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2017-06-10 Sketchy Squids

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2017-06-10 Sketchy Squids
Date 2017/06/10
Location Shattered Mall
Participants Skystalker, Blast Off, Starstruck
Plot Artifacts of the Knights of Cybertron
Summary Masterful products for the whole family; they'll make your head spin!

They've got the map, they've got a star bridge, they've got a cranky AI, they've got a list of locations to hit -- but first things first: let's make sure the map is actually right, shall we?

Test location chosen more or less at random, there is a first peek through by a remote drone to make sure it doesn't go into the heart of a star or something, a test that sends back video of an all clear. The first peek through the star bridge shows the other end in a dark room that looks like nothing so much as a waiting area: rows and rows of seats, dark, with a suggestion of starlight beyond the room.

So off they go! Under Blast Off's command as head of navigation, a team is dispatched to make sure all of the navigation lines up. It's a small team of Blast Off, Starstruck, and Skystalker, pushed through the bridge and into the dark.

Starstruck is PUMPED! Now that things are getting back into the swing of it (and a couple of dataslugs have been erased of their emotional, unnecessary messages), he's ready to see what this space bridge can do, and by the luck of the draw ends up on a team to do just that. Along with Blast Off and Skystalker, it's through the bridge to grandmother's house they go - or, in this case, to a dark room full of seats. As soon as they're on the other side, Starstruck turns on the headlights on his chassis, cutting through the darkness with their bright beams.

"So...." Star glances over at the two shuttles with them, deferring to Blast Off, who's now in a command position (super rad, gotta get him an ice cream or something). "Where was this place supposed to be again?"

It's a little concerning, alright, to be stepping through this alien technology, but all scans and tests and that video feed seem to indicate all is well. Only one thing left to do- step through it. Blast Off, being Head of Navigation, takes the lead and away he goes into this great unknown. Arriving at their new location, the Combaticon holds a scanner up and takes readings. He glances to Starstruck, "I'm trying to gain a location right now." While one hand holds the scanner, the other twitches slightly... he's ready for action- gun action- should any of this turn violent. "Keep an optic out for possible trouble."

The test was the longest minutes ever, it felt like. Skystalker tried to be patient, of course, but once it came back through as a clear he was ready to get going. Parts curiosity, parts of something a little more determined. Though he wasn't expecting something on the other side to be so... gloomy.

"Hmm." Skystalker's optics adjust to the light when Starstruck turns his lamps on, his own features a puzzle. "This isn't actually very illuminating. Pardon the expression."

The chairs are designed to seat a wide variety of forms, and have a plush softness that suggests they are more commonly occupied by the biological than the mechanical. They range in size from the very small (relatively) to normal (relatively). On the map, this was marked as just a planet. Some regular old planet out there in space. Not a Cybertronian colony. But it looks abandoned, and there's only a faint flicker of power that seems to be generating a forcefield that protects the space bridge building. On their sensors, the Cybertronian technology -- the artifact of the Knights -- is out the door and somewhere nearby. The doors are closed, but it's easy to see that it must be night outside, as the ceilings and walls are missing chunks. There are ancient scorch marks as if a fire once raged outside, but here, inside, protected by the faint shimmer of a forcefield, it's strangely undisturbed. There are faint tracks on the floor beneath, however, as though once upon a time wounded were evacuated through the bridge. There are stains of blood and oil.

Starstruck takes a few steps forward, shifting to pan his lights across the entirety of the room they're in. He notes the blood, the oil, the missing pieces of building, the forcefield and the scorch marks - "Something really fucked up must've happened here," he muses aloud. "Doesn't seem like anybody else is around, unless you're getting something, Blast Off." Look at him, he's not using the nickname this time! Good boy. He turns to look at the Combaticon more fully and asks, "Are you getting anything?"

Skystalker's lights are less focal than Starstruck's, his fluxing biolights a steady glow as he leans over to look at a particularly tiny seat. It's so cute, though-- who sits in these? His mood falters at the faint flickers of power and then the floor under his pedes. He traces the line of a print with one toe, wingtips angling downward. "I wonder where they went?" Sky glances up at the bridge, and the corridor beyond earns a squint soon enough. There's a lean over to look at Blast Off's readings. "Looks like something up ahead, outside."

There are no indications of any other signs of life -- or any other signs of power, really. Just the forcefield that preserves and guards this room. Their readings get a bit weird beyond the waiting doors. From the faded decorations on the wall, their script ancient and unreadable, pictures suggest this may have been a common embarcation (or debarcation) point for travelers.

"Away from here, that's for sure." Starstruck eyes the track marks. "Place must've been attacked, and everyone fled." He moves closer to the doors leading out, peering at the pictures, long faded and now gritty, still stuck to the walls. "Definitely wasn't the kind of place with the muscle to defend itself, if that's what happened...let's go check it out then!" Without hesitating, Starstruck crosses the remaining distance in a few strides. He's got his pistols attached to holsters at his hips, making them more easily accessible if need be, and there is the matter of those leg guns he'd gotten a while back, so he feels fairly prepared for whatever might be waiting for him. Hence why caution is not exactly on the menu, large hands reaching to grab and pull open the doors.

Skystalker keeps his limbs and wings close as he follows Starstruck, amber optics watchful as they skim the languages he can't read. The pictures seem less difficult. "I think this was some kind of bridge port?" His eyes squint up at the nearer pictures and back to the taller mech. "Something's up with the readout, too. Wait up--" Sky keeps close, despite his ableness-- that's what Star is here for anyway.

Cybertron is far from the largest planet in the galaxy, for all that Cybertronians often act like it is the only planet in the galaxy, but it is much, much farther from being the smallest. It's not unusual for the horizon to seem closer, the worlds to seem smaller as they land on new planets.

It's a bit unusual for the horizon to end just a couple of kilometers away. It's so distract, in fact, that they might miss the way the air running through their systems sudden vents out as they pass with an almost intangible brush past the forcefield and into the voice of space. The dark overhead is not because it is night: in fact, the planet's sun shines not so far away to their right, slanting down with hard, harsh lines across the ground and creating a strange bright-and-dark effect. The stars are visible because there is no atmosphere to scatter the light, casting the sky entirely in white and black.

The planet was broken, long ago, and in the distance -- almost near enough to touch -- other shards are visible. They have settled in a relatively stable orbit over the millions of years, so that they crash into each other only infrequently, and the rough edges have been blunted so that they slope softly into oblivion.

They are standing on what once must have been a busy street. The broken ruins of tall towers stretch around them. It looks to have been a commercial district. Glass-fronted storefronts are universal. The Cybertronian technology signature comes from one of those stores.

Of all of the things that could have happened, finding himself suddenly on what was once a populated area sitting upon one shattered remnant of an ex-planet isn't near the top of his list of expectations. Still, it's better than finding himself face-to-face with a bunch of armed hostiles, so that's a win, right? If there'd been an atmosphere, the low whistle Starstruck automatically attempts would've been audible. Thanfully he remembers to switch to comms. "<< Yo...yeah I'm gonna go ahead and say I was right and they got attacked. >>" Whether the attacker was sentient or not is another story. Falling back to Skystalker and Blast Off's side, he looks down, trying to get a view of the scanner and dimming his headlights. He'll keep them partially on for when they step through those shadows. "<< Where to next, guys? >>"

Blast Off gets lost a moment staring at the eerie ...beauty?... of this place. Something in the stars and alienness of the planet -not to mention the ghosts haunting this long-silenced city- bring a hush to the shuttleformer. He snaps back, however, as Starstruck asks him a question. Oh, right. Blast Off glances back to his datapad, then points towards one of the stores. "I'm getting a reading from that direction. Let's go- but remain cautious."

The forcefield ends, and Skystalker feels the shift of his systems move naturally from one state to the next. When he looks up out of the doors, it's with a quiet "Oh." muffled by the receding field. He steps onward and onto the street remnants outside of the 'spaceport', chin tilting back so that he can examine the world around the not-planet. "<< No way it was like this before? When the knights were here? >>" It could have been. Civilization did not start nor end with them. "<< Hm. Stores? >>"

There's no indication of what attacked the planet, but whatever it was -- it devastated it. There are no signs of bullets, blasts, or detonations. It simply looks as though the planet had been torn in pieces. There are signs here and there of fire again, where systems shorted and burned without anyone left to fight the fires.

As they approach the store, they can see advertisements in the window: partly burnt, with nearly all of a many-limbed figure whose bottom half trails in countless cords standing next to a Cybertronian in alt-mode, with an array of other Cybertronians behind. Another display shows various beastformers of all sorts. The doors are broken, hanging off their hinges, and the only light inside seems to be what they bring with them.

Starstruck leads the way in the direction the scanners indicate, ramping up the wattage of his lights as they reach the store in question. He stops to stare at the advertisements, optic ridges rising as he looks over the many-limbed being. "<< Wonder what they were selling here? >>" he asks neither of them in particular, letting his gaze slide from one display to the next. He carefully steps through the open doorway, optics a pink glow in the renewed darkness as his lights illuminate whatever they land on. "<< I don't know if it was like this when the knights came, Sky, but some of us came through here, and often enough they kept these places in business. >>" He glances back toward the wrecked planet visible through the storefront windows. "<< Until, you know, the planet exploded. >>"

"<< Apparently it was far more prosperous once, Skystalker. >>" Blast Off gestures up to the remnants of the city towers. "<< An attack would explain why the city was left in such ruins, certainly, Starstruck. Makes me wonder if those Titans or this... this Unicron were involved in any way. Whether Knights lived here or they were simply visitors or... what, I don't know. >>”

That advertisement brings pause to the Combaticon and he spends a moment looking hard at it. Something vaguely unsettling about that creature. "<< I'm not sure what they were selling but I'm not sure I would *want* it anyway... >>" He mutters, then steps inside as well. The sniper's spare hand remains tense and ready to draw out a weapon should he need to, the other still holding that scanner.

"<< Not sure. And yeah. We probably did keep it in business... >>" Skystalker keeps half an optic on Starstruck and Blast Off as they come close to the store and enter. "<< Maybe it was Unicron? >>" He is looking at all of the different wreckage of displays and ads, quiet and thoughtful. After some inspection Sky slips away from the other two mechs to get into the display cases and take some of the odd adverts. If neither of them call him back from this, the starfighter seems totally ready to go into salvage mode if there's nothing dangerous inside.

The figure that Starstruck studies is nothing more then a suggestion of dozens of trailing wires, flowing nearly as gracefully as fabric to support a body that is nothing but the bottom of a teardrop shape, without upper limbs or a face that might help in identifying it. In its current form, it looks almost squidlike. But -- a mechanical squid.

The store itself is largely empty: it seems as though there were once visual displays, now dead. There's a counter in the back with a door that leads perhaps to storage, and the signal that they are hunting is back that way.

Although Skystalker is unable to read the language on the adverts, it's easy to spot the fact that the brochure unfolds to advertise thirteen different product lines, one on each face, front and back. It's glossy and slick -- or was once. Now it is brittle, threatening to crumble to dust as he turns it in his hands. The products run the range from cars to jets to shuttles to smaller, domestic appliances including friendly looking technological pets.

<FS3> Starstruck rolls Piracy: Success. (1 3 5 7 2 5 2 5)

<FS3> Blast_Off rolls Mercenary: Amazing Success. (8 7 2 8 2 7 1 1 8 8)

Although now little more than a remnant race, there were rumors in space of a wealthy, mercantile race known as the Quintessons. They once controlled a vast stretch of space. Their fall was so long ago that it is little more than legend: horror stories, in some places, of an ancient greed that preyed upon entire civilizations, and aspirational goals for others of a people so clever, so greedy that they built an empire. They were technological or technoorganic -- the details are lost -- but their lower halves could look a littl like that advertisement Starstruck was eyeballing.

"<< It could've been Unicron...if this place was as commercial as it looks and those worm-drones got loose, it'd make sense why we're only seeing fire damage and no signs of fighting back. But that means... >>" Starstruck's optics travel uneasily back toward the storefront windows. "<< Just those worms tore this whole place apart. >>" Which would make this whole place a grim picture of what could've happened to the Lost Light if they hadn't gotten the hell away from Earth.

Not wanting to dwell on it further, Starstruck follows Skystalker's example, pushing more than slipping his way into the display case with the ad he'd been looking at. He takes it down, squinting at the picture, before holding it up for the other two to see. "<< Does this kind of look like what I think it does, or am I just crazy? >>"

Blast Off glances over as Skystalker starts rummaging through the displays, but as long as he doesn't go TOO far he supposes it's fine. Gather some evidence and information, at least. "<< Let me know if you find something interesting, Skystalker. The more clues, the better. >>" Then back to Starstruck. "<< Indeed. Something like that could have laid waste to a city, especially if the population was largely civilian and not combat ready... they wouldn't have stood much of a chance. >>"

These squid creatures are unsettling, and something in the back of Blast Off's mind is starting to click into place. Something old, ancient, vague stories and rumors heard in the far reaches of the galaxy as he traveled from one end to the other. He stops to investigate one of the ads again, taking in thos long tendrils and the cold face. "<< ...Quintessons, why is that name coming back to me... >>" He glances back at Starstruck and frowns under his faceplate. "<< ....I am afraid it might. You don't think they were selling... >>" He hesitates to say it, glancing to Skystalker. "<< ...You know? >>" He points to the picture of the shuttle in the brochure, then to himself.

Skystalker knows when to be gentle, and he silently blesses the lack of an atmosphere as he inspects the adverts with the painstakingly careful hands of someone who transfers miniature seeds on tweezers and slices apart roots under a scope.

Product lines? Alt-modes? Is that what the beastformer one is about? Skystalker angles his head to skim the unreadable bits. That one looks like a glitchmouse, only rounder. He looks up to see Starstruck pulling another ad down, and Sky gives a tiny hiss of vents, "<< Careful! They are very old! >>" Skystalker pauses, gaze moving from mech to mech. "<< Uhh, what does it look like? >>" He asks, turning his face towards the other shuttle when an answer comes, and his features stiffen visibly.

Skystalker suddenly feels much different about the cute rodent beastform, eyes large and wings tight. "<< We-- we came in for something. We should get it... >>"

The glow of the Cybertronian technology lingers on their censors, the only tech still active within the store. It waits behind the counter.

The ads fray apart under Starstruck's touch, but even before they flake away, it's ease to guess that he's probably not crazy. One of the product lines shows a shadow of a shape -- vague, it could be anything roughly humanoid dimensions -- doing the space equivalent of driving a jet home only for part of the jet to hop off -- what looks to be their head, or what would be their head, to knowing eyes as theirs -- and transform to a small, bipedal shape that's then shown in the next panel performing household chores: a headmaster, tribe long extinct on Cybertron, rendered as one of the thirteen product lines.

RIP his souvenir. Starstruck winces as the ad comes apart in his fingers, Skystalker's warning coming too late. "<< Sorry... >>" he mutters, though he's distracted by what he'd seen on it. Headmasters. As a product. "<< Yeah...we did come here for something. Where's the scanner say it's at, Bof--Blast Off? I wanna get out of here. >>" He eyes the remains of the store in a new light, one that is not flattering. Something in him warms, the protocols for the guns in his legs firing up. He doesn't do anything with it, nor does he plan to, letting them hum softly and making everything from his knees down feel tingly with the readied energy. If he were going to, say, smash the place up even more, he has a morning star for that. Much more satisfying.

Blast Off notices Skystalker's reaction immediately and knows why. The Combaticon feels a twinge of ...pity? Yes, that's what it is, isn't it? Straightening his shoulders, the Navigation head braces himself and takes a step forward, nodding as Starstruck speaks. He doesn't even take the time to react to the slip of *Boff*. "<< Yes, we do. We have work to do and reports to make. Let's focus on that and get out of this place and back to Rigard. >>" The new adverts only add to the chill he's suddenly feeling here. There is something very wrong here. He points his scanner and glances behind a counter. "<< Over there, the reading's over there. Proceed with caution... we don't know what to expect here. >>” That said, he makes his way towards the counter.

There is a pressure of nauseous unease in Skystalker's head, and he knows that he should take some of these things back even if he feels like crushing it between the heels of his hands. The starfighter stoops down to find some pieces of glass or scorched wall to press the leaflets between before filing them away. The colors of his optics are dim, biolights a stutter of gray and gold when he stands back up to follow wordlessly behind Starstruck, head halfway ducked.

Behind the counter they find a simple, sealed metal box -- a crate, maybe. It's plain in that ostentatious kind of way: it's entirely without orementation because it has engineered to be exactly what it is. In every dimension, it is a perfect cube, it's surface distractingly flat. It's covered by a light layer of dust, but it sits above a fallen bit of a ceiling panel. It was placed here after the destruction, but while enough atmosphere -- or enough dust -- still clung to the shards of the planet to deposit as a thin film over the box. There doesn't appear to be any way to open it.

Starstruck doesn't immediately follow Blast Off's instructions, instead moving to Skystalker's side and subtly resting a hand on the flier's back. "<< Hey, I know it's rough, >>" he comms privately, "<< This place is really fucked up. But we won't be here long, don't worry. >>" His hand moves to Skystalker's shoulder now, giving it a gentle squeeze before he's stepping on ahead. He'll be the first to check behind the counter, carefully checking for anything amiss before he finds the box and pulls it from its holding place. "<< Looks like this is it. >>" He sets it on the countertop for Blast Off and Skystalker to inspect. "<< I think somebody put it here after this place got blown to shit...why would they do that? >>"

As Starstruck reaches for the box and begins to move it, there's a splinter of light that shines from the edges. By the time he sets it on the counter top, that splinter has widened to a gap that sheds light into the dark store.

Blast Off isn't really the best at providing comfort to people, even if he empathizes with them. He figures the best he can do right now is get their job done and get them on their way. He stands there a moment, though, as Starstruck comforts Sky, wondering if he ought to say or do something..... but he's not sure exactly what to say. Maybe he should just get them out of this dismal wasteland.

The Combaticon heads to the counter as Star pulls out the cube. Blast Off walks up to it, scanning it to see what he can find, while bending down to peer closely at it. He runs a black finger along the edge, trying to spot a seam or latch or anything. Is that a shaft of light coming up? "<< Hard to say, people in a hurry sometimes do careless things. Then again, for all we know, this could be a trap, too. >>" He glances up and around as he says that. He's not sure what to say to Sky, but he CAN think of this. Bring Skystalker in on the puzzle. The light grows brighter, causing Blast Off to step back some. "<< What do you think? >>" Maybe a fellow spacer would have seen a puzzle like this before.

Star isn't someone that knows about his history, so that makes the hand at Skystalker's shoulder all the more steady; he looks up briefly to the mech, lips pressing together with a short nod.

Skystalker stands a pace back while the box is brought out, and the bit of light actually gets a smile. "<< Maybe they just knew that nobody was going to bother coming back here. >>" Sky's response is soft, and he moves forward to brush dust from the top panel with his palm, searching for markings.

There are no markings. However, as Skystalker brushes the dust away, the box falls apart, with the top panel breaking into four pieces and slipping into the sides, which then retract into the base. The light, momentarily so bright that it dazzles their eyes, fades to a soft, subdued glow on the square base plate -- all that is left now of the box. Upon it rests a simple cup: not the cup of a king, but one of a common laborer, dull and without ornamentation.

"<< Could be. >>" If it is a trap, Starstruck is prepared to take the blow; his whole posture is tense, arm held slightly away from his side, ready to swing out and push the other two behind him. But if the box was rigged to explode, it never happens. Instead, it retracts into itself and reveals... "<< A cup? >>" Starstruck bends down, peering at the object closely. "<< Huh. Guess I would've thought it'd be something...I dunno. More. >>" He reaches for it, then pauses, fingers inches from the curve where the cup tapers into its stem. "<< You don't think a giant boulder will come rolling out of nowhere if I pick it up, do you? >>" he asks, a hint of teasing to his tone.

Blast Off has to squint as the light turns bright enough to blind them. Tossing up a black hand and using the heat shields on his arm as further protection, the Combaticon braces, ready for anything... but happily there are no attackers, no further problems. Just... a cup? Blast Off blinks as Starstruck leans in and muses on boobytraps. The Combaticon realizes to his chagrin that he KNOWS what Starstruck refers to, but there's also no way he wants to admit to all those fleshling movies he watched to pass the time in Earth orbit!

"<< Well... I... I am not sure I was expecting that. >>" A cup though, would it hold wine? Blast Off vents a soft huff. He pauses one last moment, then, with a glance to Skystalker and just the general eerie and unwelcome surroundings he decides to just get 'er done. The shuttle reaches for the cup, intending to lift it up. "<< Only one way to find out. >>"

While the two other mechs inspect the box from edge to edge and he dusts it, the box falling to pieces causes Sky to startle away, his hand zipping back to his side as he watches. There's quiet from him, at first.

"<< Is that it? >>" Skystalker smiles partway, somewhere between relief and a little awe. The Knights left this here. It was theirs-- right? And it's just... a humble cup. Common, and plain, and maybe even-- The starfighter's vents quiet completely now, save for a faint echo of warmth.

"<< I'm going to have a longer look around, okay? I kind of... want to see the rest. If there's a boulder, shout for me?>>" He doubts there are traps. It opened for them. Why else if not for them?

Skystalker looks more pointedly towards Blast Off with a silent implication in his gaze. He needs some time to himself, it seems. Skystalker doesn't ask permission, either; he turns to go, giving Starstruck a brush of hand against his big arm in thanks before heading back to the street.

As Blast Off reaches for the cup, it fits itself into his hand. There it settles with a reassuring sense of weight and presence. On closer inspection, it may not be ornate, but it is -- in its way -- elegant, as perfectly and as plainly shaped as the box that held it.

Completely oblivious to the fact that Blast Off understood his reference (aw Boff....we could've bonded...) Starstruck looks to Skystalker and nods. "<< Sure thing, Sky. You'll be the first to know. >>" If he could've, he would've taken the hand that brushed his arm to give it a gentle squeeze, much like he'd done with Skystalker's shoulder. He doesn't, letting the gesture pass as is. Skystalker's clearly very troubled by this place, and Starstruck can't blame him, nor will he interfere in Sky getting the space he needs.

Besides, he's needed here, dentals gritting unconsciously as Blast Off reaches for the cup too. "<< Maybe I should-- >>" he begins, but it's already too late. Blast Off takes the cup and--!

"<< ....Huh. >>" Starstruck rubs at the base of an antenna. "<< No explosion, no boulder, nothing. >>" That was a lot easier than he thought it would be. He won't say that aloud, though; don't wanna jinx it.

The shuttleformer is almost surprised by the way the cup fits right into his hand, almost like it's meant to be there. It looks so plain, but the *feel* of the thing is actually quite nice, quite balanced and solid. Blast Off lifts it up to gaze at it more closely. He glances over to Skystalker, catching the other spacer's silent look and returning a nod as Skystalker leaves. He understands.

Now back to the cup. He examines it further, violet optics catching gleams of light from the shiny surface. "<< Indeed. It ...I guess this is an artifact of the Knights of Cybertron? >>" There's something that rises in his chest, a spring in his engines and surge in his spark. He's not quite sure what to make of it. Blast Off has always been a bit... what's the word, not unimpressed, but... just not as excited by *Oooo, the Knights of Cybertron* as some have been. They're important and Blast Off is trying to find them, but still.. they seem pretty remote. But standing here and holding an artifact in his hand, wondering if this is from THEM, it sends a little lift to his spirits. A little excitement, despite himself. And something in him says that yes, yes, this IS from them. It just FEELS right somehow.

Blast Off tilts the cup, letting whatever dim light remains glimmer along its rim. "<< You know, actually... this rather simple thing has an... an elegance to it when you really look at it. >>” He comments to Starstruck. “<< It could almost pass as a refined little goblet of some sort. I bet some Orion Three Orchards would hold up in this well... >>" Hmmm. He casts what could almost be a sly glance the other mech's way. A little hard to tell, what with that faceplate and all. Just the way Blast Off likes it. "<< No boulders, but it looks like we might have chosen wisely after all. >>"

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