Log Title: Diplomatic Mission to Praxus
Date: May 01, 2016
Summary: Crosscut and Spike enter into negotiations with Sky High of Praxus.
As logged by Crosscut - Sunday, May 01, 2016, 5:04 PM
Trion Square - Iacon
In the center of the square is a life-size hologram of Alpha Trion. He moves smoothly between different poses -- stroking his beard, looking thoughtful, and maybe a little lost in thought. It's a very warm, human portrait of a mech seen by many as the father of the Autobot movement.
Spike has some time alone, so he fires off a quick text to Buster. "Did they discharge dad today?"
Buster texts back, "YES JESSE AND I PICKED HIM IUP ALL IS WELL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GE BACK"
Spike frowns at the text, "Jesus, I was JUST asking a question." He frowns and texts back a fairly passive aggressive "fine. thx."
Crosscut, meanwhile, is preparing for the trip to Praxus. His silver armor is shined to a high polish. His defensive weaponry is fully-charged, just in case. As he waits in Trion Square for Spike to meet him, he gets a message that Arcee will meet them after she recharges, which makes him a little less anxious. He checks his chronometer, his tires' air pressure, and his fuel situation - all set. He glances around the square, looking for Spike.
Spike walks out to Crosscut. His slacks - pressed. His shirt - pressed. A tie on. His hair, still kind of unkempt, but a bit more stylized as usual. He even has a nice Fossil watch on him. He looks at Crosscut and raises his hands slightly, awaiting inspection.
Crosscut sounds pleased. "Excellent, Spike. And, again, I appreciate you joining me on this one. Are you ready to depart?" In case Spike is, Crosscut transforms into his tiny Honda City R subcompact mode. The little Japanese vehicle looks somewhat out of place on the alien world of Cybertron, but then again, probably not any more out of place than Spike is. Crosscut opens his car doors so Spike can have his choice of driver or passenger seat. Either side will be slightly cramped.
Spike smiles - putting off family drama for this. "Absolutely... I warn you... I did as much research as I could - those ... metaphors that Sky High used... the only thing I could glean is some obscure dragon game." Spike says, "...of which I know have all of a Wikipedia introduction knowledge about." He steps into the driver's side."
The Assembly is a building located in the center of Praxus on Cybertron. While the city itself already is a mesmerizing experience of the finest Cybertronian culture has to offer, the Assembly is the undisputed main act. The building houses facilities for classes, discussions, presentations, demonstrations, as well as a theater, concert halls, holographic entertainment rooms, musea, lecture halls, libraries and archives; all that the citizens from Praxus could need in support of their pursuit of science, technology, art, philosophy, and culture. Therefore, many of them try to spend every klik they can spare at the Assembly. The building itself is a domed structure, with moving sidewalks, leading past pieces of art, to carry guests to and from the building.
"I guess we'll figure it out as we go!" Crosscut emits cheerfully, and waits for Spike to get in. Once Spike does, Crosscut takes him across Cybertron to Praxus, using secret tunnels and staying out of the sight of airborne Decepticon patrols as much as possible. When they arrive at Praxus's main city, the contrast is amazing - the Assembly is beautiful, almost as gorgeous as one might imagine Crystal City to look at its peak.
Sky High awaits the arrival of the Autobots. Next to one of the moving sidewalks he stands, studying a large abstract art installation as if trying to make sense of it. He is a tall mech, and carries a long black sonic scythe across his back. He looks rather powerfully-built and well-armed for a negotiator - Crosscut he ain't. However, as he gazes at the sculpture, he seems peaceful, especially surrounded as he is by some of Cybertron's greatest works of talent and culture.
Spike looks out Crosscut's window with a pretty dispassionate view though the tunnels and the sad state of Cybertron. As they begin to enter Praxus, Spike's expression changes as his eyes get wider - absorbing the architecture, and more importantly - how fairly unravaged it is from war damage. His jaw slacks slightly as his eyes absorb another eye-popping view. "Incredible...." he gasps.
"Yes," Crosscut agrees with Spike, as he drives the human ambassador into the city. "Praxus has suffered from Decepticon incursions, but so far the Assembly has remained relatively untouched. For that reason alone, they've tried to stay out of the war, but Decepticon attacks, including the takeover of the Praxus mines and enslavement of so many of the citizens of Praxus, have made that increasingly difficult. This is why Sky High has agreed to meet us to form what I hope will be a pact of mutual assistance."
Spike nods, half-listening to Crosscut's analysis, half zoning out on the amazing architecture ahead of him. Dwarfing even the most impressive feats of architecture on his own mudball planet. He takes a gulp of dry air. "So...I'm guessing...this is sort of what Crystal City looked like in its heyday?"
As the Autobots arrive, Sky High turns from where he was examining one of the city's abstract art installations. He smiles, and seems relieved - although whether that reaction is to the Autobots' safe arrival or to the excuse to pause his art appreciation isn't completely apparent. As Crosscut drives up to him and slows to a stop, Sky High bellows, "Greetings, wise emissaries from Iacon. The citizens of Praxus welcome you to our fair city." He bends forward with a grand, sweeping bow.
Spike grins and shakes his head, still disbelieving stuff like this is still happening with him. He waits for Crosscut to come to a halt and emerges from Crosscut, giving his suit a quick look-over. He shuts the door and looks high up at Sky High. "Thank you...and thank you the invitation. It's an honor."
Crosscut opens his doors to let Spike out. "Yes, in many ways Praxus has taken up the mantle of science and learning on Cybertron, carrying the ball, if you will, in developing our culture while the Autobots and Decepticons have focused on the technologies of warfare. The Assembly and the nearby Helix Gardens are some of my favorite places to come and reflect during the rare chances I have to get away." Once Spike disembarks, Crosscut transforms into his shiny-but-otherwise-not-very-impressive robot mode.
Crosscut is small by Autobot standards, standing at barely 16' tall. His armor is resplendent silver, seeming more for show than actual protection in battle. Amber optics glow intelligently from a face predominantly hidden by an angular silver mask, preventing most observers from reading his emotions unless he desires it. His crimson helmet is outfitted with an array of communications and translations gear in a stylish but functional package. Crosscut's body is compact and lean, with few embellishments besides the small blue and silver door-wings on his shoulders. His narrow forearms are packed with analytical and defensive equipment which he can activate and de-activate as needed. Crosscut is almost always polite to a fault, and seems built more for talking than fighting. When he speaks, his accent and language seems to naturally adjust to fit whomever he is addressing, which can be comforting one-on-one but a bit jarring when he's speaking to several individuals at once in the round.
Dreadwind leaps into the air as his head slides down between his shoulders. The chest folds up to form the nose and cockpit of a fighter jet. The arms collapse into a pair of weapons pods as the legs fuse together and fold beneath into the fuselage. The wings unfold into place as the tail slides down onto the back end, completing the transformation into an F-16 Fighting Eagle.
Upon seeing Spike, Sky High's optics widen, and after Spike speaks, Sky High bows again. "The honor is mine, miniscule marvel of alien anatomy. Welcome to the Assembly, where art and science meld to something almost magical! May I give you a tour? We have all the comforts of home, plus galleries, museums, and theatres beyond measure! Is this your first time to Cybertron, little one? I realize the sights and sounds may at first be a little overwhelming, but I, Sky High, am more than willing to be your guide!"
Spike looks at Crosscut and whispers right before addressing Sky High "Primus, this is like a Rush album come to life!" He looks at Sky High and shakes his head, not able to hide his boundless enthusiasm for the current scene, "No, actually...I've been to Cyb'tron a few times. But this..." He shakes his head in awe. "I've NEVER seen this part...it's... beyond words." He nods to Sky High respectfully "I would love a tour if it's not too much trouble."
Spike looks up and says "By the way, how are the miners? I'm guessing they are still getting over quite an ordeal."
Rumble is en route to Praxus, catching a ride with Scourge for time's sake. "This place sucks," he says as they approach the Assembly building. "Lookit those frooty buildin's. This whole place is made for hoity-toits."
If Cybertron had gloomy stormclouds that meant nothing but despair and rainy days, Dreadwind would be it. He is flying in formation with the Sweep, being outranked and all. Story of his life.
"Indeed," Scourge growls, "Definitely a higher class of mech. The type of place I'd expect to find Blast Off on his offtime."
Crosscut is about to respond to Spike's somewhat obscure (to Crosscut, anyway) pop culture reference, when a chill shadow falls over him, seeming to drain from him all of his enthusiasm and cheer, glancing up, his amber optics widen as his greatest fear comes true - he's lead the Decepticons to the Assembly, precisely what the neutral citizens of Praxus did NOT want to happen. "Decepticons!" he gasps, charging up his wrist-mounted defensive weaponry, just in case. He steps between Spike and the incoming warriors, hoping to protect the human as much as possible if things go badly.
Mixmaster follows along. He looks around. "Last time I was in a city this nice it was Crysta.." he snickers. "Good times. Good times."
Spike looks up at Sky High, looking around "I'm hoping our visit can be mutua..." He stops mid-sentence at Crosscut's alarm and his easygoing grin quickly turns into a scowl. "Sonofabitch, you've GOT to be kidding me!" he squints, still not able to see the Decepticons with his naked eye, but that'll change soon.
In the short moment before Crosscut spots the Decepticons, Sky High smiles down at Spike. "I would LOVE to give you a tour," he says grandly, straightening up and making a broad sweeping gesture to the entirety of the city. "The people of Praxus owe you Autobots everything for shutting down Internment Camp Pi and saving our citizens from Decepticon oppression. If there is anything we can -"
Behind Shy High's blue visor, his optics widen as Crosscut shouts his warning. Turning to look up, Sky High exclaims, "What sorcery is this? Foul wizards scry upon our meeting, and send evil dragonriders into our midst! Well, they will not find us quite the easy prey they may expect!" Reaching behind him, Sky High draws a large, twin-bladed sonic scythe. "My elf-forged steel will slay them where they stand! Adventurers, behind me!"
Spike moves behind Sky High and Crosscut. He's not too sure what Sky High is talking about with all of the D&D talk, but he's pro-Autobot, which is enough for him right now. He looks at Crosscut and says quickly, not wanting to interrupt his mentor's train of thought, "Heyah, you got another weapon on you that's like...human-sized?!"
Crosscut reaches his hand towards Sky High after detecting what he assumes are incoming Decepticons. "Hold!" he says, as Sky High moves into position to attack. "Maybe there's a diplomatic way out of this! We can't risk destroying the Assembly!" Looking down, Crosscut says, "You should stay out of the fight, Spike. Here." Crosscut opens a panel in the back of his right heel, and extracts a fold-out human-sized personal scooter. "If necessary, use this to escape."
Rumble knows that this is Dreadwind's mission, so he's holding back any bloodlust he might have. That becomes exponentially harder when he spots Spike amongst the outraged-looking Autobots. He chuckles nastily, and once the party is close enough, he departs Scourge's cargo area and floats in the sky. "Spike! Spike Witwicky! AHAHAHAH!!! Whatcha doin' on Cybertron? You don't live here!! Oh, Spike. Whatcha think you're doin'," he taunts.
Spike frowns and waves off Crosscut's effort to protect him, "I'm not going anywhere!"
Spike spots Rumble and his eyes flare, still pissed that the mini-con snapped his arm like a twig. He looks down at Rumble (say he's on some steps) and is about ready to taunt Rumble, "Get me in an exo-suit, you little shit and we'll see if you're still talking trash, you sonof.." He pauses and gives a slight, grudging nod to Crosscut. "Fine...though I'm thinking these guys aren't in the talkative mood."
Spike clinches his fist, but relents, ceding to the cool-headed Autobot diplomat.
Dreadwind breaks off formation from Scourge, descending toward Praxus. It's a rather perilous-looking nosedive, the Decepticon coming dangerously close to plummeting straight into a building. Finally, at the last moment, he transforms and lets his anti-gravs carry him gently to the street below. Was that maneuver intended to be intimidating? No. Truth be told, he actually considered just crashing into the building and ending it all, but self-preservation subroutines activated before he could.
Dreadwind looks between the gathering of different races and affiliations, his dull voice droning from behind his faceplate, "Well this all looks horrible."
Spike keeps close to Crosscut, but then a relieved grin comes across his face, thinking he's hearing the familiar roar of Optimus Prime's engines. He moves closer to Crosscut and mutters "That's the sound of the odds evening."
Sky High has welcomed the Autobots to Assembly to discuss an alliance, but is now immediately facing the drawbacks, as Decepticons have followed them to the culture center of Praxus. Sky High has his sonic scythe in hand, and is ready to defend his home even as Crosscut calls for more diplomatic means to handle the incoming enemy. "Fear not, small allies. I realize you've put all your skill points in Diplomacy and the like. Know that I am a mighty ranger with a proficiency in exotic weapons, and am ready to defend you should negotiations fail."
Rumble seems to think Spike's rage is outrageously funny, as he can't help but laugh, look highly amused, and float just out of reach. The presence of the Autobots doesn't seem to phase the tiny terror. He grins evilly at Spike, folding his arms across his chesstplate but otherwise not making any immediate threatening moves.
Spike frowns and gulps, looking around, he'd hate to see this area be another area that descends into ruin like so many other areas of Cybertron. He gives Rumble a dejected look and gives a quick sigh, "Let's... try giving peace a chance before you have to do that, Sky High."
Dreadwind's optics fix on Sky High for a few moments, contemplating the impact of his words... Then his gaze shifts to Crosscut, "You're on a diplomatic mission and you forgot to bring an interpreter who speaks crazy. How typical." He looks over his shoulder at Rumble, "Did you happen to understand any of that?"
Spike looks at Rumble, his eyes still narrowing, but those few times Rumble floats closer to Spike, he does end up taking a few cautious steps back.
Ravage hides in the shadows of the Assembly, skulking near the gathering of Autobots, Neutrals, and Decepticons. He observes the group meticulously, in every spectrum and bandwidth he's capable of monitoring.
Prime's engine indeed rumbles in the distance as he pulls up towards the assembly hall, his intention being to check up on things as he pulls into the hall. His entourage, neutrals, he expected. Decepticons... not so much. He heads towards the Autobot contingent.
"I dunno, mech, I thought he was talkin' Junk-talk," Rumble admits to Dreadwind with a puzzled shrug. "Sounds like a nerd."
Valour flies in behind the rest, guarding the rear as they approach Praxus and transforming once they arrive. He floats down to land lightly on the top of one of the Assembly buildings, gazing down at the gathering of Autobots, Decepticons, and neutrals. At the arrival of the Decepticons, most of the neutrals of Praxus suddenly remember they have pressing business elsewhere, and the streets quickly empty of non-combatants aside from the well-armed Sky High.
Scourge transforms and perches on the top of a building in close proximity, probably the same one Dreadwind nearly smashed into. He peers down, talons gripping the edge until the metal of the structure is crushed under his grip, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
Crosscut seems relieved as Optimus Prime rolls in. He'd hoped the Autobot leader could attend the meeting, but hadn't expected as much, considering how busy the commander is. Now, however, with Decepticons crashing the party, Crosscut is gladder than ever to see Big Red join them. "Optimus Prime!" he calls out. "This is Sky High, a representative of Praxus! The Decepticons weren't initially invited, but I'm sure some sort of seat can be set for them at the proverbial negotiation table."
Spike frowns at Rumble, he's within hearing distance, "We'll settle our beef another time..." bask in fear, Rumble.
"Nerd?" Sky High roars, looking offended. "I'll have you know I'm at least level 6, and have a significant strength modifier to boot. I'd watch that sharp tongue of yours, Halfling, before I do 2d6+2 damage worth of sharp justice to you and yours! Now, clear out - the Decepticons have no place in the peaceful assembly! You've made your alignment clear in the dungeons beneath the Decepticon High Command Aerie, and you'll be driven from this land with the power of Autobot / Praxus righteousness!"
Optimus Prime nods slowly to Crosscut. "Indeed. So long as they behave themselves." he says.
Spike looks up at Sky High and mutters "Reign it in big guy... let's see if they actually attack."
Rumble pffts. "Hey, fragface, you need to shut up with your nerd talk. You don't run this place! You don't own /nothin'/ around here! You don't get to tell us if we can be at this Assembly place! Ain't that right??" He smirks arrogantly at Sky High. "So shut up!"
Valour peers down at Optimus Prime and Sky High. "Indeed. I thought Praxus wished to stay out of the war. We have taken what we needed at the mines, yes, but we've spared this little haven of culture of yours out of respect for your neutrality in the war this far. Ally yourself with the Autobots, and you make all of this a valid military target. Is that what you truly desire?" Valour's tone is calm but his threat clear.
Ravage remains hidden, taking in the 'meeting' with silent amusement.
Crosscut nods, but defers to Optimus Prime on how to proceed from here. Instead, Crosscut focuses on defending Spike. Crosscut keeps his optics on Rumble, and just in case loads a missile into his wrist launcher - better in this case to be prepared than to worry too much about sending an aggressive signal and be caught flatfooted if the Decepticons attack. He remotely unfolds Clutch in case Spike changes his mind and needs to use it to escape.
Spike comes close to accusing Valour of being the aggressor, but he does the diplomatic math. Optimus Prime. And Crosscut equals - shut the hell up, since anything you say may make the situation all the more wors.e
Sky High of Praxus stands with the Autobots, his sonic scythe ready should things turn ugly. He is a burly-looking negotiator for his people, although as Rumble has rightly pointed out, behind his rugged exterior beats the fuel pump of a true nerd. He stares up at Valour aggressively, ready to throw the Decepticon's threats back in his face - which may be heroic, but might not be the best course of action for the safety of his people.
Optimus Prime widens an optic. "Cower before us and fear our wrath, eh, Valour?" Prime says, his tone equally calm and even, before looking to Sky High. "I believe what you will read between his words is that even though you remain neutral, they will take what they wish, regardless of your wishes. Any who say otherwise will face destruction." he says, an optic spared to Valour before he continues. "As an Autobot ally, you would regain the freedom to administrate that which is yours, and our protection should others choose to deny you that freedom."
Spike tries not to smile, but he can't help it after Prime gives that pitch.
Starscream soars into view high in the sky doing impossible aerial manuevers when it suddenly transforms into a robot, which cuts it's anti-gravs and falls far to the Earth. He lands in dramatic fashion with a small crater forming and dust rising. His red optics glow through the dust and when it settles Starscream slowly rises with a scowl on his face. He looks at the Decepticons present, "STAND DOWN! YOUR EMPEROR COMMANDS IT! This is NOT how we conduct diplomatic relations." he starts to brush off the dust from his dramatic entrace and looks to the little "dimplomatic" back and forth going on. "Now then, where were we? If Prime wishes to make a pitch to the Praxians to join the Autobot cause...allow me to make a COUNTER offer."
Spike can't help but *gulp* have a bit of respect for Starscream - commanding his legion to stand down. He hears Starscream's proposition. He then looks up at Sky High, he thinks about saying "this should be good" - but he refrains, continually remaining silent, thinking that Sky High will be able to make up his own mind, without any prodding from the Autobots. Let Optimus Prime and Crosscut's appeal speak for itself.
Rumble backs off a bit as Starscream shows up...not so much out of intimidation, but out of a sense that the game's about to change. He watches with narrow-opticed curiosity, waiting to see how the Air Commander wants to deal with the Praxans.
Dreadwind patiently listens to the parlet between Valour and Optimus. He inclines his head toward Rumble, without actually taking his optics off the other Mechs, and quietly speaks to the hooligan, "I'd hate to admit it, but Optimus' words are probably going to win out here. We'll probably have to fight them. Then we'll all be d-" The last word is drowned out by Starscream's entrance. Once the Seeker is finished, Dreadwind sighs and shifts his gaze fully to Rumble, "Doomed."
Mixmaster listens to them. "Ahh diplomacy. The boring part before.." He pauses. "Oh Starscream. Now it gets fun.' He cracks his knuckles enjoying the show.
Valour looks ready to respond to Prime's charge, but pauses as Starscream arrives to take command of Decepticons and the negotiations. He straightens on the rooftop on which stands, radio to back up his commander in words or battle.
Sky High looks up at Starscream and keeps his sonic scythe in hand. "I will listen to your dark words, dragon-rider, but know sure - I have no love nor trust of you or your men." Spike looks at Crosscut and gives a quick, reassuring pat to his diplomatic mentor, looks like Sky High won't buy Starscream's snake-oil pitch.
Crosscut glances down at Spike with a nod of his own, but then turns his attention back to Starscream. There is interest in his optics, curiosity about what the acting Lord would offer to Praxus other than destruction.
Starscream chuckles at the reaction to his arrival, "Really? No love?" he tsk tsks, "As Valour pointed out, we did have a deal. But I am prepared to sweeten that deal. For BOTH of you..." he nods to Prime, "You see, the Decepticons are winning this war. It's obvious. Yet since I have taken over, the Decepticons have only taken resources on Earth from RENEWABLE sources. Without harming a single human. It is by mandate that this is true. We are going to get enough energon to repower Cybertron. But when we do? What will happen then?" he looks to the crowd and waves his arms around at them, "Will this lovely little battle continue. Or will we return to revitalize our planet?" he shrugs his shoulders, "Who knows. But I can say this. If the Praxians continue to remain neutral in the conflict then I guarantee that when we revitalize Cybertron we shall also revitalize your home. You shall self govern, free of Autobot and Decepticon control. I have tried to offer the same to Prime but his agents refuse to let this war end. They refuse to stop the fighting. That's fine. If that is what we must do, then that is what we will do. But if they so wish it, they Autobots could also have their own territories and self govern. There is plenty of Cybertron to go around after all. That has always been the goal of this Empire. To revitalize Cybertron. Just because you disagree with his methods, you cannot refute that it was Megatron's goal. It is also my own. If you choose to remain neutral we shall leave you alone and when that day of glory comes...your home is yours to keep and yours to govern as you see fit. But if you take a side in this war? That could be your undoing. Whether it be Autobot or Decepticon. Then you tie yourself to the outcome of this war even if I cannot broker piece." he scoffs, "Why do that when you can remain as you are and then no matter the outcome...you can retain your peaceful co-existance and your home."
Dreadwind's optics flicker intermittently as he watches Starscream deliver his epic rebuttal. Once it's all done, and silence settles on Praxus again like a blanket of new-fallen snow, he shifts his gaze back down to Rumble. "So... Doomed?"
"'Peaceful co-existence'?" Sky High gasps. "You enslaved my people. You built a dark tower in our lands. Are we to ignore that? You have not stayed of our territory. You have not left us in peace. If you do not wish us to join your enemies, withdraw from our lands. Abandon your aerie. Give us back our mines. Demonstrate your commitment to leave us in peace, or we shall take up arms against you. You think us weak - press us, and we will prove otherwise. We of Praxus require proof of your intentions."
Spike mutters to Crosscut, "This is the easiest negotiation I've ever been on"
Rumble peers back up at Dreadwind, then listens to the radio for a moment as he considers something. He then flies up toward Dreadwind's face, like a little gnat trying to make some cursory contact. "Pssshh, shut it with the 'doom' a'ready, willya!"
Dreadwind's optics flicker as Rumble rises to the level of his head, "It's not my fault that-..." And then Rumble takes a swing at him. Actually, deliberately balls up his fist and swings at Dreadwind! The taller Decepticon leans away from the blow, optics narrowing as they lock onto the cassette. His own fists clench, and power reroutes to weapons systems. His shoulders tense up and... then sag, as capacitors wind down, completely unused. He heaves a sigh, "Oh, what's the point?" He turns in a sulking manner to watch the rest of the negotiations.
Starscream chuckles at Sky High, "Megatron enslaved your people. I did not. Do not blame me for the actions of another. We will allow you to have your mines back. We will withdraw to our strongholds. But until we are certain that you are going to stay neutral...we will not withdraw completely from this area. That would be completely and utterly foolish, would it not?" he nods, "Yes. Yes it would and you know it. But we will make these gestures in good faith in the name of progress. Is that an agreeable compromise?"
Spike frowns and can't hold it in. He looks up at Starscream, saying impulsively "They've done you no harm Starscream! A REAL gesture would be a complete withdrawal - they've certainly shown that they've been no threat to you!"
Starscream scowls at Spike, "I wasn't aware you had skin in this game, human. Consider this. This is a political discussion. Do you understand politics? Surely you do...given your age and education. I am willing to make a grand gesture of good faith. To completely and utterly withdraw rather than just withdraw to their borders and leave them be would be more than a leap of faith. It would be monumentally stupid. TRUST...BUT VERIFY. Surely, as an American, you are familiar with that notion? Now stay out of this."
Spike frowns and takes a step toward Starscream, "They're THEIR borders... NOT yours, Starscream. The Autobots aren't invading their space while they decide, neither should you!"
Rumble smirks a bit at Dreadwind, then he eventually ends up floating over and sitting on the fatalistic Decepticon's helm to get a better vantage point. "There ain't no point," he admits, probably not helping Dreadwind's mood improve.
Sky High frowns. "What do you mean, 'not withdraw completely'? If you wish to remain as a 'watchful presence' then surely the Autobots should as well. Withdraw completely, or allow the Autobots to set up a watchtower as well. I'll accept the presence of both of you, or none, but no longer will the Decepticons maintain an earie in our lands without an ally to protect us. Giving back our mines is a good first step, but it cannot be the only step."
Starscream sighs, "Spike. This is not really the time. I am talking to Sky High. As I said, we will withdraw to our strongholds and leave them to their own devices. Once we have verified that our trust is founded...and they are remaining neutral, we will leave entirely. This is the same foundation many of your human deals are built on. Why do you so oppose it now? It wasn't my decision to take these lands but they were taken. I have to treat it as such. We are making a great concession here and wish to work with Sky High to move forward with the agreement. If he finds it acceptable. You are interrupting a very momentous decision in Cybertronian history. Please stop." he looks to Sky High and nods, "That is fair. They may set up a watch tower opposite of our borders. Is that agreeable?"
Spike looks at Crosscut and tenses his neck, realizing he probably shouldn't have lashed out like that. Not very diplomatic, but sometimes, maybe a bit of chest-puffing self-righteousness is needed in a situation like this.
Starscream continues, "Once it is established that you are choosing to self govern and remain neutral, both sides will withdraw. Is that agreed?" he also sighs, "It also wounds me that you call the Autobots your ally yet spurn me. What have I done to harm you? NOTHING. This is a new Empire Sky High. I am trying to show you that...if you'll let me."
Did Rumble make Dreadwind's mood worse... or better? Well, better in the sense that it's more depressed than it was twenty seconds before. Story of his life. Just an endless string of horrifying moments, wondering whether the next second will be more depressing than the last, or just as depressing. In this case, more so. His optics flicker upward, just barely catching the bottoms of Rumble's feet as they dangle into his field of vision, "If they stay neutral, then we can all just leave them alone." His optics shift down toward the ground, "So very, very all alone..." Thank Primus that Darkwing isn't here to pester Dreadwind...
Sky High looks back at Crosscut. Crosscut nods. It may not be the military alliance that Crosscut sought, but it would achieve the same goals, and spare a fight that would destroy the Assembly and possibly kill dozens of Praxians. Sky High looks up at Starscream. "Your 'wounds' are nothing compared to what your people have inflicted on mine. Withdraw, and demonstrate the truth of your words. Leave our lands, and we will remain neutral. Attack again, and we will truly become your enemies."
Spike looks at Starscream sternly.
Dreadwind looks at the ground sullenly.
Ravage continues to silently observe.
Rocky looks at Frank.
Starscream chuckes at Sky High and nods, "You should take me at my word, my friend. I had nothing to do with any of this. And what you ask is already happening. I've issued the order. See for yourself." he pauses so he can verify that, "You should carefully consider who you consider ally and foe. That is why I recommended you remain neutral. Why tie your fate to the outcome of this war unless you are certain who will win? Personally? If Prime does not accept my overtures of peace? I can tell you. I will win. He cannot beat me in open warfare. I am smarter. I have more guile. And I have the experience to make his insistence work against him. But that's neither here nor there. You are free to self govern. Show me that you are serious about this and I will completely withdraw all troops from this area provided the Autobots respond in kind. Be careful who you trust, Sky High. The Autobots aren't who you think they are. They have dirty laundry too."
Spike frowns, he just can't keep quiet. "He doesn't need to show you anything, Starscream. The burden of proof is on you, not him."
Rumble sits atop Dreadwind's helm, looking restless. He can't understand why they had to talk so much about all these things when fighting settles matters quicker.
Starscream turns to walk away and looks down at Spike, "Foolish human. Don't pretend to understand our political process on Cybertron. You're lucky to be here. What just happened was a momentous occasion. And I intend to keep my end of the bargain. But much like your planet...territories taken in war when returned there are conditions. Mine were fairly light. I have no quarrell with these people and continuing to antagonize them does nothing to help my cause. I will keep my end of the bargain. Pray your Autobots keep theirs. I know the Praxans will keep theirs. It's in their self interest. I have no fight with them.
Crosscut finally speaks up. "We have no wish to bring destruction upon your community, Sky High. Our offer was to help you drive the Decepticons from your land. If you can do so politically, it will be no insult to us. We can withdraw as well, and set up a base solely to watch the Decepticons as they in turn watch us. If it will end the armed conflict in this area and spare the innocents of this land, we will concur, and withdraw."
Mixmaster continues to watch in silent amusement. He gives a look to Spike thats almost meanacing.
Spike continues to watch, letting Crosscut do the heavy diplomatic lifting. He then gets a sense someone's watching him. Turning his head, he spots Mixmaster. He's a lot more intimidating than that punk-ass Rumble, but he manages to steel his spine and gives Mixmaster a hard look himself.
Mixmaster just..makes a motion towards his drum but otherwise doesnt say anything. He gives Spike a big, wicked smile though.
Spikeleers slightly at Mixmaster, but the Construction's motion, plus the height advantage does make Spike walk casually back between Crosscut and Sky High, out of the 'danger zone' he was in earlier.
Dreadwind's head turns to regard Starscream as he leaves, then back to Sky High... Then up at Scourge perched way up on a building. Finally he shrugs and falls into step behind Starscream. He tilts his head up slightly, to indicate that he's talking to Rumble, "Well, that all felt like a huge empty void of nothingness..."
"Yeah, welp, diplomaticality is kinda complicated," Rumble tells Dreadwind. "Sometime a whole lotta talkin' has to happen before the fun stuff kicks in, see."
Mixmaster nods to rumble. "I tend to kinda zone out during the talk parts. And think of what comes after right?" Rumble snaps his fingers and points at Mixmaster. "Yeah, you got it."
Dreadwind looks between Mixmaster, and the bottoms of Rumble's feet, "It all just amounts to a prolonged period of despair while waiting for the end to actual come. That's all I got out of it."
Now that the event seems to have concluded, Ravage ducks into the deeper shadows, off to pursue another point of interest.
Mixmaster looks to Rumble. "Just do what I do. Think of your favorite earth chemicals and their combinations. Plutonium.. Uranium.. or a personal favorite, CO2..."
Scourge continues to observe the scene, perched on a building. His audio sensors are so finely tuned that they about put Soundwave's to shame, at least in terms of distance.
Rumble stares at Mixmaster for a minute. (Oh ****, he's gonna start talkin' about chemicals,) he thinks. "A'right, well I got some cage matches to bet on in Kaon. See you mechs later!" No way is he going to listen to a Constructicon ramble about chemicals AND hang out with a terminally depressed Dreadwind. Time for him to escape!
Dreadwind watches the rest of the Decepticons depart. It seems like he's about to kick off with his anti-gravs, but then... he just stands there. Staring. After a few long, tense, and very /awkward/ moments, his shoulders sag and he hunches forward ever-so-slightly. Like a statue of a gloomy day, if such a thing were possible. And apparently it is. Because here's Dreadwind.
Sky High turns to the Autobots as some of the Decepticons leave, and others remain to creepily lurk. "I'm sorry we could not form the grand alliance for which I had hoped. I still, however, appreciate your presence - had you not come, the Decepticons would never have agreed to parlay. There may be a day I personally will leave my lands and take up arms for your cause - but not today. For now, I must be watchful, and ensure the Decepticons are true to their word."
Spike looks up at Sky High and nods, relenting, "Understood..." He adds "We don't want to pressure you, but would you consider just leaving the lines of communication between us open?"
Spike adds "In case anything changes, but more importantly, if you feel excessively threatened by the Decepticons?"
As Starscream and Rumble leaves, Valour stays behind. He watches from the roof of one of the buildings, observing the Autobots and protecting his Decepticons as long as they're in the city. He's not being excessively threatening, but he's certainly part of the continued Decepticon presence Starscream promised until they're sure that the Autobots, too, are withdrawing from the area. His gaze flickers to the other Decepticons present, making sure none of them are causing undo trouble.
Mixmaster continues to stay and make a threatening presence as long as hes not told to do otherwise or he doesnt find something better to do. Hes quiet now, though obviously in thought. He murmurs a few chemical combinations and chuckles to himself. Yep. He's off in Mixmaster land.
Sky High smiles down at Spike. "I'll definitely stay in contact, and will keep both optics on the Decepticons whenever they are in our lands. Our engineers will help you build a watchbase at the edge of our territory. In a way, we've gotten more than we'd hoped - Starscream will allow you to maintain a watchful presence in the area to protect us, and at the same time he returns our mines and withdraws his military. Someone rolled a 20 in Diplomacy, huh?" He grins broadly.
Spike smiles, not really knowing the '20' remark, but gauging Sky High's smile, he'll take it. He extends a hand to Sky High. "We'll leave you. Thank you for at least giving us a chance. I'd love to return for that tour."
Sky High puts up his scythe and verrrrry carefully shakes Spike's hand. "Let me talk to my people about what transpired today, and then I'll be happy to give you that tour. Better come back when you can stay a quadicycle, though, because there is a lot to see! Art, history, music - Praxus has the finest bards in the land! I'll come up with an itinerary of highlights with time to more deeply explore what catches your fancy."
Spike gives a respectful nod. "I'll look forward to it. Farewell, Sky High."
Spike turns away and walks away from Sky High, getting the hint that the gift of 'space' may be what Sky High needs. His expression soon sours. As someone who is oftentimes guilty of seeing things in very black and white dynamics, he can't help but think they've lost. The Decepticons beat them. He wanted to be on hand to witness an alliance, but walked away with a 'you're our first choice if and when we make a decision' type of commitment. Spike takes a few deep breaths through his nose, stewing on this. That's why the repair bay is such a better venue - you can actually see results in front of your eyes.
After millions of years of compromise, Crosscut seems more at peace with the outcome. He follows Spike as he walks away. "Hey, Spike," he tells his friend and protégé. "Let me give you a ride back to Iacon, and then you can get home to your family while I write up a report for Optimus Prime." As he walks, Crosscut snags up Clutch and transforms him, returning the fold-up scooter to its place in Crosscut's right boot.
Spike nods, frowning slightly, waiting for Crosscut to transform. "Yeah...sure."
Crosscut transforms into his subcompact car mode, and drives Spike back past the splendors of Praxus, minus the awe that accompanied the trip as they came in. "It was impressive to see you stand up to Starscream like that," Crosscut opines. "You certainly are a brave man." Crosscut takes an overland route back through Praxus to Iacon, as if almost daring the Decepticons to attack them after promising to desist aggressive activity in the area.
Spike gives a polite smile. "Thanks...but I don't feel brave." He gives a sigh, "I just wish it could have ended on a less ambiguous note."
"Well," Crosscut says, "That's the nature of negotiations, Spike - compromise. We can't always get everything we want, but tonight we got a lot of what we wanted, without any bloodshed. We still have access to Praxus, and the Decepticons are withdrawing. If anything, I was loathe to put actual Praxus civilians in danger, and now it looks like they'll be out of harm's way - for the moment, anyway. And when the Decepticons decide to break their pact, we'll be there, because we negotiated a base at the edge of their territory. I'd call today a win, Spike." Crosscut continues back to Iacon.
Spike tries not to smile at that, but he can't help it. A slow grin comes across his face. He pats the steering wheel and says begrudgingly "Maybe..."
Crosscut says evenly, "Maybe? Definitely!"
Secondary mission achieved, Crosscut heads home.