2018-01-18 Not The Keymaster
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Not The Keymaster|
|Location||An Abandoned City|
|Plot||Artifacts of the Knights of Cybertron|
|Summary||Tailgate and Windrose do some sightseeing.|
Another day, another artifact signal, and another hop through the space bridge for the current group of explorers. The process will probably be familiar to them by now. Find where the artifact reading is coming from, and go get it. It's a basic premise, though missions have rarely gone so smoothly when put into practice.
When the group comes through the space bridge this time, they'll find themselves standing in the middle of a sprawling metropolis. The entire place seems like something out of Cybertronian history, with looming metal towers and wide, intricately curved roadways that would suit anyone's alt mode. Everything looks untouched by time, except that the whole place seems vacant. There are no signs of life, either-- the entire city seems to be a ghost town. The only thing the scanner shows is the reading of the artifact, somewhere toward the city center.
Tailgate prefers the small teams, and it shows. There are less people to worry about, especially if they need to book it out of there. It's a caution that hangs around him. He has left the artifact scanner for Windrose to read from, keeping out ahead of her through the bridge and onto the abandoned street of the city. For a moment he wonders if something went wrong with the bridging, but the silence of the glistening city doesn't let him voice it.
"Whoa." Tailgate mutters, tilted back on his heels and looking up, up, up. Spires rise and fall, but nothing else. Literally nothing. "This is-- kinda weird. Do you see anything?"
Windrose is here because there's been a movement to better catalog the places and events around these various artifact finds. Or the femme decided there should be such a movement and has taken it upon herself to do so. Hard to tell with how much of a workoholic she can be. This at least gets her out of the Map Room for a bit? And her navigation skills may come in useful. Especially when they exit into a large, seemingly abandoned city.
"Well at least it's not a temple full of booby traps and rabid natives..." Windrose looks down at the scanner in one hand. "Nothing other than the artifact pings so far."
Tailgate looks up to Rosie with a tentative blink of his optics behind the visor. Hmm. "True! I'd rather have this." He laughs brightly, adjusting the space between them before folding into his alt mode. "Do you wanna fly, or ride? You'll fit on back if you want... Your hands'll be free, anyhow. Playfully, his lights blink-blink at her. "I thought I'd ask to race you, but when I think about booby traps-- well-- no thanks, I'll pass on those." Accidentally driving into one no bueno.
Tailgate looks up to Rosie with a tentative blink of his optics behind the visor. Hmm. "True! I'd rather have this." He laughs brightly, adjusting the space between them before folding into his alt mode. "Do you wanna fly, or ride? You'll fit on back if you want... Your hands'll be free, anyhow." Playfully, his lights blink-blink at her. "I thought I'd ask to race you, but when I think about booby traps-- well-- no thanks, I'll pass on those." Accidentally driving into one no bueno.
The city remains silent and forboding around them. Nothing stirs, not even the air. Their surroundings glisten dully, with the light of the sun peeking through the hazy sky above them. The artifact keeps pinging, and not even a breeze stirs around them in the city. A road before them seems to lead toward the center of town, where the artifact's signal emenates.
"That might not be a bad idea. I don't know how well this thing would cooperate with my recon sensors, it's probably better for me to keep hands on, as you say."
"That might not be a bad idea. I don't know how well this thing would cooperate with my recon sensors, it's probably better for me to keep hands on, as you say." Windrose agrees with Tailgate's proposal, and moves to more or less straddle the back end of the car. At least she's not very heavy thanks to her lithe aeroframe design.
"I gotcha, Rosie." Tailgate's a tough little guy, and he's perfectly shaped to be carrying the extra weight, tires wide and back sturdy. He laughs a little more, lights on as he guns into motion. Not too fast at first, but after hearing his engine reverberate off of buildings, lonesome, he revs and speeds up towards the center of town.
"Though I do want to take some aerial shots for documentation before we leave," Windrose adds. But for right now actually finding the artifact is first and foremost. "I wonder how long this place has been abandoned, because it doesn't -look- very old. Maybe the people found out about Unicorn and fled ahead of time?"
The roadway loops and twists, through overpasses and extinct long-dead tollbooths, while the city rolls past around them. The eerie silence continues, interrupted only by the sounds of their voices and the revving of Tailgate's engine. As they continue, the lack of damage, from time, vandalism, or anything else, becomes even more apparent. Everything looks pristine, and perfect, as though any moment people will start pouring out of the buildings and filling the city once more.
Occasionally they'll have to switch roads here and there to keep going in the right direction, but after a little bit of driving (benefits of an entirely unpopulated city: no traffic on the commute!), the buildings begin to open up, revealing what looks like a massive open space at the heart of the city. The scanner is pointing them in that direction.
"What in the pit..." Tailgate mutters after part of the drive, passing by those mirror-windows, clean streets, completely untouched buildings with a growing sense of curiosity. He takes his lane changes carefully, following along with any instruction from his passenger. As they reach widening streets towards the center spaces, the minibot hums.
"This city has really nice civic planning." Tailgate's idle compliment comes from the point of view of a tiny garbage man, rather than a security deputy.
As usual Windrose is mapping as they go for the sake of records. Since she's got her hands on the artifact scanner most of the recording is done by the modules on her shoulder pylons, occasionally whirring softly as they turn to take pictures of the eerily pristine yet abandoned city around them. "Despite the curves and side routes the layout seems to be maximized for transits, as roundabouts and overpasses minimize need for cross-lane turns... It's not much farther Tailgate, the signal is coming from the open area ahead of us."
This is where Windrose and Tailgate will find their first signs of something different. As they come up over the final piece of the road, they'll notice glints of light reflecting off of something on the ground throughout the city center, little flashes of light as they continue to drive. The buildings here all seem a little different, too, jazzed up in bright colors and what was once bright, flashing signs. There are decorations here, too, little starbursts and oblong shapes that make a curious running theme. Huge screens are set up along one side of the city center, now dark and dead. Huge banners hang off of some of the taller buildings. It looks like the remnants of some huge celebration, that were just... left, one day.
Despite a little bouncing of tires thanks to speed near the end, the ride is smooth as Tailgate rolls up to the city's heart. The glimmers of light and the shifting of idle banners draw his attention, and he brakes slowly as they move into the midst of jazzy signs without life and the colorful buildings. Tailgate stays in a casual roll, speed slow as he meanders further inward. "There had to be someone here once, right...?"
Windrose frowns a little. "This supports the theory that the place was actively abandoned recently." She reachs out to snag one of the starbursts as Tailgate cruises past. It might hold some sort of revelance to what was going on here, if they can find any clues to go with it. "If I had to hazard a guess though, it almost looks like there was a show of some kind. With the screens for the entire crowd to be able to see performances."
The little starburst is a gaudy thing, cheaply made. The material crinkles in her hand, glittering even in the dim light from the sun. More of them litter the ground around the open city center, along with the first signs of debris they've seen. Here, there's a little circular tab, attached to a set of keys. There, there's what looks like a drink container. Scattered every few feet, there's loose change, or a little comm device. The first signs of people that any of them have found, all abandoned, littering the area as far as they can see.
On the far side, away from the giant screens, the scanner directs them toward a set of low buildings, that look rather flimsy compared to everything else that rings the city center.
Tailgate comes to a full stop amidst the various little bits of debris, waiting only a moment to let Rosie off before he shifts back to root-- if she didn't get the hint, she might get the little guy tangled between her ankles, a bit like an eager pup.
"Whoa, hey!" See? "Aww, look, it's so cute!" Tailgate holds up one of the tiny comm devices proudly. "I wonder what happened to everyone..."
As hilarious as that could be, thankfully Windrose got down onto her own pedes before any awkward positions could occur. "Either the occupants were not very big, or they have very small hands." She holds up the scanner to regard it a moment, then pointed towards the opposite side of the center from the screens, where the shabbier buildings stand. "The signal is coming from over there."
The little comm device tries valiently to power on, when one of Tailgates fingers mashes at the button. It even makes a little sound! What was probably once a cute little jingle comes out sounding more like a dial-up modem, though, before the thing gives up the ghost and dies again.
"You're so brave." Tailgate sounds sad as the device wheedles its swan song. He picks up a couple more tiny things from the ground, laughing quietly to himself as Windrose checks the scanner again. Oh, right. He tucks away the little bits and bobs before moving off, waving his partner along. "Awright! Let's check it out!" He's a little more excited now, though as he nears the buildings he is careful when he goes to step inside. "Hello?"
Windrose tucks the starburst decoration into her cockpit storage compartment and follows after. She knows it's better to let the tough little security officer go first... and besides, she's tall enough to see over him anyways. "This is getting almost... creepy."
Luckily for Tailgate, the building is open. It doesn't seem to be designed for beings of their size, like most of the scattered debris outside, but it's at least large enough that the both of them can get inside. As soon as they're both inside, lights along the top begin to flicker on, until the entire place is lit up, revealing rows and rows of little cubby lockers. A little desk by the entrance becomes clear, with a gargoyle-like figure sitting at the very front. It doesn't so much as twitch when the two enter, though its optics light up. "Welcome to temporarrrrrrrrrrrrry storage," it grinds out, in a static-filled voice.
"Hey! Oh." Tailgate greets the gargoyle that speaks at them before he realizes that it's likely just an animatronic. He was waving and everything! He promptly hides his hand, looking up to Windrose before inching behind the front desk to see if there's anything on what else this place was. " Temporary storage, huh? Hm..." Tailgate looks up to the other mecha again. "Lead from here?"
Windrose lets out a small yelp as the gargoyle abruptly comes to 'life', but realizes it's just a recording and automated thing. "Must not let the lack of ambience get to me," she mutters under her breath. "Oh.. oh, yes, of course." She holds up the scanner to get a fix on the artifact's signal again. Make sure they didn't walk into the wrong building or some such.
"Welcooooorm to temporary storage," the gargoyle garbles out again.
The scanner shows them that the artifact is still here. Somewhere close, in fact. It leads them down the aisles, before finally centering in one one of those little lockers. A specific one, in fact: number 241.
Windrose starts walking down the aisle. "This way."
Tailgate follows Windrose, keeping on her heels and standing on his toes periodically to peek at the scanner. Closer, closer, closer-- Hey! Tailgate inspects the device in her hands when it shows them practically overtop of it, and they start testing spots one by one. The high-pitched bip bip bip of the scanner indicates the locker, and Tailgate raises his visor in excitement, bright blue and shining off of the cubbies.
"Here goes?" He grips the small handle and tugs, ready to break the lock if he needs to. Just in case everyone missing, for some reason, comes back-- it wouldn't be very nice to have destroyed too much.
There's a moment where the door begins to give, and bend out of shape. And then the building proves that, whatever's happened in the rest of this city, the power in this building still works, because an alarm starts going off, piercingly loud. Back at the front desk, the gargoyle's optics go red. "Do nnnnot try to force the doors," the sentinel growls out. "Use your key to unlock the locker before removing yooooooouuuuuur belongings."
Windrose takes a step back to give Tailgate room, her multi-tool sliding into axe mode just in case on her right arm... But then it mentions keys. And... "Tailgate, did any of those things you picked up have keys on them?"
"Ah!" Tailgate's audials whine and he adjusts them to pitch lower, hearing Windrose's voice as an audible warble. He leans closer, brow deepening as he rifles through his odd treasures. "Gah, no, none of them-- do you think it's out there someplace? Should we force it anyway? What if it has a failsafe... slag..."
The alarms bwip along, occasionally stuttering but still continuing. If there was anyone else in the city, the shrieking sound would almost certainly have alerted them by now. Up at the front desk, the gargoyle begins to slowly turn, to the sound of grinding gears. Its' red optics begin to swivel toward them, the light in them growing to alarming brightness.
Windrose starts to turn around to walk out. "How hard could it be to find.." Then notices the creaking turning gargoyle, and quickly steps back behind the row. ".. On the other hand, there's no garuntee it would be one dropped out there." She looks out towards the desk, then back to the locker. "I hate to disregard another society's protocol, but this a matter of being able to nuke Unicron's aft to save the universe." She takes a wack at the lock with her axe.
"We could still take a look-- I know I saw some out there!" Tailgate looks at the gargoyle with increasing stress, about to tell Rosie to stop and back up when she decides its worth a go. "Careful!"
<FS3> Windrose rolls Body+body: Success. (2 1 8 3)
The door dents, just on the edge of deforming out of place. But at the same time, an ominous whirring sound has begun to start up from that front desk. "Uuuuuuuuse your key to unlock the locker," echoes through the building, closer to them, this time.
"You know what the odds would be on the probability of finding the proper key in that mess?" The door bent but didn't quite break, but it's enough Windrose can be a little more finess about it, wedging the blade of the axe between the door and the frame and trying to pry it the rest of the way open. "If they people come back we'll apologize." But priorities.
The whirring gets Tailgate's attention now, and he eyes the desk a moment before glancing back at Rosie. She's right. While she tries the locker again, Tailgate decides to hop to his own task-- trying to get the drone's big glowing eyes away from her. "Hey, locker guy!" Tailgate skitters away from Windrose and 241, delivering a mighty kick to another set of the cubbies. "I'm gonna burgle the heck outta these! Yoo-hoo!"
<FS3> Tailgate rolls Reaction+Reaction: Good Success. (8 3 6 3 8 8)
Sure enough, the creaking sound of the gargoyle's movement slows, then changes course at the rattling sound of Tailgate kicking the doors. When it comes around the corner to face him, optics still glowing, it doesn't say anything, though. Instead, beams lance out of its eyes, coming toward Tailgate.
That axe finally did the trick, though. With a loud screech, the door finally pops out, revealing a yellowish lump of fabric inside. To Windrose, there doesn't seem to be anything special about it. But for Tailgate, there's a strange feeling. It's almost like a tug on his spark, drawing him back toward the locker.
".. Huh." Windrose holds up the scanner with her other hand, and sure enough it bleeps rapantly due to proximity. Even if its only.. well, the artifacts aren't necessarily weapons in appearance. "It's..." That's when she notices Tailgate ran off while she was working on the door to get it open and sighs softly. "You better not be getting yourself offlined or I'll never forgive you!"
"AIEE!" Tailgate doesn't have time to be charming about his shrieks. He shouts as the beams whiz past his aftplate mid leap, his face bug-eyed when he lands, one hand checking his backside as he looks up to where the gargoyle is. "Primus!" Close one, little guy. Rather than wait for something else to happen, he ducks behind the row of lockers, crabwalking out of sight. Something tugs on his senses. What is...?
"I'm okay! I'm totally okay!" Tailgate sighs. "Did you get it?"
The gargoyle's optics are dimmer now, but the glow begins to slowly build up again, as the alarms continue to go off. With slow, halting motions, the automaton begins to move down the aisle of lockers, making its slow advance. The voice seems to have given out entirely, but it's not hard to hear it moving, thanks to its creaky frame and thunking footsteps.
The tugging on Tailgate's spark continues, a feeling that almost seems to pull his attention back toward Windrose and the contents of that locker.
"It's open, the scanner confirms it... but nothing," Windrose shouts back. "I mean, I don't feel anything, so it's not trying to bond with me or anything." She steps out to the edge of the isle, glancing in the direction of the clunking around. "Besides, confescating items is technically your job."
"Scrap, is that thing moving?" Tailgate peeks around the edge of the lockers and spots it coming, nearly jumping out of his armor and scampering around towards the other end, waiting for it to come around the corner. He is soon distracted by whatever it is that Windrose has found, leading the gargoyle on a bit of a runaround on his way back to her. "You don't feel that? And Yes, I suppose-- but I already told him I was burgling the place!" Tailgate hesitates before grabbing onto the item in the locker. The fabric is soft on his hand, and he barely resists touching it to his faceplate, spark sputtering against his chest. Oh... "So... I guess I better..."
There's a sense of connection, of something that opens up in Tailgate's spark as he touches that little back with its clasp and handle. The artifact calls out to him, and there's little tingles of sensation when he touches it. It doesn't do anything dramatic, though. It's just a simple bag. There's no magical weapon that it turns into that's a key to defeating the guardian of the lockers, which is still pursuing them, as the slow, clanking sound of it moves closer, backed by the stutter of the sirens, and the faint flickering of the overhead lights.
"Now let's get out of here before that thing... Oh." Windrose suddenly has an idea. She opens her storage compartment and takes out one of emergency beacons she keeps on hand. "This will maybe distract it for a bit." She activates the device and tosses it into the open locker. It starts to bleep and rattle around, hopefully sounding enough like someone routing around inside the sentry will stop to investigate. "Let's go."
"Sounds good to me-- Tailgate says as he burgles the bag from the locker, as intended, drawing it closer to himself and popping it open. It's very dark inside. Way too dark. He barely gets out a peep of confusion before he snaps it closed again, looking up to Rosie and taking her by the hand. "Right on!" Tailgate likes how she thinks, and definitely doesn't want to be a cooked marshmallow. He starts running, trying to drag Windrose along with one arm, the bag clutched in the other.
There's a momentary pause, this one longer than Tailgate's distraction of kicking at the locker. Eventually, however, the footsteps turn, sending the creature toward the locker. And just in time, too-- the red of the creature's optics has just about reached a critical glow again. The sirens hiccup, the lights flicker, and behind them is the sound of sizzling, as they burst out of the building and into the emptiness of the square once more.
There's no need to drag, Windrose is running as soon as they're running back outside. "I take back what I said earlier, that was pretty close to a temple run, with the automated guardian and all that. I hope its name wasn't Olmec."
"Ola-what?" Tailgate cocks his head at Windrose as they both break into a run out of the storage building. The sound of the gargoyle destroying things in their wake is caught on his audials, and he holds the bag up as he runs. "I think this thing might be lucky, Rosie! It feels so right to steal it." He can't hide his laugh, shifting into his alt mode, bag plopping against his seats as he revs off to where they had come from.