NCC Residential Ribs
A line of skyscrapers reach for the sun/stars here, their pointed fingers stretching far higher than human construction is capable of. Or rather, their ribs, for that is the body part these inward curved-buildings most closely resemble. The blues used in the city are at their palest here, like they've been bleached from exposure, and in daylight, striped shadows stretch across the area, casting the entire area into extreme contrast. Stretching from building to building are spun-metal walkways of gleaming silver, larger 'beads' shimmering along them like dew on a spider's web. The insides of these walkways are sturdier than they appear, while their outer edges are razor sharp, providing both defense against foes and challenges for daredevil Decepticons.
The faint blue shimmer of the ribs and their walkways counters the pale grey figure of Fusillade as she sits on one of the many tower precipices. The faint, piercing whisper of metal on metal as she glumly plucks fingertalons on the sharpened outer edge of one of the railings. A faint internal hum suggests that she's steadily crunching through reports, or at least attempting to.
As a counterpoint to the low hum comes the metallic sounds of heavy footsteps, as Fulcrum makes his way across the Residential area, from the Shark's Rib towards New Crystal City's medbay. He doesn't look particularly over energized - obviously he lacks the time for such endeavours. Or he's out of money, either or.
Fusillade tenses as she spies a certain snatch of grey and olive among the walkways. She hovers up, and then with a near soundless glide, descends to intercept Fulcrum. A faint clack of feet on the ground behind him, and a hushed, local radio. <<Are you on duty now? Can you leave the city?>>
Fulcrum starts, halfway across the walkway, then makes a conscious effort to relax, his armor plates shifting back into their original configuration. There's only one person that could be. Turning on the spot, he nods a greeting to the undead commander. "Fusillade. No.. I am not on duty at the moment, and nothing restricts me from leaving the city." He pauses giving her an unreadable look. "Why?"
The blacksmith's guarded expression causes a pang, even through the dull roar of the residual explosion imprint. There's a full three seconds of hesitation before she responds, still on radio. She glances upward at the sky. <<There was a bit of memory loss from the trauma. Things have been gradually coming back, including some of the prior events of that day. You said something about the Urals. Also, I am not allowed to leave base alone. Perhaps we could go look at that?>>
Fulcrum's expression softens slightly. "Perhaps we might" he replies, suddenly sympathetic towards the monochromatic femme. "Are you able to fly that far unassisted?"
Fusillade considers for a bit, mouth unmoving. Her posture is more alert at the possibility of travel, wingtips aquiver as she turns to look upwards again. <<The trip out should be fine. I will need to get a source of fuel for the return trip. I have been advised to stick to more refined sources.>>
Fulcrum nods. "We could either bring supplies, or attempt a raid on the way back. In your condition, I would suggest the latter." And then they could have a delightful picnic! Or something like that.
"I have been eqh-uipped with weaponh-s," Fusillade volunteers. And it's with the line of that reasoning that she lurches skywards.
A leaden whisper escapes the ashen robot as it reconfigures into a derelict starcraft.
You fly up from the NCC Residential Ribs below.
Southern Ural Mountains
Compared to other mountain ranges on Earth, this range is rather small in stature...however, the freezing, biting gusts of wind make traversing this mountain range a hellish ordeal. To the north, and just visible over some of the shorter mountain peaks, you can see the great snowy wasteland that is Siberia. While some humans make their home in these mountains...overall it is not a safe place to be. So you had best be moving on!
Pallid Starfighter speaks not a word about her form. The faint grey shifts to an almost blue cast, other times darkening to a dove grey in shadows. The patterns almost seem to hover a half inch above the airframe's skin, making her hard to look at. Contrails stream away from wing and tail tips. <<The ranges. Hmm. Very forbidding.>>
MiG-29 <Fulcrum>'s drab scheme is a splash of color by contrast, as he flies just ahead of the hollow mockery of a Sky Guardian, leading the way to one particular razor-sharp peak. "It is not meant for easy ground access" he replies, suddenly dropping from the sky like a dart. Transforming at the last moment, his boot jets roar as he flexes his wings, touching down in an unremarkable clearing.
The MiG-29 twists around and folds in on itself with a grinding sound, transforming into the robotic form of Fulcrum.
"Good aeries woulh-d not be," vents out from Fusillade as she transforms and gouges up a few pieces of sod from her landing. Almost immediately, those smoky quartz optics begin sweeping the rock faces for any Transformer-sized clefts, or fissures that would make suitable shelter. "Isolated," she remarks, finally daring once again to look towards the weaponsmith, even if only for the direction that they should go.
Fulcrum nods, casting his optics over the lands below before turning back to face Fusillade, suppressing the desired to shudder. Her mental faculties seem intact, despite her altered speech pattern and ghastly palor. Although to Fulcrum, that just makes it worse. "I was not able to obtain clearance to use holographic technology" he says, pulling a datapad from a compartment at his hip and tapping in a code over a wireless frequency. "But this does the job just as well."
With a grinding sound, an entire section of rock face begins sliding forward, small showers of dirt and pebbles cascading from its surface as hidden mechanisms push it out and upwards, much in the same manor as a human garage door.
The pallid starcraft coruscates upon itself, with its tail settling on left shoulder, and its nosecone on right forearm. Wings and quadruple jetpacks bristle behind the domed crown of the replicant Air Guardian.
Fusillade is more careful about choosing her words these days. The effort to correctly form them, or the reactions of those around her when she does speak, has curbed her enthusiasm to chatter. The spoken replies are short, and anything that she knows will be prolonged is switched over to radio. <> She frowns briefly at some of the fleeting memories, the stilted structure to some parts of her consciousness. But, as the debris clear, she steps closer, and asks, <<Any internal security systems I should worry myself with? It's a relief to get out. My last escort got shot down. I can't get to the Command Center, they won't let me fly, half the reports are relabelled with new clearances. And... there would have been a time when I would have enjoyed the vacation. But the Empire has too many who do not give as much as they should. One reason why your comment about energon consumption struck home, Fulcrum. I am...>> she trails off, expression briefly fierce but fading back into fatigue. She quells her frustrations, and passively waits for Fulcrum to share some more of his past.
Fulcrum glances sideways at Fusillade, a slight frown etching his features. Did he tell her that? Hn. "No... all you see is new" he replies, stepping into the shadows inside the hidden base, the interior walls plated in grey metal, a large air-lock like door set into the far wall. "With the help of an Insecticon named Mandible, I completely refitted the cave. When I first came here..." he shrugs. "It was little more than a fissure in the rock.
"Makes senh-se," Fusillade says, suddenly a bit abashed at the notion of being here, period. There's a lingering tremor on the left wing that slices away from her shoulderblade -- or was that just a trick of the shifting patterns over her form? She begins to pace curiously at the perimeter of the cleared area, before halting for no apparent reason. An unpleasant slithering growl escapes her. "Sh-tupid ch-rash-h", as she bows her head, and waits. One forearm flexes, slipping a disk into her palm, which she uses to worry with her thumb pad.
"There are no sentry-guns or other defense systems installed" he says, trailing off as he turns back to Fusillade, optics following her as she paces up and down. "You are.. unwell" he says, choosing his words almost as carefully as she has been. "The injured often require more energon without being able to perform their duties." He steps back into the light. "But.. perhaps it was a mistake to come here? Your systems are over-taxed."
Fusillade's voice is sharp, even over the radio. <<Visual cortex has been futzing ever since the beginning. It'd do it if I was sitting on my aft back at base, anyway.>> Another moment, and she relents. <<Sorry. You didn't know. The trip was actually more sedate than the earlier ones. I just wanted to GO, to leave it behind. The LOOKS. I don't know what's worse, the revulsion or the pity. It just...>> She sits, taking great care to arrange her parts, before cupping her cheeks in her palms. <<I just... wanted to escape them. I should be fine on the way home. PHYSICALLY, there's some hangups, but they can be worked around. It's the mental and emotional stuff that... Oh, this is stupid. And coming here? Not a mistake, flying is never a mistake.>>
"Well at least you are still able to enjoy that" Fulcrum replies, not knowing how to repair mental or emotional damage, or even how to begin to try. "I understand Fleet now draws no joy from the act. It surprises me how well he seems to be taking it." He falls silent, looking out at the admittedly spectacular view for a moment, before turning his attention back to Fusillade. "Would you like to see the rest of the base?"
<<Huh, is that so about Fleet? We never really talked. Not even before... this. I really hope that they can do something to improve on the situation. Requiring manual overrides from outside sources to rest is... embarrassing. I do miss the wingblades, too. You did a lovely job on them, you know that?>> There's a faint tick of resetting systems, and despite herself, one side of her mouth draws into a sly smile. <<Now that I am able to see again, certainly, Fulcrum.>> She stands again.
Fulcrum gestures to the large, imposing air-lock door at the far end of the wall. "8 astro-feet of solid steel and titanium. A challenge for even the strongest Autobots. Especially because there is nothing behind it but solid rock." He hits a switch on the wall, illuminating the room, then flips the whole light switch open to reveal a keypad. Punching at the numbers, an otherwise unremarkable floorpanel is suddenly outlined in light as it sinks slightly. "This lift panel is the true entrance to the base."
A full belly laugh, laced with some of the more familiar tones of Fusillade's voice, wells up from the construct. "Are you kidh-dinh-g me?! That's gh-reat!" She gives the large door another appraising look, before pacing towards the indicated area. <<So, down we go, huh?>> She holds up the disk she had in her hands earlier, and hrns. <<This medal was awarded me posthumously. Well, the announcement came before I decided to redecorate New Crystal City's beach with myself, but Galvatron gave it to me two days ago. I... suppose that serves as acknowledgment enough. I am still expected to be useful.>>
"Down we go" Fulcrum agrees, stepping onto the depressed floorpanel, reaching out to touch a similarly lit wallpanel to begin the decent. The lift does not have to travel very far before emerging into a large, open-plan room, the vaulted roof supported by girders. An octagonal table sits nearest the lift, with several empty niches - their empty power-sockets at the wall suggesting they are intended to house computer equipment of some kind. At the back of the space is 6 recharge beds arranged in sets of bunks, with a small door in the back probably leading to a cleaning and waste-disposal unit.
Fusillade makes haste to join Fulcrum before the lift moves away. A faint 'Huh', escapes her as she looks at the layout, lingering at the doorway. <<Shame recharging would do no good. Provided the place is even active?>> She glances toward the emptiness of the table. <<Was this a personal project of yours? Or was it involved in a Terran operation of some sort? There are still a lot of missions that I did not read up on prior to my reactivation a few years. Still hasn't even been a full vorn yet!>> She finally draws closer, even as she lets that particular piece of information sink in on her OWN processor. Another glance is cast Fulcrum's way, and she thoughtfully asks, <<any rations located here? Otherwise, I will need to go fetch some of my own.>>
"You are lucky it was just a medal" Fulcrum remarks as the lift comes to a stop. Damn statue. At least Fusillade destroyed that for him. "And.. yes. A personal project. Though the Empire is aware of its existence." He turns to her, gesturing at an access hatch in one wall. "Through there is the solar generator and battery units. They are a placeholder until a more efficient source of energy can be installed. It is possible that the batteries hold enough power to recharge one Decepticon, though with your increased need..." He shrugs. "We would probably have to ascend on our own power, and close the exterior door manually. Which.. is possible."
Fusillade shakily admits, <<That method won't work! They pretty much had to shut Fleet down entirely, like, dead dead, before he could charge and defrag properly. I...>> Her look toward him is decidedly predatory, before melting in a panic. <<Let's just go shoot something up real quick, /PLEASE/.>> She averts her gaze from him, even as she does her best to ignore the scent of processed energon coming from him, as well the knowledge that more, untouched, lies within.
Fulcrum's frown deepens. It's very...hard dealing with Fusillade now that she's an undead monstrosity. Of course, it wasn't easy before, but at least she didn't give you those /looks/. Actually, come to think of it, when overenergized... "Very well" he finally replies, stepping back onto the elevator, waiting until she joins him before activating the mechanism, the lights in the lower room automatically turning off as they ascend.
Fusillade learns empathy with the Insecticons today, and clenches her jaw, looking away. Some other low ranking, enlisted... stranger, perhaps, but... a faintly mumbled, "Sorh-ry," comes from her as she turns her back on Fulcrum, the effort to ignore him pretty obvious. As the elevator ticks upwards, she continues to alternate between fidgeting and trembling, even going so far as to raise one hand, concealed by her body. The crunch of teeth breaking the surface of thin armor plating as she attempts to contain herself, could possibly be guessed at. Once they reach open air, she desperately flings herself to the skies, and shifts to a form that doesn't have teeth or claws, even though the hunger remains.
Fulcrum shakes his head as he watches her go, tapping at his keypad to secure the base before transforming and following her skyward. Stuff like /this/ is why he's against raising the dead. It doesn't seem to be doing anyone a favour. He briefly considers asking Fusillade what he asked Fleet, but in her current, somewhat spooked condition, it might drive her away completely.
A leaden whisper escapes the ashen robot as it reconfigures into a derelict starcraft.
Fusillade retreats from the area swiftly, outdistancing all pursuit and parting shots.
Pallid Starfighter continues to ascend, abandoning Fulcrum in her effort to ignore the potential meal he represented. She quickly casts about for civilian passenger jets on the return flight path. Once identifying one, she transforms, and ruptures the lower skin of its wing, the gallons that rain briefly sating her, filters be damned. She considers briefly pitching the entire craft to the ground below, but instead breaks free after the internal valves shut off the flow. Shifting back yet again to the wan shimmer of her altmode, she angles back towards New Crystal City, leaving only the smallest aerosols of jet fuel and bitter epithets against her own existence in her wake.