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2017-12-25 Mighty Magnus Miracle

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Mighty Magnus Miracle
Date 2017/12/25
Location Dunia
Participants Blast Off, Lieutenant, Prowl, Quicksight, Rodimus, Swivel
NPCs !Ultra Magnus
Scene GM Sao
Summary No returns on this Christmas present.

This time when the alert comes there are a few danger signs in advance. First, the Intel department was able to get off a warning that a large ship broke off from the Unicronian fleet on a backtracking trajectory, and their course and heading was ultimately calculated towards Dunia. There is little of value to anyone left on the hollowed out shell of the once-rich underground colony; almost all of the colonial population that isn't dead was ferried off months ago by refugees. What anyone could want there is-- well. It's hard to say, but the conclusion reached is, of course, that the only thing the Harbingers could want there is nothing good.

But the ship they are tracking matches energy signatures from the one that Conduit attempted to infest with nanotech on Esha's Progress, and Intel reports to Command that it's very likely that the ship rapidly approaching Dunia is captained by none other than the undead alter Ultra Magnus and his horror staff.

What Tempo has that !Magnus doesn't, though, includes spacebridge technology, and that means that when a shuttle launches from orbit down towards the perilously empty desert surface of the dead world, this time, the Lost Light has a response team waiting for it. For better, or for worse.

As the Lost Lighters settle in with a picnic above the shattered crevasse that breaks the desert open, not far from the broken warren of tunnels of a once-thriving colony, Rodimus divides responsibilities thus:

  • Prowl, make the actual plans;
  • Blast Off's given Quicksight and Swivel for recon;
  • Soundwave's here to make everyone else superfluous and find out their plans as soon as they come in range of his hearing.

Rodimus is just here to look good.

Bow in hand and quiver filled with the last of Chimera's arrows, Rodimus leans up against the back of a rock placed between him and their likely point of entry, idly nibbling on a rust stick.

You thought I was kidding about the picnic.

"Any chance we can get a read on numbers before they hit?" Rodimus asks.

Prowl had been trying very hard to pretend he's here because of tactical advantage, logical courses of action, and nothing at all related to revenge. Steely-eyed and tense, he focuses purely on his own calcuations, aided by his little pop-up holograms. "No," he tells Rodimus. That's all you get.

Something worthwhile. It's what Blast Off feels Lieutenant died trying to do, and it's what the Combaticon aims to do as well- except for the dying part. Yeah, definitely not the dying- or getting beheaded- part. But the rest, yeah. With Rodimus' orders, the shuttleformer stands near Quicksight and Swivel. Their instructions: get into place in a spot that they'll be able to keep an optic on !Magnus's crew when it arrives. Quicksight, with his scouting skills, has orders to learn everything he can once he gets the chance. Get close but not too close, keep out of sight for now. Swivel has orders to keep an optic for the less likely routes of entry, just in case their enemies arrive somewhere they didn't expect. Blast Off monitors both.

Soundwave is standing not far from Rodimus, shoulder cannon onlined and at the ready and blaster held tightly in his grasp. His chest looks far more structurally stable than in recent history.

He scans the skies, new screen face hiding the horror things and his emotions. He really wished the destination hadn't been Dunia. "I can attempt to approximate their numbers," Soundwave offers, voice oddly hushed as he speaks.

The only thing Swivel was more afraid of than getting into another fight with the undead she'd ran screaming from before was admitting she was too scared to go anywhere near them. So here she is, silent, obedient, and carrying out orders to the best of her abilities. Which means she is already setting off to search for unlikely points they may be ambushed from. She keeps her sensors and scanners searching for any suspicious readings, trying her best not to jump at her own shadow.

Under different circuimstances, Quicksight might have been happy to be back on a planet that had brought him so much entertain - err, training opportunities with its network of winding tunnels the underground nature of which only made them more interesting to fly through. But they're not here for tourism this time. This is war, the real deal, casualties and all. This fact, however, actually has an almost calming effect on the scout. It's something familiar. Peace is still the confusing one, even with his recent efforts to embrace it. War is something he knows what to do with. It's what he was built for after all.

No, he recognises this as a serious situation. In contrast to his usual, talkative self, he's been silent the whole trip here, even managing to mostly ignore Prowl, settling for a short, cold glare in his direction instead of one of his usual tirades. Once they arrived on the spot, he took no time getting right down to business, taking to the air as soon as the order came. He's moved a little away from the main group, trusting his smaller size to make him less noticable while still alowing him to keep an optic on things.

The planet is lifeless. It somehow seems even more desolate than the last time they were here. It might as well be a grave.

Disturbing the unhallowed peace, the shuttle streaks downward like a shooting star, hurtling at breakneck speeds with screaming force. It hurtles towards the deep gouge of a trench in the depths of the desert. They have time. There's no life aboard the shuttle aside from the looming terror of the Unicronian-powered Ultra Magnus, but as the shuttle roars into range, there are signs of -- five of his creepy cohorts, different glowing points of brilliant dark energy that accompany him on this downwoard crash.

Just a handful. Maybe this won't be so bad.

"Wups, incoming." Rodimus swallows the rest of his rust stick hole and draws an arrow from the quiver. He drops his visor and tracks the shuttle, marking the engine and a location on the engine. "Everyone fire at that shuttle -- here." He sends the location to the rest for a burst of coordinated fire. "Let's see if we can't soften them up with a hard landing." TEAMWORK.

Prowl is caught up with jabbing the air surrounding his holograms, and hastily swipes it off into oblivion to pull his rifle and fire a few high-powered clips on the descending shuttle. "Need to keep our distance with these fraggers."

"You heard the Captain," Blast Off radios to both Quicksight and Swivel, "Keep your optics peeled once they disembark. Unless of course they all die in the crash, which would be awfully considerate of them, but....I doubt they are that polite." With that, the Combaticon sharpshooter takes aim at the specified coordinates and fires.

<FS3> Prowl rolls Firearms: Good Success. (7 8 2 2 2 2 6 3 8 4 5 5 5)
<FS3> Rodimus rolls Firearms: Good Success. (7 6 2 5 3 5 5 4 2 7 2 5 3 6)
<FS3> Blast_Off rolls Firearms: Good Success. (6 6 4 2 5 7 8 4 5 2 6 1 4 3 4 3)

Soundwave receives coordinates and his cannon adjusts and takes aim. He let's loose a missile, looking to Rodimus. "I'm detecting six... Enemy targets." Not life signs. "... Rodimus, are arrows the best choice of weapon currently?"

<FS3> Soundwave rolls Firearms: Good Success. (6 3 6 3 2 8 1 8 5)

"I'm gonna tell Chimera you dissed her arrows," Rodimus says ... while dropping the arrows to rest point-first in the sand where they can be easily drawn when the fighting moves to closer range. He'll ... fire ... an energy ... arrow. Shut up, Soundwave.

Unfortunately, Quicksight will have to disobey that order, given that he doesn't have any guns, or any other ranged weapon for that matter, to fire with. He's really more of an up-close-and-personal kind of guy. Thus, while everyone else takes aim, he begins to move towards the landing site, careful to stay out of the way of frinedly fire "<< I'm going in to take a look. >>"

Unfortunately Swivel doesn't have anything with the range to fire on the shuttle on its way down. Hopefully the others can do enough to hinder the chances of a safe landing. Instead, Swivel focuses perhaps on looking for some way to use the environment to their advantage.

The environment is broad and empty, with only dips in the natural landscape lending variation. The landing site is at the base of a high cliff, but the ground that spreads beyond it has only a slightly dunelike roll. From high above, it might resemble the basin of a vast ocean floor, except long since drained of water.

It is an impressive volley, soaring through the sky as the shuttle hurtles toward the ground. Fire blossoms around its surface, layered metal shielding shining and blistering with the heat of multiple impacts. It's difficult to get a killing blow on a moving target. Someone's shot must have done something to the diving shuttle because there's a billowing curl of smoke twisting from its starboard nacelle as it drops beneath the surface of the cliffs, but there is a sad lack of explosive pyrotechnics as it touches down. It hits the surface in a spray of sand and broken rock, and shows signs of serious damage, but not serious enough that it can't land. It seems unlikely, however, that it will be able to launch again anytime soon.

The figures inside begin to emerge, black-bronze antiqued, with the tarnished and blackened sigils of what was once their heroism etched into their dark metal surfaces. They move with ponderous but inexorable slowness as they dot the sandy floor, heavy weapons borne by each. Even as they begin to drag their way away from the steaming shuttle, their master steps out: massive, stretching in an indolent reach of his arms as he lifts his balefully glowing staff in an ironic salute to those who were firing on them.

Rodimus waves back with his bow. As long as they are being friendly! Then, he points with it, directly at the rocks behind: "<< Fire at those cliffs! Let's try to even the odds. >>" The numbers might match, but he has clear doubts on the odds. He reaches down to brush a finger over the arrows, glances over at Soundwave, and then draws a bright line of energy over the bow's string to fire with an energy arrow again. SOON. Soon, arrows. Soon he'll use you, and Soundwave won't be able to be judgmental about it.

Welp, here they go. And great, neither of his division have much long-range capabilities. Maybe Blast Off can give them sharpshooting lessons someday, give them a nice long range rifle or something. But no time now. "<< Be careful, >>" is all Blast Off can say to Quicksight before following the next order- shoot at those cliffs. He picks a likely-looking spot and fires again.

Soundwave vents desert dust but says nothing more about arrows to Rodimus- even if they aren't useful from this distance.

After watching the shuttle go down, Soundwave scans and looks over their sluggish opponents. He zeroes in on Magnus when the large and otherwordly looking mech steps out of the shuttle. Ringleader. Shoulder cannon readying, it whines as it primes for launch. "<< I am firing upon the snake's head. My next volley shall be upon the rocks, >>" he informs Rodimus before firing.

Prowl elects to use the twin cannons on his back this time, charge building with a quiet hum through the wires to lance out and arc two white bolts towards the cliffs.

<FS3> Rodimus rolls Firearms: Good Success. (1 5 8 1 3 5 5 1 8 6 4 6 6 2)
<FS3> Prowl rolls Firearms: Amazing Success. (7 6 8 7 5 3 3 7 7 2 8 4 1)
<FS3> Blast_Off rolls Firearms: Amazing Success. (5 8 1 1 1 6 7 7 4 1 8 3 8 4 7 3)
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Soundwave=firearms + 2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Soundwave: Success (1 6 1 8 1 3 5 6 1 5 1)          !Ultra Magnus: Great Success (3 8 5 8 7 7 7 3 5 4 4 2)
<               Net Result: !Ultra Magnus wins - Crushing Victory
<FS3> Swivel rolls Firearms: Success. (7 3 3)

Blast Off might be surprised to get a "Yes, sir" in response, though it will be a rather curt one, as Quicksight focuses on the task at hand. Taking advantage of the gunfire- both the noise, and the fire itself - to conceal his approach, he moves up above the shuttle, sensors kicking on, and camera swiveling in its nest as he takes stock of the situation.

The cliffs are much closer and Swivel can at least comply with this plan. She fires off a few shots from her location, unsure of its effectiveness.

!Magnus bears the brunt of the fire against him almost without reacting to it at all, striding into the fiery blast with a maddening aplomb. He takes the damage like a tank and just keeps moving.

The first shots into the ancient stone of the cliffs begin a rippling cobweb of cracks that each subsequent shuddering impact sends into a deafening avalanche of stone and dust. Even as the undead turn to face them and begin to advance, the cliff begins to crumble. Especially under the fiery onslaught of Prowl's plasma and the close precision of Blast Off's strikes, the stones begin a thundrous crash down around their enemies.

!Ultra Magnus spins the shining staff in the air and smites the ground with it.

Crack!

Purple light flaring up from the crown of this scepter over his head is the last thing visible before the smoking shuttle, the undead knights, and indeed the master lich himself are all subsumed in a quaking avalanche of pale stone and choking dust.

Rodimus lowers his bow but keeps it at hand, ready to raise again. "Soundwave, hear anything out of Creepnus?" he asks in a lower aside before comming to Blast Off and his team: "<< See anything under the dust? Swivel, see if you can catch anything with your sensors. >>"

Prowl doesn't wait on readouts, instead hopping the slope and digging one hand into the rockface behind him to slow his rocky slide to the basin floor. He transforms and rips towards the massive pile of rocks, kicking up dust.

That was satisfying. But their work's not done. "<< Captain. I think we've done some damage, looks like the shots were on target. We'll report when we have anything. >>" Blast Off looks for a new target, considering getting airborne for a better shot. He waits for now, though, weapon aimed and ready for another target. Just show yourself.

Soundwave looks less than pleased... Or would but, ya know. His grip on his blaster tightens as his missile does nothing. "Scanning, now." Cannon priming a third time, he focuses on the dust cloud and listens for !Magnus.

Swivel hurries to get within sensor range, seeming unbothered by the dust. She cycles through her sensors. Seismic. Infra red. Radiotion. Hygron... er that will just tell her the climate is arid - she already guessed that. ANYTHING to try and get a read on what is going on. Even just listening as she rppaoches tentatively.

Aftershocks ripple through the ground. It seems to shudder under their feet. It seems to shudder under their feet ... in a strange rhythm. It is a thump-thump rumble reminiscent of ... something.

There's a moment of stunned stillness, perhaps, beneath the onslaught, but Quicksight can certainly see the shifting ripples of the broken stone and settling dust as the crushed zombies begin to stir and attempt to shift their way out. Swivel can detect that two of them were badly damaged by the falling rocks, and there is something roughly the size of a knight's hand creeping back towards the rest of its body to knit itself back together again. Instead of advancing on the Lost Lighters, the hissing, writhing zombies must dig and claw their way out from beneath the avalanche.

What Soundwave can hear from !Magnus -- aside from what must be classified as grim humor at the close proximity of those whom he clearly believes he is about to destroy -- is a deeply grandiose intent. He is the channel, his staff the tool for a vast, vast amount of Unicronian power ... power that he is already channeling into the bones of the planet itself, reaching deep, deep beneath the surface.

It has already begun.

"<< They're down, but they're still moving >>" Quicksight reports as he makes a pass above the rubble. While the dust does keep him hidden, it also obscures his own vision, requiring him to get closer. Since the enemy seems to have rather more pressing concerns at the moment, he takes the risk of staying close "<< Looks like they're trying to get out >>"

Blast Off decides that maybe he should add a three to the one-two punch they just gave these zombies after getting Quicksight's message. "<< Understood. Going to hit them with a few bombardments, see what it does. >>" With that, the shuttleformer transforms into his much bigger alt and roars into the sky. Weapon systems lock on and the shuttle swoops down to add a few precisely-placed laser strikes into anything that seems to move inside that big cloud of rubble and dust, trying to add to their enemies confusion- and cripple them even more.

Prowl fires once more on the rubble - nowhere in particular. He strafes, tires flinging pebbles, his cannons never cooling as he maintains a string of white plasma that doesn't stop. It's only Blast Off's strikes that cause a break in his onslaught and make him peel off towards a safer distance.

"<< Quicksight, Swivel: mark targets in order of priority, most injured to least, >>" Rodimus calls as he yanks his arrows right back up to skid down the slope after Prowl. He might be swearing, but it's low enough to skip the comms. On his feet, the better to shoot, he lags behind. He rolls his shoulder up against the first bit of vertical cover he can find to set up to shoot again, waiting for the injured targets to come in from recon. "<< Concentrate fire -- and I do mean fire, by the way, if you can manage it, I hear that works wonders -- on the most injured and work from there. >>" As soon as he has his targets from the scouts, he fires as well.

"<< Prowl, get back here, >>" Rodimus adds on a private line. "<< I can deal with the Knights of Cybertron being evil zombies, but my reality can't handle you charging in and me making the plans. >>" It's just not right. "<< What are you doing? >>"

<<"Two were badly damaged.... eeeuuugh one of their hands is crawling towards the rest of its body... I say target that one first!>> Swivel adds to the report. However, hearing Blast Off's plan to bombard she begins backing away, seeking cover. She transmits what she can of her readings to help pinpoint the locations of said zombies beneath the rubble and dust.

Soundwave has listened mechs he never much enjoyed. It left a sticky residue within his processor. But this-- Something about !Magnus and what he wants- something he can't put a finger on, while concentrating on listening- has his tanks churning. Disgust runs its grimy fingers all over the circuitry of his mind.

Soundwave shudders, screen blinking before he looks to Rodimus-- Rodimus is gone. He's running after Prowl. Engine growling, Soundwave follows. Its neither quick nor gracefully, a block sliding after sleek cars. "<< Rodimus! He's doing something. The Knights are of little consequence, we need to focus fire on the Magnus. Seperate him from his staff, perhaps that will halt the Knights and his plans. >>"

<FS3> Prowl rolls Firearms: Amazing Success. (6 8 1 3 4 7 7 7 3 1 8 8 1)
<FS3> Blast_Off rolls Firearms+2: Amazing Success. (4 4 4 2 8 7 6 8 7 5 7 3 8 5 8 3 6 4)
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Rodimus=firearms+2 Vs Handy=7
<       Rodimus: Amazing Success (8 6 6 8 3 5 7 7 5 7 1 6 7 8 7 5)          Handy: Success (2 5 6 1 7 2 4)
<               Net Result: Rodimus wins - Crushing Victory

FOOM!

The fire of Blast Off's orbital bombardment combined with the rapid blasts of Prowl's plasma strafing leave the battlefield a confusion of dust, gravel and occasional purple sparks where Blast Off -- by luck and precision -- actually strikes somewhere that part of one of the Unicronian-powered zombies lurks beneath the stone. A hand punches up through the rocks and the crawling knight that belongs to it emerges only to get Rodimus's arrow right in the throat. Purple sparks explode from the point of impact and the zombie's head is blown from its trunk as the lifeless remains crash to the ground, and !Magnus is down one minion from that joint effort between Rodimus and the scouting duo!

Two more of the Knight figures climb their way out of the rocky mess, and start pushing and kicking and shooting with their guns to force a massive boulder off the partially crushed body of a third.

!Magnus himself is still partly shielded by the cover of the stones, because he doesn't appear to be trying to dig his way out. Soundwave can tell, though, that what he is doing is forcing his staff into the sandy, stony earth beneath him, and funnelling power from his unusually high level of Unicron charge. Somehow.

There is another tremor beneath their feet.

It is almost reminiscent of the distant thunder of drums, but from the deeps.

"<< Can't make out much under the rocks >>" Quicksight reports back even as he makes another pass over the rubble. The next one is prematurely cut short as Blast Off moves in for an air strike, forcing the scout to get out of the way. He doesn't go far, however, merely pulling up to remain just out of the target area. "<< One down! >>" he reports as the shots from thej others hit their marks "<< Two got out, looks like they're digging somone out >>"


<<"Handling the threat,">> Prowl hisses at Rodimus, looping around for another energon-tapping strafe. <<"There's no planning for this. No planning for /these/. Just throw in.">> His cannons swivel for one of the knight's digging up their cohort. But they don't fire this time, and Prowl instead guns it to aim a rather reckless ram. It worked last time.

Victory is short-lived as Rodimus watches the first Knight go down, though it sings sweetly through his lines. Soundwave's there to ruin the moment, and Rodimus turns to him midway through drawing his next arrow. His gaze tracks swiftly back to the Knights and !Magnus. "<< New plan! >>" he calls, relaying Soundwave's directive without much stopping to think about it: "<< Focus fire on Creepnus, and if you can get him away from his staff, even better. Don't touch it without some kind of protection. It's ... unpleasant. >>"

Rodimus shifts the aim of his next arrow from the knights to draw an angle on Magnus. He shifts out of cover to fall in after Prowl, watching his back where he clearly expects Prowl to disregard it, as he looks for a clear line of sight. "<< Prowl, I'm recording that to play back at you later. >>"

"<<Good, >>" Blast Off replies as Quicksight reports his strike was successful, the shuttle arcing around to scan for more targets while avoiding bombarding his own crewmates. "<< Swivel, scan for what's causing those tremors... how stable is the ground there? >>" If he has to pick up crew in his cargo bay he can. "<< Continue looking for any vulnerable spots in the enemy's ranks. This is one time when if someone's down, you keep kicking them. >>" He does so himself, firing off a few more laser blasts, this time at !Magnus.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Prowl=transportation Vs Stompy=7
<       Prowl: Good Success (1 3 8 4 5 7 6 6)          Stompy: Good Success (5 3 7 6 6 5 7)
<               Net Result: DRAW
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Prowl=transportation Vs Elbows=7
<       Prowl: Success (1 5 8 5 4 3 4 3)          Elbows: Good Success (4 7 8 3 2 4 1)
<               Net Result: Elbows wins - Marginal Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Rodimus=firearms+2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Rodimus: Amazing Success (7 6 7 3 8 1 7 8 4 7 2 4 1 2 8 7)          !Ultra Magnus: Amazing Success (8 7 5 7 8 1 3 6 8 7 4 4)
<               Net Result: Rodimus wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Blast Off=firearms + 2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Blast_Off: Success (2 8 4 2 1 1 5 6 6 1 4 5 5 1 4 6 2 5)          !Ultra Magnus: Good Success (8 5 2 1 3 7 2 2 3 5 6 3)
<               Net Result: !Ultra Magnus wins - Marginal Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Stompy=7 Vs Prowl=reaction+reaction
<       Stompy: Success (5 4 2 6 1 7 3)          Prowl: Good Success (7 5 8 2 8 3 3 5)
<               Net Result: Prowl wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Elbows=7 Vs Prowl=reaction+reaction
<       Elbows: Success (8 1 4 3 4 6 2)          Prowl: Good Success (7 8 7 4 3 4 4 3)
<               Net Result: Prowl wins - Solid Victory

Swivel switches her focus to seeing if she can detect just how deep the tremors are going. Listening to the chatter on the radio she tentatively asks "<<Define 'protection'.>>"

The latest tremor makes Soundwave stumble as he follows Rodimus but he manages to catch himself before he faceplants. That'd be really bad, he just got his new not-face after all. He takes a moment to steady himself, staring at the ground. Better to be above it than below, if their last visit is any proof of that.

Soundwave's helm snaps up. With great urgency, he says, "<< Rodimus, we need to stop Magnus now. >>" As if they aren't already trying to do that. He brings up his blaster to take a shot at !Magnus as well, breaking away to get closer to him. His tentacles begins spooling out of his sides.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Soundwave=firearms+2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Soundwave: Great Success (2 8 8 2 7 4 1 4 7 6 4)          !Ultra Magnus: Great Success (3 8 8 4 4 4 7 1 1 4 5 7)
<               Net Result: DRAW

Though the last time Prowl tried to run down ancient undead knights it worked okay for him, this time he has a little bit of a harder time of it. For one thing, the terrain is not smooth asphalt or seductively flat concrete. It is a jagged hellscape of broken rock and sputters of gravel. His tires shriek and whine against the surface, spraying dust every which way. He manages an impact, but it is not impressive, and mostly succeeds in drawing the attention of both of those nasty knights at once. One rounds on him with a heavy shotgun, the other lifting a sawblade and revving it with new energy as they simultaneously turn to attack Prowl. The sawblade flies towards his front wheels; the shotgun just spatters indiscriminate fire at him. Still, it's only fast reflexes that permit him to evade some very nasty injuries indeed.

Meanwhile, the rolling shrug of the towering rocket launchers shedding stone and dust, the seething giant that was lived as !Ultra Magnus is kneeling with his staff driven deep into the earth, pulsing with purple energy. The energy ripples outward and around him, and almost seems to create an aura, a negative halo that bathes him in light. As another quake sends more stones falling away, that gives Blast Off and Rodimus the clear view with which to shoot. Blast Off's fire slices into his side in a shuddering blast of purple sparks that, still, !Magnus does not seem to react to. For a moment, a limning of pale light seems to shine around Rodimus just as he fires--

His arrow seems to fly with just a whisper of too much speed, too much power, and then it bites deep into the plating of the Magnusian chassis. Purple sparks fly with the impact, and a deep snarl pulls back his lips from his rows of razor-sharp teeth. "Nnngh," is the noise he makes, and the eerie purple gaze lifts, turning to stare right at him. His weapons begin to online, rocket launchers charging in a rising fwoom! of sound and energy, but his staff is still firmly gripped in both hands. He doesn't even change the angle of his gaze for Soundwave's blaster fire a beat later.

The distant thunder is growing louder, and the next quake that shudders beneath them is ... stronger.

Frag, not good enough. Blast Off swerves around again, lining and locking target for another shot, this time going for the arms that hold !Magnus's staff. Gotta knock that out of his hands if at all possible.

Rodimus mimics his earlier salute, tipping the bow toward !Magnus as he draws another arrow. "Hey, buddy, pal, my guy: you wanna knock it off?" His next shot is aimed not at Magnus, but at the staff, as he holds position to get a clear shot. Rocket launchers or not.

<<"You've threatened recordings before,">> Prowl replies to Rodimus dryly, then grunts as his grille guard collides with the knights. And promptly crumples it. It was already pretty mangled to begin with. The near hit wit the sawblade and shotgun have him backing off into a graceless transformation. Against his own advice, he draws his nightsticks and tries to focus an electrified strike on the sawblades knight.

<<"What's the quaking - ?">> Prowl belatedly notices.

"<< The Ultra Magnus has his staff in the ground ">> Quicksight reports for those who can't get a proper look at the situation "<< Shooting at him's just making him shoot back >>" He pulls up higher, just in case, which coincidentally gives him a better view of the situatio "<< Two of the zombies are attacking...Prowl..." he heasitates a little before naming the enemy's target. Prowl is one mech he would absolutely not mind seeing dead, but professionalism wins over here. A soldier's duty is to do his job - personal opinions have no place in battle.

Soundwave gives another pause, memories squeezing his spark. He tries to still his hands as he takes aim at !Magnus's shoulder towers, blasting at the missiles there. "<< Dunia, plagued by quakes. But... Last time, the tremors came from their titan, Udunus. >>" He answers Prowl, almost quiet.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Soundwave=firearms+2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Soundwave: Good Success (7 6 8 5 3 5 3 5 3 7 5)          !Ultra_Magnus: Great Success (7 7 4 3 4 7 4 2 8 3 2 7)
<               Net Result: !Ultra_Magnus wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Blast Off=firearms+2 Vs !Magnus=12
<       Blast_off: Amazing Success (3 8 8 5 3 1 7 6 6 2 8 6 5 3 8 8 3 5)          !Magnus: Good Success (8 8 3 5 4 3 5 3 4 1 2 4)
<               Net Result: Blast_off wins - Crushing Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Rodimus=firearms+2+50 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Rodimus: Great Success (7 7 5 6 1 1 6 3 7 8 6 2 6 4 3 1 6 8 5 4)          !Ultra_Magnus: Success (1 4 3 5 5 4 1 4 8 6 5 4)
<               Net Result: Rodimus wins - Crushing Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Prowl=melee Weapons Vs Elbows=7
<       Prowl: Good Success (7 6 4 7 4 8 3)          Elbows: Success (5 1 5 3 5 8 1)
<               Net Result: Prowl wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Stompy=7 Vs Prowl=reaction+reaction
<       Stompy: Success (1 1 5 4 1 8 4)          Prowl: Success (3 4 4 2 7 6 6 4)
<               Net Result: DRAW

Now Prowl is engaged with two knights at once. With his electrified nightsticks, he manages a neat manuever that disarms his opponent of his the spinning blade, sending it flying through the air to whine uselessly where it catches and buzzes against the stones. The other knight can't shoot at Prowl in such close quarters with its companion, so switches to its own melee weapon, lashing at Prowl with short-bladed knives in close quarters, but can't quite get past his defenses.

Meanwhile the third knight, the one who was buried under the boulder manages to heave its way out from beneath. For a moment it huddles there on the ground, looking smashed, but knitting itself back together again.

It is the distance of a moment's timing that saves Rodimus from being obliterated off the face of the planet by the dead center hit of a rocket launcher, maybe: because he releases his arrow before !Magnus can fire, and it strikes dead center upon the staff.

For a moment, time almost seems to stop.

Then the shockwave from the impact of Rodimus's powered arrow into the active staff hits. !Magnus is thrown backward from the detonation. His staff is blown out of his hands, explodes out of the earth, flying end over end through the air as he is hurtled in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately for all comers, the shockwave doesn't stop there.

<FS3> Prowl rolls Reaction+reaction: Good Success. (1 2 8 1 6 5 6 8)
<FS3> Blast_Off rolls Reaction+reaction: Success. (3 6 1 5 8 4 1 2)
<FS3> Rodimus rolls Reaction+reaction: Good Success. (8 2 5 4 8 4)
<FS3> Swivel rolls Reaction+reaction: Success. (8 3 3 1 5 4)
<FS3> Quicksight rolls Reaction+Reaction: Good Success. (8 4 4 3 2 6 3 7 6 8)
<FS3> Soundwave rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (1 8 4 2)

Good news: Rodimus (and Blast Off's) shot knocks !Magnus off his feet and the staff from his hands. The bad news: Blast Off is a little too close to the action and struck with the aftershock at *just* the wrong angle. The shuttle is almost tangibly smnacked back in mid-air, which sends him corkscrewing down...down...down.... He's out of control, careening towards the ground and transforming and landing with a couple of rolling *thuds*. He's not severaly damaged but his pride might have taken a hit, not to mention he had to stagger back to his feet and take a moment to gather his senses again.

'Use protection', Rodimus said.

Do as he says, not as he does, because he stumble-scrambles madly after the staff and the best protection he can immediately manage is to try to scoop it up with his empty, useless artifact of a quiver.

<FS3> Quicksight rolls Transportation: Great Success. (8 8 6 1 1 8 2 6 3 5 6 2 7 3 3 8 4)

Prowl is kept on his heels with these two murderous knights, but finds an opening when the sawblade goes flying. He lunges with burning fuel in his lines, repositioning a nightstick with a twirl and aiming to jam the sharpened tip up through the knight's jaw. The subsequent tremor makes him brace, and he barely manages to catch himself.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Prowl=melee Weapons+50 Vs Elbows=7
<       Prowl: Amazing Success (3 5 1 7 7 8 5 6 7 6 6 6 8 6 2 8 4 8 4 2)          Elbows: Failure (4 2 1 5 3 6 6)
<               Net Result: Prowl wins - Crushing Victory

Soundwave gets to witness the might of Rodimus's arrows. He'll have to apologize later for thinking they were not appropriate. And then he's knocked off balancing, falling back from the shockwave as Magnus and staff go flying. Even as he falls, his cords shoot up, tracking after the staff to snatch it as well. Either he's reading Rodimus's mind (he is, sorta) or they have the same idea in mind. Teamwork. But artifacts work on zombies, it should negate the staff? He can always drop it if not.

The shockwave reaches Quicksight even in the air, but his distance from the epicenter, and his own reflexes save him from Blast Off's fate. He does wobble a bit, but he compensates for that easily, turning the momentum of the wave into a roll before leveling out again to take stock of the sitation "<< The Ultra Magnus let go of the staff! >>" he reports, a note of excitment slipping into his otherwise steady tone. Looks Soundwave and the Captain are already on retriving it too. Which leaves another issue - Magnus himself. Prowl is bussy, Blast Off is down, Swivel is...to be honest, he's not entierly sure what she's doing, but that leaves him "<< I can distract him! >>" It's more an explination than an offer as, a moment later, he angles down towards !Magnus, aiming to buzz the much larger mech with a jeer of "Hey ugly!" Look over here, and not at your precious staff!

Prowl smashes through the jaw of the undead knight, cleaving plainly through his head and smashing into the processor, making a total ruin of the interior of his helm.

It may be that the zombie could come back from this, but it will be awhile. For now, Prowl is entirely victorious, and he has but one zombie left to fight.

For a moment, just for a moment, as Rodimus attempts to slide the staff inside the hollow of his quiver, and as Soundwave's cords wind around its haft, each is transported. The dark world of Unicronian energy seems to swallow their awareness for that harrowing second, and it is as though he can hear, in the very depths of his spark, the deep, bone-rattling roar of something old, and mad, and dead. It jolts through him-- not in the painful way that it did when his unprotected metal skin touched the staff, but as though, in that moment, they are connected to the transfer of energy from Unicron, and it is looping through each of them on its way somewhere else.

!Magnus begins to crawl onto his hands and knees, pushing himself slowly forward towards Rodimus and his mad scramble. He growls, "You fools, as if this can be--"

What was surely going to be a grand speech is interrupted. Even as he shifts to try and swat Quicksight out of the air, the ground on which they all stand begins to rive apart. Dunia, itself, breaks under the raw force of what is being applied to it from beneath.

Blast Off shakes his head, finally clearing it. He sees Quicksight doing his best to distract !Magnus, so the sniper decides to take advantage of that distraction. Pulling his weapon up, he locks and loads, bracing with a shift of his hips to steady himself as solidly as possible- and then he fires right at !Magnus's head.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- !Ultra Magnus=12 Vs Quicksight=transportation+2
<       !Ultra Magnus: Success (1 4 3 7 2 5 6 2 3 5 1 2)          Quicksight: Good Success (8 3 2 5 7 4 6 3 6 4 8 2 2 3 4 3 2 3 2)
<               Net Result: Quicksight wins - Solid Victory

It's probably not the greatest sign that, upon reaching for the staff, both Rodimus and Soundwave are trapped in a frozen moment when their awareness is pulled away from them.

As Rodimus refocuses on the here and now, he braces against the scouring of his spark and looks to Soundwave. An image pushes hard and clear in his thoughts: Rodimus holds the center of the staff, ignites and heats it, and Soundwave pulls the ends of back toward himself. Teamwork.

And if they are lucky, they can break the staff. And maybe plunge into the planet and die. Who knows! ONE PROBLEM AT A TIME OKAY.

No sooner has Rodimus formed the thought than he puts it into action, trusting Soundwave to do his part. Flames ignite and lick along his arm to the reach of his hand.

<FS3> Quicksight rolls Transportation: Good Success. (8 1 5 3 3 4 6 1 3 8 3 1 6 4 3 3 7)

Prowl gets a lil' bit caught up in the wild thrill of shredded metal plinking off his frame and the smarting voltage that ends up singing him, briefly, in the slide against frames, but he pulls away when the /ground/ splits beneath them. He scrambles back, then flips into his alt mode and tries to make a break for the basin's slope again. <<"What's going on!?>>

!Magnus's hand meets empty air as Quicksight deftly rolls out of his reach "Missed me" he jeers as he picks up altitude "Ya look big and tough, but ya really can't hit slag, can ya? I seen organics that hit better than ya!" with that volley of insults, he goes in for another dive. Don't look at the staff. Keep looking at the annoying guy mocking you.

Soundwave's cables curl around the staff and he's not on Dunia anymore. He is, of course, but tell that to his quivering spark. The only thing that pulls him away is the intense rays of sun that scorches his senses. Rodimus.

Soundwave's screen blips and then then his cords snake along the staff, twisting around the ends of the staff tightly. Their biolights ripple and blink rapidly, in time with his spark, and then the cables tight as he reels them in to pull at the staff with all his might. To snap it even as the ground crumbles beneath him. He'll worry about that here in a minute.

<FS3> Rodimus rolls Style+50: Amazing Success. (6 5 5 6 7 2 8 8 8 4 7 3 3 1 2 4 5 4 2 7)
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Blast Off=firearms+2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Blast_Off: Great Success (8 2 4 2 3 5 8 7 1 6 6 5 3 1 8 6 3 8)          !Ultra_Magnus: Good Success (3 6 7 8 3 8 6 5 1 6 1 5)
<               Net Result: Blast_Off wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Stompy=7 Vs Prowl=reaction+reaction
<       Stompy: Success (4 5 8 2 3 2 5)          Prowl: Success (3 3 1 5 6 4 7 3)
<               Net Result: DRAW

Pain sings through Rodimus when he actually touches the damned thing. His body sings with pain, as though every sensor he has that is designed to report pain is activated at once.

FWOOM!

The metal of the rod superheats with the ignition of Rodimus's fiery blast. The staff begins to bend -- its center goes from black, to red, to white hot, searing Soundwave's cords as the shuddering purple light pulses from its crown--

!Magnus roars in fury, surging the rest of the way to his feet. He starts to charge towards them, and Blast Off's shot cracks into the back of his helm. Purple sparks burst outward from the point of impact, but even as he is bleeding and roaring, he is not drawn from his focus on his staff. He transforms into the form of the massive armored carrier with on-board missile launchers, crunching through the rock as the split grows wider and wider. He builds momentum, but chance has placed him on the opposite side of the crevasse than Soundwave and Rodimus and his unholy weapon.

As Prowl books it for the slope, he is pursued by the stumbling charge of the large-footed zombie behind him, but the heavy-footed shotgun wielder can't keep up with Prowl's alt, so pauses to merely spray at him with gunfire as he escapes. Undead spite, maybe.

The staff snaps. Its component halves are so hot that they have begun to melt. The purple energy begins to fizzle and die.

!Ultra Magnus hurtles out over the new cliff, in what appears to be a mad attempt to jump the growing crater. He's far too large to make the jump, and the huge carrier begins to fall towards the depths.

Slag, it's not working! Cursing quietly to himself, Quicksight pulls up into the air again, sending out an alert as he goes "<< Magnus's going for the staff! >>" with a burst of his engine, he moves to follow the Harbinger from above, only to find himself overshooting him as the truck fails his attempt at flying "<< He's falling into the hole >>"

Prowl brakes hard in front of a shotgun blast that carves a large divot in the terrain in front of him, coating the police cruiser in dirt and pebbles. His tires screech as he twists around, leveling his cannons again. No attack comes - he's too fixated on the burst of flame in the distance, and the melting staff, and then the terrifying !Magnus and his leap. <<"Okay. Good.">>

On the list of truly awful things that Rodimus has experienced, that definitely hits top ten. When the staff snaps, he very nearly collapses, and it's not until !Magnus is falling into the depths that he realizes how close they came to getting run over. He's a little foggy -- in the aftermath of the ignition, and the impact of the staff's touch. He echoes Prowl with a question marked, "<< We good? >>" and takes a wobbly step back from the edge.

Blast Off watches as his shot hits, then !Magnus falls... and the shuttleformer transforms to gain some altitude and fly over the ditch to get a look at what's going on down there- and maybe get off the dangerous ground, too.

The tentacles are exceptionally sensitive for artifacts, surprisingly so. But Soundwave was just shot by Fusion Cannon near point blank just a week ago and then kept fighting. Some heat isn't going to stop him now. The biolights flash as the heat increases, like the friendacles are screaming, but they pull until they jerk with the snap. But there's no relief after success, cables painfully unable to let go of the hot potato halves. He's not even sure they broke it. Soundwave pulls himself away from the crevasse and tries to stumble away from it and not into. Sensors still in a tizzy from pain, he asks, "<< Did we succeed? >>"

Just when it looks like !Ultra Magnus is going to fall into the black depths of the pit and vanish from the world forever except for guest appearances in their future nightmares, his tires ... land.

Rising from the deep shadow of the broken planet, the Titan emerges into the empty night. Where once his black, black frame was lit by flashes of red flame, now it ripples with glowing edges of purple energy, licking outward from every crack and seared patch of old damage on his miles and miles of body. Where once his eyes glowed red, now they are lit by an unearthly purple light.

Udunus, powerful and terrible, the once-dead Titan of this world, his ancient and broken body knitting in places before their very eyes, climbs from the depths and reaches for the sky. The raging madness that once swarmed through every inch of his processor and screamed deafeningly as Soundwave tried to reach him has been ... muted, vanished, replaced, by a powerful drive.

Udunus is not interested in crushing them, or in the demands of the comparatively tiny Harbinger that clings to his shoulder. He has a call to answer. A call to rise.

Quicksight pulls around to get a look at the pit below, only to sharply wheel around as something big - very big comes into view below "<< Slagging... >>" this is bad. This would have been bad even without the whole zombie thing, given their last encoutner "<< I don't think good's the right word... >>" the shock of seeing a formerly pissed titan rise from the dead makes him forget his profesionalism for a moment, though he catches himself quickly "<< I mean, orders? ">>

Prowl is for once at a loss, completely stunned by the rise of Udunus. He stops entirely, gawking as much as a vehicle can. <<"Captain?">>

Rodimus says, "<< Uhm, >>" so it might take him a second or twenty longer than normal to put together any kind of useful order right now.

Vision still hazy, Soundwave turns from beside Rodimus in time to see Udunus rise. Anyone watching him closely might see his screen go blue for just a flicker. "Rodimus... We need to go..." He stares at the titan he killed live once more for just a moment longer... Before comming for a spacebridge, several urgency flags attached to the message.

The shuttle's engines rumble with consternation as it all goes from bad to worse. He veers up to avoid the giant, soaring higher into the sky. Blast Off awaits orders regarding the Titan... but he figures his orders regarding !Magnus are the same. So even as he veers upwards, his lasers point down to unleash a few more strikes at the big (but not biggest here) 'bot.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Blast Off=firearms+2 Vs !Ultra Magnus=12
<       Blast_Off: Great Success (5 4 5 6 6 7 4 7 1 3 4 4 5 4 7 5 4 8)          !Ultra_Magnus: Good Success (8 5 8 6 2 3 3 7 3 1 2 2)
<               Net Result: Blast_Off wins - Marginal Victory

Udunus continues to rise, firing launchers as he soars higher and higher into the sky. As the Titan rises, Blast_Off manages a quick shot that blows purple sparks from !Magnus's frame, but it's not sufficient to dislodge him from the Titan, and shortly thereafter, he finds his way from the exterior of the city-sized bot to some interior access, and disappears from view as Udunus climbs towards space.

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