2018-10-06 A Shock to the System

From Transformers: Lost and Found

A Shock to the System
Date 2018/10/06
Location Cybertron - Tarn's Penthouse
Participants Soundwave, Hound
NPCs Tarn
Scene GM Tez
Summary After a number of failed attempts, Soundwave and Hound engage in their final and most risky attempt to take Tarn out.

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Hacking: Great Success. (5 3 1 7 6 3 5 8 7 5 1 6 2 7) <FS3> Hound rolls Holograms: Good Success. (3 1 1 7 7 5 8 2 2 6)

During the war, Decepticons found themselves in control of Cybertron -- or most of Cybertron, anyway -- more often than the Autobots would like to admit. There were times when one might think that the war was over, that victor was in their grasp. It is those moments of purple-tinted near-peace that New Iacon calls to, now. The Decepticon insignia is everywhere; the town has been painted over, literally and metaphorically, in victory. There are grand murals on the city's streets that are the joyful collaboration of newbuilds that depict the rebirth of the Decepticon Empire, the Constellate. The galaxy hangs in the background behind Megatron's head, with the points of the colonies as pinpoint stars of light: new planets, to join to the Constellate.


The building that the mural is painted on is home to some of the plusher luxuries of Megatron's Cybertron, and that is where Tarn resides, when he has finished with his duties as Chief Justice. He isn't there now, but a great deal of building security is: both automated and manned defenses guard the building, inside and out.

...but this is Hound and Soundwave and what the eye and the sensors can't see, it can't guard. They make their way into the building, and circle stairs climbing ever higher to the building's heights. It's a good time to go over their plan.

Having set up a secured, private comm link between himself and Hound, Soundwave talks in short bursts. Just to be even further on the safer side as they carefully traverse Tarn's building. << "I will prepare the back-up while you find a good spot for use to hideout." >> He's not sure how sensitive Hound's audios are and if they can pick up on the quick beat of his spark or not.

There are plenty of times where Hound has been this keyed up, or even more, in the course of his existence. Both before the war and after it, he's helped in plenty of covert missions, things that his holograms and talent at tracking have given him an edge in. Right now, in this bestial form, he's possibly more suited for this sort of mission than he's ever been, excluding his occasional problems with control. It doesn't stop him from feeling like a wire tensed just to the edge of breaking as he leads the two of them up the stairwell, audial panels pricked forward to catch any hint of something strange.

Hound gestures his affirmative in a brusque fashion, not bothering with comms for that short a gesture. << "No trouble yet? >> He hasn't seen anything that would make him think they know, but he can't wind his way through the security systems like Soundwave can.

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

No one takes the stairs. People keep taking the lifts in the building, and no one is taking or on the stairs. Every so often, there is a guard rotation that will pass through -- but they are timed to slide between them, and as they continue up, several flights below a guard emerges to trot obliviously on down, never knowing that Hound and Soundwave had passed that way only moments before.

They are at the penthouse now, with it's double-secured doors, that require just a moment's hack from Soundwave.

E Z.

<< "None," >> Soundwave says. It's more complicated than that but he's well practiced in hacking systems and bypassing security. A lot of Autobot systems and security he's practiced on but that's for another day. He unlocks Tarn's penthouse- of course its a penthouse, tch- and steps aside as soon as he's inside. He waits for Hound to enter so he can relock the doors correctly.

As the doors open, Hound slips through, swiveling his audials and venting in deeply to scope out the place as he moves carefully forward. Already his attention is on scouting out a good corner or cabinet or something for them to use to hide themselves, scouting his way toward the opposite side of the room. In particular, he's keeping an optic out for the stores of energon that are sure to be somewhere in the suite.

The lift most everyone else would take to get here stands quietly off to the side as they enter. This room is meant to impress -- or possibly to shock. Maybe both, all at once. Tarn has had his first editions removed from his ship to this room, and they hang on the walls around them. In the semi-lit dark of the room, the ancient corpses cast strange shadows in the half-light. The rooms stretch back beyond that. There is a small area with a bar and a few drinks, but they haven't been touched in some time, and what scent Hound can catch on them suggests that's the guest booze, not Tarn's personal stash. A small hallway leads to other rooms, including a berthroom that honestly doesn't seem to see much use, washracks that see more, and an office, of sorts, heavy with Tarn's personal stench. It's clearly where he spends the most time.

Soundwave locks the doors back up, leering over at the lift. But of course. Can't have the grand Chief Justice walk to his home. Hnf. He only gives the first-edition a brief glance. He's seen the macabre, tasteless display before. He heads to the small bar to behin his work.

It's like walking into a tomb, if tombs were decorated with the dead instead of with statuary. Hound can't help a little twinge of horror, followed by a surge of determination to do what they have to, as he leads Soundwave past those, and down toward the office, waving him past the dusty bar.

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

There's no end to the selection of rare and expensive vintages that Soundwave can choose from at the small, social bar. Some, he recognizes. In fact, he might recognize that exact bottle, right there, as a gift once given to Megatron. But the thin layer of dust suggests that it's not clear when -- or who! -- might drink from these next.

As Hound moves into the office, Soundwave just hears the faint sound of an internal surveillance system starting as the door opens.

Soundwave's fingers curl and he leaves the bar with a huff of his vents, following Hound. Its an effort to not stomp even a little. But even the subtle heat of emotions can't distract him completely and he reaches out, putting a hand on Hound. Stop. << "Extra security measures within office," >> Soundwave explains, already working on a remote hack. They have to stay undetected to pull this off.

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Hacking: Great Success. (7 6 4 5 2 2 5 2 8 8 4 1 7 1)

He might not have caught the security the way Soundwave did, but the touch has Hound stopping in place, turning his helm to give Soundwave a quizzical look, then nodding when Soundwave breaks their silence to explain. << "Say when. We need to get into this room," >> he says, though the extra security likely makes that obvious anyway.

There's no more than a hiccup that escapes. It's nothing. It's fine. Soundwave's 99% sure he had the signal contained.

...95% sure.

Inside, it isn't hard to see that this is where Tarn's true passion lies. There are framed cases on the walls of badges peeled from the corpses of high-profile Decepticons from the list ... and other cases of Autobot badges, or batch numbers torn from un-badged frames, of those who dared resist Megatron's conquest. There's an empty case askew on the edge of a desk that's in progress. Tarn has carefully labeled the slots with the Lost Light's command crew. He's only partway through his work. The lid of the case is loosely affixed.

A holodisplay is visible on the table, showing his current subject of study.

The scene before them is one of Soundwave at his most brutal, graphically tearing through captured Autobot spies, revealed to him because invisibility and holograms only go so far, as Hound and Mirage -- just on the edge of the frame, fleeing -- and the rest of the less-fortunate crew discovered.

Soundwave's lips purse beneath his mask and then he nods, opening the office door the rest of the way. All clear. He's a few steps in before the holodisplay registers. He stares at it for a while, taking several steps closer to the desk. Yes. He remembers that. And he remembers sending his cassettes after Mirage and Hound-- and yes, there it is. Ravage and Rumble while he took care of the rest.

Soundwave reaches out to turn the display off but stops himself. They can't change anything. He looks at the glass casses on the dest too and growls, hands curling into fists. Tersely, he begins searching the desk and the room at large for Tarn's personal stash of energon stores.

Hound's grimace only becomes more pronounced as he sees the image. He glances over at Soundwave as the former Decepticon steps closer to the image, suddenly made wary at the dark reminder the image makes of the opposite sides the two of them used to be on. A paranoid flicker makes him wonder if this is there for a reason before he tamps it down. Stiffly, Hound turns away from the image, setting his shoulders and resolving himself to ignoring the gruesome reminder. Unlike Soundwave, he doesn't make for the energon here, but for the corners of the place, looking for a corner they can use to conceal themselves and confirm their job as done.

There are other images frozen in the corners of the display that suggests that Tarn is making a deep study of how Soundwave fights. In that study, his cassettes appear ... a surprising amount. It's no secret that the cassettes are one of Soundwave's greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses, and Tarn's no fool. An addict, maybe; a sadist, definitely; absolutely also a pretentious aftplate. But he's not a fool.

Tarn's secret stash contains nucleon-enriched energon which he has -- judging by the level in the bottle -- been sipping more frequently than he should. It glows a lurid hue when revealed. The vintage of the enriched innermost energon is ... quite fresh, as labeled on the bottle.

Hound finds a corner that will be too cozy for two, unless Soundwave should shrink, but it's also the darkest pocket, and best hidden.

Soundwave looks at the energon, gaze narrowing. And then he gets to work. It takes him a little longer than he should-- but when placing attention deflectors on all but one bottle's lid, it gets a little difficult to pay attention to your work. Then he closes the drawer back up and stands. He glances at the display once more, bristling, before approaching Hound. << "It is done. Are you ready?" >>

<< "Think it's wise to mass-shift?" >> Hound asks Soundwave, gesturing to the corner. He doesn't particularly like the idea of being pressed in with Soundwave, but considering the rest of the room... Hound shakes his helm and settles into a crouch in that corner, preparing the hologram that should hide the both of them. << "If not we'll have to try... something else." >> He's very determinedly not looking at the display image.

The display twinkles in Hound's peripheral vision. The smaller images show similar scenes, inevitably, because when Soundwave fights, it nearly always means that he fights Autobots. There are friends of Hounds in those frames. One of the frames is more recent, however, showing a conflict in the middle of the fight against Unicron. There, instead of fighting Autobots, Soundwave fights side by side with them.

All is quiet as Soundwave completes his work, leaving only the silence to hide them. Together. Cozily.

Soundwave nods, reaching to set his hand to Hound's neck. And then he's smaller. And his grip on Hound's neck changes so he can hoist himself up. And there he sits on Hound's back, taking up less room and... Waiting. He can wait for hours and he's clearly prepared to, systems already preparing into going idle.

Hound tenses when Soundwave reaches out to touch him like that, but doesn't protest, just settles himself down against the floor more fully in his wolf form, calling up the hologram of further shadows to cloak them as they wait. Unlike Soundwave, he never quite goes idle. There's always some lingering tension threaded through the stillness, as he watches the door and waits for Tarn to make his appearance.

It's a good thing that they are ready to wait for hours, because -- they do.

In some ways, this is actually reassuring. That hiccuping blip doesn't provoke a stampede of security. Tarn doesn't come charging in, wrapped in a blaze of paranoia. Instead, at the end of a long day, they can hear the lift rise once again -- and Hound can sense an ozone charge in the air, and Soundwave can hear a snap-crackle of Chimera's mane as Tarn steps out into his home.

It's an agonizing stretch of time that follows as he putters around in the vague domesticity of someone who imagines themselves alone. He starts up his music out in the main room shortly after arriving, and it has just settled in to the familiar strains of the Empyrean Suite when he pauses, and then flicks to something else. Something new, something raw. The music of Megatron's new artists. It's hard to say if that's more or less pretentious.

Someone should really ask Soundwave how he does it. Because he didn't move so much as an inch the entire time they waited. His head finally tilts, and he listens closely and intently to Tarn go about his business. But not too intently, not too closely. He's not sure how much of Tarn has carried over into the audibly fatal. When then music turns on, he presses his face into Hound's neck because dear Primus he hates this guys so much.

Hound doesn't have the best ears between the two of them, but he still knows how to listen, and from the moment he hears that lift open onto the penthouse suite, he's shifting his position, ready to attack or to run if needed. The long stretch may have been reassuring when it comes to their plan, but it doesn't mean it's easy on a frame, and Hound doesn't want to be caught off-guard by anything Tarn might do, especially since he can't just start shaking the stiffness out of his limbs. Still, there's nothing else left for him to do, but wait for Tarn to enter the office and drink that energon at last. And studiously ignore Soundwave's facemask against his neck. Soundwave, what Soundwave? There's no Soundwave practically cuddling him like a cat.

Eventually -- eventually -- Tarn makes his way into his office. He lingers over his plans, which open now to show the Lost Light and the fleet. There's a glimpse again in the files he passes of that galaxy-spanning Constellate, but he hones back in to brood over Soundwave's murder like a fun little post-work relaxation project. He runs the simulations, the approaches. He tallies different ways to murder and torture the cassettes, from the freshly inventive -- punching a hole in Soundwave's frame to pull them free -- to some which recall vivid memories of the Light Lost. And it's when he's busy with all this that his hand falls to the bottle of poisoned energon that has been left waiting for him.

And he drinks.

Soundwave lifts his head when Tarn enters, watching him in silence. His fingers curl into Hound, probably diveting his, as Tarn does his little hobby. He's practically shaking and its a good thing he can't catch on fire like Rodimus. Otherwise they'd of been given away. He almost doesn't realize when Tarn takes a drink. Almost.

His tense grip on Hound loosens. They did it... They probably did it- he's not sure if Tarn has drank enough to constitute a lethal amount- you can't just pour Gideon's Glue into things for quick, promised results. But it doesn't... This feels. It's not right. As quietly as possibly, he pulls a gun out of subspace. << "We should finish this quicker. Move us closer." >>

Hound barely spares the attention for what it is that Tarn is working on, aside from making sure that it won't bring him in the direction of their shadowed corner. So he's achingly aware of the moment when Tarn finally drinks, even despite the distraction of Soundwave squeezing hard enough to put dents in his armor. Soundwave can tell the moment Hound gets his comm, because he goes utterly still. And then.

<< "This is a bad idea." >> It's not really shouting, but he clearly wants to, because that's Tarn in front of them, Tarn who has caused the Lost Light no end of injury in battles against him. Except with their last two attempts having failed, they need to be sure of this one, and they both know it. So Hound looks one last time to the images of destruction surrounding Tarn, and rises, padding carefully closer.

<FS3> Hound rolls Stealth: Good Success. (8 3 6 4 2 7 2 5)

For a split second, it seems like Hound has just been sitting too long. Hound and Soundwave have a moment to imagine their lives and how they'll end as Hound rises and almost immediately crashes into the side of the desk.

He corrects himself, light-footed and soundless, and it isn't until they are very nearly at Tarn's back that he turns, suddenly aware of them -- and of the pain, already lighting his internal receptors in agony. It's not hard for him to guess what's happening, and he pivots to lunge for them, systems roaring a rage he can no longer voice, with death in his touch.

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Telepathy: Great Success. (7 5 4 6 1 4 8 2 6 7 7 5 8 3 2 4)

Soundwave hold the gun tightly, ready to land one last shot. Not like the last time. This time, its close. And personal. And easy. And at Tarn's back. He can do it. He's already starting to raise the gun when he hears it. An alarm no one is privvy to but him and Hound. In one hand, he grabs Hound's neck scruff and yanks with all the force he can muster. BACKPEDAL!

Soundwave is on his back, a very distinct weight, and it's only that very noticable reminder that has him hesitating, rather than lunging to meet meet Tarn's lunge with his jaws wide and ready to bite. It's the hand on his ruff, more than Tarn's lunge, that has Hound's growing growl morphing into a yelp instead, but he pulls back as he's roughly instructed, teeth still bared in Tarn's direction.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Tarn=12 Vs Hound=reaction+reaction+2 < Tarn: Great Success (1 8 7 1 7 7 8 6 1 1 5 3) Hound: Good Success (8 7 3 5 1 5 1 6) < Net Result: Tarn wins - Solid Victory

Despite the warning, Tarn still manages to get a hand on Hound -- not Soundwave, on Hound's back, but Hound. His fingers close over Hound's armor, and almost immediately, his systems are thrown into a spasm. His optic feeds blur, his hearing is locked to the sizzle of his own internals, and all he can smell is circuits burning out inside of him. With his other hand, Tarn reaches next for Soundwave, as he shakes Hound's ruff. BAD DOG.

It's not enough of a warning for his noble steed- who's now an immobile steed. Soundwave isn't without his tricks, though. He aims an uppercut at Tarn's jaw as he mass shift's back into his usual height, giving his hit that extra oomph from the force of his growth spurt.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Tarn=12-2 Vs Soundwave=unarmed+2 < Tarn: Good Success (3 6 6 3 8 8 6 1 7 1) Soundwave: Good Success (8 4 5 6 3 2 3 8 6 2 3 4 6 6) < Net Result: Tarn wins - Marginal Victory

This time, the yelp is entirely because of Tarn, the only thing keeping it from becoming a true pained howl is the need for quiet, lest the guards make their way up. He can feel himself siezing up, and this is bad, he knows it's bad, but the pain flips a switch and suddenly all Hound is seeing is red. Heedless of the further damage it might do to him, he thrashes in the punishing grip, doing his best to lay claws into every part of Tarn's armor that he can reach. He doesn't know what Soundwave's doing, and right now, at this moment, he doesn't give a fuck.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Tarn=12-2 Vs Hound=unarmed < Tarn: Great Success (8 2 8 4 3 6 7 8 6 7) Hound: Great Success (3 2 7 6 5 7 5 5 8 8) < Net Result: Tarn wins - Marginal Victory

As Hound and Soundwave strike, Tarn falls back against the deck, which shorts out. The lights in the room flicker, and then go out, leaving the scene lit by the glow of their frames and the splashes of energon torn from them. Chimera's mane runs wild, it's power uncontrolled, as electricity arcs through the room. The innermost energon vials shine with a more delicate light.

Energon begins to seep between the plates of Tarn's armor, bleeding to the floor. A particularly thick rivulet runs from his midsection, down the inside of his leg, to pool on the floor beneath him. The metal begins to smoke and hiss. Unable to express his rage in words, Tarn instead pours it into them both as he gets a hand on each of them. Soundwave's systems are the next to begin to shut down.

Soundwave's vocalizer chokes on static, his optics fritzing as Tarn grabs. His systems sputter, but more frightening than the sensation of his body losing its function is the faint prodding squeeze along his spark. Soundwave's engine rumbles into a rattling whine. He reaches out to grab Tarn's head with one hand, the hand with the gun lifting. He he can just hold him still...

Still thrashing, Hound can't tell if he's genuinely losing his vision or not when the lights go dark. Everything is red and black and sickly, bloody pink. The disorientation only makes him try harder. "Shoot!" he snarls out loud, not willing to trust that his comms will work to contact Soundwave. Even that he's unsure he actually gets out, as he hunts for a place to dig his claws in and tear.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Tarn=12-4 Vs Soundwave=unarmed-2 < Tarn: Good Success (6 8 8 2 5 3 6 6) Soundwave: Good Success (8 2 1 7 2 6 3 1 2 4) < Net Result: DRAW <FS3> Opposed Roll -- Tarn=12-4 Vs Hound=unarmed-2 < Tarn: Success (3 8 6 3 5 4 5 5) Hound: Good Success (3 5 8 1 2 8 6 4) < Net Result: Hound wins - Marginal Victory

It's a struggle for Soundwave to get a grip on Tarn, and when he finally does -- when he has him still, finally, for just that one moment -- their gazes lock. They have fought together at Megatron's side for millions of years, and never has Soundwave seen such hate and fear in Tarn's eyes. Soundwave's limbs begin to lock, from his core outward, with movement remaining only for a moment more in his fingers.

Hound, on the other hand, manages to tear an entire chunk from Tarn's limb with what control remains to him. The energon lines within Tarn are sizzling dangerously as the poison continues to filter through his system, dissolving everything it finds. Even torn from him, it's a danger to Hound, if any of it splashes too close.

And then -- then the tainted energon pulses through to Tarn's spark, and he locks in place, eyes whited-outed and sightless as they blaze. In the room beyond, screens shatter and speakers break in a scream of white noise. The noise pulses outward, beyond this room, beyond this floor, beyond this building, as it's channeled through the city's grid.

He's got him. Years of knowing who would win between them. But also knowing who Megatron favored. Now Megatron favors the other, and it is the other who wins. He meets Tarn's eyes, ready to tout about in victory. But it doesn't come. The hate? Oh yes. The hate comes in equal measure to Tarn. But the rest is... It's hollow.

Soundwave would look away if he could move his optics at all. Hound's voice seems distant but he hears, and the reminder makes his finger curl around the trigger. But it doesn't pull, his body seizes in place as he listens to the garbled feedback of a city entering a blackout.

Hound gives a satisfied snarl as he feels the plating give way, but it's a short-lived triumph. He can practically taste the dangerous tingle of the electricity breaking free of Tarn, and while he may not know the full extent of the havoc it's creating, he's sure it will be more than enough to alert the guards. If they can't take the lift here, then they might just use the stairs-- whatever the case, this mission's end is rapidly approaching. As badly electrocuted as he is, Hound twists, doing his best to pull away on damaged limbs, dodging Tarn's frozen grip and the toxic ichor as he reaches for Soundwave and the gun still frozen in his hand.

As Hound pulls Soundwave free, the last of the light dies in Tarn's eyes. He collapses, utterly still, and utterly silent. Beyond the walls, the city's systems begin to shut down, rippling outward from the building, as others are strained past capacity making up for the loss of other systems. There's no alarms -- all alarm systems are dead -- but it's not hard for them to figure out that something happened. Hound and Soundwave are left half-shorted out, their outlier abilities temporarily blistered past use, to stumble their way free of chaos relying on base-level senses. It doesn't take much to be able to hear the shouts rising up the stairwell as the building guards tear their way up.

Soundwave is left to stare at Tarn as the last of his life's melody goes silent. He hardly notices the rancid energon he'd been sitting in while entangled with Tarn. He makes a small noise when he eventually shoves away from Hound, stumbling to Tarn's desk. He takes one of his energon bottles before shoving his way to the door. His vocalizer fritzes and he motions to the ceiling. The roof. Now. The city is down and scrambled- which will make their escape transport easier to get to. Let's go.

Hound stumbles, unsteady, as Soundwave pushes away from him, staring in blank incomprehension for a moment-- nearly a moment too long-- as Soundwave grabs one of the energon bottles. In the end, he doesn't waste time asking, just forces himself through a painful transformation and staggers up, bipedal, to nod and rasp, "right." As soon as Soundwave steps back, Hound reaches out, grabs him by the free hand, and starts to move. In this state, they're going to need it, to get away.

It takes the both of them, stumbling and pulling at each other, just barely holding each other up at times, and Soundwave staring more often at his hands than the next step he needs to take. They get to the roof, and they get to the transport, but only just, and it's the chaos of the city around them that allows them to escape. As they escape into the darkening sky, they see smoke rising from the darkened city beneath them. And while they can't actually hear it, it's easy to imagine Megatron's scream of rage.

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