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  • Locked thread
Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Prologue
Romantics may say that sentience is how the universe comes to know itself. Cynics may point out that the universe is an uncaring, unfeeling void, eternal in its ambivalence. History, however, tells us that the very consciousness that grants free will, experience, and the thoughts and feelings that make existence worth experiencing is also the very entropy that atomizes all things to their ultimate order. While humanity may have a history stained with blood, written by conquerors, and pockmarked with periods of peace, for the rogue planet of Cybertron, peace is a concept as old and remote as ancient geology. War has raged across this world, adrift in space, since its very inception, and for untold millions of years, countless lives have been thrown into the scrapper in the names of two groups: The Autobots and The Decepticons. The Third Cybertronian Civil War, for some, has always existed. The goal of victory, the only logical reason for being.



War requires materiel, life requires power, and after so much hardship, the very planet has begun to fail, incapable of keeping what remains of its population alive. For those caught in the crossfire, the departure of Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, was either the last desperate hope for victory, or the ultimate betrayal. For others, the pursuit by Megatron, supreme ruler of the Decepticons, was either folly or the best chance to end the war once and for all. Plans were drafted, both sides prepared their best and brightest, and then... nothing.

No contact. No word. For all intents and purposes, the heads of Cybertronian civilization, what little may have existed, had simply disappeared into the void. Years passed. Hundreds. Thousands. Still, the planet slowly died. Still, the war raged on. With none to lead them, both sides resorted to the only thing they knew: destruction.

While the events of the Earth year 2005 may now be common knowledge, what happened during the millions of years leading to that fateful day? Before Unicron, before Galvatron, before the end?



In the years following the Exodus, Shockwave, Megatron's military commander, assumed command of Decepticon forces. While not all agreed, most complied. With the Autobots missing their scientists, their builders, their commanders, resistance faded to pockets and cells. Those caught in the crossfire were given a choice - join, or die.

In light of the severe power issues facing Cybertron, Shockwave's second order was to enact what was termed the Emergency Energon Requisition. Put shortly, any who could not contribute to the war effort were given two options: Relinquish their Energon and submit to stasis lock and storage until the end of the war, or have it forcefully taken from them, with no guarantees of a recognizable corpse. This had the unintended consequence of a "fresh" supply of "gently used" spare parts, as well as clearing the war zone of traitors "civilians" caught in the crossfire. Of course, after a period, this made anyone not wearing a Decepticon badge a target, making those pesky rules of engagement far more clear.

Shadowcaster observed all of this from orbit, his arrival perfectly timed for the Exodus and the resulting chaos that ensued. His solar panels did a wonderful job at keeping him charged and ready for whatever may come.
Skystrike, in the meantime, spent his time working on various guerrilla missives, hoping to both appeal to whatever sense remained on both sides and advocating for a new way forward. Wherever civilization existed, politics would inexorably follow.
Spinout had been busy living the nomadic life, outrunning the Decepticon patrols, avoiding the Autobot enclaves, and generally getting by as fast as possible.
Slam, both too big and too ornery to be taken alive or dead, was engrossed in living the simple life of grazing for Energon reserves. He knew some of the best spots, really.

The Disconnect changed everything. Rolling power outages had been a fact of life for as long as most could remember, but a global disconnect of all power sowed even further chaos. Cities went dark, communications were nonexistent, and charging stations were rendered useless, their capacitors sucked dry within the first few hours. If Shockwave were up to something, he wasn't saying anything. The Autobots would have trumpeted their latest strike to the heavens, but all that could be heard was the echo of gun and laser fire in the distance, careening off of cold, metallic walls. If ever there was a time for dissent to take hold, it would be when all was quiet, when the tiny voices in one's head could finally be heard.

Welcome to Cybertron! More to come, but it's time to finally kick this thing off. Time to create contact, and find out why Cybertron's gone dark!

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

He had returned to Cybertron after an epochal tour of duty, having been sent to observe and ...address... any threats to his civilization that might have been brewing across the galaxy. It had been lonely work, but few had the particular set of skills necessary to carry out such a mission, and fewer still had the patience to carry it out properly. He had accepted the task without reservation, as few things were more important than ensuring the continued longevity and prosperity of his people. Naturally, he had returned to Cybertron just in time to observe the tail end of a horrifically disastrous civil war, with the leaders of both sides having apparently abandoned the planet, taking the best that Cybertron had to offer, and with them all hope of rebuilding or repairing the world they had ravaged.

It was poetic irony, he new, though that did little to comfort him. His planet had been rendered into a nearly lifeless husk, its cities demolished -- some even vaporized -- and its people cannibalized for spare parts ...by both sides of the war, as far as he could tell. To say that he was not particularly impressed with either faction would have been the understatement of the lightyear. Never one to act without a plan, however, he had not rushed into the fray. Emotions got one killed in his line of work, and although he was pretty sure he had them ...somewhere, anyway... they wouldn't have done him any good at the time. And so it was that, thousands of years ago, upon his triumphant return to a Cybertron that no longer existed, Shadowcaster had begrudgingly commenced the second leg of his tour of duty. After all ...his mission had been to address threats to his civilization, and he had, apparently, missed one.

As with every other name on his list, he approached the situation in the same manner: cautiously, invisibly, and with a healthy dose of skepticism. And so, for a thousand years, from a thousand miles high, cloaked by technology a generation beyond the reduced limitations of his war-torn homeworld, Shadowcaster simply watched. A policy of broad-spectrum communications analysis enabled him to keep an eye on the efforts of both sides of the war, as well as those caught in the middle. Methodical attention to detail allowed him to slowly but surely build up a list of names, locations, resources, and other topics of interest. In due course, the war effort was better understood.

Plot posted:

The Disconnect changed everything. Rolling power outages had been a fact of life for as long as most could remember, but a global disconnect of all power sowed even further chaos. Cities went dark, communications were nonexistent, and charging stations were rendered useless, their capacitors sucked dry within the first few hours. If Shockwave were up to something, he wasn't saying anything. The Autobots would have trumpeted their latest strike to the heavens, but all that could be heard was the echo of gun and laser fire in the distance, careening off of cold, metallic walls. If ever there was a time for dissent to take hold, it would be when all was quiet, when the tiny voices in one's head could finally be heard.
A little over three hundred kilometers above the planet's surface, in the sweet spot that he had come to prefer between the thermosphere and the exosphere, the unthinkable finally happened: the all-seeing eye had blinked. How long had it been? Hundreds of years? Thousands? He wasn't entirely sure. He'd kept a counter running he supposed, but it would take a moment to retrieve the data, as it had long since faded from active memory. In the meantime, a window of opportunity had finally opened, and he didn't intend to waste it.

As far as he could tell, the lights on Cybertron had simply ...gone out. Not with a whimper, nor even with a bang, he noted. It was a curious situation, and one that warranted better understanding. The implications of this disaster -- and its potential -- were immediately apparent to him. Obviously, something had caused this problem. If life were to continue on Cybertron in any meaningful way, it would need to be corrected. More importantly, though, the person who did correct it would likely come to understand the cause of the problem, and the ability to weaponize that information wouldn't be trailing far behind. There were few weapons of mass destruction more compelling than a planetary 'off' switch, and he rather suspected that The Mighty Shockwave had already arrived at the same conclusion.

By the numbers, that was a race Shockwave would win. He had an entire army at his disposal, after all. That said, it was an army that required more than a little hand holding to prevent it from cannibalizing itself, as would-be officers seemingly regularly jockeyed for position, throwing each other into the scrapheap in the process. Moreover, with the communications grid down, and charging stations across the planet offline, the ability of that army to mobilize was likely to be less than impressive. Without a doubt, Shockwave had drawn a terrible hand for this round of the game.

In contrast, everything was coming up Shadowcaster. He was quite literally the only game in town as far as functional communications grids went, and a planetary power outage meant that all of the military equipment that might have had a hope in hell of detecting him were offline. If ever there had been a time to start playing the many, many cards he had drawn in the years of his long watch, it was now. Acting directly would be unwise, though. The last thing he needed was for Shockwave to realize who he was up against, at least so early in the game. More accurately, he supposed, he didn't want the Decepticon leader to realize he was playing a game against an opponent until the last hand was ready to be dealt. Which meant ...he needed a few good bots.

He'd spent enough time playing this particular sort of game to know the criteria he needed, too. Given the political climate, individuals unaffiliated with either side of the war effort seemed like the right choice. More importantly, people of low rank ...and therefore accustomed to taking orders... would be useful. More critically, he needed people with exceptionally high combat efficacy, and exceptionally low intelligence. Essentially, the sort of people who could get things done, but who were unlikely to see the larger game that was afoot. He turned his gaze downwards, and began to scan the planet for bots that met his search criteria.
pre:
Intelligence 34
Scanning Cybertron for people with the following criteria...
 > Neutral in the war effort, neither Autobot nor Decepticon.
 > Rank of 1.
 > Intelligence of 4 or lower.
 > Exceptional offensive and defensive capabilities.
 > Optional: Teenagers with attitude.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Waador fucked around with this message at Jul 27, 2017 around 05:01

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

Even during the war, things weren't so bad, Spinout had reasoned. There was work, there was excitement and it was tough, but at least it wasn't as bad as it was now. With the EER in place the work was drying up as people gave in to the Decepticon demands, willingly or not. There were still some holdouts, but the work got more dangerous. Now it wasn't just delivering parts here and there, it was having to go out and get them herself. Looting closed up or abandoned places, picking up some extra to sell on the side. Anything to keep what little energon reserves were left still flowing and avoiding the bleak darkness that was the thought of having to go into stasis lock.

At first it seemed like just another blackout when the lights down the street all went out. Spinout had been rummaging around in an abandoned part of town when it hit. It wasn't a huge surprise, seeing the lights go out at first. It had been happening all of the time and certainly it wasn't a big deal if someplace like this was without light. Heading out onto the streets Spinout shifted into car mode and rolled slowly in the inky blackness with only the light of the stars to illuminate the road. It was too dangerous to use her own headlights as especially in a blackout the Decepticons would surely be on the lookout for any sources of light.

But as Spinout drove it became more and more apparent that there wasn't any part of the city that was still moving. The lights weren't just out in one abandoned district, but all over. She rolled quietly by as two bots at a charging station were trying to get any last drop of energy that they could, but from the sounds they were making there wasn't anything left. The feeling of loneliness in the darkness was overwhelming and not to mention the fear that this was it, that everything was over. A stasis lock for the whole city-- perhaps even further out. The sky was clearer than it ever was as even the distant lights had gone out. Where would she go? What would she do? She had precious little energon left of her own and as far as Spinout could tell the whole world just died.

Far up above in orbit around the planet her erratic movements on the open streets were noted. A blip on a planet-wide scan for survivors who would be useful to its master's plans. Spinout's name appeared in the data output. Alignment: Neutral, with a note that she had performed a number of jobs for Autobot sympathisers. No social status, with abysmal scores on her intelligence scan. Fast, but not enough to make a serious career out of it. Armed and noted as decently dangerous. She had escaped some run-ins with Decepticon patrols and had made sure to leave a hot plasma impression. Not the kind to ask too many questions about jobs as long as the payment was right. Spinout didn't seem to have the connections to keep her name off of her exploits, if she cared at all.

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

The existence of a pacifist in an unending forever war was sheer torment: Sometimes it seemed the last vestiges of sense or reason had fled Cybertron with the idealist fanatic and the authoritarian psychopath. Not that there had been much prior to that either, but the EER was outright genocide, and there was only one genus of note on the planet. Their species could not survive such utter self-destruction, and it was foolish to imagine this would solve the Energon crisis in the slightest. Cybertron would become a tomb-world, nothing more than a pile of stasis-locked bodies, with that one-eyed purple criminal at the top.

Ironically, it was also keeping him alive: There were more than a few Decepticons who were only too happy to try and deplete the energon out of a pacifist, and who absolutely would not take any kind of 'no' for an answer. It was a constant source of regret and sorrow, but it remained a cold, hard truth that the vast majority of those who thought they could make an easy meal out of him were massively, massively outgunned. There were many advantages to being one of the deadliest weapons remaining functional on the planet, as much as he absolutely hated having to rely on them. The energy of those who would have stasis-locked him without a thought empowered one who despised having to do the same to them. But that was existence in these grim times, at least until the blackout.

Was this it, then? Had the maniacs finally depleted the last micro-cube of Energon? Was their planet dead, its inhabitants soon to join it? A horrifying possibility, but all too likely. He wasn't the brightest Cybertronian around, average at best back in the day, but then the best and brightest had flown away already, and the Decepticons certainly didn't build for brains. Outside the elite, average was as good as it got: What hope then in the face of a planetwide shutdown?

It was a good thing he didn't do this out of hope. He took to the darkened skies, scanning for anything still transmitting or capable of transmitting. It might well be too late to save their world, but it was never too late for peace, and the message needed to be heard.

***

Far above Cybertron, a sensory blip, as an active scan was detected. Follow-ups on the source would note no factional IFF transponder, which in turn allowed for no rank.A quick cognition scan would note a mind just on the cusp of acceptability, smart for a dumb bot. Scanning for offensive capabilities...

Anomalous reading, rechecking...

Jackpot.

AJ_Impy fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 09:44

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God


Slam

The giant beast, so unlike anything found on Cybertron, grazes about on hidden reserves of energon. He slowly moves about, unsure what to do now that his leaders are gone and his form is changed. Slam was once like other cybertronians, a vehicle form with a purpose. But Starscream captured him alongside his fellow Dynobots and altered them based off data from some far off world. Eventually he and his fellows were freed, but the changes were immense. Starscream left with the other main group of Decepticons, chasing the main group of Autobots. Some time after his leaders left in pursuit as well. Leaving Slam feeling forlorn, lost and confused. With no guidance he just travels around grazing. But he thinks back on what Starscream did to him, and on what even the Autobots have done during the war. He feels conflicted and wonders if either side is really any better than the other.

His transponder switches from Dynobot Autobot to Neutral.

He continues his grazing, staying away from the other Dynobots that remained on Cybertron. For quite some time he simply grazes with no direction. And then a blackout. But this blackout does not go away like the others. His energon grazing spots seem to dry out. He gets irritated. So he begins to hunt for the cause of this. The sound of gunfire. More idiots fighting and ruining things for others.

Ryuujin fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2017 around 08:53

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

He didn't recall seeing an advertisement for the Cybertron planetary lottery, and he certainly didn't recall purchasing tickets ...and yet, clearly, he was mistaken. Each successive ping on his scan of the surface yielded results of rising quality.

The first candidate was more or less in line with his expectations, he supposed -- fast enough to avoid danger, with the reflexes necessary to navigate the hazardous roads of the surface. The subject appeared reasonably well-armed, but was constrained by gravity due to a wheel-based alternative mode. Nonetheless, all of the parameters were met, and the name was added to the list of final candidates. The second candidate was barely even in the same league. With an alternative mode that defied gravity, enough speed to make use of it, and sufficient firepower to take out hardened infrastructure with a single well-placed shot, he found it hard to believe that such a person hadn't been forcefully conscripted into the war effort. Though, he supposed, those very qualities might make it rather challenging to forcefully conscript the subject into doing much of anything they didn't want to do. How very interesting. The third candidate, however? It was like a gift from Primus himself. Physical strength was approaching the redline, and it was backed up with an armored carapace thick enough to ignore an entire building being dropped on him. More importantly, the subject registered a perfect score for malleability. The only downside was that this one was also landlocked, though with everything else on his chart, it hardly mattered.

With three candidates identified, Shadowcaster began preparations for the most delicate phase of this whole ordeal ...first contact. Establishing the right sort of working relationship out of the gates was critical to long-term success. Thankfully, he knew just what sort of gift to get each of his new best friends. Locking in on each of their positions, he began a radial scan of their respective surrounding areas.
pre:
Intelligence 38
Scanning a 50km radius around each of Spinout, Skystrike, and Slam.
Attempting to detect energy signatures consistent with a Decepticon Energon cache.
It was hard to say if Shockwave was behind this blackout or not. He had to gamble that he wasn't, though. If he guessed correctly, that meant a few things would happen within the first few hours of the blackout. The funny thing about a war effort was that you needed strategic reserves scattered all about a planet, just in case you needed to fall back to a base near a strategic objective. Logistics lines could get things from place to place, but you couldn't risk just-in-time delivery to critical infrastructure. As a result, once Shockwave managed to transmit orders to his troops, their first command was very likely to be 'secure the Energon'.

He was certain that all of those facilities had already been secured, of course, but more likely they were secured with the overwhelming force of automated defenses, rather than the generally untrustworthy and unreliable force of Decepticon shock troops. The larger caches would no doubt also have been supplemented by trusted lieutenants and a contingent or two of warriors, but he wasn't after the main reserve. No, what he needed was a hat trick of contingency reserves -- one for each of his new best friends.

He liked Shockwave, in that regard. The two thought alike. Primary plans, backup plans, contingency plans, the whole nine yards. Shockwave's own headquarters no doubt contained the bulk of his energy reserves, close enough to ensure a watchful eye on his most precious resource. Nonetheless, maintaining military control over an entire planet necessitated secondary supplies in or near the critical infrastructure his troops occupied or relied upon. A forward-thinker like Shockwave would have no doubt foreseen some of those facilities coming under attack one day, though. If one ever managed to be taken, a contingency cache of Energon nearby would have allowed a rallying force to retake the facility. Perhaps not every piece of critical infrastructure would be supported by contingency reserves, but a few of them would be. Now ...where were they?
pre:
Specifically, I am looking for Energon caches that Shockwave would have
placed close to strategic objectives, but which were secured by automated
defenses, rather than a contingent of live troops.  The sort of automated
defenses likely to have gone down with the entire planet's power grid.

I suspect Shockwave will move to secure these as soon as he can, but he'll
need time to get orders to his troops, and they'll need time to get into
position.  If I can find them before that, each of my new best friends might
be able to liberate a full tank of gas.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Waador fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2017 around 01:06

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Above, Amidst, Within



With communication towers gone dark, point-to-point communications begin to light up, making the supply lines blatantly obvious to Shadowcaster. Plenty of other resistance groups - that, or factions within the Decepticon hierarchy - have already begun attacks, as explosions begin to light the surface of the planet. Tracers and particle beams dance like winged diodes in the darkened sky, the occasional massive explosion tearing through the landscape as an entire store is struck with an errant shot, unleashing the devastating potential energy within. With hands forced by new opportunities, the desperate have taken to action, allowing some caches to be crossed off of the list entirely.

As convenient as orders would be, the fragmented nature of Cybertron in general led to regional commanders acting more like city-state warlords, hoarding Energon where possible. Most of the sites with automated defenses are either hotly contested, destroyed entirely, or currently being looted. Others are being held by garrisons currently fighting off the desperate or determined. Allowing subconscious processes to narrow the field down, a few results begin to trickle in.

pre:
Potential sites within given parameters:
Stanix - Fort Scyk
     Currently commanded by Flashover
Celestica Tetracornacapria - Depot X-51
     Current commander unknown
Esserlon - Cybertonium Mine
     Currently commanded by Twinbarrel

Profiles available
Measuring force strength-
Preliminary force measurements were still being gathered, but these sites seemed to have the least chaos surrounding them. Given the pace of the fighting on the surface, any attempts at starting a coordinated attack would likely run out of time. There was, however, another possibility - the areas that had seen less havoc were likely reinforcing the areas currently under siege - whatever the case, garrisons had to be at their lowest levels in quite some time.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

Plot posted:

Most of the sites with automated defenses are either hotly contested, destroyed entirely, or currently being looted. Others are being held by garrisons currently fighting off the desperate or determined. Allowing subconscious processes to narrow the field down, a few results begin to trickle in.
Three potential locations seemed to be viable, at least when considering the ratio of their available supplies to that of their active defenses. There was more to it than that, though, he knew -- it wasn't enough to simply perform the cold, calculating mathematics of warfare, ensuring every action was worth its price. That was important, of course, but in this particular case, when trying to establish a foothold with three unknowns? He needed to pick the right location. The one which others would rally behind. More importantly, the one which would send the right message. Warfare wasn't just about winning the battle, it was about winning hearts and minds, both those of your own troops ...or would-be troops, as the case may be, he supposed... and those of the people they cared about.

Fort Scyk was the first to be crossed off his mental list. A fortified location would be challenging to breach before enemy reinforcements arrived, and a brazen strike against a military installation was almost certain to be a hard sell against individuals who had managed to remain neutral in the war for this long a time. What possible reason could they have to get involved now? Depot X-51 was crossed off the list next, for much the same reason. While it would be faster to breach, it simply didn't possess the right ...feeling to it. Esserlon, though. That one did feel right, and he rather suspected he knew why. Decepticons were, by and large, not laborers. They also killed Autobots on sight. How, then, did they keep a Cybertonium mine functioning? The answer was likely to be slave labor. And who would comprise that slave population? Other people neutral to the war effort. Yes, there would likely be some Decepticon guards, or administrative workers, but that was a ...surmountable problem.

That situation would also provide the right tactical profile. If three heroes were to free their neutral brethren from slavery, that slave force would quickly become a defensive force that his troops could use as a smokescreen to escape. They would know the mine. At least one of them likely already had an escape plan in the works, statistically speaking. If these three could successfully free the captives inside the facility, the tail end of the mission would reap far greater rewards than mere energon. It might not begin a movement, but it would begin to disperse the seeds of a thousand debts owed to his three heroes. Debts they would need to call in before this was all over. Yes. Esserlon was perfect.

He didn't know much about his three candidates, other than what was immediately apparently from his recent scan. That was enough to make a few educated guesses, though. First contact would be tricky, but it wouldn't be impossible. Thankfully, he was equipped with a metadimensional comm laser capable of tight-beam point-to-point communications. Obscuring his location by bouncing the signal off of one of the planet's moons, he began the process of his sales pitch.

Spinout...
This one had remained neutral in the war effort, but available data suggested Autobot sympathies. He imagined that was not particularly uncommon, as everyone loved to root for the underdog. Plus, the Autobots didn't make a habit of killing civilians for sport, which probably helped with their public image. Considering the information he had aggregated, it seemed that the title of 'mercenary' could be applied within a reasonable margin of error. That made for a rather simple approach. Taking a moment to collect himself, he rotated slightly to align the beam, and fired off a single pulse.

"Good evening. For security purposes, this is a one-way communication. As you might have noticed, the power across Cybertron has gone out. Preliminary indications suggest it isn't coming back any time soon. If you're interested in profitable work that will help to solve this minor technical glitch, please proceed toward the following coordinates. Air and ground support will be en route shortly. Further details will follow closer to the area of operations. As this is a one-way communication, if you have questions, just ...swerve in the shape of a question mark, or something. Or just don't ask, that'd be great, too."

Skystrike...
This one was brighter than the others, which was a mixed blessing. Rather unfortunately, he didn't have much information to work with. With that much firepower, though, it seemed rather likely that both sides had attempted to recruit him already. Which meant he'd said 'no', and lived through the experience. Autobots took no for an answer, he supposed, but Decepticons? It was a curious situation. What reason did this one have for his neutrality? The list was narrow, but still contained enough possibilities that a guess could not be hazarded. Whatever the reason, it was likely either an emotional one, or a moral one. Either way, those reasons had strings that could be pulled. Another rotation, and he fired off another beam, this time with accompanying visuals.

"Good evening. For security purposes, this is a one-way communication. What you're seeing is a live feed from the Esserlon Cybertonium mine. You are likely aware that the Decepticons have been using this mine to feed their war machine. What you might not know is that the Decepticons have put a slave force to work -- a formerly neutral slave force -- to operate the facility. In about forty minutes, a contact of mine is going to attempt to free the slaves. The facility is currently understaffed, as reinforcements have had to flow to other nearby locations. Unfortunately, that notwithstanding, this isn't a one-bot job, and without air support, they are unlikely to succeed. I don't know you very well -- in fact, just about all I know about you is that you've remained neutral in the war. Frankly, that's a plus in my book. I'm about to learn something about you, though. When confronted with this information, will you stand idly by and allow your fellow civilians to remain enslaved, furthering a war they want nothing to do with? Or will you help to shatter their chains? If you do nothing, their voices will fall silent before too long. If you help them, their voices will be added to the chorus that calls for an end to this war. Help me make that chorus loud enough to drown out the calls for bloodshed and revenge. Or don't, if you can live with that choice, I suppose."

Slam...
This one was going to be a pure roll of the dice. He had no idea how to communicate with someone so ...feral? Perhaps just wild. Without any better option, he decided to wing it.

"Hello. I'm an invisible wizard who lives in the sky. If you're hungry, there's a meal waiting for you at the following location. It's all you can eat, but you have to get there quickly!"

Meanwhile, in space...
With the lures baited, he turns his attention to Esserlon, intent on acquiring useful information to aid his would-be team. He casually checks in on his three new friends every few moments, in order to determine whether they've altered course towards the area of operations or not.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Waador fucked around with this message at Jul 28, 2017 around 04:45

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God


Slam

Slam stops, looks around and mentally shouts back at the voice. "Indivisible Wizard!? Slam no understand! Wait food? All Slam can eat?" Slam is not sure if he should trust this Irreversible Wizard. But he is hungry. And he can't really find any energon reserves right now. So maybe following the Irresistible Wizard will work out in the end. And really what does Slam have to lose?

Ryuujin fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 06:44

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

What the? Unsolicited one-way comms. Somewhat rude, but compared to the rather brusque 'Give up your life's energy or sign up to serve a totalitarian regime' which passed for hello these days, it was almost a relief. Anti-Decepticon, but not Autobot. Interested in helping unaffiliated Cybertronians. A good view on matters despite the blackout. Hmm...

He locked in the co-ords for the mine, turned in that direction, then rotated up. Live feed, transmitting point-to-point communications? Whoever it was, whatever it was, it was somewhere in or near this arc, though where exactly was another matter. Flyer? Orbital? Hard to say.

He remained undecided on joining the action: Interventionism was not a path he would willingly choose, but those were fellow Cybertronians, ones capable of holding a conversation that didn't include a death sentence, if whatever the mysterious broadcaster was saying was true. They likely wanted peace, but like himself were extremely unlikely to get it. He made sure to get to the area, keeping a low profile for now. And really, what did he have to lose?

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

Shadowcaster posted:

"Good evening. For security purposes, this is a one-way communication. As you might have noticed, the power across Cybertron has gone out. Preliminary indications suggest it isn't coming back any time soon. If you're interested in profitable work that will help to solve this minor technical glitch, please proceed toward the following coordinates. Air and ground support will be en route shortly. Further details will follow closer to the area of operations. As this is a one-way communication, if you have questions, just ...swerve in the shape of a question mark, or something. Or just don't ask, that'd be great, too."

The voice coming over Spinout's radio surprised her, causing her to swerve to a stop and leaving skid marks on the open road. The voice had a soothing tone to it, though perhaps it was just a needed calmness in the panic-stricken darkness. It was interesting, a job offer from a mysterious benefactor who claimed they could solve the blackout crisis. Spinout was intrigued.The coordinates didn't seem too far away so she righted herself on the road and took off at high speed in that direction. There were no questions. Sometimes jobs just came along and if you needed the pay you took them. And right now maybe it was a little more than just the pay for Spinout. It was a necessary guiding light in the confusion and darkness. Some touch of normalcy during this crisis that she could hold on to.

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.


Over the Road

There's something that just feels right when that clutch drops into place, the gears shift, and that top gear gets engaged. It's like purging a capacitor that's been overcharged for too long, a tingling that just needs to be sated. The effort, the rush, the motion, the feeling of the tires just barely keeping hold on a hairpin turn, the lights in the sky waving goodbye as plasma arcs may as well be the very stars for all of their closeness. Urgency. Speed. Leaving it all in the rearview. Purpose. One can run for aeons, but without a goal, is it really getting anywhere?

Fortunately, you've drifted these roads before, and you know just the shortcut to take through the backroads of Esserlon. A few errant revs of the engine a subconscious chuckle to how you found out about that hologram emitter the hard way, remembering the rush of racing headlong into and through a wall of jagged steel only to find emptiness.

Over the Road

Being in the air gave a particularly intimate view of things. Go high enough, and even the largest rust storm seems like a placid swirl. Go low enough, and everything moves so fast that it may as well not be there. At this mid-level, however, there is a certain clarity. A chance to see the planet literally tearing itself apart. Gaping chasms where planet should be, scars of terrible weaponry long forgotten, burnt out shells of progress long eschewed in favor of the unending war machine. It was enough to make one question the very concept of free will itself. Never mind this voice from the void, unseen, barely heard. A calling? A trap? Or legitimate compassion? Belief is a very important component of free will, for it is what we choose to believe that forms the very basis of will itself.

7.6 Astroklicks to go. Mind the errant fire.

Above it all

Three pings, three places, one point of convergence. Far more than simple numbers worth of data, however.

pre:
Twinbarrel Profile Unavailable
   Referenced files: Lock and Load

Downloading . . .
Profiles available!


Name: Lock
Alt-Mode: Anti-Materiel Null Ray
Quote: Dodge this!
Strength - 2
Intelligence - 3 
Speed - 2
Endurance - 3
Rank - 3
Courage - 3
Firepower - 7
Skill - 5


Name: Load
Alt-Mode: Energon Grenade Launcher
Quote: This is gonna be a big one!
Strength - 3
Intelligence - 2 
Speed - 2
Endurance - 3
Rank - 3
Courage - 3
Firepower - 7
Skill - 5

Ground penetrating radar ping received!
Tactical assessment:
Multiple entrances to facility
One entrance to mine
No energon signatures detected on surface
Multiple non-sentient robotic infantry units detected
Mine layout unstable. Unable to assess interior.
Most recent historical records indicate mine as abandoned.
There would certainly be a fight, but infantry beats the hell out of mounted weapon emplacements or a full sentient garrison. Visually, the mining facility was surprisingly pristine, if you were to take the craters and obvious bullet holes out of the picture. The expected scorch marks were nowhere to be seen, the rubble that should be ubiquitous is surprisingly absent.
Give me a roll for any more detailed information, and what direction you want that information to be in.

The Way Through
Unvisdible Wizard say go here. Here go Slam! Stupid buildings get in way. Stupid robots get in way. Stupid lasers get in way. Is ok. Slam have club. Club club good. Am us there yet?

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

Oh yeah, that's the stuff. There's nothing like the wind in your windshield as you push your engine to its limits. Cruising through the hologram emitter is its own sort of thrill, just on the off-chance that maybe just maybe they actually walled the entrance off or put up a barricade on the other side or even just-- just maybe this wasn't the exact right spot and the trip you're taking was a one-way trip to the garage with a busted front end. Or even worse, the scrap heap.

But the image briefly shimmered just as Spinout hoped it would as she drove on through, turning her headlights on now so she could see what was up ahead. There was movement at the facility and the mysterious voice had promised support, but hadn't detailed exactly what it was she was supposed to be looking for. Of course, it was probably something that would be really obvious Spinout figured. A haul of energon cubes, a solar fusion reactor core, or maybe a world energy chip. In any case Spinout didn't think too hard about it. Right now it looked like there were a bunch of automated infantry units around the facility and those things were a couple pistons short of an engine block.

"Blow it out your exhaust pipes, slowpokes!" Spinout taunted out loud as she pulled a hard turn to barrel sideways, skidding right through the chain fence into the mine's outer yard. Pulling hard on her brake she completed a full 360 degrees until her front-end was facing the right way again and hit the gas the barrel forward again, attempting to blow right past any guards (Skill 13) who had caught on to her approach. Get in, get the target, and then get out. That was the plan, right? And then go so fast that you just leave a cloud of dust for anyone trying to stop you.(Speed 35)

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

Plot posted:

Three pings, three places, one point of convergence. Far more than simple numbers worth of data, however.
His candidates had each altered course, and as far as he could tell, they were heading in the right direction. Not a bad start, he supposed.

Plot posted:

Multiple entrances to facility. One entrance to mine. No energon signatures detected on surface. Multiple non-sentient robotic infantry units detected. Mine layout unstable. Unable to assess interior. Most recent historical records indicate mine as abandoned.
Preliminary scans of the mine were encouraging, although not ideal. On the bright side, excluding the drone infantry, there only appeared to be a handful of actual soldiers in the area. He didn't have any useful data on their commander, but the heavy artillery for the facility appeared to be the resident chumps, who went by 'Lock' and 'Load', of all things. In a fair fight, they would likely be a dangerous combination. Thankfully, they were bringing guns to a dinosaur fight.

The strategic situation warranted consideration, though. On the one hand, historical records labeled the mine as abandoned, and there wasn't a single blip of energon above the surface. On the other hand, the place was guarded by a contingent of drone infantry, a fair amount of artillery in the form of Decepticon lieutenants, and the interior of the mine was shielded from active scans. More likely than not, something of strategic value was hidden beneath the surface. He couldn't be sure if his off-the-cuff assessment of an enslaved work force was accurate or not, but he supposed time would tell.

Plot posted:

Visually, the mining facility was surprisingly pristine, if you were to take the craters and obvious bullet holes out of the picture. The expected scorch marks were nowhere to be seen, the rubble that should be ubiquitous is surprisingly absent.
It wasn't lost on him that someone had gone out of their way to patch up the exterior of the facility. It seemed rather unlikely that this was just someone's favorite watering hole. There were still a few questions marks, but the assault seemed worth the risk given the information available.

Plot posted:

Give me a roll for any more detailed information, and what direction you want that information to be in.
pre:
Intelligence 31
Scanning the drone infantry.
With the strategic situation covered, it was time to move on to the tactical situation. His new friends could likely make short work of that drone infantry, but there was no need to be wasteful. He began a detailed scan of the drones in play above the surface, looking for a gap in their security protocols. Normally, he wouldn't have bothered, but with the power grid down the command and control center that directed those drones was almost certainly offline. Without it running interference on any attempts to penetrate their firewalls and hijack their operating systems, someone of reasonable technical skill could break their encryption in less than an hour. Someone of his technical skill could likely do it in a few minutes at most.
pre:
Skill 34
Hacking the drone infantry.

Spinout posted:

There was movement at the facility and the mysterious voice had promised support, but hadn't detailed exactly what it was she was supposed to be looking for. Of course, it was probably something that would be really obvious Spinout figured. A haul of energon cubes, a solar fusion reactor core, or maybe a world energy chip. In any case Spinout didn't think too hard about it. Right now it looked like there were a bunch of automated infantry units around the facility and those things were a couple pistons short of an engine block.

"Blow it out your exhaust pipes, slowpokes!" Spinout taunted out loud as she pulled a hard turn to barrel sideways, skidding right through the chain fence into the mine's outer yard. Pulling hard on her brake she completed a full 360 degrees until her front-end was facing the right way again and hit the gas the barrel forward again, attempting to blow right past any guards (Skill 13) who had caught on to her approach. Get in, get the target, and then get out. That was the plan, right? And then go so fast that you just leave a cloud of dust for anyone trying to stop you.(Speed 35)
His first candidate had arrived ahead of schedule. Rather encouraging, indeed. He decides to send her a quick message, "Oh, good, you made it. We'll save the mission parameters for when the other two arrive, I think. For now, can you distract the drone infantry? Unless someone was particularly diligent with their firmware updates, I'll be assuming control of them before too long, but the process would be sped up if all of their processing power was focused on tracking a fast-moving target. Once the buffer overflows in their tracking circuits, their ability to maintain an active firewall should be significantly impaired. Donuts in the parking lot, perhaps? Just bunch them up and don't get shot." He pauses briefly, before adding, "Separately, the ground will start to shake fairly soon, due to someone's footsteps. Don't worry about that. Just ...don't be too close to any of the walls, I suppose."
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God


Slam

Indeed the ground begins to shake like a scene in a movie that won't happen for millions of years. If there was any standing water, or oil, it would be rippling. Instead it is just the buildings rippling and waving from the force of the steps.

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam. Go the steps.

A message is sent to Impressible Wizard in the sky. "Slam here! Slam uh SLAM!"

The massive robot moves through the streets, ignoring pretty much anything in his way as he makes his way to the point the Irascible Wizard gave him. He sees the building that he was told about, he sees the fence in the way, he passes the fence, he continues not slowing down at all, he sees the wall between him and the energon cache he was told of, he passes the wall without slowing. Debris rains down around him as he skids to a stop.

"Immovable Wizard! Where Energon? Slam want energon!"

Strength 39

Ryuujin fucked around with this message at Jul 29, 2017 around 06:57

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)
He couldn't help but laugh to himself when the quadruped burst through one of the facility's reinforced steel walls like it was made of paper.

He hadn't detected them just yet, but he had a feeling that one or both of 'Lock' and 'Load' had been getting into position, intending to take the invading muscle car out with a single round of sniper fire. He also imagined they would now be ...rather hesitant... to give away their position, since it would likely mean that thing heading in their general direction after the first shot was fired.

Taking a brief moment away from his efforts to impersonate the command and control center for the infantry drones, he sends a quick message off to Slam. "Food's down that shaft over there. Three Decepticons got here first, I think they want to gobble it all up. You'll have to hurry or they might eat it. They might have some prisoners inside. If you free them I'm sure they can show you to the food. Also, that tiny blue car is friendly, don't smash that one please."

He then fires off a second and third beam, relaying Spinout and Skystrike in on the same message. "Oh, good, we should be just about ready to kick things off. That's Slam, obviously. Don't worry, he's a gentle giant. Here's the situation: the Decepticons have gone to a fair amount of effort to make it look like this facility is abandoned, and yet it's guarded by a contingent of drone infantry, and three reasonably dangerous lieutenants. I can't be certain, but my intelligence indicates a high probability that this mining facility is still operational, and that the grunt work is being forced out of enslaved civilians who had otherwise attempted to remain neutral in the war effort. As a result, the first mission parameter is to find and release any civilians within the facility. More likely than not, they are being kept at half or one-quarter energy rations at best, in order to discourage any ideas of rebellion or escape. As a result, the second mission parameter is to locate the Energon storage cache within the facility, and get the civilians to it. Once everyone is operating on a full charge, yourselves included, we'll need to get those civilians to safety."

He pauses briefly, and then continues, "As for the tactical situation, I'm dealing with the drone infantry presently. Once they've been ...reeducated... that will only leave three Decepticons in the facility, being Lock, Load, and their commander, Twinbarrel. I am hoping they will have the common sense to flee at the first sight of Slam. If they do, please give them every opportunity to leave the field. This isn't about bloodshed, nor should it be. As for roles and responsibilities, I've tasked Slam with taking point going into the mine. He's been asked to free any prisoners he encounters, and will assist with the search for the Energon cache. That said, he isn't exactly the fastest scout, which is where the two of you come in, if you're willing. We have a limited window of opportunity to search this facility for civilians and evacuate them before reinforcements receive a distress call. With the power outage, and the chaos of half the facilities on the planet currently being under fire, we should have a fair amount of time, but it isn't infinite."

Another pauses, and then he adds, "If you have any questions, just ...shout, I suppose. That seems to have worked for Slam."
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

This was sounding ever more foolhardy and autobottish, if not for the skybourne director trying to de-emphasise the nature of it, playing up the liberation of fellow Cybertronians. Could he, in good conscience, sit back and do nothing, especially if this could be achieved without hostile action?

Let's be honest here. There was no real way this was going down without a fight: It was pretty much the only thing the Decepticons did. With regret, Skystrike powered up his targeting array, trying to identify all potential active Cybertronians in the area. Hopefuly that would begin to include the civilians, and he could make a beeline for them.

He came in fast and low, jinking with the phenomenal manoeuvrability that had kept him alive this long. He would not open fire first, and he fervently hoped their director was right about the guards fleeing from... from whatever bizarre siege machine Slam was, but he strongly suspected that would not be the case. If conflict was truly inevitable, then he would need to end it swiftly before any of the neutral parties got hurt.

If the Decepticons open fire on Skystrike or the unit designated Slam, or the other unit or units whose presence was indicated by the use of the plural in that last message, returning fire with a 51. If they don't, then getting to the destination swiftly, transforming to land.

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Esserlon - Abandoned Cybertonium Mine

It was a scene viewed all too many times before. Tires squealing, robots sent crashing through the air only to be trampled underfoot. The two on the ground find working together to be rather instinctual - the fast botherder funneling attention to the thrashing beast, resulting in parts flying and bots dying. Shots either ring wide or bounce harmlessly before a blinding beam of incandescent light lances from the skies, reducing a wide swath of the mining platform, the ground below, and the bots defending it to little more than raw energy, quickly dissipating into the air. The platform begins to tilt with the loss of so much mass, further bots unable to keep their balance and spilling to the ground below.

pre:
Tactical uplink established
Oblivion cannon recharging - 22%
4 targets confirmed obliterated
0 sentients detected in AOO
The view from on high told a little bit more.

pre:
Surface forces reduced by 50%
M2-2 class combat units detected
Firepower rating: 3
Strength rating: 3
Threat level - minimal
Interfacing...
Error: Version mismatch
Attempting secondary connection...
Error: Protocol not recognized
-click-
All in all, these defenses, while certainly a danger, served next to no use against the team. Still, there was no sign of any sentience in the area, and if there were any deeper in the mines, it's a safe bet they're well aware of what's coming their way.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

Plot posted:

Ground penetrating radar ping received! Tactical assessment: Multiple entrances to facility. One entrance to mine. No energon signatures detected on surface. Multiple non-sentient robotic infantry units detected. Mine layout unstable. Unable to assess interior. Most recent historical records indicate mine as abandoned.
With the situation on the ground fast resolving in their favor, he sends a quick message to Skystrike and Spinout, commenting, "A combination of shielding and natural interference prevent detailed scans of the facility below the ground. I had hoped to provide a detailed map of the interior to speed up the process, but it looks like that might not be in the cards. The good news, such that it is, is that I'm not detecting any sentient life ...or its remnants... above ground, which suggests no real harm has been done. Rather obviously, anyone currently inside the mine likely knows you're coming, though."
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

When the mysterious client mentioned ground and air support, Spinout really didn't expect quite anything to the level of a giant thrashing beast and something shooting a beam so powerful it vaporized a good portion of the mining platform. Maybe, just maybe she was getting in a bit over her head gasket.

Shadowcaster posted:

As for roles and responsibilities, I've tasked Slam with taking point going into the mine. He's been asked to free any prisoners he encounters, and will assist with the search for the Energon cache.

Ah, so that's what they were after. An Energon cache. And from what the client was saying, it was likely held down in the mining facility itself. Spinout sped to the mine entrance and shifted to robot mode so that it would be easier to travel the inside of the facility *TSCHE-CHU-CHU-CHU-TSCHE* Pulling a microwave energy pistol off of a magno-clamp on her back, Spinout took a couple of shots at the drone guards to cover her rear. (Firepower 26)


Shadowcaster posted:

I had hoped to provide a detailed map of the interior to speed up the process, but it looks like that might not be in the cards. The good news, such that it is, is that I'm not detecting any sentient life ...or its remnants... above ground, which suggests no real harm has been done. Rather obviously, anyone currently inside the mine likely knows you're coming, though."

"I don't know if you can hear me," Spinout replied, "But I wouldn't be surprised if half of Cybertron knew we were coming." Spotting a stack of metal storage containers Spinout took a few more shots with her pistol before hiding behind the stack and waiting for Slam to take point on the interior assault.

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

He internally shuddered at the devastation he had caused: None of them were true sentient Cybertronians, but it was the principle of the thing, and another chunk of their cultural heritage vaporised. Still, from here it was likely wiser to proceed on foot. He vectored towards the ground, spiralling rapidly in case of any incoming fire, and...


Cho-choo-chow-chu-chi

...landed at a dead run in robot mode, movng with considerable swiftness to find cover, reluctantly sweeping with his cannon for any extant threats. Once ensconced, he ran a quick sensor pulse to pinpoint who, and how many, were allies in the area.

Intel to get intel: 4d6=12

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

"Hi, I'm Spinout," the speedy muscle car introduced herself between shots from her pistol as Skystrike landed and took up a spot behind cover not too far away from where she herself had found some. "You must be the air support, I take it?" she asked, noting his rather large cannon. Briefly Spinout wondered if she should be keeping her identity secret, like this might be some sort of crazy spy deal going on where no one should know anyone's true identity or something like that. She'd had jobs like that before. Oh well, it was too late now. Plus it seemed better to make friendly with any bot that could cause as much destruction as Slam and this jet did.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)
While the team on the ground engages in a bit of small talk, and then begins to prepare to enter the depths of the mine, Shadowcaster contemplates his next move.
pre:
Intelligence 34
Scanning the subsurface for areas of high and low structural integrity.
He was unable to assess the interior of the mine, but that didn't mean he was unable to provide useful tactical information. A combination of ...gentle... X-ray bombardment and a handful of nondestructive electromagnetic scans in the microwave band might not pierce specifically shielded chambers or passageways, but it would provide a reasonable map of the structural integrity of the surrounding subsurface. With that information, he would be able to warn his team in advance of particular segments of the mine unlikely to hold up in a firefight, and equally importantly, particular areas of the mine that would be able to endure the sort of firepower they were bringing to the table in case they needed to blast open a new exit while inside, or in case they were in the mood to build a new shaft to make their entrance.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

Well, that answered that question, at least in part. Still, strange benefactors notwithstanding, it was a relative rarity to be able to interact with a Cybertronian that didn't just see him as a one use energon battery, or worse, a potential soldier. He nodded confirmation.

"Skystrike. I don't usually get involved with this sort of thing, but..."

A broad shrug. He presumed she'd been getting the plural broadcasts, no need to reiterate them.

"Checking to see if there are more of us, besides that one, plus how many of the opposition left. Hostile fire is bad enough without having to worry about committing friendly fire..."

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Esserlon - Abandoned Cybertonium Mine

The cacophony of fire begins to narrow as potshots, errant dinosaur flailing, and a retreating defense force move their way to the mouth of the mine. Shadowcaster's structural scans show that the most fragile areas would be the entrance itself and the eastern wing of the mine. While Skystrike can't tell all that much from the ground, he does observe that the mine entrance is a true shaft - a hole going straight down. Spinout, a little less hesitant than her new airborne friend, is just about to draw a bead on one of the assailants before she spots Slam through the ironsights neatly and conveniently doing what he does best - ramming the lot of the remaining forces into said mineshaft, power supplies popping off as the enemies careen down the large hole in the ground. With the ground level clear, the team has time to organize.

-click-click-

Thanks to the disintegration from Skystrike, Shadowcaster is able to get a nice, echo-filled ping through the entrance to the mine, providing a more detailed map of the area. 4 branches in each of the cardinal directions, with a few further deviations from the main tunnels. Static defenses were in place, though their power status was questionable at best. Some larger units appeared to be patrolling the corridors, but the ends of each one fizzles into obscurity as shielding and signal attenuation takes hold.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill 33)

Plot posted:

Shadowcaster's structural scans show that the most fragile areas would be the entrance itself and the eastern wing of the mine.
As things settle down on the ground, the team's mysterious coordinator sets up a trick shot, aligning his point-to-point comm laser with one of Cybertron's moons. Bouncing the signal off the surface of the celestial body to obscure his true location, he fires off a pulse to each of his cohorts.

With regard to Slam, he comments, "The food's down that shaft. You might want to say hi to the car and the plane nearby, though, they're both friends."

Moving on to Spinout and Skystrike, he sends a parallel set of beams, commenting, "I'll send along a subsurface scan momentarily. There's a rather concerning degree of structural integrity issues throughout the eastern section of the mine, but the other three quadrants seem to be fine. It would probably be unwise to fire off that moonraking cannon in that particular segment of the mine, though if you needed to make an exit in a hurry, that would definitely be the place to do it."

Plot posted:

Thanks to the disintegration from Skystrike, Shadowcaster is able to get a nice, echo-filled ping through the entrance to the mine, providing a more detailed map of the area. 4 branches in each of the cardinal directions, with a few further deviations from the main tunnels. Static defenses were in place, though their power status was questionable at best. Some larger units appeared to be patrolling the corridors, but the ends of each one fizzles into obscurity as shielding and signal attenuation takes hold.
As he sends along the data package containing the detailed map of the area to the latter two, he adds, "I guess it sort of depends on how you look at things. On the one hand, there are a bunch of shielded areas that I am unable to scan, which isn't the best intelligence. On the other hand, why would someone line something with lead if they didn't have something to hide, am I right?"

He highlights a suggested route throughout the mine, starting with the southern quadrant and rotating clockwise to save the east for last, offering, "Unless one of you is feeling particularly stealthy today, it likely makes sense to stick together. Don't split the party, and all that. It's a fair bet that any of the static defenses previously in place down there are down with the grid, or operating on backup battery power at best. If the latter, they might have one good shot in them if they were spooled up before the grid went down, but sustained fire should be an impossibility. If you come up against anything particularly dangerous, finding a way to make them waste their limited ammo would not be the worst idea. It ...appears... as if they have a few larger units patrolling the corridors, but otherwise nothing looks particularly dangerous."

He also states the obvious, "Once you're inside the mine, communication reliability is obviously going to degrade. If you need something from me you might have to get creative, though I rather suspect blowing a few new air holes in the ceiling is well within your capability, moonraking cannon and all."
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God


Slam

Slam looks around in confusion. "Car? Plane?" He spots the two, grunts, then largely ignores them. He looks around for the shaft the Irritable Wizard mentioned then shouts. "Imitable Wizard energon here?" Then he rushes off down the shaft looking for the energon cache.

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

Seeing the perambulatory siege engine head towards the main bore,

"Be careful, that's a..."

Ryuujin posted:


Slam
Then he rushes off down the shaft looking for the energon cache.

"...vertical shaft."

He sighed, it wasn't like a little fall was likely to stop that thing. Still, heading over to Spinout,

"Want a lift down to the horizontal branches? We might be short on time..."

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Esserlon - Abandoned Cybertonium Mine

Physics is a hilariously scary and wonderful thing. Slam has a few moments to contemplate how nice it feels to have all of his weight taken off of those 4 trunks of legs as he leaps into the proverbial deep end. 15 tons of metal SLAMs into the floor of the mine, the kinetic shockwave careening through the tunnel complex. The already-unstable east wing caves in and collapses, crushing bots, destroying equipment, and detonating an energon stock.

-click-

Emergency lighting has the corridors lit in a dim red color, with the glow from Skystrike's thrusters providing stark contrast as he and Spinout take a far calmer descent. As Slam extricates himself from his very own crater, the only sounds heard are the occasional falling rock.

-c-click-

Three directions are now available - North, south, and west. The eastern corridor has been filled with rock, metal, and charred remains.

etrans kvs comp 3t dnr

Cryptic text aside, we're shifting the mechanics a bit - rather than going for the big numbers, there's been some discussion and a success-based system has been agreed on. When rolling, please indicate number of successes and failures, with 1s being failures, and 5-6 being success.

Rhyos fucked around with this message at Aug 6, 2017 around 09:20

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout

AJ_Impy posted:


"Want a lift down to the horizontal branches? We might be short on time..."

"Sounds good to me!" Spinout nearly tripped over her own feet, knocking down some of the containers she had been hiding behind, "Whoops. Eh, let's get going." Quite embarrassed, she hopped out of the mess and over to where Skystrike was waiting.

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

Rhyos posted:

Emergency lighting has the corridors lit in a dim red color, with the glow from Skystrike's thrusters providing stark contrast as he and Spinout take a far calmer descent. As Slam extricates himself from his very own crater, the only sounds heard are the occasional falling rock.

He winced as he looked at the Eastern corridor: If there was anything brighter than a Drone down there, it was not going to have a pleasant megacycle. So, he opted for the northern corridor, scanning for lifesigns as he went.

Scanning the northern corridor while advancing 0 success, 0 fail.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill +4/-2)

Plot posted:

Physics is a hilariously scary and wonderful thing. Slam has a few moments to contemplate how nice it feels to have all of his weight taken off of those 4 trunks of legs as he leaps into the proverbial deep end. 15 tons of metal SLAMs into the floor of the mine, the kinetic shockwave careening through the tunnel complex. The already-unstable east wing caves in and collapses, crushing bots, destroying equipment, and detonating an energon stock.
In space, no one can hear you scream. Similarly, nobody can hear you laugh, either. Not unlike the process of a tactical nuclear warhead, the kinetic force generated by Slam activated a much larger and far deadlier payload in his general vicinity. With a portion of the mine collapsed, and a stock of energon incinerated before his team set a single foot into the core of the facility, he couldn't help but succumb to the latter. God drat, it was funny. What he wouldn't give to know what the opposing side in the facility was saying to each other right now.

Plot posted:

etrans kvs comp 3t dnr
Rather unfortunately for, well ...pretty much everyone else, he supposed... he was one of the most qualified minds on the planet when it came to cryptography and signal intelligence. Whether or not it was the opposing force in the mine, he couldn't be sure, but someone had attempted to slip a coded transmission through as static in the transdimensional band. Honestly, it wasn't a particularly well executed attempt, though he supposed the kinetic shockwave generated by Slam might have added a bit of pressure to the situation. Or, reflecting on the precise timing of the signal, he supposed it may well have been an automated transmission designed to occur if and when particular elements of the facility were breached. A dead man's switch, of a sort. Without any way to be sure of the source, he decided to focus his attention on the content instead.

In his experience, breaking a code often began by picking one word and divining its meaning. From there, all other pieces would fall into place -- sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. You were always best to start with one of the corner pieces, and build roads inward.

He decided to begin with 'kvs'. There were many possible implications, many of them acronyms. The most interesting of the data set was not the acronym kvs, however, but rather the notation: Kvs. Specifically, the Kvs value expresses the amount of flow in a regulating valve at a fully-open valve position, and a pressure differential of 1 bar. While neither here nor there to the situation at hand, it was worth noting that the flow at a lower pressure could be calculated through use of the equation Kvs = Q / √ΔP. He filed that away for later use, imagining it might come in handy.

If the 'kvs' element of the transmission did in fact refer to the flow of a regulating valve, considering the timing of the transmission immediately after a chain reaction of kinetic shockwaves, collapsing tunnels, and energon detonations, he rather assumed the 'comp' following the word meant 'compromised'. The other piece fell into place rather quickly, as well: etrans, was, of course, energon transmission. How very interesting. An energon transmission system was -- or had been -- hidden in the mine? Liquid energon, perhaps, if a flow valve was involved? Though he supposed that could have been a cooling system instead.

With those pieces decoded, the '3t' element was hardly a challenge, obviously referring to the three horsemen of the apocalypse descending upon the facility. That left 'dnr'. He felt it was rather unlikely to mean Department of Natural Resources, but you never knew. Similarly, 'Do Not Resuscitate' made little sense. 'Do not respond' was far more likely, though in his experience that code was often reserved for one's side bot when sending a text transmission when there was a fear that a response may cause problems with one's lover. He considered the matter for a moment, and decided to run the transmission through a regression analysis to be sure.
pre:
Intelligence +4/-0
Running the coded transmission through a cryptographic analysis.
Rather unfortunately, his companions were already at the bottom of the shaft, and would soon begin delving into the corridors that would prevent secure point-to-point communications. He was desperately unlikely to resort to broader spectrum transmissions, which would mean he would have to wait until they returned to the shaft opening to send another message. With that in mind, he decides to send Spinout and Skystrike a message offering the current state of his analysis, "Once you enter the facility, you'll be out of communication range. Return to the opening of the vertical shaft if we need to exchange pleasantries -- or make a new shaft, I suppose. Just a quick heads-up, there is a slight possibility that the mine contains a liquid energon transmission system, presumably using some sort of shielded system of pipes. Keep an eye out for any regulating valves. The good news is that liquid energon is stable, and doesn't tend to explode. If you do happen upon a lake of it, be a friend and remind Slam that you cannot drink it, but can inject it. Though I suppose if storage options are at a premium, Slam would work as a rather well-armored mobile storage facility if he were to drink a few dozen barrels. I don't know. Make the best of it, I guess? Good luck!"

With his message sent, and cognizant of the very slight risk that his opponents had seen The Wire, he alters his altitude and position by a few degrees, settling into a new orbit as he begins to adjust his communications band.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
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Waador fucked around with this message at Aug 9, 2017 around 05:42

Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Deeper Underground - Esserlon Cybertonium Mine

Between the smoke, Energon residue, the efforts to get Slam out of his crater, and the near complete lack of lighting, it's tough to make out what could be further up the chosen path. Secondary tremors make for uneasy footing as the team begins their investigation of the northern branches. Rocky outcroppings and maglev carts provide plenty of cover for whatever might be hiding, making the movement even slower as each corner is cleared. Just as Slam reaches a tight jam of mining equipment, a faint glow emerges from the rear of the party, soon becoming a blinding beam of light!

Firepower: 4 Successes - shot at Slam!

Crunching the numbers
pre:
Processing...
Extrapolating Possibilities
Multiple logical extrusions
As nice as software is, language is one of the most difficult ways of encoding a message. Even moreso when shorthand, colloquialisms, and military brevity are taken into consideraion.
Likewise, it's easy to forget that you've already had your decryption systems on for over a million years. While it had done an admirable job at decrypting what should have come across as garbled nonsense, the meat of the message was all speculation. Fortunately, he was a brightbot, and was able to figure out the majority of what the message would likely mean.

Comp clearly meant compromised. A 20 ton dinosaur robot slamming into the middle of your operation was as close to the slag hitting the cycler as one could get, and the destruction of one wing of the mine was the drizzle that really made it sting.
3t was pretty sure to be an indicator of... something. It was the only component that contained a variable, and seeing as how there were 3 of his new friends down there, it seemed pretty clear that it was 3 Transformers. Tangos. Terrorists? Things.
DNR was either Do Not Respond, which would make sense given the covert nature of the message, or even more intriguing, Do Not Reinforce. With the chaos happening across Cybertron, it would make sense. That, or there was something that a response would tip off.

That left the first two items:
Etrans could be Energon Transmission - a pipeline from one area to another would certainly be a valuable strategic target, but if that were the circumstance, why request a lack of response? Wouldn't an outside Energon source be something to ramp up?
KVS was an interesting one, and could very well be the key to the entire matter. While the mathematical notation did pan out, would math have been effective enough of a shorthand to have true military importance? There had to be something else, but what?

Sorry for the delays! Big upheaval at work has been monopolizing my attention. We should be good to go, if not a little bit slower for the foreseeable future. Thanks for sticking with me!

Rhyos fucked around with this message at Aug 16, 2017 around 03:42

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill +4/-2)

Plot posted:

As nice as software is, language is one of the most difficult ways of encoding a message.
He was perfectly comfortable working with uncertainties, and truth be told he enjoyed the challenge of fitting puzzle pieces together. In his experience, this sort of activity was often a prelude to disastrous consequences for whoever happened to be sitting opposite the table on whatever board he was currently playing, and so he had come to see it as a rather relaxing pastime over the years.

He reflexively sorted the challenge into buckets identified by their degrees of confidence. He was reasonably certain 'comp' meant compromised, and he was reasonably certain '3t' referred to his forces on the ground. While he couldn't place the specific flavor of 'dnr', its general contextual meaning was clear enough. Whether 'do not respond' or 'do not reinforce', the suggestion was that something of value was in fact hidden deep below the surface in the shielded chambers of the mine.

'Etrans' had a lower degree of confidence, though much like 'dnr' it was more the flavor than the context itself. It was the subject matter of the message, the thing that was, as it were. Whatever his forces on the ground would find, it would be the etrans. Energon transmission made sense to him, though any number of variations of possible 'energy transfer' options certainly also hit high on the list of likely answers. He supposed it didn't really matter. The 'kvs' notation continued to draw the bulk of his attention, its certainty being the lowest degree of confidence in the matrix. Whatever the 'etrans kvs' was, it was compromised, though. Looking at the literal crater in the ground where the entrance to a mine used to be, he took a certain degree of comfort in that.

As much as he wanted to believe it was a liquid energon transfer facility of some sort, it was hardly lost on him that the general intelligence of the two lieutenants known to inhabit the facility was not, to put it politely, particularly advanced. The convenience of military shorthand aside, he rather doubted either of them would know enough to effectively apply, or really even be able to remember the Kvs formula with a great degree of reliability. More likely than not, it meant something simpler, and more apropos to military grunts. Perhaps that was the answer? What were the odds that these particular individuals knew more than a few seven letter words, let alone a single mathematical formula?

It occurred to him that perhaps he was dealing with a puzzle within a puzzle: in this case, 'kvs' was the primary gear upon which everything else turned. His natural inclination, as with the original problem, was to work his way in from the edges. Fun fact, roughly 6.686% of all words started with 'S'. In contrast, 0.824% start with 'V', while 'K' brings up the rear with a mere 0.456% of the population. In this particular case, he was reasonably comfortable playing the odds -- specifically, the odds that either of the two likely senders of the transmission knew many words that contained more than seven or eight letters. Once you rounded out the edges that way, his next step was naturally to begin a dictionary attack on the letter 'K'.

It didn't really matter where he stopped the analysis, he supposed. Once you removed all of the technical terms that would really only be used in niche scientific communities and specialized roles, as well as the outlying population of words like knowledgeable, kindheartedness, and an assortment of others likely to be in the Decepticon lexicon but irrelevant to the situation at hand, there were only a few options that had merit. Interestingly, there was a statistically unlikely cluster of volume measurements containing precisely nine letters, including kilobytes, kilocycle, kilohertz, kiloliter, kilometer, kilomoles, kilopound, kilostere, and kilovolts. He idly wondered if some ancient mathematician had gone out of his or her way to ensure that. The answer, quite likely, was yes. He filed that away under 'interesting trivia' and returned to the matter at hand.

There weren't many useful options in the one, two, three, and four-letter buckets. The five-letter bucket contained 'kabob' and 'kebab', either of which sounded pretty good right about now, but were neither an option nor a likely culprit. 'Karat' had merit, mine context considered, but didn't seem too likely. 'Keeper', perhaps? As much as he hoped to be proven wrong, he crossed 'kobold' off the list, though he left 'kraken' in the tentative column, unwilling to abandon all his dreams in one singular moment. 'Keeping' seemed the most likely of the list he had compiled so far, though 'keyhole' had some interesting possibilities as well. He desperately hoped it didn't refer to keeper, though that certainly would be an interesting development. The mine context flag was up on that one, he supposed.

It would take him a bit of time to run through all of the possibilities, but he was well on his way.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Waador fucked around with this message at Aug 16, 2017 around 05:19

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill +4/-2)
After some more thought on the matter, he refocused his attention on 'etrans'. It occurred to him that the message was absent punctuation, but perhaps required it. In this case, it was conceivable that 'etrans' might mean 'emergency transmission', translating somewhere along the lines of "Emergency transmission: [KVS] compromised, three transformers, do not [respond/reinforce]." That certainly made sense, though it wasn't particularly efficient. If one was sending a message on an encrypted band using military shorthand, the context would indicate it was an emergency transmission, and there was no real need to increase the size of the message to clarify that -- particularly since the longer the message was, the more likely it was to be detected.

There was, however, another interesting possibility. Could, 'etrans' perhaps mean emergency transport? What better place than a naturally shielded mine to construct -- or hide -- a spacefaring vessel? That would certainly be an interesting development.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

AJ_Impy
Jun 17, 2007



Yam Slacker

Skystrike

It broke his energon flow redistributor that it was necessary, given that the blast was likely from another Cybertronian, but there was nothing for it but to return fire. That had been fired with lethal intent: there would be less of their kind functioning this day.
Suppression fire: 1 success, 1 fail.

Waador
Sep 11, 2001

Smashin' down the light.

Pillbug

Shadowcaster > Cloaked (Skill +4/-2)

Shadowcaster (the past) posted:

After some more thought on the matter, he refocused his attention on 'etrans'. It occurred to him that the message was absent punctuation, but perhaps required it. In this case, it was conceivable that 'etrans' might mean 'emergency transmission', translating somewhere along the lines of "Emergency transmission: [KVS] compromised, three transformers, do not [respond/reinforce]." There was, however, another interesting possibility. Could, 'etrans' perhaps mean emergency transport? What better place than a naturally shielded mine to construct -- or hide -- a spacefaring vessel? That would certainly be an interesting development.
Taking a broader view as to the possibilities of the 'etrans' component of the message, adding both emergency transmission and emergency transport to his original list of likely candidates, he reconsiders the potential implications of the 'kvs' element of the transmission. This time, he decides to correlate it to historical records prior to his departure from Cybertron -- if they had unearthed something deep below the surface, it may well have been common knowledge before the ravages of war. Similarly, he tries to layer a Decepticon lens over the analysis -- clearly they thought this was a strategic location worth reinforcing, and what did Decepticons value? If not energon nor an alternative source of energy, something of value to the war effort had greater credibility. What were they hiding?

pre:
Intelligence +5/-0
Taking a deeper dive on the analysis in light of etrans possibilities.
About five seconds into the analysis he pauses it, sighs, and takes a deep breath, cancelling the procedure. There was only one thing an abandoned cybertonium mine was good for, and that was getting deep into the heart of the planet without anyone getting suspicious. The Decepticons had obviously used it as a staging ground, because the initial dig effort would have drawn attention. This wasn't a mining operation, it was an archaeological effort. A rather unwise one, at that.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Status: Alt-Mode / Null-field Cloak / Jump Drive / Fuel Scoops
Mission Log
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Waador fucked around with this message at Aug 16, 2017 around 22:26

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Spinout


"Whoa!" Spinout exclaimed, diving out of the way. She moved from outcropping to maglev cart to keep cover as she slowly approached Slam's attackers, meanwhile firing her own gun in response, helping Skystrike lay out some suppressive fire as she advanced on the enemy's position. (Firepower: +0/-1) "Stop shooting and we'll stop too!" she claimed, yelling out from behind a cart, hoping for at least some sort of intelligent response. How silly would it be if they were just automated defenses or just drones?

Potsticker fucked around with this message at Aug 17, 2017 around 23:11

Ryuujin
Sep 26, 2007
Dragon God


Slam

Slam cocks his head in confusion as the others leap out of the way. "Hmm?" He slowly turns just as he is hit by the blast. He slowly looks down at where the blast hit him. Then looks back up where the shot came from.

He then begins lumbering toward the attacker. "Slam no know why you shoot Slam. Slam no like you."

Endurance +4/-3
Also reduce damage from ranged attacks by 2.

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Rhyos
Jan 2, 2006
It's probably my fault.

Echoes of chaos
A cacophony of fire lets loose briefly in the close quarters of the mine tunnels. As expected, Skystrike nearly carves out a new wing on his own, ripping through infrastructure, steel, and rock as the Oblivion Cannon does what it does best. Followed shortly by a burst from Spinout, there is a complete lack of reaction from the tunnel behind them as Slam tromps and charges his way back toward the primary intersection, shrugging off that shot like it were a boltfly. Whatever fired the initial shot has gone quiet, but Slam is fast barreling toward the core of the mine.

Not enough successes to hit, but Slam has enough endurance to shrug off that shot! That shot pretty clearly came from the South corridor, and judging from the power of the shot, was intended to be a long-distance snipe.

Dawn of Realization
The analysis software all but confirms the theory - KVS isn't about flow rates or Energon transmission. They're looking for something far more important: The Key to Vector Sigma is the only object that would make sense in this context. A covert dig kept pristine and fortified? Things like that are left for Stargates, Nazi digs, and other ancient relics of untold power. And between Shockwave's penchant for research and weaponization, that Key represented a significant threat, if not close to the scale he was designed to observe.

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