Summary: (January 2026) Autobots respond to an intruder, and find themselves a very strange bird indeed -- one that sasses, and also provides a good sounding board for the puzzle presented by the looming Quintesson threat.
Stratosphere above North America
As you maneuver through the razor-thin air of the upper stratosphere, a break in the muffling cloud layer reveals the continent of North America lying below. The flat central portion of the continent is framed by the darker ridges of the mountain ranges that run along both the east and west of the continent, uplifted by the forces of continental drift many years ago. The land below is fertile and still green, scattered about with blue speckles of lakes and rivers.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits, "Well of course, but if you can pass the word on to your team it'll make my life easier. We could have quite an air force if we get everyone organized." he does a quick barrel roll, feeling the handling of the repairs, "Hmm, my maneuvering systems are still a little sluggish too. More tuning needed."
The glitter of moon fragments off the Pacific, punctuated by large swaths of overly moist air that have been marching across California. Between the Decepticon's base and her destination lies the coast, and so, it's while en route that she comes very close to the vicinity of the Air Guardian and the Skyhawk. A mere arrowhead of a silhouette, but easily heard with the resounding racket of engines in the stillness of air.
For the second time tonight, Fireflight notices something unexpected on his sensors. A Terran bomber aircraft, it seems at first, but don't they usually fly in groups, either with others of their kind or fighter jets? Besides, the humans spend so much time talking about who's flying where that one usually hears radio chatter long before seeing... "Hey, Jetfire, I think there may be a Decepticon over there!" Fireflight starts to turn in the direction of the unusual readings.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits softly, "There may be, or it may just be a routine terran flight. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions..." the turret on the underside of his fuselage turns in the direction of the craft as he considers, "Approach it with caution, try to avoid hostilities if possible..."
There's no indication that the Autobots have been noticed, or that the Autobots noticing has been noticed. For now, the Lancer noses at its upper operating altitude, wings swept backwards as it flirts with Mach 1. The path carved by the silken matteness of moonlit grey is straight, purposeful, directed to the northeast, which ultimately would lead to Glacier National Park in Montana, if allowed to proceed long enough.
Caution. Hmph. Jetfire aounds like Silverbolt. Still, Fireflight knows how to follow orders (at least when reminded of them frequently), and doesn't get /too/ far ahead of Jetfire as he flies toward the unknown aircraft. "You see it too now?"
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> lets out a soft sigh, "Yeah, I've got it on my IR scanners, and I think I recognize it. Hang back and move into a tailing position... I want to see where it's going before we do -anything-." he himself starts climbing higher, intending to follow the Bomber from above and behind.
The sound of engines finally causes a change in the Lancer's behavior, gradually nudging upwards in velocity until it tops out, before throttling back to a near stall while swinging wings forward and dipping in altitude sharply once the dragon-ridged backs of the Rockies roll upwards through the clouds. Altering course a bit more northward, and soon, Fusillade is in fact following the Continental Divide. Definitely aware of the tailing crafts' presence, but indifferent, or unable, to do much about it.
Fireflight, above and to starboard of Jetfire's tail, follows quietly. The Rockies /are/ beautiful in the light reflected off Earth's largest satellite, but they're not moving. Right now, that bomber up ahead is a lot more interesting.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> doesn't follow the maneuver too tightly, instead letting the bomber gain a fair amount of space while still following it's trajectory, "I've run into that one several times... if it's who I think it is. She and a Constructicon are the reason my systems are fubared." he asides to Fireflight, "So, needless to say, I'm curious what she's up to in this area now..."
A pale shimmer of white underbelly is seen as Fusillade banks and then nosedives in a windup turn. Like a lawn dart, she drops, drops, drops, flight echoed in the granite of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. The bomber zestfully spirals tightly, all the while still dropping, and nearly looks like she is about to smack nosefirst into the side of one of the many of the snow-capped peaks in the park. Transforming at the last second, she ahhhs to herself as toes touch down on the striated rock, "My mountain. I've missed you."
The sleek bomber rears up, arms splitting from her side and wings collapsing to rest on the hips of the revealed form of Fusillade.
"Wow, you see that?" Fireflight watches the Decepticon's maneuver on his long-range sensors, thinking he might have done something close to that once or twice accidentally but would probably need millenia of practice to ever have a chance of pulling it off on purpose without injuring himself badly at the end. The readings indicate the Decepticon has transformed... "Jetfire, I think I've seen her before too. She was in the desert with the group that got Warpath away from us - I think Mirage said her name was Fusillade?"
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> continues flying relatively high overhead as Fusillade heads down to the mountain, "Decepticon's have the advantage of flight in robot mode. Cover me, I'm going to go down and say hello." he circles once and then starts dropping rapidly, switching from forward mobility to his hover jets. He switches on all of his forward flood lights as he hovers down to Fusillade's level, "Greetings Fusillade." he states calmly as his massive airframe bobs and weaves a bit in mid-air.
By the time Jetfire settles down, Fusillade has already seated herself on an outcropping, dusting off some of the annoying snow that turns moist when warmed by cooling engines. She's got a wingblade spread across one lap, and is polishing it and humming merrily to herself. That disjointed tune fades as she peers upwards quizzically at the Guardian. "Well hello there. I'm not taking anything today. Not even rocks. Unless memories are now considered a commodity, too." A perverse grin is flashed Jetfire's way, even as she leans slightly to the side and waves to the A4. "I suppose you two are looking for a little payback?"
Fireflight /was/ circling at a safe distance overhead, /really/ he was, but couldn't help but drift a little lower with each circuit while watching and listening to the Decepticon he and Jetfire have followed all this way - until he nearly crashes into a rock formation while watching Fusillade wave at him. "Payback? I gave you worse..." As he regains needed altitude, Fireflight remembers that Jetfire's supposed to be the one doing the talking.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits, "Come now, I'm not inherantly violent... payback will come to you in due time. I'm just curious, you seem rather attached to this mountain and I'm rather confused about that. It's not exactly decepticonly behavior to have sentiment." he continues to hover there, wings spread wide for stability as probably 2 dozen small thrust nozzels provide the lift to hold him in place, "Besides, if I was here for Payback, I would already have it." he turns his sensors upwards to Fireflight and chuckles, "You don't have to fly too high... I don't think hostilities will be necessary unless she pushes her luck. But if she's got any early warning systems she knows I've got her painted with IR tracking and my Proton Missiles are primed anyway."
"Cute girlfriend, Jetfire. Plucky." She flashes a grin, and rolls shoulders dismissively. "I doubt I'm worth the trouble. Rank and file trooper and all, you know. And yes, you could have." A few lazy swipes of the oilcloth over the edges, sizing up the sheen before glancing back upwards. "You don't know? A scientist like you? You're a clever guy, I'm sure you can figure it out. I'm sure the... 'sentiment' will make more sense to you when you can just dismiss it as... ego. It's easier that way for you, right? Got a map?" She shifts weight to gaze down the unforgiving surfaces down to Gunsight Lake. "Even has a little waterfall," she points out. "The humans gave me a deluxe model."
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> pauses for a moment while he initiates a satellite uplink to the distributed academic database. After several seconds of data transfer he chuckles, "Ahh, the mountain shares your name. I suppose I can forgive you that sentiment... still, it wouldn't be wise to come here often. I won't always be in so kind a mood, and there are others besides me that would just as soon scatter you across the Rockies, and I'd be inclined to help most days."
"Jazz has already shot me. And Rodimus was around a few months ago when I just buzzed the Logan Pass. You're welcome to check it out for any secret bases or hidden radio posts or what have you." She looks wistful. "This mountain and the sunlight are about the only things worthwhile on here," she says sourly.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> chuckles again, coupled with an obvious waver in his hovering, "Nonsense. We'd be perfectly aware of anything like that this close to our base... I'm merely pointing out that there's really no-where on this planet you're safe other than your base of operations, and we'll be dealing with -that- soon enough." he sashays side to side for a moment, "Still, it is a remarkable piece of rock. Interesting shape..."
The sound of metal sliding across rock sounds out, razor thin as Fusillade snaps the wingblade closed and reholsters it. "But, I can't stay. You've ruined the chance for me to get some perfectly good filing taken care of." She half turns, almost appearing wholly ready to take back to the skies, before stopping short. Gazing back over one spiked shoulder, she gives Jetfire a wary citrine stare, before turning back around. "As... a Guardian, how do you feel about the recent announcements from the humans?"
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> considers for a moment, "Frankly, I'm concerned. The Quintessons are exceptionally good liars... it is entirely possible that they will convince the Terrans to kick us off this world. However, only the -Autobot's- would leave willingly, leaving earth unprotected from Decepticon Conquest short of the Quintessons, and I'm quite certain that the Decepticons are a match for them." he pauses, considering, "Ultimately, it would be certain doom for the Terrans to try and make any deals with the Quintessons."
A thin, terse smile from Fusillade at the obvious answer. But it was needed, given the alternative of being tossed down the hill. "Hence why we HAVE been behaving lately, you know. Galvatron and Rodimus have been meeting. I wonder when there will be more cooperation between the middle and lower ranks." She leaves that query hanging in the air. Standing again, she makes a point to make her motions easy to follow, with no surprises. Stepping into a thoughtful pace, arms crossed, she mutters, clearly restless about the matter.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits coldly, "It takes more than words and a few meetings of Leaders during a time of crisis to erase millions of years of treachery." he starts hovering back to give the femme room, "I've been around a long time, I left Cybertron on a Scientific journey before the Third Civil war even began. When I was awoken here on Earth, I first cast my lot with Megatron because an old friend of mine vouched for him... I've -seen- both sides. If you want us to ever be able to trust you, it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort. Neither of which do I expect your kind to make. Our cooperation is forced upon us by the circumstances, and I believe you know that all too well."
"The timeframes are positively GEOLOGIC in scale, aren't they?" A fierce glance is once again cast over her shoulder as Fusillade keeps in motion, gait stiff in the way of agitated sharks. "It probably will wind going back to business as usual. I didn't have the luxury of witnessing the passage of a good number of those millennia, but I'll be damned if I'm going back in, either for the Cause, or being put on ice by the slavers."
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits, "Indeed, to that end we must bring a swift end to the Quintesson's once and for all. So as to avoid the kind of situation they'd like very much for us..." he starts to hover up and back further, "So for the moment our sides have a common enemy, but that does not make you my friend. So long as you can remember that, I think we'll be able to face this crisis and deal with it... if it's cooperation you want, I'll see about letting people know to back off of our current ROE statements, but we will -always- be watching and shadowing so long as we can."
"Swift /end/, Jetfire?" comes airily out of Fusillade as she watches him kick backwards, smarmy smile still plastered on her face. "Genocide? You've been fighting us for SO long that you're starting to become us. Till all are one, indeed. Unification just might happen after all -- just not the way your kind would hope. Conflict is inherent, even necessary to our kind. Why did Primus make us, Jetfire? To /protect/ him. There's nothing passive about protection. The Quintessons proved, vividly, how easily Cybertronians inexperienced in battle are to subjugate. We're not to have it happen again."
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> emits softly, "It has been made evident over the millenia that some things can only be solved through Genocide. Do I -like- it? No. But I accept it as an inevitability... there have been enough Decepticons that I've dealt with through the vorns to believe that Genocide will not be needed to end the Decepticon threat, but the Quintessons are wholey different. Decepticon's and Autobot's are both fighting for similar goals, but through different means. We want freedom for all sentients, Decepticons - in general - want dominion over all sentients. The goal is the same, peace. The Quintessons want no such thing, they intend to enslave us and use us to their own ends. That is entirely more evil than Decepticon beliefs... at least there is -logic- in Decepticon beliefs, even if I do not share them."
"Most senients are incapable of caring for themselves," Fusillade states dryly, exposing yet another facet (layer? faceted layer?) to a dizzyingly complex personality. There's... something holding her in check at the moment. Otherwise, the mountain would be levelled to ensure that NO ONE ELSE could have it. "Well, be a good defender and shoot at me so I can fly off, vanquished. Maybe the humans, what few are around here, will see it and think better of your usefulness to them."
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> replies, "There is no need to shoot at you, you've done nothing that requires aggression." he pauses for a moment, "I'll also point out, the hostilities in Western Canada were started by Scrapper jumping on my back. Remember that." thrusters on his nose fire, starting to turn him away from Fusillade, "One of our security satellites is watching you, if you do something that requires a response, I'll be back. For now, adieu." his main thrusters engage slowly, moving him forward and once he's far enough away throttle to full as his maneuvering jets die off as the behemoth climbs into the skies.
"Ho, really?" At this point, Fusillade looks upwards to the celestial zenith. She cracks a grin, and then bends over to wriggle her rump at the heavens above. A whoop, and a few slaps on the aft escape her, before she straightens and takes to the skies, transforming as she does.