A/N- This little snippet follows the longer Under Scrutiny and bridges the gap to another unfinished fic, but stands alone just fine. Onslaught has a meeting with his favorite pet psychopath.
Onslaught didn't bother to look up as the door opened, and kept reading when the chair across from him scraped and rotors rattled against the back. It was almost routine by now – Vortex loved power games, and this one was a favorite. He'd managed three paragraphs before being interrupted by a high-pitched squeal. Tail rotors against the chair,he identified without looking.
When the squealing failed to get a reaction, Vortex fell silent for a long moment, watching Onslaught carefully. The key to dealing with Vortex, Onslaught had found, was to not react to the little things. Reaction merely encouraged Vortex, while non-reaction interested him. The helicopter thrived on attention, and withholding it kept him focused on regaining that attention, even if he had to actually obey to get what he wanted. It's like training a turbofox, he thought wryly, A vicious, delusional turbofox.
He flipped to the next report. Vortex shifted, tapping his tail rotors against the chair, then slowly scraping the tips against the arm of chair. Onslaught kept reading.
Tap tap squeal.
Onslaught didn't move.
Tap tap squeal tap tap tap taptaptap squeeeal...
He kept his optics on the report, careful to not tense or move.
There was the huff of air through intakes, then Vortex slouched in his seat, blowing air out his exhaust. That was what he'd been waiting for; time to reward his little turbo-fox. "Is it done?" Onslaught asked, still not looking up.
"Would I be here otherwise?" Vortex returned.
Onslaught turned his attention back to the reports and waited.
"Yes, it's done," Vortex grumbled after a moment, rotors twitching back.
Setting the report down, Onslaught folded his hands and finally focused on the helicopter sulking across from him. "The information?"
The datacrystal wasn't so much tossed to him as thrown at his head. Onslaught caught it without comment, sliding it into a datapad and quickly scrolling through it. "Good work, Vortex."
Vortex snorted, but Onslaught was watching the rotors, and saw them twitch upward before Vortex killed the motion. "So now what, Boss?" Vortex asked, stretching his slump into a more comfortable slouch.
"Now we wait." He knew the answer wouldn't satisfy Vortex, and it didn't. The helicopter groaned dramatically. "Patience, Vortex. We cannot move too quickly so soon in the game."
Vortex raised his head to give him an incredulous look. "This is soon? You tellin' me this ain't what you've been workin' up to for the last two vorns?"
Longer than that, actually, Onslaught thought. Since before you fell so neatly in my lap with that business with the Mayhems.He'd had his optic on Vortex before the helicopter had run afoul of Torsion, so when the opportunity had come up, he'd taken it. "Then consider the time it took to get this far as incentive not to screw it up." He took out the datacrystal and tucked it into a slot under his forearm armor. "We're moving headquarters."
"Oh, but I liked this one so much," Vortex drawled sarcastically. "We headin' toward the front?"
"Protihex," Onslaught confirmed.
Vortex cocked his head curiously. "City itself? Ain't been cleared out yet. Think they're still chasin' out the Autotrash stragglers. Sounds awful risky for your tastes, getting' so close to the lines."
Onslaught chuckled, easily recognizing the jab for what it was. "Calculated risk, Vortex, calculated risk." He leaned back in the chair, steepling his fingers. "From Protihex we can strike at Praxis and Nova Cronum-"
"Yeah, yeah, I've seen a map, Ons." Vortex made a show of looking bored. "You gonna share why we're really goin' to Protihex?"
Behind his battlemask, Onslaught smiled. He'd picked Vortex out for a reason, and it was nice to be validated. "Shockwave is even now readying troops for an assault on Nova Cronum. And with the blockades focused on Polyhex, the commander in Protihex will be in position to supply and reinforce the research facilities there."
"So... we're sucking up to Shockwave."
"Yes, Vortex," Onslaught said dryly. "We're sucking up to Shockwave."
Vortex shrugged. "Just checking. I'm good with sucking up."
"I'm so glad you approve." Onslaught leaned forward. "There's another reason. The correctional facility at Protihex is ideally situated to take prisoners of war from the surrounding city states. Large, well-fortified facility, virtually untouched in the invasion."
"And...?" Vortex drew the word out.
"And I want you to take command of the facility," Onslaught said.
Vortex sat up. "What? Oh no. I'm no fraggin' administrator."
"I don't need you to administrate," Onslaught said calmly. "I need you to interrogate. And I need you to be seen doing it."
"What the frag's that supposed to mean?" Vortex crossed his arms.
"Your reputation is vitally important to my plans," Onslaught told him. "You're very good at what you do, but I need more than that."
"Like what?" Vortex sounded unconvinced. "People in the know already know what I can do."
"Certainly," Onslaught agreed. "But never assume that our superiors are 'in the know.'"
Vortex laughed. "Don't worry, I always assume they don't know slag from symposium."
"Always?" Onslaught asked archly. He didn't bother to comment on the sudden uptick in Vortex's vocabulary.
Vortex waggled a rotor at him, sprawling back comfortably. "So who am I supposed to be impressin'?"
"You're a smart mech," Onslaught said, picking up his reports again. "I'm sure you'll figure it out."
"You're a fragger, you know that?" Vortex grumbled.
"So I've been told," Onslaught agreed.