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The Duel
7/6/02


Medical Corner

     The neatly arranged corner packs as much equipment and parts as possible into a relatively small space, claimed from the recreational area itself. There are few tables, with tight spaces between them for medical staff to maneuver between as well as a sign that simply states: Due to the lack of room, please wait outside the perimeter if you are not wounded or needing repairs. Thank you, MSE.

Soundwave chimes in, "It is 'the rest,' Commander, that I wished to speak to you about. I believe this is a more significant problem than Trypticon's current location.

Soundwave glances at Ravage, waiting patiently nearby, as he addresses Megatron. He recognizes CatsCradle's footfalls, but does not at the moment turn toward her.

Ravage looks over at Megatron, and he says, emitting softly, "There have been rumblings of... Plots against Starscream, commander. As it is, many of the troops are... Disquieted at things."

Soundwave again does not acknowledge the new arrival, Ferret, though of course he hears the arrival. He does surreptitiously check Nightbird's vital signs, though.

CatsCradle pauses just inside the door, trying to judge the mood. Her optics, with their gold instead of amethyst glow, more out of place to her own mind than it seems to anyone else, rest briefly on her mate, but the wary hint to their gleam doesn't change. She remains where she is for the moment.

Soundwave seems to consider, now, looking around at the others. He'd much rather have spoken to Megatron of this matter alone, with only Ravage as witness, but - it seems the whole world, or at least the Decepticon contingent of it, is converging here seeking Megatron. So he thinks how to word the matter. "Commander, I believe Starscream's latest actions may have to be addressed more firmly."

Tempest stirs in the corner, raising her head from Motormaster's shoulder. She nods slowly. She told Megatron as much before.

Ravage nod, and he looks over at Soundwave, uncertain, for once, of how to proceed. Sometimes... Sometimes you just have to act directly on the matter. But with everyone here going on about things, perhaps they should just simply bring it out into the open...

Megatron walks over to his warriors. "Soundwave, get Trypticon out of this environment. We can talk about Starscream during the re-location takes place." His mood is darkening, thinking on what is ahead of him.

Soundwave can see that no progress will be made until Trypticon is moved. He still doesn't see it as a high priority, but such is Megatron's wish. He goes to one of the med terminals and taps into Trypticon's systems with a few swift keystrokes. The great slumbering giant rumbles a little, a soft vibration shaking the floor around them just a little.

Megatron says, "We... will talk down in the war room."

Ravage looks up at Soundwave, hissing softly as he looks at the other Decepticons. He feels very... Uneasy, but now is the time for action...

Soundwave instructs Trypticon of a new location nearby, one that's uninhabited. A renewed shudder through the base as the external turrets withdraw and the great engines kick in, levitating the monster steadily up into the air.

Tempest slinks out of the room after Megatron.

****

War Room

        Dominating this room is a huge holographic display table, with chairs surrounding it. The display is suitable for projecting any number of video images or giant high resolution holographic maps. There are auxiliary display stations and computer consoles lining the walls, making this an ideal place to plan strategy and review intelligence.

Megatron takes a seat at the display table. "Well...?" he asks.

Ravage looks about, wondering who will start to talk, now...

Tempest decides she'd rather curl up cat-style on /top/ of the table, and coincidentally next to Megatron.

One of the perpetually active viewscreens shows a view of the clouds, as Trypticon soars through the sky, ungainly craft that he is.

CatsCradle follows everyone in, but stays just inside the door, leaning against it. She crosses her arms over her chest, her clawtips drumming in a silent patter. It would almost be fidgeting, if the rest of her wasn't so still and silent.

Ferret is even more quiet than usual, having spent most of the week recovering from injuries sustained during The Attack Of The Return Of The Revenge Of Bruticus.

Megatron waits to listen to the complaints of his warriors.

Soundwave looks to the others, calm and knowing. "I believe some of you wish to voice grievances," he says.

Ravage nods and he looks over at Divefire, letting the elder mech start first, or to let Soundwave initiate the proceedings. He does not speak to complain - no matter his personal feelings on matters, he is a good soldier, he will follow the orders of his commander, even if he does disagree with them. It is his place to warn, however, of just how bad things are getting...

Scrapper comes into the meeting area, a bit surprised to discover there is in fact a meeting going on. He stands with folded arms watching.

Tempest is silent, though her ruby optics flicker at the others. Obviously if any of them get out of line in their behaviour towards Megatron, the leader will find a very willing volunteer to deal with them....if she doesn't simply take matters into her own hands.

Soundwave takes in the uncomfortable silence in the room for some time, and realizes no one really wants to voice what's been going through their minds of late. So, it seems to fall to him to take the initiative. "Commander," he addresses Megatron again, "You have been, you must admit, a bit distracted of late. Understandably. Thus you may not have been aware of some of the tensions among the troops. I will mention no names, but there are those who would wish to take the matter of Starscream into their own hands."

Tempest says wryly, "And I don't think he means me..." Because she never voiced to anyone her opinions on Starscream. Because Megatron had asked her not to act on them.

Ravage nods, and he says, "There are a number of... Plots going out amidst the troops, Commander, to deal with Starscream themselves... Resentment against him is... Rather high. They do not openly question you, or defy you, but many fear for their own safety, since Starscream has had his previous position restored." Ravage trails off, biting back several trailing, and rather... Stronger comments.

Soundwave nods just slightly to Ravage, approving of the wording and the restraint.

Tempest tilts her head at Megatron, as if to say, I'm not the only one.

Megatron narrows his optics. "So? They want, Soundwave. You can tell them, Starscream is my matter and no-one should dare to get into my way. And Ravage, you can be sure I have him at the short leach.

Ravage nods, and he says nothing more, merely shooting Soundwave a glance, and staying silent. There is the look in his optics of a telepathic communication...

Soundwave finds he must use somewhat stronger language, though reluctantly. "There is ... the matter of trusting your judgment as well, Commander."

Tempest's optics sparkle sadly. She wishes she could speak to him mind to mind, like Soundwave. This was what she had meant...he says it, but somehow they have trouble believing that he will be able to keep his word.

Megatron's optics flash. "So, there is?" he asks in a dangerous voice.

CatsCradle says very softly, "His leash has been shortened before. And yet he nearly killed several of us recently. Your mate is still in the repair bay."

Ravage looks over at Megatron, hissing softly as he moves to stand in front of his father in a protective stance.

Soundwave inclines his head a little, entirely calm and without expression. "Affirmative, Megatron."

Ferret decides his best bet is to adopt an entirely neutral stance on this situation, and remain away from the centre of attention, despite the fact that due to Starscream's escapades, he now looks like a walking scrapheap.

Tempest curls her lip at Catscradle. It's not like Tempest doesn't /agree/ but she finds herself instinctively reacting to the fact that it was said aloud and in public. She is appearing very defensive of Megatron.

Scrapper isn't commenting for now, just watching the others. It's the Constructicons who have to clean up and rebuild after Starscream's antics.

Megatron stands. "Starscream has challenged me, because he wants my position. That is the right of every Decepticon: to challenge the leader, to become leader themselves. But Starscream also loyally served the cause..." He looks down. "Until..." He doesn't finish. Tiredly, he leans his hands on the table.

Tempest looks silently up at Megatron and runs her hand over a dent in her arm that still remains from the "Starscream's Brigade" misadventure.

Ravage says, "Yes, but when one challenges another for leadership, one does not put the troops at risk... Starscream's attempts for leadership involve others, and put many of us directly at risk. It is one thing to challenge the alpha male... Another to try and take on the entire pack."

Soundwave regards his leader quietly. Ravage expresses what he might have said quite well.

Among all the discussion, those casting an occasional glance out the viewsceen showing the exterior, will notice the walls of a desert canyon where Trypticon has settled with only a soft shudder.

Megatron starts to pace up and down the room. "Then I shall clear things once and for all..." Somehow it sounds like he really doesn't want to think about it.

Soundwave is watching Megatron quietly, aware of the positions of the others in the room. All the while one my imagine he's keeping silent counsel with Ravage, as indicated by the occasional slightly-brighter shading of his optic band.

Tempest is coiled up on the table-top, appearing very defensive of Megatron, keeping her eyes less on him and more on the others.

Ferret stands barely noticeable to one side, mainly concerning himself with not being seen.

Megatron is pacing up and down the room at the moment. Looks like it has to do with things that were talked about before. (for Divefire)

CatsCradle glances to her mate from her stop just inside the door, completely motionless except for the silent pattering of her clawtips drumming.

Ravage stands in front of Soundwave, still on edge, but more relaxed now than he was earlier. Hopefully what they have said to Megatron will have an effect, and Starscream will be dealt with - one and for all...

Divefire moves in finally, having been dealing with a few last minute details of not being attacked by angry human rebels and the like. A quick glance around the room is all he needs to guess what's been talked about and with a setting of his jaw he steps forward and further into the room. "Let me guess, Starscream." It's statement rather then a question, but he does look towards Megatron with a modicum of tact in his stance.

Megatron stops pacing, facing Divefire. "I suppose you are here with another complaint about him. Or are you one of those who question my ability to make the right decision?"

Tempest is curled up on the table top, keeping protective watch over Megatron as he faces the allegations of his discontented troops.

Dirge walks in and hangs around the fringes of the group, expressionless.

Soundwave, who bore the unpleasant task, along with others, of voicing some of what no one wished to say, stands calmly as ever.

Ravage nods, and he stands in front of his father in a protective stance, glad that Laserbeak is elsewhere at the moment. He is glad that his brother does not have to worry about getting in trouble for speaking rather honestly and bluntly...

Ferret tries to look inconspicuous over by the far wall, as is usually the case when tempers start to fray...

Scrapper is also standing and quietly watching, his expression almost as difficult to read as Soundwave's. His team has always been among Megatron's strongest supporters.. But by definition, that almost requires animosity towards Starscream.

Divefire levels himself against Megatron's gaze, matching it in some ways with his own ire of the situation and the past few months, or is it years. "Maybe a bit of both... I've got a hell of lot of things against Starscream already, this latest round has just been the last straw. He's threatened family, friends, even our future with his actions of late and you just let him waltz back in!" The accusations echoes out a little, the fire in it flaring for just a second. "When you thought he killed Nightbird, you nearly had him killed then. Hell, I did most of the chasing for that..." He pauses a moment, just to catch his anger and to say what he needs to say. "When I found out he nearly killed Cats, you think I felt any less of the rage that you did? Or when he tried to fry this place? Your Air Commander has attacked everything I hold dear... No, everything we should hold dear and you just let him come back... No Megatron... Not this time..."

Ferret has a distinct "Uh-oh..." look on his face...

Dirge allows himself a small smile as he noted the others' discontent.

Tempest's optics glitter. She will protect Megatron, but she admits that Divefire's words are accurate. She nods, then glances up at Megatron to see what he will do.

Ravage nods, and he looks up at Soundwave, murmuring his agreement lightly. As it is... He believes that his Father's input could very well be what sways Megatron in one direction or the other...

Megatron looks at Divefire, his optics flash dangerously. "You can keep your breath, Divefire, I have already made my decision."

CatsCradle moves to step next to her mate. "It is hardest," she says softly, "when it is your family that takes the hit." She rests her hand on Divefire's arm... her body language applies her statement to her mate... would Megatron also see that it applies to a parent?

Soundwave's optic band darkens just slightly. Divefire is definitely using less diplomatic language than he and Ravage tried to cultivate, but ... he knows Megatron to appreciate directness, also. At least, most of the time. Soundwave keeps unobtrusive watch for tempers getting out of hand.

Ravage nods, and he stands by Soundwave's side, ready to lend his assistance if things get out of hand... He shoots a look over in the direction of Divefire - should they lend their assent to it?

Tempest's optics glitter. Stubborn, Megatron is. She says instead, quietly, "How many nights do I have to prowl around the air ducts overtop of Starscream's quarters to make sure he isn’t' hatching another plot?"

Soundwave adds nothing, at this time. He doesn't feel there's the need.

Ravage whispers, softly, "And how many nights do we have to prowl the corridors to make sure that he isn't actively doing what he plots?"

Divefire holds Megatron's gaze for a moment more, feeling the support beside him, then around him... "Then what is it, Commander?" He inquires, his growl of a voice carefully low and neutral.

Speak of the devil...the door opens up and guess who waltzes in.

Starscream looks around at the gathering with some surprise. "Is there some mission underway?"

CatsCradle adds, in a voice so soft that it seems loud, "and how much longer until someone dear is killed by him?"

Tempest's optics flash ruby at the sight of the newcomer.

Dirge glares at Starscream.

Megatron clenches his fists aside of his body. "No-more, Tempest..." He looks up, seeing who entered the room. His expression is strangely dark. "Good that you come, Starscream..."

Ferret feels slightly vulnerable standing alone in such a turbulent situation, and edges round towards Soundwave and Ravage.

Starscream realizes that he can't simply saunter into the room and pretend that none of the past few weeks had ever happened. He is more aware than ever that no matter what he has done to win the acclaim of the others, it seems that every effort causes them to hate him more. He does not fully understand why. But he doesn't want to voice the fear he feels. "How come?" he asks of Megatron. Something in the faces of the others is...disturbing.

Soundwave turns his head a bit to look at Starscream. His expression remains unreadable, and even his creations, at this moment, catch no hint of what might be going through his mind.

Ravage looks over at Soundwave, and he slowly turns to face Starscream, keeping his optics up on the face of the Decepticon Aerospace Commander...

Divefire shifts a little where he stands, shifting his body posture so he can cast his gaze between Megatron and Starscream quickly, though it's perhaps rather more clear in his features then most the unbridled anger that spirals through his systems at seeing Starscream again.

Macabre is sticking to the back of the room like it were made of flypaper, out of everyone's way and hopefully out of everyone's sight.

Megatron walks over to Starscream. "In your attempts to dethrone me, you stepped too far, endangering those you wanted to lead: the Decepticons. Now it seems that they want your head..."

Starscream looks around nervously at the others. "But...but I was pardoned! I saved Earth and delivered Bruticus to you unharmed!"

Chasm perches on Soundwave's shoulder.

Ravage waits to see how Megatron will react. Starscream has gone too far this time, he has lost the respect of the Decepticons... It is one thing to challenge the leader for his position - another entirely to directly endanger the troops he would command. As Starscream speaks, Ravage tenses, barely restraining a hiss.

Dirge watches carefully, with interest at the scene. He could almost laugh at what was happening.

Divefire’s optics just flare, in the same way a sun just goes super nova... "Saved... EARTH!?" The rage in his voice just echoes out from deep within him, bouncing from the walls and the panels of the room as he regards Starscream with all the desire to rip him in two now. "You've done more to try and kill this planet then any being in history!"

Chasm moves his head slightly, "And my stocks suffered drastically..." he mutters to himself.

Megatron gestures Divefire to sit down and be quiet. "It is not up to me to decide that anymore, Starscream... however, I will give you one last chance..."

Starscream hisses back, "In case you've forgotten it was ONSLAUGHT who decided to play with the space bridge!" And if he's less shrill than usual, it's because this time he's actually telling the truth. Somehow he cannot protest the truth as loudly as a lie.

Soundwave doesn't seem to react as Chasm ejects, simply watches the proceedings.

Starscream bites off, trying to be well behaved for a change, and says with a chill in his tanks, "One...last chance?" He thought that chance had been granted already. The faces around him suggest it may just have been revoked.

Ravage looks over at Soundwave, and he simply tenses as Divefire speaks, getting ready to launch himself should the situation deteriorate...

Ferret gains the courage to aim a scowl in Starscream's direction too. Despite extensive repairs, he still looks like he was stuck together from parts of about eight different Mechs, then set on fire. What little remains of his paint job is decidedly crispy. His armour is criss-crossed with welding scars, and one of his shoulders sports a dent which hasn't been ironed out properly.

CatsCradle starts to touch Divefire's arm again, in a calming motion... then decides to let him say what he needs to say. She moves a step away, but stands there firmly.

Dirge crosses his arms over his chest, still watching from the edges. He wonders if Starscream will be able to even walk out of here alive.

Megatron nods. "You and I will fight... but only one will survive this fight. If it is you, you are free to go and the Decepticons will have to find a new leader. If you lose..." He does not continue, because the answer is clear.

Macabre continues to watch silently and press herself against the back wall. Away from all the ado. Well. As away as she can get without running out of the room.

Starscream is stunned. "Today? As in right now?"

Dirge narrows his optics.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, and then at Megatron. And his jaw... Drops to the floor. The kitty is... Completely stunned. He shoots an alarmed glance at Soundwave.

Starscream was /not/ exactly including "fight Megatron to the death" in his days' plans when he got up this morning. He can't fight Megatron /now!/ He hasn't had time to plot, or to scheme...or do any of the things that would swing the odds in his favour--the things he does best.

Chasm wipes a paw across his face. "I've just got that first batch of Megatron merchandise coming in. This unstable political environment is really causing havoc with my marketing plans."

Tempest's optics gleam. She can only hope Megatron remembers the promise she warned him about.

If Soundwave is surprised, or concerned, there's nothing in his stance or expression to show it.

Soundwave says, "Perhaps, Chasm, there are more significant problems at this time than your marketing plans."

Divefire half steps forward, already on the verge on ripping into Starscream physically as well as verbally, when Megatron's words stop him dead and he flashes a look over his shoulder. "If you're serious about doing that, I'm you're second." That would be a statement then, rather then a request.

Chasm looks puzzled, giving Soundwave an absent-minded glance as he juggles figures in his head. "Like what?"

Ferret shrinks back against the wall, generally hoping that if they do fight, he isn't trampled underfoot.

Scrapper shows his surprise by unfolding his arms. A duel to the death? Well, that *is* the way the whole taking over as leader thing is supposed to be done.

Macabre looks absolutely aghast at this death-duel news. She's not a big fan of death-duels. In fact, they scare her worse than most things usually scare her.

Starscream looks around the room. "Hey, no seconds! He said just me and him!" And Starscream protests this because he knows damn well no one will be /his/ Second.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, h hissing dangerously... If Starscream does not accept the challenge... Then he will never gain any respect again.

Soundwave replies to Chasm, "The stability and future of the empire."

Chasm shrugs, "Eh."

Megatron says, "Just you and me..."

Soundwave addresses Megatron, "Commander. If this is to be an official challenge for leadership, might I recommend an additional witness from Cybertron? I can contact Thunderwing or Colossus." Still no hint of what he thinks of it all. Just taking care of the details of procedure.

Starscream is nervous. This is it...make or break time. He decides there's no harm in giving it a try..."run like hell" is always an option.. And it seems there's no way he can simply lie low and hope this one blows over. Frag. He never saw /this/ outcome coming. "Agreed."

Chasm flaps off Soundwave's shoulder and lands near Dirge.

Tempest says nothing. Appears not to react very much. But she draws her blades and begins to sharpen them, rubbing one over the other. The face...emotionless.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, and he hisses. This is it, a fight to the death, for leadership of the Decepticons... Can Megatron really do it, kill his Lieutenant, for whom some reason that he has never struck out at?

Chasm mutters 'Hey there Dirge. How ... a little ... ... sweeten the occasion? Long odds ... ... '.

CatsCradle's expression battles between pride for her mate and anger at his quick volunteering. She buries her face in her hands for a quick moment, and when she looks up again, her mask of mild amusement is firmly back in place again.

Divefire turns and gives one final look to Megatron, swallowing his anger down for a moment in the light and understanding of what Megatron is about to do...

Megatron says, "I will give the time to settle your private matters, Starscream."

Dirge briefly looks at Chasm, then returns his attention to Megatron and Starscream. Could it be that Megatron was going to remove this...problem...once and for all? He turns back to Chasm again upon hearing his words, and replies, "Megatron won't lose. I'm not interested in betting."

Starscream sneers, "I don't have any private matters that need settling. Maybe you'd better go say goodbye to Nightbird."

Macabre keeps herself in full paralysis mode.

Starscream does not want to show that the reason for this is because he has no one--no mate, no offspring, no family, no really good friends. No family save Megatron, who he is about to have to kill.

Chasm sighs, and shakes his head slightly. "You're missing a great opportunity. History in the making and you could have profited....

Tempest says, not looking up from her blades, "Oh, I think that you do.

Soundwave chooses not to react to Chasm's trying to make a profit even from this.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, and at Megatron, and a hint of... Sympathy goes through his optics for an instant as he looks at them. He hisses dangerously over at Chasm.

Megatron says, "Soundwave, you call the witnesses. I want to make sure that Starscream can go freely... /if/ he wins."

Chasm flaps up into the ceiling and perches there, to avoid the round of glares he's going to be subjected to...

Soundwave nods, and goes right into action.

Dirge looks down at the Casetticon and speaks, very softly, "Death comes to those who try to profit too much."

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Soundwave to Cybertron.  Lord Thunderwing, Lord Colossus, acknowledge."

Starscream retorts, "Go freely? I'll be the /leader!/ Who /else/ will they go with?" And he looks around the room. Like it or not, what would they do without him?

Chasm says, "Death comes to everything, perhaps, but at least we can try and make a little extra on the sidelines."

Macabre makes the mistake of looking Starscream in the eyes. She shudders.

Megatron looks at Starscream. "Do you really think anyone of them will follow you? Be glad that you could gain the right to leave.

Divefire spins on his heel and lets his anger flare just one more time as he steps up to Starscream, getting right in his face in an oh so personal way, with out actually touching him. "How about me... Because if by some freak of nature you win, I'll kill you myself while you dance your victory dance your ego'd demand!"

Soundwave looks up from his long-range communication, to face Starscream and Megatron. "I will insure the terms of the agreement are maintained," he says.

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Earthbase to Cybertron, please acknowledge."

Ferret folds his arms, and leans against the wall, thinking that if Megatron was actually deactivated, the Decepticons would sooner follow Shockwave or Soundwave than Starscream.

Starscream sneers, "Yes, Divefire, you would /need/ to attack a weary opponent, wouldn't you?" Never mind that he would.

Dirge watches Divefire carefully.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, and he hisses dangerously. He would like to give Divefire the opportunity to strike back himself... If anyone deserves it, it is Divefire.

Inside Starscream, his mind races searching desperately for some way, any way, to gain an edge on Megatron. he's learned from the Nightbird incident. No close combat. He'll have to use his speed, his maneuverability, to his advantage.

Starscream replies, as coolly as he can manage, "Agreed."

Tempest makes a questioning whimper in her throat and looks up at Megatron.

Soundwave inclines his head to Megatron, even as he continues to try to raise Cybertron.

Divefire gets an all to pleasant smirk on his lips. "No, but in your case I'd enjoy it." He mutters to the air commander, before he slips back a step and gives a nod to Megatron. "All right, I'm done." And then he goes and slips back to Cats side, still with his optics burning for Starscream's blood.

Ravage looks over at Starscream, and he hisses as he trails along after the mech, keeping his optics on them.

<LongRange> Thunderwing says, "This is Cybertron...or what is left of it. May we be of assistance?"

CatsCradle mutters, "Dear Primus, Starscream'll never make it to the battlefield alive at this rate..." She grins at Starscream, the expression belied by the golden fire in her optics. "Starscream, Divefire has already proven that you do not need to be tired for him to take you. I suggest you stick to one opponent at a time."

Ravage whispers something to Divefire.

Megatron leaves the room.

Starscream does not want to admit how afraid he is and pretend s he did not hear CatsCradle.


****

Hangar

        A vast cavernous space suitable for even the largest shuttle to dock in. Currently the hangar is empty, with sounds echoing ominously off the walls.

<LongRange> Scorcher sounds hesitantly "Sir?" she says, a bit too close to the microphone. You ca hear her mutter "how does this thing work? This button? Is it on?" After some static and ominous crackling sounds she continues   This is Polyhex. Commander Shockwave is currently unavailable, but I can take a message to him"

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Lord Thunderwing.  There has been a decision of some magnitude among the Empire's leadership.  To conclude the matter with all formality, we request a witness such as yourself to attend the scene.  You may select any troops you wish as accompaniment."

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Scorcher, you may return to Earth with Lord Thunderwing's contingent if you so desire."

<LongRange> Thunderwing says, "Indeed? Very well. And where will this take place?"

Divefire gives a glance down to Ravage and nods slightly as the group walks out to mingle and wait for the gladiators, though his expression is rather unreadable aside from that blazing ire.

<LongRange> Flashpoint says, "Flashpoint.  Does this decision require medical personnel?"

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "(sends a burst of coordinates, and a visual image showing a desert canyon patterned in sun and shadow)"

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "It may be necessary to have more medical personnel on hand, Flashpoint."

Ravage nods over at Divefire imperceptibly, and he keeps his optics on Starscream, slinking into the shadows, where he can have a clear shot at Starscream's back, if necessary...

Macabre finally walks back down after calming her case of hyperventilation or whatever.

<LongRange> Scorcher sounds confused "Should I go and inform Commander Shockwave Sir?"

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "You may serve as his witness and deliver a first-hand account, Scorcher."

Macabre looks around. She wants to say that she's scared, but... well... geez, it's written on her face in ten-foot-high letters.

CatsCradle leans over closer to Divefire. "Has Starscream ever fought in anything like this?" she murmurs.

<Cybertron> Flashpoint says, "Flashpoint to any Tryrians wishing to go to Earth.  Contact me or Lord Thunderwing, and meet where he instructs."

<LongRange> Scorcher can be heard running away from the comm equipment without remembering to shut it down, naturally.

Dirge gives Macabre a brief, curious look, before turning his gaze onto something interesting on the wall.

Ravage looks over at Dirge, and he says nothing, his own optics whirring...

Divefire’s expression flickers slightly as he tries to remember the dim and distant past. "Not like this... No. He's always, taken care of people before they've every officially challenged them." He replies to Cats in careful tones.

Macabre looks at Dirge, too. Only for a moment.

Dirge notices Ravage's glance, but ignores the feline, turning his back so-very-slightly away.

Tempest slinks into the hangar, only now showing her worry.

CatsCradle tilts her head, considering... wondering if this is a good thing or bad.

Ravage looks over at Tempest, and he slowly slinks towards the femme, rumbling softly and curiously. What is going on up there?

Tempest says, very quietly, "I told Megatron last week that should Starscream succeed in killing him, I would cut Starscream's throat in his sleep." A pause. "IF it comes to that we will need a new leader."

Tempest looks down to Ravage and says, her optics shimmering--for she feels much in common with the feral cat--"He is making his peace with Nightbird. No place for me."

Ravage looks over at Tempest, and he softly says, "It will not come to that. Starscream cannot defeat Megatron in outright combat, he cannot defeat him with trickery... He has no time to lay the odds in his favor, now."

Divefire looks over to Tempest, catching the general gist if not all the words. "It won't come to that, Tempest. Trust me."

Macabre presses herself against the wall, and starts sliding down it, remembering that there's not a chair there only when her ass hits the floor. She doesn't seem too concerned, though.

Dirge looks around the room, face completely expressionless. He frowns at Macabre - her actions are starting to slightly unnerve him.

<LongRange> Scorcher ,in her hurry, trips over something. She can be heard faintly to utter a curse that proves she has been hanging out with the wrong mechs and femmes a bit too much in her time off

Tempest looks at Divefire almost suspiciously. She wants to trust him but it is as if something in her programming demands suspicion and mistrust. She nods slowly.

Ravage looks over at Tempest, and he purrs softly, and he whispers something into her audio receivers.

Tempest mutters 'Let us hope so. '.

Macabre continues to sit there and think about the worst that could happen.

Tempest's optics and expression turn blank once more. the others may catch glimpses to suggest that She is worried for Megatron but is trying not to show it.

Dirge looks over to Ravage and Tempest, and wonders, especially about ravage...

CatsCradle leans back against the wall, her arms folded again, her claws flashing in the light as they begin to silently drum again.

Ravage looks over at Dirge, and he says nothing... Why did it have to come to this?

Dirge also leans against the wall, waiting, waiting...he ignores Ravage again. It was fortunate another Casetticon wasn't present today, or there would have been...less beneficial outcomes.

Divefire watches Tempest a moment more, then steps up to her and smiles slightly, making sure she sees it. "I over heard this from Rumble once. Megatron's strong, he's merciless, he can't be beaten and Starscream will never be our leader. If the cassette can believe it, you can to."

Tempest starts to pace around. She pauses when Divefire approaches her. She manages a genuine grin. "But...merciless ? He'd spared the life of a yellow trashrat not so long ago.

Ravage looks over at Tempest, and he says, "Because, you impressed him. How, I cannot say. Perhaps he saw... A fire in you that matches his own. Whatever it was... I believe that he saw a kindred spirit..."

Macabre's head lolls to one side.

Dirge tries to stand as far as possible from Macabre. He eventually finds a nice, cosy shadow, and sits down in it.

Divefire gives a slight smirk to that. "I think he meant to his enemies, you've never quiet been an enemy..." His optics glow once more before he walks over to lean against the wall that Cats is against and silently takes her hand in his and squeezes it softly.

Tempest nods to Ravage. Such is what he had told her. And...she does not want to dwell on it. There are others to be affected now..Nightbird, Motormaster. She turns to Divefire with a smirk. "Maybe not in his perception. Mine is...darker by nature." And a grin. She does not consider the Decepticons enemies any longer.

Ravage looks over at the assembled groups, and he sighs softly. For now, he will stand guard. He settles down, peering in the direction of the elevator to the engineering deck, as if he wishes his audio receivers could hear what was going on... He smiles over at Tempest as she speaks, grinning toothily.

CatsCradle glances up at her mate and gives him a soft smile, then leans against him, head resting against his shoulder. Her claw-drumming slows, then stops completely.

Macabre is, for the benefit of those just entering, sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, near the entrance. Her head lolls to one side and she's got worry etched onto her face in foot-deep trenches.

Tempest paces agitatedly.

Trypticon's voice rumbles from a speaker, "Decepticons, Megatron's guests arrive from Cybertron."

Tempest's head perks up.

Macabre doesn't look up at the announcement. She's totally out of it.

CatsCradle murmurs softly, "Good, maybe we can get this over with, then."

Trypticon's cameras swivel to cover the entrance of the Cybertronians.

Flashpoint walks in at the end of the line of newcomers, once again not impressed with this mobile base that the Earthers call home. Then again, he's not impressed by much. He looks around for faces he would remember, noting the one that refused to leave the Stunticon, the one with memory problems, the cat and the boyfriend. And of course, Macabre.

Thunderwing looks around as he walks into the living city. For all his disdain, the concept is an interesting one, but hardly the most immediate matter at hand. As the Decepticons present turn out not to be the people he rather assumed would be here, his expression shifts into another nuance of annoyance.

Ravenwing inclines her head gracefully to those assembled, meeting the optics of those she knows personally and offering a nod to those as well. She too is wondering what the frag is going on, but supposes she'll find out soon enough.

From the shadows, Dirge watches the new arrivals.

Divefire leans back against one of the walls to the side with Cats leaning against his side, looking up as Trypticon's voice echoes out and nodding his agreement to his mate. "Maybe you should do the introductions, dear?"

Ravage looks over at the new arrivals, yawning slightly. He mutters something under his breath, too low for those that are not paying strict attention to him, and with enhanced hearing, to pick up...

Scorcher wonders if she should go stand safely in the ranks of the other warriors, but Soundwave said she was to be a witness of something for her commander, so perhaps she should keep to the front for ones.

Tempest looks around and gets the nerve to approach Thunderwing. "Greetings...Megatron is currently in a private meeting." she hopes she knows how to be civil or at least fake it well.

CatsCradle squeaks, "Me?" at Divefire, then catches herself. She gives him a quick I'll-get-you-for-this glare, then steps forward with a slight half-bow. "Greetings, Lord Thunderwing. I am certain Megatron will be here to greet you himself, soon." She adds, "I hope" in a very soft whisper.

Ravage looks over at Scorcher, and he gets up to start on walking over towards the femme, sighing. He says, "Are you aware of what is going on here?"

Thunderwing nods a greeting to Tempest, "I see. And do you know the reason -why- we have been summoned here?" Spacebridge or no, planethopping is an inconvenience.

Flashpoint looks down at Macabre, wondering what is wrong with her this time. He nudges her with his foot, hoping to get her to look up at him.

Tempest looks at Catscradle, then says to Thunderwing, "To be the moderator in a duel to the death."

Ravage says, "Megatron has... Challenged Starscream to a final battle for leadership, to the death. The winner will be leader of the Decepticons, unchallenged."

Ravage nods over at Tempest as she speaks.

Scorcher is plain baffled at her sudden arrival at earth, that much is clear to see even without her saying "I have no idea" softly to Ravage

Ravage nods, and he sighs over at Scorcher, merely inclining his head as he and Tempest speak.

Macabre is nudged, and reacts by snapping her head up and looking around with wide-eyed surprise. "Uh--?!" She scrambles to her feet. "...um..." She looks around, completely embarrassed.

Scorcher can't restrain herself at hearing the explanation "What?" she exclaims

CatsCradle begins to gratefully ease herself back to her wall again. Once settled, she gives Diver a slight kick on the ankle, then leans against him again, trying to keep her fingers from beginning their drumming again.

If this little tidbit startles the Valckastan Warlord in any way, it really doesn't show. The browridge cants a little sharper, in polite inquiry, "Really? How very interesting." He nods again to Tempest and actually seems mollified now, as though the trip offworld had suddenly been made worth his while.

Flashpoint mutters '... ... '.

Scorcher says, rather unwisely "But what if Starscream wins?"

Ravage says, "Things have... Gone too far, this time. The rank and file, as you know, are... Disquieted, and Starscream cannot be... Accepted back. As it is... It is time for him to 'Pay up, or put out,' as Rumble would say..."

Ravenwing's silver optics narrow in sudden interest. Well, well. The Emperor is going to save her the trouble of offing the worm after all, and it's about time. The warriors who were injured or died because of Starscream will finally be avenged.

Ravage looks over at Scorcher, and he says, "Then... I do not know."

Soundwave arrives alongside Megatron, looking over the assembly quietly.

In a shadowed corner, Chasm deactivates his hologram cloaking field, acting as though he was really here all along.

Dirge continues to watch, silently. He notes the appearance of Megatron and company. Maybe it's time for the duel.

Scorcher gulps and says very, very quietly "I hope the emperor wins, then"

Tempest says to Scorcher, "Starscream will be dealt with no matter the cost." Her optics are red ice.

Ravage nods, and he says nothing, looking over at Soundwave, and then he sighs, glad, that Laserbeak is not here... "I do not know myself..."

CatsCradle says in a faint voice, "Isn't that what we usually say about Prime?"

Macabre looks at Flashpoint. "...huh?"

Thunderwing leans back a little and lowers his voice to address Ravenwing.

Soundwave seems to ignore all the speculation about who will win and what the aftermath may be.

Flashpoint shakes his head a little, "What's wrong? With you?" he asks a bit louder this time.

Thunderwing mutters '... ... ... here, why ... with ... ... ... ... would be ... ... ... '.

Megatron looks around. "It seems our guests have already arrived. Soundwave will explain you everything.

Chasm makes a quick projection over tightband that anyone willing to place odds - well, the lines are open now for a brief time and you know who to call.

Ravenwing shrugs, finding it a rather awkward way of handling the situation herself, but has no time to respond before the esteemed Emperor makes his entrance.

Ravage hisses over at Chasm, his tone dangerous now... "This is one situation that you will /not/ take advantage of, Brother or not..."

Macabre looks down at her feet, replying quietly to Flashpoint, "...I'm worried."

Macabre says, "...and... and scared."

Soundwave does not look in Chasm's direction. But he sends out a subsonic signal that effectively cuts the lines of communication on the subject of taking bets on the fight. To all outward appearances he hasn't noticed Chasm at all.

Flashpoint straightens up a bit, "Not to worry. The rightful leader will be found. And you are, as always, protected."

Soundwave aloud addresses the new arrivals from Cybertron, and says, "I believe you have already been informed as to the purpose of our gathering. Under Decepticon law there has been a challenge of ascension which will be carried out. According to the plan agreed to by both combatants." Here he looks to Tempest, and Divefire, in particular, as though warning them to stay out of the fight, whatever the result.

Chasm shakes his head. His gesture indicates - the offer still stands!

Dirge quietly drums his fingers on his arm. All this waiting was starting to unnerve him.

Tempest curls her lip, refusing to acknowledge any sort of restraint on her actions, though the optics flicker with worry.

CatsCradle mutters, "That's it... I'm going home... someone can tell me what happens..." She doesn't move though.

Ravage hisses dangerously up at Chasm, and there is a glow of a buildup of energy in his optics as he prepares a charge... This situation is displeasing enough, and he will not have his brother taking advantage of it!

Macabre mumbles to Flashpoint, "... I... I don't like seeing people die."

Soundwave looks to Megatron. "If you are prepared, Commander, I will summon Starscream to the appointed place."

Flashpoint nods to Macabre. So strange, yet so innocent under it all. Well, at least right now. "Then perhaps we should prepare the necessary contingency plans in case we can prevent such a thing." He's not serious, just wanting to get the smaller femme's mind off of the battle for the moment.

Megatron says, "I am always prepared, Soundwave. Call Starscream"

Thunderwing merely stands back and watches the events. That's what he is here for, after all.

Divefire stays against the wall, waiting as he nearly blends in with the black walls of Trypticon, waiting for things to get started. Optics flare again with a look all to familiar over these past hours to Soundwave's general expression and words. Somethings, it seems, are worth the highest price.

Soundwave transmits a message via radio.

Chasm perches near the ceiling, his optics blazing red.

Macabre turns away from Flashpoint, saying resignedly, "But it's a fight to the death."

Ravage nods, and he trots on over towards Soundwave's side, and he sighs softly.

Ravenwing watches, listens, and learns. The reactions are fairly predictable, but even more vehement than she expected. Then again, *she* hasn't had to deal with the worm for very long, and most of these have.

Megatron, on his way out, gets close to Tempest.

Dirge shifts his body slightly. Megatron would win - that was a given. But who would be the new air commander? His optics flickered.

Soundwave touches a control in the wall, lowering the access panel from the hangar out into the landscape beyond. He steps out ahead of the others to make certain there are no nasty surprises that would invalidate the terms of battle.

Tempest takes Megatron's hand, squeezes it, and lets go. It is not the place for words. And the touch should say it all.

Flashpoint shrugs. So much for the easy way. He wants to protect this young medic, while still knowing that she needs to watch it. In the end, his nice guy side wins out. "Then perhaps you shouldn't watch. I can report the winner to you, if you don't hear about it from broadband first."

Megatron whispers something to Tempest.

Megatron looks at her.

Tempest nods in response to Megatron. Her face is stoic but her optics shimmer with concern.

Macabre mumbles, "But I have to."

Megatron whispers something to Tempest.

Tempest nods again, and now her optics mist up as she struggles to hide any feelings from the others.

Tempest says to the others, "Let us go watch this fight."

Tempest has left.

Dirge stands up, moving out of the shadow and walks out.

Flashpoint nods, "It would be best, yes." He looks around, watching all the others and their reactions. He catches a sight of the hand hold from Tempest to Megatron, and decides to research that one later as well."

****

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 eons 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.

Dirge shields his optics with a hand, adjusting to the glare.

Megatron stands in the middle of the canyon, the place where the duel will take place, awaiting Starscream.

Macabre keeps to the outskirts of the gathering. She looks down, partially out of habit and partially because this planet is too damned bright.

Chasm winces as his highly-polished surface becomes coated by dust.

Scorcher finds a place on a convenient rock to sit on and watch the coming fight. She is not really looking forward to it, but as she must be the witness for her commander she has to

Soundwave calls Ravage silently to his side, and finds a central place from which to watch, allowing those who wish to, to stand near him.

Thunderwing takes to the sky the moment he has left the city, silver armour glittering like a bad special effect in the desert sun. Ah, well, at least the view is better from up here, and, most importantly; no dust.

Starscream is strutting around, armour gleaming, trying to look tough and put on a good show. This /should/ be his moment of triumph and he has to look the part...well...that, or leave a pretty corpse, which he really doesn’t' want to think about.

Tempest slinks up to Soundwave and says something in a low voice, face expressionless, not looking at him.

Tempest mutters 'Hold ... back. *pause* ... '.

A slow wind slices through the canyon, bringing with a cloud of fine dust particles. Tumbleweed rolls across the canyon floor.

Soundwave mutters 'I shall do so ... ... ... ... It ... Megatron's command. '.

Tempest nods, in agreement and acceptance.

Megatron sets his jaw, watching his opponent exactly. His weapons are ready.

CatsCradle finds a rock large enough to sit on and perches on it, legs curled up underneath her.

Dirge watches Thunderwing take to the air, and for a moment, contemplates doing the same as well. Then he decides not to. Instead he sits in the shadow of a boulder, leaning against it. Some dust blow onto him, and he absent-mindedly brushes it off.

Starscream does not have the nerve to taunt Megatron to get started. And the waiting is hell on him. He tries to control his fear, to stick to the best plan he could think of at such short notice.

Divefire makes his way around the group, to a position away from Soundwave and anyone else who might just think about getting in his way should things have to be done. It has him pacing around to the side, watching the two about to be combatants with careful optics.

Megatron suddenly raises the cannon and fires.

Trypticon's cameras swivel towards the battle. A small remote drone launches from a platform and hovers above the landscape. Even the giant fortress is watching the battle with interest.

Ravenwing shakes her head slightly at Tempest. Like there's any doubt that Megatron will win. Her Lord has an interesting idea, and she follows suit, rising upwards into the air to join him. Unlike him, she doesn't have her full attention on the duel below, as she must watch for any enemy snipers hereabouts. Hopefully, they're prudently keeping their distance from Trypticon, but... well, she could do it, and a skilled Autobot sniper could as well.

Soundwave sends a silent command to Ravage to move unobtrusively a little closer to Divefire. Not that he truly thinks Megatron will lose this battle. But he gave his word he would see to it that his leader's wishes are carried out, in the eventuality that he must do so.

Starscream is surprised by the sudden movement, but he was somewhat ready for it and leaps airborne, firing his engines. He'd expected Megatron to at least give a /warning/...well, too bad for him!

Starscream opens fire on Megatron with his arm lasers!

Ravage nods over at his Father, and he starts moving closer to Divefire, to apparently get a better look at the battle, and at the two combatants as they fight. As Megatron unleashes the blast from his fusion cannon, Ravage glowers... Why did it have to come to this?

Dirge is startled as Megatron fires with his cannon. He smiles, very slightly. He over at Ravage again.

Macabre watches. She looks like she's about to break down.

Megatron jerks out of the range of fire. No, he is not that easy to catch. Again, a blast escapes his weapon.

Thunderwing watches both combatants fire...and miss. Quelle surprise.

Starscream once again dodges, realizing that his strategy seems to be working. Keep moving, wear Megatron out, and dart in to attack again. A little closer now, he decides to give Megatron a taste of something else while his lasers repower. He opens up the panels beneath his air intake stacks.

Ravage winces as he sees Megatron hit by the cluster bombs. For the first time, he feels... Uncertain if Megatron will win. But, if Starscream does, somehow, win this fight... He will live up to the orders that he has been given.

Macabre sees Starscream claim the first hit and almost collapses.

Already a little bored, Dirge plays with some dust. He looks up again as he hears the sound of cluster bombs hitting their target, then looks back down again. He does not seem too concerned.

Soundwave watches the first hit without a visible reaction. He has gone motionless like a statue. The wind sighs softly around his boxy form.

CatsCradle glances with rueful amusement at Ravage not-quite-following Divefire... well, he /was/ a little vocal about his plans if Megatron lost. She chews her lip, optics narrowed as she studies the fight.

Tempest starts growling, more with anger at Starscream than fear for Megatron...so far.

Megatron is not able to duck the bomb and is thrown back against the rock. His optics flash in read fire, now he is getting angry.

Flashpoint remains impassive about the blow.

Ravenwing is still scanning the area, only sparing an occasional glance for the combatants. Recalling her own... sparring match with an equally-skilled opponent, she expects that this will take quite some time. She looks now to her Lord, an amused glint in her silver optics, and ponders challenging him to another match.

Flashpoint nods as Megatron's hit connects. There are more shots to a death match than one or two.

Ravage watches the fight, hissing, not entirely displeased as he sees Starscream hit...

From subspace, Dirge takes out his terran dog with cage, and starts playing with the four-legged flesh creature. He looks up again as Megatron strikes Starscream.

Starscream goes reeling backwards as Megatron's blast connects. Damn! He was so elated from the hit that he didn't keep his guard up...Must not make that mistake again. To keep Megatron back he lets off a salvo of light laser blasts while he recovers.

Divefire keeps walking around the edge of the fight, watching each attack with careful consideration and totally oblivious to any cats tailing him, total faith in his reactions should any stray blasts come his way... Maybe that would be a good excuse to get involved...

Thunderwing feels his would-be Heir's glance, rather than sees it and turns his head to smirk at her. He looks at the femme, glances down at the battle below and makes an educated guess as to the source of her amusement. Such a portentous occasion for it too. 'Don't get any ideas, o vagrant creation of mine,' the smirk seems to say, 'I am not nearly as forgiving of trespasses against me.'

Ravage looks over at Divefire, and he hisses softly as he starts moving closer to the mech, and he says, softly, "This is Megatron's fight, not yours, Divefire. Do not deny him the chance to... End this on his own."

Chasm leaves his dusty rock and re-settles on Soundwave's shoulder. He's still miffed that Soundwave stifled his bookmaking attempt, but he does need a perch that's a bit higher up.

Megatron gets another hit, but that one is less hard than the one before. This is not the first fight of this kind he had to fight... however /one/ thing is different this time. And that is indeed a slight handicap...

Soundwave doesn't react to Chasm's landing on his shoulder - neither acknowledges him nor brushes him away. What may be going through his mind, is impossible to tell even for those who share a telepathic link with him.

Megatron once again had fired, ready to do what must be done.

Ravage watches silently as Starscream is hit. The Seeker appears to be damaged... Can he hit back hard enough to stop Megatron, who so far appears to have the upper hand? He shakes his head - there is no Transformer built who can stand up to Megatron...

Starscream was just starting to get onto his feet when a cannon blast hit him full in the chest. His systems scream in agony. There is no time for this sort of combat any more. There is only one possible response... He fires his null ray, needing to stun Megatron only for a second...

Scorcher winces for the first time as she sees Megatron temporarily disabled

Divefire glances down at Ravage as he continues to pace around the battlefield. "Shut up, Ravage. I know my place..." He intones over the roar of fusion and null fire.

Trypticon watches the battle through his drones and cameras. He will follow the strongest, dependent as he is on these Decepticons for fuel, and dare he admit it - company. This battle of strength is something he fully approves of; knowing it to be a fundament tenet of Decepticon nature.

Starscream takes advantage of that second he needs to force his transformation sequence. His cockpit is shattered, his left elevator scorched, but he is still flyable...and he uses the moment to get airborne, and rain down lasers on Megatron!

Megatron crashes to the ground, unable to move.

Ravage nods over at Divefire, and he says, "As it is... This is Megatron's fight, and it is up to him to deal with the Air Commander as he sees fit... We have our orders..."

Macabre clutches Flashpoint's arm without realizing she's doing so.

Megatron gets back online again. His body is aching, but he ignores it. Rolling onto his back, he fires again at his opponent.

Tempest starts moving forward on pure instinct...

Dirge looks at the fight with more interest. Is the unthinkable going to happen? Dirge frowns deeply.

Starscream is even more maneuverable in the air and the ground fire is much easier for him to dodge. "What's the matter, oh mighty Megatron?" he taunts, trying to find his old arrogance. Trying to hide the small part of him that is not looking forward to this victory. Trying to control the part of him that already imagines leadership. Trying to live in the moment and finish this battle as it has to be finished.

Ravage looks over at Tempest, and he races towards the femme - they have their orders... He will follow them, no matter how displeased he is at them... He runs to try and get in her path, to block her off from intervening in the fight, hoping that he can get there in time...

Flashpoint raises a brow as his arm is grabbed, but doesn't pull away. Instead, he moves his free hand over and places it over the much smaller one holding him at the moment.

Tempest is about to growl at Ravage to get out of her way...but she knows the cat is right. She turns around, pacing in restless agitation and obvious upset.

Dirge throws his pet back into subspace. Standing up, he runs to get a closer view of the battle, with a very grim expression on his face.

CatsCradle spares a glance away from the battle towards Divefire... and can't help chuckling as the cat-Con nearly splits in two, trying to keep both her mate and Tempest from jumping in.

Megatron grumbles, getting another hit. This darn null-ray attack is still causing him problems. Nevertheless, he will and cannot give up.

Macabre doesn't process the stimulus of Flashpoint's arm on her, and she still has no idea she's clinging to him. Her eyes and mind are on the fight and only on the fight.

Ravenwing returns her Lord's smirk with one of her own, complete with a muted challenge, but is interrupted by the flurry of activity below. Things are starting to get interesting now, and it is with reluctance that she drags her gaze away from the duel and back to the surroundings. Now, if she were a sniper, which she is, where would she position herself? Hmmmmmm. It would be rather good for the Autobots if they "helped" Starscream win in the confusion of the fight, wouldn't it?

Ravage nods over at Tempest, and he paces back and forth agitatedly, trying to keep his optics on every sector of the watchers at once, while shooting glances over to keep track of the battle... He's going to have such a headache when this is over...

Starscream loops and rolls over Megatron's head, dodging the ground fire. This is where he is in his element, and Megatron cannot follow him. This is the only chance he has to win this fight.

Divefire‘s optics flare again as he watches Starscream fly, fighting the urge to kick in his own engines, fly up there and piledriver Starscream into the ground... But no, not yet... Megatron certainly isn't defeated by a long way and he turns his gaze onto his commander, willing the old gladiator to stand and destroy his... Son. And some part of him fights off a wave of nausea at that thought, knowing he couldn't do what Megatron is, in his place.

Megatron seems to get his agility back. Rolling over his shoulder, he can avoid to be hit again. He waits a moment, aiming and...

Dirge watches the fight, increasingly dismayed by how things are proceeding.

Chasm doesn't really care who wins the fight - it won't interfere with his interests - but knows that Soundwave will be terminally depressed if Megatron falls. He resolves to buy Soundwave a fresh energon-malt if that happens.

Starscream comes around again as another set of gunfire crosses in midair, guns blazing.

Ravage looks over at Divefire, and he mentally ponders just /what/ he can do if Megatron should lose... He watches the fight as it progresses, he watches the watchers...

Megatron again takes a hit. He smirks to himself. Maybe a good time to die today... but he will not make it easy for Starscream.

Soundwave might almost be impressed with Chasm's resolve to buy him an energon-malt - that's probably the most consideration he'll get from the little green dragon - but he's fully focused on the battle and on the nearby spectators.

Scorcher winces again as Megatron receives hit after hit. True, they are laser blasts, but still, many small wounds are still deadly as her instructors at the grinder were fond to say

Starscream comes in for a low level pass as he jinks hard left to dodge Megatron's latest blast. Dare he hope the strategy is working?

Thunderwing tilts his head and goes back to watching the combatants with the detached, yet curious expression of a scientist examining a particularly interesting sample. As far as he can recall, he's never seen a Decepticon Emperor die. Then again, he's never seen a Second in Command of the Empire die either, but he doesn't give much for Starscream's chances of survival, should he emerge victorious, so that point is eminently moot.

Ravage looks over at the thronging Decepticons, hissing dangerously as he watches the fight... Starscream is wearing Megatron down slowly... HE is fast enough to avoid the fusillades launched from the Emperor... Can he avoid them long enough to win?

Megatron is getting to his knees again, hit by another laserblast. He will not get Starscream as long as he is in the skies, so he changes his position, forcing the jet to get deeper into the canyon. And when he is deep enough, he fires at the stone wall behind the jet, that is bursting under the heat of the fusion cannon.

Flashpoint watches from the detached position that Colossus is his commander, and this is just a way of acting as his optics. He removes his arm from Macabre's grasp, and puts his arm around her shoulder, still holding her hand. He wants nothing bad to happen to this femme, so is doing his best to act as a shield for her. It's not working.

Ravenwing herself is in a rather good position for sniping, should it come to that. However, she hasn't yet written off the illustrious Emperor. For all his bad marksmanship, it won't take but a few hits from that fusion cannon to do the job.

Starscream is coming off of a low level pass, and when he hears the fusion cannon's thunder he dodges it easily. Ha. Maybe he will have a chance to win this after... And suddenly a boulder strikes his back. He has only a second to wonder what's going on when more boulders and rocks hit his wings, half burying him at such a low altitude, dragging him down... He manages to transform just before he hits earth and the rocks fall atop him. Only then does Megatron's move become clear...the leader was not aiming for him at all. Damn you, Megatron!

Macabre doesn't notice Flashpoint manipulating her arm. That's how focused on the brawl she is.

Starscream pushes rocks off himself as fast as he can, but he is still half stunned from the fall, and his back is all dented from the rocks. Stone grates painfully in his shattered cockpit.

Ravage looks over at Starscream as the Seeker lies buried beneath the debris. He rather doubts that Starscream can free himself in time to avoid having his head blown off...

Scorcher has lost sight of what is happening with both combatants inside the canyon. True to her assigned task of witnessing the event she takes to the air too.

Divefire’s expression shifts into a fine lined smirk as Starscream's ego causes yet another fall from grace. Literally in this case. He can't contain himself really, as he leans over the edge of the crater and call down, growling deep with adrenaline. "Do it now Megatron, finish him off!"

Megatron comes closer. He raises his cannon at the fallen jet, firing once again.

Dirge looks relieved as he watches Starscream get buried. He leans forward, eager to see the outcome.

Tempest watches intently, a golden vulture with merciless optics.

Starscream has no time to protest, no time to try to talk his way out of it...He pushes the rocks away and the only thing he sees is a burst of gold and red light before his world goes dark.

Ravage watches softly, and he settles back, feeling very unquieted. He shoots a look over at Soundwave, shaking his head. And that, as they say... Is that.

Chasm's optics widen. So, the old boar won through! It seems he won't have to pay for an energon-malt after all.

Scorcher shudders as she sees the blast go straight through the air commander. The former air commander that is

Dirge leans backwards, looking greatly relieved. He looks around at his Decepticon comrades.

Macabre cringes into Flashpoint's side.

Tempest's expression changes, now that the kill is done. Worry. Clearly worry. And yet Megatron is definitely the winner

Suddenly, unexpectedly, there's a burst of blue and purple light. A secondary explosion. What's that? When it clears, Starscream's null weapons are smoked and charred...as is his chest, in the cockpit area over the core.

Ravage looks over at Megatron, and then he starts pacing about the perimeter, and he looks over at Soundwave - is Starscream still functioning at all, or has he been terminated?

Flashpoint wraps his left arm around Macabre, trying to shield her from the sights.

CatsCradle stands on her rock, not remembering climbing to her feet. Her optics are huge, and pale yellow. She seems frozen where she stands.

Soundwave stirs a little, at least moving out of 'statue mode,' perhaps relaxing just slightly, but his expression remains unreadable.

Dirge walks over to Ravage and says to the feline, "Your brother will be pleased."

Megatron lowers his cannon, looking down at what is left of Starscream. His jaw is set, is face is a mask, not showing what is going on inside of him.

Ravage nods, and he looks over at Dirge. Somehow... He doe not look all at all pleased with the outcome of this.

Thunderwing watches the events below come to their not-so-inevitable conclusion and finally actually shows something other than...well...-something-, period: Regret? The sentiment, carried by a flicker of opal optics and a rueful shake of his head, is there and gone so quickly it might not have existed at all. Then the Warlord shrugs and turns his attention to the watchers and the surviving combatant, features unreadable once more.

Ravenwing glances downwards at the noise and arches a brow. Did the illustrious Emperor actually carry through with the terms of the duel? What, Starscream isn't going to grovel his way out of this one, as he has for as long as she's known him, and longer than that by reputation?

Chasm leans a paw against Soundwave's head. "Well, wasn't this what you wanted?"

Dirge looks back at Ravage, a curious expression on his face. "Wasn't this the - acceptable - outcome?"

Scorcher slowly returns to the ground, transforming as she lands.

Spinister's rotors can be heard in the distance as he flies in.

Soundwave's optic band darkens slightly. "Not precisely, Chasm. But perhaps it was the only way."

Divefire’s hand clenches to a silent fist of just contained emotion on seeing and hearing the first blast. "Rot in hell you scum sucking bastard." He silently intones, rather out of the range of Megatron, one would hope, as his optics flare one last time in regard to his hatred for the former Air Commander.

Ravage sighs, and he says, "As it is, this was the only way to settle things... But, it is never a pleasant thing, w hen one Decepticon has to kill another, no matter how deserved the fate might be..."

Macabre looks up. She finally realizes she's grabbing Flashpoint, and pulls herself away. "...um. Is... is it over?"

Soundwave moves forward to examine the remains, though it looks pretty obvious to him, what the conclusion is.

Tempest slowly starts to move forward as if to determine for herself if Starscream is really dead. She has her swords in her hands in case he's not. But as she climbs up on the rocks, looking more vulture-like than ever, she realizes it sure looks like he is.

Spinister scans the area with radar, spotting the assembled Decepticons. He notes Thunderwing and Ravenwing hovering overhead and changes his flightpath slightly in order to join them.

Megatron whispers something to Starscream.

Dirge frowns at the feline. His optics flickered slightly but he says nothing more.

Flashpoint lets her go, as he's not emotionally attached to her or anything. He nods, "It is." His tone is just flat. No happiness or sorrow. Just a voice.

Ravage looks over at Megatron, and as he moves forwards... He suddenly stops, and his jaw /drops/. To those that can see it, his posture radiates... Complete incredulity.

Ravenwing isn't as affected as the others; she's offed a high-ranking Decepticon for treason, merely made it look like an accident to spare his innocent subordinates. Her silver optics suddenly widen, though, at something else, then become thoughtful.

Scorcher walks over to where Cats is standing. She does not look too thrilled at what happened today

Starscream makes no answer, no response. The optics are black as they stare skyward.

Chasm peers through the smoking ruins of Starscream and delicately dabs at his snout with a lacey white cloth. "Well - we won't be seeing him again."

Spinister transforms as he approaches his fellow Valckastans. His white optics take in the debris of Starscream below and one optic ridge raises as he hovers beside Thunderwing.

One might expect Tempest to start gnawing on Starscream's wing or some other savage behaviour, but for once she /doesn't/ go for the fuel tank. She just sits there, on the rocks near Starscream and Megatron, a silent witness.

Thunderwing finally picks up a familiar sound in all the strangeness and looks over his shoulder at the approaching form of his XO, before turning his attention back down again.

Soundwave stops a few paces away from Megatron, not imposing his presence until he receives some indication that it's welcome.

The drone flying above whirls around and then returns to Trypticon's sentry tower.

Ravage stops a few steps away from Soundwave, trying to compose himself, and then he nods, finally collecting himself, and he looks into the optics of his creator...

Megatron kneels to pick up the corpse. He looks through the round. "The fight is over, Starscream is dead."

Spinister nods his head in the prescribed manner towards both Thunderwing and Ravenwing and joins them in looking down at Starscream's remains, saying nothing.

CatsCradle realizes she is still standing on her rock and leaps down gracefully. She pushes herself through the crowd gathering around the crater to gape, making her way away from them towards Trypticon.

Dirge's face is completely expressionless - a cold, uncaring mask.

Soundwave says, "And you require repairs, Commander. There are competent medics on site who can see to you, as can I if you prefer."

Ravenwing nods a greeting to Spinister, also returning her attention downwards, towards the triumphant Emperor.

Divefire finally makes his way off the side of the canyon and floats down to the side of the last battle site, still a ways off from either Megatron and the others, but close enough to take one last look at Starscream to satisfy himself, as the others have done.

Flashpoint arches a brow as he watches the reactions from others. He wonders just how dead Starscream is, and if he could be remade. He'd need to get closer to him to find out, but that would require becoming the center of attention. Not his style. He closes his optics to slits as Megatron makes his announcement, wondering now who will take Starscream's place as Air Commander.

Ravage looks over at the other Decepticons, and dn then he settles at Soundwave's side. To kill one's own offspring... If he had known that it would come to this... Could he have still gone through with it? He looks up at Soundwave, his thoughts... Disquieted, perhaps asking himself the question, if it came to it... Could he do it to one of his own, or could his Creations ever have to do it to their father?

Spinister's glance turns to Soundwave, as he offers Megatron repairs. It's not like Soundwave to offer repairs to a fellow Decepticon who has just killed another fellow Decepticon. Starscream must have really deserved it.

Macabre stands near Flashpoint, mind operating much along the same wavelengths as the older medic.

Scorcher did not care much for Starscream, and has had her fair share with conflicts with him, usually over minor issues like playing paintball in the corridors. She even thinks that Starscream was a traitor, but she feels sick to think about Decepticons killing each other like this. talk about formal challenge is all fine in the classes in the grinder, but the reality is just - brutal - and somehow wrong

Megatron nods to Soundwave. He heads toward the base, taking Starscream's dead body with him.

Scorcher turns away to find a quiet place

Flashpoint looks down to Macabre, "You okay?"

There's a brief flicker of blue in the rocks...and then darkness once more.

Tempest silently falls in behind Megatron, again waiting for the time to be right.

Soundwave moves to accompany Megatron along with Tempest.

Macabre uh-uh-uh-ums. "Yuh. Yeah."

Ravage slowly trails along after Soundwave, feeling a sense of... Quiet guilt. He knows that this was necessary, but... His own participation in this has left an unpleasant taste in his mouth that he fears will never completely go away...

Flashpoint nods, "Good." He watches as the others make their ways to where ever they are going. He shrugs, "Guess someone needs to inspect the body."

Macabre says, "Duh. Duh. Do you want to, uh, or should I, or should, uh, um, we?"

Divefire watches the small entourage go and feels no real desire to go with them, not being part of that particular clique, or wanting to be. Starscream is gone and that's all that matters for now. Finally a few ghosts can be laid to rest.

Ravenwing has no regrets whatsoever. This was a long time in coming, and maybe there *is* the slightest regret, in that Starscream might have been a different person if he had been slapped down harder for his transgressions, instead of letting them continue to this state of affairs.

Spinister raises his optics from the scene below and says very quietly so that only Thunderwing and Ravenwing can hear him, "This was well overdue. What did Starscream do that finally got to Megatron?"

Thunderwing shrugs as though downplaying its importance, "Nothing much. Almost robbing Polyhex of its defenses was the least of it."

Spinister shakes his head slightly, "I cannot believe this hasn't happened before, Lord Thunderwing."

CatsCradle hesitates at the entrance of the hangar as the crowd all traipses in after Megatron. No, the idea of listening to everyone rehash the fight over and over again is not exactly pleasant. Morbid curiosity makes her wonder about who the new Air Commander will be... then she shrugs. It'll be wide news soon enough anyway. She takes a few running steps and leaps into the air, transforming as soon as she is clear from the ground and heads out of the desert and towards the quiet of a mountain lake.



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