2017-07-27 Dust In The Wind
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|2017-07-27 Dust In The Wind|
|Plot||Artifacts of the Knights of Cybertron|
|Summary||Chimera and Rodimus follow the writings from his vision, leading to a long forgotten battleground.|
So the string of numbers that Rodimus hallucinatorily carved into the earth was provided to the nerd team along with any other intel that they look at -- it's not that unusual to give hallucinations to the nerd team, after all -- and after a few back and forths over possible interpretations, it became clear that the only /sensible/ interpretation was that these numbers are a string of coordinates in the midst of a planetary system. It is an old system, several smallish planets orbiting a smallish white dwarf that might have once been brighter, hotter.
What's exciting about this is that the triangulation of the navigators and the artifact hunters has shown this: that the cross-section of this planetary system is a hit on both spreadsheets. This is why Minimus says that graphs and charts are exciting.
The spacebridge opens into a dark, gloomy sky. The air here is heavy, dense with gases that make motion just a little harder. The sky above is overbright for night-time, scattered with a dense carpet of orbital fragments and dust; the ring that orbits the planet is like an unending aurora of old destruction, catching reflective light from system's star in a shivery refraction of dust-lit glow.
The world is silver desolation, cratered and choked with slowly blowing dust.
While Rodimus might need a little more persuading to really be convinced of the merits of graphs and charts, he's at least fascinated by the ruin of the planet as they step forth. "Look at that," he murmurs, twisting once past the spacebridge's aperture to twist and follow the arc of the ring across the sky. It's beautiful.
Despite allowing himself to be distracted, Rodimus is battle-ready: he expects that whatever has taken Optimus of the board is going to resist before relinquishing him. His armor has been sanded, smoothed, and repainted to red and orange and gold brilliance, even if his chest still looks a touch strange in reflection without the badge on it. He carries his bow in hand, although the string has yet to be activated. He drops his visor down across his eyes, queuing up a HUD with more details on their surroundings. He searches for signs of life, Cybertronian tech -- and Optimus. "What do you think happened?"
Chimera is very happy to be back in her regular body. Not because she didn't like Tailgate's, but having to look up at everything was starting to become tedious. She was also sad to have not been able to help her fellow crewmates in their battle against the Unicronians, but at least they came back alive, which means she can save her rites for another day. And with their return came good news regarding Rodimus' vision, which leads them to this seemingly abandoned planet she and her captain now stand upon.
The fluff of her mane loses a good amount of its body in the weightier atmosphere, and the black, scaley leather cloak she sports also loses some of its sway. Unlike Rodimus, she does not have her own weaponry in hand, keeping them sheathed for now as she surveys the land and sky from her loftier heights. "Mmh.. It is difficult to say. Lunar activity has obviously been quelled. Perhaps it was a natural disaster, overmining, or even for tactical advantage." Optics glance down his way out of their corners, curious. "Does the sight of this place stir anything within you?"
There is no sign of life. This rock is lifeless. Some of the shifting dust surges across the cratered ground beyond them like ripples in a gray-lit sea, but other than the hiss of the atmospherics in the dense air, there is no motion.
There are a few ghost signatures in Rodimus's HUD that could be the shells of Cybertronian technology, but nothing with any active energy signatures. If Optimus was here, he has been reduced to nothing but a memory in the cold, aurora-lit night.
Letting his visor retract, Rodimus looks across the quiet desolation and tries -- feeling every moment ridiculous -- to reach for memories that aren't there. He shakes his head. "I've seen enough worlds ruined by war and disaster to recognize another, but -- I don't think that's really the stir you were looking for." His smile is rueful, and he touches Chimera's side in a gesture of almost thanks before moving forward. Does he know where he's going? No. Does that matter? Also no. Because whatever might be here, it's still ahead of them. Somewhere. "It's so quiet."
Tailtip flicks at the touch and a thoughtful look is sent Rodimus' way as he moves on ahead. "It is, indeed. Not even I hear a thing.." Yet. Still, her tall ears swivel about, straining to pick up anything beyond the thrum of their sparks and the background hum of the universe itself.
The only other sound to join them is one of old plates shifting as Chimera transforms behind him once her cloak has been tucked away. The massive beast that is her altmode trots up to him from behind, giant snout snuffing lightly against his helm since she's as tall as he. "Come, this pockmarked terrain will do your altmode no good." Warmer tone rumbles to him when gesturing to her scaled back. It will prove to be a strange ride should he decide to climb aboard, though nowhere near as rocky as an equinoid as she crosses the landscape with feline grace.
It is. The wind whispers wordlessly as the dust in blowing whorls ahead of them as Chimera and Rodimus explore the devastated landscape.
The loping feline gait across the ground eats up distance smoothly, through the flowing syrup of the cold, heavy air. Their tracks lead them ahead to the sliding downward curve of a slope, a deep crater whose soft, sinking dust is not so thick as above. The whole world is a dead thing and it seems like it could go on forever, the land under the glow of the sky an unbroken uniformity--
There is a fragment of skeletal gray spearing up in the hollow of the crater.
As she transforms, Rodimus turns to look back. He grins widely and reaches up to her shoulder. "Yeah?" he asks, stopping to make sure she means it. It just seems rude not to stop and confirm. But with her tone warm and her manner welcoming, he eagerly clambers up and onto her back. He's not graceful about it, but he is at least athletic enough it only takes him the one try. His fingers curl, looped cautiously through her mane, and he leans forward to ask again, "Okay?" to make sure he's not pulling or being a jerk. After that, he quiets, losing himself to the bounding pace and watching as the rough terrain melts away. It's almost soothing, really -- except then they hit the bottom of the crater, and Rodimus almost pitches face-first from her back in his scramble to get down. "Oh, frag, no." He pulls every reading he can, sending a ping for Optimus's comms. Pls don't be the big guy.
Chimera doesn't mind one bit, in fact finding it amusing with the way he scrambles up. The air may be heavier, but Chimera still cuts across the land with relative ease, keeping eyes and ears tuned for the slightest evidence of something different.
This comes in the form of a surprisingly large crater, the lion cresting the edge and half sliding down into the basin as she keeps from tumbling over. Once at the bottom she allows Rodimus to dismount and approaches after him, first dipping her large head and muttering a few quiet words before carefully observing the scene. "Curious.." She rumbles, helm turning as she draws close to the body to smell it. "Well then.. Seeing as this is the only person we have come across yet, let us see just who it is." Sickle claws sink deep into the dust and dirt while giant paws scoop it under and behind her, the beastfemme doing a little impromptu exhuming of the corpse.
Here are no comm signals. There is no energy reading. There is only a body.
Though, as Rodimus scrambles for data, he can detect the glowing smidge of an artifact reading maybe 500 meters away from here.
As Chimera digs, great heaves of dusty earth and fragmented stone fall away from the frame, until it becomes clear that it is not all of a corpse, but most of one.
Colorless, lifeless, dead. The dust has worn away much of the distinguishing features of this frame, and its have been shorn away partway through the thick bulk of its thighs. One of the arms is just missing, assuming it ever had two arms. There is a broken scut of metal a few meters away that looks like it might have once had something to do with weaponry but it would take a dedicated team of archaelogists or weapon specialists to know for sure. The head is obscured by a helm, curving visored like a knight-errand. Silvery sand falls away from its lifelessness.
It's been dead for a long, long time.
Rodimus definitely makes a mental note about that artifact -- YEP, NOTE MADE, GOT IT -- and then he immediately ignores it in favor of the body that Chimera has uncovered. His voice is hushed to a bare whisper, as though he hesitates to disturb the air any further than they already have: "Who--." He kneels, his touch gentler as he moves to turn the helm up and search for a brand. It's instinct. He catches the falling sand, rubbing it between his thumb and finger, and then looks across the crater and up the walls. "What happened here?"
Once the body is more or less uncovered, Chimera inspects it until Rodimus moves in for a look, making her sit back and run thick tongue over her nose and snout to clean it of the silvery dust. "Impossible to say, I am afraid." She huffs and shakes out her mane, sending up a sparkling cloud around her until it falls back to the ground. "I assume he is a Knight, though whether he is the victim or cause of this destruction, I cannot imagine. Mmh, if I had the forethought to bring some items we may have been able to reach out to his spark beyond."
While he makes his observations, Chimera runs her own scan of the land, picking up on the artifact as well. "..I will give him a proper burial soon. First, let us see what that is, yes?" If he wishes to stay he can, but Chimera is already trotting off in the direction of the artifact to investigate.
This is not an Autobot. It's not a Decepticon. There may be some kind of an ancient symbol that was once worn on this armor, but it is a little indistinct after all the millenia it spent abandoned. There's something weirdly familiar about the way it feels under Rodimus's fingers, but it is only a ghost of an impression, a niggling subconscious something that vanishes as soon as he focuses on it.
As Chimera trots off across the crater -- there are other disruptions in the dust. Corpses, partially buried. As she paces over the dead world ... it grows more and more clear.
This is the ruin of a forgotten battlefield.
Rodimus lingers a moment more, with the touch of his hand becoming the more reverent press of his palm. Uneasy and a little shaken, his vocalizer clicks on the edge of words, but he's not even sure what to say. He pushes himself upright, hand on his chest, and finally drags something from his processor: it's the final words of the Act of Transition. "I commend your spark to the Allspark, and the Allspark is one spark, and the one spark is your spark. And in this way we are all connected." His words are soft, and he's really the only one to hear. Then he turns, pushing away to chase after Chimera. His pace slows, stuttering to a halt as he makes out the other corpses as well, and he pivots to take it in. "Primus."
Chimera will have to do much more than one burial, by the looks of it. While her trek to the artifact remains unhindered, she still spares long looks at the bodies littering the field around them, the planet steadily claiming them over time as they lay partially above ground. The sight of them in no way disturbs her, Death her profession, but the circumstance is still troubling.
It's when Rodimus hangs back that she slows a moment, turning to study him for a long moment. "..It has been countless ages since I was one a battlefield as grand as this. Still, it hurts to see. Knowing that they have been left here to fade away, forgotten from a time possibly older than I.." Her tone is soft, yet a sliver of sorrow tinges it while helm turns to survey the bodies, a far-off look about her for a moment. "..We must not let their struggle have been in vain." That said, she continues on towards the artifact, padding through the sea of corpses without a second thought.
Some of the bodies are whole, others fragmented. The dead lie here scattered, with no one to lay them to rest across millenia.
There is a great hunk of craggy black stone that surges up out of the sand, bodies surrounding it. One of them is half-crushed beneath the stone. In the silvery light of the aurora, there is a glint of something like color -- a whisper of a warmer hue, a shred of gold amidst all the gray pallor of the broken world -- at the base of the rock.
"It's not right." Rodimus's steps slow as he falls in next to Chimera to move with care across the ancient battlefield. "It's just -- this isn't how it's supposed to be. We have to make this right." He's not quite sure how, but the certainty that they must is the steel that binds his spark. Gigantic, planet-wide funeral. It'll be great.
"That doesn't look like it belongs here." Moving toward the black stone, Rodimus walks around it and then back toward the light that gleams near the base. "I don't understand what any of this has to do with what I saw."
Chimera is wary of the black stone that finally comes into view, its strange presence in this wasteland, surrounded by bodies, leaving an odd feeling in her tank. "Visions are never always so straightforward, Rodimus." She murmurs, her attention split between him and the jagged monolith while circling it opposite him. "The mind will always be a mystery, no matter what grand scholars or scientists seek to probe it. And with your connection to the Matrix on top of that.. the networks of information to draw on are endless. All of that, contained in a single vision, is often skewed and needs much time to interpret. ..Time we do not have. You had said a star exploded at the shot of Optimus' canon, with soot and stardust and bodies aflame afterwards.."
She stops with him before the golden object. "Perhaps this is connected.." Transforming, Chimera kneels at Rodimus' side so she is somewhat eye-level. Enough to look him squarely when gesturing to the item that stands out in this world of grey. "I will take it. I will not see you hurt.." She smirks softly, jade optics warm. "I daresay the ship would be in shambles without you." And before he can protest, a clawed hand extends to extract the golden artifact.
The glint of gold belongs to what looks like-- a quiver, sleekly near-cylindrical. It is bound to the lean body of the knight who bore it by straps, but it almost seems to quiver as Rodimus nears it. As his feet impact the soft sand nearest the body, the straps stir to life. They shiver and then retract into the quiver, slithering like golden snakes that then vanish into its compartments. It falls on its side, angled arrows -- a full quiver! -- shifting against the dusty ground.
As Chimera reaches for it, it is only an inanimate object, lifeless and still, as anything else on this world's crater-pocked surface.
The slither of the straps checks Rodimus's advance, but he does not fall back. Instead, he kneels at the knight's side, with a touch to his near arm in almost apology as they grave rob. "You might be surprised," he says to Chimera, low and dry and deeply skeptical of the idea that the ship would do anything but flourish without him. "And besides, risk or not, I think it likes me better." He winks up at her, blue dimming in a quick flash. To the knight, he says, "I'm sorry, but I think we need this. We are continuing your fight." Then he moves to lift the quiver, and draw an arrow.
Chimera only hesitates for a second when the quiver activates and retracts in on itself to detatch from its host. Handling it gently, she turns it around in her hands, optics bright with curiosity. Such an intriguing little piece. And while she would have loved to wield it, the arrows are far too small for her, leading her to gladly handing it over to Rodimus. "They are more suited for you, anyway."
The comment to the previous owner earns a look of quiet approval, pleased by his respect for the dead. What she doesn't approve of, however, if the grim reply on his leadership. "Rodimus.." Her usual, commanding tone takes a back seat for something much softer, encouraging him to look to her with a gentle touch of clawed fingertips to the underside of his chin.
A shine to her optics glimmers delightedly, their bottom shutters squinted up and a sweet smile curling her lips. "You are good, do you understand? There may be those who doubt you, but I do not. I cannot begin to imagine the burden you had and still do shoulder, once with the Matrix and now with a crew. Each decision is critical, but I know they are always with good intention." Retracting her hand, she rests it on his chest, over his spark. "I know because I am able to hear this in its purest form and it is beautiful. So do not doubt yourself. You have come so far and done so much.. I am proud of you and honored to be on this journey with you."
Though it was cool and still for Chimera, the quiver almost seems to warm under Rodimus's touch. It fits in his grasp almost as though it was custom-made for him.
The arrow is black and ancient. As his fingers close around its shaft, it is a little like grasping a sculpture made of ash. It dusts to powder in his hand, but for the hard glint of the black arrowhead, meteorite iron that lingers after the rest of the ancient, ancient arrow dissolves.
That's right: even as Chimera rests her hand over Rodimus's spark, the arrow crumbles to dust in his hand. Hopefully this one isn't a metaphor.
"Little small for you," Rodimus agrees, grinning up at Chimera as he shifts his grip on the quiver. The warmth comes as a relief after the cold of the past weeks. It feels right, and he relaxes, armor slack. He lifts his gaze to hers, guided by her touch. His expression is rueful, but not rebellious. He listens. As her hand falls, he looks down to draw the arrow, and nods just slightly as she speaks. Mebbe there's something to her words.
"I'm glad you--." The spark beneath Rodimus's hood clenches, electric-crackle trembling at the edge of her senses. His engine knocks in a startled hiccup as the arrow dissolves. "Wait, what -- no, come on!" It was a good speech. Great speech. He's forgotten everything she said. He draws a second arrow, a third, then drops the entire quiver as they too dissolve to ash and dust. The arrowheads plonk -- one, two, three -- into the dirt next to the emptying quiver.
Chimera does indeed think her speech was pretty good. It was from the spark, she meant every word, but.. the arrows.. Chimera pauses, optics widening a hair and lips pressing a little thin in some disbelief while staring at the crumbling arrows. "Well.." She mumbles, rubbing through her mane. "They were probably older than I, to be fair.. Hrm." Brows scrunching, she reaches for an arrowhead and turns it over in her hand, rubbing it between her fingers.
"..Worry not. I said before, my own fletcher imparted knowledge to me. So I will simply craft you new ones, the tips are certainly hardy enough to stand reforging. ..And I think I know just the bot to help me." Optics glint as an idea formulates in her mind, a corner of her mouth turning up.
The quiver falls to the ground where it dropped, but it doesn't stay there. It rolls impossibly over the soft, tucking against Rodimus's foot even as the scattered arrowheads spill out onto the sand along with the black ashy leavings that were the shafts.
"Ha ha," Rodimus says -- emphasis on says, rather than laughs -- as he bends over to collect the fallen arrowheads and scoop them into the quiver. Dust and ash are gathered with the arrows, scooped into the quiver in handfulls. "I'm glad touching you doesn't turn you into dust, though." Once he has everything packed up, he straightens to take the last arrowhead from her, hand held out flat. "That sounds like a great idea. I could use your help with something else, too: I guess there's no sign of Optimus here. So how do we lay to rest a whole planet?"
Chimera stands as Rodimus starts filling the quiver back up, idly running a hand over the onyx stone. Odd thing.. Hm? She looks down to him, only to stare for a second before looking off in thought, rubbing her chin. "A funerary service for an entire planet? That.. is a good question. Usually space jettison or burial is the popular method, but since we cannot do that so easily... Cremation, perhaps?" She eyes him with an arched brow, having a feeling he may enjoy that idea.
"Maybe." Rodimus turns the ideas over as he. moves to look back across the battlefield. They take their time before leaving -- paying their respects, lifting rocks to check beneath them for mysteries. The whole time, Rodimus clutches the quiver, rattling with its near-emptiness. But no matter how many rocks they turn over, there's not so much as a hint of Optimus anywhere they look. Mysteries. What could it all mean.