Summary: (January 2028) An aborted game of storm tag swings into discussion of just where Fusillade literally wants to go with herself – and segues into an offer she cannot refuse.
Skies above Southern Africa
The brilliant azure skies over Southern Africa seem to beckon to you as you fly over them, birds circling around below you as you soar above it all. The Transvaal Uranium Mines lurk below you, marring the perfect landscape with their touch while the Congo lies north of that, its harsh jungle beauty a stark contrast to the stripmining below.
The annoyance of Blitzwing at her commentary last night has given Fusillade an idea. And so, it's on the heels of a powerful, towering monsoon thunderhead over the lush Congo that she patrols, humming a bit to herself. The Lancer sizes up the top of the bloated anviltop, and sends out a radio summons as she closes on the massive storm system. <<So. I was talking to Cyclonus last night about sharpening blades? Blitzwing comes along. He's still sore about the Leprechaun thing. Asked me when I'd stop talking about it. I told him, probably about the same time he stopped getting so ticked off by it!>>
F-35B <Catechism> flies into the area and 'mms' quietly over the meterology. Tasty. She radios, <<Hmm. I see that I picked the right time to make a career switch.>> Granted, the career switch is primarily out of boredom. Never a great thing to base one's life around, but well, MilOps just wasn't working out. <<Lovely weather you've found.>>
<<Ha! What part of the switch appealed to you? Is there more waiting for you, or are you trying to escape something?>> The Lancer rolls idly, before she undulates over a knot of turbulence, airflaps rattling. As the F-35B draws near, she then asks, "How long has it been since you've played storm tag? I admit I've always enjoyed toying with the edges of them, but never really got involved with any kind of developed, ritualized skill-honing game out of it!"
F-35B <Catechism> pulls up alongside the Lancer, as if to fly escort and answers, over the whip of the wind and the rumble of shifting air masses, "It's not much that it appeals. It's that I have shown myself to less than effective in this modern MilOps. Perhaps I will be more useful elsewhere. If not, I can always return, And... yeah, I'm running. I like my chances with Shockwave better and Soundwave better than with Blitzwing. They may be cold like a cryomorgue, but at least they're logical." She pauses. "Sweet protoform Straxus. It's been... about two years since I flew storm tag."
=========================== Decepticon ===========================
Medical Report: Lord Cyclonus....Mon Jan 29....Cyclonus
Yeah, Rivet here again.
We completed installation of Lord Cyclonus' turbines today and gave him clearance to fly. I'd feel a whole lot better if Soundwave, or Arachnae or someone could have a look at the calibrations. I'm confident in the basic install and configuration, but I'm sure one of you folk could streamline it a whole lot tighter.
B-1B Lancer ehhhhhhhhhns to herself as she hears Catechism. "Effectiveness, eh? I'm not quite done yet with being useless just quite yet, although that will be changing relatively soon." She rocks a bit with one of the downdrafts, still outside the the mounds of condensation. She's circling around to the front of the squall line, where the friction of the air masses generates the electric zing of lightning. "Terran measures of time are a mere pittance. Even though there are storms here every day. And they're not of acid rain, either." She idly barrel-rolls, and mmphs a bit. "DCI it is, huh? And you're right... it is easier to work with someone who makes sense. Those are hard to come by among our kind, though." The heavens rattle with the reverb of thunder as the Lancer and Lightning II blaze across the sullen blue-violet backdrop of the towering thunderhead.
F-35B <Catechism> soothes, "Ah, but you're not being useless. You're winning tactical awards and failing to get shot. I call that quite useful. The acid rain adds a certain tang, I find. It adds the challenge of trying to find the driest patches. Still, Terran weather is acceptable for storm tag. I, however... have negatives developing, and it wouldn't do to let them overexpose. Enjoy the weather." The Lighting peals away, her namesake dancing in her wake.
"Negatives?" Fusillade asks in some puzzlement as the F-35B darts off -- only now starting to make the connection with the trip with Reflector at the car show. "Huh. It's not quite as much fun alone," she remarks absently to herself, her frame rattling from a vicious gust that whips at her.
Unbenowst to either the B-1B or the F-35B, something else is brewing in the skies over Southern Africa. Something is cutting through the stratosphere at speeds that approach mind boggling for an air vehicle, heading almost directly North from the South Pole. Radar is likely to pick it up only just before it actually arrives. Is it a meteor? Some sort of natural disturbance? Certainly, 26,100 odd miles per hour is beyond even most artificial creations. It skirts the edge of the storm that Fusillade and Catechism had been cavorting in as it slows -- pulling into a loop and after a few moments it cuts sharply across the bomber's line of travel at a few times the speed of sound; a shockwave easily felt and seen in the ambient moisture behind it. This same motion is extended to a second loop to pull up upon the bomber's wing -- revealing the disturbance to be Cyclonus, his hull glowing a ruddy red from the near-ridiculous amount of friction built up in his maximum-speed dash across half the planet. He says nothing, waiting for a greeting or to be acknowledged.
The meteoric arrival shocks Fusillade, who goes evasive to avoid any potential collisions. The Lancer dives down hard in a wind-up turn, and yells out, "AUGH! Don't DO IT! We're not over water!!" After a few seconds of no weapons lock, and the glimmer of a Decepticon beacon on her scopes, the Lancer levels off, maintaining an approximate distance of a mile from the thunderhead. There's a long silence as she regards the looming form of the spacejet. "That was rather quick," she murmurs in mild admiration. "Adjusting well?" Given the rapidity of his response, Fusillade suspects that he has a purpose to his visit, and it would have nothing to do with cavorting about the supercell.
Cyclonus is still glowing as he fires forward retro-thrusters, little whisps of purple tendrils clinging to his nose as he does so. He matches her speed thusly, once she comes out of that bank and levels off. His turbines lower themselves comfortably to a near idle. "I want to talk to you." He states, flatly. "I request your opinion on some matters." All at once, his inboard wing dips and he vanishes -- slipping underneath Fusillade and reappearing a trio of meters from the other one. "Have you ever lamented about not being able to leave the atmosphere? Do you ever feel confined, by your maximum altitude?"
The incandescence pouring off Cyclonus's frame is only augmented by the cyan glow of St. Elmo's fire that trails off their flight surfaces as they continue to skirt the culuminonimbus. The ground, lashed by the torrents of rainfall, darkens under them as a distinct stillness settles on Fusillade's frame. Holding still so as not to foul the Commander's flight? Or had those words pierced home? "You already know my feeling on the matter. Confined, no. There is plenty of air, and it is fine to stampede through, but it certainly doesn't hold a candle to being able to swim through starfields." The two ships continue to cruise through the billows.
Cyclonus is silent for a moment as his next few words are considered, his attention briefly occupied by an external camera as the twain vessels piece a cloud. For that brief moment, his contrail is augmented as whatever moisture comes into contact with his superheated hull flashes into steam and washes away behind. "It is something that few who are capable of it appreciate. The glow of stars, piercing the gases of nebulae and watching the wash trail away from your wings. It is an entirely different canvas than the baroque edges of a planet. I do ask for a reason, Fusillade. Has it occured to you that we, as Decepticons, lack a space-based armament and small cargo delivery craft?"
The lightning dances like hope through the sections of cloud light the entire heavens, diffused by the moisture of the clouddeck itself. A quickening stir leaps through the Lancer's processor, and Fusillade responds, "The Pleiades have always held interest to me. Just... so cold. Urgh." The bomber listens, and then remarks, "That particular point actually did come up during the mission to acquire a xenomorph from that asteroid. Could have gone after Sixshot more easily," Fusillade mutters. "And being able to see our targets myself would allow us to better pick and choose our targets for conquest... provided I am allowed to harbor such ambitions. And... back to that now, are we?" Her voice lilts a bit as she teases him lightly about the notion of being a packmule.
Cyclonus begins to move once again. A quick featering of a hidden stabilizer and he is standing on his right wing, completely vertical over the bomber's body. As he drifts farther to the right he angles into upside-down and continues, standing on the left beneath her and then rising up to the position that he ad occupied before his manuver begun." One hundred thousand, was it not? To the Autobots, from Cyclonus and Fusillade. With love. Had we more time, I should have had the Constructicons feature each one with loving script, saying that." And then, just like that that faint hint of amusement is gone and he continues. "But yes, potentially. I would like to have you refitted to be able to sustain extended flight in space and carry a proper faster than light drive. There are many hurdles to overcome, such as engine design as well as whom will do the work... but I was curious as to your thoughts on the subject. Such things do not come entirely free."
The sinuous aerial and political dance begins, Fusillade sliding down and to the left, slipstreams tugging against Cyclonus's surfaces as she begins to test, tease, and strain against the potential nooses of capture. "It... really made you happy, that mission." She falls silent, flaring tailslabs to punch nosecone upward against the sudden shear that buffets the pair, her glossy white tailtip slithering dangerously close to the Executive's transparent red cockpit glass. And despite this, here the two were, their masses riding the convection of the heaving storm. "They do not come free, no. Shockwave, Soundwave, Scourge, they all have made their bids in some form or another. Allegience to one comes at the expense of the Empire... unless the one who deigns to hold such chains of gold favors the Empire's well-being at all times." She slows to near-stall speeds, swinging wings forward, and drops from Cyclonus's immediate sight.
Cyclonus is caught somewhat off guard by the sudden slowing of the bomber. Not to be outdone he lifts his nose; cutting his engines completely. The purplesque wash of his turbines diminishes to nothing as he begins to drop forward under the force of gravity alone; the raised nose bleeding airspeed off rapidly. A trio of white lines of vapor appear, one from each wingtip and one from the long antennae at the front of his nosecone as he sinks towards Fusillade. "It satisfied me greatly." He states. "You were not destroyed, and the operation comprimised Autobot use of that road for almost a stellar cycle. The outcome was very much to my satisfaction, yes." He is inwardly satisfied that she understood exactly where he was coming from, with his statement. Much better that he does not need to actually explain. "The Decepticon Empire has no sense of itself, Fusillade." He finally says. "There are far too many seperate factions operating in this cloak and dagger game to fulfil their own goals as well as those of all of us. Some of us need to place our loyalties to making certain that our faction continues ahead, and to making certain that all of these sub factions simply dislike each other, and have not escalated to outright treason." His altimeter ticks away on his hud as he sinks downwards, airspeed still bleeding away.
B-1B Lancer dips one wing, digging its tip in the humid air, and watches to see just how long Cyclonus intends to drop. <<You'll blow those freshly repaired engines if you try to recover while too close to the ground>> she remarks offhand, no real urgency behind her advisory of a millions-year old warrior. "Stewards of the Decepticons." She marvels at the upward pointed nosecone, and the sheer density of those drives. "The Emperor's Sword," she muses, before she calls out, "State your terms."