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Title: The Freemark Conspiracy, Chapter 4: Seeds of Revolution
Rating: PG-13 (for now)
Warning:Vortex in charge of prisoners.
Universe: G1
Characters: Onslaught, Vortex, Swindle, OCs
Summary: The Decepticons have taken over the Freemark Prison outside Protihex. For the Decepticons, it's a footnote in the greater battle. For Onslaught, it's an opportunity.
Previous:
1: Entering Freemark
2: The New Administration
3: Tagged and Chained


Tach nudged Wayfall, making a surreptitious motion at the line of prisoners across from theirs. "That's the guy you need," he muttered, glancing around to make sure none of the guards were close enough to overhear. "Can't get close to him right now; he's on office detail."

"Where are we going?" Wayfall asked, just as quietly, watching the other, shorter line file through the doors. If he could get one of them on his side, they'd have potential access to all sorts of intelligence - but he was getting ahead of himself.

"Outer wall of the city. Repairing damage from the siege." Tach pointed a finger up the line. "There's a mech, name of Flickstart. Been in here for vorns, pretty much a hub of smuggling.You gotta talk to him; he'll get word off to the office mech, play middleman."

"What's he get out of it?"

"A cut." Tach shook his head. "Didn't say it'd be cheap-" Tach fell silent as the guards approached, prodding the line into movement with curses and blows.

Wayfall ducked his head, avoiding meeting the guards' gazes, not wanting the Decepticons to see the smoldering anger. He kept his head down and his posture meek, obediently following the mech in front of him as they were herded out of the cellblock, through the bare halls and out of the prison doors. They were marched away from the prison, into the shadow of the battered city walls.

He waited, clearing the rubble away from the wall with Tach and the others in his group, until the work took him close to the red, nervous-looking mech Tach had pointed out earlier. "You Flickstart?" he said in a low voice, crouching down next to the mech to get a secure grip on a broken girder.

"Yeah. Who's askin'?"

"My name is Wayfall. I heard you can get things," Wayfall said.

"Maybe. What sorta things you lookin' for?" Flickstart asked, shooting nervous looks at the guards.

Wayfall told him.

Flickstart stopped working, staring at him like Wayfall had sprouted a second head.

"Can you do it?" Wayfall asked.

"Sure I can," Flickstart said. "Gonna take some time, gotta talk to a few mechs- but why do you need-"

Wayfall stopped him with a sharp motion as a guard moved past. "It's safer if you don't ask, alright?"

"Okay, sure," Flickstart agreed. "I'll let you know." The black marketeer looked around again and moved away, scurrying through the rubble like a purpose-built scavenger.

Wayfall turned his attention back to freeing the broken girder, hoping that trusting the mech wasn't the biggest mistake of his life.

x-x-x


A guard pushed Swindle out of line as soon as the office detail entered the administrative sector, brusquely directing him up a corridor and to a door he didn't recognize. Instead of punching in a security code, the guard stopped, posture telling Swindle he was transmitting as clearly as if Swindle could hear the conversation.

The door slid open, and the guard motioned at Swindle to enter - not with his gun barrel this time, Swindle noted smugly. Frag, he was liking this tagging system.

Swindle stepped through the door into a private office, lined in neatly organized shelves. Vortex was sorting through a series of datacrystals, datapad in his hand and his back to the door. "Huh."

Vortex glanced over his rotors. "What?"

Swindle poked at a tray of tools. "This is surprisingly... not scary," he commented. "I was expectin' somethin' more outta a snuff film."

The helicopter laughed. "I got some Autobots downstairs we can redecorate with, if you're disappointed."

Swindle made a face. "Yeah, no thanks, I'll pass." He inspected a gleaming row of clamps. "I just imagined somethin' messier."

"Ain't all that fond of the smell of stale fluids," Vortex said idly, putting the datacrystals back in their box. "Fresh, sure, but stale energon ain't the most pleasant. And I don't do that sorta work in here. Too crowded."

"And I expected something less... mundane," Swindle added, holding up a perfectly normal diagnostic scanner.

"What, custom torture racks with big nasty spikes?" Vortex set the box in the shelf, neatly lined up with a row of identical unmarked boxes. "Lackin' imagination there, Swindle."

"Huh?" Swindle looked up at the helicopter. "I'm the one lacking imagination? You're the one with a toolset that coulda come outta any medbay."

"For the most part, yeah. Some quick mods on some of it, but it's all pretty standard," Vortex agreed. He leaned back against a toolbench, propping up his rotors on the edge. "Means I ain't losin' much if I gotta leave it in a retreat or gotta redeploy without any warnin'. Besides, it's all in whatcha do with it."

Swindle gave him an unconvinced look. "Sure it is."

Vortex laughed, not at all put off by Swindle's skepticism. "Hey, if you want proof, I can show you. Pick one of the prisoners, and I'll make you a bet - I can have any one of 'em beggin' to tell me everything they ever knew, without resortin' to anything 'cept what's in here."

"Yeah?" Swindle perked up, interested.

Vortex shrugged a rotor. "Yeah. Most of the time, don't even need this slag." His visor gleamed. "Double the bet, and I'll do it without usin' any of it."

"We haven't decided on stakes yet," Swindle pointed out, but oh, he was tempted.

"How 'bout, if I have to use any of this," he waved a hand at the room in general, "I'll smuggle you in a cube of high grade. If I can't do it at all, I'll get you a day pass into Protihex from the boss."

"And if you win?" Swindle said warily.

"You get to handle the requisition paperwork from now on," Vortex said cheerfully. "Every fraggin' byte of it." He waggled a rotor in admonishment. "And Onslaught'll be checking it over, too."

To Swindle, that sounded like a win every way around. Sure, if Vortex won, he'd have to deal with tedium and oversight, but he'd never met an administrator he couldn't slip something by. "You got a bet. I even have someone in mind for you," he said smugly. "And I get to call what intel you're gettin' from him."

"Sure, verify," Vortex said easily. "Just make sure you weasel it outta him for confirmation before you send 'em up." Vortex's laugh was unpleasant. "He might not be any shape to respond after."

Swindle dropped into a chair, propping his feet up on the desk. "Yeah, yeah. Teach a turbofox to suck vapor, why dontcha." He snagged a discarded datapad and unspooled a transfer cable from his wrist, plugging in. "I got a list of slag to append to your requisitions this cycle."

Vortex waved a hand. "Yeah, sure, add it in. How's the intel gatherin' goin' on your end?"

"Why'd you think I need this slag?"

Vortex turned a bland look his direction. "Uh-huh."

Swindle smirked. "Yeah, okay, that too." He tossed the datapad in the air and caught it. "I assume you're trackin' who gets put on what list, yeah?"

A rotor lifted and fell in a shrug. Swindle took that as a yes.

"Got a small pool of potential revolutionaries. So far none of 'em have found the others, but I got a couple of mechs workin' on attachin' themselves to likely candidates." Swindle stretched, tucking his hands behind his head. "And there's a couple who could stand some personal attention from you."

"Good intel prospects?" Vortex asked.

Swindle shrugged. "One of them, yeah. The other just fraggin' torques me off."

Vortex snickered. "Good enough for me."

x-x-x


"Foreset, with me," Onslaught ordered without slowing, forcing Foreset to scramble to catch up. "Until I return, you will be in charge of base administration."

"Yessir, thank you sir," Foreset said. "I've taken the liberty of preparing a series of projected courses of action-"

"Just keep the place together," Onslaught said. "If the Autobots engage with more than a squad or two, defer to Hectic for defense strategy."

"Yessir," Foreset said, managing to keep the resentment out of his voice. "What do you want me to do about Freemark while you're gone? We've just received another one of those ridiculous requisitions from them-"

"I saw it come through. Approve it, and hold any further reports for me. If Vortex requests something, give it to him." Onslaught looked down at his aide. "But for the love of Primus, don't tell him that. In fact, don't engage him at all. Don't take calls from him, don't go to Freemark, and most certainly don't speak to him in person."

Foreset bristled. "With all due respect, sir, I am an experienced administrator and military officer-"

"Vortex would smelt you alive." Onslaught sounded almost amused by the prospect. "And sorting out the mess would be more of a headache than I need right now. Keep your communication strictly to acknowledging receipt of reports and informing Freemark of shipment timetables."

"Yes, Commander," Foreset muttered. "Sir, I would like to suggest taking a full guard-"

"I acknowledge your concern," Onslaught said dismissively. "Brawl will be more than sufficient as a bodyguard. I will expect your report updates every third shift."

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