Log Title: What if Sparkplug Said "No"?
Location: Offshore Oil Refinery; Portland Oregon 2013
Summary: Sparkplug has been known to make an impulsive decision every now and then. In this scene, his instinct to help the Autobots is overtaken by the short-term need of his fellow workers. Sparkplug's delay sets in motion a series of events the Witwicky patriarch couldn't imagine.
Spike and Sparkplug are pinned under a scaffolding. The furious past few minutes has been a whirlwind. The Decepticons attack! Rumble attacks Sparkplug, Rumble hits Spike! Sparkplug dives in after his son, now both father and son fight to stay above water.
In the distance, an enormous red figure approaches. Spike's eyes widen with awe and terror - before a wave hits both Spike and Sparkplug, filling Spike's mouth with cold sea water. Spike spits out the water and looks on in pure horror as the being approaches.
GAME: Spike PASSES a COURAGE roll of High difficulty.
Sparkplug calls out, "The fire! It's getting closer!" He points out the incoming blaze, trading water from within the steel cage now likely to cause their death.
The red, towering figure approaching is no other than Optimus Prime. A look of worry crosses the Autobot leader's face as fire approaches. Using every bit of his strength, he pushes on the scaffolding, "Hurry! Grab on to me!"
Spike nods, instinctively swimming toward the Autobot Commander. Knowing nothing about allegiances right now, Prime's option is infinitely better than a watery grave. He swims toward Optimus Prime's shoulder and clutches on and looks at his father, still too scared to say anything.
GAME: Sparkplug PASSES a COURAGE roll of Average difficulty.
Sparkplug has to take the same option as his son -- giant robots are threatening, but anything is better than a fiery death at sea. He swims to Prime, making sure Spike has a good grip as well.
Jazz can be heard in the distance "caaaaaaatch!" Optimus Prime catches the grappling hook and Jazz pulls Prime, Sparkplug, and Spike to safety. Finally at a clearing, Prime lets Spike and Sparkplug climb down. The chill of the water doesn't seem to affect Spike, even though his lips are purplish - adrenaline does wonders at a time like this.
Optimus Prime, realizing Spike and Sparkplug are on land, then stands above the two - more like towering. Spike's eyes widen, gazing on in absolute wonder. Is this really happening?!
Sparkplug puts his arm around his son protectively, and says in awe, "I don't know who you are, but you saved our lives."
Spike's eyes widen in wonder. "Another planet? That's awesome!"
<OOC> Sparkplug says, "What a dork. =)"
Optimus Prime continues, "Those who tried to harm you are called 'Decepticons' - We must stop them before they destroy your world!"
As Spike gushes - an unmistakeable view comes into Sparkplug's eyes. After all, it WAS an oil rig that was attacked. He sees a slab of concrete - where the wounded are lying - some have compound fractures. A more gruesome scene comes from a coworker who is still screaming as his flesh on his arm is still bubbling from burns he sustained from running through a fire to safety. Another person is hacking from smoke inhilation.
Spike can't see the injured. He can only see Optimus Prime - and the Autobots - and his destination - the reason HE and DAD were planted here - at this very time. "Can we help?!"
Optimus Prime says evenly, "We are the only ones who can stop the Decepticons..."
Sparkplug looks at Spike. "He's right, son. We were almost killed." He looks back up at his robot savior. "Thank you, Autobot, for saving us. Good luck against the Decepticons." He looks at Spike. "Let's go, son. There are a lot of wounded, and they need our help."
Spike looks on in disbelief, "Wait...wait - "
Sparkplug frowns. "Spike. Don't waste the.. robot's time. He's got a war to fight. We have to take care of our own."
Jazz calls out, "Prime! Can you help us with this barrier!"
Sparkplug looks up at Optimus. "Sorry, Autobot. Don't let us keep you."
Optimus Prime turns around, the two humans soon are in the back of his mind. Spike looks on at dad in abject horror "Dad..." He shakes his head, "No! We can - we can help!"
Optimus Prime begins walking away, already beginning to work on the next crisis.
Spike looks on, "No! Wait - " He grabs Sparkplug's arm. Sparkplug=230 lbs. Spike = 120.
Spike yells, "We can help them, dad!"
Sparkplug rasps, "That's right son, we can -- right here on the rig. Put the robots out of your mind. We need to focus where we can do some actual good - not throwing wrenches at indestructible aliens. Now let's go, and be careful on the wet deck - we don't need to wind up back in the water."
One of the wounded looks at his leg as it begins to spray blood. He begins to go into shock.
Spike's eyes well up - NO! "DAD Please!" He looks back - the Autobots becoming more and more distant.
Sparkplug's old combat training kicks in, and he starts shouting orders while he moves to administer first aid, determining to keep as many of his friends and coworkers alive as possible until the Coast Guard or Navy arrive.
Sparkplug's voice turns cold and gruff as he orders his son to focus on the present and do as he's told - this is NOT the time to coddle the young. Lives are at stake, and Spike needs to tow the line.
The man who Sparkplug is administering First Aid to is as pale as a ghost. "Sparkplug...I'm going to die! Aren't I?!"
Spike looks down as dad works on the man. "Dad!!"
Sparkplug rasps, "You're not going to die."
Sparkplug looks at his son, anger starting to crease his face. "Spike, I said get me a rope NOW, and as many blankets and towels as you can find. GO!" His voice trucks no talk-backs.
Spike looks on - it's too late. The Autobots begin to fade from his view. For a brief flash - he saw himself as more than a future constrution worker. Hot tears fall from his eyes. A brief flash of anger hits Sparkplug's eyes - it's a look from Spike he's never seen before. He turns around and gets the supplies, knowing better than to cross his father.
Spike does the good son routine, but after he brings the supplies - he hides in a makeshift room and begins to weep uncontrollably. He KNOWS he's missed on something. And the seed has been planeted for how his future life will unfold.
Sparkplug continues to help the others, knowing he made the right choice, having no idea how it will effect his son longterm...
Sparkplug will not get captured, will have 3 grandkids instead of two, and will have TWO kids who will hate him in their adolescence before one becomes a marginally successful author and one assumes his rightful place as heir to Witwicky Auto. And Carly will go on to become an industry leader in her profession. Carly and Spike will not cross paths for almost 30 years.
2013 - Portland, Oregon
5:48 a.m. Spike awakens and goes on a brief run. The runs have gotten briefer though as the weariness of just 'day-to-day' life have made him more apt to enjoy the extra half-hour of solitude with some coffee and reading the paper or doing some journaling. Writing has always been a love of his, but Buster ended up on the successful end of the writing gig - making a moderate success as a published author. In about 30 minutes, his wife will wake up, and his 3 kids. As content as he is, there are days where he oftentimes feels like a bit of a drone - going through the motions. And occasionally, he thinks back to when the Autobots rescued him and his dad - and if...IF his dad wasn't as concerned about their general safety and fear of losing their homes than living a once-in-a-lifetime experience...things MAY have turned out better for Spike. No, not better. Different!
It's very early in the morning, but across Portland in a better part of town, Carly is already awake and busy. "I've got so much to do today," she sighs. "And the car isn't even cooperating." Cooper and Reese, her fraternal twin boy and girl, were already in their school uniforms, ready to go. "Have a nice day at the academy!" she calls to them as they head out. Pretty soon, her husband would be ready, and then they could see if this 'Witwicky & Sons' serviced a Mercedes S-Class.
Back at the Witwickys' modest home, Spike looks at his watch and opts to take a shower before everyone gets up. By the time he's out, 14-year-old Susan, 9-year-old Calvin, and 5-year-old Olivia are up. Angie is up as well. In her late-30s, Angie has a bartendress' look. A few rough struggles with her family, but life is now good as her and Spike try like hell to squeeze in a date night once a month, but the conversation between them is usually about the kids. As it is this morning. Spike gives his coveralls one more look and picks up his tool chest. "I'll pick up, and then we'll grab something to eat and we'll just meet you at Susan's recital tonight. Sounds good?"
Spike winces as he steps in a small puddle of water in the washroom and sees some water leaking out of the washer. Angie looks over her shoulder, "Oh yeah - I forgot.." Spike nods and gives a distracted wave. "I know - I forgot too! I'll...look at it...tonight, after the recital - just DON'T call a repair guy until I at least try to take a look at it. I'll see yah after work!"
"Great, hun, seeya then!" Angie says cheerfully, enjoying the good moments when they're around, because they really *are* good. She gives Spike a kiss. "Have a good day at work."
Meanwhile, back at casa de Carly on the 'better' side of town...
Carly flips around on her tablet, reviewing her schedule. "Ugh, this stupid problem with the car is going to make me late for the 'Tar Sands & You' townhall in Allentown," she grumps.
G.B. Blackrock comes moseying out of the back room. "Don't worry, honeypie, we can reschedule that. I love those talks you give, all those science 'facts' about clean energy. And you sound SO good when you sell that to the town halls! It's your smile. I swear."
Carly Blackrock grins back, giving her husband a kiss. "What can I say? It's all about the business, and right now? ...Business is REAL good."
Spike gets into his 2000 Toyota Tacoma, which has its share of character marks (rust) - and heads to work. He alternates between a heavy metal station and NPR. Once he reaches Witwicky & Sons, he does the usual routine of opening, turning on computers, making coffee. The garage is somewhat unconventional. He let each of his four workers decorate their own respective caves. Spike's one is the one with a black-and-white of Mick Jagger, as well as a great black-and-white of John Coltrane. Speaking of which, Spike puts on a Blue Note Jazz station and begins to designate the workload for the day. He has a somewhat glazed look on his eyes - a look that can only come from repeating the same routine for almost 15 years.
Spike looks at the appointment printout and mutters to himself "Suppose I'll take the Mercedes - "
The owner of the late-model Mercedes S-Class is seated in the lobby. She's very well-dressed and well-groomed, as if she's a VIP with many more important places to be than this greasemonkey shop. If she's anything like the typical Mercedes owner, she's going to want things done her way, though at first glance she doesn't seem THAT type.
The mechanics are an assorted bunch. Angela, Raoul, Bill, and Linda. Once all are here, and the coffee gets flowing, Spike becomes more animated - as the discussions thankfully stray as far away from dance recitals and soccer practice as possible - and more into the ethical practices of some college football teams, or the possible war in Syria, or 'gun to the head' who would you go gay for?"
Spike's outfit is free of grime, being it's the first job in the morning. His hair remains unkempt, but styled. He walks out - and spots - WOW. It's not a comedic 'turn into a wolf and howl' look, it's more like he just spotted someone incredible.
GAME: Spike PASSES an INTELLIGENCE roll of Very High difficulty.
"H..Hi - you...uh, must be Carly - with the Mercedes, right?"
Spike's fairly mundane life may cause him to occasionally slip into that 'faraway look/go through the motions' look, but he must be doing something right: the last employee he hired was a decade ago. Pay your employees well, give them great benefits, trust in their abilities - and you won't have to worry about being surrounded by pissed-off underlings.
Carly smiles sweetly at Spike. It isn't a faked expression...she seems to have a genuine sweetness about her that's very inviting, sort of like a celebrity on a red carpet. Her good looks dazzle, and that's how she gets noticed, then heard. "Yes, hello! Thank you so much, I wasn't sure if you serviced Mercedes here, but I saw you came highly recommended on Angie's List!"
Spike smiles back - and *possibly* blushes. He gives a brief, winning boyish grin that he's famous for in another universe. But he then goes into professional mode. "We do - we're one of a dozen shops that are certified to handle Mercedes." He looks at the paperwork. "Check engine light is on - what's been going on with it?"
"Oh, you know, I was heading home last night, and suddenly stalled, like I'd run out of fuel! Which I knew was impossible, because the tank is 3/4 full. So, I managed to get it going again, but from that point on, the lights were dimmer than usual and the 'check engine' light was on! Oh, and it's making a strange sputtering noise when I give it gas." Carly frowns slightly. "This is the first trouble I've had with it, it's really a good vehicle. I've driven it all over the United States and Canada for my job."
GAME: Spike PASSES an INTELLIGENCE roll of High difficulty.
Spike nods. "Well, we'll run it through a diagnostic - but my gut reaction is that it has to do something with the electrical system - they had a recall on this model a few months ago - and this issue came up a lot." He begins to mark a few things on paper. He looks at Carly again, "So, what do you do?"
"I'm the chief research scientist for Blackrock Industries," Carly explains. "And Mr. G. B. Blackrock and I are married. I know that sounds *terrible*, but it isn't nepotism," she chuckles. "Actually, I've worked for him for a long time, and I didn't even begin to know him personally until I was with the company for a while -- and already the chief research scientist. Some of what I do is R&D for remarkable new fuels, but I also do a lot of public presentations about fuels and the environment."
Spike nods, thinking o o o (no pressure if you screw this diagnostic up).
GAME: Spike PASSES a LEADERSHIP roll of Very High difficulty.
Spike breathes out "OK, well, let's take a look." He looks over at Carly "You have a ride? We have a newish Audi we could give you as a loaner."
Even with a bit of time between them, Spike exudes none of the "Now you just don't worry your pretty lil' head" condescending tone of a lot of mechanics. Also, the coffee smells...dare I say, awesome?
Spike opens the door for Carly. Again, the resume makes him feel all the more "I'm waiting on you" subservient.
"Thank you so much!" Carly says, smiling warmly. This mechanic guy has certainly won her over. And that coffee smells a lot better than Starbucks or Caribou. "What kind of coffee do you brew in this shop?"
Spike smirks with a SLIGHT bit of hipster pride "Common Grounds - from across the street. We have a bit of a barter system - they supply us with coffee, we give them a 20 percent discount. Want a cup before we go outside?"
"Certainly, thank you! Hmm, I've never been there before..." Carly gets to thinking, for the first time in quite a while, about community and locally-produced goods. "You really try to keep things local here, I like that."
Spike nods and pours Carly a cup and opens the door for her. "If it's part of the recall, obviously the parts and labor are covered. Only thing is that we'll need to have it for about a half-day." He grins, "Oh wait, you did one of those TedTalks last year, didn't you?"
GAME: Spike PASSES a COURAGE roll of Very High difficulty.
Spike is keeping his professionalism up, and maybe it's being used to dealing with douche-bag customers with vanity cars, but he's feeling practically zero condescending attitude from Carly - even though her looks and intelligence almost make her seem like a museum piece in Spike's eyes, but dang, she is so approachable! I mean - easy to talk to!
As they go outside, all garage bay doors are open. The mechanics engage in a bit of chit-chat, but for the most part, look very focused on their work and very comfortable in their groove as mellow jazz plays (they'll switch to metal after lunch). A fuel and battery recycling center is also within eye distance. Spike tries to think of something witty and intelligent to say, but then he looks at his coveralls and sees the badge 'Witwicky' and opts to just stick with what's wrong with Carly's vehicle.
"I did!" Carly says, suddenly grinning. "In Sausalito! It was about the absolutely jaw-dropping possibilities coming to life with the advent of biofuels, and the amazing options that Hydrofracking 2.0 brings. 1.0 has its faults, admittedly. But new technologies make those problems a thing of the past." She smiles happily at Spike. He's a fun guy to talk to. G.B., not so much sometimes. She follows him across the vehicle bay.
GAME: Spike PASSES an INTELLIGENCE roll of High difficulty.
Spike gestures at Carly, "OK, can you pop the hood, please?"
Spike thinks o o o (What's the Bruce Springsteen song he wrote about the dude who works on the woman's car, and the woman is way out of his league...was it on 'Born in the USA' - or was that just the video...damnit...I KNOW this...)
Spike reaches into his coveralls and takes out a small tweezer-like device.
Spike smiles wistfully. This is the part of the job he loves, and talking with his employees. But meeting new people - fun people - exciting people - doing exciting things! It's almost like living vicariously through them - the bond they share is the car that Witwicky and Sons are tasked into fixing so that these people can keep doing great things.
Carly pops open the hood, watching Spike work curiously.
Spike works under the hood for about 45 seconds. He finally emerges with a panel. Some of the prongs look damaged. "See, Mercedes had a deadline - the ORIGINAL circuitboard manufacturers in Sweden had their factory closed due to a flood, so instead of waiting, they chose to get another plant to make these - in China. Well...it was a gamble, and they lost." He adds "I don't have a replacement panel, BUT I can get one from a distributor in town."
Spike adds, "I know you're super busy - so... again, we have an Audi we can loan you." He swallows a pocket of air. "Or..." He laughs nervously "We have wi-fi here - but - yeah, Common Grounds also has wi-fi."
"Oh, dear, no wonder there was the recall...and I hadn't heard about it, either!" Carly smiles. "Oh, there's no trouble, I can take the loaner! You're really very kind, most other places just make you rent one!"
Spike's phone chirps and a text comes up that he won't check until later: "We're out of cereal, and can you pick up some fabric softener and toothpaste before you get home. Thx - A."
Spike shakes his head, "It's cool - " He walks Carly back into the garage and gets the key to the Audi. Bill and Linda give a friendly nod and a "'sup" to Carly as jazz continues to play. Spike gets the key and hands it to Carly. "Is there a number I can... " he pauses, hoping it doesn't sound like he was hitting on her, because he's not! "Is there a number WE can reach you at today?"
The Audi comes into view. Sure enough - it's waxed, polished, immaculate, late model - and handles curves like a beast.
Carly laughs. "Here, I'll give you my cell..." She waves to the other mechanics cheerfully, then writes her number down. "Do I hear Coltrane playing??"
Spike's face practically beams. His wife, bless her, could care less about jazz. "Yeah! Blue Train..."
Spike hands Carly the keys. "It's about three-quarters full - don't worry about refilling it, unless it's like below a quarter tank - then just put a few bucks of fuel in it."
"Mr. Witwicky, you are the best. I appreciate this very much," Carly takes the keys to the Audi from Spike. "So...you and your sons run this place? No, wait, you have to be the son."
Spike nods, and looks at Raoul - "Hyeah, can you bring the Mercedes back to the computer station?" He hands Raoul the keys. Raoul shoots a knowing grin at Spike, knowing that puppy love expression - it rarely shows, but every now and then...
Spike nods. "Yeah, William - my father - he retired about two years ago - but no use in changing the name since it's been here since 1985."
Spike grins at Carly. "You got a ton of research or speeches to work on today I imagine?"
The cars on the lift pretty much sum up the clientel. A few are the Buster Witwicky variety (e.g. late-90s Chevy Cavaliers well past their sell-by date), a few high-end cars, and then an array of Civics, Priuses, Corollas, and minivans.
"Nah, I just gotta revise the presentation I was going to give at a Pennsylvania town hall today, that's all. People hear the word 'fracking' and they think horrible things...and they're not wrong, but that's not the way Blackrock does business, for heaven sakes. It's a lot more civilized than that, now." Carly smiles warmly. "You have a great shop here, Spike. I'm going to recommend you to everyone I know."
Spike nods respectfully to Carly, "Thanks...I appreciate it."
Some hours later, the Audi pulls back into Witwicky & Sons, Carly at the wheel, and her twins Cooper & Reese in the back. She has *extremely* well-behaved kids.
Spike felt something - a connection - he hasn't felt in...ages. But it may be because someone THAT wealthy and influential didn't treat him like a grease monkey. Either way, he goes and works diligently on Carly's vehicle. Raoul comes over and does a sing-song tone "She was givin' you the eye!" Spike shoots a long-suffering look at Raoul. "Dude, women like that do NOT give people like us the 'eye' unless ... well, you're 23, so they will in your case. But thanks - and no, I won't put this down in the 'plus' column for your raise.
Spike wipes the grease off his hands. Sure enough - it WAS the circuit board. No cost. The good people at Mercedes will reimburse - only problem - it'll take about eight weeks to get the money. Spike smiles, seeing Cooper and Reese in back. Perfect - just as expected.
Meanwhile, Spike got another text. 'Sorry! last request - promise - butter. And maybe a sixer of Amstel Light after the kids are asleep? ;) - A.'
Spike prints up Carly's receipt, a form for her to sign that matches the recall notice, and neatly rests her key smack in the middle of the bill.
"Thank you so much..." Carly signs neatly on the form. Cooper and Reese appear to be angelic because they're in the middle of some kind of Pokemon-type card tournament. They're incredible quiet and well-behaved for 11-year-olds. "The Audi was great, I put 1/2 a tank in it."
Cooper may think the mechanics are silly! They're listening to music that sounds like the Cookie Monster is singing lead.
Spike gives a shy smile to Carly. "You...didn't need to do that, but thanks." A photo is nearby, near the computer - not on display - Spike, Angie, and Susan, Calvin, and Olivia - at an Oregon football game.
Spike looks at the paperwork, "Looks like you're set though." He nods and smiles to Cooper and Reese. "You guys excited to get your car back?"
"Uh huh," Reese says as she destroys something in her hand-held video game.
"What's that song? Is that the guy who plays the trumpet and he has a funny voice?"
"No, sweetie, that's Louis Armstrong, this is John Coltrane," Carly says, giving Spike a wink.
Spike nods to Carly, Reese, and Coop. "Well, give us a call if it gives you any more trouble, but you should be set."
"Thank you so much, Mr. Witwicky!" Carly says, feeling...well, kind of crushing a bit on the cute mechanic, but deciding that it would just have to stay a secret crush. After all, they're from two different WORLDS. "C'mon, gang, let's go." She rounds up the kids.
Spike already is thinking of tasks tonight. Grocery store. Feed Olivia and Calvin. Meet up for recital. Check the washer. Then, maybe some time with Angela, before both pass out in bed. Loving parents, but definitely at a stage in their lives where magic is a bit lacking.
Spike sees Carly go. He waits until Reese and Coop are in the car and gives a sad smile as Carly goes. Now THAT...is a woman you're only going to meet once in a lifetime... Spike thinks to himself.