2016-07-15 The Fallen
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Summary||("I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant" -- Isoroku Yamamoto) Coalback gives the engineers a tour of the mines|
After the Lost Lighters returned from the ruined capital carrying with them buried treasure, Coalblack has been even more interested in tagging along and showing them around. He's even moseyed sideways up to approaching the question of what they'd even do with the Titan if they found him a couple of times before shying away and asking them about Cybertronian pop culture, about music, about jokes -- about the war. What the hell, 4 million years of war??
Now, he's showing them past the ruins of the city, deeper into the winding tunnels, towards the shafts of an old energon mine. "We try not to dig down as far as the oldtimers dug because it might wake the god," Coalblack explains offhandedly as he lopes through the gently glowing wall-weed toward what is clearly a solidly built metal structure. "Some...how."
Wheeljack is no geologist, but the prospect of exploring more and finding something in the mines is more than enough to tempt him out away from the Convoy's camp. Not that he expects to find buried treasure again, but anything interesting will be worth the trip, in his opinion. "Probably a good idea regardless," he comments offhandedly, his attention on the structure ahead. "Any idea how deep they went?"
After the sucess of the last excursion, Brainstorm has only become more eager to get some exploration in while he has time. Sure, his current finds are interesting too, but he can look over them properly later. Like Wheeljack, he's not expecting more heaps of precious metals, but that's not what interests him anyways "Would be interesting though. I mean, something like that might colapse half your tunnels, but it would still be interesting."
Coalblack spreads his hands wide. "I can't say," he says. Stepping over a curving cleft in the rock, he hops up next onto a platform. It is the kind of elevator that owes more to the mechanical age than the digital one. Chain, lever and pulley, simple engineering, allow him to start hauling on the chain to start moving the platform down a level. It is not the most efficient contraption. It is very noisy. Coalblack has to raise his voice to be heard over it as he says: "We'll be able to get a good look at the shafts, but you won't be able to see how far they go. Cherrypick says you can drop a stone down one of the shafts and it falls so far you never hear it hit bottom."
"That's more than enough for me to know not to fall in," Wheeljack says, raising his own voice to be heard over the clatter of the lift. In some ways, the mechanical lift is a reassuring sight, after the electric lock on the bank. That's tech that can't sieze up on them, and between him and Brainstorm most things that could go wrong with it are easily fixed.
Brainstorm regards the lift with a mix of distaste and pitty. Saves energon, sure, but it's so primitive! The talk of a botomless pit, however, draws his attention. A curious light flashes through his optics "And no one's ever tried climbing down to the bottom? Just to see how deep it is?"
"Well, I sure haven't." Coalblack turns a bright, interested gaze on Brainstorm. "I mean, Shadeborer says delving deep angers the Titan, so nobody does it, I guess? We just try to get energon from veins closer to our level. Here." The platform grinds to a halt and he lets go the chains, hopping off the lift and onto a ramp extending from the natural cave wall.
It's clear from viewing the construction of the operation that it was once ... extensive. It opens out before them in row after row of platforms and supports, with a system of mining carts and tubes running deeper into the rock. Coalblack uses a handlight to help guide their way, but there are numerous working lights here. "You can get a pretty cool echo in some of these depths," he says.
Numerous working lights or not, Wheeljack's still brightening up his fins and turning on headlights. Can't hurt to have the extra source of illumination, just in case something goes wrong while they're down here. "So how often do you come here?" he asks aloud, as he hops off the lift and steps forward to take in the extent of the mines evidenced by the sheer amount of equipment here.
"Hmmm" Brainstorm narrows his optics slightly, his expression telling of a mind at work. He probably shouldn't be allowed down here without supervision (though that shouldn't be a problem. He's not so crazy enough to wander off on his won on an unknown planet that's home to land whales). Whatever it is that's going on in his head, it's put aside for now, as their guide leads them in to the mines "And how much energon can you usually get?"
"Well, I don't," Coalblack says, "unless one of the miners needs my help with a grenade." His servos tink at the back of his head as he scratches here, loping forward across the ramp and onto the natural stone and then onward towards one of the tracks. "There are mines like this all over Dunia, so we try not to stay at any one for too long. 'Swhy we're nomads, if you stay too long at one you might wake something up. Some of them are pretty close to ... dry, near the surface. We used to go to a different mine about a hundred clicks from here but the last relays from Garnet Convoy are that you just can't get any more out of it."
"Our kind of mech here," Wheeljack says to Brainstorm when Coalblack makes his comment about grenades. His fins are lit up with amusement. Figures that the two scientists with a reputation for explosive results would end up with a colonist of the same. He steps up the pace to keep up with Coalblack's lead, still looking over the mines around them. "Do you have any devices for energon detection? Seems like a useful tool to have, if you're hunting out the last veins. Brainstorm, weren't you making something like that, just not for mining?"
Brainstorm grins under his faceplate. He's liking this guy too. Good style. Wheeljack's question, however, earns him a confused look "Was I? I don't think I was, but I can. Shouldn't be too hard."
"I'm our chemist," reports Coalblack with a bright grin, slanting sidelong across the two of them. "Our tech level ... well, the nomad life isn't great for research. I mean, we've got sensors but anything sophisticated ... not really." He leads them to a cart, which he swings his legs over and takes hold of the lever for directing it -- more manual operations! "I bet if you did, Cherrypick would love you for it."
"If we can't whip something up before we leave, I wouldn't be surprised if there are schematics for one in the ship's library," Wheeljack says, nodding back at Coalblack. He pauses as he hops up to join Coalblack in the mine cart, using one hand for balance as he jumps into it. Hopefully Coalblack won't mind Wheeljack leaning in to get a good look at those manual controls, because that's what he's doing.
"I'm our weapons engineer" Brainstorm in turn informs their guide "And ship's genius. I make other things too. Post-war diversification and everything" following Coalback and Wheeljack's lead, Brainstorm hops in to the cart, adjusting himself so that his long shoulder fins don't smack his companions in the head "Do you have anything down here that's automated?"
Coalblack may be one of those mechs for whom personal space is something that happens to other people, because he seems wholly unbothered by Wheeljack's proximity. The controls are pretty simple: direction, forward propulsion, brakes. "I think there was a push to automate stuff in the old days. When I was just forged, I remember people talking about more robotics. Just before the city fell and we escaped." His smile grows a little more wry. "Kinda changes your priorities, I guess. We like to control our momentum." He steers them forward along the tracks, and the cart sails out through the mines. They pass a few mostly dark shafts and go deeper in through a wide open space in the cavern.
Curiosity mostly satisfied, Wheeljack is willing to sit back and let Coalblack take the controls, though he's leaned forward enough to keep an eye on what Coalblack is doing with them. "Makes sense," Wheeljack comments, grabbing onto the side as the cart begins to move. "Makes it easier for us to use it now." That said, he's watching carefully. There's only so much one will trust an ancient mine cart. "Much as it might put me out of a job... sometimes a simple solution is best," he says with a wry chuckle. "Though I guess you don't agree, Brainstorm."
The last time Brainstorm rode in something like this, he ended up snagging his wing, and then faceplanting on to the pavement. Clearly, that wasn't enough to deter him. Then again, he's not having to jump in to the cart while it's careening down the track at rediculous speeds. Nonehteless, he too grabs on to the edge "Seems like a more complex solution to me. You just end up doing more work in the long run instead of doing a bit at the begining and then avoiding it later. It would be pretty simple too. It's not like we're talking about building a quantumn engine."
"We don't tend to stay in one place long enough to want to do the initial outlay, though," Coalblack says peaceably, although he definitely looks wistful at that last. Quantum engine. Escape. The mine chart chuffs along at the steady pace put into effect by the stroke of Coalblack's arm on the lever, and then he brakes as they reach an active shaft, lit both by the wall lights and by a couple of portable lanterns. There's the noise of an extractor working to pull energon raw from the rock, coming from a little ways down the shaft.
The cart worked well enough! Not that he was expecting it to explode or go off of the tracks or something. Once the cart comes to a stop, Wheeljack is prepared to leap out of it and start looking around. The sound of the extractor is enough to set him searching for the device, Machinery like that is interesting, as it's not something they have and deal with on the Lost Light. "Not exactly a project you can pass off between convoys, either," he remarks.
Okay, good. No jumping out of moving carts again either. Once was enough, thank you very much. Puling himself out of the cart after Wheeljack, Brainstorm joins his coleague in the search "I dunno. Could be done with propper comunication. Someone designs it, sends the plans to the next couple convoys coming through that way, and everybody does a bit of work on it" glancing over his shoulder, he calls back to Coalback "Do you guys ever return to mines you've already mined, or do you just get what you can and move on?"
"We don't stay long enough to exhaust any, so we kind of go in a circuit," Coalblack admits. "We try not to work any mine another convoy has worked recently, though. Obvious reasons." He paces over to the edge of the dropoff and peers down over the side. There's a ladder with rungs under his feet, and the visible mechanism for another mechanized rather than robotized or automated elevator, although no platform. Below, there's a small, cherry red miner working judiciously, working with a considerably higher-tech extractor that hums with energy as it goes.
"Hey! Cherrypick! I brought their engineers!" calls Coalblack down the shaft. His voice echoes remarkably. There's a lot of empty space around here.
"Hello!" Wheeljack waves down toward the bright red mech as Coalblack calls down to introduce them, but waits for any other sign of acknowledgement from the mech before saying anything further. Already, his attention is on that extractor. It's certainly in better shape than the last important piece of colony tech he worked on, though this is clearly just as vital as Transit's engines.
"It could totally be managed, and be beneficial for everyone" Brainstorm reafirms his suggestion as he joins the other two by the shaft "See, this is better. Imagine if you had to do that work by hand!"
The miner looks up. Rather than beginning the laborious process of hauling the elevator platform back up to their level, she transforms to her alt-mode -- apparently an oversized red winged beetle insectoid frame -- to buzz with rapidly vibrating wings upwards. Her eyes are a bright hard glow of pink in her red face for a moment as she stares at them beneath her antennae, and then she drops to the platform and reverts to her root mode. She barely comes up to their hips. "So," says Cherrypick, "this used to be Udun's central mining facility. Whatcha think?"
"They think we should have more automation," Coalblack tells her with a wide and cheeky grin, hands dropping to frame at his hips as he steps back from the edge.
Past them and past the elevator, the shaft does, indeed, seem to vanish into the black depths beneath.
"Hey, I think it's just fine!" Wheeljack says, his fins bright with amusement. "Brainstorm's the one who wants it automated against all odds." speaking of the mining facility, though, Wheeljack takes a step closer to the edge, to look down at the elevator platform and the machinery. With technology to capture his attention the drop hardly seems important in comparison. "Anything we could do to help out here?" Sorry, Brainstorm, you've apparently been volunteered as helper.
"I'm just saying, automating thing would make things a lot easier" Brainstrom deffends his ideas "And it's not 'against all odds. I litterally just suggested a way of actualizing a project like that. Has no one here heard of colaboration?" The machinery is indeed very interesting, but it doesn't stop Brainstorm from picking up a loose stone and chucking it down the shaft. Wheeljack's offer gets no protest.
The stone plonks lightly against the chain and then bounces on downward. It ricochets off the edge of the elevator shaft. It falls into the dark, swallowed up by the silent depths. It's impossible to say when it hits bottom, because it falls too far for the impact to be heard.
Cherrypick looks down after the fallen rock and vents a slow cycle through her systems, shifting her weight between her small boots. "We try not to do any large scale operations here. The depths are ... I guess forbidden's a good a way to say as any. We delved there once. Coalblack said he took you to Udun, so I think you've seen our punishment."
Coalblack glances at Wheeljack and smiles. "Here," he says, "you can have a look--" and he goes to the edge of the platform again, but over to the side to the lever so that he can start dragging the elevator platform up, inch by inch, on its chain. He apparently gets a lot of manual labor in down here.
"We've seen Udun," Wheeljack says, not exactly agreeing, but Coalblack is pulling up the lift before any other conversation can happen. As it's being hauled up, Wheeljack glances between them, slightly concerned. This seems like another instance where the Titan and the things that happened on this planet are avoided by the colonists, and he's not sure he wants to step into the middle of it. Instead, he nods thankfully to Coalblack, and will step forward onto the lift when it's available. The chains rattle and clank noisily and Cherrypick gives Coalblack a glower for the disruption.
"We've seen Udun," Wheeljack says, not exactly agreeing, but Coalblack is pulling up the lift before any other conversation can happen. As it's being hauled up, Wheeljack glances between them, slightly concerned. This seems like another instance where the Titan and the things that happened on this planet are avoided by the colonists, and he's not sure he wants to step into the middle of it. Instead, he nods thankfully to Coalblack, and will step forward onto the lift when it's available.
For a couple moments, Brainstorm continues peering in to the darkness before finally giving up. Deep indeed. He wouldn't mind finding out how deep it really goes, but he didn't really bring the propper equipment, and he is definitely not going down there himself. Instead, he moves to join Wheeljack, oblivious to, or simply ignoring Cherrypick's displeasure "So you're saying that the entire city was leveled just becuase you dug too deep? You sure it wasn't just a random earthquake? Or the big guy just wanted to roll over in his sleep?"
"Oh, he was definitely awake when he smote Udun," Cherrypick says. "He came out of the deeps, glowing with flame and filling all our halls with smoke and ash. He summoned the earthquakes--"
While Coalblack is still hauling it up, there's a faint shudder that seems to tremor out of the depths -- maybe even out of the depths of the mineshaft. The stone shivers around them and then all is still again.
Coalblack pauses in mid-haul and his head lifts in a sudden freeze.
Wheeljack goes still as well at the sudden tremor, bracing his feet and looking around, particularly at the ceiling and any other areas where there might be sections of loose rock. He gives it a few long moments after the tremor has stopped before he takes a pointed step away from the edge of the pit. "Well then," he says into the sudden silence. "I don't suppose you're expecting earthquakes in this area."
"Woah!" Brainstorm stumbles as the ground beneath his feet trembles, staggering away from the edge, just in case "That was certianly encouraging. You guys forget the tranq again?"
"No," says Cherrypick.
"Oh no," says Coalblack. And then: "Oh, scrap."
The mines are quiescent, their stillness continuing for a long moment. Just enough time to begin to wonder if that was all. Then another tremor shivers up from out of the depths. A few more pebbles and fragments of rock, rattling free of the cave wall, drop into the abyss.
Coalblack's sentiment is shared. Wheeljack takes another step back from the mine shaft, then goes still again as the tremors rock them. "Cherrypick," he says, "What should we be expecting here? Is there somewhere with a solid foundation that we should go to for shelter, or...?"
Oh scrap is right. Backing away further from the edge, Brainstorm turns towards their hosts. Wheeljack has laready asked the important question, so the weapons engineer takes the opportunity to add "For the record, that was not my fault. That rock was tiny."
"We have to get out of the mines," Cherrypick says firmly. "We have to get out of here." She reverts to her flying insect mode again, lifting off from the ground. She starts to go after her extractor and then visibly changes her mind and circles back. "Of course it wasn't you," she says, convincingly. She looks warily down below. Then she adds, "I don't know how much time we have."
"This way," Coalblack says. "There's a tunnel through the processing center. We can avoid the elevator shafts. Follow me!" He transforms into the gleaming black-and-red of his racecar form, spoiler a flash of white in the gloom as he starts across the platform.
Fortunately Cherrypick circles back, rather than going after the extractor. "We can see about putting together another one," he offers as she rejoins them, sympathetic to her hesitation. That said, he folds down into his alt-mode and revvs his engine to follow Coalblack's lead. "We can take it," he calls forward to Coalblack. "Just give us a warning if there are obstacles!"
Great, everybody's shiftingh modes, which means Brainstorm has to as well, or risk getting left behind. Flying through a crumbling cave might be someone's idea of a good time, but it certianly isn't his. Of course, being burried in that cave is an even worse option, so flying it is. As the others get going, the weapons engineer kicks off the ground, shifting in to jet mode mid-jump to take off after them "Think of this as an opportunity for an upgrade!"
"If we live that long," Cherrypick calls back as she buzzes more or less in Brainstorm's wake.
Coalblack leads the way. "You got it!" he cries as he races through to the processing center and beyond. There are some obstacles. There are a few close calls. It's not a short road back to the convoy and to the rest of the Lost Lighters. But it is a road, even with the occasional shudder of an earthquake to rain down stone dust upon them all with the threat of cavein. By the time they get back, no warning is necessary. It is clear to Obsidian Convoy already. Udunus wakes.