Title: MechHunt and Memories

PCs: Shiftlock, Blast Off

Location: Stanix, Kaon, Space

Date: 21 October 2014

NPCs: Officer Sterling

Summary: Shiftlock helps Blast Off as he is the target of a massive mech hunt, while reclaiming some of her own memories in the process.

++ Stanix ++

Shot in the back. It's something every sniper is familiar with... doing to someone else. Having it done TO you is unexpected (but of course) and somehow humiliating. What's even worse, he KNEW it was coming.

A few moments ago, Blast Off was heading away from the shooting range after sighting in his rifle. Everything had seemed normal. The fugitive, wanted-by-the-law shuttleformer was wary but did not seem to attract any notice, and thought he'd slipped successfully in and out again. He was wrong. When the silver-chromed mech pulled out a weapon and yelled for him to "HALT! You're under Arrest!"... that's when he knew he'd erred.

Of course he did NOT halt, and in the course of running away- that's when he got shot in the back. His agility and reflexes still managed to save him from the worst of the damage, but the shot was lucky- or perhaps the mech was simply a skilled shooter too. Whatever the case, it knicked a key hydraulic line, hampering his flight systems. And before he could self-repair and fly away he suddenly found a number of police merging from all fronts... including one officer who took the form of a jet flying up above.

Blast Off ran... and managed to get into a tangle of shady alleys and old warehouses before the cops could close in. And now he's on the run, and police are closing off the area, warning people away. There's a suspected murderer on the loose...

Flying in as a particular space shuttle today was apparently a bad idea.

Shiftlock, pursued by police as well, creates confusion by being Blast Off -- unwittingly she draws fire from Combaticon, giving him time to hide. Now there are reports of him all over the polity, and things are on high alert. Ditching his form and blending in among the crowds, she uses the remains of her Senate access codes to find the last known locations of the shuttle. From there, it's simply a search, and time.

Fate intervenes as she makes her way into the alleyways, ditching her last form - a truck-frame - and becoming herself. Exhausted, she leans against the wall of the alley and prepares to take one of her last few doses of element zero. She's a short distance away from Blast Off, but does not yet know it.

The Police don't like this, no not at all. This only redoubles their efforts, and soon all available personnel are being brought in for a massive mechhunt. Officers line major streets, creating checkpoints and carefully scrutinizing who goes in or out. The public is kept away. Other investigators patrol likely areas, searching for clues... and Blast Off (at least *one* of them) was injured and leaking some energon. The trail led into a warehouse and back out again, but the shuttle seemed to catch on to the giveaway and managed to stop it for the most part, wrapping the wound up with a hasty bandage made of some trash. Only a few patches of energon show up now, but with a skilled tracker or two on his trail, capture is still a very real possibility.

And so Blast Off makes his way up that alleyway, vents heaving. He'd twitch wing elevons in nervousness... if only he had the time. No, right now he's on the run for his life. He is unaware of the extra assistance, or the shifter nearby... but she will soon hear heavy footfalls echoing in the adjacent alley, getting closer with every step. Occassionally they stop, as if their owner has paused to listen, and then the procession continues.

Having just taken the dose and recharging her ability to change forms, Shiftlock is thankful she stopped when she did. The police coming down the alley gives her they're after *her*. The change is immediate.

The police forces are suddenly facing down not a fembot or a shuttle - but an Ursagryph. The beast roars a strange metallic, keening cry and breathes plasma fire in their direction, blocking them from going down the alleyway and trying to drive them back.

The policemechs- three of them- stop in their tracks and stare up at the creature in shock... though, professionals that they are, they soon snap out of it. One young officer raises his gun and says, "S-stop! You're under arrest!" One of his older companions turns to give the cadet an incredulous stare. "You're arresting *THAT*? What're you planning on using as /hand-cuffs/, anyway?" The young officer stares back for a moment, then takes a step backwards. He seems nervous.. and a little triggerhappy. "Uh...d-don't move or I'll *shoot*!"

Meanwhile, Blast Off takes a moment to rest. Something just happened back there... sounds /noisy/ but he doesn't spend too much time trying to figure out what it was. It doesn't seem to be coming any closer at least, and that gives him time to adjust that makeshift bandage and contain the leak a little better than before.

Ursagryph stakes a step forward, wings snapping up and over its shoulders, increasing its height. It snorts sickly yellow-green wisps of chemical fire from the nostrils in its beak, grinning, challenging the policemechs with its stance and posture, moving closer.

The policemechs seem to let out a collective gasp. The young cop looks to the older cop- the older cop to the third cop- who looks back to the young cop- who staggers backyards and yells, "They don't pay me enough for this!!!" Soon all three officers have turned tail and run.

Blast Off hears the officer's protest and the sound of feet running...*away* from him. He's not sure he really has time for curiosity. Nonetheless, he does edge a little closer, trying to see what's going on. One look at the Ursagryph and the shuttleformer decides he *definitely* doesn't have time for THAT. The shuttle starts shuffling off in the opposite direction.

As soon as the cops are gone, Shiftlock drops back down to her original form, rising from hands and knees. "I have -got- to find out where that one came from. I don't even *remember* where I picked up that form," she mutters to herself. She notices the trickle of energon on the ground, coming from someone's wounds, and begins to follow it. "Hey!" she calls out. "You okay out there!?"

Blast Off slows to a halt as Shiftlock calls out to him. That voice sounds familiar. The shuttle stands there, deliberating, putting peices together. There really usually are NOT ursagryphs running around the middle of Stanix. It's oddly convenient that there just so happened to BE one there, at that moment, to chase away the police on his afterburners. And come to think of it, he does know one individual who probably could take on that form, had she encountered such a thing in the past. And in her case, who knows? She just might have.

He is still clutching his ionic blaster, hung loosely to his side as he turns around. He doesn't see her- she's just around the corner... but close. Uncertain, wary of a trap, he raises his weapon up and points it towards the other's direction. "Yes. You sound rather intelligent for an ursagryh."

"Blast Off?" It sounds incredulous. "Is that you? It's me, Shiftlock. Are you the one that's injured?" She keeps coming closer, unaware that the shuttle has his weapon drawn as she rounds the corner.

Blast Off keeps his weapon steady- which means it's pointed right at Shiftlock's face as she rounds the corner. But while his arm doesn't move, his optics do widen. It *is* her! For the briefest second, there's almost a flicker of warmth on his face... he had wondered what had happened to her, even asked about her when Lockdown mentioned Drift had a femme with him! He almost takes a step forward...

Then his optics narrow. She was with HIM. With Drift, the Bounty Hunter who has been trying to kill him, Arcee... and DID kill Rung. And she's been with Drift or several cycles now, apparently. Lockdown said she didn't work as a bounty hunter, that she didn't seem to like that work... but if she likes Drift- or even /loves/ him- well, people do all /kinds/ of things for love. One reason it's probably better to avoid it as much as possible.

Blast Off tilts his head just a bit to the left, suspiciously. This could be a trap. Who knows, maybe Drift is closing in even now. He glances up towards the rooftops, then back to the femme. "Yes. Shiftlock. It has... been awhile." His weapon remains pointed at her, but she will notice the makeshift bandage he's wrapped around his midsection. The one that's still leaking a little, despite his best efforts.

"I'd ask you if that was a gun or if you're happy to see me but it's pretty obvious it's a gun," Shiftlock quips, eyes fixed on the barrel for a moment. "I finally got the news and wanted to find out if you're okay. I'm gonna guess from the leaking that you're not."

She doesn't know what's going on in Blast Off's head; she herself is fairly carefree and a bit capricious, having left Drift to sort himself out while she continues walking her own path, not giving Drift much thought other than well-wishes for him to figure out what he wants to do with himself.

Blast Off is wary. He's a wanted fugitive, he's had police and assassins and the IAA after him. He's cautious and suspicious on a *good* day and this isn't even close to good day. He *would* be happy to see Shiftlock... if he knew he could trust her. But he doesn't.

There's a glance down towards his torso. "I'll live." He says quietly. He might be fine... perhaps he's already mostly self-repairing as is. Or he could be badly hurt, and trying to hide it in case he's got enemies closing in on him. No point in admitting anything you don't *have* to. He looks back to the femme.

"So... I haven't seen you in a while. Where have you been?" He asks, almost conversationally... except for the fact that that gun remains pointed straight at her.

"Well, I went to go find Drift," Shiftlock explains forthrightly. "He's not the same mech I knew. He's changed. Too much, really. I tried to talk to him about it but once I got the news, well... we had to part ways." He might shoot her, he might not; pain can make someone very edgy. She takes the risk of just laying everything out on the table.

Blast Off listens... and the fact that she admits she saw Drift is a fact in her favor. Had she lied outright to him just then, he might well have shot her. Or simply walked away. As it is, he remains standing. The gun begins edging slightly downward, though it isn't completely lowered yet. He leans back a little, giving a subtlely more relaxed demeanor. But he's is indeed still on edge, and casts a wary glance every now and then towards a rooftop pr alley.

"I heard. I met Lockdown at a bar once, not long ago. He mentioned you were with Drift. So that's it? You're not one of his crew any longer? Lockdown seemed to indicate Drift and you were close... that you /traveled/ with him." (Y'know, hung around with the mech who's trying to KILL me and my friends....) He looks around. "He's not *here*, is he?"

"No," Shiftlock explains. "I was only working security for Lockdown as long as it took to find out what was going on in Drift's head. Yes, we're close; I've been looking after him ever since I found him in the Dead End. I guess... I felt responsible for him. I pitied him." She shakes her head. "One of his friends was killed by Autobot police for no reason. It ... it changed him. Now he's angry, violent, and willing to do anything to get a ship and leave this world. He cares for me, and he wanted me to leave with him, but I can't. I have to stay here, I have to fight for the innocent that still need help for as long as I can. I never wanted to see him become what he is now, and I can't walk the same path he's taking."

She braves a step forward. "You're hurting. We need to get you repaired before you leak out."

This does seem to ring true from all he heard, Blast Off thinks to himself. Even the part about Drift and Shiftlock taking off to the stars... "You... you mentioned him before you left." His gaze lowers... as does the weapon, inch by inch, as he considers all this. "Lockdown mentioned you might both leave together and never return." Now why would that be something that stuck in his mind?

The shuttle winces as she reminds him of the wound, and he feels calm enough now to place a hand down at the side of the bandage, checking the seepage. "I... would like to, but I don't exactly have a lot of *time* right now..." He gazes off into the distance, where the officer whose alt mode is a jet can be seen flying, still searching. His hand still holds his weapon, but the muzzle is starting to point more towards Shiftlock's feet than her face now. It stops in mid-descent, though, and he looks sharply up at her again. "WHY are you here? I find it hard to believe it's coincidence."

She smirks. "I wanted to see if you were okay, seeing as how you're an 'evil rogue' now and I'm just a helpless brainwashed little girl," she says with no small amount of sarcasm in those last few words. "I care about -you-, too. It wasn't what I was expecting but I couldn't just leave you here to get hunted down. It's not an end that suits a shuttle, you know?"

Blast Off's optics flicker at that, and the gun finally rests hanging loosely at his side. Perhaps it's because he's hurt, tired, and needs all the help he could get, like to admit it or not... or because he's pleased to hear her say she cares about...him? Perhaps it's both. He smirks a little under the faceplate. "No... it is not. Heh. I take it you have avoided your pursuers so far, as well? I suppose we're both fugitives on the run from the law now..." he glances out to that distant jet again...

"Yeah, funny that. I came in here as you and had police on my trail. I sent them packing, however," she explains. She reaches out to offer her hand and an arm to lean on. "I'll be fine as a fugitive. I'm a wanderer anyways. But you... do you have -anywhere- to go?"

Blast Off lifts an optic ridge, then seems to smirk a little again. "I can't blame you... if you have the option to be a /shuttle/.... why be anything else?" He shoots a sardonic look to that jet. "Pity those police can't appreciate such finery."

He pauses at the hand, his desire for space clashing with the loss of energon. He looks at her, then chooses to be noncomittal by checking his bandages again. He opens it up and it's pretty saturated. The shuttle winces and looks around. "I could use something fresh..." He looks back at the wound and grumbles, "Though then again, using garbage is not my idea of hygeine anyway..."

At her last question he looks away. "I... am currently... between places. I thought I found a place to stay, then *Blurr* came by, mind wiped again, but that location was compromised."

"/Blurr/?" Shiftlock sounds confused. "What, they're using him as a weapon or something now?" That doesn't sound good, and Shiftlock resolves to find out more about this situation. Or slap Blurr around. Either is good.

She looks at Blast Off's wounds; it's not good. "Yeah, we need to get you somewhere cleaner than this. Stanix has a lot of parasites and wild Insecticons hives. They'll smell your injuries and make a meal of you." She's already thinking about where to take him.

Blast Off nods. "Yes... not only that, but... I went back to my habsuite. I don't know if you know but... I lost everything. Once you're a wanted criminal, well..." He looks at her and it dawns on him, "Actually, you do know. You lose everything, because you can't go back. My habsuite... everything there... is gone. I shouldn't have gone back, but after some time I... missed it. I had to see, and... it's wrecked now. Only the view remains." He tilts his head, suddenly remembering his time with Shiftlock there. "...And the memories."

He's quiet for a moment, then snaps back to the present. "Uh.. anyway, Blurr was there, rummaging through what was left of my habsuite! When he saw me, at first he was confused, then he shot me. So I shot back. After that he was a babbling, confused, whimpering mess. Oddly enough I almost felt sorry for him. But his "handlers" appeared and took him away. Something odd is going on there."

That all said, he stiffens a little when she gets close enough to inspect his wounds. Something about her getting close puts all his senses on alert.... but in a good way. Then he blinks and stares at her when she relates the information about the hives. "....Really?" He staggers back, looking down the alley. "Then, yes... we should go. And actually..." He pauses, debating whether he should say this. "There is... one place we could go. I've... been there. Recently."

"I can transport you," Shiftlock says. "You tell me where to take you, and... I hope will not weird you out of you're riding in yourself."

Blast Off blinks in surprise at *that* thought.... yeah, that would be weird, but.... He looks at Shiftlock, expression serious. "Even Kaon?"

She grins. "I have boltholes all over. THey're not glamorous but I prepared. There's a place even in Kaon if they haven't found it yet," Shift suggests. "I think that place is probably going to be the safest place in the world for us right now."

Blast Off winces as his wound smarts again, looking down in aggravation. Then Shiftlock's words register, and he gazes back up. The irony of what she just said doesn't escape him. "You'd... give *me* a place to stay?" His voice is quiet, with that touch of self-awareness at the irony here.

Shift gives him a big warm smile. "You helped me when I needed it the most, Blast Off. How could I not do the same for you?"

Blast Off's head tilts slightly as he regards the femme standing there in front of him, and for one time in his life it almost seems to him that it was actually, possibly....*maybe* just worth it to have taken a chance on trusting someone else enough to actually have helped them. Not the lesson he usually takes away from most of his life encounters. Not that he's still entirely sure he can trust her, but... she certainly seems genuine enough. She's given him no reason *not* to trust... and that's becoming rarer and rarer these days.

The shuttleformer takes a step forward towards Shiftlock. "I would...I am g-" Whatever he was about to say is suddenly drowned out as a voice calls out behind them. "FREEZE! DON'T MOVE or I'LL SHOOT!" The hint of relaxation that had graced the shuttle's frame just before is suddenly gone. In its place is instant, practiced tension, a coil ready to spring. His weapon is still in his hand, and Shiftlock may note the digits shifting ever so slightly towards the trigger. There is a pregnant pause, the calm before the storm, and Blast Off's gaze locks onto Shiftlock's for a moment... but that look is the look of a soldier about to take action. Almost a... warning to watch out- or join in- but don't get in the way.

Meanwhile, four other forms spring from the sides to join the first officer- some on the rooftops above, one even in the form of that jet that was flying by earlier. Blast Off and Shiftlock are surrounded.

"Aww come on guys, you don't want to do this," Shiftlock calls out to the officers. "Just go home, we're tired, he's leaking, I need to get him fixed, it's past his recharge time." She takes a step in front of Blast Off to shield him as she puts her hands on her hips. "You know how it is!"

The Officer who initially yelled a command at them does NOT look amused. Then again, it's very possible NONE of these officers ever look amused anyway. Prowl would fit right in, here. The Officer's weapon remains fixed on Blast Off, but all the officers raise their weapons to train it on the Combaticon- or Shiftlock now, as well.

The first Officer releases the safety on his gun. "Ma'am, move away NOW or you will be considered an accessory to aiding and harboring a wanted fugitive, who is wanted on several counts of /murder/ among other charges. Move away NOW or I WILL shoot." He can be heard calling into his radio, "Officer Sterling requesting backup... suspect is sighted, possible accomplice on scene."

Blast Off blinks as Shiftlock actually moves to ..shield him? He's not sure whether to be flattered... or embarrassed. What would /Onslaught/ say? His own trigger finger clamps down... as injured as he is, he's not in a mood to fight, but he's already primed for it here. He doesn't think there's any other choice.

"Pssst," Shiftlock whispers to Blast Off out of the corner of her mouth, "put your weapon back in its holster and make sure you hold onto your wound. We're going for a ride."

That was the only warning.

In the flop of a processor Shiftlock has transformed once more into an Ursagryph, her massive body covering Blast Off easily from weaponsfire, but she isn't going for a standoff. Oh no, not at all.

She attempts to grab Blast Off by the middle in her beak, to crouch low and spring high into the air, taking flight!

Blast Off glances to Shiftlock as she whispers a warning of her own. His reaction is his customary prideful denial. With a huff, he whispers back, "I do NOT need your help! I can /handle/ th-" He doesn't get to finish the denial, though, because despite having caught a glimpse of the ursagryph, *knowing* it's Shiftlock... it's still a shock to suddenly have one there- RIGHT there- and reaching down to grab you in its jaws. At the last second he instinctively starts stepping back, but with his injuries he's not really able to evade much. The shuttleformer is grabbed and suddenly finds himself airborne, in the maw of a monster. He manages to keep hold of his blaster, though.

The Officers gawk for a second as well- frozen in shock. But once again, it doesn't last long. All the officers open fire. Given that Shiftlock (Ursalock?) is shielding him, Blast Off is spared the opening volley... but Shiftlock may not be so lucky. Officer Sterling appears to be a good shot, after all.

Almost as quickly, the Police Jet veers in, banking rapidly to its left to come sweeping up towards the escapees, launching a strafing round right at them as it sweeps up and above! Blast Off spots an opening down on the street below and starts shooting at one of the officers still firing on them- and despite being in the jaws of an ursagryph he's a good enough shot to strike the officer on the shoulder.

The Ursagryph is shockingly fast and manueverable; easily she swoops and dives past shots, turning in loops and circles faster than the jets can keep up with. Natural design trumps artificial, and the flying beast scoops up great wingfulls of atmosphere like a gymnast holding parallel bars. The ease and grace of her manuevers is just as stunning. Working with Blast Off, she turns him towards favorable shots, while positioning herself to simply absorb them. Standard weaponfire is simply having no effect on the primordial's hide - they might as well be shooting aluminum chaff.

Blast Off is NOT enjoying this... his injuries make every twirl and application of G-Force extra uncomfortable... the pressure building on already shredded circuits and plates. But a little pain is a small price to pay for freedom- and possibly his life- so he doesn't complain. Instead, he pushes past the pain and, once he realizes what "Ursa"Lock is doing, he waits, timing his shots as she creates opportunities.

The first jet falls behind under Shiftlock's manuevering, but backup has arrived. Three fast jets come streaking from points west and north, the one north moving in to attempt to cut her off as the other two try to get a little below and flank the ursagryph. Smaller strafing fire continues to come from the two on her flank, but the one moving in to intercept seems to be taking its time.... like it's locking its targets. If she looks closely, she'll notice a missile about to be launched. In the horizon, three more jets are flying in over the labyrinth of the city below them.

Shiftlock is aware of Blast Off's injuries, but getting him out alive is more important than making sure he feels no pain. << I'm going to drop into shuttle mode and take us into upper orbit. Jets can't fly without atmosphere and they'd be insane to fire a missile that far up, there's too much chance they'd hit another city. I hope you don't mind riding in yourself, and the initial catch might be rough. Brace yourself! >>

The Ursagryph tosses her head and launches Blast Off high into the air; with a flash of light and an expansion of form it's Blast Off in shuttle mode opening the top bay doors to catch Blast Off proper, in root mode!

Blast Off looks up at Shiftlock, optics flickering... some of that is damage, but some is surprise. Though he really shouldn't *be* surprised at the plan- it only makes sense after all. How better to get away- Truly get away- than the superior design of a shuttle? Still, watching as the Ursagryph suddenly transforms into HIMSELF... is still a strange experience. Even stranger than being grabbed by an ursagryph.

And it's only getting stranger... he is tossed into the air, holding onto his bandage and rifle and engaging what he can get to work of his anti-gravs. One of them seems to be working some, smoothing his fall, but not by much. And then his own bay doors envelop him as he lands inside *himself* with a less-than-graceful thud. He grunts with the pain of that, but sheer need keeps him focused on scrambling towards a chair inside the cargo bay. He needs something to hold onto. There's a second's hesitation before grabbing the chair- since it's like grabbing himself- but he doesn't have time to dwell on that right now. So he holds on for dear life as the jets sweep up towards them.

The sudden change startles the oncoming police force, and the two flanking jets part ways, sweeping off on either side to regroup. The jet with the missile also seems to pause, calculating the risks vs. the reward.... then, better or worse, they choose to fire anyway! These criminals must apparently be stopped, no matter *what* the cost!!

The blaster shots do a little more damage to her, leaving char marks that might harm her on the way back down, but she's not thinking about that right now - all that matters is getting the heck out of dodge, so to speak.

The missile comes streaking towards Shiftshuttle, and for a moment it almost seems like it might be gaining just a bit... but once she engages thrusters and shoots straight up, there's no way the missile can keep up with her anymore. Slowly, as the lack of atmosphere makes flying impossible for the weapon it arcs sideways, then downwards... heading to parts unknown.

Blast Off blinks up and says, "WHAT? You're going into SPACE? Have you... ever actually *GONE into space?*" Despite the fact that he's still leaking from all his wounds opening up again from all the stress he's been subjected to, he still finds the energy to start making his way (barely- by crawling up the walls basicly) to the front of the cargo bay and try to get to the flight deck. And suddenly has the energy to start sounding an awful lot like he's complaining.

"Let me IN! I know more about this than YOU do! This is NOT something an amateur can do!" There's a new note of panic to his voice (in addition to the usual haughtiness... it takes YEARS to learn these things, what could she know??)!

"Okay, okay! Calm down!" Shiftlock says over the internal coms, unlocking the doors to the cockpit and simply giving Blast Off full access and complete trust. "If you sit down I'll hold your wounds and share some energon. You fly, I'll do what I can to patch you."

Blast Off huffs slightly, but once Shiftlock opens up the doors he manages to hobble through. "I'M PERFECTLY CALM!"

He's still slow... he's both injured and he's battling the G-Forces as Shctlock heads straight up. As he finally makes it through the door and into the cockpit, he starts shoving himself in there, too... then he must stop and simply *look* for a moment despite the situation. He looks down at his arm, which *is* the flight deck area in his root mode. Then up at the cockpit. Then back to his arm. It's... almost too much, and he pulls himself away ...he doesn;t have time for this. Focusing, he gets into the pilot's seat.

There's another awkward glance... this time he might not only be thinking about how this is *him* but... it's also *her*... then he shakes his head and gets to work flipping switches and making sure the readings are the way he wants. "Reaching escape velocity... put just a little more power to my, uh... your..." He blinks, "...thrusters. And look here, this shows some solar winds coming our way... adjust your wing elevons to compensate."

"Will do, Cap'n," Shiftlock cheerfully replies from inside. When Blast Off has a seat, part of the chair becomes fluid and wraps around his midsection, quicksilver and alive. It holds his wound, and shapes itself in such a way that energon is being transferred back into the injured mech's systems like a transfusion. "There. Who said you can't do a mid-air refuelling? Although I have to say it's not usually done from the -inside-."

Blast Off doesn't actually even notice it at first, he's still focused on those solar winds. Then he blinks and looks down and...OH SLAG. Startled, he flinches. His arms jerk up and a foot lifts from the floor as he begins an escape attempt.... and then halts himself. Wait... that actually... feels good, oddly enough. Still, the need for space, of not letting anyone get TOO close is so ingrained he still doesn't relax. Staring down, he watches the "procedure", his own wing elevons twitching occassionally.

Slowly, eventually.... he eases back down into the chair. "I...yes. I..." He looks down again. "That does... feel better." Then he gazes out the windshield, and... is that space he sees? Shiftlock may feel the surge of relief at the sight. He's...home.

At her last comment, he looks around. "No... and I am not usually riding inside... myself." Blink. "Er, well, you... looking like me. I mean..."

He doesn't get to further explain as there is suddenly a red warning light.... He looks at the screen. "Incoming." He looks out the windshield. "Orbital patrol. They shot me down last time. Well.... among others."

"Then decide where you want to set me down, we'll duck into the atmosphere. Rust Sea is usually a good place to go, it's not far from Kaon and it's hard to follow anyone into. There's a space port down there too," Shiftlock says over the intercoms to Blast Off.

Blast Off reaches to adjust another few buttons, then realizes once again he's actually touching *her*. His hand hovers over her console panel. "Uh... pardon." He then pushes down a lever or two, locking in a some course adjustments and avoiding the gust of cosmic wind. "That will do. You mentioned having dwellings hidden around Cybertron... is one there? Possibly... with medical supplies nearby?"

Once that's set, he allows himself to lean back into the chair... finally. The shuttleformer's gaze returns to looking all around the cockpit, then down at the chair and the.... unusual "bandage" that wraps around him now. This is just a... lot to absorb all at once.

Blast Off's hand reaches down to touch the arm rest of the chair as he tries to relax... then again remembers it's more than a chair. It's strange. And the oddest thing... he can feel that chair inside HIM as he sits staring at it here. His finger touches the arm rest again, and he traces it almost absent-mindedly... then jerks it away. It's not just *him* he's touching. His optics widen. "...Apologies."

Meanwhile, the orbital patrol zooms in closer.... Just as the shuttleformer begins crashing, now that he's at rest... he stiffens again. "Fly starboard... shift your elevons slowly... and turn your nosecone up at a 35 degree angle so your heat shields are at the best angle for reentry..." He looks up to the ceiling. "And BE CAREFUL. Not too fast, not too slow... reentry is CRITICAL. We could BURN UP- or get shot just as we reenter and I DO NOT want to go through that again!" And the orbital patrol keeps coming closer....


"You don't have to apologize for touching me!" Shiftlock laughs. "If anything it's rather soothing. I mean, we -have- been intimate before, I think it's safe to say you have permission to grab the yoke and steer, dear." She follows his instructions as best she can, 'thirty five degree angle' is kind of relative in the middle of the atmosphere, and she's not used to relying on internal guidance systems to check. She runs on instinct, which may or may not be a good thing when you're trying shuttlecraft precision re-entry.

"I'm going to have to start reentry sooner, we're above Kaon, and that's somewhere you can get fixed safely. I still have contacts among the Decepticon sympathizers. If I try to push us all the way out to the plateau those orbital patrols are going to catch up to us. Brace yourself."

Blast Off hands hover over the armrest again, and he glances up as Shiftlock reassures him all is well. Still, he knows how HE feels when people start anything touchy-feely inside HIM. On the other hand, though.... she does have a point, heh. A slight smirk grows under his faceplate and his hand comes down to trace along the edge of the chair. "Is that so?," he says with the slightest trace of teasing in his voice. "I wonder if our... um, /sensitive/ spots are both the same in shuttle mode?"

He doesn't get a long time to pursue that line of thought, though, for the orbital patrol is coming and Shiftlock is... oh slag. His touch on the armrest goes from gentle teasing to- death grip. Optics widen and he leans forward, looking from one guage to another, pushing levers where neccessary. "Not TOO Soon! If you do that your heat shields might crack and then..." Too late, she's already started. "Oh slag." He leans back then, gripping the armrests on both sides and bracing himself against the seat like he's holding on for dear life. "Just remember if we BURN UP in the ATMOSPHERE the orbital patrol will be the LEAST of our worries! And watch out, they're catching up!"

"Trust me, I don't want to burn up either!" Shiftlock says back. There has to be a faster way to do this and she's running out of element zero with all these rapid changes. The orbital patrol is getting closer and the heat is singing at the already laser-damaged ablative panels.

Shiftlock thinks of Blast Off, and how he's counting on her to come out alive.

Space comes to mind.

Everything around Blast Off, from the inside, becomes glimmering liquid silver, like mercury, resetructuring into a different kind of space craft; everything inside is lit with a lovely cyan blue, and Blast Off's seat shapes to his body comfortably. Outside Shiftlock is pure quicksilver, taking the shape of an unknown but highly maneuverable craft with a teardrop shape and long wings. It no longer operates on thrusters. It operates by quantum engines.

She dives into the planet's surface like an arrow while Blast Off is spared inertia through manipulation of internal fields. She's down so fast the Orbital Patrol will not be able to keep up with her. She strikes the skies like lightning and suffers none of the heat, slicing through the atmosphere like a monofilament wire.

Blast Off continues to protest, "Yes, but you don't have the *experience* of someone who's been doing this for centuries! You don't just go up into space your first time and effortlessly-" His back-seat driving and shuttle snobbery is cut short once again as /everything/ changes. The shuttleformer freezes a second, then swivels his head around as panels and chambers move and transform... into something he doesn't even recognize.

He himself remains comfortable.... physically, at least, and finally just sinks back into the seat. That's it... he's shutting up now and whatever happens.... happens. He's too tired to keep trying to fight it anyway. He just watches as Shiftlock dives down... in this sleek form. It's rather spectacular, he has to admit. It even makes *him* look slow, and it's an indication of just how tired he's getting that that doesn't even stir a protest.

Blast Off simply sits back and marvels. But finally, as they cut through the danger zone and return to regular skies, he looks up. "What ...IS this form? What did you... do?"

"... I... I remembered," Shiftlock says, a bit stunned herself. "I remember that.... Blast Off I don't come from Cybertron!" she gasps as they settle into the middle atmosphere, headed to Kaon.

Blast Off blinks. That's... certainly news. And yet... given what she *is*... maybe not entirely surprising. "Your memory is returning?" He shifts in his seat, trying to get comfortable now that he can relax again. "What do you remember?"

"It was only a little flash. I remember space.... hundreds of thousands of others like me, fluid metal, combining into huge ships made of our own bodies. Communing together and sailing the stars as space ship cities. When I did, I remembered this - this ship," Shiftlock says. They're entering the lower atmosphere now, with Kaon spreading out in full view below.

Blast Off ponders this. It sounds strange to him... and he's seen a lot out there in space. It almost sounds like one of those... what were they again? Oh, right... Combiners. That never did sound very appealing. "You seem like you're describing a combiner, Shiftlock... is that what you mean? Sort of... joining together... merging. So you... you're a natural born star traveler then..." His voice contains a note of approval, because naturally that makes her superior to a mere groundpounder.

He sinks further into the seat, a wave of tiredness coming over him as he finally feels.... is this what /safe/ feels like? It's been so long he's not even sure. "You merge with others... it makes sense, given what I've seen you do... So someone HAS mastered the ability then... without harmful effects?"

"Yes. From what I remember, we can all join with each other in any way, in any number." She sounds overawed herself. It's like discovering you're a long lost princess of some powerful distant fairyland kingdom. "Hundreds of thousands of us all together in one big ship..."

Blast Off looks up. "So what happened to them? Why hadn't I ever heard of your kind before?" He blinks again. "You're not even.... Cybertronian at all then, are you? What... species *are* you?" His voice is soft and even as he starts to get drowsy, and even the fact that he's being whisked away somewhere by a complete *alien* apparently... doesn't phase him. Not now, at least.

"... Mutacon," she murmurs. "Colony world."

At least it sounds like murmuring. As Shiftlock skims the skies to look for a place to land, Blast Off may just be tired and not hearing her fully.

Blast Off listens, tilting his head as Shiftlock murmurs something. He thinks he caught that, and would like to know more but doesn't want to push, either. But there is something he'd like clarification on... He looks down and absent-mindedly taps a finger on the seat. "You... are Cybertronian species then?" Colonists are Cybertronians... sort of. He should know, he is one. He considers telling her about Combatron, but that might raise questions he doesn't feel like answering right now- or reliving memories he'd rather let rest for now. Because *he* needs some rest of his own.

The shuttle gazes out the window. "I don't usually get a view in this manner... it seems so odd to experience this while... *inside* somewhere- some *one*- instead of combating the elements. If you..."

He winces... now that's he relaxed finally, his tired systems are tugging more insistantly towards recharge and repair. But this isn't the time... not yet at least. "If you head northwest, you'd be in the place I crash-landed here. Though... I'm not sure that's advisable to go to now, since there were some... scavengers there." Also Sixshot, but he doesn't know if he'd be there now.

"Just rest," Shiftlock says gently to Blast Off inside her. "I'll stay like this and keep topping off your fuel levels. I might be able to patch you for the time being, but you're going to need to recharge. If I keep in this particular shape I can just hover somewhere out of the way of any sensors, maybe even keep skimming along until you're fully recharged." She doesn't admit it to him openly but she is enjoying the fact that she can embrace and protect Blast Off. She'd even call it deeply satisfying, as if it here her spark-borne purpose in life.

Silently she glides through the air, seeking the quieter edges of Kaon - near Blaster City - and moving into the still standing, but open-air structure of a command tower. She's just big enough to slip into it unnoticed.

Blast Off can't really help but do as she says, at least to some extent. It *is* comfortable, and even, very oddly *comforting*.... and his systems need this. The flow of healing energy continues to bring the first truly peaceful moment he's had in a very long while... partly from his surroundings, partly from neccessity. But there is something he still doesn't understand, and his optics ridges furrow down.

Tilting his head back up to the sentient ship, he asks quietly, "Why? Why are you going to all this trouble? After that little stunt, you're going to be right back on the "Most Wanted" lists... even more than you were before. And yes, we met, I helped you, we had that... night.... but still... I..." He looks all around this alien setting and tries to comprehend this... seeming selflessness. "Why put so much on the line? Why give so much of yourself? You hardly even know me. I'm a highly wanted *criminal*, after all... and now you are too, again."

"Because I want to, and because I see you as I see myself: Another Cybertronian who just wants to live in peace, and enjoy life," Shiftlock says. "I can't deny you what I'd want for myself, and I'm willing to be the one that gives first." It's just as simple as that.

Simple. Perhaps to some... but to a Combaticon used to fighting against enemies at every turn, it hardly seems that way. "I want to live in peace... though the world rarely seems to let me live that way." He sinks even further into the seat, optics beginning to dim and gray. But he has enough spark left to remain awake, and as she moves in towards her destination, he places his hand on the armrest in a deliberate gesture. Stroking gently down the edge again briefly, he very quietly says, "....I am... I am glad you came back, Shiftlock." Then, as if that was almost too much to admit already, his hand rests by his side again and he looks away off to the city of Kaon.

"I'm glad to have found you," Shiftlock says softly. "Just rest."

And to make her point, she plays soft classical music to lull Blast Off into sleep.

Despite everything... Blast Off doesn't *want* to take the risk of trusting her. Trust gets you hurt, can get you killed. If he was in better shape... no way. He doesn't want to fall into recharge... but Shiftlock isn't playing fair. The soothing, classical music hits all the right buttons and pushes the exhausted shuttleformer over the edge, and he slips into the recharge he desperately needs... despite himself.

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