Courage is one of those things that get underrated in the Decepticon army. Ask a soldier 'round here about a mech he admires, and they ain't likely to list courage in his virtues. Toughness, strength, speed, intelligence, cunning - and those last two are very different things, if you're taking notes, quiz at the end - and viciousness, can't forget that one. But guts gets written off more as stupidity than anything worth aspirin' to.

Autobots, now, they'll put it right up there with honesty and compassion - y'know, the other slag Decepticons claim not to care about. "Claim" because cut up any mech of any faction enough and suddenly they're all about compassion - namely mine. Long wait for a ship that ain't comin', but I'm gettin' side tracked again. The average Autobot don't know slag about courage. They all favor that whole group suicide - gettin' themselves killed to save a lost comrade. That's just stupid. Guy's lost, and congrats, ten of y'all gettin' killed retrievin' the body just means there's that many less to throw themselves in front of our guns.

So guts just gets seen as a weakness, and it creates a whole new type of weakness. See, the kinda courage I'm talkin' about isn't the kind that has you jumpin' in front of an assault team so your buddies can run, it's the kind that has a mech sittin' calmly at a desk and starin' down someone who's get every right to stick a blade in your head, and more'n a little motivation to do so. That takes a lot guts - or a sociopathic streak and a nasty sense of humor, but that's more of me and not so much Ons's thing. No sense of fun, honestly.

"Hello, Torsion," Onslaught says, just as smooth and calm as can be. His whole body language is just as cool as his voice. Gotta credit the mech with self-control, even if ya ain't about the gutsy angle.

Torsion pauses in the doorway for a microsecond before steppin' through - and leavin' a rotor blockin' the door from closin'. Wantin' witnesses, Mr. Big Bad Mayhem? That's interestin' - you ain't so sure of yourself now, are you?

"What is the meaning of this?" Torsion demands. Ohhh, deep an' gravely, just right to send shivers down my rotors.

Hey, I got a lotta kinks, alright?

Torsion glares down at Onslaught, tryin' to put the bass off balance with the whole authority-figure act, but I could tell him it ain't ever gonna work. Ons fuels on the whole I-am-in-charge routine.

"I believe we are apprehending a criminal," Ons returns, completely unruffled. And I mean it, too, got all these nifty sensor-interpretation programs for pickin' up those tricky tells in interrogation, and ain't a one registerin' him outta normal parameters. Mech's fraggin' facinatin' to watch work.

Torsion, on the other hand, he's got himself a lot of tells. Little twitches, like how his optics are slidin' my way. Hidden behind a visor or not, that little weight shift is a dead giveaway, Mr. Mayhem. "I see," he says, trying to regain some control. "I commend your success... I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name...?" He makes it sound all polite, but it's a trick. Makin' a mech introduce himself makes him feel lower on the chain, but things like that ain't gonna fluster Onslaught. Deliberately manglin' his name, sure - my quarters got enough head-shaped dents to prove how much he don't like bein' called "Onsikins" - but Torsion ain't gonna get to him like that.

"'Commander' will do," Onslaught returns easily, all magnanimous-like. "The post was recently vacated and for the good of the Empire I have filled the position personally." And frag, I kinda believe him, too.

"I see," Torsion rumbles, head swinging from the prone form of Armstice back to Onslaught. Weight's still forward; mech's still not sure what to make of all of this. "And the fugitive?" He asks, lookin' at me again.

Onslaught gestures dismissively to Armsitice. "Apprehended, as you can see." He folds his hands in front of him again.

Torsion's uneasy - he set up Armstice with Epicenter, but it ain't working out like he was expectin' and he ain't sure what to make of Onslaught. Mech plays it so close it's impossible to tell how much he really knows 'bout what's what.

"Do you have any proof?" he asks finally. Heh, it's fraggin' hard not to laugh in his face. It's funny to watch the big bad Mayhem groping in the dark.

"Oh, yes, plenty of it. For instance, the 'proof' provided by your friend Epicenter - and the real proof as well." Onslaught nods in that almost-smirkin' way he gets. "Perhaps you should come inside."

Torsion growls, but steps forward, rotor finally clearin' the door and lettin' it slide shut.

Feel that, Torsion? It's the balance of power dumpin' you off the scale.

"What do you know?" Torsion rumbles threateningly when the door closes. My engine gets a shivery-sorta feelin' - hey, kink.

"Enough," Onslaught says.

Torsion takes a step closer, fists clenchin' and rotor blades bristlin' - aw, he's almost cute. But really, shouldn't never be the one to start the violence, it's bad form. Also, it tells the other guy he's on the right track.

"You'd be surprise," Onslaught says dryly. "See, my friend here -" Hey, stop wavin' at me. I was perfectly happy bein' forgotten over here! "-Stopped to have a visit with our mutual friend, Epicenter."

Torsion twitches at the name. Amateur.

"It would seem Vortex and yourself share certain... past times." Oh, pickin' up my euphemisms, Onsies. Might be hope for you yet. "He tells Epicenter was must eager to provide a great deal of interesting information about you and the former commander." Heh, now that was fun. I admit, he surprised the frag out of me when he sent me in after Epicenter, but apparently he don't take betrayal too well, and there's a hardness to his voice now to show it. "Information which Vortex felt compelled to share with myself and a certain select individuals." Humph. Compelled is fraggin' right.

It's the oldest trick in blackmail, makin' sure the target knows that shootin' you ain't gonna solve his little problem, even if it will. Though, I ain't sure handin' Brawl a data crystal and tellin' him to stick it with his ammo and forget about it qualifies as "certain select individuals." Then again, possibly the most surprisin' thing about the whole thing is where Brawl stows his ammo. What kinda mech sticks his- oh hey, talkin'.

"-Vortex," Ons is sayin' as I tune back in. Frag, I hope that wasn't important, but Torsion's just lookin' considerin' rather than murderous, so I guess I'm okay.

"Armstice was no great asset to the Empire," Torsion temporises. "no one will look closely at the case if he goes down for the killings." He looks back at Onslaught. "And of course you'll take command as a reward for uncovering his guilt."

"Unless you have some reason to doubt the evidence?" Onslaught asks, almost bein' coy about it.

Torsion glares at him for a bit, clearly thinkin' it over before shaking his head. "No reason at all." he shifts, reachin' for the door control.

"And Torsion?" Onslaught calls.

Torsion stops.

"I'll want a copy of that report before you leave base."

Torsion's only reply is to stab at the door controls harder than strictly necessary and stalk out.

I can't hold it in any longer, I snicker. Oh, look at poor widdle Mayhem, gets his itty bitty game ruined.

Oh hey Onslaught, anyone ever tell you that you move fast for a big mech? I back peddle instinctively as Onslaught looms over me until a hand wraps around my rotor hub and hauls me up short.

Frag it, that's not a handle!

"Tomorrow," Onslaught says in a voice too low and rich for issuin' orders, "I want you to handle Armstice's interrogation personally. If Torsion doesn't realize he's still alive, there's no reason for an official entry in the system."

Illegal interrogation? I can dig that, especially if Onslaught's thumb keeps rubbin' right there...

"I have plans," Onslaught's voice drops even more, to a husky whisper that gets my rotors quiverin'. "Big plans, and you're a part of them, Vortex."

"What sorta plans?" Okay, that came out more as a squeak than a normal question, but frag, he just won't stop with the touchin' right there, and really I'm just askin' to give myself somethin' to focus on because between his fingers and his voice and that nice rumblin' from his engine I'm about two astroseconds from happy la-la land.

Onslaught just chuckles, and I swear I can feel it all the way to my converters. That ain't helpin' any, Ons! "Later," he promises. His hand tightens on my rotor assembly, and I'm startin' to get the feeling he ain't exactly unaware of what that means in copter-land. "Tonight, let's celebrate," he says, mask brushin' against mine.

You know what, frag focusing. Feeling's a fraggin' sight more fun.