Transformers Universe MUX
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Log Title: The Plea

Characters: Kimber, Jerrica Benton, Major Bludd

Location: Starlight Mansion, Los Angeles, California

Date: 21 July 2018

TP: I Am A Rock TP

Summary: Major Bludd makes an offer to Jerrica Benton. The meeting doesn't exactly go as planned...

As logged by Major Bludd

StarlightMansion.jpg

Starlight Mansion

The Starlight Mansion is the second and current home used by the Starlight Foundation. Both The Holograms and the Starlight Girls live there.

The door to Jerrica's office is closed, but there's a light under the door.


Bludd raps his knuckles on the door. "Ms Benton," he calls politely, "may I have a word, please?"


"Come in," says the not-very-friendly voice of Jerrica Benton.


Bludd takes a slow breath, steeling himself. He's dealt with ill-tempered clients before, and Jerrica qualifies right now if only because she's far from convinced he's on the level. And if what Kimber said is true, she also thinks he has untoward designs on her kid sister. After a moment, he opens the office door and steps inside, closing it behind him.


Jerrica Benton sits at a desk in her office. Her workspace is decorated with gold and platinum records as well as other autographs, keepsakes, photographs, and souvenirs from the Holograms' time in the recording studio and on the road. As Bludd enters the room, Jerrica closes her laptop and turns to face him. Taking off her reading glasses, she rises out of her chair and offers Bludd her hand. "Major," she says with icy politeness. "I trust your short visit is going well?" she asks.


Bludd takes a moment to take in the decorations of the office before stepping up to the desk. "Evening, Ms Benton," he says evenly, taking her hand and shaking it gently yet firmly. "It is, yes. You have a lovely home, especially now it's not under siege from biker gangs or terrorists."


Jerrica Benton smiles tightly. "Yes. And, once again, let me extend my thanks for keeping my family safe during the Cobra occupation." Bludd can tell that as much as it pains her to say it, she actually means it. "I wanted to talk with you about what your future intentions are with my family, since it seems fortune has once again brought you to our door." She gestures for Bludd to take a seat in a chair in her office, if he likes.


Bludd takes the proferred seat with a nod of thanks. "I wish only peace and prosperity for your family, Ms Benton," he begins. "As was the case when I was here during the occupation, I intend to serve as their protector, should the need arise. Now that things are quieter again, the likelihood of that seems quite remote, but know that I will not hesitate to put my life on the line for their, and your, safety." He pauses, taking a measured breath. "However, there is a proposition I should like to present to you."


Jerrica Benton sits down when Bludd sits down, and listens intently while he speaks. She seems to be wearing her Jemstar earrings again, which she wasn't during the occupation. She raises her eyebrows in surprise when Bludd brings up a proposition. "Well, I am certainly all ears," she says politely. "What is your proposition?"


"I would like to serve as security for your band in an official fashion," Bludd says. "My skillset is in military work, as you know, but I have served with a private military company who worked security for VIPs internationally in the past." He folds his hands in his lap. "Ms Benton, since I met Kimber, my outlook on my life has changed substantially. Kimber has shown me I have it within me to step away from my questionable past and use my talents to help, not to hinder. I would like to take the first step upon that road here."


Jerrica Benton listens quietly and not unsympathetically as Bludd speaks. She frowns a moment before responding. "Major, I understand that you're trying to change your ways, and I respect that. Kimber tends to see the good in people, and I understand how that can be transformative to someone who's lacked that in their life."

"However," Jerrica sighs. "As much as you want to escape your past, you are who you are. You're an internationally wanted criminal, Major. A murderer and former terrorist. Every moment you're here is a threat to my family, from both your former compatriots, and from my own government. I have children living here, Major. I can't risk a gunfight breaking out on the premises."


Her words cut through Bludd's businesslike demeanor, and he winces as Jerrica enumerates her reasons for turning down his request. (I'm too used to Kimber's upbeat outlook,) he thinks. (Her sister is much more practical.) He swallows a lump in his throat, closing his eye and taking a steadying breath. "You know that Kimber has presented me with her necklace, which allows me to request holographic disguises from Synergy, do you not? When she offered it to me, I explained to her, briefly, some of the dangers it would present, legally. Aiding and abetting, primarily. Kimber is idealistic. In truth I see a lot of my younger self in her. It's perhaps misguided, but that idealism shone a light into my life that I have never experienced before." His voice wavers and he clears his throat to steady it. "I have used Synergy's holograms. I have used them to free Aboriginal slaves in Australia, to move unnoticed through occupied Los Angeles to save Synergy's memory from the burning Starlight offices, to attempt, and fail, to draw attention away from your home when Cobra came snooping a bit too close. I have made every attempt to stay incognito, to avoid notice when travelling to or from your home. Cobra doesn't know I helped to defeat their occupation, and if they did, they couldn't trace me here." He pauses for a moment. "If I thought my being here was an overt threat to you or those living here, I would not be making this request."


Jerrica Benton nods her head again, although her face is impassive. "That does remind me - that technology belongs to our family - to me - and wasn't really hers to give away. It is needed for the Holograms, and I'd like you to return it. I gather you've used it well - I can't imagine Synergy letting you use it for ill intent - but that Jemstar necklace wasn't made for you. It was made for Kimber. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to hand it over." She holds out her hand as if expecting Bludd to do so immediately.


"With respect," Bludd replies, struggling to keep an edge out of his voice, "I should like Kimber to weigh in on that." He runs a thumb over the star pendant of the necklace wrapped round his wrist. "This has, aside from allowing me to do the things I've just enumerated, kept me in touch with Kimber and with Synergy. It's been something of a lifeline for me." He gets to his feet, shaking himself. "I am fighting an uphill battle against my past. Kimber and Synergy have shown me kindness and compassion as no-one else has for years. Yes, Synergy believes in me too. Regards me as family. This," he holds up his wrist, "even if I don't make use of it, reminds me that somebody out there thinks I can do this. Thinks I can recover, turn it around finally." He notices the hand he's holding up is trembling slightly and he lowers it again, fist clenching. "In order to begin anew, I have to tear down the old. I've built a lot of strength over the years, but I've built it with anger and hate. While I tear down those walls, I'm vulnerable." He casts a haunted, borderline desperate look on Jerrica. "I came in here on my usual business instincts, aiming to negotiate with you. But that, too, is part of my past. I am at your mercy, Ms Benton. I am asking you to help me. I can't go back to Cobra. Not without throwing away all the progress I've made. I don't want to live that life any more. I will lay down my very life to protect you, your sisters, the girls, and Rio. I will do it gladly, because if preserving one of your lives costs my own, it will be a price well-paid. I can't undo what ill I've done. No one can. None of you deserved what Cobra did during the occupation, nor what I helped them to do when I captured your singers years ago. Please, Ms Benton. Your sister is the key to unlocking the chains of my past. Please don't take that away from me."


Jerrica Benton listens again, stony-faced. Bludd's words don't seem to move her, and yet she stands as well. "I have a gift for you," she says, in somewhat of a non-sequitur to Bludd's impassioned monologue. She turns and picks up a plain box sitting on her desk. It looks like it was reused from something else - it has tape on it that's been removed and retaped. She offers it to Bludd. "Open it," she says calmly in the face of Bludd's naked desperation.


His expression shifting to one of mild confusion, Bludd hesitates a moment before reaching out and picking up the box, glancing from it to Jerrica and back. He does as she asks, pulling the tape free from the box and opening its lid.


Inside the box is a Casio G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock Multi-Function Sport Watch. Top of its class - solar-powered, digital compass, thermometer, moon graph, mud and shock resistant - you name it. The only odd thing about it is that it seems to be veeeerry subtly customized, with an understated star pattern behind the watch's compass.


Bludd stares into the box for several long moments, finally reaching in to retrieve the watch. He peers at it, running his thumb over its face and the star-shaped pattern he can discern there. Slowly, he lifts his gaze back to Jerrica. "Is this..." The words catch in his throat and he gives a slight cough before continuing in barely more than a whisper. "Is this what I think it is?"


Jerrica nods. "It is. I might not trust you, but Kimber does, and so does the rest of my family. So..." she finally allows herself a smile. "I'm outvoted. I had Aja build you your own Jemstar watch. It doesn't have the range of Kimber's necklace - you can't entertain an entire stadium with it - but it'll allow you to keep a disguise, and even has a few pre-recorded ones to protect you even if something happens to your connection with Synergy. Of course, most of the time she'll still be watching you, so if you try to rob a bank or something, you'll find yourself in the lurch but... even if I can't risk having you here, I'm not leaving you defenseless. Like it or not, you're one of us, now." She lightly smirks. "And it looks like I'm stuck with you, whether I like it or not."


Bludd wraps his fingers reverently around the watch and presses it to his chest, lowering his head. When he lifts it again a moment later, his gratitude is writ clearly on his face. He attempts to swallow a lump in his throat as a tear traces a line down the right side of his face. "Thank you," he mouths, unable to find his voice. He sets the watch in the box and the box on the desk while he gingerly unwraps Kimber's necklace from his wrist. He smiles at it, runs his thumb over it one more time, and hands it to Jerrica. He reaches into the box and lifts the watch from it again. "This means more to me than you can know," he says in a whisper.


GAME: Kimber FAILS an INTELLIGENCE roll of Average difficulty.


Jerrica accepts the necklace a moment, looking it over with a slight smile. She then hands it back. "You can give it back to Kimber. She needs it if she's going to be touring with the Holograms again. As for you... stay safe. You protected my family when we needed it. I want to help you - really, I do. I don't feel comfortable with you staying in my house - not because I don't trust that you're doing everything you can to keep us safe, but - you had to leave once. Something scared you off, and you're only back now. Anything that scares you certainly scares the hell out of me."


Bludd nods, finally seeming to regain some control of his emotions. "Actually--" He takes a moment to clear his throat. "Actually I meant to talk to you about that, about the reason I left. A woman claiming to be from the gas company came round, asking to check the grounds for a gas leak. I was immediately suspicious, but I could only stall her for so long unless I wanted to take... stronger measures to get her to leave." He frowns, then asks, "Did Kimber tell you anything about a Cobra troop I had to fight with during the occupation?"


Jerrica's eyes narrow suspiciously. "She mostly told me about you *heroically* defending against biker gangs and roving thugs. She didn't mention Cobra troops directly - why? Do you think this woman from the gas company was Cobra, sniffing around our house?" Jerrica's eyes widen again. "What did you do, Major?" she demands. "Did you bring our family to Cobra's attention with your actions?" She glances around, like perhaps Cobra could be crashing into her office any moment.


"Ms Benton," Bludd replies, his voice even, "I was using a holographic disguise any time I was outside the house during the occupation. No Cobra troop who laid eyes on me would recognise me." He takes a measured breath, ponders for a moment how exactly to word the event, then continues. "Everything I did," he begins, "I did for the protection of your family, Synergy, and the girls. A flamethrower troop called an Incinerator came sniffing around. Literally: she thought the place didn't smell right. Synergy had made the place look like it was mostly burnt up and abandoned. But Incinerators know fire. And this one was smarter than the average. She wanted to investigate the place. I couldn't let her do that: as soon as she got close enough she'd realise the burnt appearance was not only fake but a hologram. And Cobra, as you know, has expressed interest in holograms before." He looks uncomfortable for a moment, then presses on. "I tried to lure her away, get her to chase me off the grounds. I'm much better at evading attention than garnering it, it would seem. She wasn't deterred, so I attacked her. All the while, I'm thinking, what am I gonna do with this troop? I can't knock her out and tie her up in the basement or something. What if she got loose? Then I've got a threat -inside- the mansion to deal with. I can't let her go bring back more Cobra troops. I figured..." He runs a hand through his hair, the tale bringing a distraught, haunted look to his face. "Cobra doesn't always keep great tabs on their troops. People slip through the cracks sometimes. I really only had one option. I was banking on the fact she wouldn't be missed."

He looks Jerrica in the eyes. "I killed her, Ms Benton. I didn't want to -- for the first time maybe ever, I... I think I grieved for her before she even stopped breathing. I have nightmares about it sometimes." He takes a shaky breath. "I thought of your family, Synergy, everyone, and I knew if Cobra discovered something was odd about the place they'd be swarming over it before you could say Jack Robinson. And Kimber and the others don't deserve to be hauled away by Cobra. I shudder to think of what they'd do to Synergy. I... buried the troop in your back yard, as far from the house as I could. The woman claiming to be from the gas company was looking for her. I tried to fight her off but she got the better of me. I had to let her take me away so she'd think -I- was the only threat and not bother you again."


Jerrica blinks, shaking her head in shock. "Y-you killed someone? Here, at the house? And buried them in the yard?" Jerrica sits down abruptly, her hand flying to her head. "Oh, my God. Oh, my God." Her eyes suddenly widen. "And Kimber - and Synergy - knew about this? Do the other Holograms? Does everyone know a b-body is buried in our yard and I didn't know about it?" She shakes her head violently, slapping her palm on her desk and sending a cup of pencils flying. She doesn't seem to notice.


"Kimber and Synergy know," Bludd explains. "I don't think any of the others do. It wasn't something I wanted even Kimber or Synergy to know of. I did what I thought was best to keep your family safe. After the occupation, I kept trying to think of what to do with the body, but as a soldier, that's not something I usually have to worry about." He clears his throat nervously. "I still don't know what to do that won't attract more attention."


Jerrica looks back and forth for answers, but none are forthcoming. "I... I think you should leave. Take Kimber if you need to - use the corporate card or something but... I need some time. I know - I know you've killed people. I've read things online. You have a reputation. But in my house? I know -" She shakes her head again. "I know you say it was the only way. To protect us. Just..." She swallows hard, rubbing her forehead. "This is a lot to take in at once." She frowns deeply. "Keep the watch. I'm not rejecting you or your help, I just... please go. For now." She brings both hands to her head as if trying to keep it together.


Bludd backs up abruptly, the colour draining from his face. "I'm very sorry, Ms Benton. I'll go." He hurries to the door and lets himself out, shutting it behind him, and heads for Kimber's loft.


Back upstairs, Kimber is still in her pajamas, singing along loudly to the music playing in her room. She wiggles her narrow hips to the beat, picking up laundry and folding it. Her room got a bit disheveled earlier during her reunion with Bludd, but now it's neat and clean again. She's made the bed, folding down one corner in anticipation of spending the night cuddling with her beloved Bastian. With the music loud she doesn't hear Bludd's return approach.


Bludd raps loudly on the door, then just opens it and slips inside. "Kimber, I told Jerrica about the Incinerator and she's... well, she's kind of freaking out. She wants me out of here for now but she said I could take you along. Will you come away with me for a few days?"


Kimber turns around with a smile, until she hears Bludd's message and sees his face. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" She takes Bludd in her arms and holds him close. "It'll be OK! It's just a shock. I know-- I went through it, too. She'll understand -- better'n me. It's OK. Of course I'll go away with you. I'll go away with you forever if I have to." She pulls back, and kisses Bludd on his face.

A grin of relief splits Bludd's face, and he gives Kimber a tight squeeze and a kiss on the temple before releasing her. "C'mon, then. Pack an overnight bag. I have some other things to tell you about too." He holds up the watch and Kimber's necklace. "It's been ... quite an evening."


Kimber squeals when she sees the watch. "She gave you the watch! See? She accepts you. It'll be OK -- I promise." She immediately goes and hauls out a giant suitcase easily bigger than her. "I know just where to go for the weekend - I'll be romantic! It'll be just like Australia, without the giant squid aliens!"


Throwing enough clothes in the suitcase for a month, Kimber jumps on it to get it to close, and then pops back up and gives Bludd a kiss. "I'll take the necklace back because I need it, but only after I find something else to give you to think of me when you're away. Because I'm yours, Sebastian Bludd. I'm yours to keep."

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