2017-05-14 Proceed With Caution

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2017-05-14 Proceed With Caution
Date 2017/05/14
Location Monolith
Participants Perceptor, Sterling, Sandstorm, Researcher #1, Researcher #2, Lancer, Strika
Plot Rebirth of Unicron
Summary Perceptor told them to, but they just didn't listen.

The pair of monoliths that met the Lost Light upon its arrival at Earth's L1 point continue their silent, innocuous orbit around that empty point in space. So far they have not given up any of their secrets, but there are inquisitive folks in the vicinity, and curiosity ... well, the Earthlings say one thing about it, but that's just human stuff.

After some brief negotiations with Elita One and her officers, a joint expeditionary force was formed, and so they arrive at one of the monoliths. It's hard to tell if it's the Shivan or Eukaran one. The surface is, as expected, jet black and smooth. The mass of the monolith is enough to create light gravity, which tilts toward the center of its long shape. Between the gravity and the monolith material responding to magnetism, it's no problem to stay on the surface. But where to start?

Sterling isn't exactly inquisitive, she's curious about these things sure but her immediate reaction also tends to consist of blowing up dangerous things... the science bots don't quite agree, so she keeps quiet on that little opinion. At the moment, she is undertaking one of her first tasks as security.. or her last task as combat? She isn't entirely sure, she just volunteered to go with them. To say she's a bit on edge might be an understatement.

Perceptor is ecstatic now they've been given leave to inspect the monoliths up close. He's been holding in the excitable chatter fairly well so far, but he's also been refraining from talking in more than single syllables since they set off. The excited little grin overtaking his face when pedes meet the monolith's surface, though, is a pretty good indication. Sure, it's a massive unknown with immense powers they know next to nothing about, but that just makes it more interesting!

"Flatter than I expected." The scientist whips out a datapad to jot something down, bouncing lightly on his treads.

Unlike a good chunk of the crew, Sandstorm has no interest in visiting Earth. It's the same ugly mudball it was last time they were here, except the humans hate them more. Why would he want to go down there? Only problem is that all of this activity and talk of monoliths has made him restless. He wants to do something but not on Earth, something else that will scratch the itch. So when this idea of checking out the monoliths was proposed, Sandstorm volunteered. Finally, something to look at and pick at that wasn't the inside of the same vents he's been crawling through since they started this whole quest.

Surveying their surroundings, the only indication of any trepidation on Sandstorm's part is a shift of his rotor arms. Considering neither of his fellow explorers are rotaries, they likely won't notice. "Mhm," is a monotonous hum to Perceptor's observation. It's a long flat rock, what else did you expect? "Any idea what we should be looking for, or do we just start touching stuff and see what happens."

A handful of Elita One's contingent disembark from their transport, most with some sort of sciency-looking device or other. A couple of them pick a random spot to closely investigate the surface itself, while the rest spread out. There's one guard, decked in orange and purple and holding a pike, who approaches the cluster from the Lost Light. "Hey there. Name's Lancer. I'll be keeping an eye out for any trouble so the nerds can do their work in safety." She taps the monolith two times with the bottom of her pike. "It's hard. That's the end of my investigation, I guess." A devilish smirk spreads below her angled visor.

Sterling lets out a small chuckle as its confirmed that the monolith is indeed hard. "You sure about that one?" She quickly snaps back to something of professionalism as Perceptor begins to do his work. She's there to protect him and the helicopter guy, after all.

"Well-" Perceptor starts, casting a quick glance around and obviously trying to guage the temper of their current company. "Given the exterior architecture of most, if not all, large spacefaring vessels with gravity - artificial or otherwise- it seemed unlikely the exterior, while appearing smooth and unmarred from a great distance, would remain so at close proximity." He takes a moment to affix some peripheral or other to his datapad, focus splitting to take in what's scrolling past the screen.

"Should we find an entrance- which may be a feat, with how much ground there is to cover- it's advisable to take the time to gather and interpret as much data as possible. Going in blind tends to lead to unneccesary deaths, which I would prefer to avoid if at all possible." Shifting to actually look up at Sandstorm, Perceptor hums. "You're... a primarily mechanical engineer, yes?"

"Sandstorm." He glances at Perceptor and Sterling, who have yet to introduce themselves. Ah well, not his problem. "She can help you with that." A thumb is jerked in Sterling's direction. "And so can I, if it comes to it."

Perceptor's explanation receives a blank look, even if Sandstorm is mentally noting what's being said. "Good point. Glad we got it in pristine condition." Reaching into his subspace, Sandstorm removes his toolbox, which conveniently has a datapad of his own attached to the side. He doesn't turn it on just yet. "Yeah, that's right." Eyeing the shorter scientist, Sandstorm cracks a humorless smirk. "Don't wanna go in blind, huh? Don't wanna do things like the good old days in the Wreckers?"

"Wait, I'll extend my investigation." Lancer moves the butt end of her pike over a meter and taps down again. "Additional samples confirm my original conclusion." Her visor obscures the area around her optics, but a raised brow ridge is telegraphed from underneath as she listens to Perceptor's hypothesizing.

The pair of researchers closely examining the surface do not appear to share Perceptor's caution. They've hauled out a laser drill, with a thick hose leading back to their transport for power. After settling it into a tripod and aiming it straight down, they flip it on. A bright, pulsing blue beam pushes down into the surface, ever so slowly vaporizing it away.

Sterling looks blank as Perceptor explains away... whatever he just said. "Oh.. Um.. I see." No she doesn't, "Should we go... looking around then?"

<FS3> Perceptor rolls Applied Sciences: Failure. (5 1 3 3 2 1 2 2 4 2 4 2)

"Wrecker missions historically had a death toll of 29%." Perceptor's tone is flat, but only for the span of the comment. He finally focuses entirely on the others transport's crew of scientists, optics widening a fraction while he turns to address the closest of Elita's people. "My apologies- I was a bit caught up. I am Perceptor. Perhaps-" He straightens, trying to look less like a nerd caught up in the monolith's surface architecture. "Er- what were your plans in regards to the investigation and possible excavation of the expedition?"

"You say that like I don't know it." Sandstorm knows those figures intimatly well, just like any other ex-Wrecker, thanks. Then again, he did bring it up, so for once he's not too mouthy about it. Instead his gaze lands on the researchers drilling into the monolith's surface. "I don't think those two got the memo, Percy." He keeps watch on them for now, mouth a tight frown. Despite his ribbing, Sandstorm had thought Perceptor's idea was sound. Or at least if someone was going to be poking around in potentially dangerous ways, let it be him.

"Maybe we should ask the ones investigating. Lancer here said she's just on guard duty. Right?" Certain that he is in this, he doesn't leave her time to answer, already moving toward the researchers. When he's within earshot, he asks, "Oi, what's the plan here?"

"Right. But who are the Wreckers?" An experienced guard, Lancer has learned to latch onto potentially interesting conversation topics. She doesn't move to intercept Sandstorm's advance one whit. From time to time, she glances up at the starscape slowly wheeling overhead.

The drillers seem a little excited, and have already tweaked their laser's output so that instead of it digging spectacularly slowly, it's down to amazingly slowly. Surprisingly, though, Sandstorm's question catches them off guard. One speaks up. "Oh, we're drilling! Er, scans from our ship were inconclusive on the internal structure, so, well, this is how we can find out, right?" He points to a device attached to the side of the drill. "We're collecting material through magnetic coils here for analysis, but, well, we're honestly more interested in what might be under here."

Perceptor's instruments can't get a good read on anything for some reason. It could be interference from the monolith, or maybe from some obnoxious equipment nearby. There are hints of stray signals, noise that doesn't fit with the rest of the noise.

Sterling looks at where Sandstorm is headed, helm suddenly tilting at the driller's explanation of what they are doing. "Um... Perceptor, Sir, I may be entirely wrong but is that right? It doesn't seem like a good idea to go randomly drilling into this thing." Is she wrong?

Quietly dipping his head and pinching his nasal ridge, Perceptor gives the drill and attending scientists an assessing look. "Worst case we trigger some defense mechanism and are killed, or come close to." He shrugs, walking over to stand near the other researchers while he fiddles with settings and input values on his scanner, internally recalibrating sensors. "I can't get a clear reading which- given it seems to be cloaked from external visualization processes- could be from any number of factors...." Half of what Perceptor says seems to be ordering his thoughts more than anything. "Sandstorm, if you could remain with the drill techs- I apologize I don't have an application for your particular skillset at the moment - Sterling, I would prefer company gaining some distance from the device, it may be altering the readings of my equipment."

<FS3> Perceptor rolls Applied Sciences: Good Success. (6 7 7 1 5 6 6 6 8 3 5 1)

Sandstorm is this close from saying 'no shit' to the researchers. He holds it in. "Drilling. Never would've guessed." Okay, so maybe some slipped out. "That's one way to do it, yeah. Pretty stupid way, but one way. Hopefully the giant apocalypse rock doesn't mind." Even before Perceptor tells him to stay put, Sandstorm shows no intentions of moving. If Perceptor's worst case scenario ends up being right, at least his death will be cool. Go out in Wrecker fashion, as unnecessarily and violent as possible.

"Was planning on it," is called back to Perceptor once his instructions are given, Sandstorm finally detaching his datapad from his toolbox. Might as well take notes before they all get blown up. "So, tell me, did you two use your ship's scans to try to find the door first, or skip straight to 'let's bust this slagger wide open' as the course of action?"

"Oh, um, the latter I suppose!" Researcher #1 taps his fingers together while researcher #2 continues tuning the drill. "We couldn't detect any obvious points of entry. But even if this doesn't work out, it could tell us what not to look for, hm?"

The distance from the drill probably helped Perceptor's scanner. It's clearly picking up a narrowband signal, coming from somewhere. Its meaning isn't readily apparent, but it's being sent several times a minute, stronger, then weaker, then stronger. Each pulse is only a couple of seconds long.

The same scanner also detects some motion, far off in one direction. Doppler signals indicate that the disturbance is approaching. There's no definitive shape to whatever it is that's moving.

Sterling is pretty sure that translates to go with him. So giving a nod, Sterling quickly falls into step behind the scientist and quietly follows. There isn't much she can offer at the moment outside of warily eyeing their surroundings- ready to jump into action at any second.

Perceptor might be here in the capacity of a scientist right now, but he's still a soldier. Therefore, the immediate knowledge that something is coming has him activating a broad comms channel, shuffling his vision into a target location feed. "Scanners indicate a possible hostile incoming from my 2, no speed read yet. Regrouping to maximize defense." The comms broadcast should, unless there's some form of interference, make it back to the rest of the expedition. He does say it out-loud for Sterling, too, turning back toward the drill site almost as soon as the words leave his mouth. Can he blame this on the drill? He's going to lay partial blame on that. Sorry Sterling! looks like you're being dragged around in circles.

"It could tell your replacements what not to look for, seeing as what you're doing could very well kill all of us, but sure, that's technically true." How did these two become scientists? Who let them around sensitive equipment? Sandstorm has an uncomfortable moment when he remembers the other scientists aboard the Lost Light, particularly Brainstorm and Wheeljack, and makes a face. Their species seems to have a problem with hiring people who would rather blow shit up than think it through.

Not that an ex-smuggler, ex-Wrecker can really talk.

Sandstorm's helm jerks up at the comm, the datapad and toolbox disappearing into his subspace. Great. Company. "Are we getting a life sign?" As he asks, his rotors give a quick spin, frame tensing in preparation. Perceptor may only partially be thinking the cause is the drill; Sandstorm's putting all his money on that being at fault, as evidenced by the side glances he gives the two researchers. He blames you.

Most of Elita One's contingent heed Perceptor's comm and collect closer to their transport, in case they need to beat a hasty retreat. Some brandish sidearms, although they don't appear to be terribly experienced at using them. The drillers, getting Sandstorm's admonitions, shut down their drill. "Fine, fine!" the one says, palms out. Still, he peeks around to see what might be on its way.

Lancer forms up alongside the Lost Lighters, pike aimed in the direction Perceptor indicated. Her visor lights up as she scans the horizon. "I see a handful of ... things. They look like worms of some kind. Not too big."

Soon the invaders are clear enough for everyone to see. Writhing metallic snake-like creatures, each with a head crowned with a few curved claws, bounce across the monolith toward them. They are in range of blaster fire but continue to head straight in.

Sterling does a near military about face as Preceptor suddenly turns their company of two around. She dares a glance back... and immediately grips Perceptor's arm, "Sir, I think we should be moving back faster." Those are definitely things she doesn't want them risking getting caught outside the group with, even if they aren't that far away.

<FS3> Perceptor rolls Reaction+reaction: Failure. (2 4 6 2 1 6 3 1)

"Excellent observation." Perceptor sounds pretty sarcastic, picking up the pace to a run. "I'm to guess you're as useful in and out of alt? Minigun, yes? Can Sandstorm weild you?" As they run he looks to debate between rifle and pistols, settling on the latter when they do reach the rest of the crew. Not quick enough to actually get shots off by then but hey, he's armed and knows how to use them, which is a step up. "Gathering more information might have prevented this surprise."

Sandstorm takes in the mechs around him, the ones from Lancer's crew, and suppresses a groan. Of course. Of course they brought one competent fighter with them, amidst a bunch of scientists who look like they have as high of a chance of shooting their own foot off as they would shooting one of the worm things coming toward them. Ignorant to Perceptor inquiring on Sandstorm using Sterling, he's pulling out a blaster of his own, and a pretty nice one at that. "Hey, you think?" he snaps, though not actually at Perceptor. That one's for you two again, researcher dudes. "Looks like the apocalypse rock wasn't happy about getting stabbed after all."

<FS3> Perceptor rolls Applied Sciences: Amazing Success. (8 7 8 7 4 4 7 2 7 4 4 2)

Those who shoot at the oncoming worms find most of their shots miss, as they deftly swirl their way toward them. Those that hit are effective enough, taking out a couple of them, but there are plenty left. Lancer fades back and thrusts her pike at the first that reaches the group, and it easily penetrates and disables the snake. "Not so bad! But there's a bunch coming. Should we try to fend them off?" She deftly spins her pike around, bashing a second worm aside.

The drillers seem to have forgotten about their equipment, and are instead scanning the invaders. Their tentativeness shows that they are ready to bolt back to their transport if necessary.

Perceptor's scanner, still running despite his retreat, has an epiphany, likely induced by that infernal drill being shut down, or his adjustments finally settling in. It reports that the pulses in the signal are now cycling in threes: strong, weak, very weak. The origin of the signal is determined to be both this monolith and the other, as well as some unknown third point.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Sterling=Firearms Vs Snake=5 < Sterling: Great Success (6 8 3 1 4 3 2 8 6 7 2 8 4 5) Snake: Good Success (7 7 1 5 5) < Net Result: Sterling wins - Solid Victory

Sterling runs quickly behind Perceptor, the worms practically at their heels, "I would imagine so, Sir! He's large enough." Once reaching the relative safety of the group and spins on her pede and fires at the head of one of the coming worms with her pistols, glancing back only long enough to yell over to Sandstorm, "Do you think you could use my alt mode?" It ends up being more of a rhetorical question as she runs over to him and quickly puts his hand on her back and waist, "Don't drop me please!" and then her transformation sequence is triggered.

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Perceptor=firearms Vs Snake=5 < Perceptor: Great Success (6 7 5 2 7 2 1 7 6 8 6 1 1 6 3 8) Snake: Great Success (7 8 7 6 7) < Net Result: Perceptor wins - Marginal Victory

Perceptor fires off a volley as soon as they get to the rest of the group, ducking so he doesn't obscure anyone else's shots and aiming into the mass of snakes. "For as long as possible, yes." He snaps in response to Lancer, looking back to assess the group. "Provided we're able to kill them. Load all equipment back onto the transports and be prepared to evacuate."

<FS3> Sandstorm rolls Reaction+reaction: Failure. (4 5 6 2 1 3)

Sandstorm has been waiting for a clearer shot as the worms approach, not willing to waste ammo when he could get a clean kill with just a few more feet shaved off the distance between himself and his targets. What he isn't planning on is Sterling running up to him like that. "Your what?" is his automatic response, even though he knows what her alt is - the kibble makes it pretty obvious. She doesn't really give him a chance to acclimate to this situation, however, and he hisses in irritation when she's grabbing his hand and starting to transform. No time to holster his blaster; that gets unceremoniously dropped to the ground as he scrambles to get her alt in his grip before she, too, is dropped. "Could've given me some warning, that's what comms are for!" he growls, planting his feet to take the kickback as she fires on the incoming worms. Next time you surprise him like that he's not gonna be so nice about it.

<FS3> Sterling rolls Firearms: Great Success. (8 2 8 2 3 1 7 1 1 5 4 7 1 1)

Sterling's parting pistol shot practically shatters one of the creatures into shiny white debris, while Perceptor manages to halt a particularly jumpy one with a shot of his own. Sandstorm, planted well and wielding Sterling's minigun mode, mows down four more in a satisfying haze of gunfire. Lancer continues backing away as a few more worms reach her, her spinning pike knocking them away. "Whoa, nice! I have to admit this is kind of fun, but ... I don't like the looks of those claws on their ... heads?" Snap snap.

The researchers take a few last shots before turning to retreat to their transport. One of the driller pair drags the entire laser tripod assembly back to a loading ramp while the other continues gathering data on the attackers. He spins around abruptly, still holding his instrument up at eye level. "There's more of them, I think. Coming from that way."

Sterling lets loose a hail of bullets, feeling a twinge of satisfaction as she practically destroys several of them. That twinge of satisfaction quickly turns to dread when she sees just how many there still are, though. She might be able to pack a punch, but she can't take an army. "Sir," Her voice comes from the main hub of her alt, "I believe we should make a... 'tactical retreat'."

Perceptor straightens to scan the expedition team, glad to see the scientists have beat a hasty retreat to their transport. Raising his voice the CSO calls out "Retreat to the transports- Get them prepped for immediate takeoff once fully boarded!" And then at a slightly lower volume, to the mechs nearest that can actually fight. "Keep shooting as you're able, try to stall them." They don't know what these things might do to the ships, and he'd like to make it back to the Lost Light without getting eaten by space snakes, thanks. Sandstorm thinks, idly, as Sterling takes out a good chunk of worms, that maybe he'd like to have a gun like her. Not a gun that is her, obviously, since she's a person and that'd be really damn awkward, just. One like her. Because this is awesome and he likes it.

"I'm thinking you're right." Sandstorm starts backing up, though he keeps Sterling aimed at the remaining worms and, slag it all, their reinforcements. "And don't call me sir." He doesn't need Perceptor's order as he's, once again, already following it before it's spoken, covering the retreat of the scientists and less-combat capable mechs. If Sterling allows it, he'll keep shooting until it's their turn to get on the transports.

<FS3> Sterling rolls Firearms: Great Success. (1 8 4 7 6 5 1 3 1 3 8 4 4 8)

<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Perceptor=firearms Vs Snake=5 < Perceptor: Great Success (6 8 6 1 3 8 2 8 6 3 4 1 8 2 3 8) Snake: Failure (5 1 6 6 4) < Net Result: Perceptor wins - Crushing Victory

The continuing hail of gunfire from Sterling claims another four worms. Behind them, there are a wave or two more, but they may have slowed down in anticipation of the reinforcements coming from the other direction. One particularly brave snake leaps at Perceptor, claws open wide, only to eat a bolt of energy and burst to bits. Lancer sweeps her pike to take out two more beasties before turning to rush back to a transport. "Nice shooting, mechs!" she calls, as she helps drag the drilling laser onto its transport along with its researchers.

A pilot calls out from another nearby shuttle to theose remaining on the monolith. "Ready to dust off, just hop on board! And you'll wanna see what we're picking up on scan once we're up."

Sterling continues to fire on the approaching crowd, barrels whirring in a blurr. She's a gun at the moment, its up to Sandstorm to get them on the transport but she will most definitely keep them back. "We should hold them back while the others get on!"

Perceptor holsters one of his guns, running for the nearest, less occupied shuttle. "I'm sure I will- drop offensive and get to the shuttle!" The second half is called loud toward Sandstorm and Sterling. Another look around to ensure the other shuttle's been fully boarded and no others are left on the ground.

"That's the plan!" Sandstorm really wishes mechs would stop telling him what he already knows. When the transports are ready, he doesn't waste a second; hoisting Sterling's alt up under an arm, he turns and books it to the same shuttle as Perceptor, knowing that any hesitation could cost him in case those worms decide to get bold again. Once he's aboard, he's holding Sterling out so she can transform to root mode. "Get us the hell out of here," he calls to the pilot, "And then we can get a look at that scan."

The hatch closes after Sandstorm and Sterling... but not quite fast enough. The creatures surge forward, nearly making it to the edge, before a large shadow blots out the transport's internal lighting. All it takes is one look around to see- silhouetted- a massive purple and yellow femme with a huge crate easily being lifted clean over her helm. All it takes is a step forward and a heft before the crate goes sailing through the air to smash right into the advancing snakes and pulverizing them to a fine paste with an incredibly loud smash.

"NO! Our Equipment!" Is yelled out by one of the drillers before the larger femme turns on them.

"Gone now. Made a good paperweight, though." With that, Commander Strika walks out of the back area and heads back to the cockpit.

With all hands safely on board, even if not the ones they arrived on, the transports lift off from the monolith. A wriggling white mass, larger than the one formed by the first wave of snake creatures, can be seen below, just arriving at their former location and merging with them. Jaws snap up at the departing craft. Yep, a tactical retreat was pretty much a good call.

"Here you go, take a look." The pilot punches up a summary of objects in local space. There's the Lost Light, Elita One's ship, the two monoliths ... and a third monolith, on a trajectory to fall into line behind the first two. The pilot looks up wordlessly at the gathered bots, then focuses back on returning them safely to, well, figure out what to do now.

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