- Motto: "Transform and smoke 'em!"
- Weapon: Twin Shoulder-Mounted Rocket Launchers
Wheeljack simply chuckled at Axle’s cynicism regarding the inventor’s ability to build something that didn’t blow up in one’s faceplate. He’d heard it all before from various Autobots throughout the vorns and it didn’t bother him one bit. In fact, the mechanical engineer embraced his reputation as a mad scientist of sorts, knowing full well that most of his comrades still considered him to be a valuable asset to the war effort. After all, even with all the horror stories that came out of his lab, ‘Jack still had far more successes than he did failures.
Once the field medic had agreed that the next step should be to test the replicator with a sample of actual Syk, Wheeljack took the vile from Axle and held it up to optic level. “Yes, we don’t have much to work with. However, all I need to do is scan the drug and then the replicator will do the rest. The process doesn’t use up any of what we currently have here, so there’s no risk of losing any." The engineer then lowered the vile and walked back over to the replicator. “Although, since there’s really not a lot in this vile, I don’t see any reason not to just scan the whole thing. My invention should have no problem handling it."
Wheeljack then placed the Syk into the replicator and repeated the same scanning process he had successfully done with the solvent. The machine thoroughly analyzed the mixture and stored the data in the hard drive. ‘Jack then removed the vile and handled back over to Axle. “Okay, it’s scanned in and everything seems to be ready to go. Now all I have to do is start the replication cycle. Ready?"
Without waiting for a response from the field medic, Wheeljack pushed the green button on the side of the replicator and carefully watched as the device powered back up and the small chamber within was consumed in the same brilliant light as before. This time, however, the machine seemed to be struggling a bit as it began to vibrate more than it had previously. This didn’t cause the scientist any real concerns as the Syk was a more potent and complex chemical than mere solvent and would undoubtedly put additional stress on the replicator. However, when his invention began emitting a small amount of smoke from a top vent, the engineer couldn’t help but take a step back.
“Ah, no need to panic. I’m sure it’ll be fine," Wheeljack assured Axle and everyone else who was close enough to hear him. He didn’t want to pull the plug on it just yet as they likely wouldn’t get another shot at this. Hopefully, the replicator would hold out until the cycle was finished. Otherwise, they would have to rely on the field medic’s limited knowledge of chemistry to create more Syk from scratch.
Smokescreen smiled even wider as Tracer admitted that she kinda liked him unpainted. Still, it was good to be complete again, considering that without his color scheme he looked more like Bluestreak than his diversionary self. And Primus knew Smokey didn’t need to be mistaken for the overly talkative gunner. “I knew it! Now, if I could only get you paintless..." His words were cut short as the troubled femme leaned in towards him. The rallybot expected another kiss, but instead she stopped suddenly as she received a message over her comm. Considering how close he was to her, it wasn’t hard to hear the communique.
“How did Sideswipe get Razr?" Smokescreen asked with a quizzical look as he took a small step back, never letting his hand flee from hers. “Did he get out while I was being rebuilt or are my memory circuits still not functioning properly and I’ve just forgotten what happened?" The diversion expert’s question was put on hold when his olfactory sensors picked up the faint smell of smoke coming from somewhere behind him. “What’s that smell? Either my smoke generators are malfunctioning or something else is...."
Smokescreen spun around and quickly determined the origin of the odor. The smoke was coming from the top of Wheeljack’s replicator unit as it worked to duplicate the Syk that Tracer so desperately needed. Without even thinking, the rallybot placed his newly built body between the troubled femme and the machine just in case the worse happened. It wasn’t a lot of smoke, but still enough to concern the former street racer. “Hey, ‘Jack! That thing’s not gonna blow is it? Maybe you should pull the plug before anything happens!"
Wheeljack turned his head towards the rallybot before responding. “Don’t worry, Smokey. I got it under control!" No sooner had the mad scientist finished assuring his comrade that everything would be fine, a series of sparks then emanated from the top of the replicator. “Oh, dear!" The mechanical engineer exclaimed as he quickly studied the external readout display to determine what was going wrong. When he couldn’t ascertain the problem, ‘Jack reached for the off switch, but paused as he noticed that the unit was finally powering down on its own from the replication cycle.
“I think we’re okay," Wheeljack assured everyone again, all the while keeping a close optic on things as his invention entered shut down mode. Once that happened, the engineer waved his hand over top of the device to get rid of the remaining smoke that lingered in the air. The scientist then opened the side panel and carefully reached in, taking hold of a vile of what he hoped was Syk and withdrawing it from the small chamber. “Well, that could’ve gone better, but I think that it ultimately worked," the white mech proclaimed as he closely studied the vile in his hands. Of course, only after a careful analyzation would they know for sure if the drug had been successfully reproduced. "Axle, I’m going to need you to examine this replicated Syk and determine if it’s an exact copy of the original source while I take a look at my replicator to see if any permanent damage was done to it. Okay?"
Smokescreen relaxed a bit once the replicator was no longer running and the smoke had dissipated. Glancing back around at Tracer, the rallybot gave her an uneasy smirk. “Well, that was exciting."
Forward Observation Lounge
Once Ultra Magnus had read through the mission report that was encoded on the datapad, Prowl sat down near the head of the large table as the City Commander then commenced with the briefing. The military strategist watched as Magnus brought up a holographic display of a valley that was to be the primary target area for the upcoming scouting operation. It was located at the heart of the Central Andes within the nation-state of Peru, the same region as mentioned in the black and white’s report. It was a seemingly perfect spot to set up their new Earth base. Of course, getting down there and looking around in person would confirm if outward appearances were, in fact, correct or just a case of assumption over fact.
Prowl continued to listen as Magnus went on to describe the valley in more detail and what they could expect to find there. The City Commander also instructed the strategist to take an archivist along to document everything before also giving him two specific conditions to look for when determining the best place to set up their colony. The black and white simply nodded in understanding, already knowing exactly what factors needed to be accounted for. Ultra Magnus then established the mission’s parameters and conveyed the importance of the survey.
All of this was interrupted, however, when Kup contacted them regarding Hot Rod taking a group down to the surface to engage the ‘Cons in an unsanctioned action. That was soon followed by a message from Hex. Prowl couldn’t believe what he was hearing and simply shook his cranium in disgust. The black and white knew there had been something just not right with the way Hot Rod was acting earlier, which was the reason he had ordered those medical tests, the ones that were never carried out. If they had been administered then perhaps whatever was clearly wrong with the upgraded cavalier would’ve been ascertained and all this could’ve been avoided.
Ratchet always thinks he knows better, Prowl angrily thought to himself. Maybe I’ll go have a word with him once I’m back from this scouting mission. The military strategist put what needed to be done later to the back of his processor for the time being as Magnus had the situation well in hand. Once the City Commander’s orders were handed out, Prowl received a new datapad from his superior that simply read “A request from Perceptor”.
“Understood, Commander," the analyst replied as he stood from his chair and returned a respectful salute to Ultra Magnus. “Don’t worry, sir. I have things under control here. Good luck to you, as well. I hope you can bring Hot Rod and his merry bunch back in one piece."
Once Magnus and Slingshot were gone from the lounge, Prowl’s attention was drawn to what was left of his team. Originally, they were to have air support, but that was now on hold as the wayward Aerialbots were no where to be found. As it were it would only be Bumblebee, Freeway, Nova Strike and eventually Rewind along with Prowl, himself. All ground troops, of course, which would make things a bit more difficult without a skyward view, but not insurmountable by any means.
“So, it’s up to us now," Prowl stated plainly as the holographic view of the valley shimmered in front of him. “Somewhere in this region, known as the Andes Mountains of Peru, we will find the site of our future home here on Earth. We just need to locate the best spot to set up camp. An isolated and hidden location for the base, itself, is essential. A place that is near the appropriate mineral deposits we will need to keep said base functioning is also necessary. Iron and copper are two raw materials we should look for as well as an oil or natural gas source that we can tap into and siphon power from.
“Now, without air support, we will have our jobs cut out for us, but I’m sure that each and every one of you are up for the task. Magnus was pretty thorough in describing the parameters and purpose of the mission, and I’ve just gone into a bit more detail. If there are any questions, you can ask them on our way down to the bounce chamber. In the meantime, I will contact Rewind and instruct him where to meet us. Now, let's get going."
After he switched off the holographic display, the military strategist turned and headed for the door of the lounge, opening a secured comm line to the cassettebot archivist at the same time:
>>"Rewind, this is Prowl. Drop what you are doing and make your way immediately to the bounce chamber over on the Ark-22. You are being reassigned to an important scouting mission and your archival skills are required. You will be briefed once you have arrived."<<