"Crosshairs, get your aft back in here!"
As Sideswipe's Corvette jetted forward out the double doors of NEST base hangar, Crosshairs slammed on the brakes and his form jerked forward at the sudden stop of motion. His tires protested loudly, screaming off the high ceilings of the hangar, and black tread marks painted themselves onto the concrete floor. As the smoke from the mixture of his exhaust and tires began to fade, he shrugged and lowered onto his custom shocks in a slightly adult pout. Angling the rearview to clearly see the form standing now directly behind him, he groaned.
Mira Lennox, NEST Commander and Head of Human/Autobot Communications (they referred to her as the HAC), crossed her arms, a stapled piece of paper in one hand. As usual, she jutted her hip out to the side and glared right through his back windshield straight into the rear-view, as if she knew that's where he was looking. Her displeasure was obvious due to the frown on her face and raised her brows as if to encourage his form to heighten to its fullest capacity. Mira, after Optimus' ascent into the heavenlies, had resumed her proper place as the Commander, as was custom to the individual holding the Shield of the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus had left her with full charge of his men, his base, and his…war. She'd done a fair enough job, he had to admit, but he couldn't stand that look. Especially when he was just trying to ease his way out of the insane dormancy the entire base was trying to shake off.
He revved the engine, "Aww, Mira," he groaned. "You weren't supposed to be around. Didn't you have a school conference with the kid?" He referred to her offspring, Merrick, who was now six years old and preparing to go to education classes—school.
This made her brows raise again and he cringed. "Oh, was I? I'm sorry, I didn't get that memo." He snapped her fingers and then stepped to the side, gesturing for him to stand, "That's Friday."
Frag. It was Tuesday.
Obliging her, he activated his transformation cogs and was beside her within moments. Standing before her, he felt his trench-coat fall into place behind him and then crossed his arms over his chest plating, giving her a stern, unimpressed look. "Fraggit," She raised her brows and began to shake her head, "Okay. I can explain this, Mira."
She nodded and smirked. "You'd better, Crosshairs. The President is less than thrilled about you and Sideswipe's…prank." Her tone turned dangerously warning, "I can't afford this right now, guys. Especially during an inspection. I need you guys to cooperate and help me out." She then reached up and ran a finger through her wildly, out-of-control curls, "I don't know how Optimus handled all of you at once."
He was our species, that's a start. He chuckled. She shot him a glare. "What? You're frustration is amusing."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course." She then shook her head and the walkie-talkie on her hip came alive with the sound of chatter. Reaching for it, she responded, and then looked up at him. "Alright. I've gotta go, but we're talking about this, Crosshairs," she glared up at him, "All three of us. Hound isn't overly thrilled either, since it was him that the shizzle paint-job," she turned on her heel, "I'm calling a mandatory meeting in my office in two hours. If you're not there," she pointed at him over her shoulder, "you'll regret it."
He was about to flip her the bird when she spun around, as if reading his mind, "Don't you dare." Then, she jogged off towards the human quarters of the base, pushing open a heavy door marked "CONFERENCE", most obviously headed to a meeting with the government liaisons and officials.
Looking around the hangar, he sighed. There was nothing to do. He'd covered his position of communication monitoring and filed all his reports required of him by the U.S. government. He'd slapped the files on Hound's desk, who served as the liason between the Autobots and humans as well. He was much along the lines of Mira's assistant, but basically ran the place due to his rank and knowledge of….them.
Bumblebee, he reasoned, was probably with Cade and Tessa Yeager, friends of the effort due to the situation that had arisen between them and Optimus in Texas. They'd stuck around after Hong Kong, providing shelter for the Autobots in their barn until the new base had been constructed. They visited occasionally, much to Crosshairs annoyance. Bumblebee had been assigned to them as a guardian/bodyguard, and spent most of his days and night at the Yeager farm.
Drift was probably in his office, either attending to reports of studying. He did much studying of human warfare and martial arts here, since he oversaw most of the training of the humans as well as the rest of them. Anyway, Crosshairs decided that Drift wouldn't be in much a mood to do anything but work, and Crosshairs refused to do anymore of that today.
Hound would be busy with the shizzle, as well as finishing conferences with Mira and the President. He chuckled at the thought of Hound having to finish conferences in his…state.
Sideswipe was probably hiding, as usual. He did much of that during the day, often times shirking his duties to hide out until all of his high-jinxing was done. He forewent Mira's rage that way and most of the punishment. He was much like a child, but Crosshairs found him amusing. He'd learned to kill time with Sideswipe, and that he enjoyed.
Deciding to take a rain-check on the idea of waiting around here doing nothing, he transformed down and reasoned on taking a drive. That was far more entertaining than sitting around here, and at least he'd get to stretch his legs, to use the human term. Maybe he could cypher out some of his old Energon and really see what this form could do. So, checking out of base, he roared down the drive and sped onto the main roads. Downshifting into sixth gear, he floored the accelerator and was gone in a cloud of dust as his tires licked at the rocks along the shoulder of the highway.
He found himself out past dark, wondering through the city of Paris, which was indeed bigger than he'd previously thought. Flicking his lights, he ignored the transmission from both Hound and Mira, forwarding them to his busy reply, stating he was on a scouting exercise and would return only when he was finished. Finally, the messages had stopped altogether. He tried to push the thought of a raging Mira from his mind.
Crosshairs wasn't lying—essentially. He had taken to scouting out Paris much of his time on these drives, logging entries on human movements and groups. He did much research on the human activities here, especially about humans close what would be his human age—30. Though humans hadn't earned his highest level of respect after the incident of Cemetery Wind, which had been disbanded, he couldn't help but admit that they were an intriguing species. Optimus had told them to learn all they could about humans before passing judgment upon them, and Crosshairs intended to do so.
One group he was particularly fond of was the illegal racing activities which occurred three miles outside of Paris, along an empty quarry route which had shut down some years ago. This band of men and women spent their nights racing muscle and sports cars of any kind for not only cash, but title. They had people come from out of state to race these competitions, which Crosshairs had found interesting.
He'd brought this to the attention of the others in a report, which had quickly earned him a meeting. Mira had warned them—all of them—to refrain from any type of vehicular sport, stating that it was against protocol and ethics to race against humans, considering that they had technical advantages being Cybertronian. They'd quickly agreed, stating that it was far too dangerous for them to interfere, and that it was a waste of resources. Shane, Tessa Yeager's boyfriend, had warned them that it wasn't a sport Autobots should be participating in-it was dangerous, expensive, and required tons of practice and time, as well as sponsorship.
These illegals though were interesting. They liked speed, and money, which was not much unlike Velocitron, a sister planet of Cybertron connected through ancient Space Bridges of their golden age. They too were obsessed with the idea of title and speed, always wanting to go faster and faster. Crosshairs had not really cared for the sport, but he found it intriguing how these humans defied the law of their leaders and government by rebelling the odds and taking the law into their own hands. He liked most, though, the idea of freedom and fun it provided.
He'd always observed these races with the other spectators, using the holoform to lean against the front driver's side fender of his Corvette, watching and logging and wondering. He'd seen a few of the crashes these people endured. Some were nastier than others, and he cringed every time. The spectators were forced above the track, where they gazed down below at the racing vehicles. Always, there were spectators than racers, another aspect of the "sport" that intrigued him.
It was well after nine now, and night had befallen the quarry. He'd parked at the end of the line of spectators, and activated the holoform. Stepping outside the car, he flipped up his sunglasses on top of his head and gently slammed the door closed with a thud. Crossing his arms over his chest, he watched the racers line up and take their positions. A motorcycle came to a stop in front of the line-up. This was Diezel, the "head" of this racing ring, and he was huge—6'3" weighing in at about 300 pounds of pure, unmatched muscle. He, and his "woman", Ally, always started the races here, as well as collecting the cash.
As the engines roared to life, Crosshairs caught sight of a shadow cross his headlights. Looking to the owner, he swore his spark almost stopped when she paused to smile at him—a smile, he noted, that could only mean big trouble. But, trouble was beautiful tonight, and she was red-headed with hip-length hair the color of autumn, and dashingly dangerous green eyes almost the color his form.
"Hey," she smiled at him, a thick southern accent taking him by surprise. Crosshairs was never one to shy in front of the ladies, he was a real heart-breaker on Cybertron—ladies always loved the daring, care-free aura of a paratrooper. They also didn't mind the pilot's get-up he sported, as well as his roaring sarcasm and charm. Here, though, he'd never really interacted with women on a romantic standard; Mira wasn't what you'd call an option, or were any of the human femmes. They were strictly off limits. So, the idea of female attention from a human girl was…offsetting.
"Hey." He said, waving a small wave in her direction. She smiled and tossed a handful of her waves of her shoulder and approached him, letting the tip of a finger slide across the fender of his form. She sidled up to him and gave him a wonderfully dangerous smile.
"Haven't seen you before," she stuck out a hand, "you new to the Ring?"
He shook his head, "Nah. I've been coming off and on for a few weeks," he nodded to the track, "for fun. It's entertaining." He was cold, closed off, and she was sensing it. Obviously not hindered, she touched his arm.
"You raced yet?"
This made him smile, "No." She gave him a confused look. Deciding a bit of flirting wouldn't do anyone any harm; he gave her a smile and then whispered into her ear, "It wouldn't be fair."
She raised a brow. "For who?"
"For those guys," he nodded to them. This made her laugh a little, light laugh and she shifted to lean a slender, perfectly formed hip on the warm fender of his running engine.
Her eyes sparkled. "Smooth. What's your name?"
Crosshairs looked her over, "Yours first."
She grinned at him, "Jinx," putting up a hand, she giggled, "My racing name. Yours?"
Lying, he reasoned, was okay in an instance like this, "Ross."
She nodded, still smiling at him, before they both looked to see where a pair of headlights flickered out and a racer came shooting out of his car, the hood lifted to his vehicle. Quickly scanning the Toyota, Crossroads found the engine block to have cracked, making the car unraceable for the evening.
This got her attention, and she moved to the edge of the embankment, looking down from her position to see Diezel conferring with the other man. Most of the other spectators did the same, leaning over the edge of the embankment to better see the situation. Only when Jinx waved him over did Crosshairs oblige. Diezel, waving for a truck to come in, turned as the "crew" began to haul the Toyota away from the line. The other cars and silenced to an idle now as they waited.
" That's Riley," Jinx said quietly, pointing, "he won last week. Wonder what happened."
Crosshairs shrugged, "Tough luck," he sauntered back over to his car. Leaning against the hood, he heard Diezel call up to them from the embankment. Jinx looked to him and then back to the ring master, as he made his announcement.
"Anyone want to take Riley's place down here? Entry fee's already paid—all ya gotta do is drive!" The spectators began to confer among themselves, and Crosshairs scanned the other cars around him. The one was lacking in oil, the other had an engine block almost in as bad as shape as Riley's, and the other vehicle was the farthest thing from a speed machine.
Jinx, looking inspired, walked up to him. Reaching out her hands, she took his in hers, Crosshairs following her arm with his eyes until he met her face. She had a devious look on her face, one that was a mixture of seductive reasoning, pleasure, and excitement. She reminded him of Jezebel.
"You should fill the spot!" she said excitedly. The entire group looked at him, and suddenly offguard, he released her hands and shook his head. "They can't race without another car," she said sweetly, "and you're ride is perfect!"
He shook his head. "No. I don't race."
She looked at him as if he'd grown another head, "Why not? It's just one race, Ross!" She hurried to him and grabbed his wrist. The other spectators, still watching them, gawked pleadingly at him as if their lives depending on this. He shook his head and opened the door, noticing another message from Mira coming in. She frowned at him and grabbed his hand in hers and she interlaced their fingers. "Please, Ross."
He shook his head again and gave her a half smile, "Nu-uh, darlin'. I don't race my car."
She jutted out her lip playfully. "For me?" She questioned. This made Crosshairs want to laugh, he didn't even know this girl! Putting a hand up, he ducked into his car. She bent to look into his window and she playfully frowned at him. "Ross?"
"I don't even know you," he replied firmly.
She gave him an unsatisfied look. Then, she smiled at him, "You could know me." Then, she blew him a kiss and headed back the way she'd come, and he watched her cross in front of his headlights again, her auburn hair flowing in a waterfall behind her as she left. Heat began to rise in his chest and he noticed his temperature gaze peaked a hair from its normal level. Crosshairs hadn't realized that human females could have such an effect on their holoforms, especially since they controlled them with Cybertronian coding and emotion.
Crosshairs briefly thought this over as Mira came to mind. She'd skin him alive if she found out he'd been racing with a bunch of illegals. And what of his comrades? Could he ever show his face to them again if they found out he'd breached protocol all because of his rebellion against her? Optimus would be furious, he realized, and would never condone such behavior, and deem him with a record title of behavior unbecoming an Autobot and probably remove his rank.
But, could he stand this anymore? Could he stand the thought of doing nothing but wait for trouble and push papers for the human government? The lying weasels had killed them off one by one, and would've too if Mira hadn't come along. He supposed he was grateful to her for that much, if more.
Crosshairs was a free mech; he'd joined the Autobots simply because he couldn't stand Megatron's ethics or morals, and didn't take to the idea of tyranny. He liked to work alone and be alone, hence the reason he'd never "married", or settled down for that matter. He liked the idea of solo work, not having to rely on anyone or leave anything up to chance. Crosshairs controlled Crosshairs and made his own rules…rules, he'd decided long ago, that Optimus Prime would approve of. He didn't want to be on the wrong side of this war, and this war was going to be won by the Autobots.
"Frag it," he muttered under his breath. He spotted Jinx from the corner of his eye, watched her slip gingerly into a red Camaro with white neon lights floating beneath it. She clicked on the headlights and threw the car into reverse, speeding out of the quarry with a cloud of dust on her heels. He'd never been so seduced in his life, he realized, and was actually quite curious about interfacing with a human. Ah, slag, he told himself, she isn't even worth the effort.
He left the quarry, and headed back to the base.