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The Core
(played 12/15/01)

Drilling Chamber

        This large cavern is crammed with banks of electronic equipment. A huge drill bit burrows into a vast pit in the centre. A constant flow of water cools down the drill, supplied by a complicated scooping apparatus. The area is filled with continual noise as the drill continues to bite through rock and metal as it strives crack the Earth's core.

For some time now, the Decepticons have been engaged in their latest operation - drilling a hole the center of the Earth to gather energy! The secret drilling location is a constantly busy operation!

Scorcher wipes some filth off her meticulously clean metal skin

Soundwave monitors the progress of the huge drill, occasionally looking up from the equipment.

Long Haul's naturally hauling dirt and earth from the area, back and forth, back and forth... if anyone ever gets close enough to him on his duties, you may hear a small sigh emitted occasionally.

Scrapper stands at a control station looking at the read outs. "Bonecrusher, get the spot probe over to the drill, we need a precise reading."

Scorcher backs away from the action as far as she can, without bumping into the wall that is.

Chasm lies near a computer monitor and occasionally looks at it, monitoring the situation.

Divefire walks into the vast cavern from the main entrance a little time after most of the others, the displeasure of this venture already radiating from his robotic form as he scowls, watching the drill do it's work.

During the middle of a thrust through the Earth's core, however, the dull routine of the operation is disturbed by a sudden series of cracks spilling out from the drilling area... Warning klaxons go off!

Chasm looks alarmed, sitting bolt upright and digging his claws into the console. "No! We're doomed!"

Megatron supervises the work from a platform above the drilling area.

Scorcher looks up, alarmed. To say the least

Scorcher says, "Autobots?"

Soundwave hurriedly snatches Chasm up from the equipment, lest he damage the controls. Though there's clearly a major problem, he moves calmly as always to try to determine the extent of the problem.

CatsCradle follows behind Divefire, looking a little tired from trying to commute between the Grinder and Earth, but also looking content at being home again... until Chasm's sudden squawk. "But I just got back!" she wails very softly.

The cracks continue to spread the chamber. Rubble patters down the ceiling. The bit starts to glow red-hot.

Divefire growls in a low mutter to Cats as the rotating red lights reflect off his dark armour. "This is what happens when we leave Earth research in the hands of others." Despite the cracks and emanate doom, he seems relatively calm. Must be over exposure.

Starscream flies above in jetmode, either late cause he was doing something back at base (likely), or because he was providing a rearguard for the other travelers (bloody chance of that neh?). The Air Commander shifts and lands in one smooth practiced motion, his stomp on the ground able to crush or deafen squishies. The seeker moves into the caverns, with a frown on his face as he looks around at the gathered soldiers and materials.

Megatron wonders if the Constructicons will react by themselves or if he has to order them.

Long Haul storms towards as fast as possible... for a dump truck, transforming nearby. At least there's some excitement!

Scavenger looks around, a bit worriedly, looking to Scrapper for some guidance.

Scrapper looks down at the effected area, and makes a few adjustment to the control board. "Megatron, seismic stress is causing micro-fractures in the surrounding rock. This area isn't totally stable."

Long Haul transforms into his Robot mode.

Scavenger whines, "I was only trying to help! I thought this place would do."

Scorcher looks up longingly where she can see a tiny bit of safe (!) air

Mixmaster surges forward, "Luckily I'm a genius of a chemist. Hmahahhaa!" He starts to spray the cracks with a special chemical sealant.

Soundwave tries to slow the drill speed to bring it slowly to a stop as gravel and bits of rock continue to rain down.

Long Haul remains nearby, not terribly useful in this situation, eyeing about and surveying possible damage. If the drilling blows, well, he's screwed. Of all the times to flunk out of the academy.

CatsCradle grumbles, ducking the rain of dirt and brushing some off her shoulders, "Great... we're back five minutes and we're about to get trapped in an underground cavern. Again!" As an afterthought, she reaches up and brushes dirt off Diver's shoulders too with a glimmer in her optics. She, too, seems reasonably calm. After all, nearly destroying the Earth is becoming almost a weekly occurrence...

Eventually the area is stabilized through the efforts of the Constructicons! The cracks are sealed, the drill is corrected and the operation commences!

Scorcher whispers very softly "Shall I go up and see if this - disturbance - has alerted the bots?"

Chasm breathes a sigh of relief as the warning klaxons die away the lights of the console return to normal. He starts to watch the console again, a bit more enthusiastically this time.

Scrapper finishes "welding" the last of the rocks and looks satisfied. "That's got it."

Megatron flies down from the platform after the gap is sealed. "It is about time."

Long Haul flips back down into dump truck mode, grumbling a little as he does so, backing up to be loaded once more.

Megatron says, "Scavenger, your sensors should have detected the potential fissure in that rock before drilling began."

Starscream gives a sneer. Air Commanders must love the sneer. He stomps into the area, looking as regal and imperious as can be with the dust marring his 'perfect' grey armor. A look is given to Megatron, and the Imperial Traitor turns it into a glare slowly as he comments, "Is it required we drill to the core itself? Even now as you can see the planet is not made for this!"

Scavenger gulps, "I was only trying to help!"

Scavenger fidgets, "It seemed like a good place!"

Divefireís optics shimmer a slightly darker shade of green as Catsí hand brushes over his shoulder, giving her a slight glance of amusement before his scowl returns to the operation. "You realize," He murmurs to Cats as he steps further into the chamber, walking over to one of the equipment monitors to study its data. "That there is no way we can simulate this sort of thing in the Grinder?"

Megatron says, "We could have been blown to oblivion. Mixmaster, take Scavenger to the surface and check up his geologic analyzer circuits."

Mixmaster nods, smirking, and then drags the reluctant Scavenger over to the gravshaft.

CatsCradle wrinkles her nose. "Wasn't planning on simulating," she murmurs back, then looks thoughtful. "On the other hand... might not be a bad idea to add earth terrain into the training simulations..."

Scrapper says, "It isn't his fault Megatron. This organic Earth rock crumbles far too easily."

Long Haul mumbles a little bit, driving the latest load of dirt nearby. "As mindnumbingly boring as this work is, there is a science to it. This soil is so... so..." and with that, the dumptruck goes back with another constant run of mumbles.

Long Haul transforms into his Dump Truck mode.

Megatron says, "If I succeed, Starscream, - and I will - we Decepticons will possess an energy source richer than any in the Galaxy: the molten might of this planet itself."

Soundwave muses to no one in particular, "The Constructicons are the only individuals who have the requisite sensors to analyze this planet's terrain. I might have double-checked Scavenger's diagnostics before he set out."

Megatron says, "Don't contradict my decision, Scrapper. Mixmaster, do as I ordered."

Soundwave pauses as he "listens" to something far away. Stepping forward to catch Megatron's attention he goes back into business mode. "Laserbeak reports, Commander. Autobot patrol sighted above ground."

Scorcher 's optics flare with interest at that

Mixmaster and Scavenger reappear on the gravshaft. "Now Scavenger's geologic analyzer circuits are as good as ever!" Mixmaster crows.

Starscream crosses his arms over his chest. Subconsciously this is a form of protecting himself. He glares at Megatron still, "And if..." A glance is given to Soundwave. Hey, good timing, this way Scream won't provoke Megatron into shooting him. "Autobots! I will take care of them!"

Scrapper mutters, "Right on time to shoot at another of our brilliant projects."

Divefire half smirks back to Cats as he studies the plans of what's about to occur in this chamber, shaking his head slightly at what he reads. "It might be." He states coolly. "If there's much more Earth terrain to be simulated..."

Scavenger looks around, puzzled. "Is something wrong?" he ventures hesitantly. "I mean, my sensors are corrected now and everything! See..." he pauses, surveying the drilling chamber. "Hmm."

CatsCradle lets out a soft snort. "Well, having the earth destroyed before that will kinda shoot a hole in those plans, wouldn't it?"

Chasm mutters, "Laserbeak gets the lovely relaxing flight and I have to maintain this readings with on the precision I can muster..."

Scrapper says, "You're fine Scavenger. It's the Autobots who are the problem."

Scorcher frowns "Should be up there. The bird does not have the firepower" she mutters to herself

Soundwave remarks, "Perhaps you will get a break and have the chance for some combat, Chasm." He's teasing the little dragon again; he knows very well that's the last thing Chasm wants.

Chasm erms, flicking his tail. "Er, yes, of course, Soundwave," he says with mock-enthusiasm.

Long Haul gets a little excited at the sound of Autobots, driving that little bit faster. But alas, he continues his supply chain, the muttering starting up not too long later.

Megatron doesn't believe what he hears. "Autobots?

Scorcher transforms into her Cyberjet mode.

Divefire punches the screen closed and turns around, leaning back against the console and assessing the site again. "It would make them ever so slightly obsolete." He half mutters back to Cats and once more folds his arms across his chest. "Lets try and stop the Earth from getting blow up."

Soundwave says, "Suggest we do not let them close in on this site. The seismic activity of the drill has surely alerted them."

Scorcher revs her engines. lightly of course, so as not to collapse the shaft

Starscream turns and stalks out of the caverns. Ah, it's good to be airborne. Or able to be airborne. The glorious Air Commander takes a position hidden from the Autobot sensors and starts to hook up his long range rifle and tripod setup that he hides around, just in case.

Megatron turns toward Scavenger and Mixmaster: "You iridium plated idiots, you were spotted by an Autobot patrol!"

Chasm points out, "And the fact that we diverted an entire river to cool down the drill."

Megatron says, "All Decepticons to the surface at once!"

Scorcher cheers

Scavenger gulps, "But, but... I didn't mean to!"

Mixmaster shushes him and stands there silently and stalwartly in Megatron's gaze.

****
Desert Canyon

     This imposing canyon cuts its way through the broken stone desert. Steep, chiseled walls of sedimentary rock rise high on both sides, their layers forming the pressed pages of the geologic book of history: a stretch of aeons for the brief organic creatures that scurry across the planet's surface, but an unremarkable passage of time to an alien machine. Deep blue-black shadows slice across the rock structure and fill in the eroded crevices, contrasting with the alternate layers of orange. A keening wind howls through this chasm, sweeping the dust of past ages into the future.

Megatron says, "These Autobots must be stopped before they can transmit our location."

A faint curl of dust can be seen above the lip of the canyon... a flash of sunlight on metallic paint.

Megatron looks for his Constructicons. Now they can correct their mistake. "Constructicons, transform and merge into...

Jazz and Sunstreaker can be seen edging along the lip of the canyon. Dust trails indicate the presence of more Autobots.

The Constructicons all say in unison "Devastator!"

CatsCradle glances over at the Constructicons, then back over her shoulder at the cavern... "Um.... won't that create more disturbances in an already-unstable area...?"

Megatron grins. "Superb... Now go! Attack without mercy!

Scrapper says, "Constructicons, transform. Phase one!"

Scorcher immediately fires a couple of missiles at the disturbance. They explode in a nice ball of fire

All of the other Constructicons transform.

Long Haul pulls up to the others in dump truck form, dumping the load of earth he was carrying.

Scrapper says, "Phase two!"

Starscream is busy setting up his long range rifle thing still. Made in Taiwan, one step setup my aft. Tinker, tinker, clunk, a muttered curse as a tiny screw goes flying off. He'll get it set up in time...right before the next commercial break at least.

Soundwave draws his weapon as a precaution, watching the dust trails draw closer.

The Constructicons transform further, moving toward one another to become Devastator.

Scorcher fires another set of missiles at the approaching column

Devastator lumbers forward, saying "Autobots will not survive."

Divefire mutters back to Cats as he strains his optics to look into the distance. "Compared to what's going on down there, it's negligible. Just hope Devastator doesn't fall over..."

Jazz and Sunstreaker appear in a rain of dust along the lip of the canyon. Trailblazer slips to one side, "Uh oh," he says, "That better not be what I think it is..."

Mirage shouts! "Devastator! Split up and move out!"

Scorcher quickly moves out of the way

CatsCradle says, "Oh." After a second, she adds, "I don't think that's anymore comforting...."

Devastator swings a massive fist against the canyon wall, breaking off a large chunk of it. A chuck the Bots happen to be standing on.

Scorcher transforms into her Robot mode.

Divefire shrugs lightly, watching the behemoth robot go and kill stuff. Or at least attempt to. "As long as you get out of the way, I don't see a problem."

Megatron watches the Gestalt contentedly. Isn't it a pleasure to watch Devastator fight? He grins.

Scorcher lands and says "Wow"

CatsCradle sighs softly. "This is me, though... if there's anyone he'll fall on, it will be me." She perches comfortably on a large piece of rock, tucking her feet under her.

Soundwave nods to Megatron, watching the behemoth in action. "He can be highly effective."

Scorcher raises her laser but then lowers it again. Why bother

Megatron says, "Yes, Soundwave, he can."

Devastator picks up some of the rocks he's knocked loose and starts throwing them at the Bots.

Scorcher whispers to Cats "He seems to be lacking a bit in the brain department, does he not?"

Starscream connects tab D2 into slot D5, then connects screw A3 into hole OP. He'll learn not to dismantle his rifles for transport later on. A look is given to Devastator and a mumbled, "Oh good show."

Sunstreaker's tires spin madly as the cliffside gives way under him. Transforming as the ground crumbles, he leaps upward and catches onto the rim, pulling himself up and transforming again to dodge out of the way of the flying rocks.

The Autobots tumble and fall off the canyon wall, the ground seemingly crumbling away to nothing from beneath them! Mirage falls down in a hail of rock, Jazz and Sunstreaker scrabble up and manage to catch a ledge. The Autobots fall into the canyon floor.

CatsCradle tries to stifle a laugh at Scorch's comment and fails. "Oh, dear... big and dumb?"

Scorcher giggles and fires her laser at the falling bots, cheering with every hit she scores

Divefire blinks slightly as Devastator throws rocks. "Right..." He comments dryly, then calls over to Megatron and Soundwave in a vaguely amused tone. "Need to teach him how to use his gun however."

CatsCradle tilts her head and considers the effect. "Still... whatever works, I s'pose..."

"Hey Jazz," Sunstreaker snaps, "Dazzle that big freak with the light show!"

Jazz grins, "You got it!" he raises his hands and his speakers emerge from his hips bombarding Devastator with a deluge of light and sound!"

Soundwave says, "There is a certain primitive dramatic effect to hurling half a mountainside at one's enemies, however."

Starscream glares at Jazz. There's a worthy kill. Mr Fantastic starts to work on his gun faster, if only to use it to pop one of Jazz's tires. Must destroy Autonnoyances.

Divefire nods in agreement to Soundwave. "True. But I did quite like that mountain."

CatsCradle pats Diver's hand. "We have a much nicer one," she murmurs.

Devastator stumbles back a bit from the light show, then growls, a very loud deep sound. He decides to find the source of the problem and jumps down off the cliff. Unfortunately, he falls into the water and the mud at the bottom had quite a bit of give to it. He ends up buried almost to his neck.

CatsCradle buries her face in her hands and sighs softly."

Soundwave shifts his grip on his weapon. Time to attack by more traditional means, it seems.

Scorcher blindly shoots into the glare and confusion in front of her

Sunstreaker yells, "Let's get out of here!"

"What about Mirage?" Jazz queries.

Sunstreaker says, "Letting know is more important!"

Using the distraction of Devastator sinking, the Autobots fire grappling hooks up the cliff and make their escape!

Divefire mutters once more to no one in particular. "I'm not volunteering to pull him out..."

Scorcher transforms into her Cyberjet mode.

Megatron readies his cannon. "Decepticons, ready for attack.

Soundwave fires a few blasts of plasma after the Autobots, but they appear to be trying to escape. No doubt to report news of suspicious operations back to Prime.

In a plume of smoke, the Autobots vanish...

Starscream stands, setting his rifle behind a tree. He looks over to the Autobots, then down to Devastator, then at the other Decepticons. Ah, great, time to get the hands dirty again, such a bother.

Devastator tries to move, but the tons of mud he's stuck in prove surprisingly capable of holding him. Finally with a roar of frustration, he fires his optic laser, which only succeeds in vaporizing some of the water of the river.

Chasm says coldly, "Let's here it for engineering..."

An expanding ball of fire just behind the retreating Autobots indicate where Scorcher's fire missiles hit the ground

In the distant, Jazz swerves, narrowly avoid the missile striking him from above...

CatsCradle slips off her perch and goes to look over the cliff-edge at the stuck-Devestator. "Can't they separate and dig themselves out? They're construction crews..."

Megatron looks down at Devastator. "Help them out of there." Well, the Autobots escaped with their information... what will Prime try to do? "Soundwave, I need information from the Ark.

Chasm flaps near CatsCradle, "Maybe they're too dumb to realise that they can seperate?"

Scorcher transforms into her Robot mode.

Devastator says, "Devastator not be held by Autobot trick!" He strains, and with a very loud popping sound tons of mud go flying away from him.

Blood Raven watches in silence

Scorcher eeeps and tries to hide behind somebody else before she is entirely covered with mud

Megatron returns to the cave. "I need to know what countermeasures I have to take.

CatsCradle chuckles. "Wouldn't put that past them, Chasm. Or is that overestimating their intelligence?" She ducks at the sound of the mud flying.

Blood Raven tries to dodge it but gets hit in the face with some mud "yuck!"

Chasm winches as mud splats him in the face. "I just finished polishing," he growls softly, carefully removing the muck with a sharp claw.

Devastator finally disengages into the component Constructicons. They are, to varying degrees, muddy.

Soundwave thinks for a moment. "Presumably the Autobots will return with a larger fighting force. Since was have the drilling equipment in place already, I would suggest-" he stops as a shower of mud splatters him and those nearby, then resumes as though nothing unusual had happened - "that we proceed with our operation as efficiently as possible, assigning warriors to keep watch and hold off the attackers when the arrive. Once they get through, it will be too late for them."

Chasm complains, "I'm going back to watch the monitors again. It's less hectic than up here."

Scrapper transforms into his Robot mode.

Chasm glides off towards the gravshaft...

Scrapper gestures to the others and heads back toward the drilling chamber.

Starscream stalks down into the caves with Megatron. Time to give the big guy a piece of his mind, again. He gives a slight wave to Soundwave's direction, "Assign the guards and the information retrieval units." Then he moves downwards.

CatsCradle shrugs and follows the others.

****
Drilling Chamber

Scorcher smiles happily "Those bots did not even shoot back. Except for that blinding light. Bet we burned the paint off them"

Chasm glides over to his monitoring station again. "It's still drilling," he says excitedly.

Long Haul returns to the cave, now completely drenched in mud and water, the constant mumbling now a dull roar.

Soundwave brushes some of the mud off his plating. "And showered them with mud, no doubt."

Scorcher says, "Think they'll be coming back for more?"

Scrapper says, "All right, we've got to finish this project up fast before those miserable Autobots bring in Omega Supreme Jerk. Long Haul, keep an optic on the pump. Scavenger, scan the rocks."

CatsCradle smiles slightly to Scorcher. "Eventually, yes."

Soundwave says, "They will return."

Invisibly, Mirage tiptoes through the drilling chamber, shaking his head in disbelief. "Got to get word of this to Prime!" He continues through the chamber, making his way towards the cavern labyrinth.

Starscream looks towards Megatron and starts up on the Emperor once again, "We should hurry up or move away. The Autobots will be here soon, and if we engage in heavy combat the operations, and maybe this mudball, will be ruined. Not to mention the drill needs monitoring!"

Hook shakes his head. "For once, I agree, I'd enjoy for once to not rely on barbarian measures." Hook turns around on his feet and heads over to work.

Soundwave would normally hear Mirage's footsteps quite easily, but with proximity to the roar of the giant drill, he doesn't catch the faint sound.

Megatron chuckles, completely calm. "Do not worry, Starscream. I have everything under control.

Scorcher beams a smile at the prospect of more Autobots to fire at

Soundwave says, "Chasm, can you detect how close the drill is to its destination?"

Bonecrusher starts to scan where the fissure was closed as Mixmaster prepares a mixture of lubricant for the drill.

Long Haul gives a salute to Scrapper, transforming and heading over to the pump. If there was something even more draining then hauling stuff.

Chasm glances at the drill, "About another twelve hours."

CatsCradle's smile turns a little rueful at Scorcher's enthusiasm and she shakes her head. "I'm getting old, aren't I?" she murmurs to Diver.

Chasm mutters to Soundwave, "Is it me or does Megatron seem unusually smug today?"

Divefire offers a ruthful smile to Cats as he brushes his armour off. "Just more experienced."

Starscream's the antithesis of Megatron, so since the boss is calm, he isn't. His arms go flailing as he points to one crack or another, citing those as small failures in his diatribe, "I still say this is wrong. The planet is cracking already, if we're attacked en masse we have no room to maneuver. We're sitting ducks here, between Autobots and a dead planet's assassins bullet!"

Soundwave replies cryptically, "It is always in a leader's best interest to state that everything is under control. Where Megatron is concerned, you will find that he often has thought many steps ahead of the opposition. And the Autobots are sure to return."

Scrapper says, "Drilling is proceeding smoothly Megatron."

Chasm glances rather sourly at Soundwave, "Blind faith, Soundwave?"

Scorcher finds a relatively clean spot and begins to inspect her weapons. To see if they did not get splattered by this planetís filth

Megatron says, "You underestimate me, Starscream. Come, I will show you something..."

Soundwave replies to Chasm, "Long experience."

Starscream grumbles. The Air Commander crosses his arms over his chest again and gives Megatron a nod and a mumbled, "Fine." Then a look around the area, taking inventory of the warriors here, "What, was no one assigned to guard duty before?"

Starscream stalks out with Megatron, figuring the warriors will volunteer themselves, and that assigning such duties beneath him.
Hook doesn't really go to watch, he's working for now, so, he lets the other go.

Long Haul's gotta watch the pump. Watch the pump. Watch the pump. Sigh.

****
Desert Canyon
.
Starscream lands next to Megatron and gives the sarcastic, "What, right through a rock wall? You got a thing for us going through solid Earth today don't you?"

Megatron is on the other side of the canyon, walking towards a wall of rock

Megatron chuckles. "Walking through rock, that is indeed the general idea." He disappears in the wall.

Scorcher blinks in surprise

Chasm glides forward.

Scorcher tries to push her hand through the rock

CatsCradle shrugs slightly. Not the first time she's seen people walk through walls... she follows although cautiously

****
Secret Spacebridge Chamber

        Look - behind that apparently solid-seeming rock wall (actually a cunning hologram) is a space bridge, all gleaming and ready to go. The controls indicate that it is on a 'stand by' status. The high technology is at an odd contrast with the rocky walls of the cavern.

Soundwave phases right through the wall of rock to emerge on the other side.

Scorcher whispers "neat"

Chasm yawns with a paw in front of his mouth. "This is supposed to impress me?" he asks Soundwave.

Megatron stands in front of a hidden space bridge, his hands on his hips, grinning.

Soundwave nods toward the waiting ring of the space bridge. "You mentioned Megatron seeming particularly confident today?"

Chasm mutters, "What worries me is that he hasn't placed a great deal of faith in us surviving the drilling operation..."

Divefireís optics blink slightly as he looks at the space bridge, his jaw falling open slightly. "People really should send memo's about these things..."

Starscream waits a bit for everyone to come in before praising Megatron. It is after all a rare thing for him to do, and he better not be required to do it more then ocne for the same item. He looks around some and gives Megatron a nod, "A working spacebridge? You've thought of everything!" Then a mumbled, "Except an exploding planet doesn't wait for everyone to hop aboard the way out before the instant explosion of its death..."

Soundwave says, "It is called a back-up plan, Chasm.""

CatsCradle pulls out a few datapads and frantically sorts through them. "Maybe they did send a memo and I missed it?"

Megatron says, "Oh, there will be enough time for each and everyone of us to escape, Starscream. Planets don't burst like granades, especially you should know that."

Chasm says, "They did in 'Star Wars'."

Soundwave notes with a hint of amusement a trace of genuine admiration in Starscream's tone - or is the Air Commander just glad to have a way out of the underground if something should go wrong?

Megatron says, "Now back to work, Decepticons. Soundwave, do you have the information from the enemies' headquarters I wanted?"

Starscream says, "Must we dig to the core itself? What is wrong with layers of magma sitting under the mantle?" Its definitely the way out. Almost assuredly an escape plan, its better then a gift for the Air Commander. Although a bit of admiration might creep in. Bad vocalizer. "The thermal energy we can tap from there is more then enough to power all our plans..."

Divefire shakes his head slightly, turning on his heal and starting to walk out as he mutters off handedly. "I've got to get around to writing that report about renewable energy resources..."

Soundwave says, "Laserbeak has followed the Autobots back to base. I have sent Ravage to join them. He has infiltrated the base and reports they are massing to return.""

CatsCradle gives up on sorting through the datapads and simply stuffs them back into subspace.

Megatron says, "Because I want not just a part, I want all, Starscream."

Soundwave says, "Ravage reports the Autobots will send a commando raiding party this evening. Perhaps with the remainder of their forces in reserve."

Megatron looks at Soundwave. "Good, Soundwave, we will be prepared." Heads for the door. "Back to the cave.

****
Drilling Chamber

Soundwave returns with the others, catching up to Megatron and waiting until the Decepticon leader has a moment's free attention.

Scrapper is still watching over the drilling operation as the others return.

Megatron joins Soundwave. The communications officer seems to know more. "Yes, Soundwave?" he asks quietly.

Chasm checks the monitors. The drill continues to drill. Sigh.

Soundwave says quietly, "Ravage reports something additional." He steps a little closer to the noise of the drill so they will not be overheard, so Megatron will have this information and determine how best to use it.

Long Haul's eyeing the pump, taking time off to clear some dirt away here and there.

Divefire goes back to one of the consoles and once more goes about reviewing the date on their operation. The more he reads, the more he frowns, the whole idea of tapping the core of the Earth and probably blowing it up not sitting well with the Earth Researcher, still he's hardly going to stop Megatron in mid flow. Least not this time.

Soundwave talks quietly to Megatron under the roar of the drill.

Scorcher icks "I've got some of that dirt under my armour :("

Megatron nods to Soundwave's quiet message. "Of course," he murmurs.

Hook watches the drilling, snobbishly trying to remove the dirt on his armour while he grumbles and complains about various things, just how Hook is.

CatsCradle chuckles softly at Scorcher. "Least it isn't sand. That's really uncomfortable." She glances at Diver, reading his expression and knowing the reason behind it and chews on her lip thoughtfully with a soft sigh.

Megatron rubs his chin. "I think, I know what kind of device that is, Soundwave," he answers to Soundwave's words. "And I know what countermeasures to take.

Scorcher frowns "You mean it can be worse than this?" she asks cats

Scrapper is stoically ignoring the mud that's he's coated with, preferring to concentrate on the drilling.

CatsCradle pulls her attention back to Scorcher. "Sand is finer and grittier. But not all of Earth is dirt. Like I say, you should go see some of the higher altitudes. Snow can be rather fun."

Soundwave nods to Megatron.

You paged Divefire with 'earlier, she was sitting under the tree, watching an ornament and watching and watching, then finally had to go for it'.

Starscream looks around the area. Enough construction mechs here to finish the job. Enough scientists to help them out. A look is given to the warriors here, studying and thinking. Each one gets a passover, and Starscream gives them a silent assessment of their abilities. He can't have anyone surpassing his own skills on a mission after all. A look back to Megatron, "I shall ready a welcome for our enemies." Such a good plan, gets him out of a cave he feels that doubles as a death trap.

Long Haul resumes hauling duties to the entrance of the cave and back. He has to do /something/. And will probably end up doing it for a while now.

Soundwave personally considers Megatron's plan a dangerous proposition. But the Decepticon leader has thought of everything else so far. Soundwave double-checks the progress of the drill.

Later that evening, while the drill continues to munch deeper through the Earth's core, the Decepticons on stand-by alerted by one of the perimeter alarms going off outside in the canyon area.

Suddenly, the drill alarms start to go off! The flow of water that continually cools the drill has stopped and the entire metal shaft is glowing bright red!

Steam pours out of the drill shaft and metal screeching wails through the drill chamber as the uncooled drill struggles to thrust through the earth's core.
Scorcher looks about, confused by the sudden alert going of all around her and trying to find something that is wrong

Scrapper shouts over the noise to his fellow Constructicons, "The water cooling system for the drill has stopped! Cease drilling! And get to the surface!"

Scrapper transforms into his Payloader mode.

Starscream vanishes from the area then. Either he's upside trying to beat up some Autobots, or more likely, running towards the spacebridge once he hears alarms.

Scorcher transforms into her Cyberjet mode.

Scrapper drives over to the gravshaft.

Long Haul blinks and dumps his load of dirt, starting to charge towards the surface. No sense playing with magma.

****
Desert Canyon

Jazz appears at the far end of the canyon and starts to gun his engines up, revving away at high speed.

Scrapper drives over to where the water flow has stopped. Bonecrusher, Scavenger, and Mixmaster follow him.

Scorcher fires a few laser blasts at the retreating bot, angry that he doesn't want to stay and play

Megatron gestures the other Decepticons not to follow the Constructicons, but stay ready.

Hook drives in, following Scrapper to fix up the mess. Ah, if it was one of his invention, it would have never went wrong, never...

Schthunk! Schthunk! (Unbeknownst to the Constructicons, as Scrapper leads the Constructicons over to the check out the drill where the waterfall is clearly frozen solid, hidden Autobot commanders tag each of the Constructicons with a Dominator Disk, Autobot Secret Weapon #343)

Far above in the sky, Laserbeak circles. Soundwave ejects Buzzsaw to join his brother, watching for activity below.

Scorcher banks steeply and returns to the rest of waiting Cons

Jazz and Sunstreaker and revving up down the far end of the canyon.

Starscream grabs that rifle he was playing with before. Only 42 more steps to go to complete it. Going to take a potshot, then retreat. Much better plan, doesn't make him look as useless and weak.

Long Haul drives over to the others and... is tagged. Great, just great.

While the Decepticons are (hopefully) distracted by the display Jazz and Sunstreaker are putting on, the Autobot Commando Raiding Party (ACRP) are being carefully (and hopefully secretly) being winched up the canyon walls in a loading cage.

Scorcher circles higher above the battle field

The escaping Autobot commandos congratulate themselves on their sneakiness and deviousness as they are sloowly... slowly winched up the side the canyon.

Laserbeak swoops down, his sharp eyes having picked out the activity.

Scrapper, like the others, is unaware he's been tagged.

Eventually, the Autobots reach the top of the canyon and disappear into the trailer of a cunningly hidden red truck. The truck pulls up and draws away with a quiet rumbling of engines.

Soundwave notices Starscream's weapon almost completely assembled, and points without a word toward the cage being slowly hoisted up the cliffside, almost invisible in the darkness.

Starscream finishes his laser rifle in time to start to get a bead on the escaping Autobots. He gives his one liner of, "Like shooting cyberducks in a barrel..." or something similar to that.

Hook is often special, he often does unlike the others, and do special thing, but this time, he seems to follow the wave and is unaware that he got tagged, like the other Constructicons.

Megatron separated from the group. He appears aside Starscream, pushing down the barrel of his gun. "Let them go," he says.

Starscream gives the unceremonial whine of, "But I could have had all of them! Why did you stop me?"

Megatron says, "Why destroy only six Autobots when we can eliminate them all forever? They thing they're going to gain control over Devastator..."

Megatron says, "... but I have other plans...""

Starscream nods to Megatron. No wonder he's the bossman, got the good plans. And the tricky henchmen whispering in his ear to make those plans up. "I see now."

Soundwave looks toward the Constructicons thoughtfully.

Megatron says, "My moment of glory is almost at hand... When the Autobots attack. We shall be ready."

Scrapper is checking out the frozen waterfall.

<Earth> Megatron says, "Decepticons, take battle positions."

Scrapper transforms into his Robot mode.

Long Haul gives a little questioning beep of the horn, just wondering the others are talking. Take control of us?

As almost in response to Megatron's words, a plume of dust fills the horizon. The Autobots are attacking enmasse, and are directly rumbling down the canyon towards the Decepticons!

Up in the sky Scorcher is waiting for the order to attack

Megatron says, "Decepticons, stand by and..."

Buzzsaw, still circling overhead, gives a squawk of alarm and dives downward - but the Autobot action is apparent to those on the ground as well.

CatsCradle says with almost false cheer, "See, Scorcher, no need to worry."

Optimus Prime can be seen leading the vanguard in truck form, flanked by smaller, faster cars: Jazz, Sunstreaker, Mirage and Sideswipe. When they see the Decepticons gathered there, they charge forward, transform and start firing on the assembled group of enemies!

Megatron he waits until the enemy is in shooting range. "...FIRE!"

Chasm gulps. "Soundwaaaave!"

Scrapper opens fire on the Bots.

Autobot laser fire peppers the rocks near the assembled Decepticons!

Scorcher dives down, firing both her laser cannons and her missiles at once, then steeply pulls up again as behind her the explosions rock the canyon

CatsCradle squeaks and dives out of the way, ducking behind the same rock she had been sitting on earlier... nice convenient rock. She gives it a quick pat before popping her wrist lasers and firing at the Autobots

Megatron fires at his archenemy, Optimus Prime. "Strike their main force! Starscream, take your seekers and take off!

Divefire raises his arm rifles on command, ducking behind the rocks as the laser fire bounces off them before standing and unleashing a hale of high velocity bullets at the Autobots then ducking down just in time as high powered laser blast goes through the air of where his head was.

Prime is crouched behind the rocks in cover and fires toward the Decepticons.

Scorcher yelps as return fire hits her tail wing

Soundwave's response is to fire with his handheld as well as his shoulder cannon. "Chasm, assist Laserbeak and Buzzsaw," he says as the two birds dart upward again, firing thin deadly streams of laser light toward the onrushing enemy.

Megatron nods to himself - the battle looks real... "Constructicons, transform quickly!

Hook blinks a few times as the Autobots arrive, a small smirk growing upon his lips. He turns his head over to Long Haul and raises his right finger in the air, taking time to explain some things to his fellow constructicon even though they are under fire power. "You see, Long Haul, I, unlike most of everyone here, have planned something, you see, I was expecting such attack, and, of course, I thought it would have been the perfect occasion to test my new weapon! You see, that's the difference between you and I, I always think ahead! Ahaha! Now see how good we are, Autobots!" Hook walks away, beside the drill, in a small place where he has secretly put his little weapon, hardly but surely bringing it on his shoulder, as if this thing was weighing tones.

Chasm reluctantly takes to the air and circles around with Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. "Sqwuaaak," he says sarcastically, letting off a few badly aimed shots of laser fire. Clearly, his heart isn't in it.

Scrapper transforms into his Payloader mode.

Scrapper says, "You heard Megatron, unite!"

Long Haul brings up the missile launcher and lets loose a missile, transforming and looking at Hook questionably. Great. But he decides to go help Hook get his weapon out, expecting the call for Devestator imminently.

Long Haul transforms into his Robot mode.

Scorcher 's rather erratic flying (to escape return fire of course ;) almost collides her with Chasm

Chasm wails, "Eeek! Seeker out of control!"

Jazz notices the Constructicons starting to draw together, but directs his fire against the other Decepticons.

Scrapper says, "Quit fooling around Hook, and get over here."

Megatron continues to fire at the incoming enemy.

Scorcher pulls around for a new attack run and plants an incendiary missile nicely between Jazz's legs

Starscream tosses his laser rifle aside, and fusses over the damage he just gave to it. Cheap knockoff plastics. He looks at the various Decepticons that haven't joined in the fight yet and shouts, "Follow me!" Then the Air Commander transforms and takes to the skies, moving towards the Autobots.

Hook slowly but surely puts himself in a combat posture, putting his new weapon over on his shoulder, most like some sort of rocket launcher, with the help of Long Haul. "Ahahah!!! Now They shall feel my wrath!!" Hook turns his head over to Scrapper and narrows his optics. "Very well." He takes all the strength he has and throws the weapon down aside. With a loud -thud- it hits the ground and, with luck usual luck, the weapon activates himself, firing a large rocket. Unfortunately, the weapon wasn't quite aimed at the Autobots, but much at one of the wall. Sure, it made a big explosion sound and all the nice pyrotechnic, but fortunately, it didn't damage anything too important or some Decepticons... Just a big explosion. Hook glances over his shoulder and blinks. "Huh, let's say that was an Autobot rocket..." He comments to Long Haul before heading toward Scrapper, transforming into his crane truck mode.

Jazz flips completely over as he tries to get out of the worst of the blast range, firing madly at Scorcher in return.

With Hook finally ready, the Constructicons unite to form the giant Devestator.

Divefire growls to himself as more laser fire rains down onto his rock, ranged combat not being his forte he files away the need to work on a beam rifle some time and transforms to his ground form, then explodes out from behind the rocks and towards the nearest Autobots, which just happen to be Sunstreaker and Sideswipe again.

Devastator stomps toward the Autobots, firing with his optic blasts.

Scorcher desperately tries to outrun Jazz's return fire without flying into the canyon walls

Long Haul looks to Hook and shakes his head, transforming and rejoining the others.

Megatron narrows his optics. Well, what will happen now..?

Meanwhile, on a far side of the canyon, Chip, a human 'friend' of the Autobots, fiddling with a complicated widget. "This better work." Wheeljack grins, "Of course it will! This one my most devious inventions so far! I couldn't have done it with out you."

Chip nods and activates the device!

A strange glow seems to surround Devastator!

Starscream transforms into his Red-and-Silver F-15 mode.

Wheeljack shouts, "Devastator! Destroy the Decepticons!"

Scorcher finally gives up and flies straight up, without regard for formations or anything. Just to get away from those pesky Autobots who try to make holes in her

Soundwave keeps firing on the Autobots, occasionally ducking back as Prowl's laser blasts sizzle close to him. It's impossible to miss the spectacle of Devastator merging, though - and this time, Soundwave has particular reason to pay close attention.

Devastator comes to a halt, standing stiffly still. Then, with somewhat jerky movements, turns back and starts firing his optic blasts toward the Decepticons!

Sideswipe aims a ground to air missile at Scorcher. "Come get some!" he shouts.

CatsCradle sputters as her mate goes barreling off after the Autobot brothers in the midst of fire from both sides. She baps her forehead lightly against the rock. "Oh, we are /so/ going to have to have a talk about that..." She peeks up above the rock and rains down another burst of laser fire, providing cover for Diver.

Starscream is, he assumes, leading an aerial attack wing against the Autobots, and doesn't seem to notice the turnaround of Devastator's loyalties, forced or otherwise. He vrooms down, strafing near the Autobot's position, mostly a diversionary attack. The Air Commander's focus on the real enemies, not to the gestalt.

Megatron narrow his optics a bit more. There we go... Well, time for the next scene in this play...

The Autobots are notably buoyed up the fact that finally one of Wheeljack's crazy inventions is finally working! "Force 'em back!" Ironhide shouts. "We got 'em on the run!"

Scorcher has a moment to think that she's real lucky not to be on the business end of the big gestalt's weapon, before she realizes she has a missile on her tail

Sideswipe and Sunstreaker snap down into their vehicle modes and split apart, trying to get into position to attack Divefire from two angles.

Devastator continues firing optic blasts, and brings out his rifle. The giant cannon blasts rocks, causing huge explosions.

The missile rockets up, exploding just on Scorcher's tail, filling the air with all sorts of uncomfortable shockwaves.

Megatron decides this to be the right moment: "Retreat! Retreat!" he shouts, ordering his Decepticons back into the cave.

Scorcher is tossed aside by the explosion uncomfortably close behind her. She dives down, or rather she tumbles, shouting which sounds suspiciously like "owowowowow"

Chasm says, "Music to my ears!"

Soundwave makes for another protective barrier of rock as the boulders beside him are blasted apart by Devastator. He dives downward into the caves as Megatron calls the retreat.

Chasm flees in after Soundwave.

Starscream finishes another strafing run against the Autobots. Just in time to get nailed by one of Devastator's attacks. At least it's damage to a non-important portion of his gorgeous form. The commander flies down towards the base, cursing the Constructicons.

The deep black Trans-Am barrels after the Lambo twins, going far faster then the manufacture ever intended for the body shell. The car goes into a deep power slide, kicking up dust high into the sky as he guns for Sunstreaker's yellow Lambo form, eating the distance between them as his fusion engine does what it does best, going really rather fast indeed and he simply rams right through the slower sports car before his brother can get a bead on him.

Devastator sends a massive rifle burst at the entrance to the cave, then melts most of the rocks with his optic blast.

CatsCradle lets out a snarl and concentrates her fire on Sideswipe, keeping his attention away from Diver. "That was a retreat call, in case you missed it..." she radios.

Divefire glowers as his radio goes off, and then blasts from Devastator head the point. "Alright." He radios back, casually leaping across the air as high powered laser blasts rain about his form as he heads for the cave entrance.

<Earth> Soundwave says, "Divefire, CatsCradle, what is your status?  Can you still enter the cave complex?"

The entrance to the cave, which looked so inviting and free, disappears under a calvcade of rocks, thanks to the Autobots and Bot-astator.

<Earth> CatsCradle's voice sounds a little tight.  "Go on without us.  We'll make it back.  /Someone/ decided it was more fun to keep fighting....

<Earth> Soundwave says, "Remain out of firing range of the Autobots and of Devastator."

<Earth> CatsCradle says "Understood..." Her voice makes it sound like they damn well will, if she has to drag her mate in by the scruff of his armor....

Outside the base, the Autobots have retreated with Devastator.

<Earth> Soundwave says, "CatsCradle, Divefire - anything to report above ground?"

Devastator is standing around the Bots while they talk quietly, plotting something.

<Earth> CatsCradle's voice is hushed.  "The Autobots are still here.  They seem to have control over Devastator somehow."

<Earth> Soundwave says, "Acknowledged, CatsCradle.  Stand by.  And do not call attention to yourself."

<Earth> CatsCradle says, "not to /myself/ anyway..."

Meanwhile, while his mate stays safely behind the protective rock face, Divefire has found himself in the less then enviable position of being the Autobots last available target of opportunity and most of the Autobots seem to be taking that opportunity. High powered laser fire falls around Divefire like rain as he weaves his car form from one Canyon to the other in a complex pattern of speed and agility, still the occasion shot tags him, buckling his armour and slowly slowing him down, up until the point he manages to slip from view with one final burst of speed, the Autobots fire slowing down to nothing as the last Decepticon slips from their view.

<Earth> CatsCradle lets out a soft sigh.  "Not sure I can say the same for Diver, though..."

CatsCradle remains behind her rock, grumbling softly. "That's right. Take off. 'Cause I'll pound you myself when you get back." She melts back deeper into the shadows of the rock face, her dark form almost blending in completely.

In the depth of the shadows that Cats blends into, the darkness is broken by one small light. A red led swishes back and forth a short distance making a noise like a silent gust of wind and slowly the prow of a Trans-Am edges up on Cats.

CatsCradle somehow manages to silently cuff Diver's hood.

Devastator starts cutting a hole in the melted rock covering the entrance with his optic laser.

Deep in the shadows lies CatsCradle and to the side of her, the rather battered form of a Trans-Am. With a red LED swishing back and forth intently.

Starscream flies out of the hole, changing into his jetmode, happy to once again be out from beneath the planet.

Megatron and Soundwave arrive.

The yellow aura again surrounds Devastator as Megatron counters the Autobot control devices. He stands stiffly and then looks around confused.

Some distance away on a cliffside, Wheeljack curses as his control mechanism is overridden by feedback. He notices Devastator pausing in his assigned mission, and hurries to send a renewed signal at higher strength, trying to get the behemoth back under Autobot domination. "Go inside and stop the drill!" he urges.

Megatron says, "Devastator, destroy the Autobots!"

Soundwave still has hold of Scorcher's arm, and pulls her along toward the solid wall of stone that disguises the space bridge. The ground under them shudders violently as the drill nears the core.

Scorcher transforms into her Robot mode.

Devastator raises his rifle and is about to fire on the Autobots when the signal is renewed. He pauses, uncertain, then starts to shake from the conflicting signals.

<Earth> Megatron says, "Decepticons, escape route - quickly!"

Starscream does what he does best: retreating, and putting on a show of helping out other Cons retreating. He's heading to the spacebridge with Sounders, Scorcher and gang.

Soundwave is starting to think drilling to the planet's core wasn't the best idea. The plan wasn't intended to break apart the whole planet - the space bridge was just a precaution *in case* something went wrong - but now it looks imminent that they will have to use it.

Megatron says, "Devastator, you have your orders. Obey me!"

CatsCradle watches from her spot in the shadows as Devastator goes through a personality conflict and starts to have a breakdown. "That can't be good," she murmurs.

The entire area is shaking badly now, with rocks and pieces of hillside starting to tumble downward toward the canyons.

Devastator lets out a shout, a deafening noise, as he raises his fists. He staggers, hitting the rock walls. He lets out another shout of pain or confusion, firing his rifle randomly. One of the shots tears through the hologram wall and blows up the space bridge.

Scorcher says, "ouch"

Megatron stares at what happened. "No! No!" His mental circuits start to work feverishly. His troops are in massive danger now.

Starscream skids to a flying halt at Devastator's rifle blast tears through the air before him. The Air Commander once again shouts his prophecy of bad news, "We're doomed! Devastator just destroyed our way out!" Course, he forgets he can just fly...the problem is just getting into space.

Soundwave has almost reached the hologram hiding the space bridge, when Devastator's shot tears right through it. The hologram generator sizzles out of existence, leaving a clear view of the blackened and partially molten space bridge.

Devastator says, "Devastator.. Not be.. Controlled!"

The Autobots who have directed Devastator from afar, drop down from the cliffsides and cautiously approach the Decepticons, Wheeljack in the lead, poking frantically at his control device.

Megatron says, "Doomed... Not if we could stop the drill before it can penetrate the Earth' core."

Scorcher looks around to see if she can find the Autobot that singed her tail...

CatsCradle stares at the destroyed bridge, bracing herself against the quakes. She pats Diver's hood frantically. "Um... Diver...?"

Wheeljack calls to Megatron, "We've got to get Devastator back under control! Otherwise we're *all* finished."

Soundwave's optic band flashes a little brighter. "The Autobot is still attempting to override Devastator's voluntary reflexes."

All the stomping around Devastator is doing isn't helping the stability of the rocks any..

Divefire's LED is now swishing back and forth rather more urgently now, not that he's at all worried about their situation. "Pray." He states simply back to Cats, while wondering if he has the energy left to outrun the Earth exploding with a passenger.

Starscream transforms into its Red-and-Silver F-15 mode.

Soundwave turns his attention to Devastator, searching out the state of his mind. Touching apon the chaos that reigns among the usually simple and ordered thoughts.

Megatron looks towards Wheeljack. "I agree, we have to get Devastator back under control." His control...

Soundwave says, "Negative, Commander. You must both stop sending signals that interfere with his consciousness.""

Starscream jumps into the air and transforms himself into a jetmode. At least he won't need to feel the earthquake anymore while flying up in the air. Maybe he'll get far enough away to survive also.

Wheeljack is about to stab at his control device again, but pauses at Soundwave's words. Soundwave may be the enemy, he may be evil, but he has a reputation for plenty of technical expertise.

Devastator seems to underscore the point by letting loose an optic blast that drills a hole into the rock wall straight out into the sky.

Part of a nearby cliffside shakes itself loose and crumbles downward accompanied by a huge plume of dust.

Megatron nods. "We are all in this together now. We need Devastator to stop the drill." He deactivates the nullifier. "I do this only for the benefit of my Decepticons. It grieves me that you will also profit."

Scorcher agrees with Starscream that she rather would vacate the area. She will not run though

Chip Chase, Autobot aid extraordinare, says to Wheeljack, "The signals are overloading his systems Wheeljack."

Wheeljack almost reluctantly puts away his control device. "Well, it may be the only chance we've got. Can you convince him to stop the drill?"

Devastator abruptly calms down, and holds his head. "Devastator confused."

Starscream flies high in the air. Oh so high, high above, where troubles don't brew and earth doesn't shake. The land of paradise, land of blue, fluffy clouds for me and you!

Megatron looks towards Devastator. "Constructicons, separate. You have work to do and fast!

Long Haul does as instructed, and being the cog that holds everyone together, would pretty much force the separation. He continues to hold his head, looking about, extremely disoriented.

Devastator comes apart and the Constructicons snap to attention.

Soundwave says over the increasing rumble of the ground, "Drill will reach the core within two Earth-minutes. It must be stopped."

Scrapper says, "All right, you heard em. Let's get in there!"

Scrapper looks a bit shaky still, but makes his way to the shaft.

CatsCradle murmurs to Diver, "Can you get us away in time?"

Megatron says, "Soundwave, I will survey that. Keep the troops ready for withdrawal. I want no further fight today - we need a rest after that."

Soundwave motions the other Decepticons back toward more solid ground as the Constructions make their way toward the drill controls.

Slowly, the Trans-Am expands and changes into the tear-drop form of Divefire's flight form, which just happens to be one of the, if not the fastest jet in the universe. "I can try." He replies to Cats as his engines start to warm up, while a battered armour panel falls off his under side.

As the Constructicons disappear into the dark underground, the seconds tick by.

Starscream knows all about betrayal, so he stays above ground. The Air Commander swoops and dives around his domain, making sure that the Autobots don't have any plans to betray the Cons easily. Vroom, vroom.

Those at or near the drill site will unmistakably notice the area becoming even more unstable - then a sudden lurching of the ground like a faultline slipping past itself. A crash of tremendous magnitude from somewhere deep below ground, and a fountain of smoke and ash that explodes into the air from the drill site. Fiery geysers of lava leap upward toward the night sky, and then settle.

CatsCradle automatically scoops up the fallen piece of armor and glances around her, optics wide. To lose this planet...

Megatron arrives from the exit of the secret escape tunnel.

After the explosion of sound and light, a sudden deafening silence settles over the area as the dust and ash hangs like a shroud over the entire region ... sifting slowly, slowly downward toward the ground like the burnt embers of a parody of snowflakes.

Starscream is flying up in the air, dodging the geysers with practiced grace and aerial agility. Still he keeps aware of the Autobots in case they betray. He wants a first shot to discourage an Autobot attack.

CatsCradle wonderingly holds out her hand and watches the ash land in her palm.

Megatron sets his jaws. He fears the worst for Devastator. However, he will not show his concern openly.

The Autobots draw back as the shaking earth stills itself. Deciding they don't really want to engage the Decepticons after all that, Prime quietly calls the retreat, and they transform and drive off. Wheeljack gives his control device a last look of regret, then tosses it aside and follows the rest.

Soundwave looks toward the remnant of the drilling base as soft flakes of ash settle over his blue plating.

Starscream is flying up in the air, dodging the geysers with practiced grace and aerial agility. Still he keeps aware of the Autobots in case they betray. He wants a first shot to discourage an Autobot attack.

Slowly once more, Divefire transforms and watches the Earth fall to a rest again. The relief of the Earth not being blown sky high, literally, seeps through his rage of the fight and at the plan that nearly killed them all. But for now, they're alive and he can wait 'till he can stand upright for more then 30 seconds before raising the point with Megatron.

Soundwave notes, the calm reverberations of his voice betraying no other emotion, "Devastator succeeded."

There's a slight shifting of the giant mound of rubble. Likely just the rocks settling into the space. Or is it..? With a sudden burst, the giant green form of Devastator emerges from the rocks! His armor is dented and scuffed, but he stands proudly.

Megatron slowly answers: "Yes... he did...

Megatron says, "What..?"

CatsCradle wordlessly hands Diver the piece of his armor, then leans forward and rests her forehead against his chest for a moment.

Megatron says, "Devastator!"

Devastator says simply, "Drilling stopped."

In the distance the retreating Autobots seem disinclined to turn back and attack - thanks in part to Starscream's deterrent presence in the air.

Soundwave's optic band shades a bit brighter in a "smile."

The individual Constructicons disengage from their combined form and take relaxed stances. In fact they seem rather exhausted.

Starscream transforms into his Robot mode.

Megatron laughs. "Indeed, you did, Devastator." He looks around. "Decepticons, retreat. The Autobots will taste my wrath, but not today. Revenge has to be served cold.

Megatron says, "Back to headquarters!"

Divefire shunts the armour plate into subspace and then moves his hand to find Cats and squeeze it tightly, reassuringly, before once more resuming his hardened visual.

Scrapper looks around at the ruin of yet another project, and his optics narrow darkly.

Soundwave looks around, assuring himself that everyone's accounted for, then takes to the air at Megatron's command.

Starscream transforms himself. The Air Commander's had enough bluffing and air stunts to deter the Autobots from an attack. He floats casually down near the others, arms crossed over his chest. He looks almost like an angel, of treachery mayhaps, but angelic nonetheless as he glides.

CatsCradle murmurs to her mate softly, "You gonna be alright, to get back to the base?"

Divefire nods slightly to Cats question. "I'll be fine." He states, but carefully doesn't make optic contact with her.

Soundwave will have his duties in repair bay tonight, surely.

Starscream does a lead by example. He flies away, and assumes everyone else will do the same, since it was ordered.

CatsCradle notices how he avoids her glance and her jaws tighten, but she doesn't say or do anything other than touch his face lightly.

****
Access Corridor

        A long narrow hallway with four doors leading to different parts of the base. Each door has a security panel beside it to monitor access in and out of the base locations. The lighting here is muted and the room has no other features, giving it a sparse utilitarian feel.
CatsCradle wordlessly gives Diver a gentle shove towards the repair bay

Soundwave makes his way to repair bay, idly brushing some of the ash flakes off his plating.

Divefire rather wearily heads for the repair bay to, because he took on the entire Autobot army on his own...

****
Repair Bay

        The place Decepticons seek medical care, the repair bay makes every effort to put the patient at ease. The temperature and lighting are optimized for comfort, and the walls are a neutral grey. There are ten beds along each wall, all with display panels. Equipment and tools are stored in the wall between beds and diagnostic scanners emerge from under the beds when in use. Off of the main room is a specialized surgery unit for laser core trauma, a small cryogenic stasis facility, and an emergency room with stacked beds to be used when the main room becomes too crowded. Overall the repair bay appears to visitors as modern and efficient and this impression is quite valid. Even the most catastrophic injuries can be treated here by a skilled medic.
Soundwave does a quick visual evaluation of the injured, to determine who has priority for repairs.

CatsCradle gives Diver another gentle shove, but remains at her usual spot in the middle of the doorway

Soundwave motions to Divefire, indicating the nearest repair table. He starts arranging his tools and equipment for repairs.

Divefire walks in behind every one else, his gate is neither brisk, nor the normal contained energy that he walks with. Indeed he would seem rather weary just by a coursery examination of his features, where it not for his heavily pot marked armour, which in a few places has either fallen off, or been removed completely. Only a flicker of annoyance goes across his optics as the repair drone mutters something to him, before he goes and sits on one of the med tables, the one motioned to by Soundwave and leans his back heavily against the wall. "Long day." He mutters to no one.

Starscream crosses his arms across his chest, giving a pouty angry look as he's 'stuck' here. Of course, his internal repair systems are working most of the damage out already, so he's really just here to spoil the mood. His attitude spoils the mood, and his voice spoils dairy products.

Soundwave is aware of Starscream's sulking behind him, but doesn't let it bother him. Instead he starts in on the efficient and methodical repairs to Divefire.  He deactivates the appropriate tactile sensors and starts cutting away the damaged armor plate. "Long day - or multiple opponents?" he asks, having seen Divefire's fighting style numerous times.

CatsCradle smacks the door a few times until it gives up on smacking her shoulder in a futile attempt to close and stays open. She leans against the doorjam, watching her mate's repairs.

Soundwave glances up. "You may join us, CatsCradle. I will not confine you here."

CatsCradle gives a short laugh in kinda a I'd-like-to-see-you-try manner, but doesn't move from her spot.

Divefire looks to the furthermost wall as Soundwave cuts away on him. "Long day with multiple opponents. Besides, it kept my mind off of what might of happened."

Soundwave gives a slight shrug, content to let CatsCradle watch from where she is, and continues on with Divefire. Replacing struts and components dented by impact damage, he scans for microfractures on sections of the frame that show no visible damage.

Divefire it seems is actually more tired then physically hurt, aside from the damaged armour, his rather well built systems seem to have weathered the combined assault of the Autobot army rather well. "Soundwave," He asks ambiguously. "How many more times do you think Megatron will risk the Earth being blow up?"

Soundwave answers matter-of-factly, "It is entirely possible that this planet may sustain irreparable damage in the course of events. That was not, of course, Megatron's intention in drilling to the core, as a destroyed world would have yielded no energy."

Soundwave hammers out the dents in the armor, and seals the rifts that exist, fitting the repaired panels back into place and making sure they're secure.

Divefire nods a little in understanding, but still, the idea of losing Earth sits very uncomfortably on his shoulders. "Still, these all or nothing gambits. There are other, less destructive means we might employ."

CatsCradle rests her head against the doorjam, closing her optics for a moment, then silently opens them again and continues watching.

Soundwave nods to Divefire, either in agreement with his thought or in satisfaction to himself that the repairs are all set. "Less energy-intensive techniques are to be recommended when possible for practical concerns. However, the monitoring and interference of the Autobots sometimes make more drastic means necessary."

Divefire looks to Soundwave, a half smirk on his features as he feels his energy levels stabilize finally. "It almost sounds as if you're condoning my fighting style, Soundwave." With a slight shift of his body, he moves off the repair table and takes a moment to reflect on the day's events. "Maybe the Constructicons could come up with something, with the right kind of input."

Soundwave says, "In fact I would not condone your fighting style under normal circumstances. The object is to live to fight another day. But I am certain your mate has her piece to say on that topic."

Divefire offers a slight shrug in reply. "Once a shock trooper, always a shock trooper." He states in a matter of fact half growl, before his optics fall on the rather shapely figure in the door way and his shoulders fall ever so slightly. "Though I think you're right, Soundwave."

Soundwave inclines his head a bit. "You are free to resume your duties."

CatsCradle still doesn't say anything, but her optics glimmer slightly before she drops her gaze to study the floor near her feet.

Soundwave steps over to the med bay computer and starts updating the latest records. For an event that nearly destroyed the planet and might have killed them all, the injuries were surprisingly minor.

Divefire offers Soundwave a polite nod of thanks in return. "Thank you, Soundwave." Then with a slow gate he walks to the door of the med bay.

CatsCradle gives Soundwave a silent nod from the doorway and slips out into the corridor again.

Divefire also slips out of the door, leaving Soundwave to understate his way through the medical logs.

****
Access Corridor


CatsCradle says softly, "I gather we're /not/ heading back to Cybertron right away, are we?"

Divefire shakes his head slightly. "I'd rather get some sleep first."

CatsCradle nods and continues down the corridor. "I'd rather not go back to Cybertron at all," she mutters under her breath.

****
D-C's Home
At first look, this seems like a larger version of the other quarters, except this is actually two of the standard quarters with a doorway joining them. One room is obviously set aside as a sleeping area. The other room is more of a living area, with two work terminals, one that seems to be cluttered in an organized fashion, and the other that is simply cluttered. There is an aquarium, about fifty-gallon-sized, with several Earth species of tropical fish. Although most of the fish are tiny, there is a holo-projector set up to bounce an enlarged reflection of the aquarium's contents up onto the wall above the tank. The room is filled with the soothing gurgling sounds of the aquarium's pumps and the pleasant fragrance of unlit beeswax candles. On a small shelf, a tiny glass hummingbird hangs, its edges faceted to catch the occasional stray beam of light, refracting it in splashes of rainbows.

CatsCradle begins stacking datapads from subspace onto her desk and blinks at them for a moment. "Good Primus, I'm turning into Gryphus," she mutters.

Divefire allows himself to be amused at her comment as the door to their less and less used room closes. "Not unless you become far less attractive overnight."

CatsCradle chuckles softly. "Oh, now you're just flattering, so I won't yell at you."

Divefire shrugs slightly, still smirking. "Well, I am being flattering. You can still yell however."

CatsCradle's amusement dies away and after a moment, she shakes her head. "My anger burned up, watching the Earth tear itself apart out there." Then she snorts softly and adds, "Or rather... watch us tear apart the Earth."

Divefire perches himself on the edge of a chair, looking rather warn out both mentally and physically from the days events. "I just wonder how many more times we have to go through that."

CatsCradle roughly pushes the datapads aside, scattering them, and sits on the desk, looking just as tired. "Until we either win this war, or destroy this planet."

Divefire shakes his head slightly, his fists clenching slightly as the futility sets in. "I refuse to accept that, there has to be another way."

CatsCradle rubs her forehead. "And I'm not even here, because I'm too busy playing administration at the Grinder. Could I have stopped this if I had been here? I don't even know what job I'm supposed to be doing anymore."

Divefire lets out a slight sigh, stroking his hand over the top of his helm. "Nor I... I think we could both do with a good nights rest and a day of reflection. We'll only work ourselves into a depression at this rate."

CatsCradle toys with one of the datapads, pushing it around with a claw. "Oh, I think I'm already there." Then she sighs and admits, "But yes, I'm exhausted, too, trying to be in two places at once. Maybe... maybe we can go to the lake once we get some sleep? I haven't been there in a long time. It'll be snowy, but..." she grins a little. "Snow's nice, too..."

Divefire optics glimmer a darker shade of green to her. "For that, we will need a good nights sleep."

CatsCradle smiles tiredly and pushes herself off the desk. "I think I can handle that."

Divefire stands as well, heading for the sleeping quarters. "As long as I'm next to you, so can I."

CatsCradle tickles his side as she ducks into the room past him. "You're just still afraid I'm going to start yelling at you."

Divefire smirks ever so slightly as he walks in after her. "Maybe."

CatsCradle flumps down on the bed, yawning and already half-asleep. "You can just tell everyone I did, and save me the effort."

Divefire slips down onto the bed next to her, carefully molding his body to hers. "I can live with that plan."

CatsCradle curls on her side against him, head on his shoulder and one arm curved over his chest, chuckling softly. "Then you can follow it with how you made it up to me, and still come out looking good."

Divefire smirks again, leaning his head down to kiss the top of her helm. "Oh I am going to make it up to you. You can be sure of that."

CatsCradle laughs, nuzzling against him. "Actually, I was rather counting on that."

Divefire grins just slightly. "I'm very glad to hear it."
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