The New Crystal City spaceport is an example of what can be done given enough room and materials with which to work. The port contains a huge amount of area, roughly a fifth of the entire city. The landing strips are designed to facilitate vessels of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether or not they possess VTOL capabilities. Protective hangars are in place to allow proper storage of Imperial space vessels when not in use. Refueling stations, signal lights, and watchtowers are all spread out over the area. There is an extensive network of sky-roads that start and end here and travel to the Central Hub, the Command Center, and to the outer-ring of New Crystal City. As the city is in battle mode, all of the buildings, and even the landing strips themselves, are littered with gun emplacements of all shapes and sizes. With the lack of cover here in this wide-open space, any attack here had better be made with a huge overwhelming force.
Supplies? Materials? Ah. So she's snoozing right in Long Haul's domain. The Constructicon plods warily in, arms filled with boxes from a recent shipment that need to be organized and placed. He drops them with a heavy thud and then unseals the top box before something dawns on him. He stands up straight and casts his gaze towards Arachnae, is optic band dimmed slightly in confusion.
Arachnae continues to be the picture perfect image of someone resting at some balmy tropical resort without a care in the world. Not even a wing-twitch to disturb her webbed and woven cable hammock as Long Haul thud-drops some supplies. The thud does elicit some response from the triad of drones arranged in their own webs about the resting hunter-medic. One even emits a stacatto-hiss, a pulsed non-sound in response to the movement or the noise. Or possibly both.
Bonecrusher putters about, helping Long Haul with the boxes. Constructicons' work is never done. He too notices resting Arachnae and her drones. He watches curiously, then turns his gaze back to the boxes when he remembers it's not polite to stare at a superior.
Long Haul doesn't care what's polite and what's not. He's both a Decepticon and a construction worker, a mechanoid who exists at the crossroads of two rather crude worlds. So not only does he not stop staring, he speaks up. "Hey, Arachnae? Ma'am?"
The 'whumph' of a sonic boom is not too unusual in the spaceport area. Fusillade has decided to indulge in commandeering one of the distal unused strips to land in her alt mode, instead of well, just transforming and hovering down to rest. The bomber noses up, wings swung fully forward and both wingflaps and wingslats extended to slow her descent. Still in that blasted oversized mode, she swings her nosecone to the gathering of green and purple around the haze of webbing. She taxis over and chirps out, "Hey hey! Those mountains around Taranaki are something else."
Bonecrusher briefly looks up from the box he's unpacking to say, "Greetings, Fusillade. Come across any Autobots?"
One of the triad of ariadne drone based creations extends legs and begins unfolding like a deadly flower shot on film designed to capture and torment the slowly blosseming of legs and limbs. Another rattles in its web, pushing itself upwards, scurrying into and between racklines of girders. The third remains motionless,save for the shifting play of light across optical sensors. And in the hammock-web, the hunter-medic shifts, twisting at a midline point to peer downards, a move that puts her with feet higher than head, wings tightly tucked into her back, "Yes?" calm tone, optics bright. "Something I can do for you, Long Haul?"
A flick of nose carnards, almost whisker-like, comes from the aircraft. Deciding to finally transform, she cants her head to the side, and raises a hand. "Jetfire was snooping around in the Straights of Magellan. I routed him, but had to rely more on my wits than my strength. You look busy," she remarks to the shuttling of boxes between Long Haul and Bonecrusher. She unholsters one wingblade, and unfurls it half-way.
"Just wonderin' what you were doin' up there, is all. This is kinda a busy place to be sleeping." Then he glances over at Fusillade and thinks about her sonic-boom entrance. "Noisy, too." He gestures to the one of the spiders. "These the drones you an' Scrapper were chattering about?" Then Fusillade's comment catches his attention. He sighs and answers, "I'm /always/ busy." There's no peevishness to the tone, only tiredness. "Even at the rare moment where there's nothing to be built, there's /always/ something that needs moving."
"That would be because we are busy," Bonecrusher says while handling another box. It's not a snappy retort, just the stating of a fact. Then he looks over to Arachnae and her drones. "Lovely little darlings," he compliments.
Arachnae shifts slighty to the side, adjusting her hang me down position to study the constructicons from an upside down perspective. Optics glimmer, "I was going over statistical variences in the mean thickness of the girders as means of endevoring to explain to unit 3 what acceptable difference in material quality is." She looks to where the one drone had slipped off. "Unfortunatly, I do not believe I made that clear. Perhaps I should stick with the traditional program a range into the function and be done with it."
A pause, and a faint hum escapes Fusillade. "Right. Offers of assistance are probably not going to be well-received either. Even with a tacked on 'c'mon, it'd be cool!'?" She squares shoulders, and then hmms at Arachnae. "Drones but not. With some measure of learning capability. Not too bad." With a hum, she inclines her head, and then begins to sidle to one of the building doorways.
Bonecrusher looks at Fusillade. "You want to assist us? No offence, Air Commander, but do you even know where all the supplies and things need to go?" That old thing about MilOps people who meddle in MSE affairs... "Unless you'd like to explain things to her, Long Haul?"
Long Haul tilts his head and raises his right hand to rub the back of it for several long moments as he ponders what Arachnae said before he realizes that yes, he does still have work to do. He starts moving things from boxes to shelves and answers Fusillade, "D'pends on how familiar you are with the MSE storage organizational system. I got enough of a time tryin' to keep everything straight with Scavenger and Mixmaster about." He falls silent for a bit as something nibbles at his mind, something that Arachnae said that didn't sit quite right with him... finally, "Waitaminute. You mean you was talking with that thing?"
"I think the typical response at this point is 'It'd take longer cleaning up after her'," Fusillade states coolly. Flicking a wrist, she snaps out a holo-foil padd, and scrolls through to a few items. Those vivid citrine optics flash once, and Fusillade says through tensely thinned hematite lips, "I should be happy that you at least remembered that I don't do the typical MilOps looking down on MSE thing." Finally, an acknowledgement to Arachnae, "Good evening, ma'am," and then she slips out.
Arachnae rolls off and out of the web-hammock, landing lightly on her feet, wings flexingout behind her. The second drone drops down and comes to a heel behind her. The third remaining exactly wehre it has been. "Now now, gentlemechs." Quiet tone, "The Air Commander has as much interest in seeing this, the city and this our base of operations come to completion just as much as any of us do. Her offer of assistence should be appreciated in the spirit in which it was intended. MSE is not staffed so well that we can afford to turn willing hands and servos away. At some point, her assistance, I should think, in this project would be most appreciated. "
Turning on a heel to incline head politely to Fusillade, "Unfortunatly, Mer Fusillade." Addressing the commander herself, "Save for garnering supplies and materials, my fastidious compatriots have a penchant for levels of organization in prepatory work that would most unfortunately come unraveled should misplacements occur. I and mine do appreciate your offer of assistance. Perhaps when we are at a juncture where the more hands, the faster the work commences. I base this on the assumption that you, of course, know how to follow basic placement and hold directives?" Hopeful tone. "As it stands, they won't allow me to muck about with their supply stanchions either. I can catalogue and order, but they handle the arrangeing as is their duty and desire." Flash of a smile and a polite bow.
You move east to the NCC Residential Plaza.
NCC Residential Plaza
This area of the city is far more open to the air. The buildings are shorter and don't loom over you like in the other sections. As the city is in battle mode, huge spires can be seen with missile turrets and laser cannons, targetting any hostile invaders. The criss-cross of skylanes is defended by a network of tiny point-defense lasers, making use of the roads nearly impossible if you are not a Decepticon. As this is a non-essential area, this place seems much less defended than other parts of the city. Most of the buildings are not very well protected. Those that house the quarters of the high command, however, have a considerable amount of firepower geared towards their defense.
The sharp snap of thruster-heels, four of them, echoes out on the metallic walls of the barracks lining the breezeway. "Of /all/ the sanctimonious, asinine pieces of WORK out there..." Fusillade's trajectory indicates that she's stalking in from the Spaceport. "And they wonder why everyone thinks they're full of it. Whining about not given credit and then not giving themselves! Like I don't have a processor of any kind! FHAH!" She brandishes the holofoil pad in one obsidian hand, hissing and snarling before plunking down indian styled against one of the walls, a wingblade furled across her lap. She looks fully intent on polishing it to sooth herself even as she already moves from the tirade to other, organizational matters, namely those involving getting the wings properly lined up. "Now, let's see what I can with some of those pretties from DCI... so sweet of them to agree to help out..."
Prior to Fusillade's arrive, Fleet was here playing statue. He stands atop a broken strut, all that remains of someone's wrecked abode, balanced carefully on the tip of his right foot. Of course, he's a seeker. Of course, he could be using his antigravs to keep him up there. Most people seeing him, if they bother to notice the unmoving Seeker at all, would probably assume that. Those with sensitive hearing, however, would note the absence of the tell-tale hum of the units. At least, this is the state he was in at the point of Fusillade's arrival. He tilts his head, birdlike, at her rant, then remains in place and studies her for a moment after she sets herself down (for the sake of plot contrivance, we shall say it's rather near his perch). Finally he speaks a bit hesitantly, "Erm... something wrong, Air Commander?"
The bomber had actually settled back down, but upon hearing the Trooper's inquiry, her expression darkens. Once again standing, she snaps that one weapon she had been polishing, and turns to the nearest overturned, reasonably damaged surface she can find. "I! Have! Had! It! With! Them! I! Will! Tear! Their! Faces! Off!" -- Twack! Thwack! Thwack! -- sounds out as she punctuates each syllable with a slash of the wingblade on the already damaged debris, sending it scattering while she hacks up the material. The glitter of freshly bared, untarnished metal gleams in a rough approximation of the Decepticon symbol, before she once again squares shoulders, and sucks in a draught of air over her cooling vents. "A temporary venting, mister..." She finally raises that visor-tinted gaze to settle upon the jasmine-colored, balancing Seeker, "Mister Fleet, is it?" Upon enunciating his name, her humor turns, and that smile, one laden with ideas, returns to her mobile pearlescent features.
Fleet watches Fusillade through her explosion. While he likes to think his expression impassive, there is an undertone of worry that he can't completely keep out. And this is his new Air Commander? How... typical, really. The Seeker nods and hands Fusillade a hurried salute now that her attention is on him. "That's correct." He frowns at her smile. That is not a good smile to see on one who rules you, not if you're a Decepticon. The pastel pyramid's arms reach away from his sides and he bends forward at the waist, his left leg staying straight relative his upper-body as he does this. As part of the same motion he also starts to bend his right leg, the supported one, to bring his head a touch nearer to the bomber's. It is this motion that makes it rather obvious that he is not using his antigravs, the careful, practiced balance that he need not worry about had they been active.
That look on Fleet's face isn't entirely lost upon Fusillade, who snaps up an obsidian gauntlet to wave his incredulous look now that she's had her moment, the gesture doubling to wave off the salute. And yes, that oozing smile was decidedly shark-like, indeed. "Is that balance intended to be practice, or play? No shame in the latter, we can allow ourselves to exult in our powers and abilities. Agility is one of your strengths, is it not?" The entirely too saccharine edge has worn off her voice, more conversational now. "And any real encounters other than Jazz snooping about as of late to report? I know there's more day to day Aerospace matters that don't necessarily need noting to the rest of the faction..." She probes, even as she idly whips the fully opened wingblade in the air in front of her in a figure eight while she awaits his response. Listening still, but giving Fleet space, it appears.
Fleet's hands twist from palm-down to palm-up and then raise just enough relative the bulk of his arms to indicate a shrug. "A blending of the two. Practice and play are not mutually exclusive. And yes," Fleet inclines his head in the affirmative, the action still carefully considered; in his position, any wrong movement can be enough to upset him. "It's generally considered to be. Nothing to report that hasn't been reported. I go on raids, I fly patrols... the logs are filled with thousands of my 'all secure, nothing outside of normal parameters,' entries."
Quietly, a winged, demonic form approaches, floating a few feet above the ground on his anti-gravs. Normally, he would just pass by, but the sudden outburst catches his attention, and he draws closer to investigate, alighting quietly on the ground. He stalks forward quietly, stopping several meters shy of the pair and watching for a moment before finally speaking himself. "I trust that my charge here isn't inconveniencing you any... Air Commander." Yeah, it's Scourge. "Though I must admit, this is convenient, as I've been planning on discussing a couple of matters with you."
"They are not in the least, no," Fusillade responds to Fleet's comment about play and practice. "It can be difficult for some to grasp that idea. Nothing too unusual, then. Perhaps you can take some time from your rotation to --" Her invitation is cut short by Scourge's arrival, and she dips her head in an overly formal deep nod that borders on a bow. "Clear skies to you, Scourge. What business did you wish to discuss? Or was that merely a singular 'you' directed toward your..." At that point, she twists around to level a cool gaze upon Fleet, "Charge?" Another flick of the wrist, and she snaps the wingblade fully shut and reholsters it, smoothing out the pleats along her hip in afterthought.
Fleet himself looks startled as Scourge calls him his 'charge', although he reacts with no more than a widening of his eyes and a slight parting of his lips. Any more than that could be dangerous in his position. He was pretty sure that Scourge was addressing Fusillade in the 'you' bit, so while they sort that out, he studies his position and the ground below him, picturing in his mind how he wants this to work. If he gets it wrong it could be... embarrassing, to say the least. Finally he dips just a little further on his right leg, then pushes up, springing up and horizontally twirling to the left while he brings his arms to his sides. After a few rotations he moves his legs down, finally landing (quite heavily and with a loud clang) on both feet, legs bent, next to the strut. He taps his thighs with the palms of his hands, causing a quieter metallic 'clink,' straightens, and salutes sharply, unable to completely keep the pleased smile from his expression.
Scourge nods. "One of my pack took an interest in him. It's carried over to a degree, as it were. Anyway..." He begins to walk around. "I was curious as to the current progress of our newest offensive. I can listen and read reports all I want, but reports tend to be... shall we say, one-dimensional. Plus, I have a certain project in mind that I think would be of benefit, not just to my pack, but perhaps to Aerospace as well. It isn't storm tag, but I think it will be something that will help to measure talent, as it were."
"Natural enough to take an interest in what those that spend the most time with you are doing," Fusillade admits. The nimble dismount from Fleet is noted with an arched optic ridge from Fusillade, who stores that information away for later, pleased to see that her later plans with him just might work out after all... Canting her head to the side, Fusillade smiles thinly, the tips of a multitude of silvery fangs visible. "Personal recounting to a superior officer often does tease out those extra details. I have been sending wings out to cause general mayhem in the Americas, both North and South, with careful avoidance of the Central isthmus regions." A faint look of distaste regarding the militants crosses her features. "Making a point to be seen there by the Autobots, with reallocation of resources to make the effort worthwhile of course. The Dakota, mines in canyons of Nevada before Galvatron hit the Hoover Dam, and I'm still poised to send strike teams against the refineries in the Venezuela areas." Those citrine optics meet Scourge's own garnet regard. "I do not have anything more specific as of yet, though. I'm helping myself to some of Comcast's more idle DCI operatives to gather information for me. They seemed to welcome the opportunity."
Scourge nods. "I won't bother asking if Galvatron approves of the plans; I'm certain that he does." His own gaze flickers towards Fleet for a moment at the display, then returns his gaze back to Fusillade. "How familiar are you with recent history concerning my pack, Air Commander?"
DCI's got idle operatives? Cool! Of course, MilOps has more than its share of people who aren't being useful, but that's generally because they are purposely avoiding work. Some (*cough*Cinderblock*cough*) practically make an art of it. The pastel Seeker takes a step or two towards his superiors and listens. If they begin discussing things they don't want him to hear, they'll chase him off. That is, as long as they remember him. Only Sweeps rival Seekers in their ability to fade into the background. Besides, he's still got something he needs to give Scourge.
"That they shun gifts," Fusillade states sourly, crossing arms over her chest and fixing Scourge with a faintly reproving look. She continues more briskly, not letting the jab settle. "Geist returned briefly, severely damaged. Arachnae is of course developing new technologies as we speak, and the others?" She snorts, "Their operations have been kept classified. I have not been in a position until recently to pry. I wouldn't deign to interfere with your operations. You sound as if you are ready to divulge some of that information." Slyly, Fusillade looks back toward the be-goateed spectre, "Would I be correct?"
Scourge quirks an optic ridge. "If you're referring to the Finger Canyons... well, I've already made a point of thrashing Jazz rather soundly once already recently. No need for me to have all of the fun." He picks up the pace of his pacing, keeping an optic focused on Fusillade (and Fleet) as he walks around them. "Several years ago, I was disturbed by a growing laxity on the part of the pack. It irritated me, and so I set out to rectify the situation. It worked... injured Bloodwulf and Dredclaw quite seriously before it was over, but they were repaired."
He pauses. "I find that, generally speaking, Aerospace seems to be just as lax. Not a reflection on yourself and Catechism, mind. It is more that there is a need for certain... motivation that has been lacking for far too long. I can remedy this, and I plan on doing so in short order. I, however, would like an appraisal of my plan... who isn't a part of my pack and therefore automatically going to say 'yes' out of fear that I might gut them for disagreeing with me."
Fleet frowns as he watches Scourge pace, his mouth stretched out thoughtfully. He's been given the tapes of that event. Dredclaw and Bloodwulf weren't the only ones seriously injured there. Interesting how that detail got left out, but Fleet's not about to provide it. The pastel pyramid glances for a moment at Fusillade. From what (admittedly little) he's seen of her, she is a good choice to go to if Scourge needs someone who will speak their mind on a plan.
"There has not been a clear heirarchy in place for some time, Scourge. I seek to rectify that. I will reserve... judgment of this plan until you detail it out, despite the doubts I already have," Fusillade states coolly. The circling shark in the waters routine is unnerving, as well as the additional commentary about 'gutting'. Working more upon what she reasons out, she shoves the gnawing worry into a small corner, and she states, "Remarkably generous of you to wish feedback, considering you could have just simply ordered it to be. I will attempt to answer as truthfully as possible, even if it is to my detriment. The betterment of the Empire's forces is more imporant." A rueful smirk begins to tweak her features.
"Excellent." Scourge turns to face the pair full-on. Fleet knows what's coming, all right. "This exercise is the type to take notice of the 'cream of the crop', is the phrase. I'm certain that would be of benefit to yourself and to Catechism. Simply put... I suggest a hunt. A chance for Aerospace and Sweeps to work together, although given the current timing, it would be mostly Aerospace doing the hunting. The target... well, let's just say the target is high-profile, and extremely skilled in dealing with such endeavors. The object is simple: 1) hunt the target down, and 2) incapacitate said target. No simulation room; this will be a real-time, live-fire exercise."
Fleet did know what's coming. This does not stop him from wincing for a moment before forcing his expression back to neutrality. He also knows who the target is likely to be, after all. Bloodwulf and Dreadclaw were and are (respectively) the most powerful Sweeps outside of Scourge himself. Fleet doesn't have anything like that power. Still, perhaps foolishly, he speaks up, "If aerospace is to be involved, will there be any consideration made for our design limitations? In particular, we can't pursue prey into the void."
A faint, mocking laugh escapes Fusillade. "I was going to do that on my own after seeing what little has been done with the Sweeps as of late. But I suppose this at least gives you a chance to save face." There seems to be less of a 'rubbing it in' tone, and more of a 'damn, I got beat to my own idea' expression on her face. For a good long moment she considers, raising one hand to cup her chinstrap in her be-taloned gauntlet, brow furrowed in that expression that speaks volumes for her. That face says, 'This is going to suck'. Out comes the words anyway, considerable effort put into making the assessment sound as objective as possible. "I do not know how wise it would be to further fuel the arrogance of some of those within our ranks. My initial inclination is to tell you to stuff it, Scourge, because not only do you have your own brethern to realign, but you have the entire faction to look after now." A dangerous gaze is snapped toward Fleet. "Sky Lynx? Being able to take him down a peg or two would be well worth it, but I had never considered dedicating operatives specifically to that task. If we were able to accomplish it in the process of pursuing another primary objective, yes..."
Fleet's jaw drops, dangerous gaze snapped towards him or not. He lifts it up, but can't help but wonder. Is she just trying to get gutted? Scourge is not as forgiving as Cyclonus, and Cyclonus... is not forgiving. He absently wonders if there's any way he can take a step or two /away/ from Fusillade without further drawing attention to himself.
Scourge's optics flicker, then he smirks. She doesn't know. Oh, this is really going to suck... for Fusillade, alas. "Actually, no. The target is a Decepticon... in fact, you're looking at him right now." The smirk fades. "I, myself, was seriously damaged, but was also repaired in said incident. But it illustrates my point perfectly: laxity can kill you. And so I came up with the solution: call a hunt on myself and force the pack to use everything at their disposal. In the end, only two of them passed... the two I expected to pass, truth be told. Dredclaw and Bloodwulf were my finest... with Dredclaw engaged elsewhere, and Bloodwulf deceased, it means the pack must adjust, and as yet, they haven't adjusted well."
He starts pacing again. "The fact remains, however, that such a kick in the aft seems to have become a necessity. Granted, I can and do outmatch the vast majority of Aerospace; this is a fact I recognize all too well. Yet, in numbers, Aerospace can prevail. The odds are in their favor. There are alternatives, in which case I can supervise the exercise and designate another as the target. But when it comes to the Empire, I do not play games. It is kill or be killed, and I expect to see the Empire win that particular war of attrition."
Fusillade's fingers drum atop the pommel of her right wingblade as she considers. "The slaughter and disabling of my personnel in order to secure a direct victory over the Autobots is acceptable. You propose that I send them into an... exercise from which they will not be able to perceive any real gain, which, from their point of view, will simply look like two commanders using them in gladiatorial combat to amuse themselves while the Emperor is away." Suprising. A decidedly territorial, and perhaps protective, bent is starting to show itself in the formerly wreckless aviator. "I understand the need to trim away the flotsam and jetsam of the faction, Scourge..." At this point, a different motivation, not just the chance for a sly comment, drives Fusillade's next statement. It wasn't boldness for boldness's sake, and yet... Those heels clack together again, and the dark grey and white figure raises her regard to the Unicronian. "My answer will have to be no, Scourge. I will not volunteer them for this. You may order me to make it so, and it shall be. I will not defy you in that regard."
Fleet smiles very slightly as Scourge speaks. 'I do not play games'? But practice and play aren't mutually exclusive. Then Fusillade speaks, and the startled look skitters across his expression again. The Seeker turns towards his commander and asks, "No perceivable gain? Fusillade, do you really think that there are no Seekers out there who wouldn't jump at the chance to be able to brag about taking down a Sweep, particularly Scourge?" he asks, perhaps a bit boldly, although there is no challenge in his voice, only surprise.
"It is hardly 'amusement'," is the cool reply from the Sweep Commander. "It would be as much of a test, if not more so, on myself and my limits. And it is not to 'get rid' of anyone not showing their full commitment to the cause." He pauses, quirking his optic ridges slightly at Fleet, before returning his focus on Fusillade. "As to having them forcibly volunteered... no. I would prefer that they volunteer themselves. And, as I said, if it is a concern of me making a mockery of your troops or something so mundane, then I can designate another as the target. But your concerns are noted. I will remember them when making a final decision on the exercise." Is being told 'no' by a junior officer going to stop him? Probably not. But he will actually take it into account, surprising as that may be. "I would prefer, however, in the interests of maintaining a certain secrecy concerning this exercise, that it not be discussed with anyone else. I trust that is understood. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other matters to attend to." And he turns to go.