Lair of the Stealth Bunnies
How the Decepticons Saved Christmas
How the Decepticons Saved Christmas
This circular room was formerly the bridge when the base was a viable spaceship. Now used as the Command Center, it is dominated by the large central viewing screen. The screen is linked to the main computer system, and can display anything from energon production reports to tactical updates to topside weather information. The various other bridge control stations have been converted to monitor and control the various mechanisms and activities of the base. They curve around the room from the door to the central viewscreen.
Megatron is checking the latest files he got, sighing. It seems some never got in touch with the rules of orthography...
Darkslide walks into the room looking very sinister.
CatsCradle slips quietly into the room and perches on top of her usual console.
Megatron closes the files, then turns around to face his troops - a slight grin on his lips.
Soundwave comes in to join the others in the command center. Everyone's here again, how convenient. He nods to Megatron and steps over to his communications console.
Nightbird is quietly checking over the readout on a console. She never looks entirely at ease with the computers..
Gryphus walks in to the command center, she's been gone for awhile now. On Cybertron doing some work there. She's come home for a break from her duties there and check to make sure her room and things here weren't disturbed. "Hello everyone." she smiles. She's clean, which doesn't happen too often since her work tends to get her grimy.
Soundwave checks on something at his communications station, patching in to Earth broadcasts for a moment as though looking for something, then nods to himself and looks toward Megatron. "Commander," he says, to get Megatron's attention.
Scorcher looks up to see yet another Decepticon she does not know
Nightbird's optics glitter just a bit and she pushes a button to put the computer back to stand by mode. She turns to nod at Gryphus then looks over to Soundwave.
Megatron tilts his head, granting Soundwave his attention. "Yes, Soundwave? What is it?”
Gryphus shifts her wings behind her a little and waits to be acknowledged. For now content to look around and see who may be new among the troops.
Soundwave says, "I have been tracking a most unusual phenomenon in the humans' news broadcasts. It seems a seasonal celebration of some sort is customary on some of this planet's continents. Perhaps some of our Earth researchers can provide more information. Of interest to us, however, is the amount of electrical power that is dedicated to this event."
Scorcher whispers softly "wonder if that's why they turned on all those lights everywhere"
Megatron frowns. "High amount of electrical power? Humans always tend to waste electrical power. Just look at their cities. So what is so surprising about it?"
CatsCradle nods slightly. "Christmas. One of the most widely celebrated holidays on the planet. It is supposed to be largely tied to a religious background, although there are some who argue that it has lost touch with that. A lot of decorating goes on, which may be the electrical readings you are picking up."
Megatron walks over to Soundwave.
Gryphus was about to speak, but Cats seems to covered it quite nicely. She smiles a bit. "Well spoken , CatsCradle." she offers softly. "But you did forget a couple small details, there are two other, or perhaps, three other religions that celebrate this time of year."
Soundwave takes in the background information with a slight inclination of his head, then replies to Megatron, "I have discerned one human settlement in particular where an excess of such decoration is being prepared. The local news broadcast even featured a debate about the wastefulness of the process, versus those factions who wished to outdo all previous efforts. Again of interest to us is that this site is near a power substation, and is easily accessed and easily defended."
CatsCradle tilts her head slightly at Gryphus with an amused smile. "I don't believe I mentioned a religion in specific at all. Just that the celebrating had a religious background. Certainly if those present want me to go into a full explanation, I will, but I didn't want to bore them if it wasn't a subject they found interesting."
Soundwave says, "It is even possible, with the increased availability of power, that we could tap a main line without evoking much notice."
Scorcher looks slightly disappointed at the mention of not being noticed
Gryphus nods to Cats. "Ah yes, best not bore anyone with all the details." she agrees. She looks toward Scorcher now. "Hello, I don't think we have met?" she offers Scorcher her hand. "I am Gryphus, historian, researcher, and recent envoy for Tyrian."
Nightbird's optics glow just slightly, her expression giving away nothing. Perhaps she's thinking it's about time the humans provided some use?
Megatron says, "I see that the Earthians use more power to celebrate the solstice or whatever - but that is actually not a reason why we haven't noticed this power source with easy access earlier..."
Scorcher looks at Soundwave and Megatron to make sure she is not interrupting a briefing and whispers "I'm Scorcher. Temporarily assigned to earth by Commander Shockwave. To gain combat experience"
Soundwave says, "Last year at this time we were somewhat preoccupied with gaining a foothold on this world."
Gryphus nods to Scorcher. "Nice to meet you." her voice is kept soft, so she can keep an audio toward Soundwave and Megatron's discussion.
Megatron shakes his head. "I am not talking of last year. There is a plant, capable of emitting high amounts of energy, being an easy prey and... no-one had realized it?" He /is/ suspicious. "Make sure it is not our 'dear' neighbors who want ot lure us into a trap.
Soundwave touches a control on his console, showing a satellite view of the North American continent, which zooms in toward the central states and down toward the hazy image of a small town through a thick cloudcover. Night is falling in that part of the planet, and faint lights can already be seen from overhead.
Scorcher mutters "I reported that light, didn't I?"
Soundwave shakes his head. "The local news broadcasts seem entirely authentic, Commander. However, if our presence is detected, we will surely have company. It should be relatively straightforward to set up an energy siphon and keep any Autobots at bay."
Ruse walks in, "..." She slinks behind Scorcher, and observes the new Con while listening in.
Nightbird steps forward at this. It's been a while since she's fought Autobots.
Gryphus turns to look at the screen where the light display is being shown. "Did you?' she asks toward Scorcher." Apparently Gry has pretty good hearing, but then she is standing pretty close to Scorch at the moment.
Scorcher whispers to Ruse "Looks like we're going to steal energy. With any luck we can fight Bots trying to stop us"
Megatron folds his arms in front of his chest. His cerebral chips are working. "Well, this energy source is indeed of interest... I'd like to keep the Autogerms busy by laying a false scent. However, this has been my tactic too often for the last time, Prime may smell the retro rat..." He rubs his chin.
CatsCradle slips off her console. "Where is this location?" She steps closer to the screen for a better look."
Scorcher looks at Gryphus, embarrassed to be overheard. Especially when she is not quite certain that she actually did report those strange lights all over the country
Soundwave zooms the view of the map back out, showing the outline of the North American continent, with a glowing red dot at the proposed site, near the central part of the land mass. Those familiar with the region would know this as mostly a flat countryside, covered at this time of year almost always in deep snow.
Ruse smirks, and nods to Scorcher. She looks to the main viewscreen and hmms...
Megatron says, "Soundwave, check the area for the best escape routes, maybe we can use the weather conditions for our purposes. This time we will take the following tactic: quick in and quick out."
Gyphus hmms. “There are a few states that are that flat.” She cocks her head at the map. “And I’m trying to recall if there is a dam in those areas.”
Soundwave nods to Megatron. "I will send Buzzsaw and Laserbeak ahead to scout the area."
Nightbird expresses her enthusiasm for the energon-harvest by quickly producing two throwing stars and rubbing them together, making sparks.
Gryphus considers. "There may be a way for us to get to that energy without drawing undo attention. But we'd need a hologram to pull it off." she looks around. "If you'd like to hear the idea sirs?"
Soundwave ejects the two cassettes, one red and one gold, who transform on the wing into mechanical birds of prey, circle each other once, and soar out of the room.
Scorcher hesitates, then gathers her courage to speak up "Sir? I spent the last several days scouting that particular area. I could do some reconnaissance if you want"
Megatron nods. "Excellent. We will follow Laserbeak in double radar range. He scouts we will use the information directly. This way we should already have left the plant before the Prime arrives there.
Megatron clenches his fist. "With the energy..."
Soundwave says, "It might be beneficial to send some additional firepower with Buzzsaw and Laserbeak, if Scorcher were to fly ahead. And Gryphus, what is your suggestion?""
Gryphus says, "Well there is a being that is known for circling the globe this night. We could take advantage of that, hologram ourselves to appear as him, his sleigh, and his reindeer. A silly notion, but would definitely throw the adult humans for a loops.""
Nightbird lets Soundwave and of course Megatron handle the planning stages. She's much better at implementation after all.
Ruse glances to CatsCradle and murmurs, "What's Gryph talking about?"
CatsCradle chuckles softly to Ruse. "Santa Clause."
Megatron says, "I agree with Gryphus for scouting, but I don't want a jet in the first team - only silent flyers."
Soundwave tilts his head a little, questioningly. "I am unfamiliar with this image. Can you project this as a hologram?"
Scorcher pouts slightly , then tries to sort of slink back again, with her volunteering refused
Gryphus moves to the computer. "I can bring up a picture of the one I speak of.. a moment." her fingers move over the keys and soon the picture of Saint Nick with his sleigh and reindeer comes into view.
CatsCradle lifts one shoulder in an abbreviated shrug. "I'm a stealth flier, but perhaps sticking to the smaller cassettes might be better."
Soundwave says, "This ... combination of objects does not appear particularly aerodynamic."
Megatron grins. "Very good, CatsCradle, that you remind me of your presence...
CatsCradle chuckles again softly. "People tend to forget I'm in the room, don't they?" Her optics shimmer in amusement to Megatron.
Gryphus turns to Soundwave. "That would not matter for our purposes sir. We just need a hologram to copy this image.. in three D.. and we'd be set.
Nightbird looks at the image with narrowed optics. Now she KNOWS humans had nothing to do with her construction..
Ruse says, "True Soundwave, but then again neither are you."
Soundwave shakes his head a little, not having known four-legged organic hoofed mammals to take to the air - but, who knows what humans believe? With a shrug, he sets about copying the image. From what he knows of holographic projectors, he can download the pic to a handheld unit. Not as convenient as having Chasm do the deed, of course, but that little green dragon is probably off protecting his investments in Tokyo.
Megatron looks at the picture of Santa Claus. Then he looks at the Scout troop: Laserbeak, Buzzaw, Gryphus, CatsCradle... He looks back and... starts to laugh!
Gryphus watches on as Soundwave sole y works on the hologram. "Who would be on this team of silent fliers sirs?" she asks.
Megatron says, "Soundwave, even if we fail to gather energy this time: I don't want to miss the fun!"
Scorcher settles down to check her weapons, cycling one missile after another into her launcher
Nightbird still has her stars out, ready for whatever awaits.
Megatron says, "And - because we will not fail - it will double the fun!"
Soundwave agrees with Megatron, "It will be a most unusual mission. We require a projector yet for the image."
CatsCradle watches Megatron warily as he begins to laugh and has a vague suspicion as to the reason. She debates sneaking out... then suddenly begins chuckling. "Oh, dear...the holiday may never been the same again. Oh, I have a projector that I'll donate."
Gryphus raises a brow, Megatron seems unusually.. jolly.. doesn't he. "I would think Megatron would make a fine Santa.'
Megatron chuckles. "Oh, I think that role would fit better to someone with a less fiery temper, Gryphus."
Soundwave nods to CatsCradle. "Meet us at the tower, then."
CatsCradle gives a quick nod and slips out of the room, still laughing softly
Great Plains <North America>
At their northern edge, these inland grasslands are bordered by the Great Lakes gouged out by glaciers a mere several thousand years before and filled by meltwater. Continuing south and west from there, the original prairie ecosystem has been largely replaced by farmland, as have the original deciduous forests on the eastern edge of this range.
Night has fallen swiftly in this part of the world, and a thick cloudcover hangs low over the flat landscape. A carpet of snow stretches out underneath as the Decepticons fly toward their target.
Megatron admits: this winter landscape has something special.
Scorcher looks around. at least the snow is covering up the dirt
In the distance, faint lights glimmer from the houses of windows, and decorations glitter. But the town plaza remains dark as people start to slowly gather for the anticipated event of the lighting of the tree.
Gryphus flies along with the others, most likely in close formation so the hologram covers them. She looks at the snow. "My... that is rather pretty isn't it?" she asks to no one in particular.
Soundwave veers off in his flightpath toward the power station. He too appreciates for a moment the strange beauty of the white landscape below, but he's got his job to do. Laserbeak and Buzzsaw are still out there in the darkness somewhere, in silent communication with him.
Nightbird's optics tighten in a frown as she looks over the snow. Her ability to blend in won't work very well in this..
<Earth> Megatron says, "(quietly) Operate as quietly as possible."
Megatron heads for the Power Station, awaiting his troops to follow him.
CatsCradle remains quiet, but her optics glow warmly at the sight of the snow. She has rather fond memories of the Alps and has enjoyed the peace of a snow-covered countryside since then.
Soundwave avoids the outskirts of town, and follows Megatron, dropping downward toward the Power station.
Just outside of the town of Midville, the spindly metal towers of a power substation rise into the dark cold sky. Electric lines strung between them lead toward the town, while the hum of several large generators fills the air. Production of power is working overtime today, more than might be imagined for such a small conglomeration of houses - and additional power lines snake in from the distance, adding input from elsewhere across the country.
Gryphus dives after her Lord, keeping that tight formation. My it is ever prettier as they draw closer
Nightbird tests her footing on the cold wet stuff, making sure she won't slip.
Soundwave lands in the soft powdery snow, under the metal towers.
CatsCradle lands easily and amuses herself for a moment by kicking through the snow
Scorcher considers to remain flying above the powerplant rather than land in the white stuff. This world never ceases to amaze her
Soundwave looks to Megatron, to clarify the plan. "We are to construct the power siphon, and if we are discovered, to distract the natives with the holograph of this 'Santa Claus,' correct?"
Megatron lands close to the power station. Actually he is meanwhile quite familiar with snow now - especially Arctic snow. "Quite correct. It will also cover our scouts who look for the best escape routes."
Nightbird is in fact doing just that, looking over the surrounding terrain and judging the best cover spots.
Megatron orders quietly. "Everyone to work now.
Soundwave nods and gets right to work, taking out some tools and equipment from storage and starting work on the main power line that's running toward the town, whose lights can be faintly seen from where the Decepticons are. The immediate surroundings are dark, however, which gives the raiding party decent cover, aside from the white ground covering. Fortunately it seems that the humans are all intent on their own celebration. Not long now, for the tree to be lit.
Nightbird puts herself on guard duty and indicates a good spot for the energon cubes to be piled, away from aerial view.
Scorcher lands in the snow, at a loss what to do actually
Gryphus moves to Soundwaves side and assists in any way she can.
CatsCradle blends into the darkness of the buildings as best she can, being dark-colored against white snow. She leaves the tech stuff to the techies and keeps watch from her spot... although she can't help herself and begins packing snow into the shape of a snowman
Soundwave has pretty quickly tapped into the main power line. A faint sparking marks the spot of the breach, then it dies down and the power begins to flow. Soundwave starts to generate containment fields for empty energon cubes, which he passes first to Gryphus, who is closest to him, and then on to Scorcher and Striker.
Scorcher looks at the cube she is handed and then decided that the smart thing to do was to make a pile of them somewhere
Megatron realizes CatsCradle's action, hissing: "We don't have time for such a nonsense, CatsCradle."
CatsCradle sighs, but just as contentedly shoves the snowman over to watch it topple apart.
Soundwave glances over at Cats' sculpture. Interesting. But Megatron's right, they have work to do.
Nightbird has done a little more utilitarian snow sculpting, creating a space the cubes can be stashed.
Soundwave holds an empty cube to the source of power and fills it with softly-glowing energon, the pink light falling in a hazy rectangle onto the snow at his feet.
Gryphus will help SW with stacking the cubes of course.
Faintly in the background comes the sound of human singing, carrying over the still air.
Over in town, as the people have gathered with their children, the major pulls the switch that's going to light the entire village. And - nothing! A moment of absolute and utter silence. The laboriously decorated tree remains dark, the chill of the night suddenly more biting. Then a disgruntled mutter rumbles through the crowd, faintly heard from the site of the power station.
Scorcher puts another cube on the small pile. "You know, these would make an excellent mine if we buried them underneath the road. The first bot to drive over it ...." she says to nobody inparticular
Soundwave pauses at the change in background noise from the nearby collection of houses.
Megatron looks up. "Quickly, load the energon.
Soundwave reminds her, "Scorcher, that would leave precious little energon for our own use."
Scorcher sighs "but it would make a beautiful explosion, wouldn't it?"
Already the townspeople start moving toward the power station. Surely something has gone wrong that can be put back in place easily. Maybe that harsh wind from the morning before knocked something loose.
Megatron orders quietly. "Activate the holographic disguise."
Nightbird says softly. "The organics approach."
Soundwave fills another cube hurriedly, and says, "CatsCradle, do you have this hologram prepared?"
Scorcher transforms into her Cyberjet mode.
Gryphus looks up. "Better get into a jolly mood Soundwave." she smiles a bit.
CatsCradle brings out the holoprojector, quickly giving it another check-over. "It's ready."
Megatron says, "Activate it!"
Soundwave realizes he will have to play this part after all. What a strange thought. But, what one doesn't do for the cause. He steps over toward CatsCradle, letting her aim the device at him, and tries to recall what very very little he knows about human traditions.
Nightbird moves quietly over by one of the towers, blending in. Only her optics can be faintly seen.
The first of the townspeople, in thick winter coats and heavy boots, stomp their way toward the spindly metal towers of the power station. Parents with their kids trail along. Some of the children can be heard whining, "But *why* didn't it light up?"
CatsCradle says in soft warning, "We're running out of time..."
Gryphus whispers. "Just say ho ho ho.. Merry Christmas and see how they react." to Soundwave.
Scorcher is loaded with all the cubes she can carry. If only to escape the singing ;)
Soundwave nods, and hovers upward a little into the air. The hologram coalesces around him, looking like a sleigh drawn by 9 reindeer, the lead one with a glowing red nose. Within the sleigh, a corpulent, white-bearded man in a red suit waves to the citizens as they reach the power station. Soundwave/Santa lands and intones, "Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas, citizens of Midville!" Yes, the voice is faintly electronically modulated, but Soundwave possesses enough recordings of human media to splice together a good facsimile.
As one, the crowd comes to a halt, staring with open mouths. Even the shapes of the Decepticons in the background, continuing to load and drain power, don't seem to fully register. Only the kids are delighted and not at all baffled.
Megatron really has a hard time not to start laughing, but he manages it quite well.
Nightbird silently shakes her head. She hasn't been with the team for millions of years, but.. This seems a little weird.
CatsCradle's optics light up at the effectiveness of the hologram, then quickly turns to watch, grinning at the children.
Some of the children pull themselves loose from their parents' grasp and come forward, eyes practically glowing in delight. "Wow, it's Santa!" one whispers. The piles of glowing energon shed softly glowing light all around.
Gryphus whispers. 'Whatever you do, don't let them touch you."
Megatron makes a gesture to his troops to take the energy and to withdraw into the direction opposite to 'Santa'.
Nightbird is already adequately hidden and keeps her optics peeled for Bots.
Soundwave seems momentarily at a loss for what more to say, then forges ahead, "I've come to visit you citizens on this special night to wish you good tidings and bring you a gift and a message. My gift to you is this-" he gestures behind him, toward the Decepticons withdrawing with the energon. "These good beings have come to relieve you of the artificial tinsel and blinding light of your holiday, so you might remember the true meaning and peace of what it should symbolize."
Scorcher quietly rolls away, taking care not to use her engines
Gryphus faceplms. "Oh boy."
CatsCradle winces a little, waiting for the children to twig to the fact that Santa is taking /away/, rather than leaving presents behind...
The adults look completely baffled at this, and look at each other. A disgruntled mutter goes through the crowd. One of the kids pipes up, "Wow! It's really Santa! I saw him land in the sleigh, it really flies!" It doesn't seem to matter to this young one, perhaps 5 years of age, that this isn't quite the way it's supposed to go.
Gryphus helps the others load stuff up and quick before she fears this goes south
Well, what to do? The adults are decidedly suspicious now. They've heard the rumors of giant robots rampaging through the cities, but nothing like that has ever happened *here*. Still, the children are entranced ... "Are those *real* robots from outer space?" one asks.
Soundwave /Santa nods. "They are indeed. You see, the holidays are special to beings from all worlds. Don't you wish to be generous to aliens far from home?"
Soundwave glances back briefly through the shield of the hologram to see how well things are progressing. Are they ready to take off and head for home back there?
One of the town fathers, looking uncertain, but with a glance at his daughter's delighted expression, concedes carefully, "It *is* better to give than to receive...."
Scorcher edges further away
CatsCradle holds a stack of energon in her arms, looking rather torn, finding herself feeling sorry for the children. "I wish we had something to give them," she murmurs. "Almost anything would impress them, if it came from Cybertron."
Nightbird sees that the last of the cubes have been gathered up and gives Soundwave a gesture to indicate that.
From the back of the crowd, an old woman makes her way forward. Something is cupped in her hand against the wind. A glass holding a flickering candle. "In my day, we lit our Christmas trees with real candles," she announces to the crowd. "I still have quite a supply. Here." She reaches into the pockets of her heavy overcoat and starts passing out small candles, lighting each from the one she's carrying. The tiny, flickering torches start spreading through the crowd.
Soundwave catches CatsCradle's soft murmur, and supposes he could play out the rest of the role to its end. Something from offworld to leave, why not - some useless cog from which no technical information can be gleaned.
Gryphus keeps loading things up til its all loaded. Hopefully the humans won't bum rush Soundwave for awhile yet.
Soundwave/Santa tilts his head a little as though listening to something, a faint frown creasing his features.
<Earth> Soundwave says, "Laserbeak and Buzzsaw report - message intercepted. A distress call has been sent from this region to the Autobot base."
<Earth> Scorcher says, "Blast. I am too heavy with energon cubes to fight effectively."
CatsCradle blinks as the candlelight gives her an idea. She shifts the load of energon to one side, and brings out a small hand-held light, very obviously not of earth-manufacture. She turns it on, then hands it to the nearest child. "To add to your tree," she says softly, then quickly blends back into the shadows of the building.
Soundwave/Santa looks over the gathered townspeople and looks almost disappointed. "It looks like someone has called in additional visitors. That is unfortunate, since my friends from space will not be able to stay and celebrate with you now. And I have a long way to travel still this night. However, here is a gift for you before we leave." With a nod to CatsCradle.
Then the sleigh hovers upward again, the reindeer shifting in unison to pull the strange flying object upward into the night.
<Earth> Ramjet says, "Scorcher, what is your location."
Gryphus is thankful we get to leave before the humans decide enough is enough.
Huge glittering white flakes of snow start to fall softly from the overhead clouds, swirling toward the townspeople and their candles below. The kid with the Cybertronian light is surrounded by the others, all admiring the real alien object. Somewhere in the distance, the Autobots are barreling toward the "attack site," even as the Decepticons rise up into the night. Soundwave in the guise of the holographic Santa waves one more time and calls out "Merry Christmas!" By the time the Autobots arrive a short while later, the townspeople will tell them they made the journey for nothing. Unless, of course, they'd like to help fix the power lines....