Lair of the Stealth Bunnies
Beginnings of Change
This perfunctory building is where all of the records for the Academy are located. Flickering computer lights dart across the polished floors; screens shimmer with various readouts and reports. It is rumoured that below this building, the disabled laser cores of failed students are located in cold storage. Lord Straxus has always denied this rumour.
CatsCradle is seated in the middle of the floor, surrounded by files as she sorts through them, muttering under her breath.
Ravenwing enters soundlessly, more out of habit than because she's deliberately concealing her presence. She also tends to keep to the plentiful cover in here, just another shadow amongst those cast by desks and equipment. Catscradle is immediately noticed, simply because she's producing the only sound in the room, and Ravenwing pauses to listen, a smirk appearing on her face. Ah yes, the joys of paperwork... She holds her position and continues to listen, trying to determine if anyone else is present... One would think she were infiltrating an enemy base rather than visiting an allied facility.
CatsCradle used to tell smart-ass rookies that it is hard to sneak up on a stealth, usually as she was helping them up after she threw them into a convenient wall, or some other hard surface. She glances up from the pile in front of her, her gaze flickering around the room and settling on a shadow that seems different than it had been the last time she looked. "Let's see," she murmurs as if to herself. "Most everyone is too spooked by this place to come exploring, and the sentries make considerably more noise..."
Ravenwing detects no others in the vicinity, and her keen hearing picks up on some interesting comments from the room's only occupant. Hmmmmmm. Is she losing her touch again to be so easily detected, or was she just not trying particularly hard? Probably the later. Ordinary politeness comes into play, and she makes a deliberate effort to be less, well, stealthy when she moves slowly towards the center of the room. "They make quite a bit of noise, yes, but not everyone has the skill to go unobserved."
CatsCradle gives a little dismissive wave. "I'm used to rookies trying to sneak up on me, just to see if they can." She sits back slightly, her head tilted. "Let me guess. You have a hard time /remembering/ to make noise, right?"
Ravenwing steps into the light briefly, but still prefers the shadows. "I've been more or less "stuck" in the on position for the past two million years, so yes. A small matter of survival."
CatsCradle nods with an expression of understanding. "Something like four and a half for me. I've had to force myself to pay more attention since being stationed on Earth. People like Megatron don't like to be startled, and he has a very very large gun."
Ravenwing crosses her arms and smirks. "Don't get caught." Her silver optics drift around the room again, making sure that no one is in sight, then she changes her location so that her back is to a wall, and she can see all the entrances to the room. "One takes something of a risk in startling a warrior. Depending on the warrior in question, he or she may shoot first and ask questions later."
CatsCradle shoves a stack of files to one side. "Fortunately, I move real fast." She glares at the files for a second or two, then looks back up. "Feeling better? You look much more...er... solid..."
Ravenwing shifts uncomfortably at the reminder of her weakness, her silver optics dimming briefly. "'Twas little more than a need to refuel, thank you, and that was seen to on my return to Valckasta."
CatsCradle gives a sharp nod and doesn't say any more on the subject. "Is there anything you needed, or are you just exploring so you can take back word that the Grinder is indeed beginning to function again?" Her voice is amused, but her optics continue to study 'Wing.
Ravenwing shrugs. "I have a certain interest in this place, not only because an old friend usually resides here, but because I was put to a bit of trouble in the facility's behalf." There's another reason, but she leaves that out.
CatsCradle chuckles. "Usually people can't wait to leave the Grinder. It's pretty rare when people come back of their own chosing." Then she obviously realizes she just became one of those rarities and rolls her optics at herself.
Ravenwing shrugs again and doesn't expand on her reasons. Eyeing the stack of files on the floor, she asks casually, "Doing some housecleaning? No," she continues a bit belatedly in response to the original point, "I doubt many would want to return here, except as instructors. There would be few pleasant memories of such a facility."
CatsCradle gives another nod. "Yes, on the housecleaning, or at least a bit of it. Trying to tighten things up a bit until a permanent replacement is assigned." She drums her clawtips on teh floor thoughtfully. "I never attended the boot camp here. I only know of the horror stories, and do not know how accurate they are. I know that this is hardly a university, where students are encouraged, but I wonder if those horror stories might be scaring away possible recruits. Doing more damage, perhaps, than the good they do in browbeating cadets."
Ravenwing arches a brow at that, her optics brightening in mild surprise and a bit of amusement. "A non-traditional view for a Decepticon warrior..." She pauses in her train of thought and interjects, "... I don't believe we have been introduced, though I suspect my own name has become rather well-known."
CatsCradle laughs softly, again more as if at herself. "I have never been accused of being traditional, this is true. And I do know of you, but have not had a formal intruduction. I am CatsCradle."
Ravenwing inclines her head gracefully in acknowledgment. "To make this introduction 'official', I am Ravenwing of Valckasta. Greetings, Catscradle of... the Nightwarrens? As for your point... it is the opinion of many that all Decepticons must be forced into the mold of a warrior, regardless of whether or not they fit well in that mold. I agree with that, but only to a degree: all should be able to defend themselves well enough that they aren't a burden to their comrades, but if one is poorly skilled in such things, then it would benefit the Empire much more if they had a fine artist instead of a poor warrior."
CatsCradle lets 'Wing's subtle question on an origin background pass unanswered. "I just wonder if such stories keep recruits away than anything else. Like the story of Straxus storing cadet's laser cores." She shakes her head, still in that wry bemusement. "And now there's that whole question about his laser core. Somehow, that is just... poetic justice, in a bizarre way."
Ravenwing smirks. "Indeed. I admit that I was not fond of the mech. He insulted my Lord and threatened both Spinister and Valckasta, something we're not likely to forget." Then there's that multi-million feud with Tyrian, but that's another story. She continues, "That he should meet the same fate as he may have administered to those under his protection is indeed fitting. Perhaps we might be able to verify that some day."
CatsCradle's optics turn a touch sad, although her expression doesn't change. "I don't believe there is anyone that Straxus didn't insult or threaten or both, not in the entire Empire." Her head moves in a slight shake. "He wasn't always like that," she adds in a softer voice.
Ravenwing shrugs. "Sometimes he spoke with a great deal of common sense, so it's something of a mystery as to why he would display so little at other times." She could say more, but the other femme seems to hold Straxus in some regard, at least in her memories. "Bitterness because of the loss of an Empire, perhaps. There are some times when personalities are just too powerful to co-exist without being tempered by a great deal of... diplomacy, and that is something he completely lacked. Refreshing in some ways, but not a survival trait."
CatsCradle snorts softly. "He was... in Earth terms... a total loon."
Ravenwing is unfamiliar with the term, but can guess, and corners of her mouth quirk in something that's almost a smile. "Indeed. The Empire is better off without him. Speaking of those without whom the Empire would benefit... what became of the would-be "Lord" Slasher? I... wasn't exactly at my best last cycle."
CatsCradle holds up empty hands, palms up. "I have no idea. Stormed off perhaps, when it became apparent he was not about to rule in Straxus' place? That would have been almost as bad as Straxus still being around. Worse, really. Straxus at least had experience in leading troops."
Ravenwing leans back against a convenient wall, taking a few seconds to examine her immaculate claws. No more Tyrian fuel on them, alas... Mind your orders, she halfheartedly reproves herself, and nods to CatsCradle. "Nothing worse than someone trying to present a facade of an ability they just don't have, be it diplomacy, leadership, or whatever else."
CatsCradle shakes her head. "Except maybe someone trying to jump nine ranks to warlord status." She looks over the files. "I think I'll just box this and set some cadets to sorting this out when they return."
Ravenwing's attention drifts to another thought, and she says softly, more to herself than to CatsCradle, "I wonder what has become of Diktat..."
CatsCradle tilts her head again and smiles, more softly this time. "I saw him on Earth a few months back. His name didn't appear to be either on the list of those who disappeared, or yet on the list of those we retrieved. This would rather lead me to believe he was not here at the time."
Ravenwing tilts her head slightly, focusing her sharp silver gaze on CatsCradle again. "Ah, off-planet, then. It surprises me that he has not returned, especially with the political instability in the Nightwarrens, but then it could be that he is out of touch with Cybertron."
CatsCradle reaches out to snag a carton and starts dumping files in it, not paying tremendous attention to what goes where... after all, it will be a good job for some unsuspecting cadet. "He can't come back too soon for me. I have my own office back on Earth to run. I'll be quite happy to plop this back in his lap. Not," she adds hastily, "that I'm not honored in Megatron's confidence on me, but I am relieved that this is only a temporary post."
Ravenwing smirks evilly. "Forced into an occupation for which you are not qualified, Catscradle of... the Nightwarrens? I'd offer to help, but not only might that be seen as an insult, but I have my own duties to attend to." Plus wasting her time with that fraggin' exchange with Tyrian... What on Cybertron possessed her Lord to agree to that?
CatsCradle does not seem to take 'Wing's words as an insult. "No, no," she says rather absently as she shoves more files in and crams them down to make them fit. "I'd just rather be working on Earth." She manages to close the carton, although the cover bulges ominously. "Besides, I'm still not sure this is another tactic of Diktat's to drive me more insane than I already am."
Ravenwing observes, still amused, "Diktat has reasons for everything he does, and unless he has you in mind as a second, he would not deluge you with work to the point of so dire a fate. Nor would he leave the Nightwarrens ripe for the taking, unless he'd made previous arrangements with Megatron."
CatsCradle looks up at her in alarm. "He'd damn well better /not/ have me in mind for a second." She taps her claws on the floor again in a thoughtful manner. "Although I wouldn't have put it past him to arrange something with Megatron. Megatron was rather calm about this whole mess."
Ravenwing keeps her own speculations of some kind of agreement between Valckasta and Tyrian to herself. Something else she must ask her Lord about. "It's possible. He's a devious mech."
CatsCradle gives the box another glare. "I still think he's trying to drive the poor Earth-stealth crazy."
Ravenwing idly inspects her claws again, recognizing CatsCradle's grumbling for what it is: the grumbling of someone who has interests elsewhere and has been assigned a responsibility she didn't want. "Should he turn up any time soon, you could question him on the topic. That doesn't guarantee that he'll answer truthfully, though."
CatsCradle chuckles. "No... but I'm sure it will be a thuroughly interesting and charming answer."
Ravenwing glances up, arching a brow in mild surprise. "But of course. This *is* Diktat of whom we are speaking."
CatsCradle grins. "It might just be worth sticking around just to hear his answer."
Ravenwing notes, "You may be here until he returns, so the opportunity is a real one."
CatsCradle leans back, her optics sparkling with amusement. "I could ask Megatron to assign Gryphus to track him down..."
Ravenwing says, "If he doesn't want to be found, then he will not be found."
CatsCradle flicks her claws in dismissal. "True. But it would keep Gryphus busy, now that the cadets have been found."
Ravenwing's optics narrow. "Ah yes, Gryphus, who is to be visiting Valckasta whilst I tour Tyrian... A scholar, no? She would find plenty of interest in Valckasta, as it is the data center of the Empire."
CatsCradle mulls over a choice of words and finally settles with, "She classifies herself as a researcher, yes."
Ravenwing arches a brow at the lukewarm response, but doesn't press. If Gryphus is not what she seeems, the Lord High Commander will deal with her as she deserves, especially if she's not knowledgable.
Ravenwing straightens up and takes a last, casual look around. One task will have to be left undone, but there's an excellent chance that the significance will be entirely missed. The rest... are done. She's verified that the Grinder is semi-operational again, and that it hasn't been left abandoned. Diktat... will have to wait. "If you'll excuse me, CatsCradle, I must return to Valckasta."
CatsCradle manages to make a half-bow look credibly formal while sitting on the floor still surrounded by piles of boxes. "It was a pleasure speaking with you, Ravenwing. Someday, we shall have to speak again, once I unbury myself from this room." She smiles pleasantly.
Ravenwing bows gracefully in return, "If Cybertron isn't too distasteful to you. I hold a rather low opinion of Earth myself, but ah well. To each his or her own." Her Valckastan accent becomes more pronounced as she adds, "Fare thee well, CatsCradle," before turning to leave.