Cut into raw rock by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world, its multicolored layers of rock recording millions of years of geologic time. The northern rim is forested, and numerous lookout points on both rims provide its many visitors with spectacular views of buttes, mesas, and gorges of every shade of pink, orange, and brown as far as the eye can see. Trails for the more adventurous wind down from the rim to the bottom of the gorge, where both professional guides and amateurs brave the Colorado's muddy waters in white-water river rafts.
The ochre and ruddy stone of the Grand Canyon is awash with a generous helping of near-noon sunlight. It's along the northern edge that Fusillade has arranged herself on the top of a ferrous-hued mesa. A few bursts of radio traffic come from her, mostly bookkeeping as she verifies troop readiness platoon by platoon. A soft whirr of servos can be heard as she stretches deeply in her weapon forms, sliding one foot forward as she sweeps one spread wingblade from her side over into an arc, to her opposite knee, the flat of the blade slipping a few inches above the equivalent of her ankle.
The blinding sun and heat of the Arizona Desert raises a significant haze from the surroundings, giving an almost surreal appearance to the craggy terrain. However, the show is not at the surface, but high over head almost directly in the middle of the daystar... yes, up there descending from on high is Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> dropping quickly. What's he doing out this way? That can probably be determined by the trails of thick black smoke emitting from 3 of the four engines that comprise his space flight form. Gradually he drops towards the ground, limping on little power and relying on gliding and maneuvering thrusters to keep himself from cratering. Ahh, one of the infamous breakdowns that result of high technology... he's almost too busy staying airborne to notice the radio signals, but not quite. Realizing that his self repair systems are going to need time to reroute pathways and restore his flight systems anyway, he determines that the ground is likely his friend right now, and makes for it instead of San Francisco as was his original plan.
The charcoal scars across the sky eventually do bring Fusillade's gaze skywards, in fact causing her to freeze in caution midway through her kip-up. With the blade segments half folded, swallowtail in shape, she squints citrine optics through amber visor, and hrns. Straightening up, she reholsters the blade. Scorn is sent upwards to the emissions, along with a murmured "Frakking Junkions, don't they know to clean themselves up when they go else..." However, the glossy alabaster and crimson hull proves to be that of Jetfire, and it's with a sharp laugh of disbelief that she watches him descend. Crossing arms over her chest, she waits and sees for now. The more dutiful side of her keys in on the idea that this might be a good, more coherent, chance to catch up with what the Autobots are doing for their preparations.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> circles once around wide and with startling rapidity drops from the sky to land heavily on the sunbaked desert, nearly skidding as his controls finally fail, "Ow..." he mutters, the black smoke billowing heavily from several seams in his two massive scram jets along with the main engines, engulfing him as he goes through the shutdown proceedure. He lets out a morbid sounding sigh as his transformation systems trigger, a faint grinding sound heard as he winds up on hands and knees muttering ancient Cybertronian profanities.
Jetfire shifts and contorts as he transforms, compacting noticably as he unfolds into his towering robot mode.
The roar crosses the canyon, overhead, and then to the north. The less than graceful landing echoes across the rock faces. Fusillade's slender dark grey figure bobs up in the air over the canyon lip, and skims over the scrubland. There's no mocking coming from her as she watches Jetfire right himself. Instead, the normally garrulous CO is eerily silent, as if waiting for him to arrange himself -- and to notice her.
Jetfire slowly rises, wiping at the smoke encrusted armoring that's more gray than white now, "I thought I'd worked that out by now..." he mutters, gazing up at the intense sun before dropping his gaze to look around, lots of desert, lots of craggy rock formations, massive mile wide ditch, cybertronian, more sunbaked -- wait. Jetfire's gaze moves back to the visage of Fusillade his optic band flickering once before he nods a silent greeting . o (Great, this is embarassing. Here I am at my worst.)
The sleek bomber rears up, arms splitting from her side and wings collapsing to rest on the hips of the revealed form of Fusillade.
Fusillade's feet set down on the ground. The faint clack of the pleated weapons tap out a cadence in time with her steps. "Jetfire," she murmurs in greeting, likely filing away this encounter with 'not to be spoken of again', much like another encounter with this very same Guardian. "If you have the time, I would like to speak with you about the preparations that the Autobots have been doing for the joint attack on Neocron. Better coordination between ranking officers is always... important for such success. And I've heard less exchange than I'd
Jetfire nods once, not missing a beat as he draws out his primary datapad - by the looks of it a highly advanced model that he probably built himself, "Yes, I'm in charge of our complete supply network, and I believe I am expected to lead the assault on the Planet engines, which I have dubbed 'Slipstream' due to their nature." he lets out a faint sigh, powering the pad up and bringing up the plans that he has access to, "As I understand it, our primary operations are going to be on the ground. Basing from Trypticon, Metroplex and Cineplex..."
"Aye, on the same page so far, then," Fusillade decrees as she clasps hands behind her back, gaze fiercely intent as she paces around Jetfire. "Thus far, HOW we will be disabling those antigravs to ALLOW the city bases to land has been... distressingly vague. Once they're there, yes, they can be anchored but..." The flyer looks distinctly unhappy as she admits, "The likelihood of personnel losses is high."
Jetfire remains impassive, optic fixed on his pad even as Fusillade paces. He taps a few keys bringing up relevant information from his scans, "Losses in war are expected. We're planning a full scale planetary assault, something far more ambitious than anything else we've dared for eons." he finishes scanning the information on the antigravity systems, "The most likely method of dealing with the Antigravity systems will be precision strikes to disable the power points in the area's we need clear. I suspect you will be called on to some degree for your bombing capabilities."
A faint snort escapes Fusillade as she turns hack to turn a clearly insulted glower upon Jetfire for bringing up a shortcoming of her design -- one that should be fairly obvious. "I'm not space capable", she says sharply. "The alt mode will not be able to do anything on the exterior. So I shall have to resign myself to doing damage -- and considerable amounts of it -- inside. There are some canyon scaled gaps..." At this point, she turns her gaze to the nearly black upper ridges of the canyon and its underlying white strata as well. "Inside. I fully intend to make sure that my soldiers will have the best chance possible in surviving this ordeal." Sounding a bit possessive, possibly protective, there, girlie.
Jetfire regards Fusillade impassively, "You haven't studied the target very well, Fusillade. Neocron is covered in water in many places, for that to be possible, there must be an atmosphere." he taps his pad a few times, "Once the City Formers are landed, I'm sure you'll do plenty of damage to the interior, but the first step is going to be precision strikes to disable Antigravity power."
At the revelation regarding the water, Fusillade makes a face and squawks out, "WHAT?!" Trouncing over, she frowns deeply and tries her best to look over the crook of Jetfire's elbow at the data pad, looking the readout, be it of Neocron or not. "No one ever told or showed me that." The rage begins to recede, beginning to be replaced with predatory hope. "Tell me more about these locations... every 50 kilometers, I know that. It is possible that I can strike upwards of 4 different targets in a single run, if I'm given proper air support."
Jetfire glances at Fusillade, "For a commanding officer, you certainly seem excitable." he comments before stating, "The deep scans that we took recently included a spectrographic analysis of the layers of Neocron. Our data is imperfect, but I've pinpointed area's of intersection in the power grid. Disrupting these area's will drop the system power for all of the internal segments and give us an opening to drop a Cityformer right on top of. In theory."
A dirty look is shot Jetfire's way at the initial comment, before she dismisses it huffily. "That's beside the point." A moment later, she considers. "One of the things I /did/ get told was that the structural material was denser. How will this affect the ability to strike these power grid intersections?" Fusillade keeps pacing, her motion fluid in the same compulsive manner of a shark passing water over its gills. "Maglocks for feet, just in case," she thinks out loud. A sidelong glance is sent Jetfire's way, trying to glean some tell about his own, personal reaction to the situation, attempting to sort past the clinical, official slant of his shoulders.
Jetfire replies with a nod, "We'll have to lead preliminary strikes to soften the target. I will likely be seeing to that personally with breacher missiles. Once we've softened up the ground enough, we'll be able to bring you in with bunker buster level munitions to finish it off. If that fails, we ad-lib." he'd smirk again here, as his tone indicates, "Something I'm especially good at."
The concreteness of the idea appeals to Fusillade. She's well aware of the necessity of abandoning plans if need be. But this indicates that Jetfire has done his homework, and it's with a nod that she begins to look relatively appeased. "Very well." The confidence isn't lost upon the Decepticon, and she studies that inscrutible faceplate for a good long moment. "Improvising is something that is necessary for us to be able to survive, day to day. Not just during Apocalypses." And then, that gaze is sent over to the scorch marks upon his frame.
Jetfire mmmphs, as he finishes what ever he was doing on the pad. Tapping a key he ejects a data chip, "My latest analysis is on this chip. Make sure you share it with Galvatron and anyone else whom should have it. It includes possible attack plans for hitting the Slipstream engines, which I consider a -last- resort. The technology they control could be more dangerous out of control than it is in control."
Was she being dismissed? Fusillade scowls down at the proffered data, and palms it out of sight while she crosses har arms over her chest again. Donning her best obstinate expression, she mm-hmms and nods. "But of course. Withholding information like this would be fatal. And... slipstream engines, mm? Not looking for details here, but... this allows jumping instead of linear travel through space?"
Jetfire moves over to a convenient boulder and sits down, "The Slipstream Engines create temporary static wormholes in space. Were a wormhole to say... open in orbit around Earth... the whole planet would be swallowed, and lord only knows -where- that could go. Even if it survived the journey..." he shrugs a little, "I don't want to mess with that aspect of the technology until we're forced to. I'd much rather get control over their controls and detonate the Slipstream engines in a manner that they were intended... after all, these -are- Quintessons, there'll be a proper self-destruct sequence."
Despite the need to be sensible and return to base, Fusillade dallies briefly. Jetfire's settling down might suggest that he was ousting her, and leaving would only reinforce that. And so, it's with a faint scrape of panels that she arranges herself on one of the wider ledges. Thinking back to prior events, she finally asks, "What design secrets did you glean on the ferry between Cybertron and Earth?�
Jetfire gazes out across the vista and lets out a small chuckle, "Ingenious yet simple design, and whomever you had build them was a serious craftsman." he rubs his chin, "Still, I see potential for a variety of portable bladed weapons based on the basic design theories used."
Shifting weight, Fusillade frowns deeply as she ducks her head, shifting weight to rest on one elbow and cross ankles. "It was part of the original design. I... don't know the name of the craftsman originally responsible for it." Silently to herself, she adds, 'and for me'. "The edges and magnetic recall were a small, very recent addition." Not much of a technical type, she does, however, intimately know the items by which she flies, fights, and lives. It's the same familiarity one would have with the intricacies of knowing the quirks of their own body. "A variety, most likely, yes. But you'd lose one quality or another if you overspecialized. Smaller? You'd lose the internal reinforcement struts that allows them to be used forcefully. Different material? Wouldn't be elastic enough to handle airframe flexing mid-flight. They're... a compromise to be able to be used in every situation I would face."
And of course, the three second spring-deployment delay for security was conviently omitted...
Jetfire nods once, "Yes, from a purely basic stand point you are quite right. However using the design principles coupled with design advances should yield some interesting outcomes." he turns his gaze to Fusillade, "But enough about that, I suspect there's something more on your mind than the investigation of your unique weapons."
Another look is shot Jetfire's way at his word choice. "Purely basic? You callin' me stupid?" A short grump escapes Fusillade as she looks askance at the Autobot. "Something on my mind? Aside from escaping obliteration and making sure that knockoffs of my signature weapons aren't going to start circulating the Monacus bazaar tents? Hrnph! Isn't that enough already?" She stands, or rathers, lies her ground, not moving.
Jetfire shakes his head, "No, you are quite intelligent, one does not rise in Galvatron's Empire without it, but you are -not- scientifically driven, and have little understanding of how a weapon design is actually developed. It's hardly something you should worry about." he turns his attention to the canyon once more, "As far as 'knockoffs'. I have no reason to duplicate your weapon. I intend to -improve- it and add many of my own designs... now that I have a detailed schematic of what's been done so far."
"Improve? -IMPROVE-?" Silvery fangs are bared at this, and Fusillade finally does stand up, chin canted downward at an unpleasant angle, angle of her gilded helm accentuating her stern visage. "Those 'improvements' would be situational at best," she hisses out. "Specialization is for drones."
Jetfire shakes his head, "Your indignation is wasted, Fusillade. Everything can be improved given time, effort and ingenuity. I would not expect you to comprehend this matter, you haven't the experience in devloping and improving weapons that I do." his tone remains completely neutral, "You seem to have a significant psychological attachment to your weapons."
"Yeah, well I wouldn't expect YOU to 'comprehend' that particular matter, either." Fusillade's tone decidedly isn't neutral, and a faint rumble escapes her. There's a distinct rigidity in her step as she stalks toward the canyon edge, gaze snapping viciously. Perhaps her name didn't refer to just her weapons delivery volume.
Jetfire shrugs slightly, "It's essentially irrelevant to me. The only item that matters to me is technological superiority in every facet." he shrugs a little, "But obviously it's a sore point for you... so rather than exacerbate it, I will take my leave. You were here first after all." he stands slowly, body rumbling just slightly before he turns to gaze in a north westerly direction.
A fiery, snappish, "Damned straight," comes from over Fusillade's shoulder as she hops out into the air over the brink a few meters, and drops out of sight. The sound of anti-gravs coming online at the same time as thrusters can be heard briefly as she settles on her coveted sunny spot among the ferrous stone, about a third of the way down into the Grand Canyon's maw.
Jetfire chuckles faintly, "So predictable." he states, doing nothing to conceal his tone of voice before his scramjets fire, boosting him into the air high enough for him to transform. Apparently his repair systems have had enough time to correct the failure as he transforms, shooting straight up into the skies overhead, though the sound of his passing fades, it doesn't vanish. Apparently he's settled into a holding pattern high overhead...
The racket overhead earns a "Hrnph, good riddance!" from Fusillade as Jetfire skyrockets. Clasping obsidian gauntlets behind her helmet, she takes a moment to push her back-mounted tailfin to the side on its hinges before she lies back, once again crossing ankles as she continues to let the heat from the sun soak through her surfaces and warm the air of her interior spaces. "What are you trying to get at, scientist?" she murmurs pensively, brow furrowed. "One track mind, that's what his problem is," she concludes, a bit more loudly to herself. Restlessly, she pulls out the holofoil padd, activating it by pulling the handgrips apart, and clipping the data chip into the device. The information appears to appease her for a few minutes, before the lingering sound of engines filters down to her from the heavens. "Oh you've got to be KIDDING me," she looks skyward, before shaking her head and stowing the padd. Transforming, she climbs at a serviceable speed, and in a feat of endurance, begins cruising toward the darkened North Pole.
Fusillade leans forward, wingblades whipping into airborne position as she takes on the metallic form of her bomber mode.
Stratosphere above Arctic
Flying high above the Arctic, the world below seems nothing more than a giant snowball. Icicles form upon the exterior of any craft flying through this area, making maneuvering difficult.
The thin whistle of Fusillade's airframe piercing the darkening night sky impinges on the monitoring going on below her. The altitude gradually increases, so that the contrails become glittery from the larger sizes of ice fragments peeling off her frame. With wings swung back, the craft slows once the shimmer of the auroras begin to glint off her cockpit. The combination of cold, and the exertion of the flight up here, has taken the edge off of her demeanor. Only the smallest of motions from nose canards and horizontal stabilizers keeps her set on her proper course, a glacial calm settling upon her in her aerial repose.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> flies up from Skies above the Arctic.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> climbs gradually as the B-1B continues it's course, gradually closing in on the same altitude, though some distance back. Merely watching, waiting... silently needling the Decepticon with his refusal to simple vanish. What could be driving him? Impossible to guess really, clearly he has some interest in Fusillade for reasons that are his and his alone. Gradually he starts climbing up above the bomber, as if he's intending to continue right up out of the atmosphere.
There it was. Far below and behind, rising, although ground distance didn't change... For a good long moment, Fusillade gamely tries to ignore the presence, held in check by knowledge of... the truce? The fact that yes, she was at a disadvantage if there hadn't been one? "I know you're still watching," she says irritably to the night, finding her viewing pleasure of the ionized redness of nitrogen and phosphorescent green curtains of oxygen cut short. Bitterly, she angles wings to plummet groundwards and back over the Pacific.
Autobot Starfighter <Jetfire> matches Fusillade's course change, though he doesn't stop climbing, moving ever higher in the atmosphere as his scram jets start kicking in more to counter the thinning atmosphere. Finally, he leaves it entirely, still tracking the distant blip carefully and grinning internally.