the more reason to carefully study their energies, I think!" Wheeljack says. "On smaller scales, first. And before Unicron can get close enough to force us to solve the issue two seconds before collision. Not that we couldn't do that, but! It's nice to not have to save the day once in a while, don't you think?"

"I don't know," Bulkhead answers, truthfully, to Skystalker. "We'll need to run more tests. But Perceptor's right, we can't afford to dismiss the theory entirely." He smiles wearily at Wheeljack, squeezes the arm he's still touching. "Handling something without that kind of deadline would be nice, you're right."

Scrubbing at his face, Bulkhead goes on, "The Knights before us put Unicron to sleep. Obviously that's not a permanent solution. If he is a part of Cybertron, bringing them together again could stop this once and for all. We just don't have enough information at this point to commit to that line of thinking."

Astrotrain says, "And we'd rather not bringing them together be by Unicron eating it."

Despite Astrotrain's crudeness, Conduit considers the concept of Unicron himself as the source of sentio metallico compelling. He's also more inclined to believe a titan. "Unicron reformed not so long ago. Perhaps he is capable of generating sentio metallico, as Cybertron, but until he has gathered his full strength he may rely on smelting. Hm. We need more data. But yes, gathering it by bringing them together is a poor option for that."

"If unicron follows the tendencies of its harbingers, it doesn't seem likely that it will risk collision with Cybertron." Perceptor points out and frowns at Astrotrain, scribbling something down on his datapad. "The harbingers are repelled by our concentrated spark energy without the buffers of systems around it. It stands to reason Unicron would avoid Cybertron for this selfsame reason."

"Or it could destroy Cybertron too" with the topic of Grindcore passing, Brainstorm relaxes a little, regaining some of his usual energy, enough to gesture at Astrotrain as he talks "I would think Tempo might know something about this, considering that he is the gun we're gathering batteries for."

"Hopefully he would," Wheeljack agrees with Brainstorm. "Might be something to ask him about, if there's anyone in the crew who has a good connection with him. Or that Knight AI." Might as well go to a source that was nominally there last time, right? "No matter what direction Unicron heads in, though, we've got plenty of work to do here as it is."

"Indeed." Perceptor nods, standing from his seat as a clear end to the meeting. "As ever, do keep me informed of your progress and lines of inquiry. Thank you for your time, you are all dismissed."

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