2016-12-27 A Flying Fright
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|2016-12-27 A Flying Fright|
|Summary||Starstruck finally catches up with Blackstorm|
The outskirts of the space port are surrounded by miles of mud-brick ruins, the relics of former natives pushed out by the arrival of species from the stars. The minibot slips through the haunted streets with an ease that belies familiarity. This place is a common enough stop for smugglers in this sector, a neutral place that is an easy drop-off for illegal immigrants of all species and varieties. And the old ruins provided plenty of space to set up caches and stores to sell for later. On more than one occasion Blackstorm had spent a night watching over a hidden cache in one of these basements.
Blackstorm can tell by the grafiti along the walls when he has entered one of Avarice's neighborhoods, and the hesitant minibot slows his headlong dash. Clambering up the walls, he begins to make his way along the rooftops. He is only here to see one mecha, an old colleague that was on the very short list of those he could trust. Thump, thump, thump. Little puffs of red-brick dust fly into the air as he runs, marking the minibot's path along the rooftops for any who might be paying attention.
Not too long ago, only the previous day, Blackstorm had sent a discrete message to a stranger to meet him here at the center courtyard. As he comes closer he spots his target, hard to miss the titan mecha hunched against the darkening sky. In root mode his helm peeks above the rooftops. The courtyard is the only open space large enough for them to speak. A risk, Blackstorm knows, but one he feels compelled to take. The huge shuttle's optics turn towards the movement leaping across the flat roofs as Blackstorm approaches. << Warwing, long time no see! >>
His greeting is not returned with the same enthusiasm. << You were followed. >>
Thank Primus for Trailhawk. After Blackstorm's frantic call, Starstruck had immediatelly contacted the SIC of his former captain, hoping for some help in locating Blackstorm. Trailhawk obviously hadn't been very happy at being woken up in the middle of the night, but seeing as it was Starstruck - and seeing as Star's best friend, Wrangler, had woken partway through and begged Hawk to help - Trailhawk had agreed to do what he could. It was he who'd mentioned that the ship's onboard computers likely recorded any calls through those terminals, and once Starstruck, during his next shift, rooted around and located the file needed so he could send it to Trailhawk, things started moving forward. Hawk was able, even with just a recording, to trace the coordinates from which the call had been sent. And that was where Starstruck started, putting in an emergency vacation request ("An old friend got sick, heh, I gotta visit 'em, you understand,") and hightailing it off the Lost Light to that location. He's been tracking Blackstorm ever since, trying to remain in the shadows, ready to swoop in like a guardian angel if the need arises.
Which leads us to our current situation. Blackstorm can be hard to tail when he's rushing like this, and Star has had to pick up his pace a bit in order to keep sight of the mini. He slides from shadow to shadow in Blackstorm's rooftop-running wake, his pink biolights dimmed nearly to nothing, the black of his frame helping him blend into the nooks and crannies he sidles into. He's doing a good job, or at least he thinks so, as Blackstorm finally comes to a stop in the courtyard. Starstruck presses against one of the outer walls surrounding the area, peeking ever so carefully around the corner at the enormous mech Blackstorm appears to be meeting, his visor at minimum opacity to keep the shine of his optics from view. Seeing as the two are comming each other, he has no idea he's been found out, and remains in the shadow where he stands, keeping an eye on the proceedings.
Blackstorm skids to a stop on a roof just across from the courtyard. Warwing, even hunched, is a sight to beholdd. A space-faring shuttle that does not bother to make use of mass-displacement, Warwing is thrice the size of an average mecha in root mode. His old friend shifts in the confined space of the courtyard, grinding an old ornate fountain under his pede in the process. Blackstorm flinches at the loud crack of shattering stone. << Followed? Do you mean... >> Blackstorm's optics widen behind his visor. Is Warwing warning him that some of Avarice's cronies are getting ready to swoop down on him? That's the only thing he can think of; Avarice would not be glad to hear his old smuggler is nudging around the old stomping grounds.
Warwing subtly nods in Starstruck's direction. << Not one of ours. You're getting sloppy, Blackstorm. >> Warwing, who is not a big fan of things lurking in the shadows, decides to take things into his own hands.
The massive shuttle slowly spins around, his joints groaning as he leans closer. He reaches out, his hand transforming into a massive turbine with blade-tipped rotors. It's a peculiar weapon to Warwing, and a brutal one at that. It can whip up a wind strong enough to suck most mecha in and dice them to pieces. It gives a threatening whirr. "Who are you? Out," he growls.
Blackstorm isn't the only one who unsettled by the sound Warwing makes as he smashes the stone beneath his pede. Starstruck doesn't quite flinch, but he does grimace. Ugh, not a good noise at all...but even as his antennae hitch back, the hoops in the right one swaying, Starstruck doesn't move. He still has no reason to realize they know he's here...or that Warwing knows he's here, really. He's so certain he's been stealthy enough to pass unnoticed, despite his own size, around half that of Warwing's. He's totally fine, just going to keep observing, nothing to worry ab--
The creaking of joints is Star's first indication that something's off, and when that turbine appears, pointed straight at him, Starstruck forces fluid down his intake and. Yeah he doesn't really have a choice at this point, does he? Stepping out of his shadow and into the open, he puts his servos up, flashing a sheepish smile. "No one! I'm - I'm a friend? Uh. Pretend you never saw me?" He doesn't even dare look at Blackstorm, despite the fact that the mini is the entire reason he's here in the first place.
<FS3> Blackstorm rolls Climbing: Good Success. (3 1 3 2 7 4 8 5 2 7)
<FS3> Blackstorm rolls Reaction+reaction: Failure. (5 6 4 3 2 3 5 1)
<FS3> Blackstorm rolls Magnetism: Failure. (4 6 2 6 2 4)
Blackstorm recognizes that voice. But how?! No time to question this turn of events, though. Reacting on instinct, the minibot leaps down from his perch on the rooftop and aims to land on Starstruck's shoulder. Clang. The tip of his pede brushes across metal, but he cannot secure the handhold before he falls in a heap to the ground. "Wait, wait!" Blackstorm says, stumbling to his pedes. He clears a red puff of dust from his intakes with a loud cough. "He's with me, he's with me!" He throws a glance over his shoulder that screams 'Shut up and let me do the talking,' along with 'How the hell did you get here?'
Warwing hesitates, leaning back from the pair. As his helm silhouttes against the dimming light it's possible to see a slight shiver run through the titan's frame. Even at thrice their size Warwing is obviously terrified. "You s-said you were c-coming alone. What is this about?!"
Starstruck reaches out to catch Blackstorm, he tries so hard, but the mini's already tumbled off by the time he's moving. Possibly it was the giant turbine in his face that made him hesitate long enough to let Blackstorm fall. He's about to give a 'Sorry, sorry!' but Blackstorm's already up and talking and, yeah, he recognizes that glances. He's received it often enough from his old crew. Though, of course, since it's Starstruck, he does what he's always done, what he'd always done even to the crew he'd served with for millions of years, and ignores it anyway.
"He was!" Star interjects quickly, though somehow it manages to be soft and soothing at the same time. "He was. He didn't know. I...followed him. I wasn't supposed to be here, really, whatever you two were gonna do, he didn't plan on me showing up."
Warwing stumbles back a step, moving to put the crumbled fountain between him and these new potential adversaries. The shuttle begins to feel the panic clouding his brain module, his spark pounding audibly in his audios. What if there were more enemies lurking in the shadows? What sort of trap has he been lured into? Why had Blackstorm betrayed him? These are all questions fighting for room in his cramped helm. Blackstorm, knowing Warwing's touchy nature, tries not to cringe when Starstruck interjects. "Shhh, I'm just here to ask you a question, Warwing. I didn't lie to you. We'll be gone before you know it. I just need you to answer one thing," he croons, his voice as soothing as he can make it.
It only works so much. Warwing shakes his helm vigorously. "I'm not an idiot. Why would I believe that? I guess it doesn't matter, though. I only came here to tell you to get out. You're not one of us anymore. You have no business here, and Avarice won't be as nice when he finds you skulking about with your..." Warwing squints at Starstruck, shuddering. Whoever they are.
Aw, no. He's only made things worse. Starstruck cringes enough for both himself and the aborted wince of Blackstorm, his initial protective instincts coming into play. This guy is clearly super freaked out by Star being here. If only he hadn't noticed, things would've been fine! Antennae hitching back, Starstruck shuffles a few feet away, giving a heartfelt, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!" as he does. He ducks his helm, shoulders hunching, servos clutching at each other in front of him. Damnit...
Though Starstruck glances up at the 'skulking' comment, he manages to keep his mouth shut this time. So yeah maybe he'd been skulking around, but Blackstorm hadn't been involved. Knowingly, anyway. He remains subdued for now, fang digging into his lower lip, optics bright with worry though barely seen beneath his visor.
"Friend, Warwing, he's just a friend," Blackstorm assures him, but even as he speaks his posture is drooping. When Warwing gets like this he is impossible to reason with. All he can do is ask his question before Warwing scurries to safety. "That's why I'm here. This is about a friend, too. Someone took her, Warwing. I just wanted to know if you'd heard anything about anyone selling a pilfered shuttle around here. That's all. You want to help me help her, don't you?" he virtually begs, his voice building to a whine.
Warwing's armor is twitching as he resists the urge to transform and fly away. He's just as likely to get into trouble when word of this gets back to Avarice, and now that he suspects that Blackstorm has betrayed them he wants to be the first to get back and report it to Blackstorm's former boss, anything to seem uninvolved. Blackstorm should have known this would happen if he went back on his word and brought a stranger along. How can he trust that? One thing makes him hesitate, though. "... Her?" the shuttle mutters, mouth twitching into a frown of consternation.
"Blackstorm, you don't mean her, do you? You told me you retired her. Blackstorm, we talked about this."
Blackstorm hesitates, holding out his hands in a helpless gesture. "Warwing, what was I supposed to do? I had to sell everything to pay my debts to Avarice. She was all I had left. Not even Avarice wanted her."
Starstruck is biting his glossa hard, metaphorically, as this conversation continues. In actuality he's just biting his lip, his fang digging so deeply into the plating that any more pressure will likely split the thin metal and have energon trickling down his chin. Everything would have been fine if Star could have remained in the shadows but noooooo. Now he's out in the open and he may have possibly ruined one of Blackstorm's few leads on finding Ravenwing. The guilt is strong in this one, a tidal wave that washes over him as Blackstorm and Warwing keep talking. He'd wanted to help, not jeopardize things--
Star glances up again, just a bit, when the conversation changes to a different tone. He wants to say something, something like Don't judge him, don't guilt him for this. He continues to keep quiet, thankfully. Even if the words claw their way up his throat, screaming for release. He'll hold them back.
"And she was stolen?" Warwing asks, to clarify. Hearing the truth spoken so plainly leaves Blackstorm without words, and all he can manage is a slight nod in reply. The shuttle falls silent at this revelation, optic ridges knitting behind his visor. For a fleeting moment all that the years had changed between them melted away and they were simply comrades once more.
"Blackstorm," Warwing hesitates. "If I had known how you would latch onto her, I never would have agreed to help recycle her in the first place. Have you thought that maybe this is for the best? Look what she does to you. You're willing to risk your life for someone who is dead. Even if I knew anything, and I don't, why would I tell you?"
His optics dance upwards, locking on Starstruck, the visible reminder of all that has come between them. "You're not one of us anymore. Get out of here, Blackstorm. I don't know what you're really up to, but I don't want anything to do with it. I'm not risking my life for one of your dumb plans."
Blackstorm can sense it, Warwing's imminent departure. The minibot scrambles forwards into the courtyard as Warwing's armor shifts to alt mode. "WAIT, WAIT," he begs, his voice lost in the roar of Warwing's engines as he begins to lift off.
<FS3> Starstruck rolls Reaction+reaction: Success. (6 4 6 8)
<FS3> Starstruck rolls Fortitude: Good Success. (3 6 4 2 8 4 2 4 5 7)
If Starstruck had cringed before, it had nothing on how he winces now. That's really harsh, dude. Again, he wants to say something, something about how Warwing is being too hard on Blackstorm, how Warwing may not really get what it's like to lose someone you love that much - fuck, if Starstruck could go back and even have something that was Starburst's, that came from Starburst, he'd do it in a sparkbeat, and Blackstorm is one of the few who gets that - but. He keeps holding it back. It won't help to interrupt again right, last time it only made things wo--
Star is drawn out of his thoughts by Warwing's look. Ack. Blackstorm's going to hate him after this, he just knows it. He's lost in another wave of guilt as Warwing transforms and Blackstorm scrambles forward, until the roar reaches him and, oh shit.
"Blackstorm! Blackstorm, wait a minute!" The engines of such a large shuttle sure do create quite the windstorm, and a mini like Blackstorm isn't going to fare very well, especially when running straight into it. Starstruck may be a bit slow, but once he realizes what's happening he's bolting forward, dropping to his knees to slide around in front of Blackstorm, shielding the much smaller mech with his own frame as Warwing's ascent kicks up all sorts of dust and debris. Good thing he's big and sturdy and can take whatever hits him as the force of Warwing's engines lifting off physically shoves both Star and the mini clutched in his arms to slide several feet back across the ground.
Ping, ping, ping, ping. Pebbles blown back by Warwing's massive engine rain against Blackstorm's frame. He hardly notices the danger. All he can think is that his last chance is flying away, that he has no other plans left once Warwing leaves. Some part deep down knew this meeting had been a long shot, anyways. Avarice's network may be extensive but that hardly meant he was involved in every petty theft that happened in this sector of space. But desperation will lead to the most ridiculous risks.
Blackstorm curls in on himself, only partially aware as Starstruck rushes in to save him. Filaments of light bleed down the minibot's faceplates as despair settles over him. Where does he go from here? He has no idea. "Please come back," he mutters to no one in particular.
Starstruck waits until the pebbles and debris have stopped hitting his back before he uncurls, just enough to look down at Blackstorm. His expression is a mask of despair, one hand coming up to rest against the side of the mini's face, thumb stroking along Blackstorm's cheek, the other arm still wrapped around Blackstorm's frame and holding him against Star's chassis. He barely registers the dents that have accumulated in his own plating as he cradles Blackstorm. "She will," he says, softly, comfortingly. "She will. We'll find her." A sigh escapes his vents, his optics shuttering for but a moment. "Sorry, I - I didn't mean to fuck everything up with that guy. I just wanted to make sure you were okay..."
Blackstorm stirs, finally sensing through the haze of his despair that he isn't alone. Blackstorm's optics dim as he peeks up. Oh yes, Starstruck is here. How is Starstruck here? "You mean Warwing?" he asks, looking startled. "I'm not sure he would have helped me even if you weren't here. Warwing has always been... flighty."
He pauses, brows knitting beneath his visor. "What's going on? How did you get here?" He vaguely registers that Starstruck said something about that earlier, but he hadn't listened in the heat of the moment.
"Yeah..." Starstruck doesn't exactly look convinced as he meets Blackstorm's gaze. "If that's his name." Another sigh, though. Starstruck's not one for self-flagellation, and therefore doesn't challenge this. "That's an understatement." He glances back over his shoulder at the ripples of dirt and rocks left behind by Warwing's departure. Definitely an understatement.
Blackstorm's next question has his attention turning back to the mini, and Starstruck's response is strange, for him, his mouth set in a firm line, his faceplates shifted in determination. "I told you I was gonna help you. That's how. I pulled some strings and found out where you were. You can't shake me that easy, Blackstorm."
Blackstorm continues to look baffled, parroting Starstruck's words like a child. "Here to help?" he mutters. And then he remembers their first conversation over the terminal. At the time he'd been desperate not to let others see him miserable and downtrodden, but it's a bit too late for that. Blackstorm is looking for anything to grab onto, and he's not great at remaining in a funk for long. "You said you had some ideas of where to look, right?"
A little flicker of determination and hope suddenly blossoms in Blackstorm's spark again. The minibot suddenly perks up in Starstruck's arms. "You'll have to tell me what you're thinking. But first, I think we better get out of here. This is Avarice's territory and someone's gonna tell him about that screaming match we just had." The minibot shudders a little as he says Avarice's name. He's not a big fan of talking about his past, but with as much as Starstruck's seen today? No use in being oblique anymore. "Uh, he's my old boss. I used to run in certain circles. He won't be happy if he thinks I've hitched my stars to another gang or ratted out some of his storehouses to the authorities. So we better book it fast."
<FS3> Starstruck rolls Skating: Success. (8 6 3 1 4 5 4 3 2 5)
"Yeah." Starstruck relaxes a bit, even moving back into a smile as Blackstorm speaks. "That's what I said. Here to help." He settles onto his knees with Blackstorm in his lap. His smile remains, but so too does the seriousness of before. "A few. I'll have to make some more calls. But not here." He's already getting up as Blackstorm talks, and, hey, looks like they're on the same page. Time to get the hell out of Dodge. The thought flits through his processor that maybe, maybe, he should come clean about his own past, something he too isn't very fond of mentioning, but. If he does it'll be a lot later. Right now it's time to cheese it!
"Don't worry, I got it," Starstruck assures with a crooked grin. He's running, at first, as he comes to his full height and holds Blackstorm against him. One of those pebbles from Warwing's ascent seems to have lodged itself in a wheel on his pede, and his first attempt at transforming to skates fails. As he runs, though, he manages to dislodge it and there's that half-assed sound of transformation when said pede wheels shift to skates, his speed increasing rapidly, Blackstorm held tightly against his chassis as he goes.