The Thrillsought Gauntlet
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|The Thrillsought Gauntlet|
|Participants||Arrow, Skydive, Vortex, Air Raid|
|NPCs||Moxie, Glory, Victory, Coinflip, Darter, Desperado, Vivant|
Angered by Vortex's sudden disappearance following the recovery of Megatron, Air Raid runs off to manage his stress with high risk racing matches in the illegal flier tournament - the Thrillsought Gauntlet. Vortex and Skydive seek to retrieve him, and enlist Arrow's help.
Day 1 - The only energon available in the Thrillsought bunker is a mixture that everyone keeps calling avidrink. It's magenta, just like regular energon, maybe slightly lighter, and extremely chilled. Vortex downs it easy - it's extremely refreshing to him, it makes his optics burn and claws curl. Arrow and Skydive struggle with the taste, it's almost too sweet, and it gives them a harder kick, making their sparks swirl against their cases. They get a little giddy, and a blue vapor trails from their lips for ten minutes, and their worries are eased just a little. All three of them will feel a rush of hot energon through their lines, more deeply near the hinges of Arrow and Skydive's wings, or the machinery surrounding Tex's rotor mast.
Skydive and Vortex compete in a simple, smaller racing matches today. Skydive gets a route in a type of pine forest which plays to his skill in maneuvering. A smaller jet tries to nudge him into a tree trunk, but Skydive evades and the offender ends up crunched instead. Vortex is in a match over the barren steppe with twenty other choppers. He flirts so well that most of them try to avoid interfering, except one salty tiltrotor that tries to slice Tex's tail rotor off. Tex drives him into the ground and wrecks his canopy. Both Tex and Skydive place high enough to progress.
Vortex uses his downtime to sabotage the infirmary. He knows exactly where to hit, quietly detaching drips, breaking welds, swapping charts. But he's not particularly stealthy, and his orange paint stands out. Harrow, the shrill blue seeker that seems to be the head medic, drives Vortex out with the threat of a sawblade that leaves sharp bites in his back. He won't be permitted inside again, unless there's bribery. Vortex manages to take out enough competitors to give him an advantage (+1) in the next match.
Day 2 - Skydive's tentative swig of avidrink is less intense this morning. It takes on the hot-cold refreshing effects that Vortex endured. Arrow still ends up giddy and unfocused with his spark pulsing hard - he's starting to /really like/ this stuff.
Vortex's canyon match ends up being the showcased clip for the day, as the mixed aircraft around him squabble fiercely in a canyon. Again, someone goes for his scrawny aft thinking easy pickings, but he shows them up and causes a chain reaction that leaves half of the canyon on fire. His left leg ends up a bit shot-up. Skydive's match is equally dangerous - and he continues to down competitors by evading at the very last second. A total of four jets are left with crumpled nosecones. There's some bitter murmuring about how Skydive couldn't possibly move that fast without boosters, afterwards.
Arrow barely manages to skim under the radar with his record hacking. Coordinators point out his name and placement, but someone brings in an ener-pizza and the concern is quickly forgotten!
Vortex finds the chilly room where the energon tanks are kept and pumped through the rest of the bunker. He identifies one tank that provides avidrink from the large group of smallish VTOLs that gather around a particular dispenser. He manages to spike the tank, and an hour later, most of the VTOLs have already retired to their bunks, out cold, or they've slumped against the walls or each other. Some pass out in the halls, and no one seems to care, as fliers step right over them.
Day 3 - Day after day after pushing their frames to the limit is starting to take a toll on Vortex and Skydive. They've earned scrapes and scorch marks, bent ailerons and weakening blades. Arrow is /finally/ getting used to the avidrink, which gives him a nice tingly feeling in the one wing that seems to have sensors.
Vortex and Skydive sign up for the matches on Air Raid's list - but Air Raid doesn't show! At least for the first few, that leave Tex and 'Dive pretty battered. Skydive showcases his knowledge of aeronautics when a golden seeker tries to slice a wing off. A pin-point turn, and the offender misses, tearing off into the distance to avoid colliding with a canyon wall. Skydive doesn't see him for the rest of the match. He places third! And is able to progress.
Vortex takes Arrow for his second match of the day, hellbent on winning. Arrow gets to magnetize himself to Tex's fuselage and act as an extra set of eyes. It's a really, really rough ride, as Tex never flies straight. In his wild, abrupt barrel rolls, Vortex brings down two sizable bombers who have apparently teamed up to handle him. Arrow is en pointe as he searches for fleeting moments of opportunity. He's able to warn Vortex of approaching last-minute threats, and hit where it hurts with his pistol, crippling rotor masts and vertical stabilizers. His quick thinking leaves him limned in a strange light, though it's not terribly obvious under the blaze of the steppe's sun. By the end of it, Tex and Arrow place FIRST which rolls them up the ranks. But Arrow must... spend some time purging his tanks afterwards.
Vortex is starting to gain some popularity amongst the choppers. Some even try hitting on him. They openly slander fixed-wings and the /stupid/ Eukarians that dare to compete. Again, they try to invite Vortex into their little teams.
Skydive runs into Darter again, who seems even more nervous. Skydive's kind demeanor earns a trinket - or at least, it looks that way. It's a short, metallic peacock feather. Darter explains it's a dart that can paralyze, and Skydive should use it wisely. When Skydive runs into Desperado in the halls, he's a little less bristly, and posits that Air Raid must've changed his mind about those particular matches. Keep trying, maybe!
With news of a saboteur spreading through the tournament, everyone seems to be on high alert - but Arrow and Vortex don't arouse suspicion just yet.
Day 4 - Arrow wakes up to an intense craving, a craving that he thought he'd gotten over. Luckily avidrink is right beside his berth, nice and frosty, soothing anxieties and instilling excitement - only the excitement had evolved into mild competitiveness.
Vortex's early morning match involves their scarce roommate, Coinflip, and a race over a highly reflective surface that turned out to be a sea of mercury. The harrowing flight puts a dent in Vortex's score, initially, though his take-down of Coinflip brought him back into the running.
Vortex is back in his berth for the rest of the day, having been treated for a broken hip and various shocks to his systems. Mercury still drips from his vents in small, worrisome pools. His hard-won artifact(s) rest on the nearby table, with a type of medical lozenge and a note from Coinflip: They're yours.
Arrow and Skydive watch over Vortex and deal with his new annoying fanclub until their evening match, which is a race through cramped underground ice caves. Arrow uses his trusty magnabelt and helps melt giant frozen stalactites before they become an issue. Skydive twists and turns swiftly, mimicking the jets around him so closely for so long that it actually puts a strain on his voodoo flight magic. A sharp pain in his processor keeps him from placing first, which goes to Gilt, the golden seeker that has been antagonizing him throughout the tournament. Gilt promises to catch up later.
Arrow can't even make it to the end of the day without his frame trembling. It's hard for him to focus on anything but the thought of that sweet, cold avidrink on his glossa. Arrow may try to resist when he returns to their quarters, but every passing minute drains twice as much energy, and his lines run hot. Perhaps worst of all, his frame craves flight, and the ache to stretch his wings coils hot at his back.
Day 5, 6 - It's the break of a pink dawn by the time the Lost Lighters return to the bunker. Vivant is eager to thrust Vortex's hand into the air, expression steely yet triumphant, as if she /personally/ culled this victor from the steppe's sands. Alpha Bravo, winner of this year's Thrillsought Gauntlet! Only it's not Alpha Bravo, but Vortex of Carpessa, and he's inviting everyone to aid on the crew of the Lost Light! Also, he sends a shout-out to whoever put a bounty on his head, in typical Tex fashion. This is broadcast to any pirate station receiver.
Vortex's medal hangs on a golden braid. It's a golden, circular shape, with a stylized jet wing over a silver 5-bladed rotor assembly. He's given a small metal card with who to contact about that brand new custom frame he'd won, and if he checks his account, sure enough, he'll find 1 million shanix sitting primly. He's treated for his rather extensive injuries by a grudging Harrow, and his blades are strengthened by the resident armorsmith, who comments on Bone-Spur's fine work. They've earned chips here and there, but they've held strong.
The Lost Lighters are permitted to spend a day recovering in the bunker. Skydive and Air Raid for burnt armor, mostly. Air Raid seems direly humbled, struck by what these mechs went through to retrieve him. In between his many apologies, he tries to explain that he craved the type of thrill that the war used to provide, and couldn't shake himself out of it. It's not your fault, Skydive, really, he promises.
Harrow mentions that Arrow has the "wingshakes" - his frame can't quite process the avidrink correctly. He'll have to wean himself off, sooner or later. Skydive will begin to feel his outlier gift returning after a cycle.
Vortex can't get very far without getting swarmed by his little fanclub, which includes Victory! Moxie and Desperado are nowhere to be found. Arrow gets some love too. His creative approaches to matches haven't gone unnoticed, and the coordinators gift him with a little rosette ribbon that reads "Flightless Challenge Winner". They must assume he competed without flight on purpose.
Before the Lost Lighters depart on the Starcuddler, a few mechs approach them to join up. This is Windblade's crew, right? The Camien with the painted face? You're fighting against He Who Hungers? Among the recruits: Darter, Glory, Victory, and Coinflip, who seems very surprised to find that he'd been charging an artifact for half a year.