2017-08-13 Pedestal Puzzle

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Pedestal Puzzle
Date 2017/08/13
Location Ancient Chamber
Participants Panacea, Bulkhead
Plot Artifacts of the Knights of Cybertron
Scene GM Wheeljack
Summary Panacea and Bulkhead head off to find another artifact. They only get a little wet.

Another day, another signal, another trip through the space bridge. This time, after Anialus has spit them out at the proper location, the team will find themselves standing in a small circular building. Dust has long coated the floor, and the old stone building is slowly beginning to crumble, particularly around the roof and the open, empty windows. There's a door that can be seen hanging off of its hinges, opening to a craggy windswept plateau outside. The light is dimmed by heavy clouds overhead, and the occasional distant crack of thunder can be heard.

What the parties scanners tell them, however, is that the artifact isn't outside-- it's down below. At the center of the room is a circular pit that descends ever into darkness, with a spiral staircase winding down it into the gloom and out of sight. Hopefully no one minds tight spaces, or the dark.

Bulkhead has dragged himself away from the plethora of Science occurring in Wheeljack's lab recently to head out on an artifact trip. It's good to get out and get some fresh air once in a while, or so he keeps telling Jackie, and what good will that do if he doesn't follow his own advice sometimes? Bulkhead's step is careful on the dusty floor of the building the space bridge brought them to, glancing out the broken door at the plateau and dark sky outside.

"Kinda ominous setting, huh?" he comments, tuning his scanner to see where the artifact's signal is coming from. "Feels like we just stepped inta a novel." Bulkhead walks carefully toward where the signal is leading, unsure of how sturdy the floor is when it's clear the building has been abandoned for ages. The spiral staircase gets a bit of a sigh out of him, as he knows it'll be a tight squeeze for his robust frame, but that certainly isn't deterring him. "I'll lead the way down, in case there's anythin' unsavory lurking around down there."

Panacea doesn't mind small spaces at all. The dark, on the other hand, is something she's a little less pleased with. And although she's still a bit intimidated by any Autobot, moreso with such a big one, she had been encouraged by both a Decepticon and an Autobot to be less fearful. Less meek. Still, she's completely grateful that the large Bot wants to go first. "It is a bit ominous," she agrees in a soft, lilting voice. "And if something bad does happen, at least I'll know how to fix you up after," she adds brightly, trying to find a positive in this. "I've never been on one of these outings; I'm not sure what to expect," she confides, ready to follow the more robust individual.

"Eh, I'll be alright, don't worry too much about me," Bulkhead says, tone friendly as he glances back at Panacea over his shoulder. Despite her own Deceptibrand, he doesn't seem at all uneasy in her presence. He's been on the Lost Light too long for that, and the Decepticon he would be worried about isn't here. "It depends on the mission. Mostly ya wanna be careful, keep yer eyes peeled for trouble."

Whatever the reason, as they move further down the staircase, the light becomes almost nonexistent. Bulkhead's optics brighten in turn, and he frowns slightly as the headlights on his chassis power on, powerful beams of light cutting through the growing darkness to illuminate the way ahead. "Watch yer step," he says a bit unnecessarily back to Panacea, gaze falling warily to the drop beside them. "I can do a bit a repair myself, but I ain't good enough to help ya if you take a fall like that."

Panacea isn't terribly worried about the open air gap. She can fly, after all. In fact, maybe she should transform. Besides, she definitely has lights in her alt mode; it's what helps her identify hard to reach patients. "I'll just take stepping out of the equation then," she says, deciding that her idea to transform is a good idea and does so. Cue transformation sound. Immediately she turns on her search lights.

Down, and down, and down they go. The stairs are old, and worn by both time and the old impressions of feet. Whatever this staircase used to be for, it isn't some simple cellar, as it keeps going far deeper than any basement has a reasonable right to go. Even with the lights, it might be slow going, with the only sound the ones they make themselves, and the occasional drip...drip...drip of water.

Bulkhead keeps his scanner up as they follow the staircase deeper and deeper into the ground, his frown increasing in depth as the staircase does. "We're pretty far down," he says after a time, careful in his descent as he glances back to Panacea's alt. "Really take care ta watch your surroundings. Nobody digs this deep unless they got a reason." Usually to hide something, or so Bulkhead thinks. He's running many different possibilities of what could be worth keeping this far underground, whether it was an old dungeon or vault or what. The drip of water is a mild irritant, as without the sound of anything beyond their own movement his audials feel more sensitive than usual as they strain for a noise indicating...well, anything, honestly.

Panacea has no head to nod, but she emits a sound of agreement. "I'm used to flying into narrow or awkward places," she notes. "It's why I have this altmode; to reach those who are injured and can't be reached by larger forms." Her lights sweep back and forth at a steady pace. She doesn't mind the sound of the dripping exactly, but she wishes there were more sounds to add to that. She doesn't say anything for a few moments, but the quiet is a bit unnerving, so she asks, "Do you ever wish you could fly?" The question is tentative; she doesn't want to annoy or offend her companion for this trip.

<FS3> Bulkhead rolls Mind+mind: Failure. (3 6 5 2)

<FS3> Panacea rolls Mind+Mind: Good Success. (1 5 4 7 1 1 5 8)

The stairs continue ever downward. In this darkness, there's really no telling how much further they'll go. When Panacea speaks, her voice echoes oddly off of the walls, creating odd sounds that are enough to chill the frame and add just a little more creepiness to their surroundings. But it's just an old cellar, isn't it...? As she listens, however, Panacea will hear the underlying dripping quickly grow to a trickle... then a gurgle, from up above. Something must be happening up above.

"Yeah? Interestin'." Bulkhead glances back at Panacea once more, giving her a bit of an odd look, before trying to hide his wince at the question about flying. She seems nice enough, so he keeps his tone polite as he says, "Never really thought about it much. I like drivin'." Concentrating as he is on responding while also not tripping or slipping himself down these winding staircase, Bulkhead notes only the oddity to the echoes around them. There's definitely something down here that's more than just a cellar, and he can only hope he's ready for it when they find out.

"I...I think things are about to get more than damp," the little green drone almost squeaks. Tilting herself, Panacea shines her light upwards, where the increased sound is coming from. She's not sure what she should do. They've already come so far. Hopefully shedding some light on the subject will help.

<FS3> Bulkhead rolls Reaction+reaction: Good Success. (7 7 3 2)

<FS3> Panacea rolls Reaction+reaction: Good Success. (2 4 1 4 3 7 7 5)

Panacea's light shines overhead just in time for the gurgling to turn into a rushing, and a waterfall pours down over the edge of the staircase above, making the outer edge of the staircase into a curtain of water. More than that, water comes trickling down the stairs, then rushing. It's barely an inch, but moving fast, enough to catch the any unwary mechanisms off-guard.

Bulkhead looks up when Panacea shines her light and this time he does spot the incoming water. There's a soft, "Oh, frag," that leaves him before the water is gushing into the yawning pit where a column for the staircase should be, so at least he's not swept away. The trickling water down the stairs is a bit more troubling, however, as even just an inch can make it tricky to keep one's balance, but Bulkhead manages to hold his footing. "We better get movin'," he says, sticking close to the wall as they continue their descent. "Could be somebody's around that triggered that water."

Panacea swerves towards the middle of the staircase so she doesn't get crushed by the sudden waterfall. Well, now there's a railing of water beside the staircase; good fun. "I'd rather not find out who that somebody might be," Panacea agrees, spinning her rotors faster. Since she's still staying behind Bulkhead, she doesn't go any faster than he does. At least, not until the situation warrants her trying to zoom ahead.

They can rush as best they can... but there's only so far they can go. It's not because they've reached the bottom, this time-- rather, the stairs, already old and worn, simply disappear in front of them, leaving a long empty space. Examining the wall, it looks like some of the stairs simply... collapsed, snapped off at the base. Water careens over the edge of the final stair. The spray it throws up as it does may confuse their lights, but there's a distinct splashing sound echoing up. On the far side of the gap, the stairs pick up again, whole and seemingly undamaged, though the mist again makes it hard to tell.

Bulkhead stops, obviously, when they hit a dead end, swinging his lights up to spot the rest of the staircase on the other side of the gap. He gauges the size of it, trying to figure out if he could clear the empty space. He probably could, but... "I don't think I'm gonna be able ta jump that," he says to Panacea, indicating the gap ahead. "I could make it, I think, but if it's fallen in like this on its own, I might be too heavy ta support." One great shoulder rises in a sheepish shrug, and Bulkhead takes a moment to listen to the splashing sound from below. Well, it seems likely he'll be falling either way. "Don't do this at home," he says, then steps forward and jumps off the edge of the staircase, letting himself drop to the water below. Or what sounds like water. Hopefully it's more water. Either way, incoming!

Panacea almost protests this, then realizes that jumping on Bulkhead's own volition would probably end in a better result than being forced over the edge by the water. She waits for him to jump, then follows after, flying of course, keeping her lights on him so she doesn't lose sight. Mentally she tries to calculate how far down they're going now that they're falling/flying rather than walking/flying.

When Bulkhead jumps, he doesn't fall far-- he's only falling for a second or two before he hits. Which is a good thing, because what he hits may be water, but it's not very deep, only about a foot or so, there on the flat ground of the bottom of the chamber. They've reached it at long last, it seems. The room is bare and featureless, despite the amount of time it took them to get down here. The only thing they can see, in fact, is a pedastal at the center of the room, blurrily visible through the curtain of water sheeting down from above.

<FS3> Bulkhead rolls Body+body: Success. (6 5 5 3 8 2 2 1)

Well that wasn't pleasant. Bulkhead's landing sends up a good amount of water, but jumping into a pool as shallow as this means he hits the floor beneath the water, hissing in pain. When he stands up, his plating is thankfully no more scuffed than usual, but he's definitely a bit sore. "Well, that wasn't too bad," he comments, as if he hadn't just landed hard on his ass. Holding up his scanner once more, Bulkhead slowly approaches the water separating them and the pedestal. "Could be rigged with traps," he warns gently. "Careful."

Panacea hovers down towards Bulkhead. When he seems to be okay, or at least functional, she carefully lands to transform, not wanting to get caught in the water without her feet firmly (or not so firmly) on the ground. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asks, sounding less timid now. It's a medically relevant question, and that makes her more at ease. Her optics dim slightly at the mention of traps. "What do we do about traps?" she asks, nervous once again. It's not really something she was trained for.

The water is still sheeting down, and behind them, the river from the stairs continues to pour down, still adding to the pool at the bottom, all around Bulkhead's legs. Nothing changes as he walks forward, and the pedestal remains motionless in the center of the room, a squat shape that would be about waist height on Bulkhead.

"Try not ta trip 'em," Bulkhead answers, "And if ya do, get outta the way." So far, though, nothing's happened as he moves through the sheet of water, shaking his helm to rid it of some of the liquid on the other side and continuing his careful approach of the pedestal. He doesn't see anything on it, not yet, and when he comes up close enough he stops in front of it and look down. "There's gotta be more'n just this," he muses aloud, mostly to himself as he glances around. But still, he doesn't see anything, just the pedestal, Panacea, and the water.

Panacea slips through the water practically on Bulkhead's heels, hoping to not get a pounding from the water. The room is...well...unexciting. But, considering the trip down the stairs, she can do with a little underwhelming. Mindful of the warning of traps, she starts to circle the room, looking closely at the walls to see if there's anything different, though she's hoping that, despite Bulkhead's words, this is all there is. "Things don't always have to be very difficult, do they?" she asks quietly

Under the light, the pedastal is an old, decorated thing, covered with what look like inscriptions and pictures all carved into the stone, now worn away almost to the point of being illegible. The surface in particular has an interesting design, with deep lines etched into the top in patterns that spiral outward toward the edges, and trail down along the side of the cap-like top of the feature. Considering the state of the thing, this probably isn't the first time the room has been flooded with water, and it probably won't be the last. Still, aside from this, there's nothing else in the room. No doors, no chests, no nothing, though their scanners will still indicate that the artifact must be here somewhere.

The scanner is telling him the artifact is here, he's just...not sure where. Frowning in thought, Bulkhead circles the pedestal, crouching in order to get a better look at the inscriptions and pictures carved into its stone surface. With how eroded they are by the water that's clearly filled the room again and again, he can't tell much from them. "You findin' anything, Panacea?" he calls over to his companion, as he stands and instead leans over to peer at the top of the pedestal. This doesn't really tell him anything, either, beyond the fact that this pedestal was nicely crafted. Despite his own warnings about not tripping traps, there's a reason Bulkhead was once a Wrecker, was once - and still is - a scientist, and that's his curiosity, which has him reaching out to smooth a hand over those engravings in the surface of the stone, feeling the patterns beneath his fingers.

Wall, wall, wall, wall. "No, not really. Just more wall," Panacea replies. "Find anything on the pedestal?" she asks. She's not upset that he didn't answer her other question; it was largely rhetorical, though she still meant it. That being said, she continues her circuit of the room, just to be sure. The medic believes in being thorough. No half-aft job here!

Still nothing on the walls, though if Panacea darts behind the water streaming down from above, she'll find the stairs leading upward again. They at least have the start of a way back up, even if they'll have to deal with that gap in the staircase again as they leave.

As for the pedastal, the lines in the surface seem to go all the way down to the base of the table-like slab that makes up the top. In fact, looking at the design, the pieces all seem to curl into the center. The outside edges of the table aren't round, though. there are grooves along the edge, just as smooth and worn away, that form a lip that a mech could easily wrap his or her hand around.

"Mm?" Bulkhead asks, somewhat distracted as he touches over the engravings in the pedestal. "Not really. Some old markings, though I'm not sure what they represent." Seeing as touching the stone hasn't caused the room to fall down around their ears, he decides to go one step further. Tracing those grooves with a fingertip, Bulkhead pulls his hand back only for a moment before carefully fitting his hand around the slab topping the pedestal. Bracing himself once again, he holds the slab and then. Pulls upward, to see what it does, if anything.

Panacea completes her circuit in time to walk over to the pedestal, where Bulkhead is pulling the slab upwards. She keeps a little bit of distance and watches the large mech work, white optics large with awe and curiosity.

Lifting up won't do too much, but in the process of pulling it, something seems to give with an audible scraping sound, and the stone slab in Bulkhead's hands gives a noticable jerk to the left. Clockwise, even.

Ah. So the slab doesn't come off - however, it appears to turn. Bulkhead glances once to Panacea, noting how she's kept some distance between herself and the pedestal. Good. He nods to her, once, to show that she should stay where she is, before turning the slab in the direction with give. He's not sure how many times he has to turn it for something to happen, so he's going to keep turning until it stops letting him.

Panacea just watches in silence for now, letting the large mech do his work. Her frame is tense though; she's ready to jump out of the way if something BAD happens. Otherwise, it just seems best to just wait for now. Her small stature and relatively low strength means she's not the best person for the job. She can accept this.

Sure enough, the stone top begins to turn, the pieces of the surface slowly pulling back with a low grinding sound, opening up a hole in the center of the pedestal. The mechanisms are clearly old, with the grinding, screeching sound that accompanies every turn, and halfway through the mechanism jams and refuses to move any further. It doesn't matter, really. The hollow center of the pedestal has been revealed, and resting in the middle of it, on a little cup of stone, is a dimly glowing bauble, just barely bright enough to illuminate the rest of the chamber containing it.

Bulkhead's mouth curls in an unnoticed, pleased little smile when the stone top turns and opens the pedestal to reveal what's inside. He's solved your pedestal puzzle, you weird drowned chamber. What's inside, however, doesn't draw him the way he's heard the artifacts draw the mech they rightfully belong to, and so when the mechanism jams and the bauble is revealed, he takes a step back, gesturing toward the pedestal. "Think that one's all yours," he urges gently, smile turning soft. "Go ahead."

Panacea is torn between two impulses. The one being that she doesn't deserve this, that she didn't do the work. The other is that sense that it does belong to her. What a quandry. With Bulkhead's coaxing, however, she takes a few, tentative steps forward. Finally she reaches out and grasps the orb in both hands, her optics intent on the object.

When Panacea touches the orb, the glow brightens. It's just a little, only noticable in the darkness of the room, but the light grows in her hands, and Panacea will feel... something... accompanying it. Strange little tingles, almost like it's a static electricity sphere tickling at the plating of her hands.

No traps activate; no rocks fall and everyone dies. The water is still pouring down. Time to start getting home.

Bulkhead watches the slight brightening of the bauble Panacea has taken, helm tilting slightly with interest. "It's a pretty thing," he says finally. He's sincere, and his tone reflects that. "Suits you, I think. You ready to start headin' back?" Even as he speaks, Bulk steps back toward where the water sheets down into the chamber, behind which is that damn staircase. He'll try to bridge that gap in the stone steps on the way back up, and if his weight doesn't hold, well. Hopefully the space bridge's signal won't be affected at all by the depth of this chamber.

Panacea takes a moment to just feel those odd tingles in her hands. Her optics crinkle, indicating a likely smile under her faceplate. Keeping it clutched carefully in her hand, she turns away to face Bulkhead. "Thanks," she says, optics still crinkled. She's not the sort to sit and wonder if something that sounds complimentary is complimentary. "Yes, we should definitely start heading back," she agrees eagerly, worried about the water.

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