2015-04-01 Cut Asunder and Broken
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Cut Asunder and Broken|
|Participants||Rodimus, Chromedome, Tailgate, Nautica, Knock Out, Ultra Magnus|
|Summary||The Lost Light sends a shuttle down to check out a planet that breaks apart underfoot. They rescue a castaway! Kinda.|
What was once a planet is now... a collection of ash and dust. It would have been an anomalily because it was nothing. No life, no movement. What was is now long gone.
What has been left is an earth-sized ball of passibly solid soot. Where the north magnetic pole had been now there is a cored out tunnel down to what had been the planet'ls core - also inert. Lifeless. Two giant craters have been struck in the northern hemisphere that upon a closer (orbital) examination actually show to be a series of smaller craters. Arranged in a pattern reminiscent of a handprint?
Welcome to the vampire planet.
Knock Out is here -- in case of emergency, clearly. You know, medical emergency and all that. Which is not to say he's not armed, because this is a freaking weird-looking planet and forget not being /armed/ for this. "Has anyone else noticed that this planet is /extremely/ strange and likely holds fatal secrets?" he wonders of the rest of the team.
"Okay, /not/ fangs. That's where the giant space vampire grabbed onto the planet!" Rodimus declares this with triumph, which is perhaps not the wisest or the smartest attitude to take but certainly the Roddiest. They have a little time to dicker about it in descent, and then the shuttle heads straight to the tunnel that cores the planet. "Awesome, right?" he says to Knock Out with enthusiasm.
Ever since this world showed up on the scanners, Nautica has been deeply buried in every single sensor output she can get her hands on. Is there any radio emanations from the world? Any radiation? Any quantum irregularities in the surrounding space? The more she examines every piece of data, the more intrigued she becomes, and Primus preserve anyone who actually makes the mistake of trying to ask her a question about what she's found; her answers may not be comprehensible to anyone short of Brainstorm or Perceptor. Needless to say, had she not been invited onto the shuttle, she would've simply clung to the exterior hull to get down and take a look at things.
"Maybe we'll find nothing but dust. Possible, don't you think," Chromedome posits. He did, in fact, ask Nautica a question. Clearly he regretted it. He's just going to say sweet nothings about nothing now.
Ultra Magnus's enthusiasm is more reserved than that of several of his companions, to the surprise of no one ever. His frown is faint, a kind of lingering aura that cloaks him beyond the borders of his expression. He says: "Our mission is to seek out survivors, if any, and to find out what may have occurred here and what may yet be a risk. If there are no survivors, there may still be something that Nautica can learn from the dust." It's possible that she has impressed him with her level of detail.
The more that Tailgate finds himself included, the more aware he is of his own inaccuracies; of course, he can't just tell anyone that. Still, he does have a tendency to show his nerves from time to time. AS they pass straight to the tunnel that burrows deep through the planet, he is struck by the sheer scale of it. "I have!" Tailgate raises his hand at Knock Out, though lowers it after he realizes that this was not a question made of excitedness.
"Oh, there's probably nothing more than dust there. There's not even any /time/ down there." Nautica seems oblivious to Chromedome's efforts to escape her ongoing explanation, as she cheerfully continues. "The planet is chronologically dead. I've never encountered an area like this; it's not even entirely certain what will happen when we land. It's even possible anything on the planet could become frozen in time as well, though that's not very likely. We should all watch our chronometers carefully and see if they become out-of-sync with the ship at all!" It is, perhaps, surprising she managed that entire paragraph without using the word 'quantum' even once.
"Awesome as long as you go first, Captain," Knock Out replies to Rodimus with a sunny smile. Into the breach, you. Go ahead. You first. He glances at Tailgate with the barest hint of exasperation. "Be careful it doesn't eat you, tiny."
No radiation. No decay. That's already been done, as Nautica will no doubt discover. Everything that had gone into making this a planet is now gone. The irregularity of that is what presents is what would have stood out, and of course prompted investigation.
The tunnel at the northern pole is immense at the mouth of it. It's wide enough for a Iacon to sink into it. Yet, the deeper one is to probe - or dare to venture into - that tunnel the more it will narrow. It's conical in nature, tampering down to no more than the width of a couple of Ultra Magnusi standing towering shoulder-to-towering shoulder at the planet's (former) center.
Nearing the surface will kick up clouds of wispy blackened dust. It's flakey, like volcanic ash - for those familiar with such a thing. To step into it would be like walking in snow (also for those familiar with it), and thus no doubt slow going. The walls of the tunnel however are a little firmer, as whatever removed existence from this world did so with some measure of heat or speed, so that the walls of the tunnel are hardened enough to not break away to smoke.
Outside, a round purple saucer followers after the official landing party. It is another of the Lost Light crew, just someone who wasn't specifically invited along but has taken the opportunity to stretch his space-legs. A Decepticon space scout, like Cosmos, only he is taller and lankier in his root mode, and who goes by the name 'Orbitell' (since he also relays comms). <<Ain't ever seen anything like that!.. His remarks are meant most for himself though in speaking 'aloud' like that, well, maybe Orbitell is hoping for an invite to make this tag-along more sanctionable.
"So if we get frozen here of a sudden, what's your back up plan?" Chromedome asks of Nautica, terse but at least retaining some little bit. "How long do we plan to be here?"
"Well that sounds -- weird." Rodimus says. Notably he does not in any way slow, much less /halt/ their approach. "You pick that up Drift?" he checks on the comm. On receiving an affirmative, he cheerfully goes on, "So if we get stuck, scoop us up, yeah?" Leadership means not stopping in the face of danger. ONWARD.
When the shuttle lands, Rodimus is first out with a hop down. "We'll be here until we make sure there's no one hiding. Come on. Let's hit the tunnel. I wanna see." He could probably come up with a better reason if he tried, but not a more honest one.
Knock Out sighs. It's a wistful sort of sigh, the kind that longs for happier days toiling under Megatron's leadership. "I just want to note to everyone that I'll remember it in your medical care if you duck to let something scratch me."
"Oh." Tailgate peers at Nautica as she explains the apparent time dilation. It's something that Tailgate is intimate with, that's for sure. He taps idly at his torso, small sounds above where his own chronometer lies deeper down. "I hope I don't get stuck in another hole for another few million years, though." He'll settle for a couple weeks, surely. That said, Tailgate is not long after Rodimus. One step for small bots, and so forth.
"Oh, that's /hardly/ the most likely outcome," Nautica assures Chromedome cheerfully. "If the planet was that far gone, the effect would cause all sort of disturbances in local spacetime, and probably tear this system apart. We likely would've already broken in half when the Lost Light got near. I suppose the better way to explain it would be to say that this planet's been sucked dry of everything, even /entropy/. What's left here is so dead, it can't even decay. Not even on a quantum level."
You knew that word had to come up eventually.
"For as long as it takes /within reason/," Ultra Magnus says, "as while I am sure this rock is of great scientific interest--" He doesn't actually complete this thought, but as the shuttle touches down and they clear it, he steps off with a heavy thunk that puffs ash gently around the impact of his metallic boot. "It's also possible for an isolated place like this to be used as a haven for more ordinary criminals. There may be Decepticons," a beat's pause when it occurs to him that there is present company he needs to actually except from this, "or pirates or some nefarious persons using the tunnel as a hideaway. Stay alert."
Chromedome lets out something like a sigh. "As long as it's perfectly safe, Nautica. Did you just say it's perfectly safe?"
"I'm particularly worried about the Decepticons," Knock Out says, because he's a brat. But then he seems to pause, as if there /are/ some Decepticons even little red Decepticons are afraid of.
"It's as safe as anything else the _Light's_ crew has done," Nautica assures Chromedome, without looking up from her sensor readings. "This dust... it's difficult to tell, but this world was once /thriving/. Most of that dust on the surface was once alive." She pauses, and then clarifies, "Well, /organic/ life, anyway. No sign of Cybertronian materials, so it probably wasn't one of the lost colonies."
Stepping on the planet is going to kick up dust, but without an atmosphere to contain the particles they won't linger for long. There will be sinkage to each step, and those with small point feet (*coughTailgatecough*) are apt to sink more than others. Larger feet = more surface area. So, snowshoe-like feet will help travelers here. Moving closer to the tunnel will find more 'dense' dust to step on, more flakier.
<< He knows there are Cons here, right? >> Orbitell radios Knock Out specifically there. He hasn't been told to leave yet, so the saucerbot takes that as permission to not return to the Lost Light. He rockets past and then heads up, further out to space. Seeking to prove useful, he scans. << I am not detecting much sound having left the planet, sir. Any radio transmissions were natural. I'm not getting an echo of anything leaving the planet...>>
"Glad to hear that. Walking the corpse of one of /our/ planets would be depressing." Chromedome lifts a broad foot and narrows his eyeplate at the flaky ground. "More depressing."
What about oversized-teenaged-boy-sneaker-like feet? Because that'd be Rodimus, light-limbed and heavy-footed. Sneaker-footed. /Snowshoe-footed/. "So the dust is like -- ash? Something just burnt ... everything? Huh." His spoken words echoed over radio, carrying to Orbitell, Rodimus says, "Then let's see if there's anything still /inside/ the planet." He looks down, down, down with a growing grin. "I bet Bumblebee is so bored," he gloats. "Definitely not spelunking weird alien planets. What could've made that kind of hole, Nautica?"
Tailgate does his level best to pay heed to Ultra Magnus and Nautica both; the latter has him reconsidering where he stands on the ashen surface. He peers down at his feet, ash up past his knees. He tries to pull his feet up as he takes more steps, trailing behind. "This is suddenly--" Tailgate responds, afflicted in tone and expression. "More gross than I thought it would be?"
"I'm fairly certain he's aware," Knock Out replies to Orbitell over the comms, a certain dry humor in his tone. "A very large drill?" he supposes to Rodimus's question. Drills are great, guys.
"There will be ample opportunity to rinse your feet when you return to the shuttle," Ultra Magnus says with a weight of grim seriousness not traditionally applied to this subject. He paces forward, ignoring the way his feet delve deep into the ashy ground, leaving giant Magnus footprints for even the most clueless to follow him with. "Is there any possibility the ... dead ... planet could be interfering with our sensors and obscuring life signs?"
"I'm not certain a drill that large would be /practical/. Whatever did this, it was on an incredible scale, and the amount of power involved would be enormous. Colonies worth of energon." Nautica steps out into the dust after the others, considering things for a moment. Abruptly, she shifts into her altmode for the first time since the Light's crew have met her, revealing a sleek vehicle with wings bearing turbines. She settles onto the ash and then... sinks into it.
<< That's distressing,>> Orbitell digitally frowns back to Knock Out. What should he expect though? It is Ultra Magnus. << Maybe we should point out to him tha-...>> But the spacecon doesn't complete that as something distracts him. << Huh, well, that's something. >> Orbitell drops down, headed to the surface, so that he meets the crew at the tunnel's edge (ah, the benefits of flying over all that soot rather than walking it).
<< So, >> he radios everyone. He's so used to relaying calls that it tends to be how he talks, when he does. << I didn't get much *leaving* the planet, but approaching it was a whole other story. Check *this* out. >> What he plays back for you all then is nothing less than a screech, wailing and intense, shrill and menacing. << That's dialed down to about a 1 from a natural scale of about a thousand, >> he FYIs.
"Could that be," Chromedome tries at Nautica, "the sound of entropy winding down? The sound of a billion dust particles settling rough. Right?"
It's a sound that shivers right up Rodimus's back to snap his shoulders square and spoiler upright. "Well that's a /sound/. Explanations?" He stares blankly at Chromedome, then narrows his eyes to try to determine if he is serious. What is entropy.
Tailgate starts cheating. He hops to the side to walk in Magnus' trail instead, from footfall to footfall, unafraid of using someone much larger to cut a swath for him. You could say he's... tailgating. The screech in his receptors has him startling just a little. "Or... screaming?" Less sciencey, still freakish.
From afar, Chromia thinks UM is the most alert! Headed towards the planet is a shooting star-like small comet.
"/PRIMUS/." Knock Out startles visibly, almost reaching to cover his ears, despite the sound coming over internal communications. "A little /warning/ next time?" His gaze snaps over to Rodimus. "A sure sign that we should not be here."
<< Hey, no one turned down the volume for me when I came across the original. You should be thankful I turned it down to something bearable! Near as I can tell though,>> Orbitell relays, << That was done right on top of the planet. So I doubt it was a warning since there wouldn't have been opportunity to flee. I'll try to scan into it more,>> he says then more for the Bots. <<See if I can pick out anything.>>
Lifting his head as he tromps through the ash, Ultra Magnus seems to go even more neutral at the menacing wail that ricochets through the playback, its discordance grinding the set of his jaw. After a beat's pause that he spends with the sweep of an alert glance roving their pocked and burnt surroundings, he observes: "Superstition aside, there is a spatial object incoming," and points sky--or space--ward toward an increasingly apparent something on a cometary arc, trailing dust that might shimmer more with more of an atmosphere.
<< That doesn't sound like entropy to me. It sounds like a nightmare, or some myth you'd tell to scare fresh sparks. >> Nautica's altmode surfaces from the ash a short distance away from the others, turbines spinning as she rests atop the surface of the dead world. << Also, anyone need a lift? I can move through this fairly easily. >>
After a moment, Nautica adds, << Either way, we need to go down if we want answers; whatever happened here, it happened to the core first. All the other energy was pulled down through the world to the core, and drained from there. >>
"I thought a little screaming entropy would keep our spirits up better than a nightmare," Chromedome remonstrates with that touch of sigh again, and yet he is treading forward steady enough. Apprehension in his voice as it is. "Let's not get too close to the source if we don't have to."
"That's what I'm talking about!" Rodimus crows at Nautica's suggestion. He looks ready to dive in -- literally -- but hesitates briefly to look back at Ultra Magnus. "A what where? Lost Light, you seeing what he's talking about?" he calls up to the ship.
Tailgate feels a small relief that Nautica agrees on the nightmare fuel factor. He peers over at her altmode from his current location inside one of the large footprints, lifting his hand at her, giving a small wave. "Nautica!" The little could use a lift. He's about to say as much when his attention is called upwards, to find where Ultra Magnus is pointing. What where is right.
The comet to which Ultra Magnus refers is indeed headed straight for this once-planet. It's not moving *too* fast, not under it's own propulsion. The brightness can be attributed to the shiny metallic hull of the craft-like device that is inbound!
"Sorry, Rodimus, can you repeat?" That would be Perceptor that replies. "What we are seeing back here is fascinating. I can't wait to analyzewhat data Nautica must be collecting but what are you referring to?" A beat. "Oh, yes. I see it now. It's not made of anything *I* am aware of." That's helpful, right?
Orbitell looks up. << I'd offer to shoot it down but my saucer mode has no weapons, >> and his gun he surrendered when he boarded the Lost Light.
"Go see what it is. Nautica, can you keep pace with him?" Rodimus directs, looking upward.
"Uhh." Knock Out peers up at the sky. "Are we in -- immediate danger?"
You're about to find out, Knock Out! (sorry, couldn't resist)
<< I've got limited space capabilities, but I'm not exactly capable of takeoff under my own power, >> Nautica replies to Rodimus, still remaining in altmode. << I can follow along on the surface easily enough, or if someone can get me enough altitude I can join him up there. >>
"If Perceptor doesn't know what it is," Ultra Magnus mutters to Rodimus, "we may wish to consider getting clear. . ." (Dot dot dot.)
Orbitell takes to space as he adopts his saucer-mode and away he goes! He swoops up to get a better, closer look at the inbound thing. It's a small craft, about half the size of his saucer or Nautica's submarine. Yet when he draws near, without touching or firing upon it, it shakes! A proximity trigger perhaps? But it explodes! The blast catches Orbitell unaware and he tumbles off and away into deeper space.
The debris from the thing rains down with far more force than the craft had been on under it's own power. Where shards hid the surface they kick up huge pillowing plumes of smoky dust, cutting deep intothe ashen planet. Another strike and the whole surface seems to shift, threatening to give way - and there's much more debris in-bound! And a piece of that wreckage is a silvery Tailgate-sized figure.
"I think our time is running out," Chromedome /politely/ sterns, his wide arms flung out as if for balance, his eyeplate fixated elsewhere. "Retreat to the tunnels? What?"
Oops. There goes Orbitell. "Track his trajectory for pickup if he doesn't recover on his own, would you?" Rodimus orders the shipside crew. Tumbling away into deep space, forever alone in the dark, is just a little too grim for even Decepticons. He shows far less alarm in the face of the explosion than he should, despite Ultra Magnus's muttered aside. His gaze sharpens on the figure that falls from the debris. "Nope: shuttle first, see who /that/ is, offer aid, then we come back when things are more settled."
Nautica has already started towards where the figure is falling, leaving a trail through the dusty 'sea' of this dead world. She pauses, however, when Rodimus calls for a pull back to the shuttle. << I can scout on ahead first, give you a report. If it's a threat, I can move down into the ash where it's hard to follow. >>
"Yes, let's run straight towards the unknown danger," Knock Out agrees. Don't worry, he's here to patch you up.
Orbitell, as long as he's not just ditched, should be able to recover and make it back under his own power. He is a saucer, afterall! Would folks worry about Cosmos adrift in space! He's alive at least as he radios out an, <<Ow.>>
Another impact and then another. Without the atomic bonds to really hold the planet together, that shrapnel that cuts through all the soot causes the vampire planet to start to - well - drift apart. The soot might prove to be dense enough to walk on but there's not enough resistance there to prevent the wreckage to cut right through it. The vampire planet begins to drift apart.
"Ah, Rodimus..." From the Lost Light Perceptor sounds worried.
The silvery figure, feminine in shape but featureless in most any other way, is unmoving. Unconscious? Dead? Easily caught regardless! Yet also since it is the most dense of all the comet-craft debris, could also be the final blow to tear the place apart.
If Cosmos were in stasis lock, maybe! But since he's fine ... ish, Rodimus banishes Oribtell from his thoughts. Sorry, buddy. "If you can get to them first, bring them back," he agrees with Nautica, and hangs back to make sure everyone else gets to the shuttle without incident. Even if that means plucking tiny Tailgate's little feet up out of the dust to toss him the hatch.
"Yes, sir," Ultra Magnus says. If there is sourness to be detected here, it is surely no more than usual. As the shifting surface of the dead planet beneath seems to be cracking asunder, he looks down, and, carefully, moves so that he is walking entirely on one piece, rather than straddling one of the cracks. Soot clouds out around him, powdering up his legs.
Tailgate plants his feet wider as the surface shifts on the second impacts, casting a look about at the plumes of ash and dust that the series of them leaves ahead of the descent. What is that? He tips his head to glance at Knock Out, and anything he has to say about doctors and compassion is lost when he notes the planet under them starting to further shift. "Uh oh." Time to go. Even if the last legs are spent being allyooped back into the shuttle.
Chromedome's eyeplate fixes on Ultra Magnus's back, and then he's readjusting his feet, trying to stabilize against these growing rifts. "We need a pick up. Quickly. I'd follow you anywhere, Rodimus, but I'm not specced for endless void," he seriouses.
"Okay, /this/ is definitely one of those times when it seems smart to be elsewhere," Knock Out says, looking down at the shifting ground at his feet. NO. STOP THAT.
Nautica sinks slightly into the ash, then tears off across the surface of the world. She'll make it to the figure before the world breaks apart entirely. << Don't leave without me, >> she notes to Rodimus. << I don't think Caminus Aerial Taxi serves this far out of their usual range. >> When she reaches the figure, she adds, << Ready for pickup aaaaany time now, along with... I'm not sure who this is. This is not one of us, but I don't think she's from around here, either. >>
<< Chromia would kill me, >> Rodimus promises to Nautica with an audible smile. << We won't leave you. >> The transmission is narrow, sent just to her.
"Come on, Chromedome, it's not that bad." Rodimus slaps his shoulder -- his massive, over-sized wheel-shoulder -- on his way to the shuttle's controls to go pick up Nautica. Even with the planet falling apart all around them, he doesn't lose an edge of aggressively cheerful optimism. This is exciting!!!
Sorry, no Knock Out, it's not going to stop any time soon. IN fact, it only gets worse. As the landing party dash back to the safety of the shuttle the surface very literally crumples out from beneath their feet! Less and less of the planet is there for Nautica to navigate back through.. though just enough. As she makes it back all that is left behind her is dust. Literally.
"Oh good, you didn't perish," Perceptor says, sounding relieved. "We should collect some samples," he notes as more and more of the vampire starts to drift away.
The figure Nautica has picked up is smooth if not a little slippery because of it. But... warm. Thus, functional? There's no external movement but there is the sound of internal parts - gears? - in motion.
"I believe it may be exactly that bad, Captain," Ultra Magnus states, as one might state facts. He doesn't even take the necessary time to clean his feet off before he boards the shuttle -- it's probably for the best considering the planetary necrosis going on outside. "Did you say you wanted samples, Perceptor?" (He appears to have tracked in a number of potential samples on his boots, for example.)
"Well, you're welcome to hold a net into space, because that's what this entire planet is crumbling into," Knock Out says over the comms, peering out the window of the shuttle as they escape.
"Oh. We've got samples. I've samples settling in every seam." Rodimus stretches as though he can shake it out. Then he makes a face. "Ugh. /Every/ seam." And it itches. He does a headcount, making sure that he's not forgetting anyone of the crew that hit the planet. He's a little less immediately concerned for the mystery figure. His primary attention is on making sure everyone is safely aboard as the shuttle returns to the ship.
"You know me, Magnus. Always willing to deal with what our fair Captain steps in," Perceptor answers UM dryly.