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Title: What Lies Beneath

PCs: Hot Rod, Blurr, Chromia, Arcee,Rewind, Tailgate

Location: Tunnels beneath Nyon

Date: 02 November 2014

Summary: Scouting around beneath the city in an attempt to find their way into the Institute via the basement, what they find is SOMEONE ELSE (dun dun dun).



"I've got a great idea," says Hot Rod.


Already those words from that mech have a reputation of -- well, let's be kind and say /risk/. But he has a great idea, and now he just needs a posse. So he comms Chromia, comms -- a bit more hesitantly, and with a thoughtful expression -- Blurr, and gives them an outline of his brilliant plan: finding a shortcut through the tunnels that honeycomb the already fragile Mitteous Plateau, allowing for relatively free movement between Nyon, Iacon, and anywhere else they might want to go. He is a little coy on that point. He's especially coy at Blurr.


The plateau is one of Cybertron's more dangerous landscapes, which -- of course! -- makes it perfect. People aren't as likely to patrol there, to guard there, to /follow/ there, so come on, team, let's meet up in Nyon, in the sub-level of a once-grand temple, staring into the dark where a crack in the walls has fallen in to reveal dark tunnels leading onward toward the plateau.


"Definitely a great idea," Hot Rod says again on the threshold of stepping down into the dark. He is definitely psyching himself up. It's not even subtle. He carries a light in the palm of his hand and his eyes glow bright in the dark.


It may not be strictly traditional to bring a bladed axe with you on what is billed as a recon mission, but it's possible that Chromia has certain ingrained reactions to people choosing to be coy with her. A faint light mounted on the pointed tip of the shaft lights the gleam of metal faintly blue, a more subtle gleam than, say, a fullblown headlight, but still lending a ghostly illumination to join Hot Rod's handlight and the gleam of her own eyes, hard and cool in the dark. 


"It's very reassuring that you keep saying that," Chromia asides to Hot Rod in a mutter that growls like an idling engine. It doesn't appear that she suffers from an overabundance of caution here, though, because her next words are just, "Let's go."


Blurr is quick to respond to Hot Rod's call, arriving within breems. He is totally confident in Hot Rod's plan! It's such a great plan. Especially since fragile landscapes don't really pose as much of a danger to him as they do to other people. "So we'll tunnel through here then? But won't you guys fall through the cracks? I mean, what if someone gets trapped?"


Arcee shows up when Rod calls, not really knowing who or what to expect. She's apparently not expecting to see Blurr there, however, and she greets him cheerfully. "Oh, hi!"


Rewind shows up here, too. The small mech met Hot Rod not too long ago and was just radioing him to inform him he had some information for the flame-streaked racer. Hearing that they were about to go spelunking... well, that sounds *adventurous* and what kind of archivist would HE be if he didn't record it? So he hurries up on small legs- since his alt mode isn't anything to write home about... or get him there faster. "Wait for me! I brought maps!...Well, what little maps there ARE, at least...."


"Then we get them out," says Hot Rod, all practical and problem-solve...y. "I've got rope! It's also why this." He tosses the light in his hand from one hand to the next. "So that we can drop it in next to them." That is the extent of his planning so far as expectation of disaster. "Hey, Arcee! Okay -- watch your step, guys. Blurr, I'm relying on you to go ahead of us and get back to warn us if we need to change our path because the ground is too unstable. Rewind, you're keeping track of where we go, too. How much did you find with the maps? Send them over?"


Hot Rod, naturally, doesn't wait for an answer. He moves forward, heading down the path. The ground slopes sharply where it falls away from the building, entering tunnels older yet than the ruins of Nyon. This close to the city, there are hints here and there that maybe the tunnels were once used by others, once inhabited. Old directions nearly worn away in dialects far older than any of the mechs here.


Chromia does apparently possess a capacity for not stomping, because her step is comparatively light versus her usual directed stride as she eases forward into the sharp dip of the path, moving at a careful pace with the slant of her lit axe angled ahead of her for light. "Yup," she says, on the bland side of companionable as she glances across the full group of their party over her shoulder. Forging ahead into the tunnels, she squints a little with a soft "rrn," under her breath.


Blurr chuckles. watching Mr. Flame toss the light back and forth for a moment. "Okay Hot Rod." He then speeds ahead as requested, searching for any areas that might be dangerous to tread on. "So what are we doing here right now, scouting out the best route, or what?"


Arcee stares down into the tunnels and their depths, and she smirks as something occurs to her that probably hasn't yet occured to the mechs: this is probably NOT a good idea. Too late to bring it up now, though; they're already descending into the tunnels. "Rewind, why don't you sit on my shoulder, it's...uh, a better vantage point to film dangerous things," she suggests. When she spots Chromia in the rapidly-fading light, she wonders if maybe the other femme agrees that this MIGHT not be the brightest of ideas.


"Yeah." Hot Rod strides forward with all outward appearance of confidence -- following the paths of Rewind's maps as far as they go, and when they fail, trusting to Blurr to make sure they don't tumble into the dark, never to be heard from again. How sad would that be. So sad. "There's got to be a way to get through." And they'll find it!


The last light from the surface vanishes behind them into no more than a glow, and then a pinprick, and then nothing. They are swallowed by the dark, with no more light than that they bring with them. The wind hisses through the tunnels. Every so often, the ground cracks underfoot -- typically when Blurr finds a path that they need to avoid. They avoid major mishaps until they are well beneath the plateau.


Rewind chuckles, just glad to be able to join in this adventure. "Gotcha!" He points briefly to his head. "I'll have the camera on and keep logging our location. Mental breadcrumbs so we don't get lost. Plus, I get to add to my map collection!" He sounds far too happy about that.  


Looking up at Arcee, Rewind blinks. Then.... hey, who's he to refuse a pretty femme? "Sure! New camera vantage points make for good film-making.... Don't want my audience getting bored with the same view all the time, after all...." He hops up gratefully.


Society tells you not to panic if you're in an accident-- for most that suffices, at first. After a while it gets less enduring, especially if you're missing both legs down from the upper hinge. Tell yourself often: Don't panic! Pay those legs no mind! You'll be completely fine, Tailgate! You'll be fine. Right? Don't read that damage repor-- too late.


You're not an idiot, though. Only heavily damaged! It's not your fault that the ground wasn't sturdy enough. Maybe it's just as fragile from below?


Your trailer looks within reach. Crawling distance. Dragging distance. Just a little further. Come on, it's right there! Stop passing out. That's all you need to do, idiot.


Fragile walls are thin in places, but are those really steps? Are they above or below? Are you imagining things again?


"Who's there?" An unfamiliar voice pings off of walls worn thin, through dimly filtered cavern paths, finding the troupe after their journey into the center of the plateau. "I'm here--!" Please don't be imagining things again. So many falling rocks he thought were others has worn hope thinner by the hour.


"Contact," Chromia says in a voice both crisp and sharp. She spins in a sudden pivot toward the sound, the glow of light that reflects off her axe blade shimmering faintly in a weird, echoey reflection off the thin wall. After a beat, wherein her frown seems slowly across her expression as though leaking into it from the angled wings of her helm, she adds, "With ... someone."


Once Rewind is securely in place on her shoulder, Arcee continues down the rope-cable, pausing in surprise when she hears Chromia and...some other voice she hasn't heard before. She slowly continues following the cable to the end of the path, her optics brightening in the encroaching darkness.


"I'm sure there is, there are so many passeways down here, the problem would be getting lost." Blurr replies to Hot Rod. And then someone is calling out from somewhere. "Huh? Who...?" He follows the sound, glancing at Chromia. "It sounds like someone needs help." A piece of plateau rock crumbles underfoot, and he quickly jumps out of the way. "Hm, might be hard to get over there without falling, I'd probably have the best shot."


Rewind leans forward, enjoying this much higher view than usual. He grins under the faceplate and glances at Arcee. "Thanks." Then his audios perk up upon the mention of...contact? The red light on his camera shines into the dim light. This might be even more exicting and ground-breaking than he knew... but that's adventure for ya! "You found someone?"


"If you're not there, you can tell me!" The voice comes again, this time with considerably less eagerness to it. "I'll just--" Go back to what I was doing. "I can't miss the launch--" It's too important. Tailgate rests the side of his head back to the ground, trailer sitting unhelpfully at the ends of outstretched digits, metal bits trailed behind him in testament to his duties.


Hot Rod startles at the whisper of sound, but plays it off into a search for where the sound originated. He glances back to count over their number, making sure that all are present and accounted for, only then looks back at Blurr. "Looks like it. Think you can find them and get them back here by yourself?"


Mouth opening for a moment, Chromia shuts it, fixing a glare as she witnesses crumbling stone falling so close; she sidesteps, axe angled outward and down in a defensive posture that reflects more of its shimmer in different patterns against the tunnel's wall. "There is someone here," she reports at a greater volume, which has the benefit of potentially reaching all and sundry, including their new apparition.


"Blurr?? Can you see the bottom? Can you see who's there? I don't have any doubt you can get down there, but...if you DO get down there, I think it's pretty important that we be able to get you back UP HERE, somehow," Arcee calls. She glances in Hot Rod's direction for a moment, then speaks to Rewind. "Any way you can zoom-focus, in this light?"


Rewind nods, "Sure." And he does so, that red light strengthening as it penetrates the darkness. "I think I see something out there..."


Wait! Nobody usually answers. The surface of his arm is less interesting all of a sudden. Tailgate's head bobs up slightly, eyes searching dimness and the tunnel he's been stuck in. "Yes! There is!" Whoever it is sounds worn out. "Can you give me a hand? I had some--" Trouble.


"Of course I can." Blurr smirks, enjoying the fact that he is -so- much more capable in this situation than anyone else is. He's used to it, but it never really gets old, I'm sure Hot Rod can certainly agree with that. Nimbly, he makes his way across the particularly fragile area, causing bits of metal to go tumbling where his footfalls land. Finally, he jumps lightly down in front of Tailgate just as he is calling out. "Hey there."


"You know, everyone says the only thing you find in tunnels this deep are sparkeaters and other horrors. I don't know about you guys, but that sounds pretty harmless to me." Once he settles out of the surprise, Hot Rod's light manner returns. "Hey!" he calls into the dark. No avalanches under ground, right? "So, is it a sparkeater, Blurr?"


"Don't even *joke* about that," Arcee quips as she finds footing on a ledge, and watches the others as they continue to descend. She's still balancing Rewind on her shoulder, so her progress is a bit slower.


"Well, at least if he gets stuck down there, people are likely to notice he's gone," Chromia says with a philosophic air that shows she has at least, since their first meeting, done some elementary research into discovering who Blurr is. She eases forward, ahead of the others by the force of ingrained habit and training. She glances aside at Hot Rod with a skeptical look already quite familiar on her angled features, and then straightens.


Rewind watches as Blurr zips up to the figure over there and... he blinks. To Hot Rod, he says, "No.... it's.... it's...." His voice sounds inredulous. Wow, someone who looks like he's got it worse than Rewind has as far as mobility goes, "...no legs?"


"Whu-- ahh!" The little legless bot would startle if he had the strength. Instead, Tailgate pulls his face off of the debris he lies in as he lets out a cry of surprise. "Where did y-- Can you get me out?" Do you really want to say no, Blurr? "I have to get there before takeoff!"


"Can't stop me," Hot Rod retorts at Arcee with a grin that is disproportionately bright in the dark. He tips a finger at Chromia all 'good point' and then leans forward to follow Rewind's line of sight. Pity he can't zoom in. He should get a visor, use it once, and then never use it again. That'd be great. "No legs? What kind of monster doesn't have any legs?"


Arcee smirks as Rod gets all confident here in the dark cave where there just might be something -- or someone -- nasty lurking around. And why is this poor mech down here with no legs, anyway? She shakes her head with a brief glance to Chromia as if to say, 'Can you believe these mechs??'...then, she works on getting closer in case something goes terribly wrong and they all need to get out.


Rewind is perfectly happy to stay on Arcee, given the trecherous appearance of the terrain. "Careful... people can fall through here and never be heard from again. It's quite a dangerous place to be, really." Again, he sounds far too cheerful about that. "Actually, Hot Rod.... not monster. I think.... that's a 'Bot. Maybe one of those aforementioned ones who fell through? Unless he's just ...uh.... sightseeing?" Yeah right.


Blurr looks confused at Tailgate's assertion. "Get where? What takeoff?" Though he does reach down to pick the little minibot up off of the ground. The extra weight won't slow him down too much. "Not too much space travel going on right now, you know. Usually only the Senate shipping miners off to remote colonies, or other business like that." Has this guy lost his bolts? He doesn't exactly look like a miner or someone who would have work to do off-planet.


"Who would come down here, though?" Hot Rod says in Rewind's general direction. Weirdos, that's who.


Beneath the raised sounds of their voices, the distant sounds of the underground continue around them: the breath of distant air stirring in long-untouched passageways, the groan of fragile rock, the click and crack as something far away resettles. Nothing to worry about, surely.


"I'm not a monster..." Who said that? Take it back. Tailgate reaches out to hold on as Blurr plucks him up, careful not to jostle. His head turns quizzically, the lights behind his visor dimming. "The Ark! I have to clean the coolant tubes! What do you mean, 'the Senate shipping miners off'?" Who would ship miners away?


"I think we should just...get him, and get out of here," Arcee says, frowning uneasily. If she had a spider sense, hers would surely be tingling. "He clearly needs repairs right away. Right, Rewind??"


"Fools and crazy people," Chromia suggests with a reasonably good deadpan. She flicks her axe, its blade casting its weird shimmer to reflect its bluish light across Hot Rod's dramatic paint job. She looks up, and makes a low noise in the depth of her chest, best transcribed as, "Hrrf," and then calls, "make it /quick/ down there!" which is funny because she's telling Blurr.


"Fool or crazy person?" Hot Rod asks those nearby. He denies neither. "Maybe we can just -- ugh, no, you're right." Backing off the idea of dragging Tailgate through the dark with them, he looks to Rewind. "Can you send everyone a map of our steps so far so that we can trace our way back out?"


Rewind says "Well," The small mech considers Hot Rod's question. "All sorts. Sometimes people want to push their luck, or fate... or they might just be curious what lies around the next corner. Or...sometimes they're just in a hurry, and try to take a shortcut.... or they just have *really really* rotten luck. Then again, some might say *destiny* determines their fate." He nods to Arcee. "Yeah, as interesting as this is, he probably *does* need some repairs..."  


He tilts his head at the mention of the Ark. "The Ark?" The archivist frowns- that was a *long* time ago, though he hesitates to mention it to this guy. "Uh... what was your name again?""


Blurr nods at Hot Rod's request. "Yeah, we'll need a map so that we'll know what path to take when we come back. I mean that's kind of the point of this little...recon mission."


The racer peers curiously at Tailgate. "Uh...the Ark? You mean the Ark-1? Like Nova Prime? Wasn't that like, vorns ago?" Before Blurr ever existed, that's for sure. "The Ark's been missing for a while. Miners sometimes get shipped off to remote mining outposts, but other than that there's not a lot of space travel allowed."


"Tailgate." He answers the voice and the bead of distant light he spots over Blurr's shoulder. The racer's line of questioning has him virtually looking him in the optics, voice confused. "It was taking off this morning--" The little bot Blurr is holding onto twitches a bit from the hip, eyes flickering brighter in mild panic. "You mean I missed the launch!? And now the ship is missing!?"


"Eh, crazy enough to follow you down here," Chromia states with a flicker of humor pulling at her mouth only for a beat. Chromia's feet scrape a little further along the path, her axe swinging out ahead as she shifts to try and get a better, or different, angle of view. The glow of her eyes shifts with the narrowing of her expression. "I'm not sure I'm hearing right," she says in tones of great doubt. "It sounds like crazy."


Arcee shudders as it occurs to her just how long this broken mech's been down here. "...Wow." And now Blurr's just going to summarize things for him with something akin to 'lol, old'...which probably won't help his distraught, confused mental state.


Rewind frowns again, searching through his data files for Tailgate's records- if there are some. there *must* be. "Hi, Tailgate, nice to meet you!" 


Then he nods to Arcee and radios everyone *except* Tailgate with a broadband frequency, "Uh...guys... that was awhile ago. If he thinks that was *this morning*.... we might not want to tell him the truth. Not until he gets fixed up, at least. It could distress him, and in this fragile state... that might be unwise."


"Well, if he's missing legs, at least he'll be easier to move," Hot Rod says. Which oh my god, don't say that out loud. "Blurr, just get the little guy back here and let's start heading back."


Something cracks in the distance. NOTHING IMPORTANT.


"This morning?" Blurr's optics widen at this. "Have you lost your bolts, or is your chronometer malfunctioning? Maybe both?" He carefully carries Tailgate out of the hole he was in, cracking more of the landscape this time but making it just fine. "I mean that was even before I came online." Which isn't saying much, but when you're fifteen you feel like your life has been forever.


He glances down at Rewind when he returns. "Uh so, that map? I don't know if you heard but Hot Rod asked and then I asked, so are you still working on it or what?" He seems pretty impatient to get it. But then again, this is Blurr we're talking about, of course he's impatient, right?


"Blurr, maybe he *is* malfunctioning. Maybe he landed on his processor, too, so...try and be a little more..." Arcee pauses, staring down one of the tunnels in alarm. "Did you hear that. Did you guys HEAR THAT."


"Primus, what is even going /on/ in your--" Chromia starts to mutter, her axe tilting at an angle as she hefts it one-handed, her other hand scrubbing in a tick-tick-scrape of fingers over her face. She aborts whatever that was going to be, though, and snaps her hand back around the haft of her axe, looking newly alert after an obscurely dour look at Hot Rod like she is blaming him for something.


Hot Rod makes an exaggerated gesture of putting his hands to the sides of helm. "I can't hear /anything/ if you're going to shout." When Blurr brings Tailgate to the group, he studies the newest addition with bright and unhurried curiosity. The ground shifts and settles in the wake of Blurr's swift passage. "Hey!"


With everyone gathered and Rewind totally sending the map any second now, Hot Rod turns back the way they came, gesturing Chromia on ahead. "Lead the way," he tells her in response to that dour look.


Rewind sighs as Blurr just blabs on anyway. Oh well, he tried. Again he nods to Arcee, then freezes as some odd sound breaks the silence far back...somewhere. "Yeah...I did." Then he blinks as Blurr asks him about... Oh right! He does as asked, "Yeah... maps ahoy!"


Tailgate hopes he doesn't get whiplash from Blurr toting him from his tunnel of entrapment over to the others. He gets a better look at a few of them now, depending on whose lights are where. In the end, his visor finds Blurr again, the most familiar. It's hardly something, but it's something. "What? Before you came online? Are you recent?" What a personal question. How recent is recent, for a cybertronian?


Tailgate looks to Hot Rod at the greeting, glancing at the others in turn as they prepare to go. "What are you all doing down here, if not looking for me?" Tailgate's eyes are flickering in the dark, concern bleeding out of his visor in a wave of dull light.


Chromia gestures with the blade of her axe, hook of her mouth sardonic. She gives Tailgate a long and curious look, and then turns aside to start onward on steps as light-footed and careful as she can make them. "Sight-seeing," she says without turning to look back over her shoulder. "We'll get you back out soon enough."


"Definitely sight-seeing. So ... how about that Ark, huh?" Hot Rod prods with ungentle fascination. The safe paths marked already for their return, it seems distantly possible that all might be uneventful on their return to the surface.


Then something cracks again, nearer, louder, and the floor gives way between Chromia and Hot Rod in a sudden and widening gap that forces them back in opposite directions. Move fast, team, or FALL FOREVER.


Arcee peers down at Tailgate curiously, with the ever-recording Rewind sitting on her shoulder. "Oh...you're fading," she exclaims in alarm. "Quick, did anyone bring any energon goodies? I don't think this is a safe place to...to..."


She leaps back reflexively as the chasm opens, quickly grabbing the edge of the wall for some kind of purchase.


Rewind just holds onto Arcee. "Woah... nice reflexes you have there!"


Chromia lunges in a forward roll, her feet barely escaping the crack, so that she hits the ground in a roll, shoulder first in the dark. The blade of her axe bites deep into the stone and she holds into it, using it as lever to haul herself back to her feet again. She can no longer see the others except as indistinct spots of light, partly obscured by craggy arms of tunneled stone. Wherever she goes next, the others can't see her. Her last farewell, sent via frequency, is at least pretty clear evidence that she's not dead: << I've got to keep climbing. Can't see you guys. >>


Blurr can definitely move fast. Faster than everyone else here put together. He jumps out of the way, even with Tailgate in his arms. "Whoa! Careful guys!"


Hot Rod hates retreating from a challenge, but let's face it: there's no way he's winning a challenge against gravity. So he backpedals, even though it isn't awesome, and it isn't graceful, to come to a halt several paces back from the point where the groaning floor tips into the dark. "So, what was that you were saying about it not being a safe place?" he asks Arcee. He grins, because that's an appropriate reaction to horrible danger. "Rewind, did you have any data at all from this area to help us get back on track?"


"What about it?" Hot Rod's question gets a short question back. "I do need to get to a medic." Tailgate admits this a second before there is a familiar crack of floor and wall, and the sound gives way to crashing and the sensation of being swung about, his vision a mass of blue metal pulling him through the dark. "Urk--" He'll just. Stay right here. Tailgate doesn't pass out in Blurr's grip. Really. He's totally awake. His visor didn't click shut. Except it did.


"This is just getting more dangerous by the microsecond! Chromia had the right idea. Upward. Outward, onward. Let's. LEAVE. *Now*." If the floor is collapsing, it's time to GO," Arcee insists. And she just wants to smack the grin off of Rod's faceplate, very badly.


Rewind is still hanging on for dear life, but he answers Hot Rod's question. "Oof! Um, well, it's the most fragile part of Cybertron's landscape. Generally authorities advise against traveling here altogether. There are a *bunch* of caverns down here, and the odds are the vast majority haven't been mapped. Ever. It'd be easy to get lost here forever and never get o..." He suddenly stops and blinks. Wait, that might not be considered exactly helpful. Oops.  


"Uh... oh. You mean how do we get out? Turn right. Then left." Menawhile, he keeps sifting through his databanks, but if there's a record on tailgate- the poor mech wasn't considered important enough to make any "Missing" notices. Alas. Rewind keeps looking.


"Come on, Arcee, where's your sense of adventure? You can't have adventure without a little danger." Clearly aiming for 'very, very, very badly' instead of just 'very badly' in terms of smackitude, Hot Rod kicks a bit of debris into the hole and listens for it to the hit the ground. It clatters from one level to the next to the next, following a multi-level collapse. The sound fades out rather than stop. "Wow, that sounds deep. Maybe we could just punch our way up!" he suggests (horribly) even as he begins to follow Rewind's directions. He turns right, looking back at Blurr. "Hey, think you can scout ahead again? I can take the little guy." He has a name, Hot Rod. "He doesn't look so good."


"Spelunking in a cave...that's fine! Finding someone who's traumatically injured -- not so fine, and definitely no longer happy fun time. It's time to get Tailgate some help," Arcee insists.


Blurr chuckles at Arcee. "Hey if you want to head back, no one's stopping you. In fact, if you're going you should probably take uh...little blue guy, whatever his name was." He dumps Tailgate on the pink fembot instead of Hot Rod, and hurries to follow Rewind's directions. "I have a question, if we're going to approach the labs from underground, how are we getting in? Are we breaking down a wall? Hacking a door? Finding maintenance shafts? Are we going to get into the tunnel that leads to our entry? How're we gonna find it?" Questions, questions, questions. So many of them.


Rewind has to agree with Arcee (sadly). "As much as I like adventure, and believe me- adventure makes for GREAT historical footage!- What I *don't* want to be recording is something that turns into CSI Cybertron. We better get Tailgate here to a medic ASAP." When Blurr dumps said mech in Arcee's arms, Rewind leans in. FINALLY SOMEONE HIS SIZE. NOw if he'll just survive. "Yeah.... anybody have something they can cauterize those wounds with? Make sure there's no leakage?"


"If he hasn't died yet -- I mean, Ark? Really? -- then he's probably not going to any time soon," Hot Rod points out. "Is he ... dripping, or anything? I mean, I can definitely cauterize but--." Of course he can burn things. /Of course he can/. Some of his easy manner drops when Blurr hits with the questions, and he holds his hand up before anyone can volunteer answers. "Well, first step is just figuring out what's down here, so let's focus on that, huh? And apparently what's down here are tiny, ancient old mech. Man, do you think there are /more/ of him?"


Blurr groans, looking exasperated. "But what's the point of coming down here if we're not even sure we'll be able to get IN even if we get there???"


Tailgate doesn't protest being passed around like a macabre party favor. He's only dribbling a little, non-essentially. He's had a long time to dribble. Carry on.


"Are you serious?? You're just going to dump him on me, and make me go find a medic for him?? While you go off and...and forget him, and have your adventure??" Arcee looks furious. "Don't you have any feelings in your spark?? What is WRONG with you?! Look at this mech! Just look at him!" She holds up Tailgate's broken little bod. "Or does it make more sense to you mechs to continue on like nothing ever happened??"


"What?" In the face of Arcee's anger, Hot Rod mostly looks confused. He looks to Blurr for support. Help. Angry Arcee. "Look -- we're going back, that's why I asked Rewind for the maps. I just don't think he's going to bleed out right here and now. Probably," he adds, because he is not, after all, a medic. "Look, why don't we just...." He makes a point of carrying on until they reach an intersection, then asks Rewind, "This left?"


Rewind watches this all go down and (maybe wisely?) stays out of the way. He then shakes his head at Hot Rod's question. "No, your other left." The archivist sends out an updated map again, adding little red dots that indicate the position of each known individual, with a squiggly line indicating the way back out.


Blurr stares blankly at Arcee. Uh...what? He doesn't understand why she's so mad. "Well -no- that's why I gave him to you because you wanted to leave anyway so I figured you could take him to a medic? Look Arcee, this is important. What's they're doing in those labs--"


He pauses momentarily, looking unsure of himself for a second. "--it's just not right!"


"Well I *know* that, which is why I want to go with you," Arcee says. "But I can't do that if this mech might possibly die, I certainly wouldn't leave him somewhere or even take him with us because we could be taking him into further danger." Now, things are probably a bit clearer. She thinks she's being sent away!


"No. We are all going," says Hot Rod, with a glance toward Blurr and then back again. "We need to be sure Chromia gets back to the surface okay, too." He takes his ... other left, checking against the map. Behind them there is a distant scratch of metal over stone. It is probably the same kind of nothing that the crack was, earlier. Ignore it. It'll be fine.


"What labs?" Tailgate's visor opens with a click, gaze vaguely aimed at Blurr's voice, only to turn and find the face of the bot who is now holding him, and the smaller one nearby her. Good morning. "Where are we going?"


Rewind looks at Blurr and Hot Rod. "Where's this place? You talking about the Institutes?" He remains on his comfortable perch, though.


"You'll find out." Blurr answers Tailgate. He sighs at Hot Rod's decision. "Fine, I guess--" He stops when he hears that scraping noise. "Did you guys hear that? It sounded like scraping."


"Okay." Arcee seems placated by Rod's decision that they all stick together, somehow. Perhaps because Tailgate is still functional to some degree and he doesn't seem to be in much distress. "...Yes. I think I heard...some kind of scraping..." She's quieted way down, now, her attentions toward the chasms.


"Probably Chromia ahead of us." Since Hot Rod has said that, it is almost certainly wrong. Particularly as Arcee is right to orient on the chasm behind them: there's another scrape, and maybe a flicker of light in the deep, deep dark. "Tunnels route sound all weird, have you noticed that?" They continue on with a pause every so often to check with Rewind's map for direction. "You really don't know want to know anything about the labs, mech, or else you'll wish we left you here."


Rewind isn't so sure. "I dunno if that sounded like Chromia... that sounded... bigger to me." Not that he's nervous now or anything. No. Nah. He leans towards Arcee even more, while still pointing the way. But no one answers him about the Institutes.... maybe they don't know either?


It seems like Tailgate may be ready to pass out again. Hot Rod's words get through to him, as he surveys the others. "I'll find out anyway if we get out, right?" Yeah, Blurr even said so. "...We -are- getting out?" Uh oh. "Or are you stuck now too?" Don't say things like that! Scrap.


"I don't think that was Chromia..." Blurr frowns, keeping his guard up. He glances at Rewind. "Did you say something about monsters being down here? Or was it just the dangerous terrain?"


"I don't know. Have you /seen/ Chromia?" That's right, Hot Rod. Make comments about a femme's weight when she isn't here to give you another one of those dour looks. Chromia just has heavy armoring, dude. Still -- he steps a little faster. "Arcee, you feel like handing over one of your passengers?"


Arcee is about to literally kick Rod in the backside for that remark about Chromia, when she quickly refrains as he offers to take one of her little passengers. "...Oh, well...are you sure?"


Rewind leans a little closer to Arcee. No offense, Rod, but he'd rather be carried by the pretty femme. "Monsters?" he answers Blurr, "Well, there are *tales* of them.... but I assumed they're campfire tales... of course, even myths usually have basis in reality..." He grins under the faceplate.


"I don't want to burden you." Tailgate offers up to Arcee, helpfully degrading himself for the sake of another's comfort. And she has her plate full as it is-- he doesnt't want to be dropped, either, you know. "Nobody answered me-- are we getting out?"


"Yeah. No use you taking two and getting slower." Hot Rod thus unnices his offer, and extends a hand for Tailgate. He stares at Rewind. WELL WHO WANTS TO CARRY YOU ANYWAY. He transfers his attention to the /superior/ minibot. "Yeah, we're getting out, same way we got in. More or less."


"Oh, we're definitely not remaining in here for very long, Tailgate. We're absolutely taking you back for help, don't you worry," Arcee smiles and hands Tailgate over to Rod. This frees her up to get her weapon out of subspace, in the event they encounter something very bad in the caverns that await them.


Tailgate is transferred from arm to arm without incident, feeling a slight mix of guilt and shame for having to rely on them at all. He shouldn't have been down here anyway! "That's good. I have to get back." He refrains from saying for what at this point, assuming that his 'launch' wasn't that long ago. Blurr was only exaggerating, clearly.


To the distant groan of settling stone is added an intermittent skitter of metal over rock. The soundtrack down here sucks. Whatever it is -- if it /is/ something -- it follows them, just barely audible if one stops to listen.


Which Hot Rod doesn'st do, of course. He watches as Arcee frees a hand for a weapon and gives her a smile. "Well, I feel safer." It's 50/50 on whether he's teasing or not: his tone toward Arcee so often leans toward the former that it tends to spill over into /anything/ he says. With Blurr scouting ahead to make sure of safe paths, they make their way back toward more familiar tunnels. "You ever see anything down here?" he asks his armful, glancing down at Tailgate.


"I haven't." Tailgate answers after a moment. "I've heard things around the tunnels, but I've never been able to-- actually investigate them--" He does not go as far as wiggling the stubs of his legs, but he does glance downward at the crusted surfaces of where they were smashed off.


Arcee smirks at Rod, then she narrows her optics and continues making her way down into the cavernous depths, following Rewind's map. "How are you doing up there, Rewind?" she asks her shoulder companion.


Blurr continues to scout ahead, starting to feel a bit unnerved by the noises. Is someone following them? Maybe those myths were at least based on -something-, as Rewind had said. He's fast enough to get away, -for sure-, but what about the others?


Rewind ...would probably be SOL if a monster started chasing them- well, unless Arcee could outrun it, and the small mech could hang on as she ran away. Or fought. He smiles at her under the faceplate. "I'm good. Lovin' the view from here. Believe me, this really beats my usual fare trying not to get stepped on. And around here, also trying not to fall through the floor. Also, great footage. You realize this will go into the history archives, right? The reappearance of...Tailgate!" He tries to make it sound important, especially since the lack of records make it look like... it isn't. Poor Tailgate. Still- a daring rescue? This is great footage. Maybe NOW Tailgate WILL be famous!


"See?" Hot Rod holds Tailgate up over his head, just a little. "Nothing to worry about. Tailgate said so." He nearly bashes the poor mech into a hanging bit of stone. He yanks him back to arm level a second before impact. He dusts off Tailgate's head. Cut that from the footage.


Scouting ahead, Blurr is better able to hear the sound around them without the distraction of the others. The scraping, skittering sound suggests a single figure, but probably on four legs. Settled behind, Arcee is better able to /see/ a gleam of light where there really shouldn't be any metal, and then two feral eyes glowing in the distant dark. But it's okay. Because Tailgate said it's fine.


Arcee gasps a bit when she spots the definite presence ahead, and she quickly draws her laser-pistols. "There's something back there," she whispers in a tense hiss. "It's looking back at us. There."


Tailgate, in an effort to pay heed to a name he hasn't heard the whole time he's been here, swivels his head when Rewind says it. Unimportant and undiscovered, his records are indeed all but gone in the river of time. Maybe if Rewind ever goes back far, far, far. "I'm going to be in history archives? Why's that? Is this an expedi-- ah!" He doesn't notice the stalactite until Rod causes a narrow miss. "I'm in a delicate state!" Tailgate sads at Rod as the other mech dusts his head off. Feel bad. He doesn't notice Arcee contradicting him so soon.


Hot Rod feels bad. Tailgate has magic powers. "Yeah, sorry about that," he says. He brushes off Tailgate's head one last time then gives it a pat. There. No harm, no foul. "Maybe it's Chromia," he suggests to Arcee. He looks briefly distracted as he places a comm call, and then gets a funny sort of furrow. "Okay. It's /not/ her."


A second set of eyes joins the first behind them in the dark. At least Blurr has nothing to report but noises ahead!


Noises, creepy lights...and where has Blurr gone?


Well he's hurried far enough ahead that the others can't see him any more, perhaps without realizing it. Speed just comes so naturally to him, and since he doesn't have to worry as much about the fragile terrain as the others do, it's easy for him to lose them.


...Maybe Tailgate is wrong, maybe everything -isn't- all right.


Rewind looks ahead nervously, but does reply to Tailgate. He's feeling sorry for the mech now. And he's a small mech, just like Rewind, so... they ought to stick together, right? "Uh, yeah! I'm an archivist! This'll be something I'm sure future generations will look up and watch again and ag- Uh oh." He stops in mid-sentence as..."Are those ...eyes? Well... okay, everything I just said will no longer be valid if whatever owns those eyes up there decides it's hungry."  


He looks imploringly at Arcee. "I can't share history inside the belly of a monster." He pauses. "Well... Ok, I guess it depends on the *kind* of monster, but still.... I'd rather not try it if at all possible..."


Tailgate makes a noise that suggests acceptance of the apology. "You're just rambunctious." It's fine now. He keeps a grip on Hot Rod's shoulder to look at Rewind with his side vision. "Are what eyes?" Oops? "Uhm--"


Hot Rod checks the map: the safe paths they've already walked lie just ahead, Blurr somewhere on them. "You know, in that case: I suggest a race. I bet we're faster." A race sounds so much better than running away, doesn't it? "How about it, Arcee? Tailgate, Rewind? You guys think you can hold on?"


"There's more than one down there, there's a few. And I have no idea where Blurr ran off to, but it wouldn't surprise me if he just breezed past those things," Arcee murmurs quietly, trying to get a target lock on the shadowy figures.


"Well...I guess we can try that," Arcee decides.


Rewind blinks. "I suppose.... I've got image stabilzation on this baby, at least..." He points to the camera on his head.


"I've been holding on since I fell down here." Tailgate, don't get smart. His answer comes in the form of actually clinging to Hot Rod, hoping that a race doesn't make him pass out again. It might. It probably will.


"Great! Then you'll get a good shot of me winning." Hot Rod assumes a cheerful attitude, but only Tailgate might be close enough to read the effort that goes into it. Even then, they hardly know each other. The signs of strain are subtle. "Come on, Arcee. Last one to sunlight buys the drinks." Then he takes off, like he's TRYING to make Tailgate pass out again. He's the worst. Despite appearances, he paces himself to her, but the tunnels that they walked before protest the rough treatment. Before long, they are not only outracing eyes in the dark, but the damage they are doing to the fragile structures. Hoodlums and vandals.


Arcee transforms, which somehow manages to place Rewind gently in the seat compartment of her vehicular mode. "I'm not below turning this 'race' into a demolition derby, if you know what I mean," she tells Hot Rod, gunning it through the tunnels.


Win? Hot Rod would never beat Blurr. Ever. Blurr's probably there already, pacing back and forth impatiently waiting for his the rest of them to catch up. Sigh.


That's a lot of shaking and a lot of fragile ground to cover-- Hot Rod will end up at the end of the race with a tiny half-bot passed out, arms locked around whatever he can hold onto.


Ugh!! Blurr doesn't count. A) He got a head start. B) He cheats. DOESN'T COUNT! "I like the way you think," Hot Rod tells Arcee with a laugh that echoes behind them. Tailgate is really going to end up wishing he was left behind. Or at least that he was rescued by gentler hands. Between Hot Rod and Arcee, the demolition portion of the race is fairly well accomplished, so that they zip out of the dark dusty but triumphant. Nothing follows but a cloud of dust and the distant rumble of collapsing passageways. Hot Rod transforms back to root mode with a passed out Tailgate in his arms and looks back through the dust. "Well, so much for that idea."


Rewind grins and enjoys the fact that (for once) his smaller root mode actually *fits* somewhere. He sits politely on Arcee's seat, looking around. "Nice! And... thanks, I appreciate the ride..." *blink* "I mean, well... you know." Then he holds on- politely- as Arcee starts racing through the tunnels, braodcasting maps to the racers as they go. And filming everything.


Once they reach the end of the race, sure enough Blurr is already at the finish line. "Whattookyouallsolong." he grumbles. He peers at the collapsing passageways. "Wait, if we're going to use these tunnels again later, shouldn't we be making sure they stay -intact?"


Arcee transforms, and then looks back toward where they came. "...." She makes sure Rewind's back up on her shoulder, then says to Blurr, "Well. I suppose we'll just have to continue in this direction, then. Where's the exit on *this* side? You found it already, right??" Oh, Blurr's really getting on her diodes something fierce.


Tailgate doesn't contribute much at all. Maybe someone should take him home. Wherever home is. He probably doesn't have one anymore. Be gentle.


"Oops," Hot Rod says to Blurr. "Oh well. We'll just try -- somewhere else, I guess. It's only a /little/ bit of them that collapsed. I mean -- in addition to the part that collapsed around Chromia. She's fine, by the way," he adds to Arcee. Hefting Tailgate, he says, "I guess I better go drop him off at the doctor's. Next time we'll definitely find a better path." That's right. Next time. Then he's off to go drop Tailgate on Ratchet's doorstep. He'll be so happy.  

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