Alameda, formerly the site of the Naval Air Station and the associated Marine base, is now home to the newly formed EDC and its massive launching, recovery and repair facilities. The city seems to have adapted to the change rather well. The carriers, cruisers and destroyers formerly tied up alongside the piers have been replaced with hyper-sonic fighter craft, interplanetary interceptors and shuttles of all varieties, but the servicemen never change. The towers and hangars of the EDC shine brightly in the sun.
Inspector Goole sits at a cafe table outside the Red Roof Inn where he has made his lodgings. Still in his grey suit and bowler hat, he sits back, sipping on a milkshake as he enjoys the sun, tapping away periodically at his laptop
Sam Waverly comes out of the base at Alameda and catches a ride in a taxi down to the site of the Inspector's lodgings. When there, he begins poking around for the man.
Vincent Ortex is also out of the base today, enjoying his time out of sight of the EDC guards. He sees a familiar man leave a taxy by an unfamiliar residence. Whoever could that be? He decides to investigate.
Illidan "Sunder" Stormrage is riding in the cockpit of a gumby Sweep, on his way to see the good Inspector about getting his true body back. The gumbysweep scans and pinpoints the location, transforming and placing the notsweep on the ground near his objective. Illidan "Sunder" Stormrage dismisses the Sweep. "If I have need of you, I will call. Patrol the area in the meantime, to make certain there are no ambushes."
"As you will it," the gumby replies, and takes off.
Inspector Goole waves over the waitress as he sits about typing. "A coke float please!" he cheerfully requests, as he stretches out, wondering if he will meet any interesting people today!"
Vincent Ortex wanders into the restaurant, the same place where the Inspector sits and types. He makes his way to a table and sits down, by himself. "I wonder...let's try some jello and crackers. ALways a favorite."
Illidan "Sunder" Stormrage makes his way over to the cafe, finding a seat very close to where the Inspector is sitting. He is hungry, so places an order before he makes his move.
Inspector Goole slowly glances over the menu and noticing Sunder and Vortex arrive, calls over a waitress. "Ma'am, kindly escort those two to me" - he points them out - "and order us a round of lattes." Any protestation is met by money pressed into the waitresses hand, and she moves to usher the two over to Goole
Quickswitch moves toward the cafe. The haggard appearance is tired, as rest demanded by the body could not be reached, and so he, still agitated by the scene in the medical bay last night, got little rest to ease his mind. Hey, that's one of the humanized ones we saw there last night, noting Sam Waverly. Cohesion slipped further from his fingers as he approached the cafe, all six foot massive five of him. Before he sat down, he stood, gazing around. He had prowled the city on some other business, too.
Vincent Ortex looks up as a waitress comes over to him. "Wow. A stranger buying me a drink?" he asks. "I know what that means. I read about this." he says. "When a human does this they like something about you physically." he starts to preen his hair back and smiles brightly. "Its nice to have a admirer!"
Illidan "Sunder" Stormrage accepts the invitation, secretly grateful that he doesn't have to make the first move. The Notsweep gazes at the Inspector intently. "You have something to say to us, then?" he asks.
Quickswitch notices nothing, looks impassively around--there's Vincent Ortex, I told him not to run from the EDC..--and a second and third individual he does not recognize, at a table. He continues watching...
Inspector Goole smiles at Sunder and waves Quickswitch over. "Oh, do come join me, I can see through you completely." He takes the cup of coffee that the waitress brings and sips it. "Mmm yes. I would have personally visited your base too, but from my records, it seems you Decepticons are even more irrational than the others..."
An eyebrow shoots straight up, and Quentin Switch heads over to the table. Who is that guy, he recognizes us!
Vincent Ortex sits on the edge of the table, crossing his legs. "Oh honey, I'm not a Decepticon. A Combaticon. But still all and all the same. So tell me." he leans in closer, his eyes sparkling with the mirth of an interrogator at work. "How do you know about us. And what do you want from us.."
Inspector Goole gives a kindly grin at Vincent and calls up the image of the Transformer bodies floating in some sort of void, arcs of electricity fizzing all around them. "It's such a bore to explain again, but the gist is that we have your bodies, and you have one week to surrender yourself into our army and annex this world for us, or..." he shrugs "...you will die. We have remotely shortened the lifespan on your bodies, and you now have just six days to live." He says this matter of factly, as if it were nothing. Then he passes Vincent the condiment tray. "Sugar?"
Vincent Ortex 's eyes narrow a bit and he looks rather afraid for a moment. But only a moment. Then the smile returns to his face and he gives a playful tilt of his head. "Oh, hon.. you know I can't give you the Earth. It's not mine to give. It's Galvatron's." he puts a hand on his own knee and gives a wink. "As far as surrendering myself? Well I don't do that easy either. And I don't take candy from strangers. So what's your name? Tell me a little about yourself."
Quickswitch sneered. Combaticon?! So, he was a /Decepticon/ and--his eyes shot open, at once awake and the jittery agitation and the shock and the rage--this was one of the aliens!! To speak would have resulted in a croak from his mouth, but his eyes were expressive, huge. No way they were gonna die in an earth week!! His hands balled into fists beneath the table and it was all he could do to contain his disbelief, and sudden anger.
Inspector Goole shakes his head sadly. "I'm sorry, I really am, but such is life, and we must get on with it." He waves a finger at Vortex in admonishment. "And I hope this teaches you not to mess with things that aren't yours. If you'd never disturbed the ship, you wouldn't be in this position, and we wouldn't have had to come back to this world. It's not the most important sector of the Great Cause, but still..." He shrugs, trailing off. "You may relay my message to Galvatron, and express my sincerest apologies that it has had to come to this. I hope he will be graceful in accepting servitude."
The Inspector takes another sip of his coffee. "Oh, me? Well my real name is Armatage Sloor, of the fifth Azrealean fleet. Diplomatic service. But you may call me Inspector Goole, for that is the identity I have taken on this world."
Vincent Ortex pauses. "Inspector.. hmm." He says, putting a long finger to his own chin. "Did you ever think that we may be useful to you, either as this or ourselves? I'm sure the Azrealean's and the Decepticons could make some sort of deal. But I'll be honest with ya, kid. I haven't seen Galvatron since this happened to me. I'm gonna need more then six days. It's hard to learn a lesson when I'm molten slag isn't it?" yeah, Tex. Buy yourself some time.
The notSweep creases his brow, but his expression is otherwise inscrutable. He begins stroking his beard. "You wish Galvatron to surrender the Earth to you," he ponders aloud, "What guarantee does Galvatron have that our bodies would indeed be returned to us, if he agreed to such terms?"
Inspector Goole tuts loudly, shaking his head. "Well, that's all you get I'm afraid. Really, its more notice than most people get. It makes no difference to us whether you live or die, think of it as a... gesture of goodwill!" He smiles at Sunder. "None at all I'm afraid. But of course, he could simply wait and die. Again, it is no loss to us. You are an annoyance and we want you out of the way. You are either with us, or you are dead. It is very simple." He takes another sip, leaving himself with a frothy moustache, that he wipes off
Vincent Ortex chuckles. "It is nice, knowing when you're gonna die." He says. "And having some time to do all the things.. you really wanted. Thanks, Inspector. Are you sure you'll want the Earth.. when Galvatron is through with it?"
Inspector Goole shakes his head. "No no no, you don't understand sir. You will annex Earth for us, bring it under our control and then peacefully join our army. We are not a violent people, we have no need of /slaves/ or dead worlds. It is beneficial to us all, you see..."
Vincent Ortex coughs a bit. "Yeah. Join your army. What exactly are you fighting anyways?" he says, starting to sound a bit fatigued. He's already feeling time closing in.
"And why do you feel the need to "control" the Earth, then?" Illidan "Sunder" Stormrage asks pointedly. He crosses his arms across his chest, trying to read the Inspector's body language. "And indeed, I too am curious to wonder what you need an army for."
The veins in Quentin's trembling fists pounded, veins in his face, veins... The world swam, and the human saw only the anger-blotched form of the smug, casual alien in front of him, "I'm not happy about this arrangement at all," he brought his hands up, "Even less happy to hear Galvatron and Earth in the same sentance, if both of you mind." He had no need for the empty sentiment filling the air. He swallowed, only to exercise the vocal cords that comprised the sound generating mechanisms that allowed these human forms to communicate. His still features gleamed with a thin sheen of sweat, "...Indentured servitude," the words were out of practice, their tone cold, like no living organic thing, devoid, a pit of no compassion to the spoken syllabals.
Inspector Goole looks between the two. "For the Great Archon, of course!" he says, as if it is the most matter of fact thing possible. Then he sits back, rubbing his chin as if wondering the best way to explain it. "Everything is energy, you see" he begins, slowly. "Think of the human mind, or indeed the mind of a Transformer. Tiny electrical fizzes. On their own, they are very little. Minor, insignificant. But take them to a wider context, and suddenly, without warning they become a living, thinking entity."
He taps a few buttons on his laptop, bringing up a starchart. "Now think of the electrical impulses in each inhabitant of each world. On their own, minor and insignificant. But together they form a group mind, a living planet. And now think of the PLANETS as their own individual electrical entities. And together they..." he smiles. "I think you get the point. "The universe is intelligent, it is the Great Archon, and we travel the universe tending to it, removing dead neural connections and tending to the others. And then, once the Great Cause is complete and we understand the universe, we hope to be humble and wise enough to be able to hear the words of the Archon himself"
Vincent Ortex looks to Quentin. "Good." he says quietly. "I'm glad the masks are down. Why do you have a problem with Decepticon domination anyways? Whats the difference between intentured servitude to him, to your commanders or to the Great Cause here." He turns to the inspector. " You wish to know the meaning of life, Inspector? Stand in line. I don't think we or Earth know it and theres not enough to harvest. That's a power for Primus himself isn't it?" odd to hear the normally twitchy Combaticon philosophise.
The Notsweep continues to stroke his beard, silently pondering what it is that the alien is positing. Why, he expected talk like this to come straight from those planet-of-the-apes rejects on Torkulon. "Interesting," he says finally, "Tell me, do you have much to do with the planet Torkulon, by any chance?"
Inspector Goole nods slowly to Sunder. "Yes, those poor fools. They are on our list too, you know. But the universe is a large place, and we must prioritise." He smiles at Vortex. "Ah yes, perhaps, perhaps. But if you knew that God was ill, your... Primus perhaps, would you not do everything in your power to save him?" He quickly taps up some datafiles. "Ah well in the case of this 'Primus', perhaps not. But you get the idea. There are so many poor nodes in the universe, so many bad neural connections that need cleansing, that threaten to harm the Archon. That is why we do what we do, and I sincerely hope that you will understand our cause"
Vincent Ortex chuckles. "Bad neural connections.." He says. "Speaking from someone who has a few bad neural connections.." He puts a finger to his head. "Someone people call a madman... why would I want to help you cure madness?"
Quickswitch continued, his mind expending painfully from the knowledge and the corrolary made by the alien, Inspector Goole,, "...I do not care one whit for this planet... or its inhabitants... Your interference puts it, and you, in my way," he paused, not looking anywhere but at Inspector Goole, "...Your plans are irrelevant. Listen to the Combaticon," he fought for control, won it, "...I stand for freedom, freedom in thought and action...by the neccesary measures," he cleared his throat and looked at Goole uncomprehendingly, and the effectless tone continued, "...You are threatening that freedom...This human body has allowed me one thing...and that is to -enjoy- what I do, what I was built for...to do it because I -want- to do it." here the emotionless, abyssal tone turns silky.
Inspector Goole nods slowly at the two. "Your choice of course. Free will /is/ the right of all sentient beings, and so in six days the bodies you inhabit will simply stop functioning and you will die. It makes no difference to me whether our work is completed in my lifetime or in tens of thousands of lifetimes. And now, gentlemen!" He stands up, snapping up his laptop. "I leave you." With a smile, the inspector doffs his hat.
The Notsweep is still pondering what the Inspector is telling them. Quickswitch's little speech intrigues him. "So then we will see you within six days then," he says as the Inspector prepares to depart.
Bafflement and horror encrouch on him.. It wasn't right, it was wrong, to even think such a thing, and what the rest they were planning.. He didn't want to hear it. Quentin rose, looked at the others present, "...I won't be forgetting you," he gave a long look to the Inspector.
Vincent Ortex blinks a bit at both Quickswitch and the Inspector. "Wow." He says softly. "Take care, Inspector. We'll meet again, Im sure and maybe by then we'll have made a choice. This must be why Im feeling so.. strange today."