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    Reaching Out

    Scaramouche
    Scaramouche
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    Post by Scaramouche on Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:42 pm

    Mhm, Knock Out suuuure did! It was one of their earliest conversations, in fact. But an eager beaver like Scaramouche wasn't gonna express impatience or demand that his friend change topics. Any reason to gab away with Knock Out was good enough for him! "And to think..." The android snickered behind a hand, appearing pleased as punch. "Prior to comin' here and meetin' Lu, my cookin' was utterly abysmal! I mean, a non-culinary model cookin' organic food? Hon~! It's like buyin' one of those Roombas and askin' it to watch after your kids." Actually, Scaramouche had never really tinkered in the kitchen, like, at all - he'd damn near burn a pot of water if you let him. Cooking just wasn't his function! Funny what a difference nearly three years made?

    "Scaramouche, you dirty dog~!"

    "Nyeheheeee~!" The impish shine glinting off Scaramouche's LED display said it all. "Oh, I know; that's what Lunette says every night." Ah, but that was enough shameless tomfoolery! Knock Out was getting to the - he he - heart of the matter: his gruesome, untimely death at the foul clutches of Daemeon's ilk. The details led themselves to the makings of a great story, honestly...

    "Lots of things, Scaramouche. I hardly know where to start. It's...just a lot to deal with at once. I had a truly crummy, no good, very bad day.

    Everything was going just fine at first. The dragon was disgusting for sure. It wore the flesh of its own kill like Leatherface, it was ghastly, and...eugh. But! Nothing I can't handle. I thought it'd be a good idea to go for the guts, organics are so flimsy there after all. But that's where everything went horribly wrong, Scaramouche."

    Alas, such were the disconcerting trappings of trauma. Ever the thinker, Scaramouche cupped his chin while quietly listening to his friend's candid words, the intricate bits n' bobs turning within his head. "Hm, I see..." On one hand: a nasty dragon that made Buffalo Bill proud. Kinda cool! But, on the other hand: it was incredibly unhygienic, and even Scaramouche would crinkle his nose at the prospect of rancid blood if he could. Bodily fluids were just - ugh! The robot could absolutely understand why Knock Out struggled the way he did.

    "Weeeeell~!" Flashing a larger-than-life grin, Scaramouche reached over and draped an affectionate arm around Knock Out's brawny shoulders, pulling the mech close. "Like all stories, why don'tcha start at the beginnin'? Let's work through this together, step-by-step! And remember, there's no rush. Take your time, gather your thoughts, and breathe. I'm here for ya, baby. Same with Anne-Marie, 'kay?" Metal fingertips gently rubbed the Cybertronian's arm, letting Knock Out know that he wasn't alone in his suffering and never will be. Why, even the cucco stared up at him with those big, glassy eyes as if to say, 'what's eating you, big boy?'

    "Remember, take your time," Scaramouche repeated. "Breathe, reach deep inside your processors, and then calmly pull yourself out. Relax, repeat, recuperate. Don't force it, let the moment come to you." Be patient, young padawan. The insidious likes of trauma could not be defeated in a day.
    Knock Out
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    Post by Knock Out on Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:39 pm

    What a smug little robot! Knock Out arched a brow at him, an amused smile on his face. "Really? That's a lot of improvement in only a couple of years! You must have a fantastic teacher." He winked impishly. With a lovely catwoman like Lunette as motivation, was it any wonder that Scaramouche had become such a chef? Even if he was apparently not meant for it. Much like caste system of Cybertronians was utterly useless, he viewed the same thing for the jazzbot's kind! The way he saw it, Scaramouche could become whatever he wanted. "Just tape a baby bottle to the Roomba and I bet it'll get the job done!" You can trust Knock Out! He had exactly zero experience with babysitting or the handling of children! Unless Livewire counted...?

    "Every night?!" The mech huffed, optics rolling playfully. "That's a frightening amount of stamina. And it figures that the feline would go for a dog like you~." Even after spending a week as an organic, Knock Out felt ill-equipped when it came to the subject of procreation. At least his friends were rather tasteful about it. As for the heart of the matter, that was a great deal more sobering for the crimson medic.

    "Like all stories, why don'tcha start at the beginnin'? Let's work through this together, step-by-step! And remember, there's no rush."

    "I'm not even sure what the beginning would be. The beginning of the entire adventure? Or the beginning of when everything went pear-shaped?" Likely the latter, but it was rather hard to parse that out at the moment. Heaving a deep vent of a sigh, little bits of steam wafting from his mouth, Knock Out leaned into Scaramouche's touch. It was odd, for the earth born robot to be so much taller than him with the shrinking ring. But just this once, he really really liked that fact. His usually expressive face had turned neutral, optics still downcast as he tried to focus. "Take my time, gather my thoughts, and breathe." He repeated, focusing on the feeling of the other robot to ground himself.

    Now that he was here, it really was a rather anxiety inducing plunge. As if he were standing on top of a tall mountain, overlooking the massive drop. And the drop was filled with acidic blood, horrible tendrils, and trees that could control one's mind. Knock Out wanted to talk about it, anything to get this horrid stuff out of his processor. But he dreaded thinking about it. How convenient it'd be, to beam the information into Scaramouche instead! His grip on the cloak had become a very firm one. He was at odds between dumping it all out at once and refusing to spill a single detail. Neither was satisfactory. Neither was what he needed to do.

    "Breathe, reach deep inside your processors, and then calmly pull yourself out. Relax, repeat, recuperate. Don't force it, let the moment come to you."

    Focus on Scaramouche. Focus on Anne-Marie. Knock Out's ruby gaze rose to look over at his two companions in this moment, anxiety still written on his face. After taking a deep vent in, his servoes released the bunched up fabric of his cloak. Breathe. Reach deep, and pull himself out. He dipped a metaphorical toe into his memories, and it all came flooding back. The brief little victory he'd had before it all went wrong. Slithering organs wrapping around his body like the coils of a snake! His shoulder kibble quivered in response. "I spilled those disgusting entrails, a-and they grabbed a hold of me. The dragon pulled me inside of its body, Scaramouche."

    Now that he was in this moment, he let it ride him by as if he were surfing on a wave. His memories changed, to the innards of the dragon. So tight, so constrictive, way too warm and moist! The hot sizzles of acid churning away at his frame echoed in Knock Out's audials. "I was trapped. I couldn't escape. No matter how I struggled, it only hurt me even more! The dragon blood was acidic and it started to burn away at my plating...at my finish!" Both servoes latched onto the android as if he were a life preserver, and the mech pulled himself back out. Maybe not as calmly as either of them would have liked... With his optics closed tightly, he panted against the robot. It's all good, Knock Out! You're not in the belly of the beast anymore! You're in a nice forest with Scaramouche! Bit by bit, the tension left him as his talons began a gesture that might have been a bit odd for the robot, but had become quite familiar to the Cybertronian during the past month.

    Knock Out was stroking Scaramouche. Quite delicately too, for such sharp little fingers. "I thought I was going to die, sweet Nightingale. I thought my goose had been cooked!" He admitted with a grimace. There was so much more to tell him, so much more to say, but there was no rush. He'd have to take this one step at a time.
    Scaramouche
    Scaramouche
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    Post by Scaramouche on Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:46 pm

    "Ab-so-loodles, baby~!" Scaramouche naturally couldn't take all the credit. Just as Knock Out surmised, Lunette had been a tremendous influence on the android's foray into the culinary arts. Without the Anitra, he'd be just as clueless and dimwitted as he was back on Earth! And, honestly, who'd want an old, dingy robot in heels that couldn't whip up a hearty meal? No one, that's who! Scaramouche outright gasped at the Cybertronian's flagrant ignorance. "Knock Out," he tittered with delight, "you can't strap a baby bottle to a Roomba and then call it a day~! That's how ya get your fabulous metal ass sued." It must've been strange for Knock Out, hearing that his dorky robotic friend was programmed to rear children, but such were the unintended consequences of having multiple owners throughout one's colorful (and checkered) life cycle. Organics were a lazy sort, weren't they?

    "Every night?! That's a frightening amount of stamina. And it figures that the feline would go for a dog like you~."

    Oh, all right. Scaramouche may have been embellishing a few details, but only a few! That was gonna be his little secret, though, shh~!

    He slipped Knock Out the laziest of smug glances, with an equally complacent grin to match. "What can I say?" Scaramouche brazenly shrugged. "When ya got a battery life of nearly half a week, why go back to plain ol' flesh n' blood, eh~?" After all, he didn't hear Lunette complaining, that voracious lil' goblin! But, er, yes. Knock Out's riveting tale of how he got taun-taun'd and blown up like the Death Star! Ahem.

    "Well, I sometimes find that layin' the foundation of my woes helps make for good build-up until I'm ready to tackle the core of the issue," the android kindly suggested, squeezing Knock Out's shoulder. "Maybe it'll help if ya start from the veeeery beginnin' and set the stage, too?" Poor guy... The mech appeared really shaken by what had transpired. Had it been that bad...? Scaramouche knew better than to openly frown, and he respectfully kept his gaze off Knock Out's illustrious finish so the smaller mech wouldn't feel uncomfortable or pressured in any way, shape, or form. "Mhm, take your time, gather your thoughts, and breathe," he echoed softly. Optics trained on the Cybertronian's iron-clad grasp every so often, their tiny motors whirring in the quiet. The steam had been mildly concerning, but he had faith Knock Out would keep a level head.

    "I spilled those disgusting entrails, a-and they grabbed a hold of me. The dragon pulled me inside of its body, Scaramouche. I was trapped. I couldn't escape. No matter how I struggled, it only hurt me even more! The dragon blood was acidic and it started to burn away at my plating...at my finish!

    I thought I was going to die, sweet Nightingale. I thought my goose had been cooked!"

    ...Or, uh, he'd lapse into a fit of consternation, figuratively thrashing about like a sailor thrown overboard and fighting for his life against the tumultuous sea. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy does it there, babu." Anne-Marie visibly grew distressed and squirmed in her caretaker's hold as Scaramouche reached over to comfort his friend with slow, gentle caresses. "Easy, easy..." he soothed. "You're okay. You're safe. There ain't no dragon here. No tendrils, no acidic blood, no tight spaces, no pain. Focus on deep, steady breaths, all right? Deep... steady... breaths. Everythin' will be A-OK, I promise."

    That had certainly been an experience (and that panting, oof)! It thankfully wasn't anything new to Scaramouche, however, and he very calmly joined his hand with Knock Out's, interlacing their mismatched fingers together as best he could.

    "See~?" the robot smiled, giving his friend's digits a fond squeeze. "Everything's okay. Ya did good, babe! I'm very proud of ya, but there's lots more to be done, hm? Walk with me and let's take it from the top." But where to start, and how much? A pensive hum escaped the android as he rubbed his thumb over the Cybertronian's knuckles. "I think you were incredibly brave, throwin' yourself in harm's way," Scaramouch began, continuing their stroll at a leisurely place. The forest was always so beautiful this time of year, with its vibrant reds and rich golds peeking through a stubborn canvas of green... He hoped Knock Out found nature's beauty as uplifting as he did. "Most folks would've shut down right then and there, maybe even ran, but not you. You kept givin' it your all, fightin' for your team and protectin' everyone else from Daemeon's wicked machinations. Why, if it wasn't for your selflessness, the dragon might've even lived to terrorize Lunette and myself! In that, my Adonis, we are indebted to ya."

    They were closer now. Scaramouche could hear the soft lapping of water and smell the fragrant aroma of pond lilies carried on the afternoon zephyr. He looked to his friend and gently bumped against the mech with a loving smile. "Thank you," the android said, "for bein' a good friend and the best Cybertronian around. Ain't that right, Anne-Marie~? He saved your cucco nuggets, too, y'know!"

    "Bok!"
    Knock Out
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    Post by Knock Out on Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:33 am

    Well, perhaps not no one. Knock Out would certainly take Scaramouche even without his culinary knowledge! So long as that silver tongue was still functional, he'd be more than happy to accept such a robot. Although a robot owning another was a strange one, even if one was an alien!

    Back to the topic at hand, his flamboyant friend found the Cybertronian's idea to be objectionable! He gave a silly smirk, those metallic brows waggling ferociously. "Oh no? Has anybody tried, Scaramouche? You never know without the proper scientific experimentation! Perhaps a baby would survive just fine with a baby bottle and a Roomba!" Such a strange suggestion only lingered for a few moments before he immediately gave a counter with a casual shrug. "Oooor the Roomba would run the baby over and spill milk all over it. It's truly a 50/50 situation, you know? Although it would be terrible to get sued."

    It was indeed strange to put together the mental image of 'Scaramouche the Assassin' with 'Scaramouche the caretaker of wriggly organic babies', but the juxtaposition was somehow fitting. Maybe it was his clownish looks and silly attitude. Maybe it was because the robot was just so affectionate. Maybe it's Maybelline! Either way, it just made a weird sort of sense. Plus, organics were horribly lazy.

    Scaramouche's rather candid bragging over his own, ugh, physical prowess, earned him yet another roll of the optics. "Incorrigible and shameless, that's what you are." But at least those nightly trysts kept the couple happy! That was what truly mattered, so long as they never brought it onto his property.

    "Well, I sometimes find that layin' the foundation of my woes helps make for good build-up until I'm ready to tackle the core of the issue,"

    Knock Out gave an impassive hum. "I don't tend to get that far. Usually, I just ignore whatever's upsetting me until it goes away and I stop feeling anything about it aside from a dull sort of anger." A truly healthy method of coping. "Other times I just...complained to Breakdown about things." And obviously once his friend had been murdered, the mech had fallen back to previous habits. The squeeze was reassuring, and it did feel better to be with somebody instead of stewing alone. But he scarcely knew where to start. The foundations, the beginning, setting the stage... All his mind could zero in on was that singular moment where everything went from 'kinda manageable' to 'absolute scrap'! It was all downhill from that point.

    Remembering what happened and trying to explain it to Scaramouche was rough. Thankfully, he'd made a good choice in friendship here. Letting down his guard and being vulnerable was difficult. Had this happened when Knock Out had first come to the Breach, he might not have even gotten this far. He probably would have hightailed it by now! And sure, some part of him almost wanted to run. To transform into his sports-car form and race down the highway until he just couldn't anymore. But enough was enough and he had to do this. Even if it was incredibly uncomfortable. The crimson mech focused on the sound of his friend's voice, the gentle caresses to his frame. 'I'm safe, I'm here, I'm in control. Not dead, not dying. Not even any pain! I'm here, I'm safe.' He let out a long exhale, and tension that carried deeply in his shoulders seemed to melt away as he did. "I-I trust you." Was the simple response to the jazzy robot's promise. It was ultimately true! If he didn't trust the words of the android, he never would have come here.

    "Everything's okay. Ya did good, babe! I'm very proud of ya, but there's lots more to be done, hm? Walk with me and let's take it from the top."

    In a sharp departure from the sickening feelings his memories gave him, Scaramouche's words were like a soothing balm. Long talons furled against rectangular digits, the tips drumming softly against the other. Knock Out returned the squeeze with a shaky chuckle. "Alright, Sensei Scaramouche! Let's take it from the top and work from there." Still leaning against his friend, he was rather glad for the leisurely pace. It was like he'd said, there was no rush! Neither in recalling what happened nor in going to...wherever it was the robot was leading him! The mech glanced around their surroundings, taking in the rich colors of fall. There really was nothing like this on Cybertron, which tended to be static. He quite liked the seasons on Earth. Always kept things interesting, and the same could be said for Portal Breach! Between that and the other's sweet words, Knock Out was almost back to his usual self.

    As if to prove as much, both to himself and to his no doubt concerned friend, the crimson mech gave him a smooth smirk. "Well, I certainly couldn't allow that to happen! And you may be more right than you know..." Knock Out almost refused to let go of his friend's hand, in lieu of giving it a few more gentle squeezes. "We found that gruesome abomination in the mountains. That's far too close to here for comfort." And with all the animals, all the people that beast had killed, it certainly would have had no qualms about murdering the Tavern folk! His chin found itself resting against Scaramouche's arm. The praise, the appreciation, the comfort... Perhaps this made it all worth it.

    "I did want to run away several times," Knock Out admitted, almost whispering it against the other's clothing. "But I had my reasons to keep fighting." Hint hint, two reasons to be exact. "Neither of you needs to be indebted to me, my Nightingale~. Just save me a plate of eggs, perhaps a parking space in the lot, and keep singing for me. It's all the reward I need." And, you know. Maybe some kisses as well.

    Babbling water in the distance stole his attention away for a moment, but only just. Were they heading for a pond? Perhaps a lake? That had to be a picturesque little setting, no wonder the robot was leading him this way. Knock Out turned back to his friend and almost looked away just as quick. Scaramouche and Lunette were going to be the death of him, being so tender and loving! So genuine and... Ugh. It was almost too much for a spark like his to handle. Even Anne-Marie was getting in on this action! The mech smiled, a sincere expression as he gently bumped his own broad shoulders against the other. "You're welcome, Scaramouche. And thank you for being here for me...after. So long as I have this, I'd do it all over again. Even for Anne-Marie the cucco nugget Queen~." And to top it all off so his friend knew how much he truly cared, the Cybertronian raised their joined hands to press a kiss to the robot's knuckles. Mwah!
    Scaramouche
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    Post by Scaramouche on Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:24 am

    A robot owning another robot? Knock Out, you Uncle Tom! But, in all honesty, Scaramouche wouldn't have found the notion any more unorthodox than an organic owning a thinking, interactive machine. To listen and obey was one of a robot's plethora of functions; the controversy, therefore, lied in how one treated their mechanical servants. Would you be a kind and attentive owner, dearest Adonis, even if your Nightingale lacked his silver tongue?

    "W-Well, no, I've never personally tried lettin' a precious bambino survive with just a Roomba and a baby bottle..." Why, the very idea was nothing short of ludicrous! Did the Cybertronian not realize just how feeble and pathetic organic babies were? Such vulnerable young had no business being left unsupervised, let alone at the mercy of some dumb-dumb machine that beached itself on unruly carpeting like a whale too stupid to differentiate between sea and land. Suddenly, the dream of letting Knock Out babysit any potential future children evaporated from Scaramouche's processors (Kev would be a much better candidate, they reasoned). "Or, y'know, the baby'll either die of starvation, electrocute itself via an uncapped electrical socket, wriggle its way into a plastic bag and then asphyxiate, squeeze itself into a tight crawlspace and become a meal for the rats, or drown itself in a bucket of foot-deep water." Just to name a few of the awful, well-testified consequences of sloppy parental/custodial vigilance. When it came to children, Scaramouche took his caretaker sub-routine very seriously.

    And yes, maybe it was Maybelline! This provided a lackluster explanation for the android's - ahem - physical prowess, however. Scaramouche's experience with carnal desire was most decidedly not the glossy, seductive works of Maybelline.

    "I don't tend to get that far. Usually, I just ignore whatever's upsetting me until it goes away and I stop feeling anything about it aside from a dull sort of anger. Other times I just...complained to Breakdown about things."

    ...Ah. That was predictable (and sadly unfortunate), given Knock Out's Decepticon affiliations during wartime. It also wasn't unlike a certain pair of mechs who recently joined the Portal Breach community. A delicate approach was paramount if Scaramouche ever hoped to alleviate his friend's burdens, lest the crimson mech fall prey to the greedy, life-consuming jaws of PTSD. First things first: Knock Out needed better habits - primarily coping mechanisms - and the android knew just where to start.

    "Oh no, mon nounours, that simply won't do," Scaramouche adjured. He spoke freely to the Cybertronian, gesturing, "Take it from me: ya won't get anywhere if ya just sweep everythin' under the rug. That's how wounds fester, see. Ya may not notice it at first and everythin' may indeed seem okay, but when ya find that special lil' trigger and it hits ya juuuust right..." Kaboom! The robot outstretched his spindly arms, Anne-Marie included (she protested quite much), and puffed out his cheeks as he mimicked the sound of an exploding A-bomb. "I'm tellin' ya, babe," he resumed with a shake of his head, "it ain't gonna be Park Place for you, if ya don't take the time to decompress and nourish your mental health. Ya need to face The Beast skulkin' about in that thousands-of-years noggin' of yours and show it who's boss." Perhaps one of the better, if not the best, life lessons Scaramouche nabbed from Kev. The rest were oddball food analogies and snek-snak hissing...

    Trust was a fantastic start, however! In fact, it could be argued as the most crucial step in fostering a healthy, positive restructuring of Knock Out's damaged self-esteem. The level of confidence between them would never be forsaken, not even on Scaramouche's life.

    "Well, I certainly couldn't allow that to happen! And you may be more right than you know... We found that gruesome abomination in the mountains. That's far too close to here for comfort.

    I did want to run away several times, but I had my reasons to keep fighting. Neither of you needs to be indebted to me, my Nightingale~. Just save me a plate of eggs, perhaps a parking space in the lot, and keep singing for me. It's all the reward I need."

    "Hon, hon~! Aw... that's very sweet of ya." Never let it be said that Knock Out wasn't a loyal peer and companion; he, like many embittered souls torn by conflict and negative influences, hadn't the privilege of having a devoted role-model. The Cybertronian soon found a delicate kiss on his pearly cheek. "Mm~! I know ya say we don't gotta be, but too bad!" Scaramouche knew exactly how Knock Out liked to be treated, and that included being wined and dined in style. "We'll do all that and more, baby, 'cause what would we ever do without ya, hm? Eggs'll be the least of your fears~!" Should the heavens smile upon the android and his dawdling employees (read: Boon), Knock Out might find himself the lucky owner of a spacious and rather jazzy custom-built carport at the tavern for his use and his use only.

    Mwah!

    Oh yeah, the mech had definitely earned himself the luxury upgrades.  

    Scaramouche's painted cheeks couldn't get any rosier by default, but the robot's aluminum frame could sure heat up! "Hon~! The cucco nugget queen!" he laughed. Anne-Marie wasn't nearly as enamored by Knock Out's moniker, but she permitted it all the same - for now. "And wouldja really do it all again...? Every second of it, baby?" For some reason, those magnanimous words struck a chord deep within Scaramouche's circuits. Perhaps the android hadn't expected someone of Knock Out's egocentric nature to utter them, or perhaps his myriad of algorithms never computed that altruism wasn't reliant on compulsory programming. Whatever the logic behind it, Scaramouche was completely beside himself with elation. He bounced on the balls of his feet, giddy, and instantly ran through the trees while tugging Knock Out after him. "Ah, you're too much~! I'm gonna explode into a thousand pieces and then you'll have to carry me back!" Yeah, try explaining that one to Lunette.

    The destination of their serene jaunt was merely a hop, skip, and a jump away, Scaramouche knowing these woods like the back of his riveted hand, and with boyish glee he sprang from the last outgrowth of trees in a flurry of metal and feathers. "Hon, hon, hon! We made it, we maaaade it~!"

    "Bu-KAWK!" Nope, Anne-Marie was officially done. She wanted off this crazy ride!

    Rather than get himself scratched to kingdom come and back, Scaramouche released her with little fuss and nonchalantly dismissed the riled cucco. "Eh! She'll be back," he remarked, watching the stubborn hen totter off. Anyway, the secret location they've all been waiting for! A pleased hum escaped the android's throat as he looked to his friend, stepping over knee-high reeds and mossy stones. "Ta-da~!" Scaramouche grinned, throwing up his arms. "The secret hideaway that only Lu and I know about, and now yooou~! Pretty nifty, huh? Anyway, I'll let ya explore around and get your bearings. Meet me at the western bank when you're done!" Leaving the Cybertronian to his own devices, the peppy android moseyed away and whistled a bright tune. It wasn't long before trouble found him - or his cucco, for that matter.

    "...ANNE-MARIE, YOU LEAVE THOSE TOADSTOOLS ALONE. I'M WATCHIN' YA, YOU HAPPY MEAL!"

    "Bok!"

    With a powerful voice like that, who needs GPS tracking?



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    Post by Knock Out on Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:00 pm

    "Or, y'know, the baby'll either die of starvation, electrocute itself via an uncapped electrical socket, wriggle its way into a plastic bag and then asphyxiate, squeeze itself into a tight crawlspace and become a meal for the rats, or drown itself in a bucket of foot-deep water."

    It was exactly this sort of laser focus that made Scaramouche's mistake regarding Anne-Marie's coloring a true mystery for the ages. What had started as a simple joke became some sort of...dead baby seminar. Pretty weird. Maybe it had to do with the other robot's past as a nanny...? "Uh...huh." Knock Out glanced away, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. There wasn't much of a response one could have to all of that! Not to mention that a cloud of shame was settling across his shoulders. He wouldn't let a real baby die or anything, but it was clear that his friend might not view it the same way. "I was just being facetious but... Apparently, when children are involved that is a big 'no no'. Never fear; I wouldn't let all of that happen to a baby." Although parenting wasn't something that came to him as 'naturally' as it did to the jazzbot.

    Briefly distracted by the pet name, the mech turned back to smile at his friend. Mon nounours, that was a first! It put Knock Out in a good mood for the rather serious topic at hand. Namely, the idea that ignoring issues was a bad idea. The way Scaramouche saw it, such a thing only allowed bad thoughts and feelings to fester. They would not disappear, merely mold and change until they could escape through certain little triggers, at which point... kaboom. The robot mimed a bomb explosion, arms stretching out and cheeks puffing while Anne-Marie voiced her displeasure. "The Beast?" He raised a brow at the other, confused by the notion of some prowling creature lurking in his processor. Was that how Scaramouche characterized trauma? It was...hm. Pretty accurate.

    A talon scratched at one of his pointy audials idly. "I don't know... I feel like I wouldn't know the first thing about any of that. I mean, how do I conquer my Beast? Wait for it to be lulled into a false sense of security and then slice the throat? I'm not even sure how that'd translate metaphorically." Knock Out gave the robot a little grin to show that he was joking. Mostly. "I'm just so used to how things used to be, I guess... No time to decompress, only get over it and move on so you can live 'til the next day. That was all fine and good back in my universe, but here..." Agh, admitting this sort of thing was hard. "Here isn't like that and so I should adapt. I think I'm willing to do so, Scaramouche. I do want to get better." There was nothing he wanted more than for his woes to be a mere thing of the past!

    "Mm~! I know ya say we don't gotta be, but too bad! We'll do all that and more, baby, 'cause what would we ever do without ya, hm? Eggs'll be the least of your fears~!"

    Between the kiss and such sweet words of support and encouragement, the mech's spark was practically a-flutter! A coy little chuckle escaped him, palm resting over the spot where Scaramouche had planted his kiss. The plating there was as warm as sunbathed metal! "Mm...~." Where else could Knock Out find such giving people? So full of love and eager to give it to him? It made the Cybertronian feel truly special. "What would I ever do without my sweet Lulu and my Nightingale~?" He gave the robot a soft squeeze, voice a low coo in the other's audials. "You make me feel so lucky. No one else would do for me, the things you two have and will do."

    It was for that reason that Knock Out's answer came so easily to him. Oh, he'd do it all over again, yes sir. All of it, every single traumatizing moment would be repeated if it meant he'd have this on the other side each time! He winked while his talon doodled an invisible cross over the center of his chassis. "Cross my spark, make me toxic, stick a needle in my optic. I would absolutely do it all over again if it meant that dragon was destroyed for sure! And thus, sparing the two of you and your magnificent Tavern." Naturally selfish though he was, Scaramouche and Lunette had both wriggled their ways into his spark. They'd proven themselves time and again to be worthy friends. They loved him, cared for him, and made space for him in their lives. They gave him Breakdown back. Optics flaring with sudden and intense emotion, he gave the robot's hand a firm squeeze. "I would do anything for the both of you!"

    Such a sentiment was obviously the 'magic word' of some kind! Scaramouche bounced in place before suddenly taking off like a rocket! Their hands still joined, it was all Knock Out could do to keep up! No matter how fast he was, the other robot possessed much longer legs! "Nyargh!" They thankfully didn't have far to go! No sooner had they begun to run, they slowed as they made their way through a clearing of trees! The robot crowed their arrival like a happy rooster. Anne-Marie squawked her disapproval with all the manhandling. Knock Out let out a deep breath before he righted his helm to properly take in their surroundings. "I'm sure she will. And if not, a blue bird should be easy enough to find!" Ruby optics scoped the area, his brows lifting with obvious interest.

    "Whoa...!" An amazing little lakeside view! It was like something truly out of a movie. Bright trees loomed overhead, the water shimmered to reflect the sky above. Large and roomy, it was a big improvement over the constrictive woods. Knock Out smiled as he glanced around. "Ohoho, a secret, hm? Does that mean this is a popular date spot for the two of you? I can see it now...fishing in the morning, a pic-a-nic for lunch, and then stargazing come nighttime!" A simple date, but very lovely. Ah-wha-wait. Scaramouche was leaving him?! The mech turned with a flourish, his cloak flapping behind him as he gawked at his friend. "The western bank?!"

    "...ANNE-MARIE, YOU LEAVE THOSE TOADSTOOLS ALONE. I'M WATCHIN' YA, YOU HAPPY MEAL!"

    "Bok!"

    ...Huh. And just like that, the taller robot had mosied on along! Being separated from his friend had the mech briefly confused, unsure what to do with himself. Scaramouche wanted him to investigate this place on his own, right? Get all the sights in and enjoy himself? Right! Tapping his talons together, Knock Out approached the bank of the lake curiously. Each step was careful so he wouldn't slip in. He parted the grass and peered down at his reflection. Who was that handsome son of a gun?! Why, it was Knock Out of course! The crimson mech smirked down at his rippling reflection. What was lingering below such a shiny surface? Were there truly fish in here? Or turtles? Perhaps a gator? Something rippled beneath, he could see a flicker of a scaly tail before it swam away. Perhaps Knock Out was just too handsome for that fish to handle!

    Careful not to dip his cloak in the water, Knock Out crouched down to investigate further. Near the bank, he could see dark wriggling things swimming about. Most likely tadpoles. As he allowed himself to be still as a statue, it was as if the organisms in the lake became used to his presence. Or perhaps he only just noticed the bustling creatures. Either way, several dragonflies buzzed past his helm. One drifted too close to the reeds and became a snack for a fat toad. It blinked its shiny eyeballs at Knock Out and snapped its jaws happily as it consumed its prey. The mech made a small look of disgust but didn't linger on the toad. It was the way of nature after all! His gaze lifted to the fluffy clouds above. He raised a talon and pretended to draw out shapes in them. His own silhouette, Lunette's fluffy face, Scaramouche's slender physique, all of it was found in the cottony contours of the clouds! "Mm...~!" Who knew the outdoors could be so relaxing?

    Ah, but that was enough sightseeing. Fun as this was, he had a Scaramouche to find! The western bank, was it? Knock Out rose back to a full stand, metal frame creaking lightly as he stretched. A brief glance at the sun was all he needed to determine direction. Besides! Scaramouche and his lovely cucco were so loud, he could probably use echolocation to find them! Arms swinging brightly by his sides, the mech began his intrepid trek to re-find his good friend!
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    Post by Scaramouche on Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:44 am

    ...Oh, Knock Out was just being facetious? W-Well, uh...!

    In true robotic fashion, Scaramouche craned his slender neck and birdy head-bobbed, processing this 'new' information in the typical computational fashion. "Big no-no..." he echoed distantly. That, er, kinda went without saying, buuuut it seems a giant alien robot like Knock Out wasn't used to... younglings? Sparklings? Cyberlings...? Whatever the mech's space-faring race called itself, he apparently hadn't experienced a lot of babbling tots. "It's... It's just my programmin'. Used to babysit quiiiite a few kiddos back in the day," the android murmured, looking to the trees for a moment. "I ain't been wiped, so my code's all over the place, y'know? If there're children or babies present - and, um, if I got an obligation to 'em - then I don't really got a choice in how I react. They scream or demand attention, I come over and see what's up. Simple as that, baby!" Except it wasn't, not really. But that was obviously a discussion for another time; as Knock Out confessed, he wasn't really baby material.

    "The Beast?"

    Ah yes, the Beast! This topic should be more up the Cybertronian's alley. Scaramouche brightly smiled, "Yeah, it's what Kev calls PTSD~! Or, well, somethin' like PTSD. Anyway! The Beast is just our mental personification of inner turmoil. It's not technically there, or even an actual beast, but it's certainly the elephant in the room, hon hon!" Which made perfect sense why Knock Out didn't bother noting its presence, seeing how he hailed from a war-torn universe and would probably be terminated on the spot for displaying vulnerability. "Oh, I wouldn't doubt it, babu~!" he happily nodded, giving his friend an eager squeeze. "If you say you wanna get better, I believe ya! As for conquerin' your Beast, well..." Here the android grew silent and held his metal chin pensively.

    "Well..." he hesitantly resumed, "I'd suggest ya face what ails ya and then embrace it - kinda like you're doin' now with me - but that's gonna take time. How much depends on how ready you are, though I know you're a quick study. You've already improved so much, it makes me swell with pride~!"

    Knock Out was well on his way to becoming a well-rounded, much-loved mech! And a handsome one, too~!

    "What would I ever do without my sweet Lulu and my Nightingale~? You make me feel so lucky. No one else would do for me, the things you two have and will do. [...] I would absolutely do it all over again if it meant that dragon was destroyed for sure! And thus, sparing the two of you and your magnificent Tavern.

    I would do anything for the both of you!"

    See~?

    Scaramouche's optics just twinkled with absolute delight, his cyan diodes as radiant as the stars themselves. "...Really~?" he squeaked, hands clasped over his burnished cheeks. This is why Knock Out was the android's favorite Cybertronian, hands down. "Aw-haaaw, you are such a good friend! C'mere so I can give ya a Scarasmooch~!" Mwah, mwah, mwah~! If Scaramouche wore lipstick, Knock Out's polished face would be beet-red. "And yes, a lil' secret - one where Lulu and I've done eeeeeeverythin', hm-hm~!" He'll let the mech figure that one out for himself, knowing wink and all. But yes, the super-duper-secret location of maaaaagic! ...And, uh, lots of funky-fresh aquatic life, apparently.

    "Hon, hon~! What're ya doin' over there, ya big goober?" Standing exactly where he said he would be, Scaramouche waved the Cybertronian over and bounced on the balls of his feet. Anne-Marie, meanwhile, defiantly remained several meters away from her cheerful owner, roosting atop a broken tree and pecking idly at the carpet of moss sprawled around its bark. What a shameless old bird! At least she wasn't eating any questionable mushrooms, though. Can't win 'em all, so Scaramouche let the matter be and instead juggled a handful of wet lake stones within his metal palms, fingers running over their smooth, glossy faces. "Are ya makin' shapes in the clouds? That's cuuuuute~! Y'know, I wish I could do that... Imagination is surprisingly hard to come by!" He looked up at the sky, optics squinted, and ultimately shook his head after a few lazy seconds ticked on by. "Hmm... nope~!" the android grinned from ear-to-ear. "Couldn't imagine a damn thing. Oh well~! I'll figure it out eventually. But first we gotta help ya past this nasty ol' Beast of yours! Ready for another dose of Scarapy~?"

    Here's a friendly hint: it wasn't nearly as rocky as it looked.
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    Post by Knock Out on Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:35 am

    Oh, there it was. The fabled birdy head bobs! Like a wildfowl, Scaramouche craned his neck and wielded that nose like a beaker. Big no-no indeed, strange metal chicken-man! Knock Out arched a brow at him as the other robot sounded a little distracted. Hm. Make that the ultimate no-no in that case. The jazzbot went on and elaborated as to why. He knew that Scaramouche looked after children but the programming part of it always seemed to go over his processor. It wasn't just a job, the drive to care for babies was literally implanted into the other. He hadn't been wiped properly, and so the residual programming remained. The mech let out a thoughtful hum, gaze turning away for a moment. He couldn't entirely relate. Even as a medic, it wasn't as if he were forced by his own mind to fix up injured people. He had free will. It was always weird to remember that Scaramouche didn't.

    "I suppose I just...don't have the same experience." His helm turned back to the taller robot, optics blinking as if he were sheepish to not have the other's know-how. "When the war began, I was the Cybertronian equivalent of...an older teenager or young adult? And during the war all Newsparks immediately joined with the Autobots so... I've never had any experience with any, you know? Aside from myself, but we both know no one can compare to that~." You know, while he was thinking about it, maybe Springtrap had those urges as well. The rabbit certainly coddled that young child out in the field.

    Kev? The origin of that phrase was Fear's silly purse? Knock Out's lips pursed for a moment. It couldn't be that intelligent if it came from that corpse cuddler, right? But 'The Beast' wasn't just a nickname for the ghoul's trouser snake. It was a personification of PTSD and trauma, given a name and metaphorical form to make it easier to address and fight. "Mm..." His gaze dropped down, considering the past month or so. It certainly felt as if he were grappling with a gigantic elephant that kept stomping around the room. Ignoring it wouldn't make it go away. So what would...?

    "Well... I'd suggest ya face what ails ya and then embrace it - kinda like you're doin' now with me - but that's gonna take time."

    Oh no! He was going to have to confront it! Embrace it! Become one with his Beast! ...That was a big damn Beast. Knock Out pulled a distressed face, obviously not happy to hear such news. But just as quick as it appeared, it disappeared at Scaramouche's praise! Had he really improved so much? Did he really make the robot...proud? "Well... Perhaps I can figure this beast out. Face it head on, teach it who's boss." One arm flexed proudly. "I'll do the best job embracing this little beasty~!" What seemed so perilous now seemed easy! Amazing what a dash of positive reinforcement could do for a mech. And speaking of positive reinforcement...

    Mwah, mwah, mwah~!

    Such affection threatened to make the mech melt on the spot! He heated up considerably, a dorky little smile on his faceplates. And the way the robot was covering his little bozo cheeks was darling. It was almost enough to make him miss out on Scaramouche's innuendo! Almost. "Pffft! I can't imagine that a lake would be very comfortable for such...'recreational' activities!" He even waved his talons at the mech before he 'disappeared' in a 'shame-shame' gesture!

    Perhaps he ought to get his optics checked since he apparently missed out on exactly where Scaramouche had gone to. Like a lanky flagpole, the android bounced in place across the bank and waved his hand furiously. Knock Out peeked over and returned the wave with a rich chuckle. "I was watching the tadpoles wriggling around! And then a dragonfly got snatched in midair by a toad! The circle of life." He drew a few more shapes in the clouds as he made his way over, namely the face of Breakdown before his attention shifted onto Scaramouche entirely. Hm, were those stones...? What were those for? "Well, until you can do so, I'll just make shapes in the clouds for you! It's one of the things I enjoyed about Earth. Trying to find the constellations in the stars is another fun time-waster."

    But there was no more time to be wasted today! Planting his pedes into the ground beside Scaramouche, Knock Out set his fists upon his hips and stood akimbo! His cloak fluttered lightly with the breeze. Flap flap! "I'm ready for some Scarapy! Whatever it is, I'll do it! ...Within reason." He added hastily, sneaking a glance at the robot. What...did this session of Scarapy entail, anyway?
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    Post by Scaramouche on Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:27 am

    If this was strange for Knock Out, it was doubly so for Scaramouche. Robots with free will? Born and allowed to grow like an organic being? Say it wasn't so! Truly, Cybertronians were sounding more and more like a race of giant aliens who just so happened to be made of metal, wires, and... uh, souls, apparently. They also drank their own blood as a source of fuel, which was kinda groady...

    "All the babies enlisted in the war...?" He blinked and didn't know what to make of that, frowning. "Isn't that how you kinda, I dunno, ensure the demise of your own race? Who's gonna carry on the torch if they all... die?" Autobots, Decepticons; no matter how many times the android heard these terms, these rival factions, he always thought they were incredibly silly. Like, why would a space-faring race of not-robots create war? Why would they kill their own kind? Why would they fight over resources when space itself was so vast? It honestly didn't make a lick of sense, but therein lied the rub, didn't it? Cybertronians weren't really hard-coded machines who obeyed the Three Laws and stuck to their primary functions. At least, not like the ones from Earth! Most robotic life wouldn't jump at the chance to slit their neighbor's throat. And, if they did, it's because they were programmed to. Knock Out's people sounded like they were... birthed? Somehow?

    Scaramouche rubbed his jaw bolt, humming in thought, "When it concerns your wonky kind, babu, I much prefer you. You're logical, you're rational, and - best of all - you're consistent. This naturally makes you the best by a mile~!" Hell, even an entire light year.

    And yes, the source of this metaphor was indeed Kev, the resident scaly goober of Portal Breach. Funny, right? Sometimes, though rare and after sifting through dozens of terrible food analogies, that alien could be good for a nugget of wisdom or two.

    "Well... Perhaps I can figure this beast out. Face it head on, teach it who's boss. I'll do the best job embracing this little beasty~!"

    "Hon hon hoooon~! That's the spirit, baby!" See? Scaramouche knew there was a reason he loved this mech so darned much. Look at him! Knock Out was performing above and beyond all expectations already. He gave his fabulous friend an affectionate squeeze and couldn't help but smile. "If anyone can tame their inner beast, it'll be you, Adonis. After all, you survived a millennia-long war! What's a lil' personal anguish got against you, huh~?" Nothing, that's what. And there wasn't a soul on this cobbled ant farm of a planet who could say otherwise, either. If anyone did, Scaramouche'll rip out their tongues and kick 'em down a well!

    He winked at the 'shame-shame' gesture, knowing that when the moment struck, the moment struck, and was content to let the matter be. They had Scarapy to do!

    "Mm~!" Ever appreciative of large hams, the android snickered at Knock Out's confident pose and filled his friend's needle-like talons with rocks. Lots of rocks, because the Cybertronian had lots of problems. One step at a time, however! "I like lookin' at the stars with Lulu!" Scaramouche cheerfully piped up. "We don't recognize any of the constellations here, but we enjoy makin' new ones to pass the time! Anyway, don't fret 'bout the Scarapy, babe - it'll be harmless, promise! Just clutch these rocks like a handful of pearls and listen to teacher." And lissen gud, because this was important. Scaramouche plucked a stone from Knock Out's fingertips and gave it a casual toss, appearing quite the epitome of summer laziness and carefree worries. "You wanna know the real reason I come here a lot?" he asked, making it all sound so mysterious. With a playful chortle, the robot turned to the lake and released a long, relaxed breath through his nostrils. "Sometimes, when I think too much, I come here to unwind; to decompress and let all my troubles ebb away..." His tone was quiet, almost distant, but it was carried by a fondness that could only be described as serene. Metal fingertips rubbed the stone's polished face, and before the Cybertronian knew -

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ......................fwip!


    Ripples traveled across the water's pristine surface before the pebble lost momentum and sunk beneath the waves, leisurely drifting downward to join the vast collection of mementos peacefully resting on the lake bed below. There must have been hundreds of stones down there, each one lost to time and oblivious to the happenings on the world above...

    Scaramouche's smile turned somber as he looked to his friend. "For every negative thought you have," he instructed, "I want you to toss a stone. Don't say it, don't think about it - just toss it and let go." It was quite all right if Knock Out couldn't skip a rock to save his life. The android was more than happy teaching him the faffer's art of useless talents, and it would be for a good cause. In case the Cybertronian needed another visual display, Scaramouche roamed his hands along the bank for another suitable pebble and rose, tossing that one with the same grace and skill as he had done the last.

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ......................fwip!


    Another troubled thought for the lake to keep, another figurative weight off his shoulders. Simple, no?

    "All right, now you try~!" he grinned.
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    Post by Knock Out on Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:50 am

    "All the babies enlisted in the war...? Isn't that how you kinda, I dunno, ensure the demise of your own race? Who's gonna carry on the torch if they all... die?"

    Poor Scaramouche. Such a thought had to be difficult to wrap his processor around with his nanny parameters! Knock Out shrugged, jostling the ends of his cloak in a way that sent a ripple through the fabric. "When you put it like that, it does sound pretty idiotic!" The most intelligent thing to do with newsparks was surely to argue over who's side they ought to join! Although they weren't nearly as useless and stupid as human infants, a newspark was still a blank slate. Such a decision merely made sure that mechs the likes of Bumblebee had memories of nothing but war! "I wish I could say Autobots were just dumb that way, but if they hadn't taken them? The Decepticons would have definitely turned them into fodder." Truth be told? The Decepticons had managed to get a few of the sparklings, but Knock Out never met them. Not to mention that the ranks would have eaten up any innocent newspark and their endings were likely unhappy. ...All the better to not tell the kindhearted robot.

    "When it concerns your wonky kind, babu, I much prefer you. You're logical, you're rational, and - best of all - you're consistent. This naturally makes you the best by a mile~!"

    Knock Out beamed proudly under such praise! He puffed out his chassis and ate up his friend's compliments as if he'd been starved of them! Perhaps he was greedy, maybe even gluttonous! But for a mech like him who'd long felt disconnected from his own kind? Being told that he was effectively better than all of them felt like true words that struck for the spark! Slim talons traced over the center of his chassis, smack dab between the headlights. "Mm~! That makes two of us." A crimson optic winked mischievously. Praise only continued as Scaramouche spoke of his great faith in the mech's ability to conquer his beast. "Oh Scaramouche~" He pretended to swoon, leaning into his friend without being too overbearing. "If your words were candy, I'd be in a diabetic coma!" How could he even dream of disappointing someone who had such faith in him?

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! His servoes fumbled for a moment! Long talons furled around the stones to keep them in place, his confident pose melting instantly. Eh?! What was he supposed to do with stones? Knock Out peered up at Scaramouche over the pile in his hands, brows raised in an unspoken question. "One day, we should compare constellations!" Was his quick response before this Scarapy was underway! The smooth rocks shifted in his grip, settling into a more comfortable position as Scaramouche helped to lighten the load by plucking one off the very top! He looked over at the other robot and tilted his helm to the side. It took all of his willpower to not respond to his friend's rhetorical question! For a moment, Scaramouche's boisterous shell peeled away like the petals of a flower. He was quiet, yet at ease. So this was a thinking spot, was it?

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ......................fwip!


    "Oh!" Scaramouche skipped the stone across the water, just like in the movies! Knock Out seemed to perk as he watched it dance across the surface, leaving ripples as it went! His excitement was more akin to a child's as the robot's rock plummeted below the reflective surface. As the water's ripples faded, the mech turned to his friend. The excitement over the stone skipping sobered some at both the look on Scaramouche's face and the request. He glanced down at the collection of rocks. ...Hm! The robot had obviously taken account of the fact that there...might be many negative thoughts.

    Plucking his stone off of the very top, the pointed edges of his talons rubbed circles into the top of the stone as he quietly watched the jazzy bot search for yet another stone. It didn't take long and lo that one went flying as well! Knock Out's calculating gaze took note of the robot's pose, the way he held his arm, the stone, how he threw it. He was taking notes, giving a small nod as his gaze shifted back to the lake. "Alright! I'll do my best." Pinching the stone between his fingers, the crimson mech bent at the knees and held his arm out. It took him a few moments, almost tentative to try and...and touch that awful hornet's nest. Talons twitched as a deep frown crossed his lips.

    Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump!

    //I think I'm going to die...//

    Immeasurable pain, acidic blood sliding down his throat! Firm tendrils invading every gap in his plating to implant that horrid, parasitic organ into his body!

    Just like Cylas, just like Cylas! It was just like Cylas

    Fwip...!
    ....Plunk!


    A flick of the wrist sent his stone flying, not as gracefully as Scaramouche's. It sank the moment it made contact with the water's surface, a satisfying splash sounding. Knock Out had shut his optics at some point, creaking them open to watch the more wild ripples he'd created. ...Huh! That actually...felt kinda... Nice! The mech flashed his friend a quick grin before he grabbed another rock off the top of his little pile. The wind whipped around it with a fwip! and again it sank with a splash! This time his crimson optics eagerly watched the waves that were generated. Destructive methods of getting out his emotions were second nature to the 'Con, but this was very therapeutic. Watching that smooth surface be disrupted, ripples that grew until it hit the lake's shore. A relieved sigh escaped him, and Knock Out threw another stone.

    Fwip...!
    ....Plunk!
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    Post by Scaramouche on Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:38 pm

    ...See!? What a dumb race of giant alien not-robots! Building machines for the sole purpose of fodder was one thing, but building them to someday replace your crusty old frame once you could no longer update the essentials while still using them as fodder until then? Pssh, it was just plumb stupid. The more Scaramouche heard of Knock Out's kind, the more he wished he really, really hadn't. How come Lightning Ray, Kaon, and Vos were so enamored with their own kind...? Were they part of the collective lunacy, too?

    "Well hey, it's not like I'm gonna flat-out lie to your handsome mug, right~?" The android may be many things, a fool included, but he knew better than to openly spit in the face of someone whose hands transformed into sharp, spinny bits. Besides! Knock Out was as sensible as his kind probably came, so why look a gift horse in the mouth?

    The mech's teeth were no doubt immaculate anyway, just like the rest of him.

    Anyway, the rocks! The rocks currently grasped in Knock Out's slender mechanical digits. The rocks heavy with purpose, candid thoughts, regrets, and surely bits of pond scum. Those rocks. "Hon hon~!" He didn't mean to be rude - he really didn't - but Scaramouche was, well, a clown! And any ol' rosy-cheeked, big-shoed honker of a harlequin would hoot and howl at Knock Out's clumsy form. Why, just look at the mech, standing there with his legs spread out and his arms wide - it was like he was preparing a fat, juicy squat!! 'A' for effort, though! "Hm, not bad, not bad, not baaaad~!" If Scaramouche's shoes had lil' jingly bells, they'd assuredly be ringing with jovial glee as the robot hopped and skipped around his barrel-chested clunk of a hunk. "But ya gotta loosen up, baby! You gotta let go - relax! Unwiiiiind. Here, lemme help ya~!" And before the Cybertronian could utter a single protest, let alone a gruff snort, his rigid body was already being accosted by Scaramouche's mischievous, nimble hands. Remember your pal, Rocky Raccoon? Guess who was the garbage can filled with leftover popcorn kernels~!

    Whap-a-whap-a-pap! Aluminum fingers easily bent and sculpted Knock Out's stiff grip, surprisingly strong for something so light. "Hold your fingers like this, babe~! Clench your middle, ring, and pinkie digits like you're makin' a partial fist and then rest the stone atop your middle finger while holdin' it firmly in place with your thumb! If you can comfortably hook your index finger around the stone, you're on the trolley! Go on, now~! If you can tug your willy, you can hold a piddly rock!"

    Creak, creak, crrrrrreak...! Those same fingers then made quick work of the Cybertronian's inflexible pose, spreading his legs further apart, readjusting his throwing arm at a precise angle, and pressing down on Knock Out's brawny shoulders to better bend at the knees. They also might have, ah, touched a few erogenous zones along the way (like fondling the mech's polished derriere, ooh~)... "Doop-doop-dooooo~!" Scaramouche laughed as he worked, weaving in and out from under his friend's statuesque arms like an obnoxious feline. He even rubbed against Knock Out's chassis, the big-nosed buffoon! "You're doin' great, my Adonis, but we're not done yet! This is the crucial step, so pay attention!" Picking up yet another stone, this one flat and smooth like the others before it, the robot took a stand beside his friend and assumed a perfect stone-throwing pose. Clearly, he had plenty of time to master the faffer's art.

    His knees were bent, his legs spread apart, and Scaramouche brought his throwing arm parallel with the rocky shore beneath it. His other, meanwhile, faced the lake itself at a flawless 15° angle. "Alright, so here's what ya do," he said, looking to the shorter mech. "When ya throw the next stone, I want ya to first practice your swing. Keep your throwin' arm level with the earth, pull it back, and focus on havin' your wrist at a precise 90° angle in relation to your arm. Your chest and shoulders gotta be facin' the water as ya do this, 'kay? Think of this like pitchin' a baseball, but by flickin' your wrist and releasin' the stone at just the right momentum. Shift your weight from your back leg to your front as ya toss the stone. Watch me, young grasshoppah~!"

    And lo, Scaramouche put everything into motion with all the finesse and accuracy of a well-oiled machine, the unmistakable look of determination visible on his metal face.

    Every part, every circuit, every fiber of the robot's very being united as one for this singular, wonderful moment. The stone flew from his fingers, hurdling through the air with a gratifying whistle, and - for those few precious seconds - seemingly caused the entire world to kowtow to Scaramouche's will.

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ................fwip...!
    ..................................fwip...!
    .................................................fwip...!


    It was fluid. It was graceful. It was, in every sense of the word, impeccable. The stone easily cleared half across the lake before plunking beneath the tranquil surface and creating a flowing cascade of ripples from there to the shoreline. "Hm~!" Scaramouche was naturally beside himself with pride, but he knew Knock Out may have questions as to why such a menial time-waster like skipping stones, and perfectly, was important. The answer was fairly simple.

    "Y'know the sayin', 'it's not about the destination, but the journey'? Well, it's pretty much like that!" He threw back his head and laughed, boisterous as always. "The goal is to eventually become so natural, so intimate with yourself - body, mind, and, uh, spark, I guess! - that the act of skippin' these here rocks achieves a sort of inner zen with all three. Your own personal harmony, baby! By lettin' go of your negativity and easin' your body into a meditative state, you begin to gradually calm your mind and lighten your spark. Think not of the act, but of what it represents. Do this, babu, and you'll never be troubled by that dragon ever again. I guarantee it." Hell, Knock Out will never be troubled by anything if he reached the apex of his personal sanctuary.
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    Post by Knock Out on Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:32 am

    Of course they were all part of the same lunacy, Scaramouche! Such is the folly of being Cybertronian, though Knock Out was obviously an exception. A handsome, gorgeous, unique, intelligent exception! "Hahaha!" The mech let out a rich chuckle, smirking back at his friend with a quirk of his metal brow. "Oh, I'm sure you'd lie to me so long as it was a lie I'd want to hear! Not that I have any issues with that~. And ooh... Tell me how handsome I am, my Nightingale~!" He winked shamelessly. After the time he'd had, oh! It felt so good to be pampered! Like being slathered in a warm wax!

    Alas, such a 'bath' was shortlived as the other robot had himself a hearty laugh on Knock Out's behalf! Unable to put a servo on his hip with the rocks in his grasp, the mech settled for a huff. Sometimes, inexplicably, he forgot how much of a clown the other mech was... "I am relaxed!" He protested without a hint of irony. Like a cougar, the taller android pounced to accost the unexpecting mech! "Nyaaagh...!" Firm fingers roamed over his own hands, sculpting the Cybertronian as if he were made of clay. A bewildered look came over his ivory face, barely catching what the fool was saying! Make a partial fist?! Set the stone on his middle finger, hold it in place with his thumb?! "I don't know if you've noticed, but my talons are a little long! And tugging willies has nothing to do with holding stones!" Yet somehow, he seemed to be doing it...? Before he could look over his new servo position, Scaramouche continued his determined work!

    "EEP!" The yelp was a tad on the high pitched side, crimson optics the size of dinner plates as he tried to find the other robot! Scaramouche was a crafty devil, and he was lithe and athletic! Those shifty hands were tugging and pushing, roaming over his legs to perfect his pose. An arm was repositioned, and weight was pressed down upon his shoulders! The taller mech was a blur, just when he thought he might catch sight of him, he moved again! And was it just his imagination, or did the robot go for his aft?! "SCARAMOUCHE!" Knock Out protested with a disgruntled gasp. What a cad! He even topped it off by rubbing against the mech's chassis, which would feel quite warm to the touch. "Hmph!"

    "You're doin' great, my Adonis, but we're not done yet! This is the crucial step, so pay attention!"

    Count your blessings, Scaramouche... You were very lucky that Knock Out liked you. With little else but a snort, he nevertheless heeded his friend's words and diligently kept the pose that the robot had sculpted his body into. Geez. Felt kinda like he was a golfer or something. Oh, what was that? Practice his swing? Yep. Definitely golfing. The crimson mech watched with a flat look on his face, storing such important lessons into the back of his processor. "Who'd have thought that chucking stones into a lake would be so complicated?" He kinda liked just chucking them in there to sink! The android gave a little demonstration, showcasing every move before he flicked his wrist! Like a pro, the stone flew out of his grasp and soared over the water. It was picturesque, cinematic. Pure poetry. Like a well-oiled machine, the rock touched down upon the lake surface and skipped across the surface beautifully. When at last it sank below the waves, numerous ripples were left behind to flicker across the water. He let out an appreciative hum. "Not bad at all!" A strange skill to have, but impressive too.

    "The goal is to eventually become so natural, so intimate with yourself - body, mind, and, uh, spark, I guess! - that the act of skippin' these here rocks achieves a sort of inner zen with all three. Your own personal harmony, baby!"

    "Zen...?" His brow quirked up even higher, helm turning to regard the stone. Knock Out's talons tightened a fraction on the rock in his grip. It was a concept he usually knew like the back of his own servo! But after that experience...it was a bit hard to gain back that sense of harmony. "It...sounds somewhat like something I do at the drive-in. I've been spending my nights feeding a fat raccoon! Tossing food to him does give me that sense of...zen! Although it hardly lasts for long..." Lifting his gaze from the stone, he gave Scaramouche a look. Fatigue wrapped up with a plea, something that made the mech look younger, and yet far older too. "You really think this will...help keep that dragon away? Much more than feeding Rocky could ever do?" He truly hoped that would be the case.

    Well! There was little else to do than to put faith and trust into a mech who deserved nothing less. What did Scaramouche say...? Middle and index around the rock? Knock Out's arm swung once, twice, thrice! Practicing the arc of his throw and readying himself for the ultimate buildup! Arm horizontal with the surface of the earth, wrist a very precise 90° angle! Each swing had his chassis and shoulders shifting to face the lake as if he were doing a special dance. A laser focus came over the mech's mind. Such a thing had happened before during certain fights, where the world almost seemed to click into place! All possibilities became perceptible to his optics, which took on a confident glint! Maintain momentum, shift the weight and...!

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ................fwip...!


    All became still, except for Knock Out's stone! It soared across the water with a sharp whistle! With Scaramouche's tutelage, it flew farther than his previous attempts. Not nearly as far as the jazzy robot's, but a far better attempt for sure! It hopped across the lake twice before it plummetted beneath the mirrorlike surface! He turned to his friend with an excited grin. "How was that, how was that?! Amazing, wasn't it? I know, I could be a pitcher, hm~?" The Cybertronian was obviously proud, and yet his perceptive ruby-red optics eyed his friend eagerly. He wanted feedback, praise. The dragon was currently the farthest thing from his processor.
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    Post by Scaramouche on Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:53 pm

    "Hmph~!" Why thank you for the vote of confidence, Adonis. If Scaramouche said he wouldn't lie to such a handsome, well-sculpted porcelain face, he meant every metallic syllable! "Oh babe, I love ya too much for that," he shamelessly winked, lips curling into a lopsided smirk. The android may stretch the truth, or even throw in a light dusting of misdirection, but a lie was just too much for this old flirtatious, loyal 'bot! Matters of life and death obviously didn't count. "And you're the most gorgeous, bodacious, and jazziest mech arouuuuund, baby~! There ain't a Cybertronian in all the multiverse that can hold a candle to your immaculate greatness!" Smooth as butter, mhm. A useful skill (and annoyance) that saved Scaramouche's aluminum hide more times than he could count.

    "I am relaxed!"

    Says the huffy, puffy, and generally fussy metal alien.

    Upon hearing his friend cry out so beautifully to the heavens (seriously, Knock Out's pipes were just orgasmic), Scaramouche skippy-dee-doo-daa'd right into view. "That's my name, don't wear it out~!" he obnoxiously sang.

    Oh, Scaramouche counted his blessings, all right. He counted 'em hard. You think the android would be fooling around so brazenly if he thought Knock Out would clobber him into itty-bitty aluminum pieces? Hon~! No way, Jose! "Now now, young padawan~!" the robot teased, wagging a slender finger. "Think less of how this seems like a lotta work, and more on how it's gonna help ya. Remember, journey." Say it with him now: joooooouuuurneeeeeey. Synthetic laughter rang throughout the air, jovial and light, as Scaramouche absolutely delighted in the fact there was a raccoon named Rocky and that Knock Out was the perpetrator. What a large crimson ham! Did the Cybertronian seriously think he could nurse his depression by feeding some trash mammal leftover popcorn and hot dogs? "I like it, I like it, I liiiiiike it~!" he crooned, dancing on his heels. If only he had a pair of long pointed shoes with lil' bells jingling on their curled toe caps.  

    Scaramouche hopped over a large shoreline rock and struck a cheery pose, balancing himself on one graceful leg. Chip chip choo~! "Of course I do!" he laughed with a wave of his hat, optics elated slivers. The robot shifted his weight and spun around like a weather vane with a roll of his ankle to better face his frowning friend. Cheer up, Knock Out! That face was too marvelous to wear the grungy likes of sadness. "Now apply what I said and chuck them stones, baby!"

    And chuck 'em Knock Out did.

    Off the lil' pebble went, skipping across the lake with a triplet of gentle splashes, and Scaramouche leeeeeaned forward on his one-legged perch to happily listen, his optics closed and a hand cupped around an imaginary ear. He bobbed his head with every splash as if listening to some unheard beat. "Mhm, mhm, mhm... Oh, that's pretty." Pretty good! Ever the charlatan, a toothy grin carved its way up the android's metal face. "Pitcher, huuuuuh~?" The way he sized Knock Out with a mischievous purse of his lips pointed to other, less appropriate thoughts. "I dunno, babe, ya seem more like a catcher to me, hon hon~!" He snickered at his lil' joke (what a tart!) and leapt off the rock with an elegant bound, once again rejoining Knock Out's side. And just in time to see Anne-Marie come proudly strutting on over! Tch, she must've gotten lonely on that crummy ol' log.

    "Hm~!" Scaramouche scooped his feathery troublemaker into his lanky arms and faced the Cybertronian with a larger-than-life smile, his optics round and brimming with endless admiration. "Let no one ever say you ain't a fast study, baby!" he praised. "Now, care to pitch the rest of your negative thoughts away, Oh Amazin' One~?" Go on, take your time! Scaramouche'll be right here to support you every step of the way, babu.
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    Post by Knock Out on Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:20 am

    No lie, Knock Out quite liked when Scaramouche got huffy and puffy. He gave a smooth smirk. "You love me too much to lie even if I wanted you to? Oh, that's how you know it's true!" That ability to tell the truth and keep him honest! What an admirable, if slightly irritating quality. Receiving constant little pats to his shapely aft was a very nice idea. Eh, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to get a bit of reality from time to time. Which meant, of course, that the lanky robot was speaking the purest truth that ever was!

    "And you're the most gorgeous, bodacious, and jazziest mech arouuuuund, baby~! There ain't a Cybertronian in all the multiverse that can hold a candle to your immaculate greatness!"

    Deep within his chassis, warm feelings surged and pulsed. Knock Out gave his favorite robot a smile. You hear that, every other version of himself to exist in all the Gamma and Universes?! This Knock Out was the best! The greatest! The one true Knock Out! The most amazing Cybertronian! Now if only he could find a way to etch that one something and wear it around proudly. Here came that reality though. He couldn't just stay in a cocoon of compliments, even if that meant Scaramouche's hands wandered just a tad bit too much. The mech shot him a brief dirty look but otherwise did nothing about the obnoxious crowing.

    "Hmph. Yes, yes, the journey." He responded with an oily tone and a roll of his optics. Only Scaramouche would try to make a little bit of rock-throwing into some epic adventure of the mind! Knock Out had his doubts, even though he was still willing to try. Zen just wasn't his thing. Perhaps it could be but it'd take time! If there was anything this world had, it was time. The robot seemed to enjoy hearing about Rocky, bouncing around like an annoying little clown! He really did need some little jingly bells! An idea for Christmas, perhaps! "Yeah, yeah, yeah... When you and Lu help out at the Drive-In, I'll introduce you!" He snarked, lip quirking in an amused smirk.

    Scaramouche's optimism wasn't quite contagious but Primus, it was definitely something. He was bouncing like a jester, spinning like a top, and grinning like a loon! If only someone could bottle that, it'd make for a great energy source! It was enough to pull him out of the brief doldrums he'd found himself in, trying to have faith in the robot. In his instructions. And it seemed to pay off. A pebble was chucked, and the taller robot loomed on his lone leg like a flamingo to watch. Not even the jazzy robot's dirty humor could lessen his pride in his own work! "Tsk!" He shook his helm, hardly surprised. As for how he knew what pitcher and catcher referred to? Well, he'd been on the internet! "Yeah, you wish." Knock Out gave him a challenging sort of smirk and watched the robot return back to his side in sweeping steps. So too did Anne-Marie return, strutting and bobbing that little birdy head of her's.

    "Thank you, thank you~!" His helm dipped in his best imitation of a bow, lest he mess up his specific little pose. "I'm a very fast learner~! Comes with being a medic, don't you know?" But there were still negative thoughts to contend with. Uncertain worries and wriggling fears in the back of his processor. Knock Out's smile became a tad bit uncertain, optics flicking from those bright cyan optics to the beady chicken eyes of Anne-Marie. "Right, right. The whole reason why I'm doing this!" Rather than just trying to look impressive.

    Prying a stone off the top of his pile with slim talons, he pinched it in his fist comfortably. Middle and index finger, arm horizontal with the surface, wrist at a 90° angle. Knock Out took a deep vent in and out. He moved his arm in a practice swing, shifting his hips lightly. His optics closed briefly as he performed another practice swing. Finding his place of zen in the repetitive motion, the mech allowed himself to remember how it felt to be stuck inside of that dragon's loathsome belly. Pinned against organs, acid sizzling against his plating. The metaphorical walls closing in as he felt his mortal coil about to shuffle loose! It was a frightening memory, especially when paired with the odd phantom pains that he was forced to feel. A hopeless situation, one where the mech had given up all hope that he was going to live...only for his allies to pull through. He took another vent of air, letting it out in a sharp huff as his arm gave another firm swing. His optics opened as the pebble went soaring over the lake. It flew in a confident arc before touching down upon the lake and skipping across the surface. It didn't go any farther than his previous stone, and yet he didn't lose any distance either!

    Fwip...!
    .......fwip...!
    ................fwip...!


    What a satisfying noise. And what's more, he'd been able to tap into those unfortunate memories without freaking out! Scaramouche's presence likely had a lot to do with it, but it was still progress! "That stone was the memory of when I was stuck within the beast's entrails." Knock Out admitted suddenly, turning to his friend with a small smile. "I was sure that I was going to die, you know? Acidic blood everywhere, every attack the group made to the dragon, I felt it as if it was me they were stabbing. ...They refused to just let me die in there." His gaze shifted to the ripples that were still floating across the water. "Despite the fact that I died anyway I... I think... I think it would have been worse if they left me in there, you know? I don't think... I don't think it would have let me die." There were worse plans in store for him, originating from that awful tree. The mech closed his optics and grabbed another rock off of the top of his pile. There were still yet more negative thoughts to throw in there.
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    Post by Scaramouche on Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:22 pm

    "You love me too much to lie even if I wanted you to? Oh, that's how you know it's true!"

    Tch, like stealing candy from a baby. A giant, metal-encased alien baby who could obliterate Scaramouche into smithereens with one hefty wallop, but that was just the fine print. "Well, I mean~!" The android reacted with a nonchalant shrug and wore the usual charlatan grin. "You ain't my owner, babe, so I technically don't gotta listen to a thing ya say. If I lie for ya, it's 'cause I wanna~!" A blessing and a curse, as Knock Out surely knew. Truly, other than Lunette, was there anyone on the Breach who could tame Scaramouche's mercurial nature?

    "Hon hon hon~! Adonis, baby, if looks could kill, ya would've slain me ages ago. Smile~! Lighten up~! And breathe, damn it! Your emotional constipation is gettin' contagious..." We had our answer. And what's a lil' one-on-one intimate chat without a dusting of shamelessness to go with?

    Scaramouche thankfully said nothing as he lazily glanced over at his friend with a mischievous gleam in his display, lips quirked into a crooked smile. Just kidding! The robot couldn't keep his metal trap shut for longer than ten seconds. "Oh babe, if you were human and I were off ye olde ball n' chain, you'd be on your knees beggin' to be my catcher. Why, I reckon I'd have to pencil ya in for every Tuesday~! And me, bein' the oh-so-generous friend that I am, would give ya the entire day with yours truly. You and your lil' happy trail would be treated like kings~! Now don't that sound fun, babu?" He then laughed his usual laugh, obnoxious and without reservation, and appeared the epitome of simple, carefree fun. It was a stark contrast to the Cybertronian, who may or may not be willing to confront all of his inner demons just yet. In due time, in due time! For now, the android merely wished that his friend understood the concept of this lesson and took its basics to... spark? Yes, spark.

    "Oh, you are a very quick study, babe," Scaramouche concurred, expressing his confidence in Knock Out's rapacious wit. When it came to looking his best and being the best in order to garner more attention and acclaim, the Cybertronian could be quite the intelligent spectacle! But first, he must desire it. And if Knock Out lacked interest, then he didn't apply himself in the slightest. What a lazy bag o', uh... parts! Still, the mech supplied decent interaction, if not a tad one-sided and selfish when it suited his needs, and that's all Scaramouche really wanted out of another individual.

    There was potential in Knock Out. A capacity to grow beyond his shortcomings than either of them could even dream, and that is why Scaramouche loved him - and tolerated him - so. With a lively giggle, the robot loitered around a throng of gnarled oaks and peeked inside their knots, standing on the balls of his feet. Oh where, oh where did Lunette put that damn thing...?

    "That stone was the memory of when I was stuck within the beast's entrails. I was sure that I was going to die, you know? Acidic blood everywhere, every attack the group made to the dragon, I felt it as if it was me they were stabbing. ...They refused to just let me die in there.

    Despite the fact that I died anyway I... I think... I think it would have been worse if they left me in there, you know? I don't think... I don't think it would have let me die."

    Poor baby!

    By now, Scaramouche had managed to locate the culprit of his brief vexation, a wicker picnic basket that was as every much adorable as it was ragged. It seems the android and Anitra enjoyed themselves quite a bit while out and about in the woods!

    "You're doin' great, baby, don't doubt that for a second," Scaramouche encouraged kindly. He unfurled a plaid blanket from out of the basket and gave it a good - FWUMP! - shake before letting it float gently to the ground below. There! Now the robot can lay down on his metal abdomen and watch his friend go about his Scarapy with a content, enamored smile. "It probably would've," he nodded, Scaramouche's slender legs swaying idly behind himself, to-and-fro. Anne-Marie took this opportunity to hop onto her master's back to roost and fluff up her plumage. "And your teammates probably knew that too, seein' how they tried so hard to rescue ya. See, Adonis? Lots of folks adore yoooou~! They cared so much, baby, that they were willin' to risk it all in order to wrest ya free. You're more invaluable than ya realize." A pause fell between them, but only a little one before the android resumed, "Take a lil' breather and clear your thoughts; you've earned it."

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