2017-07-24 Once Upon a Bismuth
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Once Upon a Bismuth|
|Location||An Artificial Moon|
|Participants||Ultra Magnus, Windrose, Fireflight, Swivel|
|Plot||Artifacts of the Knights of Cybertron|
|Summary||An artifact mission!|
When the next artifact's location is decoded from the map, they have the very bad luck for it to have been found in a system actively hostile to Cybertronians in the wake of Unicron's destruction. Literally. It's in the wake. One of the other planets in this star system had been populated -- a thriving, organic settlement -- and now it's nothing but a scatter of glittering rubble across the inner system. They stand on what was once a moon, and it's clear that it must have been created -- crafted, even -- rather than formed naturally, as the ground beneath is broken into a jagged maze of crossing pyramid, tarnished by the thin atmosphere to a rainbow of brilliant colors. Their signals bounce back at them from every direction, making it extremely difficult to track the Cybertronian energy signature that must be the artifact.
It's okay, though: Ultra Magnus is on the case. And if there's one thing he can do, it's track wayward Cybertronian tech. Ask Swindle.
The spacebridge drops them off without a whisper, and they are forced to brief silence as a shuttle passes overhead toward one of the refugee camps on the moon's surface.
It's true that it's not usually in this frame that Ultra Magnus has done his best hunting. His hand lifts, held in the air -- or rather, Whetstone's hand does -- and he frowns across the rainbow sheen as he holds, waiting in the artificial hush in the midst of the artificial maze. The static of ghost echoes and false data does not make it easy to ascertain a direction, but he studies it intently nonetheless. Whetstone's Great Sword has been restored to him, so he is armed with a heavy shotgun from the armory and a couple of Whetstone's lesser blades -- he didn't trust the unfamiliar frame with his enormous hammer, despite its sturdy knightly strength.
Windrose is eternally thankfully that she was off the ship when bodyswap happened, having been off investigating some of the other locations the spacebridge could connect to. They had no idea where these artifacts could turn up, so she felt it prudent to have at least some knowledge on the potential destinations beforehand. Didn't really turn up much personally, but it kept her busy, which she preferred. At least until an actual venture like this came up.
And not two steps out of beaming down and immeadiately she clamps a hand to the side of her helm, muttering at the distorted readings flickering across the HUD on her visor, and finally just flipping the thing up away from her face. "Every geopositional ping I try it just bouncing back to me. We're going to have to do this the old fashioned way."
<FS3> Ultra_Magnus rolls Mind + Investigation: Success. (3 1 2 2 7 6 2 2)
Flashback: DAYS EARLIER:
A microscope zooms by- slowly- in Perceptor's science lab aboard the Lost Light. "THIS IS GREAT!!!!!" Squeals the microscope- a very familiar sight to someone like Brainstorm or any of Perceptor's fellow scientists. This is not, however, Perceptor. This is Fireflight after waking up inside Perceptor's body. "Oh my Primus I never knew it was possible to- OH WOW!" The miscroscope stops and suddenly the lens zooms in on some small sample left on a counter. "Wooooooooahhhh this is amazing...." Fireflight will spend the next several hours doing nothing but zoom the lens in and out and roll along on tiny wheels to examine all the sparklies and samples he can find before it even occurs to him to find someone and ask why he is in a different body.
Fireflight is still a microscope, and still easily distracted. It's not easy traveling as a microscope, even a wheeled one, on this surface, so he eventually stops to zoom in on the rainbow sky above. "This is awesome! I bet Skydive would love this." He attempts to zoom his lens on the sky with little success. Then Ultra Magnus steps up and lifts his hand, so he attempts to zoom in on that instead. "Wow your hand looks really weird when it's magnified like this. WOW... are those like, space germs on it? I can't tell..." The lens zooms in closer. "No wait maybe those are like... you know, haze in the air. Yeah, they're totally haze. I...think." To Windrose he asks, "Old fashioned way? That reminds me, I wish I could still fly." He sighs sadly, then goes back to zooming the lens even more on Mag's hand.
While First Aid's advice about keeping busy was intended for less dangerous endeavors, Swivel's last mission didn't feel threatening at all. Therefor, in order to continue her recovery, Swivel was trying to keep busy. And that meant signing up for just about any task or mission she was made aware of. And now she was on a prismatically deligtful satellite. Oh... but as pretty as it was to look at, it caused interference. But pretty! While Fireflight goes on in raptures and ecstacies at how awesome everything is, Swivel is more quietly entranced - mesmerised even. Until...
"Spread out and search along a grid pattern? Or a spiral pattern or..." Swivel begins guessing as well as explaning to Fireflight. She interrupts and talks over herself. "...whatever instructions are given I'll follow!" Swivel steps back and defers to Ultra Magnus. Though... she kind of wants to ask what SHE looks like under the microscrope.
Ultra Magnus knows investigation cold, even investigation on a weird, clearly manufactured metal moon. So while it might be a strange setting with an unusual group of rather unlikely investigators ... he can at least help them consider their approach: spreading out is ill-advised, with the canyons that carve through the moon's surface fractally complex, but they can do this the slow, painstaking, methodically old-fashioned way ... especially with Windrose there to help them create their map.
"We will proceed methodically. Slow and steady, if you please. Keep your volume down. This interference is going to create echoes and we won't know where they will end up. Windrose, please keep us on track if you can. This is a labyrinth." Minimus turns his head to a slight nod in Windrose's direction. "Please attempt to retain focus on the task at hand," he says with that law enforcement flatness to his voice. "This is not a pleasure cruise."
With these directions, then, hours pass. Teeth are gritted. Minimus does not order anyone to stick their head in a bucket of ice water. He takes notes. He relies on Windrose's recordkeeping and refuses to cut corners or make shortcuts. He combs the maze with painstaking care. He pretends it is not possible for him to get bored.
It is totally possible for his crew to get bored, however.
<FS3> Windrose rolls Cartography: Good Success. (6 7 4 5 8 4 5 3 1 2 2)
Windrose does her very very best to not let a tone of exasperation seep into her voice. "By 'old fashioned' I mean not relying on modern electronics and sensors." A notion emphasized by the pylons holding her sensor pods folding down against her back. Instead she opens the canopy in her midsection and takes out her pad and pens. "But fear not! In order to understand all the intricate notions of mapwork I have done extensive practice in the ways of our exploratory forebearers!"
Fortunately Ultra Magnus is in the same frame of mind. "Yes. It will take time, but with patience and perseverence we can.. well, persevere." As they work their way through the ruins of the artifical moon she is literally making her own map as they go. The casual glance might not see more than angles and ridges, but there's differences even in the fractal cracks if one looks the right way. Minor differences are all it takes to record and make sure they don't start wandering in circles.
Occasionally she askes Fireflight to examime the edges for details, both for something to record and to keep him from wandering too much.
Fireflight zooms even closer on Magnus- er, Minimus' hand, then erks as the Commander talks about focus. Oh, oops, that probably refers to him. The lens zooms back out quickly. "Yes sir!" Ok, focus. He can do this. Yes. Uhhh...wow, look at that really pretty rock! The lens zooms in.
Five minutes later: Fireflight finally transforms so that he can traverse this landscape a little bit better. "Ooooh, okay," he responds to Windrose. "Patience. Okay. I will be... patient." He gives a firm nod her direction, and transforms back into a microscope when requested to do so. He wants to help!! Whether he can actually be patient remains to be seen. He smiles at the others, then looks up and around. "So... wait, what are we looking for again?"
"Patience," Minimus mutters in an undervoice, possibly as identification of what /he/, at least, is looking for.
Although the surroundings are mesmerising, Swivel struggles against just stopping and staring. However, she is diligent, obedient, and trying to focus. Which... is sometimes a little difficult. At times she momentarily forgets where she is, or even that she's awake and not dreaming. But due to her own insecurity, she doesn't bring this up. Admittedly, Firefly's antics do help the femme focus - paradoxical as it may seem - on the here and now. A few times Swivel looks up, as if to say something, maybe offer a suggestion, but she shoots it down immediately and maintains silence.
They take more wrong turns than right before they finally manage to somewhat? Maybe? Possibly? triangulate the bouncing signal through the interference and the scatter. It's definitely long enough for Utra Magnus to fondly remember the days when he was the Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord and he flew around on a very nice ship of his very own that was very empty and silent. Every so often, they forced to go still and find shelter beneath overhangs of glittering metal as organics traffic above. They skirt a settlement just once, quickly moving away -- and down. It becomes clear that their path forward is in fact a path down, and the light of day fades until the only light to guide them is that they bring with them. They come to a sharp descent, perhaps two-hundred feet to the fall to the next ledge. It's not a jump that anyone walks away from easily, but it's where they need to go.
Minimus considers his team. "Hnnn." Shake of his head slight, he lowers the instrumentation he has been using to glance around the rest of the team. He shifts in a soft tch-tch-tch of his transformation, spreading the wingspan of the mechawyvern and then rolling his draconic head back and forth to consider the rest of the team. "I can't lift any of you," he states, blandly factual. Whetstone's body is so much more useful than his here, guys. "Does anyone have any equipment I could transport down to make it easier to traverse."
This would be easier if they didn't have to wind around avoiding the locals, Windrose thinks to herself. But remains professional about the matters. She redeploys her pylons, if only to shine some additional light from them rather than try to use the scanners again. "Mmm." She pauses to lean over a little. "We need a cable or something for people to climb down." She looks at Minimus-Stone, then to the other two. Then down to herself. "I'm not really a lifting aeroframe, either."
Fireflight stares at the chasm below. "I wish I could fly right about now." He's generally been pretty mellow about the body swap, but times like this bring a certain itch of annoyance to even someone like the Aerialbot. His mouth skews towards a half forwn, then drops open to stare as Minimus transforms into a mechawyvern. "that is SO COOL."
He blinks as MInimus asks of equipment. "I... uh, I transform INTO equipment now, I guess? But uhhh... beyond that, I didn't bring a lot with me. Well, except this?" He offers some a few handfuls of wrapped candy, grinning a little sheepishly. It's not gonna help.
As it grows darker, Swivel turns on her headlights. It's nicer to not have to hold a light source. And they can get nice and bright. She is also beaming brightly. With her face. As in smiling. It's been a while since she had gone spelunking. A loooooong time. And the femme feels strangely at ease in dark winding confusing places.
Swivel looks at herself and then shrugs. She holds up her hands, empty, while she apologises. "I've got nothing." She does eyeball the candy that Fireflight holds out. "Oooooh what's that you got there?" Suddenly, this is much more interesting and important than finding a way down.
<FS3> Ultra_Magnus rolls Body+body: Success. (4 1 6 4 5 2 2 7)
<FS3> Windrose rolls Body+body: Good Success. (7 4 7 3)
<FS3> Fireflight rolls Body+body: Good Success. (5 4 8 6 5 8)
<FS3> Swivel rolls Fortitude: Success. (2 3 8 3 1 3)
<FS3> Fireflight rolls Body+body: Success. (5 8 5 3 1 1)
The three manage to work together to get Swivel somewhere closer to the ledge, but she still takes a hard bounce to land that shakes her on her struts. From there, it's easier, the ledges smaller and closer together until they come to a point at the center of it all, the black of the dark and the untarnished silver of the metal radiating from a sphere at the heart of it all. It appears to be generating the metal, but at a distance: perhaps ten feet away in every direction, the metal paints itself on one layer at a time, pushing outward. It takes Fireflight's finest scans to even notice that the space is growing. In fact, the whole moon must be growing. The signal of the artifact rings from beyond the mirrored surface of the sphere.
Minimus's wingbeats are still not as practical as having access to his standing frame, so he reverts quickly to root mode to traverse the other ledges. Leaping from one to another, he reaches the gleaming silvery dark of the sphere. He reaches up to touch the metal of the surface in an extremely unscientific touch test of the visible layers. He says, "Can anyone detect ... any way to get beyond this surface? I hesitate to hurt it." His 'but' hangs in the air, unspoken.
As Minimus touches the sphere, it gives: the tips of his fingers sink past it, and the metal seem reluctant to let him go. There's a quiver from the metal around them.
Windrose's helicopter mode isn't really made for carrying others, but at least she can get farther down before she has to change back to root mode and climb the rest of way so she doesn't get her scraped against something. Because what a find at the center! ".. Wow. It's like it's trying to rebuild the moon from the inside." She flips back between the map pages and some of the other sketching she's done along the way. "Though that explains the fractal layering patterns in the moon's composition. Even for an artificial construct this is quite amazing... Hmm? Oh, right." Alas, even she can get a little distracted at times. "Coming back out might be harder than going through."
Fireflight grins at Swivel, sensing kindred spirit here. "Candy! Lava bar and Rose Quartz, one is spicy and the other's more smoky and sweet. Want one?" His smile probably looks unnaturally big and genuine on Perceptor's normally serious face as he hands one to Swivel should she want one.
Then, from that point, off to precarious ledges they go. Fireflight looks down and well, hey. "At least if I fall I'm used to crashing, right?" Another kind of sheepish little laugh as he glances at the others. Ha ha ha, he's a bad flier okay?
By the time they reach this sphere, Firelfight has transformed back into miscroscope mode, telling the others what he can detect, in layman's terms like "Wow, this looks really cool!" or "I think it's getting bigger." Perceptor he is not. To Minimus' question he responds, "I can try!" His lens zooms in to see what he can find out about the object. Can't hurt to look, right?
The first fall is jarring for the little femme. But after taking a moment to steady herself, she manages to keep moving. Okay. Candy also helped her keep going. Thank you Fireflight. Swivel looks fragile, but evidence points to her being deceptively tough. Or knowing how to land. Or just having some really great shocks.
Swivel glances over at Mini-Stone. Swivel stands back, staring at the strange sphere in awe. She's not even sure what to think of any of this. But she keeps her half formed thoughts to herself. Which was easy since she immediately forgot some of them. But she's doing better, honest!
"Well... I dunno - sir." Swivel jumps back a little bit when Magnus reaches out to touch the - well whatever it is. Swivel doubts it will actually reveal anything but it might look REALLY cool to shine a UV light around. Why didn't she try this earlier? She may have forgotten she could do that. That star thing on her helmet isn't just a hood ornament!
Minimus shoves his hand a little further in to see if he can reach through the give of the rippling surface into something air-like beyond -- and then frowns. Oh. He's risking someone else's hand, not his hand. He glances aside at the others and then tugs a little at his wrist to try to pull it back. "Oh," he says. "I believe that it ... has me." A beat. "Suggestions?"
Neither the metal around them nor the sphere itself have any unusual response to UV light, although some of the pigments on their frames do, shining brighter or fluorescing.
As Minimus reaches deeper into the metal sphere, there's a moment's pause, and then it seems to reach back: in an instant, it becomes fluid, running to flow over his arm. It feels like nothing so much as wet paint that runs to coat his limb. Above them, the microscopic deposition of metal halts. There's another faint tremble in the air.
Windrose takes a step back as metal smooths itself along Minimus' limb, looking up at trembling above. "We may want to make a hasty departure. If the locals realize we've had to take what was building/repairing their moon..." A pause, and then a palm to her face as she hears for herself what she just said. "Oh bother..." Well it's all for the greater good of putting Unicron back in his place, right?
Fireflight frowns at the mention of Unicron, or he would if he wasn't in microscope mode, trying desperately to be useful while feeling quite a bit over his head. But ooo, at least the sights are pretty. "I..uhhh.. we could try tossing an object in there maybe? I haven't really found anything yet, I can keep looking though?" It's all he can do, keep searching with this kick-aft lens, right?
"Suggestions?" Swivel looks at Whetstone's consumed hand. "Um... ask it kindly to let go? Offer it can -- oh!" Swivel jumps when it... crawls? No crawling usually involves limbs. This just seeped or oozed. Yes. Oozed up Magnus - no Whetstone's arm. And then there is the trembling. "I'm with her on this," Swivel says in regards to hasty departures Only problem is... how is Swivel actually going to get out? Should have thought about that before jumping down. She should have stayed behind. She should have - well it wasn't Swivel's call to make. She trusted the others to lead her down here, and now she trusts them to lead her out.
It would not be professional of Minimus to say anything like 'this is weird'. He stares reproachfully at the liquidity of the sphere. Why is it impeaching his dignity like this. He reaches up to hook the shotgun onto his back, and then reaches to pull out a datapad, which he flips at the sphere with his one free hand.
While Minimus tries to figure out the metallic substance Windrose walks back a few steps and flips back to the maps she was making on the way down. Someone's got to figure out the best way for them to get back out so they can space bridge off this moon again. Honestly climbinb up should be easier that climbing down, especially if they can use the ridges of the layers like steps or a latter to get themselves back up to the surface.
The datapad disappears into the dwindling sphere without so much as a splash. It's just gone. There's a quiet tsche-chu-chu around them as the fractalled walls begin to interlink. The pool of liquid metal bands over Minimus's arm, and then domes above them, expanding to a truly ridiculous size as it settles in the form of a shield on his arm. The shield would honestly look absurdly large on Ultra Magnus. Please stop to imagine how it looks on Whetstone.
With a final chu-tsche, the walls around them connect, leaving them locked in a smooth spherical room. Almost locked. There are five tunnels equidistant around them that are just large enough to allow them to pass through.
Minimus stands there, looking faintly astounded. He takes a single staggered step backward, the shield enormous before and over him. Its weight is significant. He says: "I ... see." It's SO BIG, you guys. He's going to need a moment.
Fireflight stops in his scans to stare with a lens at what just happened to not-Whetstone over there. "Oooo..." The lens whirs over to zoom in on the shield, then zooms back as he realizes the whole area around them has changed. He transforms back so he can see it on a larger, more encompassing scale. "Is... is that it?" He asks, staring at Minimus and this giant shield overtaking him.
There's a long moment before he asks, more quietly as he cocks his head to the side, "Uhhhh... do you need any help, Sir?"
.. And all that calculating the best departure is rendered moot as the entire area around them shifts into a room with tunnels. Windrose throws her hands in the air in frustration. "Oh that's just great! I'm trying to do my job here but nooooooo let's just go deus ex machina an exit instead!" She's so preoccupied with that annoyance that she hasn't even noticed the hugeass shield somehow.
"Woah!" Swivel looks around at the new environment. She's more interested in the sudden change in the layout. Then she looks back at Whet-Magnus (gosh, never use that portmanteau again) and raises her optic ridges. "Woah!" she repeats more emphatically. Then she looks at the different ways out - which could lead anywhere, really. And not actually out. She rubs her chin and squints contemplatively.
That shield is definitely not fitting through the tunnels, by the way. Which aparently refuse to deus ex any further.
Minimus cautiously approaches one of the tunnels. He kind of pokes his massive, massive shield against the side of the wall. Poke, poke. This is not going to fit. He says, "Well ... usually I'm taller when this is a problem."
As the shield donks against the side of the tunnel walls, it just -- shrinks, slicking itself down against Minimus's arm. Now just the tiny bump of a buckler in his hand, it sits there. It's fine.
"Looks like it's got some sort of space limit recogniti--" Windrose stops, slapping palm to her face again. "--Nevermind, this is not the time to analyze it. Let's get out of here first -then- figure out what weird things it can do."
This is all just a little beyond Fireflight. He just stands there, mouth agape, looking far more bufuddled by it all than Perceptor has probably looked in a long time. Then he decides he's hungry and turns to stare at the changing doorways ...oooo a squirrel. Er, I mean escape? He unwraps a bar and takes a munch. Mech's gotta eat, microscope or not, strange possibly death-defying location or not.
"Once again, I'm with her. Sir." Once again, Swivel is filling the role of a toadie. Hey, if anything, she's agreeable, right? Swivel shimmies closer to Fireflight and whispers, "....you must have quite the stash. Don't suppose you could hook a femme up when we get back? I haven't had a decent treat in four million years."
Minimus looks absolutely charmed for a moment. It is even possible, for a fraction of a second, to note the slight tug of a smile across Whetstone's lips. Then he looks up and goes, "Quite correct, Windrose. Everybody move!"
Windrose is all too eager to take her own advice and navigate those tunnels out of here. At least people are listening to her be sensible for once!
The ascent to the surface is straightforward, but staggeringly tedious. As methodical as the search was, at least there was some variation. Getting out without murdering one or more of their party just to have something to do will truly be a challenge, but not one that is beyond them. There, past the metal, they are able to get a lear signal to the Lost Light.
Fireflight glances over at Swivel. "Huh?" Oh! A (slightly) more focused look returns as he smiles at her. "Yeah! Well, I mean, I brought several boxes with me and have ordered some more, so... yeah! When we get back I can give you the shop I go through- and some extras, I've got samples! Wait until you try the Oilbar, it's really good."
Minimus' order snaps Fireflight to full attention, however, and the former jet scrambles to follow it.