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Digital World

8/3/02

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.


Brawl clanks and clatters into the War Room, stopping as soon as he's past the doorway and scanning the room's contents, his expressionless masked face pivoting from one extreme to the other. His observation complete, he clanks to a spot somewhat near the door, between two blinking and beeping computer consoles, and clasps his hands behind his back.

CatsCradle is set in front of a console. Little blipping and explosion noises emit from it, and she is frowning ferociously at it.

Behind his nearly opaque visor, Brawl's optics shift somewhat to look at CatsCradle with her blooping, bzrting console. Then they wander back to the wall directly across the room from him. He idly wonders what's taking her so long to try and kill him. He figured it would've happened by now.

Nightbird comes in to the room as she always does, quietly and hardly noticeable.

CatsCradle glances up when people begin to wander in and her vision settles on Brawl. She frowns, then suddenly her console makes a video-game you-have-died noise. She smacks it angrily, then glares at Brawl, obviously blaming him for losing the game, the weather, the approaching doom of Unicron, the dust bunnies under the console...

Brawl is responsible for the dust bunnies, but he says nothing. In fact, by all appearances he's ignoring CatsCradle.

Soundwave comes in to join the others, heading for his usual station. He nods to them briefly in greeting. On a screen behind him, a light blinks up, flashing orange for a moment.

Brawl finally turns his head with a sharp creak to look at CatsCradle. After a few moments' pause, he simply rumbles, "What?"

CatsCradle shrugs. "You may be allowed here, but that doesn't mean I have to like it." She glances back down at her console and snaps off the game, her enjoyment obviously ruined.
Brawl arches a brow behind his mask. Women, he thinks. Crazy, the lot of 'em.

Soundwave catches the blinking light out of the corner of his optics, indicating the passage of someone into the base. Sensors are reading a Decepticon life sign, apparently , or else it would have been a red light, but it's a signal they don't recognize. Soundwave touches a control panel to bring up a visual - that of an unknown robot making his way into Trypticon and toward the War Room.

Brawl creaks his head to the other side, to look at the unknown robot on the screen. "...you want I kill it, sir?"

Nightbird moves gracefully over to Soundwave's side. "Intruder?"

Soundwave replies to Brawl, "Not yet," and to Nightbird, "Possibly. But he does not seem to be making an effort to remain hidden." He turns toward the entrance as the robot on screen is shown to reach the door.

Tombstone stomps into the room, slowly and with his red optics looming at the other Decepticons. "Hmph. Greetings..." He looms at Brawl, "I come not to amuse you, fool." He comes closer, I am a true Decepticon..." He steps up to the robots, "Who's in charge here, fools?"

CatsCradle tosses her hands up in the air. "Great. Nice to meet you too."

Nightbird quietly draws her sword, but doesn't activate it yet.

Brawl makes no attempt at stealthy possible offense. He simply takes out his laser and his electron gun and points both at Tombstone's face.

Soundwave tilts his head a little, regarding the newcomer expressionlessly. "I do not believe you are in a position to take such a tone." A small motion of his head to indicate Nightbird's sword. "Identify yourself."

CatsCradle murmurs in a sing-song voice faintly, "That's right, start shooting, piss the big dinosaur off, watch him spit us up all over the planet..."

Soundwave glances warningly at Brawl - not that the Combaticon isn't correct to make a show of force, but hopefully he will restrain himself until otherwise indicated.

Brawl catches Soundwave's glance and cheerfully ignores CatsCradle because she is, like, a total bitch. He doesn't fire. Just keeps the guns pointed in case he has to.

Tombstone bows to the Decepticons, "Tombstone, Decepticon warrior.. I come to join your *a-hem*, glorious team..." He pauses, and looms at Brawl's position.
Soundwave regards the newcomer for a long moment of silence. Then without a word he turns away toward his console, fingers flying in a blur across the controls to access personnel records.

Nightbird keeps a close watch on the visitor, ready to move in an instant if required.

Brawl keeps his guns up the whole time. Any movement Tombstone's head happens to make, the sights of Brawl's weapons move with it.

Soundwave confirms, "Decepticon designated Tombstone. Visual match. Last reported location, Cybertron, shortly before Megatron's launch. Vicinity of the Grinder." He turns back to regard the newcomer, and again intones, "Explain."

Motormaster steps in from the hangar, talking even as he walks in,"Hey, Soundwave, have ya..." He blinks as he sees what's going on, starting a bit,"Hold on just a dang-darned minute... what's goin' on?" His gaze shifts to Tombstone,"And who's the new guy?"

Tombstone glares at the rest of the Decepticons, "I'm sure you've heard of me... Put your weapon down fool..." His eyes flare at Brawl, as he can feel how he hates Tombstone already. He laughs in his direction, "Hehehmph... It's a long story.. I shall explain..." He gives one last look to Brawl.

Brawl's guns do not move, no matter how snotty a tone Tombstone adopts.

CatsCradle buries her face briefly. "The Grinder. Great. Another disappearing cadet come back to haunt me?" She glances at Soundwave. "You know, I take no responsibility for them, once I've punted them out of the Grinder and into a troop?"

Soundwave's tone takes on a hint of steel under the soothing reverberations. "Do not presume to order Megatron's warriors, Tombstone. Brawl is acting with the correct precautions."

Motormaster decides that blocking the exit way might be a good call as of right now, and so steps back to fill up the doorway, absently gesturing and materializing his chainsword in one hand, expression going cautious.

Tombstone talks slowly, "After the departure of Optimus and Megatron...I snuck aboard the Ark ship, stowing away until I was ready to attack the Autobots in surprise. Unfortunately, as you may know, the Ark had shutdown as well, as all of the Transformers on board, from my hidden position, I did as well..." He waits for the others to catch up...

Soundwave listens quietly.

CatsCradle looks at Soundwave again. "See? What did I tell you? We really have to stop misplacing our warriors like that. We've littered the whole planet with them."

Tombstone continues, "It seems I was not reactivated along with all of the rest of you... I remained in stasis longer than expected and did not wake from my hidden spot. I did not come to until, as it seems, you Decepticons blasted the Ark. It was not until then I rose... Assuming my altmode and escaping the Ark just in time..." he lets them soak in what he's said so far.

Soundwave nods slightly to CatsCradle, keeping his evaluation to himself for the moment. He does muse, however, "While the ambition to attack the Autobots from within is a noble one, attempting to do so on your own was perhaps not the wisest course of action. You were correct to re-join us." His tone, however, remains neutral.

Tombstone concludes, "I was lost for some time, but eventually acknowledged where I was, I wavered through the land here on Earth alone, I have come back to my faction to regain my position" He nods to Soundwave, "I was on a personal quest before I entered the Ark... it was.. 'interrupted'. I think that is all you want to know?

<LongRange> Shockwave says, "Shockwave to Soundwave. Do you receive?"

Soundwave says, "It will suffice at this time." If he's about to say more, he's interrupted by a message from Shockwave, whose voice sounds from the Communications Console.

Nightbird says quietly, "Strange the Autobots did not discover him within their own base."

Brawl isn't told to lower his guns, so lower his guns he does not.

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Proceed, Shockwave."

Laserbeak walks right in between Motormasterís legs squakingly warmly to all and perching on his father's shoulder. Brawl doesnít like the new mech, so naturally Laserbeak thinks he's great.

<LongRange> Shockwave says, "Cybertron's main computer network is manifesting some odd qualities. There appears to have been some break-in to the data lines, but I can not track it at this time. I would appreciate your help Soundwave, and some additional warriors for when the instigator is found."

Soundwave may silently agree with Nightbird's admonition, but Shockwave seldom calls from Cybertron unless there's an important reason, so his attention is on the communications frequency now. As Laserbeak joins him, he sends a silent greeting, but remains focused on Shockwave's words.

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Is there a suspect, or an indication as to the source of the trouble?"

CatsCradle chirps, "Oooh, road trip!" Then her face falls as she remembers her mate is absent, and she's going to have to take the 'Bridge, famous for eating people and not spitting them back out again.

<LongRange> Shockwave says, "Negative. I believe a more exotic research method may be required."

Brawl's grip on his triggers becomes a little bit more tense. He's willing to put his money on Tombstone -- if that -is- his real name -- being the culprit. Yes, Brawl is an amateur detective.

<LongRange> Soundwave says, "Understood.  We are on our way."

Soundwave turns away from his console and announces, "Shockwave requires our assistance on Cybertron. We will join him. The others will remain to guard Trypticon." And, almost as an afterthought, "Brawl, lower your weapons. Tombstone will accompany us."

<LongRange> Shockwave says, "I will prepare for your arrival. Shockwave out."

Brawl lowers his weapons into subspace. Bo-ring.

Laserbeak gives a totally wise-ass wing wave to Brawl.

<LongRange> Skyraider says, "thank you, commander Shockwave"

Motormaster returns his own blade to subspace and steps out of the way of the door now that it appears they're heading to the ole rustbucket planet.

Brawl gives Laserbeak a stare. His mask hides any emotion, but the intent should really be clear enough.

Soundwave finds himself in charge of the Earth contingent, what with Megatron away on a mission of his own. He does not covet the command position, but he calmly steps in to lead the way out of the base, expecting the others to follow.

Tombstone hmphs, "Good idea 'Con... It's better that way. I will accompany you all, yes." He nods and allows himself freedom in the room as he looks around.

Nightbird keeps her sword handy, and her optics sparkle a bit at returning to Cybertron. She follows Soundwave out.

****

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.


A low growl rumbles out of Trypticon's speakers; he's being bypassed in favour of the spacebridge again. He'll have to eat that thing next time.

Brawl looks around at that all-encompassing growl. He growls back.

Soundwave looks up for a moment. "Be calm, Trypticon," he intones. "We shall return shortly."

****

Space Bridge <Earth>

     This enclosed ring of metal at the end of a long runway shields off a circular area of ground, marking the precise coordinates of an intergalactic transport system. The high, smooth walls block most of the view of the surrounding desert valley, and a sliding set of double doors is obvious at the point where the runway enters. When inactive, this structure is merely a featureless ring, but when it starts to power up, lights begin to circle around the upper rim, eventually culminating in spears of illumination converging upward and pointing the way through unimaginable distances of space. This structure is theory come to life, truly a technological wonder.

Much to the disappointment of some, perhaps, the Decepticons arrive at the Space Bridge in relatively short order. Soundwave flies right toward the ring and lands within, sending out a signal that will activate the controls as he waits for the others to gather around him.


The familiar light beams start to circle the metal rim of the space bridge, and then converge upwards in a giant funnel of light. The travelers are torn upward into the wormhole and toward their homeworld.



****

Transmat Chamber.

Spacebridge Transmat Chamber

        You are standing in a silver-gleaming room shaped like the inside of a funnel. Above is the transmat signal converter, translating your dissociated quarks that stream across hyperspace back into physical matter. A faint nimbus of light plays around the forked relay tips, like glowing coals. A sensor relay near the door scans and confirms the validity of your signal. A camera rig tracks all movements within this delicate area.

As solid ground materializes beneath the group's feet, the usual light of the space bridge wavers, shudders - and then, just as it seems to die down, flares up in a blinding flash of light. Sizzling crackles of electricity line the interior and exterior of the chamber.

Nightbird looks upward at the space bridge, her optics perhaps showing respect for the wonder of the device.

Brawl has never been on a Space Bridge before, so he's not bothered. He waits for their trip to end.

Nightbird moves over to tap the doors, which have not opened yet.

Motormaster sort of placidly, if not too happily, went along for the little Space Bridge ride... but when the crackles start up, he wishes he hadn't. His optics flare brightly in shock, and he whirls to Soundwave,"What th' frag is happenin', Sound?"

Soundwave for his part steps forward swiftly toward the door, recognizing the lighting effects as not boding well. The door, rather than sliding open as it should, remains locked shut.

CatsCradle leaps to one side at the flares and crackles. "That's it! Soundwave, this thing is... is... Not Good!"

Soundwave says, "Unknown," his voice calm as always, but at the same time trying to pry his fingers into the edge of the sliding door.

CatsCradle tries to help by kicking the door.

The crackles of electric light slowly die down, plunging the interior chamber into darkness. A faintly burnt smell hangs in the air.

Brawl looks around. Okay, maybe this isn't supposed to happen. So he thinks... what can he do to help? He then decides that it's Tombstone's fault and points his Electron Gun at the poor guy's head again.

Laserbeak looks to Motormaster then Brawl "Surely one of you fellas can open this door..."

Motormaster grumbles a bit,"Oh /frag/ no... I ain't gettin' stuck in this thing and tossed ta Primus-knows-where..." He raises his cyclone gun, aims it at the door,"Get outta th' way."

CatsCradle gives the door another kick. "You could always throw Brawl through it, Moto..."

From outside, a tool of some kind wedges into the doors and opens them. Shockwave stands there, and says, "There appears to be some malfunction."

Soundwave hears more so than sees Motormaster's action, the faint clank of his metal hand closing on his weapon, the slight "whoosh" of air as the gun is raised, and steps back - just in time to see Shockwave standing in the opening to face Motormaster's gun.

Motormaster finds himself aiming his gun at the Protector of Cybertron instead of some malfunctioning doors, and ahems softly, hastily lowering his weapon with a sheepish grin,"Sorry, boss."

Brawl keeps his gun pointed at Tombstone, anyway.

Tombstone eyes glare as he comes back to. "Hmph, yea 'Con, just blame it on me... it's all you do isn't it? Blame others then shoot them down..." He doesn't even look at him this time.

Shockwave's optic glows at Motormaster, his version of a frown. "You will not need that."

Brawl jostles his gun slightly, as if it were a wagging finger. "Don't be silly," he rumbles, "ain't never needed to blame someone first."

CatsCradle pushes her way out past the larger mechs. "If you were stuck in there, you might think differently," she says to Shockwave

****

Command Center

        Replacing the largely ceremonial Throne Room, this area serves as a liaison point between officers and troops. This is where, in recent years, Shockwave makes the day-to-day decisions about Cybertron's governance. The decor of the Command Center is purely functional, designed to facilitate the easy transfer of information. The area is circular in shape, with a raised standing area around the edges to give speakers an edge of authority. Various relays and datafeeds are displayed on banks of reclined monitors, set around the walls in a semi-circle, along with computer banks, datagrids and inert coms monitors. Security cameras map out every aspect of Decepticon territory, as well as constantly showing different location shots of the Nightwarren. A huge hi-res screen curves above the main terminal, and the gleaming walls capture the flickering and jump of information as it scrolls past on the screens, viewers and terminals. A funnel-like elevator exists at the centre of the room leading upward to one of the few above-ground facilities of this structure - the Spacebridge Transmat Chamber. Because of its proximity to the spacebridge site, the energon storage hold is located nearby.


Soundwave warns, "Brawl, restrain yourself," as he steps out of the chamber.

Motormaster notes amiably,"Naw.. I'm sure I'll need it /eventually/... I mean, war ain't hardly over yet. Might not need it at the moment though, yer right." And with that, he returns the weapon to where it belongs.

Brawl lowers his gun. "Yessir."

Skyraider folds his arms across his chest and observes the newcomers

Laserbeak waddles around casually noting in particular "Sad we considered the space bridge one of our greatest technological achievements."

Shockwave says, "Welcome Soundwave." He nods to the others. "The malfunction of the space bridge appears to be related to the computer difficulties. Certain systems are now showing multiple glitches."

Skyraider says, "The space bridge is a marvel of modern technology"

Soundwave's gaze passes over Skyraider for a moment, and then looks to Shockwave. "Is there evidence of intentional sabotage to the space bridge?"

CatsCradle gives Skyraider an incredulous look. "Obviously, you've never traveled by it."


Tombstone hmphs and looks around, "What a dump... What are we doing here anyway? Something wrong among the ranks?"

Skyraider murmurs "not yet"

Brawl silently compiles a list of people he wouldn't mind killing. That is, he looks around the room.

Motormaster leans over to CatsCradle,"Unless yeh wanna be jammed into a very small shuttle bay with this lot, yer gonna appreciate the Space Bridge, Cats."

Shockwave says, "I do not think so. It appears to be a random result of the overall computer infiltration. I suspect attack by sophisticated virus programs."

CatsCradle snorts softly. "That's one reason why I chose a mate with space flight."

Laserbeak hears virus and screams over the mental link to his father

Soundwave's optic band flickers slightly as he hears "virus."

Look who's slinking into the command center. Since when was /she/ back on Cybertron? And why is there no record of the space bridge to get her there?

Nightbird tilts her head slightly. Computers really aren't her area.

CatsCradle's attention is pulled away from her grumbling. "Virus? As in, something Chasm might do?"

Shockwave says, "Perhaps CatsCradle, though I somehow doubt his involvement in this. It seems too random."

Laserbeak looks around the room once, twice, thrice. "More likely as in something Chasm /did/."

Motormaster blinks just once as Tempest slinks in, feeling his fairly cheerful attitude take a few bullets to the head... and half-turns towards the Space Bridge, only to remember how it's burned out. Great. He's trapped here.

CatsCradle shrugs a little. "Strand us on Cybertron for a while, gives him time to do whatever he might be planning back on earth..."

Brawl stands there, his mask hiding the fact that he has no idea what anyone is talking about.

Soundwave says, "I am attempting to contact him." Though, he just stands there quietly. To one not in the know, he seems not to be doing anything. He does not even appear to notice the new arrivals, though of course he hears their footfalls.

Tempest looks around the room, casually passes over Motormaster as if he were no different from any of the others present, and then demands, "What are all of /you/ doing here?" As if it were her personal planet they were invading.

Gryphus enters the room, a little late but at least she's here to assist any way possible. She waits to see what Soundwave is doing a moment before offering, "Need any help?"

Tombstone keeps looking around aimlessly, every so often peering at Brawl with his faceless glare. Seeing if he can try and psyche him out while they wait for... Whatever it is they are here for...

Skyraider looks at Tempest in surprise, curious about her outburst

CatsCradle says cheerfully, "Narrowing missing having been eaten by the 'Bridge yet once again!"

Soundwave re-focuses on his surroundings. "Chasm is on Cybertron," he reports. "He is ... frightened is not the correct word. Somewhat disoriented. Unable to tell if he knows of the current events."

CatsCradle translates. "He doesn't know if we're planning on beating him to a metallic pulp yet."

Motormaster turns to Tempest at her little comment, noting dryly,"Yer welcome ta leave, if ya like. But as to why, we're here to save the day, same as always." He then turns firmly to CatsCradle,"Couldn't be Chasm... 'least not fer the reason yer citin'. Remember, the virus wasn't /aimed/ at the space bridge. This is a side effect."

Laserbeak gives Tempest a sarcastic "Arenít we the happy camper? Didnít know I needed yer permission to be here ma'am."

Tempest's lip curls--someone is very moody today it seems--and she glares at all of them, but finally says tersely to Motormaster, "Save the day from what?"

Soundwave says, "With your permission, Shockwave, I will access your computer records. I will request CatsCradle and Gryphus to assist me." He pauses again, tilting his head as though listening to something. "Chasm is not responsible," he concludes with a quiet certainty, perhaps a faint trace of relief in his voice."

CatsCradle murmurs, "For once."

Skyraider says, "then who is?"

Shockwave says, "I do not think the records will be of help Soundwave. I have been unable to trace the source of the infiltration via normal routes. The lag time for visual display is preventing a quick enough response. We can only see what has happened after it's been done. I have a more.. esoteric plan in mind."

Brawl hopes 'esoteric' means 'letting Brawl hit things.'

Motormaster turns to look at Shockwave, expression going, if anything, even more bleak,"You're going to shrink us down and put us inside the computer, or something, aren't you. Why can't we ever do things th' /normal/ way?"

Soundwave has no answer, as of yet, to Skyraider's question, so he waits quietly for Shockwave to proceed. The optic band flickers once again as he responds to something beyond the others' sensory input.

Nightbird says to Motormaster, "Unusual events call for unusual actions."

Gryphus moves forward and nods, "I'll do what I can, of course." she assures Soundwave. She glances at Shockwave as he speaks. To Soundwave she asks, "Exactly why am I here?" she is obviously confused since she arrived late and needs a little synopsis.

Skyraider turns in Shockwaveís direction, awaiting his command

CatsCradle looks at Motormaster with wide optics, then back at Shockwave, then at Soundwave. "Gee, what a neat idea... sorry I can't join you, I'm sure some cadet is in trouble at the Grinder and I'll have to do something about it..."

Shockwave nods to Nightbird and gestures to his sentries. They wheel out several chairs of an unfamiliar design. "These are direct laser core interfaces, experimental. With them, we will be able to interact in real-time with the virtual environment of the computer."

CatsCradle begins to creep towards a door. Any door.

Motormaster follows.

Sneakily.

Skyraider steps in front of them, "Show some spine, you two"

Brawl stands there. Under his mask, his face conveys the expression 'what the hell is this cycloptic dork rambling about?'

CatsCradle snorts at Skyraider. "When you've been around for as much weird stuff as we have, /then/ you can have an opinion."

Nightbird glances at the chairs curiously. "We would.. be inside the computer?" She looks to Soundwave, puzzled.

Soundwave too glances toward the exit, but not because he wishes to avoid Shockwave's experimental technique. Chasm is out there somewhere, and he's getting only disturbing flashes of imagery from him.

Laserbeak begins to waddle away, grumbling to himself.

Tempest decides this was probably the worst time yet for her to meet up with the others...is there any way for her to get out of it now?

Tombstone eyes the contraptions coming and going. Watching the 'Cons perform their tasks as they all speak, listening to every word.

Shockwave says, "Do not be alarmed CatsCradle. This is merely a sophisticated simulation. There is no possibility of actual danger."

Skyraider looks towards Shockwave and speaks in a proud voice, "I volunteer for this assignment without hesitation"

Brawl watches everyone try to creep toward the exit. "Hnnnh."

CatsCradle promptly points to Skyraider. "Take him."

Motormaster agrees,"I don't even know who you are, kid, but somehow I doubt you seen /half/ the things I seen." He then turns towards Shockwave,"Didn't you say that about the Chronosphere?"

Gryphus seems to wait patiently for a reply from Soundwave, but little seems to be forthcoming. "Into the computer via those?" she asks, speaking the obvious question. "Exactly why would anyone wish to do so sir?"

Laserbeak is seemingly to small to garner anyone's attention as he waddles up to the door and gets ready to depart.

Shockwave says, "Perhaps something similar Motormaster. However that was an extremely unlikely event. And there is even less chance of any problems with this system."

Soundwave nods in approval to Skyraider. Good initiative.

Skyraider says, "if you want a fight you got it"

CatsCradle murmurs to Moto, "that's what they also said about the 'Bridge, time travel, zombies, viruses..."

Shockwave says, "At ease Skyraider. You will be needed for this assignment."

Tempest finds that her path to the exit is crowded by others. And others are what she is trying to avoid. She jumps up on a console, ignoring the fact that her knee on the keyboard is sending a spew of random letters across the screen, and crouches there animal-like.

Skyraider relaxes, "yes, commander

Brawl remains in his semi-near-Shockwave position, waiting for word on whether or not he gets to shoot things.

Laserbeak enters Administration Deck

Motormaster continues the list,"Superweapons, ghosts, aliens, Air Commanders... Everything's harmless 'til it jumps us."

Soundwave seems to follow Shockwave's theory as he examines the new equipment. "If we are unable to discern the source of the problem by normal means," he explains, "we shall have to use other means. Am I correct in assuming, Shockwave, that this situation is not limited to Polyhex?"

CatsCradle nods. "And then there was the giant kids, being transferred into a human's body, visitors from the future..."

Gryphus is, again, not getting answers. She just frowns deeply and bristles her feathers, apparently Laserbeak has the only sane idea here... slowly, methodically make for the door.

Skyraider looks in Tempest, completely baffled as to what sheís doing, "Tempest, what in the name of Megatron ARE you doing?!"

Shockwave says, "Correct. The entire laser link network is being affected. Short of shutting it all down and wiping the memories, I see no way to resolve the situation. Unless we discover the source of the infiltration programs and eliminate them."

Motormaster can't help but interject on that,"She does just about everything in th' name of Megatron. You might as well not even ask."

Skyraider says, "your tales instill no fear in a warrior such as I, Motormouth and CatsCradle"

Tempest curls her lip and actually /snarls/ at Skyraider. She may /look/ like a mech but she acts more like an animal--and one with a deep dislike for others. The name "Megatron" appears to upset her even more....but she gets control of herself to some extent and lies down, cat style, somewhere /off/ the keyboard.

CatsCradle gives Moto a knowing look. "Rookies," she says, shaking her head.

Brawl looks over at Skyraider. "You know, I really do want to kick your ass."

Skyraider raises an arm laser towards Brawl, "If you want a fight, you oversized pile of scrap, I would be more than willing to accommodate you!"

Motormaster turns to face Skyraider,"Motormouth? Excuse me? Kid, I might be kinda nervous about hoppin' inside a computer, but one thing I /ain't/ afraid of is you. So I suggest you learn to show some respect fer yer betters."

Soundwave says, "Enough. Shockwave, this warrior-" a nod to Skyraider - "has volunteered to begin the process. I will join him. The others shall follow us.""

Brawl cocks his head. He's waiting for Skyraider to take the first shot. Then it won't be his fault, right? Right?

CatsCradle stares at Brawl, wide-opticed. "Oh, no. NOnonono, that can't be possible." She looks helplessly at Moto. "I'm agreeing with him..."

Nightbird ignites a sword and holds it up between Skyraider and Brawl, her optics flashing a warning. "We have work to do."

Tempest adds, "So shut up, or be lunch."

Tempest seems almost irritated to have been "drawn out" into helping keep order, but for some reason she does it anyway.

Skyraider lowers his arm laser, "very well. We'll finish this another time."

Shockwave is busy preparing the chairs, though is keeping half an optic out for possible firefights. "I need to make some final adjustments Soundwave, and we shall be able to proceed."

Tempest eyes Motormaster, and then just as quickly looks away as if pretending she never looked at him at all.

Nightbird nods to Tempest, then closes down her sword.

Skyraider eyes Tempest coldly

Brawl remains in his head-cocked position.

CatsCradle shakes her head again. "Just another fun-filled family field trip at Deception Camp."

Skyraider thinks about punching Brawl right in the chin. Oh, that would be great...

Motormaster snorts laughter at that,"Yeah, you'll finish things with all of us. You do that... and boy, just in case yer wonderin'... Tempest ain't kiddin'. She'll eat you alive." And with that, he shakes his head and turns away, looking to Soundwave and Shockwave,"Seriously, though... you say it can't damage us, but then how can we effect anything? And... I admit I don't know scrap about computers."

Tempest turns to CatsCradle...the one she trusts to give her a straight answer, and says, "We're doing what?"

CatsCradle tosses her hands in the air in a useless gesture. "Beats the hell out of me."

Shockwave makes a final connection, plugging a thick cord into the central computer unit. "There are ten interface slots, so we will all be able to interact in the virtual environment. Keep your optics attuned, we will need every observation point."

Tempest blinks, confused, and tries Soundwave. What exactly has she gotten herself into?

CatsCradle says slowly, "I /think/ they're gonna hook us up with those little whatchamacallits so we can run rampart through the computer." She pauses. "Or at least they're gonna /try/..."

Skyraider walks up near to where brawl is standing, discreetly shouldering him with his wing

Soundwave says, "That is a reasonable explanation, CatsCradle."

CatsCradle continues without further hesitation, "but what is /really/ going to happen is that there's gonna be a free-for-all, in about.... oh, hell, now."

Soundwave counters, "Negative. We have a mission." He looks to Shockwave for any last-minute instructions or explanations.

Tempest raises an optic ridge. "You mean we're going /inside/ that thing somehow?" She really doesn't like that idea much....

Shockwave looks to Motormaster. "There is no need for apprehension. These devices will merely display information for us faster than a standard terminal. Our actions will be interpreted as actions to be taken by the computer. There is no way the process could injure us, anymore than looking at a monitor could damage you."

Brawl is shouldered by the wing, discreetly. So Brawl turns around and grabs Skyraider by said wing, charging forward and slamming Skyraider into the wall. He turns the jet around and looks him dead in the eyes, screaming less than an inch from his face. "You tryin' to -start somethin'?!- Boy, I will kick your ass in less time than it takes me to put on my boots, you miserable! sack! of! crap! You do not -touch me again,- or I will -kill you!- Do you -hear me?!-" Brawl suddenly regains his composure and backs off just a little bit.

The outbreak of violence is like a jolt of electricity through Tempest's frame that visibly /snaps/ every cable relay to readiness. The optics flare, the head whips around to regard the two quarrelers. The fingers dig into the console like claws and one finger strokes the tiny stud on the inside of the ornate knuckle guard she wears on her right hand.

Skyraider speaks loudly, "loud and clear", then mumbles "you pile of scrap" to himself

Nightbird draws her sword again, wondering if she's actually going to have to use it.

Tombstone stands watching all of the Decepticon's in conflict... he smiles to himself.

Motormaster moves quickly, rapidly snagging a hold on the enraged Combaticon before he actually breaks Skyraider in half or somesuch nonsense, and physically holds him back with a firm grip,"No. Not now. Not yet. After we're done, then you can beat the livin' slag out of him if you want. I'll even help you. But right now, control it. He ain't worth it."

Skyraider straightens himself up and stands with his arms folded across his chest, his faceplate hiding his emotions

CatsCradle snorts softly and fades to the back of the room, not far from Tempest, and hikes herself to sit up on one of the consoles, elbow propped on her knee, chin on her fist. "Is it my imagination, or do the rookies just keep getting... even more rookie-ish?"

Shockwave walks over to the pair, not pleased. "Brawl.. Your conduct is not helping your case to remain with the Decepticons. Restrain yourself on Cybertron, or I shall arrange for you to leave it. Without benefit of a ship. Skyraider, I know you wish to prove your worth. Do so by completing missions, like the one before us."

Skyraider says, "yes commander Shockwave"

Skyraider says, "when do we begin, commander?"

Soundwave simply waits until all everyone has settled down again.

Brawl looks up at Motormaster, his posture coiled and his voice venomous. His hands open and close with barely contained rage. "Yes... -sir.-" His tone is harsh and semi-psychotic. He then clanks to the end of the line of Shockwave's miracle machines and waits his turn.

Tempest says to CatsCradle, "It's getting like a buffet dinner from my point of view," and grins like a hungry shark.

CatsCradle chuckles softly, her expression for a brief second faintly like the yellow seeker's predatorial one, then she settles down again, tucking her legs comfortably under her.

Tempest tilts her head at Motormaster and may seem, for a second, impressed before the face wipes back to blank.

Shockwave turns and gestures back to the chairs. "The linkup is ready. You will no doubt experience some disorientation when the visual transfer is made. Do not be alarmed, it will pass. You will see a three dimensional representation of the computer environment, which may seem strange. Just keep in mind it is a simulation only. Observe without concern of physical consequences."

Soundwave regards Tombstone for a moment, thoughtfully. He, and Skyraider, are the two for whom he has no personal information on how they may react on this mission. It is reason enough, for him, to watch them with interest as he takes his place at one of Shockwave's devices.

Motormaster nods once in satisfaction, if not happiness, at the response... and raises his head to meet Soundwave's gaze with amusement in his expression. A role reversal if there ever was one, considering his first few days with the Empire.

Soundwave catches Motormaster's look, and nods to him silently.

Nightbird nods slowly at Shockwave's instructions, the more concrete explanation helping her prepare. She puts her sword away, and walks over to one of the chairs, taking a seat.

Skyraider heads to one of the seats

Brawl sits down, and waits for word on what to attach where.

Tempest stirs herself off the console and slips up into one of the chairs, where she sniffs suspiciously at the electric gizmos.

Skyraider sits down and awaits further instructions

CatsCradle reluctantly slides off her own console and goes up to one of the chairs, poking at it for a moment distrustfully with a clawtip. "So, if I get stuck in this thing and don't make it back, someone better explain to Diver why the phrases "Help me!" and "Get me outta here!" keep inserting themselves into his reports."

Motormaster heads over to one of the chairs as well.. unfortunately, the next one open just happens to be one next to where Tempest is sniffing at her chair. He barely seems to notice, however, just dropping into a seat.

Soundwave takes his seat and waits, from all appearances patiently. Silently he searches out any word from his creations before he enters the unknown realm.

Tempest's optics dart over to Motormaster. She considers slinking away, but also finds his presence comforting--still. Especially if something strange is going to happen. So she sits down, trying to ignore him...and always looking out the corner of her optics at him.

Shockwave goes over to the monitoring console. "Preparing to activate link. I shall communicate via voice link, and will monitor your progress carefully. Final questions?"

CatsCradle says, "Does "can I go home now?" count?

Skyraider says, "ready as always, sir"

Tempest's mouth forms a flat line and she nods once.

Motormaster gives a thumbs-up,"Hit me wit' it."

Brawl just grunts.

Shockwave says with a neutral tone, "No."

CatsCradle sighs a little. "I didn't think so," she says mournfully.

Skyraider says, "Donít worry, CatsCradle, Whatís the worst that could happen?"

CatsCradle nearly shrieks and flails a second. "NEVER ASK THAAAAT!"

Shockwave touches a button.

A short burst of static fills your field of vision. When it clears, you are in an alien world.

****

Digital World

        You stand in a vast bizarre landscape of floating shapes and swirling lights that seems to stretch out infinitely in all directions. Multi-colored flashes of light travel down a complex web of strands, each one making a faint musical tone as it passes. Immense towers are seen in the distance, hubs of the web network, with the flashing impulses being brought in and sent out. Immediately to the right is one such tower, its surface covered in a grid of glowing squares. A closer look reveals each square displays symbols and images.

Skyraider takes in his surroundings. "Well, this is weird"

Brawl looks around. Hnnh, he thinks. Big deal. Then he looks at his forearm, which he'd noticed in the corner of his eye. "Hey, what the hell?" He's a bright, glowing red. All over. Steam emits from anywhere steam could possibly emit.

Soundwave's subjective experience is that the world dissolved around him and re-formed in this new landscape. As he "materializes" there, his appearance is, from a distance, the same as always - but upon looking more closely, it's clear that there's something indistinct about his edges and outlines, which keep fading in and out somehow, while his central mass remains mostly solid. A series of flickering color effects, very faintly visible, shimmer around him sporadically, while the strange, shifting outlines of shadowy forms seem to converge around him and disperse again.

Nightbird looks at her hands curiously. She's now a totally black outline of a female robot. She has no discernible lines or features, just a mass of pure black.

Brawl looks around at the others. "The hell did that one-eyed freak -do?!-"

Tempest is...an animal reborn from fire and ash. Her vestigial teeth are now twin sabre-fangs; her fingers now tipped with retractable claws. Her wings, sharp before, are now serrated, as is almost every other edge on her body. Her optics burn like hellfire. And most noticeable of all, her airframe is brindled with scars. Not open wounds, instead they are part of the very structure of her body--including a very distinctive slash across the face, like a brand. She snarls at her new surroundings.

Skyraider looked at his wings, noticing that they had taken on a life of their own. They now moved like an organic flying creatures, as if he was flying, yet he was still on the ground.

CatsCradle says softly, "Weirdness has been a way of life the last few years." Her voice sounds rough, the harmonics jarring. She frowns, head tilted, optics confused and looks down at her hands. They reflect the backglow of amethyst optics, not the golden ones that had replaced the purple a few weeks ago. Her paint is a faded dark purple, chipped and ignored, the clawtips rough and patched. She stares at them for a long moment, then slowly reaches to touch her wings and, without much surprise, finds them missing. She steps back a few steps, almost melting away into the electrical surroundings, as if being unnoticed and overlooked was the core of her life, protective camouflage.

Skyraider looks at the others, finding amusement with their 'new' looks. "Ok, we're in. Now what?

Motormaster looks pretty much like he always looks, except for the fact that he is now heavily travel-and-battle-worn... huge dents mark his massive body, along with rents in his armor all over the place from which occasional sparks burst... and his entire paint scheme is sun-scorched and dimmed. He glances down at himself, then looks skyward,"Oh, frag, /hilarious/. /Now/ can we go home?"

Skyraider looks at Motormouth, and laughs a little. "Suits you," he said, his laughter rising in volume.

Tempest prowls about restlessly, dropping from bipedal mode to a four-footed posture in one smooth, flowing gesture--as if her "new" form walks as easily on four legs as on two. She paces like a hungry beast, sniffing at the air, and looks hopefully at the others.

Shockwave's voice, echoing and seeming to come from everywhere, says, "Keep an optic open for unusual data feeds. They should appear as hostile forms. And Soundwave, I will soon have information regarding Chasm."

Skyraider preps his arm lasers, just in case.

Tempest Says to Soundwave, "So I can hunt here? Just like in reality?"

Brawl finds that he doesn't have any of his guns. No matter. His fists suit him just fine.

Nightbird draws a sword, finding it to be a splinter of light against her blackness.

Motormaster notices how Tempest looks in this frame of reality... and something about it makes his head shake jerkily and forces his gaze away from her, purple optics flaring /unusually/ bright... in fact, were it the real world, they'd be at burning out level. As well, his general look of damage and wear increases, strangely enough... it seems emotional status will be harder to hide in this world, at least for him.

Soundwave looks around at the others, apparently not surprised by the changed imagery. A more intensive shimmer of color flickers up around him for a moment as he nods to Tempest. "Remain on your guard and keep watch for that which does not fit into the landscape."

Skyraider begins looking around, though not sure of what it is he should be watching for

Tempest looks around at the others, her optics flaring a bit as she sees the torn-up Motormaster, and slowly she moves around the group until she stands near CatsCradle, preventing her from vanishing into the shadows entirely. "Reality's a little harder to define these days."

With a startling speed, the entire miles-high tower is covered by a crystal shaped force field. An instant later, a dozen monstrous forms slam against the defensive screen. The field sparks and glows where the worm-like are trying to force their way inside.

Skyraider stares at the tower. "What the.."?"

Skyraider says, "are they what we're looking for?"

Soundwave makes a motion of his hand as though to draw his plasma rifle - but it's not a plasma rifle that materializes. It's a bulky cannon of apparently very ancient and primitive design.

Motormaster whirls as the tower undergoes its incredible change, instinctively activating that part of his mind that he uses to summon his sword... but instead of simply popping into existence, wounds and open blastmarks flow down his arm, leaving him actually looking better... and congeal in his hand in a strange way, merging to form a several-yards-long length of twisted, rusted metal that still looks rather deadly... he eyes it for a moment, then blinks rapidly,"Well, that's new..."

CatsCradle's optics flash for a moment to Tempest, bottomless and starving, then just as quickly, the expression vanishes, flattens out into blankness. The sparkings pull her attention away, and her optics narrow, as if trying to decide to investigate further or flee into the darkness completely.

Brawl doesn't say anything, barely thinks, just runs. He's surprisingly fast, as his glowing red form grows even brighter and even more steam spews from his joints. He leaps -- Brawl could never leap like this in the real world -- and tries to slam into one of the creatures, fists flying.

The creature Brawl leaps at simply turns around and gulps him down with its huge maw.

Tempest's head snaps around, watching the towers, and then looks back at CatsCradle. In the ruby optics is a flicker of understanding, and her voice forms words as she addresses the other femme. "You could run from them...or you could defeat them. As of late you are a predator, not a target."

Skyraider raises his arm lasers to find that they're no longer there

Nightbird stops short of leaping at the creatures herself and heads toward them warily, sword drawn.

Soundwave aims a careful shot at the creature that swallowed Brawl, aimed to fire just barely past it.

Skyraider also notices that his hands have turned into vicious looking claws. "hmmm...id have preferred my guns, but they'll do." At that, he charged at the worm-like things

Darkness envelops Brawl as he's eaten. Well, this wouldn't be the first time. Brawl has just as many entertaining if unnecessarily violent war stories as Kup. Really, ask him some time. Either way, he remains sprawled in the pitch for a moment, before getting up and shoulder-checking the beast's stomach. He is repulsed sufficiently to get him angry. He begins glowing brightly again, illuminating the cavernous belly. He doesn't care to look around, he just starts punching and kicking and checking and headbutting and rampaging.

Shockwave's voice again interrupts, saying, "Soundwave, Chasm has been located. He is currently in the Command Center."

Motormaster is startled as the /thing/ swallows Brawl, and while he has no love of the Combaticons, no one really deserves to be eaten alive... and so he lunges forward with Skyraider, moving to slice the beast's belly open with his twisted blade.

The other beasts seem not to notice the Decepticons coming at them, concentrating on getting through the defensive screens.

Skyraider starts clawing at the beasts bell, trying to cut brawl out. He may be an ass, but he's still a fellow Decepticon.

As the virus programs continue their attack, the defensive systems respond. Dozens of what look like large glowing orbs float down and start to envelope the worm-like virii.

CatsCradle shakes her head slowly. "I am nothing," she says, in a jagged voice, little more than a whisper, "Nobody." Then her optics follow Motormaster and Skyraider as they run forwards to attack, and something clicks in her mind, like a pack mentality, and she runs forward with them, flowing around and under electrical pulses easily, despite what looks like ancient and unrepaired wounds. She fastens onto the creature, tearing into it with her ragged claws, burying her hands up past the wrists into it.

Skyraider glances at CatsCradle, then continues his attack. "Glad you decided to join the party. What took you so long?"

Tempest's thumb reaches out and caresses the tiny firing stud on the inside of each hand, and at the gesture her new claws--silver metal sparkling with energy enhancement--shoot from her fingers. The new blades are, quite literally, a part of her.:follows CatsCradle, lunging at the other femme's side, slashing at the creature next to the purple femme. For all Tempest's fury and rage and savagery, she seems to be acting protectively towards CatsCradle.

With a bizarre popping sound, the virus program that swallowed Brawl vanishes under the combined onslaught.

A small distance from Skyraider's position, a blindingly bright hand manages to finally burst through the stomach walls. "RRrrrrRRRRRRRrrrAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAgggHHHH!" No, that's not the creature, that's Brawl. Forcing himself through the small hole he made with no small amount of whatever gore these beasts may contain. He looks like he's on fire, thick smoke erupting from his body.

Tempest circles behind CatsCradle and gives Skyraider another warning growl.

Skyraider grabs brawl and drags him out of the things belly just before the thing vanishes, then falls to the ground when it does

With a bizarre popping sound, the virus program that swallowed Brawl vanishes under the combined onslaught.

Skyraider says, "relax, tempest. The fightingís over, your friends safe...thanks to me.""

Tempest raises an optic ridge at Skyraider but does not respond.

Skyraider stands up to his full height, his pride and confidence from the victory with the creature showing for all to see.

Brawl falls onto his knees after his eruptive escape, and, after a moment, stands. He emits an inhuman noise, fury given sound, and looks for the next thing to destroy.

CatsCradle lands gently on her feet, crouching to the ground. She snarls wordlessly at Skyraider, the noise sharp with her garbled harmonics. She remains close to the ground, legs tucked under her, waiting for the next attack. It will come. It always does.

Motormaster doesn't hesitate this time... and decides to see just how much control he can exercise over this new form. He focuses his mind and tries to manifest another sword in his other hand... and, surprisingly enough, another of the weapons forms itself from the wounds of his body, leaving him entirely healed, just still travel-worn. He looks to Skyraider,"Save yer puffin' up fer later, kid... there's more enemies ta take care of." And from there, he charges towards the next of the worm-monsters.

Soundwave shimmers faintly, and looks up, still holding that ancient weapon. "Shockwave," he says, the harmonics echoing strangely in this environment, "Can you send Chasm to assist us? This appears to be his area of expertise."

Shockwave's voice says after a moment's hesitation, "Are you sure you trust him?"

Skyraider follows Motormouth towards the creature and lunges at it, claws flexing in anticipation

Soundwave too hesitates a moment before replying, "In this case, I do."

Tempest murmurs to CatsCradle, "Remember the tables have turned. Now you are the hunter. And you know what the hunter must do."

Shockwave intones, "Very well. I shall send him momentarily."

Skyraider sticks his claws into the creature, hacking and slashing wit his claws

Soundwave tries to get a sense of the movement patterns of the attacking creatures, before firing off another shot at them.

Brawl charges with Motormaster and Skyraider, his swinging fists leaving arced trails of red light.

One of the creatures turns, and in seemingly their own defensive move, swallows down Skyraider.

Tempest seems to know what hunters do...kill prey. She wastes no time lunging on another, tearing into it with both fury and delight.

CatsCradle's optics glint after the two, hungrily envious at their weapons, the bodies not stiff with years of grime and dirt packed into their joints. She looks down at her ragged claws, and gives another of those bottomless looks to Tempest, then with a push of her legs and hands, almost creature-like herself, she leaps forward, running almost before her feet touch the ground again, still with awkward grace, to plunge into the creature, holding on as best she can while clawing and tearing.

Brawl punches at the creature's belly with uncanny force -- he seems to be even stronger here than he is in the real world, and that's actually saying something.

Skyraider begins attempting to claw his way out, not wanting to be the appetizer for the beast.

Soundwave swings around and aims at the swallower of Skyraider now, but while he pulls the trigger and fires a roar of yellow light, there's an additional blaze of white energy that flares up around him and adds itself to the blast, drowning the sound of the weapon in a jangled harmony of strange music.

Nightbird slices one of the virus programs neatly in half, and it vanishes with a pop. She looks around, but all the other creatures near her have been taken by orbs. She moves to help Soundwave.

Tempest pages: weakness /used/ to make her extra vicious, but her perceptions of both others and of herself have changed and this is the result of that.

Motormaster figures the others have this one under control, and so easily hops over the monstrosity to lunge into the next one on... though there's only a few left it seems, what with the lights doing their things.

CatsCradle climbs up on top of the creature, jabbing deep with her claws for hand-holds, then bracing herself, she holds a hand on either side of the creature. A faint, under-fueled tendril of energy threats from one hand shooting through the creature to her other hand, followed by another tendril and a third, thinner and lighter than the previous two.. Her hands shake from the effort.

Scorcher gasps as she suddenly finds herself in a bizarre landscape

Soundwave's combined weapons blast/sonic attack strikes the worm-creature's armored hide, starting to burn away the exterior.

Chasm flaps around awkwardly and quickly adjusts to the site. It's his kind of thing, really. He looks like a totally different transformer, a short grey-and-white mech with finely polished armour with some sort of vehicular alternate mode. He doesn't seem to have any noticeable insignia.

Chasm looks down at his altered form and sighs a bit; "Back in the old frame - at least for a bit..." He gives Soundwave a semi-accusing stare and shrugs. "What's the problem?"

Shockwave's disembodied voice comes from everywhere, saying, "If you can capture one of the virus programs and search it for network keys, you can probably trace the path it took through the system."

Soundwave pauses in his attack for a moment, the clashing harmonics fading as the outline of his form wavers a little like a heat mirage. He regards the unfamiliar form of Chasm, recognizing it as his wayward creation none the less. "We require the source of the virus attack on Cybertron's computer systems, as well as restoration of normal operating procedure."

Tempest frowns at Shockwave's voice. "Does that mean we have to catch a wormthing alive?" She isnít putting any effort into keeping her current target in one piece.

Scorcher does not at first realize her appearance is changed, she simply joins the others in firing at the worm things. Only when she raises her arm lasers she gets a look at her arm and realizes that her normal armour has become entirely transparent

Chasm steeples his fingers together, "Virii? My specialty. But first I'd like to negotiate some sort of prosecution immunity deal."

Skyraider smashes his way through the creatures hide wit hone final strike and begins clawing his way out.

Brawl sees Skyraider's claw erupt through, and reaches in, using his hands to spread the hole as best he can. "Just 'cause I'm savin' your ass... don't think I ain't gonna kick it later," he rumbles, his voice distorted and deepened as far down as it possibly could be. He then moves to assist Motormaster.

Scorcher launches a missile which explodes against the nearest worm, engulfing int in a fireball

Soundwave hovers up into the air to get a better overview of the "horizon." "What have you done that requires it, Chasm?" he asks, his outline shimmering and fading for a moment into something darker, shadowy.

Shockwave's disembodied voice says, "Yes Tempest. Soundwave and Chasm should be able to run a disassembly routine without difficulty. You only need hold one in place long enough."

Chasm says, "I'll explain later."

Tempest sighs, and says to the others, "Okay, let's see if we can stake one of these beasts down." She lunges at a wormthing's tail, trying to pin down at least one end of it.

CatsCradle's voice sounds in a wordless shout. She has one of the creatures suspended with tendrils of a weakened version of her 'field, but the tendrils fade in and out shakily.

Scorcher is acutely embarrassed and tries harder to cover herself up than she tries to fight those monsters

Tempest's head perks up and she points towards CatsCradle's catch. "Get that one! Quickly!" she orders.

Skyraider sees tempest :dives for the creature tempest is tackling with, grabbing and trying to hold it down

Nightbird moves to help CatsCradle. She thinks a moment, then draws a think black cord from where her sai tips would normally be. She starts to wrap it around the virus program.

Soundwave gives Chasm a stern look, shading back to nearly his normal color. "Then we will 'negotiate' later," he decides. "For now, we have a task to complete."

Soundwave brings his old-style cannon to bear again, and fires, but again adds a river of harmonics to the blast that results in a burst of light and sound, shading down into the eerie minor keys and rumbling in the infrasonics, hoping to destabilize the worm-thing that the others are trying to pin.

Brawl gives Motormaster's beast a few punches, but then hears Tempest's cry. He leaps, and it seems like he's never coming down. The hang time and altitude are both tremendous. And then, when he's directly over the beast, he falls.

Chasm sighs, "I suppose so." He leaps up and glides towards the creature, bits of data streaming off him, radiating a massive wave of confidence. He glides towards the worm, "Come to me...

Scorcher can't do much but occasionally manages to fire a laserblast at the monster when she thinks nobody is looking at her

Chasm dissolves into a datastream as he tries to crack into the worm virus and disassemble it.

Skyraider dives towards CatsCradleís creature and grabs it to hold it down

CatsCradle's 'field sparkles and gives out just as the others arrive to help pin it down in their own ways. With another wordless wail, she throws herself against the creature, trying to add her own weight to help hold it.

Tempest points the others to locations all around CatsCradle's trapped quarry, rising up off her fore"legs" onto her rear legs to do so, straightening up, looking more like a robot and less an animal as she does so.

Motormaster doesn't realize it, but his own manifestation is changing as the battle continues... the wear and tear seems to fade more and more with each moment, and indeed he seems to be radiating light and energy at this point, like heat waves rising from a street. He's also moving faster, becoming a tumultuous mass of activity as he finishes off the one him and Brawl were fighting, then dashing over to help hold down the captive one.

The virus program, perhaps sensing it's now in danger, starts to thrash and emit a high-pitched squealing noise, loud enough to jar those near it.

Soundwave hovers downward slowly, the cannon dissolving into non-existence as a swirl of sound/light energy surrounds him and shudders through his immediate surroundings, countering the virus' own sounds.

Chasm's glittering data stream glows more brightly, as it seeks to unravel the worm virus.

Skyraider holds down harder, giving the thing a dig with its elbow for good measure

Brawl lands with catastrophic impact. Well, one hopes.

CatsCradle is thrown aside, landing hard, but rolling to her feet in an almost impossible move given her state of disrepair and in the same flowing motion, throws herself back on the creature, jabbing in with her claws again.

Tempest cringes at the virus' pain-song and starts hissing at it, trying to blot out the noise. Only when Soundwave joins in the fight does she gain a measure of relief, and at that point she digs her blade-claws into the area just behind its "head".

Nightbird wraps her own body around the malicious program, her limbs becoming longer than usual and wrapping around several times. Within a couple of seconds, her entire form has become a black rope around the program.

Scorcher sees the others rushing to aid trying to contain the creature and with a shudder she abandons all modesty and throws herself at it too, trying to get hold of it somehow

Motormaster clamps his hands down right beside Tempest's in the same moment, raising his head for just a moment to look at her, then back to the task at hand, digging in and snarling,"Shut up, ya nasty thing" at the worm.

Skyraider notices Scorcher's look as she rushed toward the fray. "Nice look, really suits you," he said, still struggling with the beast.

Brawl pokes his head out of the hole that he made in the beast's back, only to find an elongated Nightbird blocking his way. Bonk. "Dammit." He sighs. One way out, now, and makes his way toward the mouth.

Tempest is trying to ignore Motormaster but when he tells the worm to shut up...she can't help it, she laughs, and the optics sparkle.

Chasm works on dissolving the virus into its component bits, using a custom made disassembly routine that will render the virus inert. The way this appears to everyone else is that Chasm reappears again (still looking like that strange mech), and starts to cut open the creature with a laser scalpel. Bits of goop fly off everywhere, although none splash on Chasm; his polished form seems immune to splatter.

Soundwave comes down right next to the entangled worm, flickering slightly in a shimmer of colored effects as he in a sense cleaves into the creature's body with a weapon of pure sound, neutralizing the worm's squeal completely in a strange, all-encompassing humming sound.

Scorcher is thrown off as the worm bucks violently. She lands in an inelegant heap, dazed for a moment, before she gets up and tries again to get a hold of the program

The program abruptly stops thrashing. In fact, it's not moving at all, except a slight quiver. Soundwave seems to have immobilized it.

An arm, glowing red, emits from the creature's mouth, and Brawl feels a profound sense of deja vu. Forcing himself out of its mouth, he emits a rapid-fire string of profanity. The blazing fire has dulled, somewhat, leaving him merely glowing.

Scorcher, finding that the worm stopped moving, slowly climbs to the weird ground of this place and desperately looks around for something or someplace to hide herself behind

Brawl stands up and looks at Scorcher. "...hey, you're naked." Oh, Brawl, you cad! Still, Brawl manages some level of chivalry, amazingly, when he removes his own chestplate and holds it out, offering it to her.

Motormaster lets go of the thing as it becomes almost lifeless, glancing to Scorcher... and starting to laugh uncontrollably after just staring for a moment, his outline fuzzing a bit and becoming almost pixellated as he chuckles.

Soundwave seems no more concerned that Scorcher is 'naked' than he was surprised by the appearances of the others - with the possible exception of Chasm, who somehow still manages to surprise him.

CatsCradle remains with her full weight still leaning on the creature, spattered with its goo and not seeming to notice. Then again, she is covered with so much grime to begin with, she probably hadn't noticed.

Chasm reaches into the shape with his laser, taking advantage of Soundwave's stunning routine, and eventually removes a pulsing beam of light, that throbs with an arrhythmic heartbeat.

Scorcher blushes so hard that underneath her transparent armour she seems to glow with an energon blush

Tempest looks at Scorcher, looks at Motormaster, growls a little, and, now that the worm is subdued, slinks off behind it to lick goo off her arms and "paws"

Shockwave's voice seems to come from all over, saying, "I read one program frozen in memory Soundwave. I am assuming a successful capture?"

Skyraider looks at Motormouth, wondering what he finds so funny. Following his view, he notices Scorcher and begins laughing himself.

Chasm holds the squishy construction out to Soundwave, "There you go. Decompile data block."

Brawl wags his chestplate. "You wanna cover-up, or not? I'm givin' you a chance, here."

Soundwave says, "Affirmative, Shockwave."

Scorcher looks acutely embarrassed but eventually removes one hand from covering herself up to accept the bit of metal she is offered

Skyraider says, "Hey, Scorcher, looking good!"

Brawl's bare chest releases almost a cloud's worth of smoke.

Chasm smirks at the decompiled data block in his hand, quivering like a ruptured alien heart. He's already analyzed the data and added it to his collection of viruses.

Scorcher cowers behind the bit of Metal she has been handed and pays no attention to what is going on around her, she simply blushes so hard she should give off light and looks down at the ground.

Scorcher wails "I want out of here"

Skyraider says, "Not until our task is done, Scorcher."

Brawl stands with his back to Scorcher, and says to anyone who's leering ďWhat? You never seen 'em before? Leave 'er alone."

Motormaster turns to say something to Tempest... only to find her rather gone from where she was... and just like that, his manifestation changes back to the broken version as he shakes his head slowly, bleakly. He glances to Scorcher and notes,"Ya ain't th' only one... An' ya might try an' change yerself 'fore ya panic, Hots. If Nightbird can do, um, that... you should be able to do somethin'."

CatsCradle rolls away, backing into a crouch, almost disappearing into the shadows again except for the glow of her optics in a furtive glint... stay or flee?

Nightbird unwraps from the program, assuming it will remain frozen now. She turns to Scorcher and says, "You can will that to change here, if you wish it."

Chasm says absently, "You appear as you really think you are." He looks around, "I suppose that says a lot about you all.."

CatsCradle snarls softly from her shadows.

From around the head of the fallen worm comes the savagely scarred face of feral-Tempest. But instead of stalking anyone, she holds out a clawed paw towards CatsCradle in the shadows.

Brawl looks at his arm. "I don't see myself as bein' rayd-jo-active'r nothin'. The hell?"

Soundwave says, "An unusually wise observation, Chasm. Allow me to examine the viral code."

Chasm says, "Your datacore is probably a bit cleverer than your prime personality component, Brawl. It knows what you really like."

Chasm hands the ruptured heart to Soundwave.

CatsCradle's optics gleam for a long moment, then a faded purple hand slips out of the shadows to Tempest.

Brawl looks around for what he really likes. Nope, this isn't a battered warzone, and he's not standing on a pile of Autobot corpses. What the hell? This virtual crap is such a gyp.

Scorcher pays no attention to the advice she gets. She is acutely miserable and dejected under the (in her imagination) leering stares of the mechs around her

Soundwave accepts the heart, his form wavering and for a moment fading out completely, leaving only an afterimage of pale multiple colors. Then a faint shadowly silhouette that does not look like Soundwave shifts back into view, finally filled in by Soundwave's familiar form, the optics shaded brightly as he takes in the data from the heart and sifts it with preternatural speed.

Tempest hesitates for a moment, as if in this moment she ponders whether or not she really wants to have to deal with physical contact. And then, deciding, she reaches out and takes CatsCradle's hand in hers with only a minimal flinching.

Brawl taps Scorcher with a foot. "You hear 'em? 'Parently, you just don't gotta wanna be naked."

Soundwave says, "Access codes detected. We can follow them to their source, where the virus was inserted into Cybertron's computer network.""

Motormaster walks over to Scorcher, not leering in the slightest and in fact being sort of fatherly or big brotherly or some such. "C'mon, kiddo... the more ya think about it, the worse it's gonna get. Gotta think otherwise fer it ta change."

CatsCradle shifts slightly out of the shadows, still poised to disappear again. She looks at the others, then glances at Tempest. "Our pack?" she whispers.

Chasm hovers in the air, "I've already thought of that. It's over there," he points.

Tempest nods to CatsCradle. "Our pack. And you...are firmly established...as part of it."

"Go away" Scorcher screams shrilly at Brawl, and at the others too, in fact

CatsCradle edges a little closer, more out of the shadows now than in them, but still crouched. Scorcher's scream makes her duck back a little, snarling softly, but she remains in her spot.

Soundwave takes to the air again, if such is a valid description in this realm, and starts in a direction toward the right of the group.

A puff of smoke sprays from Brawl's chest. "Fine. Bitch." He doesn't bother arguing that he gave Scorcher the clothes off his torso to help her out. He really just doesn't care, now.

Motormaster shrugs a bit,"If you say so, Scorcher." And does indeed go away, turning and walking off after Soundwave."

Brawl turns away and clanks off to some point where he doesn't have to talk to anyone.

Tempest moves in protectively beside CatsCradle and begins looking her over for damage.

Chasm jauntily flies in the air, gliding in front of Soundwave.

Shockwave's voice comes in again, seeming concerned. "Status report Soundwave? There seems to be some... discontent."

Skyraider looks at Brawl sharply. "Your walkin a fine line, scrapheap. One more insult towards anyone and ill melt you down."

Soundwave says, "We have a renewed task, Shockwave. It is my hope that the group will put aside its trivial discontents."

CatsCradle pulls herself more into a ball. "No hurts," she says in her rough whisper. "Ain't nothin' fix'ble, anyways."

Nightbird walks over to Scorcher, trying to seem calming. "Shockwave can return you if you wish."

Chasm observes, "Very few people seem to be comfortable with themselves. They always seem to perceive their 'inner selves' as something inferior, when they don't have to be. Oh well. That's not my problem. Although I do offer psychological counseling at reduced rates."

Soundwave glances back, pausing briefly, to add to Nightbird's words, "But then you would have a far less interesting story to tell in years to come."

Scorcher winces but is marginally more comfortable with having a femme nearby. She shudders but knows she can not give up so easily

Soundwave continues on his way, speaking to Shockwave, "Access codes indicate a port in Valckasta. We are proceeding."

Skyraider walks up to Scorcher and puts his hand on his shoulder. "Hey Donít worry, Iím here to protect you if necessary."

Brawl seems perfectly fine with himself. Standing off in the (relative) corner, smoking in the literal sense of the word, back turned to everyone. Yup. Quite the well-adjusted fellow.

Scorcher screams at the unexpected hand on her shoulder and fires her laser at the unfamiliar mech at point blank range

The surroundings start to move past the group rapidly, so that it seems more that the world is moving past the inhabitants than the other way around.

Skyraider staggers back from the blast, a complete look of shock on his face. "What the- so much for camaraderie!"

Nightbird concentrates as the world zips by them, and spreads out into almost a black cloak. She stands in front of Scorcher, shielding her from view but not looking at her. "Better?" she asks.

It is a good thing that Scorcher's nightmare extends itself to her weapons. They are not functioning at full power, or that blast could have seriously injured him

Scorcher shudders at Nightbird's words but admits it helps

CatsCradle watches the world zooming past them, with the dull look of someone who is used to her internal systems not working and assuming that this is just another example of it.

Skyraider turns his back to Scorcher, arms folded across chest. "This better, yer majesty?" He asked in a sarcastic tone.

Shockwave's voice intrudes and says, "Confirming travel Soundwave. You're now in a data hub near Valckasta, one of the outer systems in a scout tower."

Brawl watches this form of travel, and his mask does little to hide the true sense of wonder he has in reaction to it.

The world stops moving around the virtual Decepticons, and the landscape seems largely the same. There are subtle differences however, in color and tone.

Soundwave stifles a sigh, as they come to a convergence of web strands, some of which stretch so far upward it's not possible to see where they lead. He lands there, listening intently, the heart of the virus program still pulsing softly in his hand.

Scorcher pays no attention to Skyraider, Brawl, or any of the others who feel insulted by her behaviour. She simply tries to get her energon pump under control

Soundwave says, "The access point was here, directly above us."

CatsCradle looks up, optics narrowed, studying the area over them.

Another difference in the landscape here is the large ominous-looking pyramid sitting atop the tower Soundwave has found. It's collecting energy streams into itself, and spitting out the virus programs.

Chasm drifts along, enjoying the ride; he used to do this sort of stuff the entire time for a living and now only does it in snatches in his reconfigured role as a data technician for the Decepticons.

Brawl looks straight up when Soundwave speaks. "Hnnnh," is all he can really articulate.

Soundwave regards the pyramid, an object clearly out of place. "We must destroy this," he says with certainty.

CatsCradle looks down at her claws in dismay, obviously wondering how. Living creatures are one thing, but a... structure?

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "This is Ravenwing of Valckasta. I really do hope that no one else is having the same... technical difficulties as we are."

Chasm looks up at the tower, data streams reflecting in his optics. "I'll run a worm on it..."

Nightbird's optics, twin yellow points of fire in her elongated form, regard the object coldly. A threat to the Decepticons, this she understands well.

Scorcher looks up, far up, and decides that whatever that thing is, it is rather big

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "Indeed we are Ravenwing. We are in the process of attempting to purge the problem now."

Brawl looks up. He hears 'destroy this' and grins, somehow able to be seen despite his masked face. And he charges blindly, fists swinging, his lack of real pattern recognition giving him no fear of, say, being eaten.

Soundwave says, "Recall that our forms here take on substance from our thoughts alone. This includes our weaponry. We shall have to put aside our squabbles-" he tactfully doesn't look at anyone in particular - "to converge our attacks at the precise same moment.""

Soundwave says, "Brawl. Wait."

Brawl stops in mid-air, as if it were a freeze-frame. "... ... ... ... ... Wait?"

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "I've already taken Valckasta off the data communication network in an attempt to isolate the problem or at least keep it from spreading. Any ideas of what caused all this?"

Soundwave repeats, "Convergence at the same moment." He looks around at the others, gesturing them to gather together in a semi-circle.

CatsCradle makes a soft agonized sound, pressing the palms of her hands against the sides of her head. She lets them fall again, to look at her ragged claws and lets out the same soft sound again.

Brawl returns, and gets into this circle thing. "... I don't get it."

Soundwave says, "You will have your opportunity to unleash the force of your fury. Simply wait for my word."

Scorcher shuffles to the end of the semi-circle, clinging her arms to her body to cover herself up as much as she can, and keeping turned away from everybody

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "Affirmative. Malicious virus programs has seized control of much of the network. It seems the insertion point was near Valckasta in fact. We are attempting to neutralize the problem now. If you wish, you might send a security force to physically check scout tower 28."

Brawl seems discontent with this idea of restraint, but submits. "Yessir."

CatsCradle shakes her head again, backing away from the circle.

Soundwave looks up a bit. "Shockwave," he intones. "We are at the main hub leading to Valckasta. Further pathways have been closed off. Inform Valckasta that we must have a full reconnection to purge the entire system."

<Cybertron> Ravenwing's voice takes on a sharper edge, and she says curtly, "Acknowledged."

Shockwave says, "Acknowledged Soundwave."

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "In addition Ravenwing, to purge this problem, we require you fully reconnect to the system."

Soundwave's tone is quietly insistent, yet still somehow soothing. "CatsCradle, Scorcher. Join us.

Chasm stands into place, holding out his hands. "Very New Age, Soundwave," he quips.

CatsCradle looks at her claws again, then to Soundwave. "Can't. No weapons."

<Cybertron> Ravenwing siiiiighs, a hint of disgust in her voice as she responds even more curtly, "Lines of data communication will be restored in... five thousand astroseconds. We will be monitoring for continuing irregularities."

Nightbird reforms into her usual shape, although still as black as vacuum. Her hands however begin to glow a soft purple, gathering her will for the task before them.

Soundwave says, "We will require your concentration."

Tempest slinks out of the shadows, rejoining the group.

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "Our appreciation Ravenwing. We will provide an update when the task is complete."

CatsCradle's face flickers into the hint of a smile at Soundwave, then limps forward, stopping next to Scorcher in the circle.

Soundwave reaches out and takes one of Chasm's hands, possible as it is in this form. His own body shimmers in a flicker of color, then edges into a white haze. A swirl of indefined power starts to gather around him.

Scorcher arrives at the far end of the circle where she sort of crouches, her arms wrapped around her knees

Nightbird entire form now is outlined with a purple glow. She offers a hand to CatsCradle and Scorcher.

Brawl has little to no idea what's going on. ... o O ( This is so fruity. )

Tempest looks less than pleased about having to touch anyone's hands, particularly Brawlís....but she rears up on her back legs and reaches out, more grabbing Brawl by the arm than holding hands with him, to complete the circle.

CatsCradle looks at Nightbird's hand for a long moment, then finally reaches out and places her grimy ragged hand in the other femme's perfect one.

Scorcher hesitantly takes Nightbird's hand. She knows she will have to stand up to use her weapons but she can't quite bring herself to really do so, so she ends up half crouched, looking at the ground and blushing furiously

Brawl resists his initial urge to throw his arm free and punch Tempest.

Something shifts again in the surrounding landscape, as more connecting cables and webs that were not there before, shimmer back into existence with a surge of energy. To this Soundwave responds in a single word: "Attack!"

Soundwave unleashes a torrent of sound-and-light energy from the center of his form toward the black pyramid far above.

Nightbird attacks with more a mental attack than physical. Those who know her best perhaps know that she believes the body to simply be carrying out the attack of the mind. With that spirit, she sends a bolt of purple energy toward the offending pyramid, then another and another. A purely mental strike, her will channeled to force.

Brawl expunges the color red, more or less. His fury is spilled and gushes along an invisible aqueduct toward the pyramid, boiling and hissing.

Scorcher fires a pair of missiles and cycles the next pair into her launcher as quickly as she can. The first missiles barely light up the structure, but as her confidence grows so does the fire ball caused by her weapons

Chasm attacks with a modification of the zero-zero virus, its invisible tendrils streaming towards the structure and dissolving the integrity of its data systems.

CatsCradle's optics close, but her body flares in the same shade of amethyst, the light gathering into a flame screaming towards the pyramid.

Tempest watches the others, not sure at first how to attack this thing. She looks confused, at first...and then, a flicker of understanding. She grows still, glaring at the pyramid. Doing nothing? But her optics simmer with an unholy fire. Whatever she is imagining that pyramid to be, she suddenly bursts forth a torrent of ....they take the form of flaming swords, raining down on the pyramid.

Motormaster isn't sure himself exactly how to go about this... but he doesn't look to the others hoping for a clue. He has a feeling that somehow, it won't work unless it's from you entirely. And so he closes his optics, shutting them off entirely, and reaches down deep inside, tapping whatever it is that keeps him going... a few moments pass with nothing happening, and then a deep rumble seems to emanate from him, as if an engine were revving, building louder and louder and LOUDER, until it erupts from him in a burst of purse kinetic force, rippling the air as his mental energy slams towards the pyramid, dragging a grimace of effort from him.

As all the Decepticons will the destruction of the virus factory in their own way, small explosions dot its surface. Then larger ones start to form and join, and a fire spreads along the whole of it. It shudders, once, twice, pieces flying off as it makes a horrible wrenching noise. Finally, it bursts apart all at once, fragment showering everywhere, then vanishing.

When it's all over, Brawl rumbles, "So. Did we win?"

Tempest revels in the destruction she helps to wreak, watching the falling fragments with glowing optics. But she doesnít waste any time releasing Brawl's arm, either.

Soundwave 's brilliant-white sonic burst fades out even as the fragments fade, leaving behind a momentary after-echo like the sound of sub-atomic particles in their dance or the creation of galaxies. Then that too fades to silence, and Soundwave himself looks entirely solid and of the expected color again. Not even a faint shimmer of multicolored effect flickers around him.

Scorcher says in a small voice "Can we go home now?"

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "Shockwave to Ravenwing. Reading complete shutdown of offending programs. Rebooting your system should clear up any remaining glitches."

Nightbird only nods once, satisfied.

Soundwave confirms to Brawl, "We were victorious. And within the pattern of the access and viral codes, we will obtain clues as to the origin of this form of attack."

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "I suppose we shall see shortly. Reboot initiated. And the suspect scout tower?"

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "I expect an update from the sentinels any astrosecond."

CatsCradle's optics open and she looks up to where the pyramid was, her face lighting up in a smile. It disappears quickly, though, and she slants a glance to Soundwave. "Brotherhood," she says still in a whisper.

Chasm smirks, "All codes carefully recorded and accounted for."

Motormaster rocks his head back with a somewhat tired sigh... yay, they saved the day again, just as he predicted. He stretches a bit, then remembers he's holding folk's hands... and while one he lets go immediately, the other, when he looks at it, he finds to be a flaming talon clutched in his own scarred hand. He blinks for a moment, and looks up to find Tempest there... but after a moment's hesitation, shuts his optics again, looks away and lets her go, saying a bit too loudly,"So, we go home now, huh?"

Soundwave is silent for a moment. "It would seem to be beyond the Autobots' ability to affect such a planet-wide interference."

Tempest withdraws her hand and pulls it to her chest, as if favouring it, or as if it were some item she was trying to keep close to herself and hide.

Soundwave says, "Shockwave, we are prepared to return at your convenience."

Chasm says, "What, the alien hypothesis again? Really Soundwave, can't you think of something better?"

CatsCradle keeps her sidelong glance on Soundwave, then gives a slight shrug, hampered by the great denting in that shoulder... an explanation perhaps why her shrugs always seemed somewhat abbreviated.

Shockwave's voice comes in again, pleased. "Your success is confirmed Soundwave. Excellent work, all of you. I will terminate the interface momentarily."

Soundwave says, "Your guess makes for a highly likely hypothesis, CatsCradle."

Motormaster shakes his head,"So, what, you sayin' all this's got somethin' ta do with that Unicron thing?"

Brawl looks around. He waits to get pulled back into his body. This gets him to thinking about said body, and, in the last few moments before the return to reality, he looks entirely different. A bit taller, leaner, full-up on ammunitions and weapons. Different paint job, the whole deal. A whole new Brawl.

****

Command Center

With another burst of static, you find yourself back at the command center in Polyhex.

Tempest Startles as she wakes up back in...reality. She looks down at her hands, seeming almost disappointed to find the massive retractable talons gone, reduced to normal hands.


Laserbeak is sitting at his father's feet anxiously awaiting a sign of life

Chasm sighs, to find himself trapped in his diminutive cassette form again. He leaps out of the console and assumes his draconic form again.

Motormaster startles a bit as well, blinking his optics once or twice and looking down at his own hands, flexing them absently... his body feels sluggish now, unresponsive, like a prison. He cannot simply manifest any more. It'll pass, he's sure... but oh well.

Chasm flaps over to Laserbeak. "Is it safe?"

Scorcher shudders as she sees her armour normal again. She can not look the others in the eye. Nor after what they have seen of her

Soundwave's optic band brightens to its normal shade as he stirs a bit and looks around.

Brawl blinks several times before he rubs his visor and pulls out the cords connecting him to the console. "Hunh."

Brawl also makes sure he has his chestplate. Yup, it's there.

Laserbeak smirks as his father moves around, then looks to Chasm. "Yes. You arenít getting it back until you clear it with father."

Soundwave disconnects himself and stands as though nothing unusual had occurred, then looks around at the others to see how they're re-orienting. "If this was indeed perpetrated by the Brotherhood of Chaos," he says, "then we must ask ourselves why, and why at this time?"

Motormaster raises his head, and unplugs himself as well from the terminal, slowly sweeping the room with his gaze. He knows each of them a little bit better than he did before, in a way. It's interesting. He hmms softly to himself, shrugs, and rises to his feet.

In the confusion of her mind all Scorcher can think of is that she can not decide if it was a good thing that Skyjack declined going along for this mission, or if it is a bad thing he did

Chasm hisses, "I need it back. Do you know what I went through to get that?"

Shockwave says, "I trust, CatsCradle, there were no unfortunate catastrophic misadventures?"

CatsCradle nearly rolls out of her chair, as in waking from a nightmare, coming to her feet in a blurt of energy. She looks around at the others, optics wide, almost in a full panic and flee-reaction, then she slowly looks at her hands, normal in their paint and texture. She flexes her fingers, the movement easy and not hindered by grit in the joints. Still in a slow motion, she reaches up and runs her fingers along the edges of her wing, then eases back into her chair and buries her face in her hands.

Nightbird stands as well, flexing her arms and legs. It was interesting being able to fully control her form like that..

Soundwave says, "You are safe, CatsCradle."

Motormaster walks over to Cats without hesitation and puts an arm around her shoulder. The 'pack' she asked about really does exist, and so he offers her support now.

Chasm tries to tug the object away from Laserbeak. "I suffered unimaginably for this! It's mine, purchased with spilled oil."

CatsCradle finds herself without much surprise, leaning against Moto, and also, still without surprise, that she is shaking hard.

Laserbeak yanks back on the object tussling with his brother over this item which he has no idea what it even is.

Shockwave tilts his head, his optic glowing a slightly different shade with concern. Perhaps there was some problem after all..

Brawl stands up, and pushes his chair in. Unfortunately, the chairs weren't designed to be pushed in, so there's a loud creaking noise. Brawl walks away from the scene of the crime, leaving a chair bent so that the seat is sloping downward at a forty-five degree angle.

Soundwave shoots an almost annoyed glance at his two creations. Without further ceremony he reaches over and picks Chasm up by the scruff of his neck, or by his rocket pack, anyway, and sets him up on his shoulder. "Perhaps you can explain, Chasm," he says.

Chasm erms, "It's quite simple. Laserbeak has something of mine that I must get back. Order him to relinquish it at once."

Laserbeak holds up the thingy presenting it to his father like a child who pulled a worm out of the dirt. " I think he stole it from somewhere."

Scorcher curls up on the chair and shuts out everything that is going on around her, burying her face against her knees

Soundwave steps a little away from the main group to find some privacy, and also to allow CatsCradle and Scorcher the chance to get their bearings again without too many people hovering over them. "You shall have to provide further details," he suggests to Chasm.

Motormaster hugs poor CatsCradle, playing the familial role yet again, and rests his cheek against the top of her head, whispering,"It's gonna be okay, femme. Yer fine." He then looks to Shockwave,"Havin' ta see... what's inside ain't always easy, boss."

Chasm coughs, "A few years ago I was conducting a deal; unfortunately my business 'partner' was involved in a military engagement and I was only recently able to get in contact with him, to learn the whereabouts of the item, which is mine by right of commerce."

Soundwave takes the object from Laserbeak to give it a closer look.

Laserbeak grins "What is it? " he then mutters silently "Where's the creme filling?", too much earthen TV.

Shockwave says, "Indeed? When I was testing the system, my appearance did not change appreciably." He goes over to Scorcher, close enough to speak but not close enough to force her to notice him. He says quietly, "Do you require anything Scorcher?"

CatsCradle looks up. "By the way, anyone has my permission to beat some of that ego out of Skyraider," she says in a shaky attempt to collect herself.

Nightbird is looking herself over, perhaps please she has color once more. She nods to CatsCradle, the sparkle of a faint smile on her optics.

Brawl says, "Ain't nobody touchin' Skyraider."

Soundwave turns the rust-marked metal casing over in his hands. Nothing on its surface indicates what may be within.

Brawl says, "'Til after I'm done beatin' his face into mush."

CatsCradle gives Brawl a sharp nod. "Good. Might take care of two targets at once."

Motormaster lets her go, and grins a bit as Cats pulls herself together,"There we go." And with no further ado, he rises back to his feet and dusts himself off,"Maybe we should infiltrate this Brotherhood, if'n we can."

Chasm eeps, "Be careful, Soundwave - only the greatest of craftsmechs can open that container... You might damage its contents with your fumble-fingeredness..."

Scorcher's shoulders heave slightly. She might well be crying silently

Brawl doesn't bother asking what CatsCradle meant by that 'two targets' thing, because it's not like he cares a lot. Or at all.

Soundwave extends a small cutting probe from the tip of one index finger and cuts along the very fine seam, slipping molecule by molecule through the layers until the casing comes open.

Laserbeak resists the urge to snap at Chasm

Soundwave says, "If it is so vital, we should see what is within."

Shockwave makes a last attempt, saying softly to Scorcher, "I can see you to quarters here if you wish it. You have earned some rest."

Soundwave carefully opens the case to reveal a beautiful crystal inside, glittering with a strange energy emission, half-cut to resemble some sort of mech, or possibly a femme. Although it's half-finished, it's still a work of art, done by a master. "Most interesting," is his observation.

Chasm gropes for it. "Mine," he says fervently, trying to wrap his paws around it.

CatsCradle gives Shockwave one of her long looks, approving of his tactic with Scorcher... and perhaps wishing she had received some of that while under his command. She breaks her gaze away again, looking back down at her hands, reassuring herself, then back at Motormaster, including Tempest in that look. "I've never told Diver how bad it was back then," she says in a soft voice, her amber optics a dark gold.

Tempest's optics glitter in ...silent empathy,. perhaps?

Laserbeak gives Chasm a face full o' wing. "Settle down will ya?"

Scorcher slowly uncurls herself from her fetal position at Shockwave's words.. She moves as if her limbs are weight down by a huge weight. Slowly she heads for the doors, looking at the ground but convinced the eye of every mech is on her now they've seen her

Soundwave snaps the case shut again. "I shall keep this safe for you, Chasm, until we have had a chance to discuss some important points. At the moment we must pursue the information we have gathered today." He slips the case into a storage compartment in the side of his forearm - no, not into the tape compartment.

Motormaster says softly,"Maybe you should, Cats. Give him a chance to understand. He deserves it."

Tempest counters with, "Are there words for that?" And she looks at Motormaster--he should know, what she had had to show him because there were no words to speak it.

Chasm snaps, "No Soundwave, no... It's mine, can't you see? Don't you understand how much I suffered to get that back?" He lapses into a melodramatic fit for a few moments, before resuming a rather sulky pose on Soundwave's shoulder.

Shockwave goes with Scorcher, not understanding what's upset her, but determined to help whatever way he can.

CatsCradle slowly moves her head from side to side. "He'd understand... but he'd hurt, wishing he could have done something." Her optics go to Tempest. "And there aren't words for it. I don't know how to tell him."

Brawl stands around, looking totally detached from this group. This doesn't bother him. He knows he's not one of them, and he knows that practically no one wants him to be one of them, either. He's not sure if he wants to be one of them. So let them have their little fits, and their conversations, and their revelations, and their friendships. He doesn't care.

Chasm says, "Why will this torment never end? Why is everything I desire taken away from me, to be broken apart and trod on?"

Soundwave says, "All in due time, Chasm. It is not going anywhere." He looks over at the others, wishing he had the opportunity to help sort out some of the demons his comrades have faced tonight ... but other responsibilities beckon first. They will, if nothing else, know where to find him throughout the night. He steps over to the computer console he sometimes appropriates while on Cybertron, and activates the screen."

Motormaster meets Tempest's gaze evenly,"Yeah, I understand that. The wishin' you could change something." And then he turns and walks over to Soundwave,"Like I said, maybe someone should infiltrate these Brotherhood guys... an' if they're Autobots like you folks say, well, then, we know who around here looks like one of those." He smiles wryly.

Soundwave glances aside at Motormaster for a moment, nods wordlessly, and stores that information for later reference.

Laserbeak shrugs "I'm sorry Chasm. Really. I was just following protocol. Your not mad are ya?"

Tempest tries to think of something to say to CatsCradle. "Perhaps he should know--with all the care and time he spends on you..." But then she hears Motormaster's offer, and immediately the wings rise on the back, defensively. Why the hell did he...how can she watch him if... And then she sags. No point, now.

Chasm sniffs and dives inside Soundwave.

CatsCradle rubs her forehead for a moment, still trying to sort herself out from the street-rat scavenger back to the Decepticon warrior. "Talk to Diver about that first, Moto. He knows more about them... and he can pass for an Autobot, too. The two of you might come up with something together."

Laserbeak frowns , optics that hue of 'I'm an emotional wreck' "Everytime I think Iím doing the right thing.... somebody gets mad at me."

Motormaster looks back to Cats and nods once,"I'll talk to 'im. Probably be good to not go in alone anyhow. Never know when you might need backup."

Tempest finds herself nodding in agreement, then tears herself away, turning her back on them both.

CatsCradle gives a wry grin. "Yeah, and he's stupid enough... er, I mean, daring enough to do it, too."


Motormaster grins at CatsCradle,"He can be the daring one... I'll take stupid. It fits." He looks to... well, now it's Tempest's back and his lips press into a thin line.

Brawl hears everything, listens to nothing.

CatsCradle glances from Moto to Tempest again, and her optics fade a little. She rubs at them again. "I'll repeat the phrase I heard most today... can we go home, now?"

Tempest moves away, slinking now, not stalking angrily, more like creeping.

Motormaster hehs drily,"The Bridge is fried, last time I checked. I sure as heck ain't gettin' back in until Shockwave's had some mighty good technicians go over it."

Motormaster then realizes that Tempest is moving away, and with a sigh looks to Cats again,"You okay? I gotta... take care of something."

Tempest is holding something which, on close examination, may just be the ignition starter of a starship.

CatsCradle's lips move in an "eew" motion. "Stuck here," she says gloomily. "Again. Ah, /hell/." She blinks at Moto, following his gaze to Tempest. "Yes," she says in a soft voice. "I'm fine."

Motormaster nods once, gratefully, and then turns to go after the yellow Seeker, shaking his head a bit as he does so in a 'this won't go well' manner.

Laserbeak realizes no oneís noticed his plight so he does the mature thing...scream a few expletives, stomp towards the door slams his wing into a wall then leaves.

Laserbeak Stomps back in fuming and screaming "We didnít get this thing fixed yet?"

CatsCradle blinks and looks up from studying her hands. "The 'Bridge. No. We're stuck here, as far as I know."

CatsCradle adds, "Unless you can coax someone with space flight to shuttle you back."

Laserbeak plops down on the floor, groaning bitterly.

CatsCradle stands up, rubbing at her hands. "I think I... um... I'm hungry. And I'm sure I've got to put some fear of something into a cadet or two."

Brawl says, "You're bored, bird, I can always kick your ass again."

CatsCradle says with a faint smile, "No. You might get hurt, and then someone else would get to beat up on Skyraider."

Brawl looks over at CatsCradle. "Hurt? Me? Ain't happenin.'" He gestures at Laserbeak. "Look at that little thing. Ain't even got hisself no legs."

Laserbeak peers at Brawl curiously "Need we do this again?"

CatsCradle rubs at her nose. "Well, he does have legs... just ittybitty ones."

Brawl says, "Well, like I said, if you're bored, bird, I'd oblige ya and kick your ass again."

Laserbeak growls "Not in the mood and this ainít the time."

CatsCradle shakes her head. "I'm leaving now. I don't do repair bays, and I'll have to drag someone there if this continues." She slips out the door.


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