- Its a CONVOY!
No, not that kind of Convoy. A train of Autobots on their way to a small base to assist in reaffirming control over the area was led by OPTIMUS PRIME himself. The train of about a dozen vehicles moved slowly between the hills that shone. Headlights were typically dimmed or turned off to avoid blinding each other as they puttered along through the long trail.
Arcee is in the convoy, of course. As a gunner, she'd be able to transform in a pinch and shoot down the baddies if they get attacked. She rolls along in a position behind Optimus Prime, bringing up the rear so she can watch their back.
- Though they're not expecting too much trouble, it goes without saying that the Autobots abide by the saying, "BE PREPARED". As such, Optimus Prime's guard remains up, though his trust also remains in his fellow Autobots and their own scanners. The Autobot leader is silent for now, keeping his focus forwards as they make their way towards the station.
Jackknife naturally is driving her creation that was made via plans from Ironhide. She's in the lead vehicle, piloting it behind the convoy. Each of the sub-vehicles that are hooked up to the lead has a mech or femme on board manning the laser guns on board. The force fields are up over each vehicle, just in case they are attacked on the way there or once they arrive.
Though Magnum wants to be up in the front of the convoy with Optimus Prime, his speed does not allow him to do so. Though Magnum could easily fill the role of convoy commander and ensure everyone gets there okay, he allows a faster Mech to fill that role. Instead, Magnum pulls up the very rear as his hover platform whirls along slowly. The rear vehicle is actually the best place for Magnum as he can recover any Autobots that break down along the way.
- After the first hour, things were getting boring. A few mechs chat amongst themselves as they drive along - talking about girls (including Arcee), the recent weather and personal achievements. Guy stuff.
But then something peculiar happens...
+roll/d20 for perception.
Optimus Prime picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20 <Perceptor Isn't Here Right Now, Please Take A Message>
Optimus Prime rolls a 16! Magnum picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20 <deception> Magnum rolls a 2! Jackknife picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20
Jackknife rolls a 1! Arcee picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20 <Derp derp> Arcee rolls a 13!
- ...and that peculiarity is not gone unnoticed by Optimus Prime.
- The Prime's treads slow, somewhat, as he catches the activity. It's not...well, that's not good. "Autobots," he calls over the radio, seeking to contact everyone in the travelling convoy, "there's something out there. Scout units - sensor sweep."
Jackknife has her train of vehicles going at its top speed, the tank like treads power over any uneven terrain with ease. She chuckles a bit at a comment she overhears from the vehicle behind hers. Then her radio crackles with the command from Prime and she checks her sensor gear on the vehicle. She taps the comm for the vehicle to on, "Point lasers toward sector Beta 12." All the manned lasers shift into that direction as she slows down the vehicle to a stop and awaits what Prime will order next.
Magnum slows as the convoy rolls to a stop. "Autobots, remember to keep your distance. Don't close in unless given the signal." Magnum raises his cannon out of his cabin. Though he doesn't know what's going on yet, he has full faith in his old friend's judgment. It's never steered him or any of his fellow Autobots wrong.
By now, everyone but the thickest and the hovering would realize the ground was trembling, and it was getting a little bit more violent...
Suddenly, an iBex leaps over a hillside, ponking down on its' hooves as it darts right behind Prime and over the next hill!
And then, two more came... the sound like a constant rumbling thunder just past that hill.
Arcee halts when she's told to. The trembling ground alerts her and she pauses. "Should we transform?" she wonders. Maybe it's time to do some iBex hunting!
- A lone iBex isn't nearly enough to make a noise like /that/. Nor two. But...if there's more...Optimus Prime's processor races, and he transforms, turning and shielding his optics as he turns towards that hill. There's either a herd there...
- ...or something worth a herd fleeing from. Either way, this is trouble.
- "Everyone," he orders, turning, and pointing an arm to the side, "let's move. Whatever's there, we don't necessarily want to be in its way." At least, not until they know what, exactly, it is.
Jackknife certainly can feel the ground movement as it shimmies the entire length of the vehicle around just enough to be noticeable. She jerks her head toward the iBex that landed near Prime, then looks back down at her sensor readings. She hits the comm again, "Be ready to fire upon orders from Prime." She starts the vehicle moving again.
Magnum picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20 <Dodge trampling hooves (-5 for size and lack of maneuverability)> Magnum rolls a 14!
Magnum continues to take up position as the trail vehicle. He hovers along, attempting to dodge the trampling hooves. But it's times like these that his size is more of vulnerability then an asset. Weaving his way in a serpentine pattern, Magnum manages to SOMEHOW dodge the initial iBex wave. Magnum enters the area Prime designated as the last vehicle. Magnum stops with a quick report to Optimus: "No vehicles follow, all convoy accounted for."
- My, that is an awful lot of wildlife. It's an awfully good thing Autobots (in general) don't support mass culling, else the iBex population would find itself...somewhat less.
- So, even as a few try to ram straight /through/ his trailer (before realizing it's made of sterner stuff and manage to find their way around), Optimus still has all life in mind rather than just his own. "Look out!" he calls, making his own efforts to keep from either crushing an iBex - or being tripped in return.
It may be time to rethink the no-cull rule as soon, the iBex surrounded the Autobots - a sea of moving, graceful creatures that bounded up and down, leaping over Arcee and some of the smaller bots. They parted around each vehicle, the ground shivering constantly and the noise one big wall of sound. A few though, did not see the vehicles ahead and more than a few end up crashing - some staggering up, others knocked unconscious or worse.
Arcee stays perfectly still as wild iBex mill around her.
Arcee picks up the dicebag and takes out a D20 <Did I get knocked over?> Arcee rolls a 15!
Jackknife shifts her gaze between where she is driving and her scanners, being responsible for those aboard the train of vehicles it's her priority to keep them as safe as possible. The force fields should deflect any more fleeing iBex and hopefully someone won't get trigger happy before the order is given. The vehicle rocks a bit as more iBex leap over the hill, a few impact the vehicles behind her.. or more specifically impact the force fields. "This could be bad." she murmurs. "Optimus Prime what are your orders?" she calls out to the mech.
- WHAM* one runs into Arcee's rear bumper, before staggering off.
"Whew," Arcee says, as one bounces off her rear.
- WHAM!* ... Another iBex rams directly into the side of Magnum's hull. The hover platform shakes in midair, but remains stable. Magnum's already decided he won't fire upon the innocent iBex unless ordered to by Optimus. But by Primus, Magnum hopes that order will not come at all. "Optimus Prime, I have an idea, if I may. Jackknife could use her vehicle at low speed to gently nudge us a path out of the way of these iBex."
- They just kept coming, now flowing around all the Autobots. Several of the smaller bots grouped together, to become a larger, harder to miss target as the creatures continued to swarm, bleating as they leapt up and through the air. A few of them were glowing curiously. Thankfully, they were also starting to thin out... but were also slowing down.
- Using his trailer as a wave breaker to shelter behind - for now - Optimus looks towards Magnum, optics brightening at the suggestion. "A good idea," he allows, taking another stock of the scene. Less of them, but if all of the Autobots are together...then there's less worry about one of them going down. "Jackknife - see if you can make a slow path out of their main route. Everyone else - with her." Optimus transforms back in to his vehicle mode, the trailer reattaching with a final 'whump' of an iBex hitting it.
A huuuuge Ibex suddenly slows to a stop. It was a buck, a huge one with a blue body as it turned to stop and stare right at Prime's grill.
"I wonder what startled them all," Arcee wonders aloud. "Maybe some turbo foxes?"
Jackknife glances over at Magnum and his suggestion. She gives the mech a smile, preparing to move out. "Better yet everyone get within range of the vehicles and I'll extend the force fields as far out as I can. You may have to be bipedal for it to work right though." She puts the vehicle into gear and aims it to part the sea of animals. "Curious how a few of them are glowing. Perceptor would be fascinated." she notes.
Magnum slowly but surely positions himself at the end of the chain forming close to Jackknife's vehicle. "Extend your force field as much as you can around them. Do not worry about me, I will be fine. Protect Arcee and the rest of the convoy; I have the rear." Magnum looks on as the huge Ibex stops and stares at Prime's grill. Magnum curiously wonders what it wants.
The blue Ibex staring at Prime's grill snorts a few times, dropping his head.
- And somewhere, in the back of Optimus Prime's processor, he wonders if this is any sort of omen.
- Since it doesn't seem to be fully frozen, he inches forwards, hoping that's enough impetus for it to move out of his way. He hasn't run over one in his life, and he's not about to start now.
Arcee moves so that she's shielded from charging iBex. "Any sign of an end to them?" she asks.
Jackknife taps on the controls to the vehicle and the force fields extend out from each vehicle as far out as they can and still maintain field strength. "Force fields are adjusted, maximum distance is 3 mechanometers. Withhold fire at this time, we don't want to spook them worse." She looks up to see where she is driving, the vehicle seems to be parting the iBex rather well.
Grimlock flexes, then folds in on himself, collapsing into a powerful siege tank.
They were indeed being parted, although a few still bounce off the shield, looking surprised as they bleat, bouncing along. They were thinning out more though, the main herd past the road at this point, although that main one snorted again at Primes' bumper, backing up a few steps before moving sideways, though he turned to face the front of the truck again.
Magnum continues to move along slowly while attached to the rear of the convoy. "You doing alright up there, Jackknife? Optimus?" Magnum keeps his optics peeled towards the herd of iBex, wary in case there was a .. bigger reason the herd was stampeding away from.
- "The worst seems to be over," Optimus answers Arcee, slowly rolling forwards. "Is everyone all right? All units, I want reports. Is anyone in need of a medic?"
- A low rumbling sound echoes across the rolling plains, sounding not entirely unlike a small explosion of sorts. Steadily, the shockwaves permeate the ground, its vibrations notably different from the steady shudder of the creatures' feet against the ground. As they pass, the iBex startle again, changing their trajectories almost as one unit, suddenly moving (in unison) along a different set of vectors...
Jackknife clicks her radio on to assure Magnum, "Doing just fine up here." The vehicle is pointed toward the base they intend to get to, iBex or no iBex. Then the creatures freak out again, "Hang on everyone this may get a bit ugly!" she yells over the comm for the vehicle as the creatures impact the force fields and the new stampede makes the vehicle rock slightly.
The one that was challenging Prime bounds away with a honk, leaping over the hillside again.
Arcee is quietly wondering just what this all means. Were the Decepticons behind this? Or some natural disaster? At least they were protected by a force field for now.
Magnum looks on as the iBex part.. then change trajectories. "Magnum here. All systems operational. I wonder what has the iBex all riled up. Any ideas?"
- As various other reports come in, Optimus's worries of damaged Autobots are eased. Nothing seems serious. At least, until the herd starts moving again at another motion. Having noticed that shockwave, Optimus Prime runs a scanner sweep of his own. "What in Pit forge is going on...?"
- Another rumbling rolls through the hills, this time sounding particularly like a detonation of sorts, causing the ground to shudder ever so slightly, and the iBex to shift their paths once again; clearly, away from whatever seems to be blowing up, out in this 'nowhere' sector of the planet. Honking loudly, the creatures spill around the assembled Autobots, trying their best to avoid anything beyond a glancing impact, and succeeding marginally, at that...
- Oh. That's what they were running from.
- "I want a location on that explosion!" Optimus demands, admittedly jumping to conclusions - but that /wasn't/ natural. He turns, making to go against the flow of the iBex herd.
Jackknife has slowed down the vehicle to a literal crawl as the beasts change their movements yet again as panic has set in and they are just instinctually moving away from the sounds of explosions. "This is putting a tax on the force fields, but they are still holding. I'm going to bring them in a foot to keep them more stable." she calls out over comm and radio both.
"I wonder if there were more explosions that got the herd spooked in the first place," Arcee says, as she follows the others.
- This time, it's clearly an explosion.
- With a sudden, deep crash that quickly trails off to a low rumbling, another impact causes the hills to shake, and the iBex to spook once again.... though, at least, it seems like they're getting used to the idea of staying on the move. The latest detonation should be easy enough to triangulate the position of, given enough sensor data and a general map of the region...
Crackshot, one of the other Autobots present, is somewhat dinged up by now as he calls over the noise "Its coming from Nor-Norwest!" as he finds the triangulation. one leaps, tripping over his hood and the Autobot yelps, shaking side to side to try and get the confused thing off.
- "Got it, Crackshot. Autobots - we have our direction. Roll /out/!"
- Fully intending to investigate and find out if this is some sort of Decepticon target practice, Optimus Prime takes the lead, weapons - pardon the pun - primed and ready for deployment.
Jackknife frowns as there's another explosion, she stops the vehicle fully to refocus the vehicle's scanners to see what sort of data she can get. "What he said." She sighs and powers up the vehicle to head north by northwest.
Arcee heads for the source of the disturbance along with the rest. These explosions are rather disconcerting. "We've got to find out what's causing that!" she exclaims.
- Forging directly into the 'flow' of the river of iBex seems the only way to get to the proposed coordinates - logical, given that's exactly what they're running away from. No further detonations seem to be forthcoming, as the waves of frightened creatures become thinner - the young and strong already long past, the aged and weak pulling at the rear of the herd. When finally the numbers of the creatures drop, the terrain seems markedly unusual - aside from the pounding the ground had taken from a stampede, it is marked with scorch marks and craters, likely from artillery fire of some sort...
- It's too hazardous to drive quickly in these conditions. Optimus transforms back into his standard more, immediately reaching for his rifle and moving in to a run. It goes without saying that he's alarmed, he's ready, and...
- ...well, quite honestly, he's thinking of an earlier report, and wondering if this is related.
Jackknife can speed up the vehicle a bit now that the herd is cleared out enough, though she's careful not to agitate the remaining of them just in case.
Grimlock has partially disconnected.
- The iBex continue bounding past, now easily avoiding the approaching Autobots thanks to the greatly reduced crowds around them (though the occasional 'special' critter manages to slam headfirst into the force field, shake it off, then continue trotting away). In the distance, on a small hillside just over the next ridge, a large grayish-box sits, looking rather tank-like with a set of silvery cannon barrels on either side of its 'cab'...
- A dart around a remaining iBex, a cresting of that hill...and the Autobot Leader comes to a stop, literally skidding to a halt as he catches sight of the vehicle. He stares...and...
- ...it's at this point Optimus Prime says a bad word. Or he might have not. It's muffled by the *CLANG* of his free hand hitting his fore helm.
Jackknife pulls her vehicle up next to Prime and glances over at the mech, "Someone you know sir?"
- As the iBex disperse, the figure on the hill slowly rotates towards the robotic silhouettes he sees in the distance. For a moment, the barrels on either side of the cab rotate forward, then swing backwards, followed by a more significant change. Unfolding, it rises into a large, solidly-built robot, likely recognizable to anyone familiar with the old gladiatorial games.
- Shaking his head, Grimlock begins a slow walk down the hill towards the Autobots below. Leave it to them to interrupt his practice with unnecessary arrivals...
- Looking up at Jackknife and Crackshot, and all the other Autobots they have on the vehicle...Optimus seems anything but amused. "Grimlock," he says, as if it explains everything. Which...really...it does.
- Attention returning to the mech, Optimus begins a walk of his own, making to meet his approach.
Jackknife watches on from the vehicle, she checks the status of her force fields and decides to take them down for now since the iBex are no longer stampeding in panic. "I'll take that as a yes." she notes softly.
- Huffing quietly, Grimlock cocks his head at the Autobot 'Commander'. Lacking the facial panels necessary to sneer, he simply crosses his arms. "Me Grimlock suppose training exercise over now," he growls, dripping with sarcasm as he stares down Optimus. Casually glancing at the femme at his side, he snorts. "Maybe better you all here, though, if stupid animals give you so much trouble."
- There's only so many Optimus Prime will take insubordination from. That said, there's only so many that will /give/ him such in the first place...and he's against using physical force to enforce his authority.
- This, of course, presents a problem when confronted with a mech who seems to only /respect/ force itself.
- He comes to a halt before Grimlock, ignoring all others as he narrows his optics at the taller mech. "I was under the impression," he says evenly, "that your training exercise was to take place elsewhere."
Jackknife glances over those in the vehicles behind her then powers up the lead vehicles engine. "I think perhaps we should continue moving on as that sub base expects us there." she notes over her comm.
- Grimlock huffs quietly at Optimus, maintaining his wide stance. "Terrain wrong," he growls, waving a hand. "Flat. Exposed. No weather. No challenge. No learn there - just practice aim, over and over. Here better. Hills make harder see, harder target. Wind blow, make aiming harder. Here better - make learn better."
- Narrowing his gaze, he adds, "Me Grimlock always want make me better. Better fire cannons. Better use sword." He pauses. "Better... lead troops..."
- //"We will be there."// Optimus responds over the comm, without taking his optics off Grimlock. "As this convoy is on a schedule, we will discuss this in detail later," he says...grimly. "For now, though, I want to know why you did not report in your change of location. Your stampede put this entire group of Autobots in danger."
Jackknife clicks her radio. "Understood sir." She pilots her lead vehicle onward, the other Autobots following alongside the train of vehicles. She knows full well not to question orders.
- Shaking his head, Grimlock growls, "Change of location not important. Still isolated. Still no danger. Optimus took convoy here, took into... heh... stampede." Tipping his head to the side, he adds, "Only fool waste time with weak things. Ignore creatures. They get out of way. No danger but what you make."
- Peering at the convoy, he adds, "What you bring to this place, so important? Why need come this way, this time... why so worried about stupid creatures 'hurt' convoy?
- "And if it was a stampede of Decepticons, on you, we would not have known where to send aid if contact had been lost."
- Oh, it's not a slight against Grimlock's strength, but it doesn't take a genius to think that it may be taken that way. Nonetheless - Optimus raises his free hand, gesturing towards the distance. "There's been some control issues at one of our bases. We're here to reassert our presence - and if there /is/ trouble, we are now at less than optimal strength."
- Good job, Grimlock.
Jackknife glances back to see if Prime is coming, but no sign of him. She sighs and shakes her head, the base has priority at the moment. Though she is concerned about the Autobot leader and the mech they all left him to deal with appropriately.
- "If at less than optimal strength," Grimlock retorts, "it because allow lazy, sloppy soldiers. It because let troops get soft. Let civilians into war zones. Always protect, always defend, never strike, never FIGHT."
- Turning to walk away from Optimus, towards the convoy, he adds, "If you lose strength because of stupid IBEX, then you need aid more than Me Grimlock ever would. So, Me Grimlock escort. Then SURPLUS to 'optimal strength'."
- "We will discuss this later, as I said," Optimus Prime responds to Grimlock. As the Dinobot turns, Optimus follows, still grim about the whole sequence of events. Nonetheless...the added strength is not unwelcome.
- Now, if they could just control it...