Inside the Holo Arena are black, rubber-coated walls to protect the steel and also to reduce the noise, as these sparring matches can get very violent. A central control room is suspended from the ceiling, heavily reinforced to protect the advanced computer that controls the holo-imaging and stores thousands of simulation scenariors. If a desired scenario isn't already available, then the computer allows for additional programming.
With holographic projectors and forcefield generators aplenty, the holo arena can handle the largest of Decepticon gestalts, so it's no stretch for it to accomodate Fusillade's alt mode. With wings swept back unnaturally far for an atmospheric aircraft, she gently bobs a bit as engines simmer. The sea of stars barely moves, even as the aircraft treadmills through space. The orientation is roughly toward the south celestial pole from Earth's point of view. The target: the tiny, dim star of Proxima Centauri, and Cybertron's relative, simulated, closeness.
The sound of regular and very heavy footsteps can be heard down the hallway from the medical ward. The tall and sinister form of Shockwave emerges into the arena. The very sophistacated nuclear-powered calculator takes a look around at the projection and glides in.
A proximity alert chimes out pleasantly upon Shockwave's arrival, causing the orca-patterned spacecraft to throttle back on her thrusters. With small puffs of maneuvering rockets in the super chilled near-vacuum of space, the Lancer tilts, and then begins to spin upon its pitch axis until the nosecone is pointed in the purple Cyclops's direction. "Commander," Fusillade greets. "So, even a mere 4 light years would be impossible to traverse -- patiently -- at sublight speeds. NOT entirely impossible, though."
Shockwave looks towards Fusillade's simulated destination "Reaching any destination at any speed is possible. The real question is the time-inefficiency of the trip. Faster-than-light engines no matter which class would be way more time-efficient.
"Yeah, well, we'll get to that eventually. I'm not cleared for that," Fusillade remarks matter of factly with a flick of canards. "Hey, I downloaded Google Earth and Sky Version 15.2.3 a few days ago, I think it'll really help me navigate by star positions when I'm on Earth. If the Autobots unleashed some kind of scramble thing. Or..." She trails off.
B-1B Lancer grumbles something about not being too good with all the technical aspects of space jargon.
Shockwave glances over at Fusillade with his glowing optic "I take it you are training for space operations...Interested in space piloting?"
"Scrapper won't clear me for piloting the shuttles. Too much of a disconnect between myself and the controls of the craft he says." She doesn't mention her abysmal luck with deciphering things more complex than 'push the big red button'. Hey, it FELT like that some days... "But being able to understand and know how to get around the stars on my own will be a useful complement to the physical changes that have been made to me..." She flares out the rocket exhausts for emphasis. "And it'd be kind of embarrassing for me to get lost. I know there's automated systems out there, but I want to be able to deviate from the paths if need be. Exploring strange new worlds off the beaten path -- and then figuring out the best way to blast 'em. I made up my own constellations!" she asserts.
Shockwave stays silent a few seconds. //Sub-routine: Goggle v10.1. Searching databank. Recall basic astronavigation.// "There are 2 elemental rules to remember about navigating in three-dimensional space. Rule number 1: Know your directions. Coreward, Rimward, Spinward, Counter-spinward(I think). Rule number 2: In order to pinpoint a destination, you need 6 coordinates."
As Shockwave speaks, Fusillade hmms. "Simulation, pan back to asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter." Their surroundings blur past, with a dramatic, wholly unrealistic soundeffect of 'whooooooooosh!' "So, uh... what would the coordinates, in each of those directions, be for THIS spot?" It's not really a challenge, so much as a desperate attempt to fathom the way the system works. "Um, right now, I know that we're two thirds of the way out from the core. So that's a plotted value of..." She pauses for a moment. "Um... 66.643 Rimward on that scale, right?"
"So uh... would that be the same as -33.357 Coreward?"
Shockwave carries on "Indeed. In order to fully understand the requirement for 6 coordinates picture the following. Computer...Encase the SOL system in a transparent box." Small lines are being drawn all over the place so as to create a cube around the simulated SOL system. "Now...2 digits coordinates work well in 2D. Works well in 3D when in atmosphere for seekers and atmospheric crafts. Why? Because your Z-Axis within an atmosphere is your altitude. In space you must always work with your Z-axis."
There's a dogged tracking and churning inside as the aircraft reorients herself to the zenith of the celestial sphere -- the equivalent of Polaris to Earth. "To go 'up' -- and I mean that loosely! Relative to those differently shaded pink lines -- you would have to use the third axis. Not too bad. But the ground is always there as a reference when I'm in the atmosphere..."
Shockwave continues in his even monotone encyclopedic tone "The problem with the Z-Axis in space is where does it start? You cannot approximate a Z-Axis, if you do after a few light-years you will likely end up a few light-years off course. Computer...trace a line from 66,44 coreward to 22,45 rimward. Trace a line from 15,97 spinward to 37,11 counter-spinward. Shockwave dictates a bunch of other coordinates until there are six lines, one for each face of the cube is traced and intersects to a common point. "See...because position in void is always relative you must be absolutely CERTAIN of your destination's coordinates. A wrong decimal in space can lend you far away."
There's a long silence, almost as long as the hang-dog expression on the aircraft's windshields. "Saggitarius looks like a teapot," she offers. Then, moving on to more serious business, she asks, "Don't you need a 7th point for where you're starting from?" Wingtips quiver a bit as she proudly recalls that one aspect of celestial orienteering.
Shockwave awnsers "The 7th point or origin is only useful when dealing with teleportation or a space bridge. When actually flying through space your 7th point will be mobile as it represents your current position." Then he moves on to some more specific questions. Despite what some Cybertronian say, it IS pertinent to pressurize to pressurize yourself or at the very least SEAL yourself up when flying through space." The professor interrupts the lesson. "Do you know why?" he asks testing his XO's knowledge of space.
The sleek bomber rears up, wings collapsing onto hips even as the rear fuselage splits to form arms. The horizontal stabilizer slides up, the forward fuselage folds up accordian style, and Fusillade hops up on thrustered feet.
Much smaller now, Fusillade hovers mid-simulation, and nods to the larger mech. "Yes. So lines will not rupture. The pressure sealing was installed as an option in the first set of overhauls. Couldn't even get the tiles until I had that, EMP hardening, and extreme-cold conversions made."
Shockwave nods "Correct but not totally complete awnser." He ponders a series of quick question-awnsers to try and guide Fusillade towards the awnser without totally giving it to her. "I assume you know of Gas-giant's existence in space?"
"Like Dromedon, sure!" Fusillade doesn't mention Jupiter.
Shockwave says, "Then if take out the gravity field from the equation. We acknowledge the presence of gas clouds in space? Similar to nebulas yes?"
There's a faint inkling that the answer is supposed to be 'to not suck up bad things while going through space', and Fusillade mm-hmms quietly. "Just not ionized?"
Shockwave says, "Exactly. And since some gas can be colorless, it is very likely that at some point you will fly through a cloud of gas which in itself is not a problem depending on the type of gas. Flying through a cloud of corrosive gas can quickly leave you dead in space with fuel lines busted and critical maneuvering components damage or worse faster-than-light engines disabled while out of decent radio range. Another exemple would be flying through a cloud of flammable gas. It would cause you to explode from the inside out as the gas is ignited by your engines."
Fusillade's citrine optics glaze over some in horror at the mention of exploding from the inside out -- she's actually experienced that before! "I... see. What about handling dust?"
Shockwave nods "Yes keeping your components sealed will also prevent space dust accumulation in important parts of your frame."
"And it wouldn't be an issue with properly sealed intakes, because there's no air FOR the intakes to be intaking, mmm." She glances back up toward the skies. "So, what's a good way to practice with this whole plotting and space travel deal? Find different spots inside the solar system, and then calculate bearings and times? And then do that later with points of interest in the local cluster of stars? I wonder which way Monacus is?" She spins a bit, soaking up the skies visually.
Shockwave nods "Exactly. Another good way to practice the plotting is to keep trying to reach the same destination over and over again from a different origin. The path will of course vary relatively to your starting location. If you can reach the exact same from spot from any direction, then it is not rfeally harder to reach any other spot as well."
You say, "I'll do that, then. When I'm not yelling at the wonder troops for their... misplaced initiatives," Fusillade shakes her head, frowning. "But many in Operations resent micromanaging. Have you established any long-term objectives for us? ""
The yellow optic dims a bit and blinks as Shockwave explains "/I/ have long-term objectives. I am not certain I can say the same for Galvatron. He has been unusually quiet as of late. Personally I think it is ridiculous to 'tip-toe' around those protectorate humans who will inevitably turn on us once the Autobot threat is removed. Totally illogical."
"End simulation," Fusillade grunts, slapping up the data chip from the projector. "Have you had an audience with the Emperor?" Perhaps some things are better best left unanswered...