Apoc Box Part Three: The Altar...of Doom!

Who: Monstereo, Nightbeat, Smokescreen, Silverbolt, Marissa Faireborn, Fireflight, Markdown
IC Year: 2029
Location: Space (planet Forestinia)
TP: The Maltese Apocalypse


Landing Pad <AC>

The smell of heated tarmac hits you first as you survey the landing and liftoff point for all flights to Cybertron. The wreckage of previous battles here are off to the back in a jumbled heap. To the southeast is the massive form of Autobot City itself, a bit battle-scarred, but still operational. Surrounding you on all other sides are forests of large conifer trees.

The spaceport absolutely sparkles with a new shine - in fact, it's almost blinding in direct sunlight. Spots are a thing of the past, and each building has a brand new coat of paint. Even the *scrap* piles look like they've been cleaned off and straightened up.

Monstereo mosies out onto the landing pad, a smile on his face and music playing at medium volume.

Suddenly flying over Autobot City is Silverbolt in his Concorde mode. He zooms on past the landing pad before turning. Once slowed down, he transforms and lands easily enough.

Nightbeat is standing underneath the Ol 'Rusty, a thick hose plugged into a port on the bottom for refueling. After a while he pulls a few levers, disconnecting the hose...which he promplty tosses into a messy pile at the edge of the repair bay, far enough out of the way to avoid getting in the way of a shuttle but still sure to be a hassle for the gumby techs that usually maintain the landing pad.

He turns to look at Monstereo as he enters, music preceeding him, then glances Smokescreen and Silverbolt as well. "Hey guys. I hope you're all feeling up to a little trip into space."

Silverbolt nods quietly before looking south. 'I'd take the rest of the Aerialbots too, but I don't know if they're as space capable as I am."

Smokescreen glances over at Silverbolt, and then over to Nightbeat...and then to Ol' Rusty. "Well, there's something to be said about getting offplanet every now and again...what've you got in mind?"

Monstereo drops his red goggles over his optics, makes an even bigger smile and flashes a 'V' Peace sign. "I love trips."

You say, "It's about the Apocalypse Box." He turns and looks at Monstereo. "You want to fill 'em in on the story so far?"

Monstereo nods to Nightbeat and then turns to Silverbolt and Smokescreen. "Just sit right back, and you'll hear a tale. The tale of a fateful trip, that started at an Autobot port aboard a cargo ship. Most folks have heard the tale of the legendary lost ship Vanderdecken. A couple months back the existence and stories were proven true. She appeared out of nowhere, and I exaggerate not. She broadcast her distress, and a small party including yours truely answered it. We boarded her. We found there was both an Autobot crew and Decepticons... all trapped on board. Doomed to wink out of the space we know for 100 years at a time. Her time was short here in our dimension. I know not what Twilight Zone they finally got back to. The Decepticons escaped, but the Autbot crew sacrificed their chance at rescue to insure our party could safely escape with their lone cargo, the Apocalypse Box.... Are you with me so far?"

Silverbolt chuckles at Monstereo. "so far, yeah."

Smokescreen hmms, and crosses his arms across his chest. "So, ah...just what does an Apocalypse Box -DO-, then?" It's the most obvious question, after all! "...and why do I get the feeling that we currently don't have it in our posession?"

Nightbeat cuts in to respond to Smokescreen. "Good question...we do have it in our posession." His glance flicks very briefly over to Monstereo. "As far as I know. But as to what it does...hopefully this little trip will supply some of the answers."

Monstereo shakes his head at Smokescreen. "We /do/ have it, it's safe and sound. And we still don't know. It is not very scanable and no way to open it has been found. What little we've been able to decipher is that there is some unknown power inside it. And that it was meant to be delivered to the late great Optimus Prime. It's all part of the big mystery we're trying to figue out. See, the clever studies and digging of Nightbeat, P.I. here has been working on uncovering the navigational records of the Vanderdecken. We're tracking where she went and what her crew did where she went. We want to find out everything we can. Why she is cursed to wink out of our realm for a hundred years at a time. Where she got the Box from. What is it's origin. And every question in between..."

Smokescreen huhs. "Sounds like a fairly convoluted mystery...I'm in." he laughs, and then glances over at Nightbeat. "So, where're we headed, then?"

Marissa Faireborn strides into the landing pad, wearing her navy blue field officer's uniform. Although it isn't the sort of combat gear EDC troopers wear out in the field, the fabric is made of a light Cybertronian alloy. "What's this about an Apocolypse Box?" she asks as her gaze darts towards Nightbeat and the other assembled Autobots. "Unless this is private Autobot business...?" she doesn't want to interfere if this is some sort of Autobots-only mission, which occasionally happens.

Nightbeat turns to look at Monstereo, mouth open to say something, when he is beated to the punch by Smokescreen. He turns to look at Smokescreen, ready to respond, when Marissa speaks. He turns to look at Marissa...when he's interrupted by a tiny beep sounding from his ever-present datapad.

Nightbeat hehs. "Well, pre-flight check on the Rusty's complete. That is, of the roughly sixty percent of internal checks that are still functional. But she hasn't let us down yet, has she?" He starts to head for the ramp. "Let's get this show on the road. We can talk more once we get there. You're welcome to come along, Colonel Faireborn. We don't keep secrets from the EDC." He says with a completely straight face.

Silverbolt chuckles at Nightbeat, then looks to Marissa. "Come on...we could use your help." he says before entering ol rusty.

The F-4's nose and tail fold up as white arms and legs emerge from the jet's underbelly. The landing gear retracts as Fireflight's head pops up from the robot torso.

Fireflight practically trips over his own feet in his rush over from the runway where he landed moments ago. "I'm ready," he calls as he follows the others to - not the shuttle he'd have chosen, but then he's rarely the one to choose such things, so follow them in he does.

Monstereo gives the human leader lady the thumbs up and makes an 'after you' motion for her and the Autobots. "Last trip we made we met some Insect people and raided their shipping files warehouse." He smiles brightly.

Marissa Faireborn smiles and gives Nightbeat a mock salute even as she jogs towards the shuttle's boarding ramp. "Aye aye, Nightbeat, coming aboard." she says with a chuckle before entering. She nods graciously to Monstereo as she passes him. If it were a human guy she might make him go first just to avoid the sexist 'ladies first' rule, but it's always so adorable whenever Cybertronians try to emulate humanity, so she lets it slide.

You enter the Autobot Shuttle < Ol' Rusty>.

Autobot Shuttle < Ol' Rusty>

The interior of the shuttle is very roomy. There is a highly technical cockpit that seats numerous bots at various stations, and a huge cargo area for additional troops or equipment.

Nightbeat sits down at the pilot's controls. "I've already got the course plotted...we could get there on auto-pilot in no time at all...uh, but the Rusty's auto-pilot has been acting a little funny lately. So we'll just do this the old fashioned way. Everybody strap in."

Silverbolt looks towards the entry door and chuckles. "get in here and strap in Fireflight." he says before making sure not to sit on Marissa and strapping in.

Monstereo takes a passenger seat and straps in. He cues some space travel music before launch.

Outside, You launch into local space to Earth Orbit.

(travel spam)

Outside, You descend towards the surface of Forestinia.

Nightbeat brings the shuttle in for a landing after a short trip puncuated by various alarm buzzers going off and sounds of metal creaking and groaning that seem somehow out of place on a space-worthy vessel. "There we go...touching"

He hits a button to lower the exit ramp, then unstraps himself and stands up. "Everybody still in one piece? Good. Let's see what there is to see out there..."

You leave the Autobot Shuttle < Ol' Rusty>.

Forestinia Launchpad

More a large, upraised clearing of black rock than an actual Launchpad, this area is perfect for landing as it is level and doesn't slope in any area. Small gnarled trees break up the barely visible edges of the stone plain where it meets the forests. Upone closer inspection it can be seen that the elements have smoothed a vast section of the rock to almost a perfect sheet of shining black with occasional green and purple streaks, making it resemble black marble. The stone surroundings are very stable and nothing grows upon the stone except among the low crags that drop off at the sides, leading to the forests.

Smokescreen tromps after Nightbeat, and glances around. "Huh." he says, optics scanning over the terrain. "...We should've brought Hound." he says, eyeing the organic forests with a slightly distrustful look.

Marissa Faireborn straps into one of the chairs. Humans generally don't have any significant problem using the seats meant for Cassetticons. The Colonel buckles up, because she is a good heroine and she knows that seat belts save lives. During the short journey, Faireborn finds herself unconsciously tapping her foot on the ground to the music Monstereo puts on, even if she finds the lyrics to be overly cheesey. When you're 46 and single, those lyrics get really annoying really fast. Nice tune, though. As the shuttle lands, Marissa steps out after Smokescreen and Nightbeat. "Pretty, if almost spooky," she comments on the landscape.

Far off in the distant sky, an object descends to the earth, leaving a fiery trail as it drops through the atmosphere. At this distance it's so small and vague that you can't quite make out what it is. It could be a meteor...or maybe it could be another shuttle.

Fireflight looks down at his own feet before lifting his gaze. "This rock looks like something that the... Did anyone else see that?" He points up at the sky, bot that there's anything much to see there anymore.

Monstereo disembarks from the shuttle and takes a good long neck-stretching look around. "Eeee-cha-wa-wa. Yub yub." He then looks up to where Fireflight points. "See what?"

Silverbolt is looking around at the ground and the surrounding area when Fireflight says that. Without even looking at him, he asks 'What'd you see fireflight?"

Nightbeat consults his datapad. "Well...this is my first time on the planet, and the maps we have of the planet are a little outdated. Plus they were generated based on sub-orbital scans -- Huh?" He turns to look at the sky in the direction Fireflight is pointing, which of course seems clear now. "Hmm, I don't see anything either..." He goes back to the pad. "But if I'm reading this correctly, we've got our choice of the Forest of Shadows," he points to the east. "Or the Forest of Despair," he shifts the pad to the other hand so he can gesture to the west. "And the closes settlement is...-that- direction." He turns and points at something to the east.

Smokescreen glances upwards at Fireflight's words. "Hm? Well...looks like a contrail of some sort That's the best I can tell." he runs the calculations through his CPU- but comes up frustratingly short. Hm. He looks to Nightbeat, and shrugs. "I say we go for a settlement- there'll be people we can talk to there."

Marissa Faireborn squints at what Fireflight is pointing at. She reaches for her combat belt and takes out a pair of mini-binoculars. Raising them to her eyes, she tracks the falling fiery dot high in the sky, trying to figure out what it is. "There," she confirms for Monstereo and Fireflight, pointing. It's tough to accurately point at something when you're using binocs, though.

Monstereo shrugs about ufos and looks both east and west. "I vote people first too. People are strange when you're a stranger. I hope things go better this time."

Fireflight nods at Smokescreen, "I thought it might be another ship. It's hard for me to tell from down here, though," he adds with an apologetic shrug towards Silverbolt, who knows his sensors are optimized for jet mode. "Is there a landing strip in that settlement?" he asks hopefully.

Silverbolt nods quietly. "Don't worry about it Fireflight." he then looks towards nightbeat. 'Lead the way. Fireflight and I will take up the rear." he says before looking to Fireflight. "We'll be careful."

Nightbeat checks his pad quickly. "A landing pad? I don't think these people have any aircraft yet. From what our scans show, they don't use much in the way of technology." He looks back and forth between the direction Fireflight and Marissa saw something and the settlement to the east. Finally he shrugs. "I say we head for the settlement. I'm with Smokescreen and Markdown, one of the keys to an investigation is talking to the right people." He looks around at the surrounding forest. "Or in this case, maybe any people."

Nightbeat transforms into vehicle mode.

Marissa Faireborn lowers her binoculars. She shakes her head to confirm that she, like Fireflight, can't tell what the falling object was. "Alright, lets head to the settlement." Marissa moves towards Nightbeat's driver's side door. Why? +oocfinger marissa for why.

Markdown frowns as he appears in the next frame. He was here the whole time, obviously. "Right. Although my space trader contacts haven't told me much about this place, gotta say. Still, meeting these guys could be profitable..."

"Huh. Primitives." Smokescreen says, transforming. " offense intended, Marissa." he says, almost sheepish. He pops open his door for the EDC officer anyway. "Need a ride?" he revs his engine a bit- as if to prove that he's that much cooler than Nightbeat and Monstero. Not that does much good, but hey, he tried. "...Guess not!"

Monstereo looks down at the rocky 'landing pad' with a smile and then transforms, bringing his super special giant tires into contact with the surface. His motor revs to life and his music system starts up.

Tricked-Out Porsche <Nightbeat> opens his door for Marissa (which butterflies up, true to the bizarre hot-rod nature of his alt-mode). Once she's in he drives off towards the a pace that will get the Bot-EDC party there either amazingly fast or agonizingly slow, depening on how things play out.

"Next time, Smokescreen!" Marissa calls out as she hops into Nightbeat. "Don't think I haven't noticed the mods!" Perhaps unsurprisingly, Marissa is a car fan. She notices these sorts of things. What weird doors, she thinks to herself as she Nightbeat and the other Autobots take off.

You move toward the forest to the east.

Forest of Shadows

The expanse of trees stretches as far as can be seen, which isn't far because of the lack of light here. What little light that does get past the canopy, casts eerie shadows across the ground and hides large portions of the forest from view. This area is relatively dry and a constant crunching sound is heard from anyone walking through here. Gnarled roots and reach out from and across the ground, threatening to trip anyone who is not looking where they are going. Thick red vines with large leaves hang from the tree limbs, making it hard work to get past without a lot of effort, as it is easy to get tangled up in them.

Silverbolt walks along behind the rest of the bots and ponders something. "I think we'd scare the gyros out of the terrans here if we went buzzing over their town, Fireflight."

Tricked-Out Porsche <Nightbeat> makes air jetting noises as he activates aftermarket hydraulics, making his frame rise slightly on his wheels. It helps a little with the offroad driving here, but it's still a bumpy ride. "Silverbolt's got a point. Anybody got any ideas on how we should play this with the natives?" He comments as they drive along.

Silverbolt ponders something. "uhm....what about if marissa talks to the natives if they're more her height. Seeing a 30 foot tall robot up close might make them dump their waste products with their clothes on."

"Hey, thanks!" Smokey says to Marissa, and then rolls along with them. "And if they're TALLER than Marissa, I can talk to them. I've had experience with this sort of thing, you know." If you can count Monacus as 'experience' that is.

Monster Truck <Monstereo> honks his horn twice, taking this off road stuff much easier than the rest. He likes bumps. "What if they're Smurfs?"

H12 Hummer <Markdown> offers, "And we should stay in car mode until we have an idea of how they'll react to us." Being a Hummer, he handles the off-road terrain pretty well. "Ah, don't get to drive in the country very much these days. Kinda nice, just wish, ah, that it wasn't so... what's the word I'm looking for..."

It's just as well Silverbolt volunteered the two of them for rear guard, Fireflight notes to himself. If the natives aren't friendly to flyers, they're stuck on their feet in this terrain - and while Fireflight's not especially slow for a robot, those with offroad-capable altmodes could easily leave him intaking their dust. Anyway, at least this way, Fireflight can keep a few sensors on everyone else, and a few on the forest around - that vine there's kind of interesting, not quite Aerialbot red but a nice change from all the shades of green on Earth... he listens to the others' conversation only vaguely as he scans about.

"Then we're f---ed," Marissa jokes in a matter-of-fact manner to Monstereo's question. The Colonel meanwhile enjoys the right. A raising frame for offroading? Aftermarket hydraulics? Yeah, this is why Marissa had her eye on Nightbeat for some time. "What's the technology level of the planet, Nightbeat?"

You say, "The last time there was an intergalactic survey, I think it's pretty safe to say that we'd all classify their tech as primitive. That was ages ago, though. Don't know how much they've evolved since then. Well, guess there's only one way to find out!"

You move toward the fortress to the east.


Vixante is a large town by the standards of it's primative inhabitants and not a bad place to live according to their lifestyle. A high stone wall surrounds it with two immense gates on both sides, making it well fortified against attacks and the encroaching forests. The majority of the people live in thatched huts, with the chief residing in a stone lodge in the center of the city. Several wells dot the perimeters with a large fire urning before the stone lodge.

Vixante is apparently populated by humanoid creatures with characteristics that seem like an amalgamation of avian and reptillian (maybe pterodactyl-like would be a good description).

A few of the natives see the Autobots approaching, and soon there's a flurry of activity from within. By the time the group reaches the city gates, the town chieftan has come out to speak with them. He sizes them up for a bit, his gazing resting on the various cars with Autobot symbols present, and takes in Marissa, the only humanoid present. Finally he asks her "Can I help you?" He speaks in a high-pitched, nearly birdlike screeching voice. And has a thickly intergalactic accent on top of that. But all the same, it's fairly good English for an alien.

"Creepy! Yes, that forest was CREEPY," Markdown finally says. "At least we're out of it now." He rolls up to a halt just before the town. "Huh. That... looks like something from Earth's Medieval period. And that wall... who are they protecting themselves from?" As the chieftan approaches, Markdown mumbles, "Oop, better be quiet for now..."

Monster Truck <Monstereo> cuts his music and cues a National Geographic jingle as the wall surrounded town comes into view. He then falls silent and listens respectfully. He knows a bit about being diplomatic. He parks and hopes his Junkion emblem is nice and shiny.

Marissa Faireborn gets out of Nightbeat once he comes to a full and complete stop (safety first). The Colonel doesn't make any aggressive motions, standing with her hands on her hips. An observant person might notice her hand is resting on her holster, but she hopes the natives either won't notice, won't care, or won't recognize the holster for what it is. "Hello," she says. Good start, she tells herself. "We could use some help, yes. I'm Marissa Faireborn of Earth Defence Command, and these are my friends-" The camera pans across each Cybertronian in turn. "Nightbeat, Markdown, Monstereo, Fireflight, Silverbolt, and Smokescreen." She hopes they won't freak out at finding out her ride is alive.

Silverbolt stays back in the forest his rather large size doesn't scare off the natives.

Smokescreen rolls up with the other Autobots- but remains silent for the time being, waiting to see just how things will play out. And, well, if he has to pretend that he's a god to some primitives, so be it!

Smokey's always wanted to do that anyway.

The Chief gives Marissa a stately nod. "Pleased to meet you. I'm the chieftan of Vixante. And yes, we know what Autobots are." His gaze lingers on Monstereo for a second, then he turns to look at all of the others. But his gaze falters a little when he catches sight of Silverbolt and Fireflight way in the back. "Are those..." he starts in a reverant whisper, then raises his voice to shout at the Aerialbots. "Are you FLYING Autobots?!" He seems to shake himself slightly then turns back to Marissa. "I'm sorry...I just didn't realize that Autobots could fly. Of course, we'll do what we can to help. And please, all of you, be at ease!"

H12 Hummer <Markdown> takes the cue to transform into robot mode, and picks out some branches from the windshield wipers on his chest. "Ah, alright. So you know that you're giant transforming robots, but that's kind of surprising since..." He looks about at the city. "Well, I'll just say that it doesn't look like you have an awful lot of robots here and leave it at that."

The H12 Hummer suddenly splits open, pushing itself up as the front end turns into a pair of powerful arms and the back end forms a pair of legs. Markdown emerges, ready for business!

Smokescreen transforms as well. "Well, that was easy." he says- and then glances back at Fireflight & Silverbolt. "Yeah, they can fly." he explains. "They're sort of new." he grins.

Monster Truck <Monstereo> visibly heaves up and then relaxes. Who knew a truck could be so expressive. The Redneck Dream Ride transforms to Robot mode and makes sure his horned helm isn't crooked. First impressions, afterall. He bows his head once to the chief and then asks, "Hey hows it hanging?"

The rugged monster truck legend in the making makes a clickety-ratcheting series of sounds as it transforms into the Junkion robot Monstereo.

Tricked-Out Porsche <Nightbeat> follow suit, transforming into his robot mode. He nods slightly at Markdown's question, then turns to wave the Aerialbots closer. He points at the Autobot symbols on Fireflight. "So, er...Chief. You've met with Autobots before?"

Nightbeat transforms into robot mode.

Fireflight smiles and waves a little when Marissa points him out and names him, but remains quiet as he looks around at a castleful of Swoop-a-likes? Well, not really, but that's the first thing that comes to mind. It's interesting, anyway... waitanano, they're talking about *us*? Fireflight looks to his wingleader, looking confused and maybe a little worried as Smokescreen speaks up and answers for both of them.

"They're relatively new, but they're definitely Autobots," Marissa confirms what Smokescreen is saying, trying to reassure the chief. She worries that they might consider the Aerialbots to be Seekers. The Colonel takes a step back, since this isn't really her show, and the Autobots know more about this mission than she does.

The Chief nods gravely. "Ah...that explains it. We had thought that Autobots roll," he makes a motion, one hand flat and parallel to the ground, then runs it along like a car driving. "And your rivals fly. But apparently things change for everyone." He shakes his head wistfully. After a moment he nods. "Yes, we have met with Autobots before."

The Chief turns to the side and emits a series of screeches, hoots, and whistles that would remind you of a crowded aviary (er, if you've ever been in one). After a few moments, a small native boy comes running out of the gates. Each running stride sends him sailing far farther than a human would, almost as if he's gliding slightly. In his hands he clutches a large rectangular sheet of what seems to be metal (and in fact, looks like a classic Cybertronian alloy known for light weight and inherent anti-corrosive proporties). On the sheet is a series of pictograms and stylistic patterns that could be an ancient Cybertronian map. The boy hands it to the chief, who in turn hands it to Marissa, since it would be the size of a playing card for the average he can't reach that high.

"Well, Chief, that's still the case for the most part- but more often than not, you're better off looking for the Autobrand-" Smokey pats his own autobot symbol with no small degree of pride. This done, he looks down (and down and down) at the offered 'map' and hmms. "Where'd you get this?" he asks, intrigued.

Markdown wonders if the Autobots and Decepticons waged a war here. And if they did, why didn't the citizens salvage any bodies and reverse-engineer their technology? Well, maybe he's getting ahead of himself. And besides, that sheet of metal may hold some of his answers. He carefully peers over Marissa's shoulder and squints at the pictograms. "Ah, I apologize in advance for any suffering the Decepticons caused to your people."

Silverbolt comes slowly out of the forest and smiles to the chief. "We're Aerialbots. I'm Silverbolt...this is Fireflight."

The Chief smiles. "Suffering? No...the Autobots and those others helped to end our suffering. Each in their own way. Together they removed an unholy cancer that had come to our lands. The Autobots spent the time to speak with us, teach us their language and left us this. Or so the legends say. There were other 'records' as well, but this is the one that remained intact."

Nightbeat leans over to try and peer down at the metal piece himself. He tries not to crowd any of the other Autobots looking, but he can usually make out details from a little farther away. "So, uh...this 'cancer' on your lands. Don't suppose you can describe that a little more?"

Monstereo perks with a qurstions forming, "That's amazing, Sir. What was this unholy cancer? And who were these Autobots and others?"

Marissa Faireborn watches as the alien child runs towards her and holds something out for her. "Thank you," she tells him, figuring she's meant to take the piece of metal. These aliens aren't that bad, she thinks. Marissa flips the small piece of metal over to see what's written there. Whatever it is, it causes her to furrow her brow. Biting her lower lip in concentration, Marissa examines the pictures before holding up slightly so the other Autobots can see. "It looks like a map of the area from here. Look here and here," she points, "This could be the forest we passed through, and over here is the forest we didn't go through." She taps one part of a map that has a crude Autobrand drawn into it. "I'm not Streetwise, but the insignia is resting on the forest that-a-way," she points east. "Look at this," she points to the drawing of a boxy looking robot digging something. Next to it is another robot (or possibly the same robot) holding a box in his hand and a smile on his face. Littered around this robot are other robots laying on the ground, either sleeping or dead.

Fireflight smiles again as he watches the newer-built alien running/gliding out the gates. Even if these people may have met the wrong jets first, so did the Terrans and most of them don't give his teammates much trouble anymore - and these people look even less likely to hold a prejudice against winged 'bots. But what's on that piece of metal the little one brought out? Fireflight looks curiously at the map as Marissa tells the group her analysis, as interested in the item itself as in the information it conveys.

"...Huh." Smokescreen crouches down (very carefully) to peer at the map. "Looks...interesting. They've got a SOMETHING in there, at least." You'd think that the ancient autobots could've WRITTEN something, but that'd be just too easy, wouldn't it?

Silverbolt looks over to Smokescreen. 'Is anything ever easy, Smokescreen?" he says before looking to Fireflight, then to the card. "if I didn't know looks like that smiling mech is holding the box....and when he claimed it....destroyed the other mechs around him."

The Chief shakes his head in regret. "Unfortunately, I know nothing more of this cancer. Other than what is preserved in this piece. Our legends don't explain in detail. Only that the Autobots and their rivals took it away from our world. And thus, Forestinia was free from outsiders. WE were live our lives." He turns and watches the native child running back to the gates of the city. "As we have for all eternity, with no few to bother us." He jumps slightly. "Ah! Excuse me...I didn't mean you Autobots, of course." It seems like an afterthought though, and the Chief seems to be itching to get back to Vixante himself. It's starting to sound like these natives aren't as isolated as you'd expect from a society of primitives. Maybe they're just interested in evolving or in technology.

Markdown usually takes it for granted that he is capable of conversing with alien life forms no matter what language they speak. "Oh, we taught you our language? That explains a lot,"

Markdown frowns at the picture. Something about the depiction bothers him, although it does bring to mind. "Anyone remember that crazy ghost ship?... Er, maybe I should explain more later."

Nightbeat peers at the map in Marissa's hands, then looks off to the east. "All I see is forest as far as my optics can see. But if those Autobots dug into the ground, it could be hidden anywhere beneath all these fraa--aaAAaa--..." he casts a quick glance at the Chief. "Er, these fraaanTAStic trees. If this is really all these guys know, I think we'd better head out for a look oursleves."

Monstereo looks to Markdown and touches a finger to the side of his own nose. "B. I. N. G. O."

Smokescreen hmms, and glances after the chief for a moment- then stands, nodding. "Right- we've got the map...been easy enough so far, right?" he grins, and then transforms once again!

Smokescreen's form twists and shudders, and mere moments later, the Diversionary Tactician is no longer there, replaced by a red and blue stock car, engine revving.

Nightbeat transforms into vehicle mode.

Marissa Faireborn gestures to the Autobrand and robot figures on the map and addresses the smaller Aerialbot, "What do you think, Fireflight? Would the ship have come down right around here, do you think?" She looks to the rest of the Autobots, "I'm with Nightbeat and Smokescreen. Lets go check out this place and see what we have." As she heads towards... oh, say, Smokescreen this time, Marissa waves to the Chief, "Thank you for your help. Would you mind if we borrowed this? I promise to bring it back once we've checked the site out."

Markdown nods slowly at Monstereo. "Bad feeling," is all he mutters before he transforms again.

Markdown falls forward onto his arms, his legs fold up into the back section, then his arms collapse into the front section of a powerful General Motors H12 Hummer!

The Chief nods to Marissa. "I am sure we can trust you with it." He turns to head back to his home, then stops as a new thought strikes him. "In fact, as you are also a friend to the can keep it!" Then he disappears into the city of Vixante. Will the Autobots ever see him again? Only time will tell...

Silverbolt peers quietly around and starts his way through the village....if there's enough room. he nods his head towards the chief and makes sure to be careful as he passes through the village. "hmm......something doesn't sound right." but he then taps his helmet and speaks to Fireflight.

Sweet, Marissa thinks as she slides into Smokescreen's driver's side seat (if he's up for that). This piece of metal is going straight on the old office wall. The Colonel gazes at the map and considers Fireflight's question. "I'm not sure. Either way, I have a feeling we're about to find out." Cue cut to a commercial.

Stock Car speeds off!

Smokescreen heads toward the forest in the east.

You head toward the forest in the east.

Far Western Bellaria Forest

Unlike the other forests, this one seems far larger and you can see clearly. The trees here seem more intent on reaching upwards than out, allowing much more light in. Colorful animals that resemble a mix of birds and lizards flit through the trees, filling the air with their foreign calls. Most of them sound like nothing anyone has heard before and it might be interesting to capture a few for scientific study, but they could prove to be more of a handful than they appear. The forest stretches on further to the east and to the west you can make out what appears to be some sort of enormous wooden gate.

Tricked-Out Porsche <Nightbeat> pulls slowly to one side of the group. "All right, you all know what to do." After a while, he adds, "Er...that is, scan for any signs of some kind of digging. Maybe a place where the trees don't grow as thickly, or an area where the land is more level than you'd expect. Any kind of valley or crevasse, a small pond with no major rivers leading to it..." he goes on listing a few other possible clues to look for.

"Well, if it's at least been a hundred years..." Smokescreen hmms, and slowly rolls through the forest (terrain he isn't particularly designed for, either), scanners searching for any such clues...though he's more in the buisness of being noticed than noticing things himself. Pity.

Monster Truck <Monstereo> spreads out, traversing all terrains and combing the forest. "Those people seemed nice. We should get them a gift basket or something. What yall think?"

"They don't seem to want anything but that city. What would make anyone want to stay shut in like that all the time?" Fireflight, clearly happy to be not shut in even if he is grounded, weaves through the trees, knocking an occasional branch or vine or small tree aside as he seems intent on looking everywhere but his actual path. "I'm going to look over that way. There's a whole clearingful of those vines with no trees." No trees to bump into and get told off for damaging someone else's planet, at least.

H12 Hummer <Markdown> again handles the terrain well, though he doesn't have to wory about the huge roots as in the other forest. "Yeah, they were nice. Maybe I'll... uh... arrange for a transport to send them some fine foods, or something. And some gift cards. Still..." He tries to put himself at ease, but this whole business is creeping him out. "...well, I just wonder why they had that wall up. Rival city? Keep out animals?"

"Well, it's not like there's too much OUTSIDE of the city..." Smokey responds to Fireflight. "Besides, for all we know, these forests could be full of huge lizard-bird eating monsters or something. Like...bears."

You say, "What do I think?" He snorts, although in this mode it sounds more like a slight chuffing of his engine. "Er...yeah, I'm with Fireflight. I think our friend the Chief'll be just as happy if he nevers hears from any of us again." He revs his engine and drives over to where Fireflight is. "You've got the eye, Fireflight," he says grudgingly, then starts to pull at vines in the clearing. "Guys, give us a hand over here..."

Nightbeat transforms into robot mode.

Monster Truck <Monstereo> turns and approaches the clearing.

The rugged monster truck legend in the making makes a clickety-ratcheting series of sounds as it transforms into the Junkion robot Monstereo.

Monstereo rises up and looks back at the path he's made. "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." He flips his goggles down over his optics. He starts rummaging through the vinage.

"Not everyone is interested in expansion and exploration," Marissa comments from inside Smokescreen. She isn't sure whether to admire the trait, given how many problems it would solve if people didn't squabble and bicker over every patch of land or piece of know-how, or pity them for having no ambition.

Silverbolt ponders something. "Nightbeat? Fireflight and I could look from the air. Fireflight's scouting equipment was made for his flier mode anyways."

Nightbeat pauses from where he's pulling a few vines away from the clearing Fireflight found earlier. Now there's a few spots where stone is revealed. "Uh...I think Fireflight's already found something."

H12 Hummer <Markdown> rises up into his robot mode, and uses his powerful arms to tear large clumps of vines. "Gotta say that I can't admire people with no ambition, Marissa," Markdown says. "There's a whole galaxy out there waiting for people to take advantage of it. Just sitting on your homeworld until your sun swallows it... dunno. Sounds like a waste of time."

The H12 Hummer suddenly splits open, pushing itself up as the front end turns into a pair of powerful arms and the back end forms a pair of legs. Markdown emerges, ready for business!

Stock Car hmmms, and circles around the vines. "Marissa?" he says. "You might want to buckle up." and with that, Smokescreen increases in speed, and starts to circle the brambles- and then he extends blades from his hubcaps, and sets them to dicing vegetation- James Bond style! "You know," he comments, "I installed these so I could carve up decepticons." He's not a lawnmower, but hey, it helps!

Fireflight gives a hand. Also a foot, and nearly the rest of him as that foot finds very little to rest on beneath the vines where he steps. "Woa-aagh!" Fireflight flails a bit, backpedals, and nearly falls on his own cockpit to avoid plummeting feet-first into the whatever-it-is, but clumsy as it is, the maneuver does end up kicking aside a fair amount of vines, revealing that the hole they grew across is probably big enough for at least one Autobot to enter, if not more.

The combined efforts of the Autobots and Junkion soon reveal the entrance to a cave sloping downwards under the ground...

Ancient Cave

The entrance to a dark, shadowy cave. Even cleared somewhat from the surrounding vegetation, it still has a light cover of vines and fallen leaves. Occasionally one of the vines hanging over the mouth of the cave drifts lazily in for a bit and then swings back to it's previous place, as the cool, dry air from the forest blows inside.

From here it looks like the tunnel consists of ancient gray stone, often covered in moss. From outside it's about the height of an average Transformer. However, it appears to be more of a covering to a tunnel sloping down, so much larger Mechs could fit inside once they get past the entrance.

The entrance is fashioned out of plain rock, and has apparently been around for a long, loooong time. Something about the size of the entrance makes it seem likely that it was created using advanced tools and technology not available to the natives of this planet.

"Already done," Marissa tells Smokescreen. Safety is number one, after all! "It'd be relaxing if nothing else, to stay at home," she replies to Markdown. "Still... I think the boredom would get to you pretty quick."

Monstereo takes out a rag and wipes the chlorophorm substance of the plantlife off his hands as best he can and then he crouches and peers at the big hole. He cups a hand to the side of his mouth and calls down, "Echo!"


Markdown peers into the cave. "Doesn't look steep." He pulls a flashlight out of subspace and shines it inside. "Yeah, it would, Marissa. Real fast," he comments as he sweeps the flashlight around, checking for anything odd in there...

Stock Car speeds up to the hole- and, giving Marissa the chance to hop out, transforms- lighting up his headlights to shine down into the hole. "Hmmm. Remember, there were pictures of 'bots sprawled out on the ground...could be something nasty in there."

With a changing of parts and that telltale sound, an otherwise Mundane Stock car converts to the Autobot Smokescreen.

Nightbeat shoots Monstereo a bemused look, then nods approvingly at Markdown. He activates one of his own wrist-mounted headlights (which clicks on with a xenon flicker) and sweeps the beam around the inside. "Looks safe enough. From here, that is." He stares in for a moment longer, then says cheerfully, "So who wants to go in first?"

Silverbolt peers over to Fireflight and starts to climb up. "Someone with lights and a scanner up front....myself and Fireflight flanking.....Marissa in the middle and everyone else in the back?"

Markdown looks around at the other Autobots. "Er... any of you guys capable of keeping a human in your passenger compartment while in robot mode? I could do it, but she'd staring up at the ceiling all the time. Still, I don't want to see Ms. Faireborn get hurt by something in there." He perks a brow at Nightbeat. "Hm. Draw lots, maybe? Well, it can't be THAT bad..."

Marissa Faireborn hops out and once again reaches for her belt, this time taking out a small flashlight of her own (she is like Batman). Holding it in her left hand, her right rests on her holster. She's not afraid of the dark, but that cave is still pretty freaking spooky. "Sounds fine to me. One of the car Autobots ought to be able to take point," she says. A lot of them have boob headlights, after all. "I'll be fine," she assures Markdown.

Smokescreen rolls his optics, looking over the group. "I'll take point." he says- and with that, he brings out his rifle and hops down into the hole! "Can't be any worse than the warrens..."

Nightbeat nods at Smokescreen. "I'll be right behind you." And he hops in right after!

Ancient Cave

The stone-walled cave slopes down slightly, quickly leading deeper beneath the surface of Forestinia. Although the direction of the tunnel is roughly down and to the east, there are many bends and curves such that at various points you can look in both directions and not see an exit...and that if you turn off your light sources you won't see any hint of light from the entrance.

Although there are no animals, and the stone walls seem in fairly good condition considering their obvious age, there are many places where roots from the mighty trees above have begun forcing their way in through cracks on the ceiling. In a few places these form a barrier of sorts, although it is easy to get around these.

Silverbolt pulls his static rifle out of storage and walks in along side Nightbeat. Warrior's instinct of course. but then again....he's a robot.

Fireflight looks down into the cave. "Looks like there'll be room for us all, at least." As others begin readying their weapons, Fireflight finally remembers to do the same.

Markdown shrugs. "And I'll be right behind Ms. Faireborn." He doesn't draw his own weapon yet, because he doesn't see the need. His fists are more effective than his little laser pistol anyway. "Uh, be sure and scream if something's wrong, Marissa," he says awkwardly, and glances down at her now and then to keep track of her.

Marissa Faireborn shoots Markdown an annoyed look. "Thanks," she replies sarcastically. She idly wonders if the overprotective ones are worse than the insulting jerkass ones, but decides that Grimlock is way more annoying than Markdown could ever hope to be. Although Marissa is in the middle, it's clear she's more than ready for a fight if need be, judging by the way her hand is resting on her holster, ready to draw and start killing things if need be.

The air is noticeably cooler and drier in the cave, with only a little of the humidity from the lush forest world above. Although this part of the cave is illuminated by light from the nearby entrance, when the tunnel continues down it grows completely dark except for artificial light sources the intrepid party may use. There's also some unusual sensor readings that seem contratadictory and at times unbelievable - the normal visual and audio senses work normall, but magnetic, thermal, sonar, and other forms of sensors are behaving wildly, if not malfunctioning altogether and reporting things that clearly aren't there.

"Hmmm." Smokescreen says, scrolling through his sensors. "Anyone else getting tons of interference? I think there may be some sort of mineral deposit in the walls..." he hmmms, and taps one finger along the side of his rifle. "Should've brought Beachcomber."

Nightbeat shines the blueish beam from his headlight farther down the cave, then turns on the other one to illimunate the tunnel floor in front of smokescreen. He also has one of his dual photon pistols in each hand, although he has to hold them at an akward angle in order to direct his lights. "Yeah, I'm getting all kinds of interesting readings myself."

Marissa Faireborn is naturally having no problems with her magnetic, thermal, and sonar systems, seeing as she has none. "Interference?" she asks, furrowing her brow in confusion. Her radio is still receiving perfectly fine, so it can't be that.

"Yeah," Fireflight nods, "I think it'd be giving me a wireache if I had my full sensors running." He looks closely at the wall, "Anyone got a surgical laser? We could always bring a little back, Beachcomber'd probably be happy to have something new to look at."

Markdown doesn't have much in that regard either. "Wouldn't know, guys. Any idea what might be causing it?"

"Just the planet's layout...I hope." Smokescreen says- and, his halogens still blazing, he leads intrepidly on!

Travelling along, the heroes soon come to a spot where roots from the ceiling above have forced their way into the cave. But here they grow so thick and strong they actually form a barrier. There are spaces that a human might be able to squeeze through, but anything bigger would be blocked for as long as the roots are left where they are.

Smokescreen pauses at the roots, and hmmms- testing one carefully. "I'm not sure if we'd be able to blast through, but if we had someone small enough..." and with that, he glances back (and down) at Marissa. "That is, if you wouldn't mind?"

Silverbolt chuckles as he just looks at the roots. but then...with a chuckle, he turns to Marissa. 'ok Shorty. It's your turn."

You say, "Wait a second...we're just gonna let her go through by herself?! Uh, that is...what about the rest of us?" He walks forward and pokes at one of the roots with his finger. "There's got to be a way to get rid of these things."

Marissa Faireborn already knows how this is going to play out the moment they reach the plant barrier. "If I find another way around I'll let you know ASAP. Keep an open comlink," she tells them. Holding the flashlight awkwardly in one hand, Marissa crawls through what looks like the biggest space. Where she ends up, nobody knows!

"We could blast through," Fireflight sounds sure of it. "The only question is, can be do it without blasting the whole place in?"

Markdown sighs. "I don't know about this. Well, just run back to us if you get in any trouble, Marissa." He frowns, but swivels around to shine his flashligh back towards the entrance of the cave, to see if anything followed them. If this was a horror movie, there would be a probably be a monster RIGHT THERE!

Smokescreen hmms, and fiddles around with the roots. "I'll cover you for as long as I can..." and with that said, he tries to slip the barrel of his rifle through the roots- even if he can't walk through the barrier, he can shoot through ut!

You say, "You've got to be kidding me..." he grumbles, but then moves over to stand next to Smokescreen, poking one of his own hands through to try and flood the area on the other side with light. "This is just asking for trouble..."

Marissa Faireborn crawls through and makes it to the other side where the roots are not so thick. "Alright, I'm through," she shouts. She walks back and forth between the cave's walls, examining the roots as she goes. From this side, and remembering the view from where the Autobots were, she's able to figure out where the wall is weakest. "Hey I think one of you could probably get through right around... here!" the Autobots will have to use the sound of her voice to figure out just where 'here' is. "Have Silverbolt do it, maybe. He's probably the strongest." She remembers when the Aerialbot CO wrestled with Ultra Magnus. Marissa backs up so she isn't in the way of the ripping.

"We hear you-" Smokey calls out, and thumps on the wall. "Just stand back- this probably won't be a 'delicate' operation..." and with that, he glances back at the other 'bots- "So, er...who'll do the honors?"

Silverbolt trots his way forward and......actually DOES begin to rip. "I still say that wsa lucky, Marissa."

Marissa Faireborn and Silverbolt seem to both be thinking of the same thing. "Nonsense, you did a fantastic job! I've seen wrestling matches before, Silverbolt. I think you have real talent." she insists, making way for the Aerialbot.

After much effort, the roots are pulled aside by the Silverbolt. One particularly thick strand of root comes completely free. And soon after, there's an ominous rumbling from the walls and ceiling. It's low and quickly dies down completely.

Markdown follows behind Silverbolt and sweeps his flashlight through the area. "Alright, maybe we worried a bit too much. Hm. I wonder when these tunnels end?" More quietly, he adds, "And what will we find when we get there?"

Nightbeat turns sideways to slip through the opening created, then shines his lights around. "I don't know...but we'd better find it fast. I don't like the sounds of that." He stops on the other side of the barrier, shining one light steadily at the gap so others can come through, and the other light further down the corridor, trying to look ahead.

Smokescreen glances to Markdown, and smirks. "Hey, only one way to find out, right?" and with that, he slips past Silverbolt, and heads intrepidly further into the tunnels! Not exactly one for subtlety, Smokescreen. At least, that's what he wants you to think.

Silverbolt snerks at Marissa. "yeah right, marissa. I'm still not that strong...I was just on that day." He says before following Smokescreen.

Marissa Faireborn falls back in line with the Autobots and Junkions, taking the middle spot. Not because that's the safest, she tells herself, but because it's from here that she can better coordinate with her allies.

Markdown frowns at Smokescreen. "Yeah, I know. But there's nobody better suited to confront it than us." Then, a concerned glance at Nightbeat. "The sounds of what? What do you hear?"

Nightbeat looks up, then answers slowly. "Some kind of rumbling. It's gone now. Maybe just earth settling." He turns to follow Smokescreen, although he tends to shine his lights at the wall and ceilings as much as forward now.

As the adventurers continue on their way, they soon leave the roots far, far behind them. They proceed for a long while without incident. Just how long does this tunnel go, anyway?!

But then, another low rumbling sound starts up, coming from behind them in the tunnel this time...and quickly growing louder!

Smokescreen glances over his shoulder, and frowns. "Alright...I don't like the sound of THAT." and with that said, he picks up his pace- tromping down the tunnel at a slight jog- which, given the fact he's 30 feet tall, can cover quite a bit of ground. "Hope we get there soon!"

Silverbolt turns around and......grumbles his vocalizer. "Get.....someone got the jump on us!" He yells before bending over and unceremoniously picks up Marissa. "Sorry, Marissa. Your speed or my speed. I choose MINE!" he says before starting to run....arms pumping, towards the end of the corridor they were headed towards in the first place. yeah......good thing Marissa's facing towards the ground....cuz she's SURE to puke.

Marissa Faireborn breaks into a sprint as Smokescreen jogs. She heard that noise as well. God help everyone if it turns out to be a gigantic stone ball rolling after them, she thinks to herself. "Does anyone have ANY idea what that is?!" she shouts. The Colonel doesn't appear particularly winded yet, but ends up geting suddenly picked up by Silverbolt. "Ack!" She knows better than to argue with the Aerialbot, though; she's seen him wrestle.

A few rocks come trickling down the tunnel, bouncing as they roll along. The rumbling behind only gets louder, and the rocks become a stream of dirt, pebbles and chunks of stone. Finally, the rumbling noises become nearly deafening, accompanied by a powerful vibration in the ground itself. Anyone shining a light back towrds the tunnel will see a few HUGE boulders rolling down, slowing down once in a while, then speeding up, then slowing again...but coming straight down the tunnel!

Nightbeat turns his lights back up the tunnel briefly to quickly reveal the boulders to everyone else. ;)

...and then turns and runs after the other Autobots. "How did I know this was going to happen?!"

Markdown ulps as he gives a quick glance behind the group, shining his flashlight there. "Oh, boy, do we want to know what that is? Oh, just some boulders." He watches as the boulder bears right down on him. "And they're coming right for us! CRAP!" He grimaces as he hustles after the other Autobots. "RUN FOR IT!!!"

"Why run," Smokescreen says, "When we can roll?" And with that, Smokescreen transforms, revs his engine, and speeds down the corridor! "Markdown- see if you can carry Silverbolt- I'm betting it's a little cramped for supersonic jets!"

Monstereo couldn't agree more with Smokescreen on this one. "An-de-lay! An-de-lay!" He leaps forward in his running stride and transforms, wheels touching ground and peeling out launching him forward. "I hope there is no dead end!"

As the Autobots race along, somehow managing to keep ahead of the boulders, the next curve of the tunnel reveals what looks like a small partial side tunnel, a massive crevice that covers one half of the tunnel floor - looks like the stone floor has fallen out to reveal blackness underneath - and what looks like a set of stairs leading UP at the far, far end of the tunnel.

Silverbolt IS RUNNING DAMMIT! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! o/

Marissa Faireborn is in Silverbolt's mighty arms. She is probably a bit big to carry easily, though, and so she crawls up out of his hands and perches on his shoulder, holding onto some Concorde kibble to avoid falling off. She can't help but admire the sheer gusto that Silverbolt runs with. "Hey, there!" she shouts, pointing out the side tunnel.

Nightbeat nearly runs right by the side tunnel, but at the last turns sideways and hop-skids to a stop on one foot. Then he jumps into the tunnel and flattens himself against the wall. "I hope there's enough room in here for all of us!"

Smokescreen skweeeeeeerves around the corner, and whips around- popping up into his robot mode once again! "You're not the only one!" Smokey says, even as he scrabbles up the staircase- uncaring of WHERE it goes, so long it's away from 'the big smashy rocks that will hurt us.'

Monstereo in Monster Truck mode pulls a side-skidding stop and transforms, leaping through the side tunnel in robot mode. "What a rush!"

Silverbolt grabs Marissa and grabs onto the side tunnel by his fingernails (do bots have fingernails?). He grabs onto it and yanks himself into the tunnel! of his haste....he runs into the other bots and headbutts Monstereo. *CLANG* "Numbuh 1." And he staggers to the wall.

Markdown drops down into his Hummer mode, too, finally able to use his own headlights. "Yeah, I feel a lot better about my chances of outrunning that thing in this mode!" He screeches to a stop by Nightbeat and almost overshoots him. Transforming, he jumps into the side tunnel, pressing himself against the wall. "Hrrrgh!" he grunts as he tries to suck in his (large) gut. Since he is a robot, this is somewhat difficult.

The rush of boulders runs right by the Autobots sheltered in the side tunnel, some of it perhaps rolling over a foot or scraping across a protruding gut or wingtip here or there. More than half of the debris making up this miniauture avalanche falls into the opening in the ground, the rest piling up in rubble at the bottom of the staircase.

Monstereo oofs and rubs at the head-shaped dent. "You knucklehead, why I oughta..." He sighs and then relaxes, looking to see if everyone is alright. "Anybody damaged?"

"I'm alright," Marissa says, either from Silverbolt's hands or his shoulder. It isn't entire clear which as it seems to change with each scene. The Colonel looks down at the Aerialbot to see whether or not he looks damaged. He took a pretty bad hit to the head, after all.

Nightbeat grumbles, "I think I'm gonna be walking with a limp for a while." He scowls up at the stairs where Smokescreen took cover. "But as far as I'm concerned, that's a small price to pay if we're at the end of this blasted cave." He looks up and down the tunnel to make sure no further boulders are coming, then heads over to join Smokescreen.

Silverbolt chuckles. "I'll be fine once my Optics reset."

"OUCH!" Markdown yelps as the boulder scrapes his gut. As the boulder passes, Markdown sighs at himself. "Ah, nuts. Now I have to get this bent back into shape and re-painted... But other than that, I'll live." He peers up at the stairway. "Hm."

"Little dinged up, but I'm alright." Smokey grins, and then leads on!

Climbing the stairs reveals a large room filled with artwork of the same style as the Apocalypse Box. Age has scarred the work, coating it with in grime though quite visible are a series of carved inscriptions, on every available bit of surface area. They depict various scenes, what looks to be a horned, winged devil standing upon a circle, surrounded by octopuses.

Sensors fluctuate truly wildly up here, this room must be the source of the interference felt earlier. Even Marissa's radio is getting a lot of static in here...

And in the middle of this room is...

Altar...of Doom!

Unlike the stone all around, this large hexagonal construct is actually made of metal - of an indeterminate composition, age, and design. Its about the size of a car, and the broad flat top can serve as a table. Judging by the patterns of corrosion and rust on the surface, maybe thats what it did.

But it seems very likely that at one time there were TWO objects on this altar. One was a rectangular object exactly the size of Apocalypse Box. The other is a circular object that had to be cut out by means of laser torch, judging by the ancient burn marks still faintly visible on the surface of the altar.

Silverbolt touches his helmet and turns off his comm. "guh. I hate static."

Marissa Faireborn taps her ear as the radio link goes dead. That ain't a good sign. That's never a good sign. Losing phone/radio/whatever access is stage one to dying in a horror moving. Motioning for Silverbolt to set her down, Marissa examines the room they've found themselves in. The Colonel circles the hexagonal metal altar to get a view of it from all sides. "Sure looks Cybertronian... what do you guys think?" she asks.

Monstereo ascends into the chamber and just marvels at the find. The medic slowly turns to Nightbeat. "Great Scott... This /has/ to be it."

Silverbolt puts Marissa down all right. Once she's on her feet, he flips his rifle from static rifle to laser rifle. "Must be it. nothing else is interfering with my comms."

Nightbeat walks around the altar as well, shining his lights over it from different angles before approaching. "Monstereo...are you seeing this part on top?" He shines one headlight at a faint depression in the shape of a rectangle, just the right fit for the bottom of the Apocalypse Box. Then he points the other beam at a circular depression next to it.

Smokescreen hmmms, and tromps closer to the altar, tapping the barrel of his rifle with a finger. "Yep...wish we had a matter spectrometer..." as Nightbeat splays his light across it, Smokey frowns. "Somebody's been here before us."

Monstereo uh huhs and pops open his chest-hood tape deck cover. "O-Dat, eject. Operation, documentary!" A Tape ejects from his chest and transforms in midair, landing on the ground. A humanoid robot form in gold and black. O-Dat looks around. "Docuwhatery, Doc?" He processes. "Oh... right. Kay." The forehead crest panel slides open revealing camera lens and microphone speaker grate.

Monstereo drops O-Dat.

Markdown steps into the room, optics wide. NOW he decides he wants to bring his laser pistol out. "Wow." He shines his flashlight at the artwork of the winged devil surrounded by octopuses, and rubs his head. "" He glances back at the altar. "You know, I get the feeling that an altar this big wasn't just used as a pretty table to put decorations on." He frowns. "Maybe... Maybe they sacrificed... no, that's just nuts."

Silverbolt peers at the table and well.....standing off to the side. "You guys analyze it. I'll stand guard."

Markdown then sweeps his flashlight across the ground, looking for clues. Finally, he notices a stone in the floor right in front of the altar, with odd symbols carved into it. "Huh. Curious. This stone's sticking up a little bit..." He taps the stone with his foot.

Marissa Faireborn makes a full circle around the altar, sweeping her flashlight this way and that before coming back to Markdown's approximate location. "What?" she asks, walking over towards the stone the Autobot is talking about.

"Markdown, don't!" Smokescreen calls out- if perhaps too late. Seriously, hasn't he seen this movie before? Regardless, the tactician braces himself, and waits for the inevitable chaos...

When Markdown touches the stone, it sinks into the ground. In that same instant, while Marissa still has one foot raised to take her next step back, a square section of the stone floor drops out, practically right under the spot she was about to put her foot down!

As the block falls, it reveals a dark, shadowy tunnel stretches out off into the distance in the opposite direction from the cave the Autobots, Junkion and Terran entered from. There's a faint gleam of Decepticon purple from below...

But upon closer inspection, it's actually a dismembered Transformer arm. Black and purple, with a small Decepticon logo on the shoulder in case there was any doubt. And clutched in the hand...a laser torch.

Monstereo wrinkles his nose. "Ewwww."

Markdown jerks away from the sinking brick. "I... I barely touched it!" he says. Once the new tunnel opens up, Markdown is a bit relieved. "Oh, that's all it did. Well, no instant death this time, heheheheh, close one, huh?" He looks nervously at the others.

Silverbolt looks over and.....starts to point his rifle at the table. He then blinks his optics at the....arm. "hmpf. Decepticon."

Nightbeat shines his lights at the laser torch. "And that's about as close to a smoking gun as you get in my line of work."

Marissa Faireborn turns grim as the stone floor drops out. A split second later and her pistol is in her hands. Both the pistol and the flashlight are shining at the hand holding the torch. She waits as if expecting something further.

"Huh. So the 'bots have an Apocalypse box, and the cons get a...uh...Apocalypse circle thing. Apocalypse ball?" Smokey thinks aloud, still shifting around somewhat nervously- waiting for whatever dismembered that 'con to come out of somewhere...

Monstereo nods slightly, putting pieces together in his imagination. "So, for one, where is this mysterious second object. Two, what was it in relation to the box? Three, have we bitten off more than we can chew? Four, is the owner of this arm still functional somewhere? Five, why bury an arm in a secret floor panel?"

"Well, at least the answer for your third question is 'Yes'." Smokescreen says, smiling wryly- as per the usual, really.

Nightbeat still stands over the tunnel, shining his light down into it. "Well, even from here I'd say this tunnel leads somewhere." He shrugs and then lies down next to the hole, sticking his head and one arm down through it. "Looks pretty stable to me. And it's headed up...wouldn't surprise me if this thing goes straight back to the surface. It was, I dunno, crushed off. Maybe a long time ago. And I can pick out some sort of residue or something on it other than paint. I say we take it back to a lab and inspect it. And meanwhile, we get out of here while we're still three dimensional."

Markdown thinks. "A Decepticon might've stolen the ball, if that's what it was, but since we can see the likely culprit's arm down there, well, that doesn't necessarily mean they STILL have it. Maybe the guy who has it went nuts, abandoned his faction, and is still running around the planet with that thing..." He shrugs. "Well, I'm not the detective."

Monstereo hesitates on a thought. "Nightbeat... those bad dudes on the bug planet... think they could have anything to do with the one armed man?"

O-Dat tours around the room, recording everything, finally ending up at the opening the rest are looking into. "Who's that?"

Smokescreen hmmms. "Alright then- let's get that arm, and get the heck out of here?" he says, perhaps a bit hopefully.

Marissa Faireborn slowly lowers her pistol, but keeps it out. The flashlight is still up, though. "I vote we head back with what we have and I call in for an xeno-forensics team to come to this planet and scour the rest of this room and the tunnels," she says. The Colonel walks over towards the opening. She gives O-Dat a nod, for O-Dat is almost her height. It is nice to see.

Nightbeat frowns slowly. "You bet they could, Monstereo. And yeah, I'm thinking the same thing, Smokescreen. Let's get back to the shuttle. I'm not looking forward to the paperwork after this one."

Smokescreen smirks at Nightbeat. "Hey, your expedition, your report!" and off he goes!

Markdown hops down into the passage, snatching the arm and scowling at it. "I hope you're not still running around somewhere..." And with that, he hops back out and gets ready to leave.

O-Dat gives MArissa a friendly smile and Forest gump like wave.

Monstereo shivers at the train of thought developing and then recalls his Tape friend. "Come on, O-Dat. I'll get you back to cheerier places."

The Tape looks up, processes, and then nods. "Kay." He leaps, transforms to Cassette mode and pops back into the tape deck housing in Monstereo's chest.

Monstereo takes O-Dat.

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