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2015-02-25 Lists

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Lists
Date 2015/02/25
Location Lost Light: Engineering -- Engine Room
Participants Nautica, Rodimus, Ultra Magnus
Summary Rodimus temporarily escapes from justice by distracting Magnus with Nautica's list.

Lost Light: Engineering -- Engine Room


The quantum generators that power the ship engines push them improbably forward from this very room. There are warning signs near the generators, reminding people not to stand next to them ... as if anyone could ever forget, with one of the Duobots frozen trapped within one of the engines. Screens beneath the generator mark their output while workstations allow engineers to monitor, even alter the generator's output.


The engines may be working, but at least one of the technical crew is keeping a close eye on them nonetheless. Between the number of components that were blown and the fact that the system has been cobbled back together with salvaged bits from a completely different class of ship -- not to mention that there's half of a Duobot fused into the inner workings of one of the engines -- it might be fair to say that the Camien engineer doesn't /entirely/ trust the setup. So it is probably unsurprising that she's found in the engineering area once more, running over a diagnostic for the sixty-eighth time.

After making a very important correction to the latest shipwide memo, Rodimus makes himself scarce on the command deck. A check in Medical finds him swiftly chased out, so he ducks down another couple of levels to engineering. "Anything blow up lately?" he asks as he sails in to come stand before the engine. Although his tone is breezy, it's hard to keep it up in the face of the Duobot. Okay, half-face. "I've heard nothing but good things about your work on the engines, Nautica. I'm beginning to think our stroke of luck was less having a ship nearby and more that /you/ were nearby."

This earns a smile and a laugh in return. "Engines are my special area of interest, at least," Nautica notes to Hot Rod, as if this explains the ability to rebuild the Lost Light's engines with the supply equivalent of an old AMC Gremlin, a box of paperclips, and some tennis shoes. "I mean, alongside quantum theory and multidimensional math, and general engineering, and a bit of dabbling in a few other things. But, you know, /mostly/ engines. Jump drives, cheat engines, wormhole generators, skip drives... anything that exceeds the speed of light, really. If you're going to go fast enough to break any laws, they might as well be the laws of physics!"

Rodimus's expression starts glazing over somewhere around 'cheat engines' and doesn't let up until she starts talking about breaking laws. "Now that's the kind of attitude I like to see!" He pulls up a seat at the workstation, pulling the chair around so that he can settle in it backward and hang over the chair's back. "Are you going to need anything when we go down? If it's a specialized list, we might need to bring you down to be sure we get the right things."

"Oh, well, there /are/ a few things that would be useful to get the engines up and running smoothly again. I've put together a small list..." Nautica opens a list, sending it to Rod; her 'small list' is approximately 37 pages long, and not even 'list' is entirely accurate. It's written almost like code; 'if (x) is available, then (y), but otherwise (z), (q), and (b). If (z) and (q) are available but not (b), replace (q) with (x).' and so on. Ultra Magnus might almost be proud of how thorough it is, even if he probably wouldn't approve of it not being on a properly formatted requisition form.

Entering engineering on measured strides of his boots, Ultra Magnus looms up out of the elevator and into the occasional bustle like an island of sternness on a ship full of the ridiculous. (It's his lot in life. And will be, for however long.)

He does not immediately upbraid Rodimus in front of new people, which is clearly the reason that Rodimus is down here. Instead, Ultra Magnus says gravely, "I'm sure that your expertise will be welcome on shore should you choose to accompany the team, Nautica," and comes to a halt with massive blue hands folded loosely behind him.

It's not until Ultra Magnus speaks that Rodimus twigs to the fact that he's arrived. It's not like the big guy is exactly tiptoeing, but Nautica's list is just so -- so /much/. It requires all of his attention and then some. But then Ultra Magnus /is/ speaking, and Rodimus jerks upright with a tension that quivers to the edge of his spoiler. He glaaances back and dials up the brilliance of his smile. "Hey! Magnus. She's got a list. A /list/. She definitely needs to be on the team."

"It's just a small list." Ignoring the fact that this is either a total misunderstanding of the term, or a blatant lie, Nautica gestures towards Rod as if certain the Lost Light's captain will back her up on this. "But I admit, I won't mind going on the team; it'd be nice to see another world. I've never really had a chance to /travel/ before, you know."

"Ah, well, a benefit to our present predicament, then," Ultra Magnus says with a deeper inclination of his head to Nautica. He meets Rodimus's glance with a total lack of smile on his face. He stares at him for a moment with tension largely written in the set of his jaw rather than in anything so immediate or vehement as a scowl; it is a blank face that may carry with it the promise of future lectures, or at least, a seriously unamused impression. "You may have ample opportunity to explore as we continue our mission. Preferably of course in a particular direction." After a beat's pause he adds, "If you do bring your list planetside yourself that will of course avoid the necessity of reducing it to form for the landing party."

Rodimus just amps up his smile in answer to Ultra Magnus's blankness, as though to balance the bland with his own cheer. "She's got a funny idea of small," he says. He hooks his hands no the chair's back and leans back in a nonchalant stretch of careless innocence. /He/ didn't do anything he needs to be tense about. /He/ is fine, here. He goes back to drooping over the chair's back in a forward slouch. "I don't know if there's any large bodies of water, but I've promised to find one for you as soon as we can. So if not this time, soon!"

Mention of forms does cause Nautica's good cheer to dim slightly. "Well, I'd be more than happy to go with the shore team," she offers Ultra Magnus with perhaps a bit more fervent haste than dignity. "But in the meantime, everything's more or less running smoothly, at least. It's all borderline, but it's stable on the 'nothing exploding' side of borderline rather than the 'oh, Primus, no' side."

"As it happens," Ultra Magnus says with a significant sideglance at Rodimus, "there have been a /few/ explosions elsewhere, but nothing overwhelming. I am ... happy to hear that everything has been shipshape in engineering." The faint shift of one of his brows might reflect some notice he has taken of Nautica's reaction to the impending threat of his homework (why does no one appreciate spreadsheets the way he does?).

Rodimus takes this opportunity to study Nautica's list in-depth and thus avoid Ultra Magnus's sideglance. "That's good to hear. No problems with the rest of the brains? I'll definitely take you instead of Perceptor, then, since you've got more of the hands-on engine experience."

Nautica appreciates a good, well-organized spreadsheet; to judge from her reaction, however, /forms/ to fill out strike her as the opposite of 'efficiency'. "I trust no one will mind too much if I take the time to see if there's anything I can find that would help Caminus, too?" After all, the Camiens /were/ out on a mission of their own, initially.

"Of course not," Ultra Magnus says mildly. "We intend this to be a mutually beneficial arrangement." Whatever private tiff he and Rodimus may not be actually having right now, he does not allow it to interfere with the diplomacy of the moment. He taps a fingertip on the back of the chair just beneath Rodimus where he's been draping on it, saying, "Just stay close while you're down there and be prepared for orders; we don't actually know what you'll be walking into yet."

"That's what makes it fun, though, right?" Rodimus grins at Nautica. "I'll let Windblade know that we're making any Camien needs a priority, too. I'm aware that we owe you a debt, not just for skills, but materials." He seems remarkably well-practiced with ignoring figures of authority who may or may not have reason to be annoyed at him. Or at least ignoring their annoyance.

"Thank you," Nautica offers in reply to both of them. "I'm certain Windy will be glad to hear it. And I'm glad we could help!" She turns to gesture at the engineering room as a whole, then quickly turns back when she finds herself staring straight at the dead Duobot's gaping horrified scream. Really, engineering needs some redecoration.

"Your generosity is highly appreciated," Ultra Magnus says with a low rumble of weight in his voice as he shifts his stance between the broad plant of his boots. His thanks might be more believable if he didn't sound so stiff, but he almost always does, particularly with Rodimus sitting there providing loungey, drapey contrast to his extra correctness. "I don't mean to interfere with your ... with that," he says. "Merely to encourage vigilance. We haven't been out here that long. I hope to prevent bad luck and misadventure." (Isn't that cute?)

Watching Nautica as she turns to consider the Duobot, Rodimus delicately, tactfully says, "Maybe we could get a sheet to cover him up between jumps."

"I'd almost rather just cut him out of the engines entirely," Nautica admits. "Then we can give him a proper burial. And I can rebuild the engines so I'm not worrying about what'll happen every time we turn them on. I mean, it could be /anything/. We could end up somewhere odd. He could be alive -- and in agony -- only in those instants when we jump, when the engine power flows through what's left of his systems." And there's some nightmare fuel.

"..." Ultra Magnus begins to speak and then stops in a kind of stutter of breath that eventually resolves into an, "Ah. When you say you could /rebuild/ the engines...?" he begins.

After a moment to move past the horror of her speculation, Rodimus clears his throat. "Can you /do/ that? I sort of figured with the whole--" He interlaces his fingers and locks them tight with an accompanying, "Vorp," for sound effect. "--that it was sort of impossible. Without some kind of magic. Science magic."

"Well, as I said, we'd have to /rebuild/ the engines," Nautica notes with a nod towards Ultra Magnus. There might be a slightly alarming edge of glee in her tone at the prospect. "That would take a whole second list worth of parts."

"I think we may want to hold on that for now," Ultra Magnus says carefully, "at least until we ... see what exactly we might end up stranded in orbit around. Not that I doubt your abilities, merely the wisdom of, ah, ... haste."

"No." Rodimus cuts in firmly, loudly before anyone can say anything that even hints that Nautica should start making a second list. A second long list. A second long, horrifying list. "Not -- yet. We'll consider it," he promises. "But first things first: checking the sign."

Is that an air of disappointment? After a moment, Nautica tilts her head, conceding the point. "Alright. Then we may want to rig up some sort of covering for him, at least." Because while it didn't seem to bother her for the first few days, it's clearly /starting/ to get on her nerves now!

Ultra Magnus glances toward the engine. His look measures a long moment silent before he says, "...Yes. I can see how that would improve morale."

Rodimus bursts from his seat. "I'll get someone on that that," he promises as he lands light on his feet. He's already one step toward the door. What's that? A made up duty he can run off on, thereby escape Ultra Magnus's humorless stare? AWESOME. "Thanks for the list, Nautica! It's very -- thorough."

"Well, when it comes to things that violate the laws of physics, nature, and the fundamental underpinnings of the universe, it always pays to be careful," Nautica replies brightly. "I mean, you don't want to end up in an alternate universe. Or with two of you running around. Or half of you." This last with a pointed effort /not/ to glance over at the Duobot.

"I think one of each is the correct amount," Ultra Magnus agrees firmly. He looks faintly uncertain, glancing between Nautica and the engine, as if it has not hitherto been explained to him that its existence violates the laws of physics, or any other kinds of natural laws. He looks uncomfortable. He glances after the retreat of his commanding officer with a faint narrowing of his gaze, but appears prepared to allow his quarry to create the illusion of distance before he closes in on him, because he returns his attention to Nautica instead of immediately hunting him down. He says, "Are those very likely?"

Rodimus makes good on his escape, putting the speed in speedster.

"No, of course not!" Nautica replies instantly. Then she pauses, and adds, "Well, I mean, define 'likely'. I mean, usually there's only a 4 or 5 percent chance of that sort of thing happening, and that's if the engine hasn't been tuned. I mean, the state /this/ engine's in, it's higher, but still not /that/ bad. Only, say, 14 percent. Maybe 20 at most."

"A twenty percent likelihood," Ultra Magnus repeats a little faintly. He makes a quiet noise in the depths of his frame, a little grating shift of gears not entirely unlike the clearing of his throat. "But with a correctly functioning engine there's still a four or five percent margin for ... quantum errors? Is there other preventative maintenance we need to do?" Now Rodimus will get plenty of time to escape, maybe even time enough to grow complacent in his freedom from lecture, because Ultra Magnus is going to start asking Nautica all kinds of questions in preemptive engineering failure analysis, and even vainly attempt to understand the answers.

Magnus is in /such/ luck, because Nautica can lecture on this for /hours/. It turns out there are any /number/ of ways to reduce the risk, even getting it down to miniscule sub-1% values! Of course, none of them are straightforward, and most of them involve having redundant systems (like the engine that's taken over the bulk of the work for the one with a Duobot stuck in it), but Nautica will detail them at length for Magnus' documentation.

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