From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Summary||Conduit lays his old crewmates to rest, asking Chimera to help send them off.|
The lighting in the quiet room is dimmed, the only sound the ambient hum of the ventilation systems. While the space could easily host many, there are only a few benches lined up by the dais, lit slightly more than the rest. On the dais, upon a pair of platforms draped in black, lay the remains of Conduit's crew from the _Xal's Blade_.
The last investigation Conduit led his crew on involved a strange artifact that they acquired from a shady source, on the (what turned out to be) final stop on their travels. This was the normal M.O. for them. The purpose of the artifact was not clear; something like a generator, or spark energizer, or some such. Anyway, the best way to find out what it did, Conduit decided after the regular gamut of checks, was to plug the thing in. This turned out to be a mistake that was fatal to Rollover and Knuckle, the bots laid out here, and that sent Conduit into stasis, condemned to drift with his depowered ship in interstellar space until the _Lost Light_ happened upon it.
And so here we are.
Conduit sits on a bench in the first row, elbows leaning on knees, hands clasped, silent. He looks up once in a while to view the departed, and from his vantage point, he clearly sees the sheared pieces of their spark chambers stab upward from their obscured chests.
Chimera's step through the entryway is a quiet one, respectful of the sanctity of the room and the purpose in which it's being used today. Too long has it been since she last conducted proper rites in this manner, so used to blessing those dying on the battlefield or sending off what aliens she'd met through her travels. But she would never forget the customs used long ago, remembering every step and the importance of it.
"Conduit.." Hushed voice greets her Death brother when coming up beside him, a be-ringed hand settling on his shoulder, their gold facets set with various gems. She herself is shrouded nearly completely in a veil of black, the featherweight material dark as the void and billowing gently with each movement, the light evoking a strange shift of almost cosmic colors that's just as quickly swallowed back into the dark. The face that peers out from the hood is as it is when worshiping, an intricate skull painted drab to make the shine of her jade optics that much more haunting. Gold also appears to grace her visage, bands of metal on her horns connecting to each other with dangling chains with one connecting to a loop at her nose.
"My spark aches for you and your loss, brother. I am honored you would entrust me with sending off your crewmates. Mortilus will smile upon them and they will know peace in the Afterspark."
Conduit listens as Chimera gently walks up, but doesn't look up at her until her hand alights on his shoulder. At that moment, he is dumbstruck. Chimera looks ... incredible. He cannot help but spend a wordless moment taking in the sight of her, the robe, the adornments, the facial decoration, the demeanor. The way she carries herself, she is fully attuned, and much ... better than he, with nary a shred of regalia.
"I didn't know ... I ..." Conduit wants to say "Thank you" but waves of guilt, from more than one source, wash over the words. "I didn't know how to properly perform the rites. I know so much about our faith, and yet know so little." He looks down at his unadorned self. "They deserve better than what I can provide them, and what I ... provided them." He heaves a heavy sigh.
"Nonsense." The word is gentle and friendly, no hint of malice or disappointment in it. Chimera's face, despite its deathly appearance, warms to him with a kind smile. "Not all know the rites. They are content to simply worship and appreciate the faith, which is just as important as any other aspect. Your belief shows respect for the dead and care for the life they carry into after, which is more than most would provide. Even the simple act of allowing them a proper service to be sent off speaks of your conviction."
That said, she releases him and turns to the shrouded figures set on the dais, her grand form flowing like a specter while approaching and mounting the small set of steps. From within the confines of her cloak comes her other hand and the box it was holding, Chimera setting it upon a podium at the head of the platforms. A look to Conduit and a small nod urges him to join her while she sets herself up, handing him a set of small crystals to set along the body of one crewmember while she adorns the other. Helm, spark, t-cog. Once done, an incense stick is retrieved and lit, the end burning low to produce a thick smoke that she waves over the body and the surrounding area. While doing so, she offers Conduit a glance and asks softly, "..May I ask their names?"
"Thank you." The words somehow emerge from the waves, and Conduit relaxes. Chimera knows precisely what to do, and this eases his spark. Ironic that they should have met so recently, just as the need for her knowledge arose. Was it meant to be, then? Did they have to die, so that she could perform the rites for them? The circularity of it adds to the mystery, and that at least Conduit is comfortable with.
Conduit readily joins Chimera on the dais. He watches her tending to the fallen with a mix of respect, and awe, and a desire to understand, to learn. He does know so little. He points to one, reddish, of a slimmer build, reminiscent of a Seeker. "Rollover." Then the other, light gray and blue, boxier, what appears to be a permanent smirk still apparent on his face. "Knuckle."
Chimera is glad to teach Conduit how to send one off the the afterlife, hoping he will be able to teach others in the future and help spread the ancient ways. Once the room is sufficiently cleansed with smoke she snubs the incense and replaces it with a brush and a small jar, the contents of which are a strange, black paint with an oily, dark purple gleam in the light.
"I see.." She answers, sounding far off while painting Rollover first, writing small symbols around the crystals as well as the symbol of Mortilus on their foreheads. She had seen the damage before, but now that she's up close she gives pause after brushing around the mutilated spark chamber, her brow wrinkling and lips downturning as fingers touch gingerly to the edge of the wound. "...I wish not to upset you, but given the injuries.." Dimmed gaze looks upon Conduit. "..What happened to them?"
Conduit gets an odd feeling as Chimera continues her work; the focused attention and care, though being applied to an inert frame, seems to render beneficial effects on him as well, as if the concerns and regrets from the past that have haunted him since his awakening are being addressed, resolved.
The question does not disturb Conduit; he's answered it well over two dozen times so far, usually to those with much less respect. "An experiment gone awry. We powered on an artifact which somehow overwhelmed our power inhibitors. They were in close proximity. Everything went white, and I was thrown into stasis. I was farther away, safe apparently behind a console. They ... lost their sparks." Still a little hard to talk about, but not too bad. "I do not know the exact mechanism. They were found like this when I was rescued."
"I am sorry.. One does not deserve such an end, especially when it tears the spirit from one's body. ..What of the artifact?" Chimera asks as she finishes Rollover and moves to Knuckle, eyeing his smile. Curious.. Still, she paints him next, giving him his own unique pattern of lines and symbols with only the one of Mortilus remaining the same. After a quiet moment she speaks again, looking to Conduit briefly between her work. "..You being spared, while not easy to accept in the wake of others passing, means there are plans for you yet. There is more you are destined for in this life, such as to be here for them as you will be for others. Perhaps you may even be the one to send me off when it is my time." Her smile is affectionate, brush turning next to Conduit and touching across his face, painting him in a way similar to her own.
Finished, she sets them down and ushers her to stand before her while between his fallen comrades. "Follow my lead.." Hands outstretch, hovering over both of the empty spark chambers as her optics close and she relaxes. Several seconds pass before she finally rouses, helm tilting up a little as she begins speaking. "We beseech thee, our Lord, Death-bringer, Soul Guider. Hear our voice, the voice of your followers, your children. Smile kindly upon these two faded souls. Unburden them of this mortal plane, guide them safely across the stars so they may know eternal peace by your side in the Afterspark, awaiting us for when it, too, is our time. In your name we honor those passed and release them into your dark embrace. May their lives beyond this one be rich and bountiful under your care."
"I believe Bitstream has possession of it, currently." Conduit is not aware that it has found purpose as a footrest. "From what I understand it is utterly fused, ruined. Just as well." He flinches when Chimera first reaches to begin painting his own face, but quickly recovers and lets her. "I have reached the same conclusion. The odds of being found were next to nothing, so there is yet some reason I should not have remained drifting for eternity." He says nothing about administering these rites himself, for her; seems unlikely.
Conduit takes his indicated position and does his best to mimic Chimera. It feels odd holding his hands out, and even after shuttering his optics, he cannot help but open them once or twice to peek, and make sure he's still in the proper pose. He listens to her prayer, and lets the words permeate through him, adding his own intent to them as their sound spreads out.
Conduit could not guide Rollover and Knuckle as he intended, but surely this rite will guide them to where they ultimately need to go. He once felt as if he were a master, capable of leading his own development as well as those of others, but coming to know Chimera has humbled him, reminded him that he shall always also be a student. This sense of surrender feels appropriate now.
As Chimera's words flow there is a sense of energy that permeates the space surrounding her, a tingling sensation crawling across one's armor as the smell of ozone catches the senses. Keeping her natural powers from sparking into electricity, she instead spreads it throughout the room, charging the very air so the gravity of her words may be felt.
But as soon as her speech ends the energy begins to dwindle, Chimera's form wilting slightly with a soft vent as her hands lower. It takes her a second to regain her composure, but when she does she nods to Conduit. "Now we must prepare them for departure. There are two shrouds amongst the items I brought, please retrieve them."
He will indeed find two cloths in the box, both made of sleek, black material and detailed with another Mortilus symbol. Chimera, meanwhile, has since turned to Knuckle first, gently cradling the back of his helm so she may draw up the cloth he lays on and drape it around his shoulders. Each hand taken in her own, she gently massages the joints to ease the stiffness before applying a little force to fold them over his middle. That done, the remaining cloth is wrapped around his body, tucked neatly with precise movements so as to swaddle him securely. "Please, place a shawl over each of their faces." The only part left bare. Once he does this she'll move to wrap Rollover next.
Being of a scientific bent, Conduit cannot help but guess that some of the sensations he feels are caused by Chimera somehow, and not part of the rite per se. But, certainly not all of them. He lowers his hands after hers, opening his optics again, and things seem a little brighter.
Conduit retrieves the shawls, and takes a moment to look them over. They are quite fine; he wonders where they are from, but then focuses himself on his duty. He opens one cloth and is about to place it over Knuckle's face, but he stops. It's as if his arms have locked up. He sees Knuckle's face, optics dark but still smirking, one last laugh at his captain's expense. Conduit starts to smile too, but it vanishes quickly. His knees feel weak, his body is being pulled back. His fingers are turning to jelly, about to drop the cloth. No. Refuse. Preserve him.
Where is your resolve, Conduit? Before this you were ruthless, driven, merciless, proud, arrogant, reckless, confident. What happened? What did stasis do to you? How many mechs have you laid low in your past? How many have you operated on, successfully or otherwise? When exactly did you go soft?
Conduit isn't sure how much time has passed since he halted himself, but now he senses time again. The shawl dangles from his fingertips. He looks at Knuckle, right into his once-bright optics, one last time, shines his light into those faded orbs, and then lays the shawl down. Regardless of what he himself has become, he must do this.
He may not know how much time has passed, but it's long enough for Chimera to sense, her helm turning from her work to look over the mech standing there. The urge to question him rises, but she doesn't follow through with it, allowing him to sort through it himself. Turning back, she secures Rollover in the same way and steps back, eyeing them both. "It is done.. They are ready for their departure now, but in what manner is your choice on their behalf. We may send them into the void, to drift amongst the stars, or consult with Gyro for use of the morgue." To keep them so they may be laid to rest elsewhere, perhaps back home.
Hand at his shoulder once more, Chimera looks to him with pride, gratitude full in her voice. "You did well, Conduit. I thank you for assisting me and for granting me the opportunity to do this for you. You may mourn their death, but keep the joy of their life close to your spark."
It's slightly easier for Conduit to lay the shawl across Rollover's face. He doesn't lock up, but uses the same technique, if one could call it that, to get through it. Hold it up, look at him one last time, close the door. His spark starts to feel lighter, but then comes the question of how to dispose of the corpses. Gyro and Conduit ... don't exactly get along, but he feels that the mortician would tend to the bodies respectfully if asked. He doesn't hate these two. Probably. "I think I shall speak with Gyro. Returning the-- their frames to Cybertron seems appropriate."
Conduit shakes his head, and lightens once again, in response to Chimera. "It is I who thanks you, and no amount of thanks is enough. This ... this closes a chapter for me, and frees me to begin a new one. And frees them, as well. I shall remember them fondly. I am ..." his brow furrows. "Happy."
It warms Chimera's spark to hear of Conduit's thoughts on this. Loss is never easy, but she has a feeling he'll be alright. "I am glad. May this new chapter be even grander than the last and may you never forget I shall always be here for you, whatever the reason. You are a good mech, Conduit, and I am happy that fate sought to bring us together."
Her affections known, her touch falls from his shoulder and she moves to close up the box. "...Would you like to join me in a small drink to the deceased? I understand if you wish to stay a while longer."
Conduit looks between Chimera and the covered remains, and ruminates. He speaks as he reasons. "My duty to them is concluded. I can do nothing more for them, beyond safeguarding their frames back to Cybertron." He finally returns his gaze to Chimera, with gratitude in his optics. "I would be honored to join you. Perhaps I can regale you with some stories of our travels together." One last glance. "They were quite the pair."
With the box secured, Chimera opts to leave it here for later. Right now she has company to offer, smile bright to the mech when he accepts her invitation. "I would very much enjoy that and I believe they would as well." That is truly how one lives in death, surviving through the stories told and the memories unforgotten.
Leaving the two to rest, Chimera exits with Conduit at her side, off to honor those passed by recounting how they lived.