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Chapter One - Shattered Souls

<Cybertron> Radio transmissions heard by anyone on the planet.
<Earth> Radio transmissions heard by anyone on the planet
<Long Range> Radio transmissions heard over long distances by anyone with communications equipment
oO = silent thought to one’s self.


LET NOTHING STAND AGAINST US


Command Center - Polyhex, Cybertron
Earth Date August 1, 1986

        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.

Ghost transmits to Megatron: "Sir?"
Megatron transmits to Ghost: "Yes, Ghost? What is it?"
Ghost transmits to Megatron: "Have you a moment?"
Megatron transmits to Ghost: "Yes, I have."
Ghost transmits to Megatron: "Where can I meet with you, sir?"
Megatron transmits to Ghost: "I am in the Command Center."
Ghost transmits to Megatron: "Then I will be there momentarily."
Megatron works busily at the computer, studying what looks like blueprints of cannons, integrated into asteroids.
Ghost sidles in, covered in the grime, dust and muck that is usually an indicator that she's been in the underground again. Stopping just inside to let the doors close behind her, she peers around to locate the mech to whom she wishes to speak before her soft footfalls carry her over. "Interesting." she says softly.
Megatron tilts his head, smirking. "You want permission to use my sonic shower?" he jokes. Then he turns his attention back to the screen. "Yes, part of our new defense system."
Ghost lifts a brow, looking at herself before dismissing her griminess. "No, sir. I'm only going to head right back out. No need to get all clean then go through the effort to get all dirty once more." A faint smile crosses her face, "Is it still in the planning stages or have we already started on it?"  She reaches out to trace a fingertip along the screen, peering at the schematics with an appreciation for them.
Megatron says, "The modules are here, ready to be set in place. But what did you want to tell me?"
Ghost's expression shifts slightly as she peers at the screen, "Hmmm..." a pause, then a shake of her head, "Is it me, or are the mechs in the empire all... or mostly.. odd when it comes to social encounters?"
Megatron chuckles. "Not just the mechs. Why?"
Ghost lifts a brow, "Well... I went through with your advice on asking someone for a drink.. And subsequently had to deal with a multitude of rather." she blushes, "rather... embarrassing comments from several others. I don't think I'll be able to do that again."
Megatron places a hand on his sister's shoulder. "Just ignore them. They get the same stupid comments themselves in such those moments.”
Ghost gives a shake of her head, "It’s hard to ignore. Even his... creations seem to find amusement at my expense."
Megatron smiles warmly. "I think they are just jealous you did not ask them, Ghost. And I can understand that very well.”
Ghost peers at the screen, "Perhaps they are simply rather protective of their creator’s more.. delicate sensibilities?" She gets a faint smile, "While I was tempted to let that dissuade me, it’s rapidly becoming even more of a fascination, or a puzzle." Her optics flicker to a strange jewel-shade of violet, "Or a challenge.."
Megatron laughs. "That is the right spirit.”
Ghost chuckles as her optics shade back to lavender, "If I can get over the whole stumbling, stuttering stage that is."

Megatron says, "Oh, I am sure you will."

Ghost shrugs, "Mayhaps. May not."

Soundwave enters the command center and looks around at the gathering.

Scorcher slinks into the command center and finds herself a place in a corner

Ghost looks up and over at the doors as they open and close several times, allowing others to enter the area. Stepping back from the console, she slides into a place in a shadowy corner, claiming it as her own in order to watch the proceedings.

Motormaster steps in from the deck outside, absently dusting his hands off as he walks, having just come in from patrol in one of the more rusted areas of Cybertron. He glances around at the small crowd that goes above and beyond the usual activity of the command center, querying, "Somethin' goin' on?"

Nightbird hovers a few feet off the ground, gaining mastery over her new flight engines.

Divefire steps out from the bridge room, shunting his scanner back into sub space. Seems he must of been checking on the repairs he did. Multi talented fellow that he is.

CatsCradle walks in from behind Divefire, glancing a quick glare at the bridge as she leave it. Yes, she still hates it.

Resyke has once more snuck along with everyone else, which is quite easy to do when you're at least half the size of most people.

Scorcher checks her lasers, which are still smoking slightly from extended firing.

Soundwave doesn't let the crowd bother him. He just goes to his usual console, glancing briefly at Megatron to see whether the Decepticon leader has any new orders.

Ghost remains rather happily in her claimed corner, content to be in the dark. Curious as to why there is such a large sudden gathering, she keeps quiet and stays.

Soundwave glances over toward Ghost. There's a matter he wishes to address with her, and yes, it's all business, but as so often the opportunity will have to wait for a later time. A blinking light on the communications console catches his attention.

Shockwave enters from outside, flanked by two of his ever-present sentries. He salutes Megatron in greeting, then goes to check the main console for status reports.

Megatron turns to his troops. "It seems my Decepticons did quite well while I was gone."

CatsCradle chuckles softly. "We didn't even destroy any of our bases by accident this time."

Motormaster crosses his arms over his chest, "Viruses, duels, general idiocy. Oh yeah, we did just fraggin' great." The oversized Stunticon snorts a bit.

Megatron says, "You handled it all without me, Motormaster. However, there is more important stuff to deal with now..."

Scorcher mutters under her breath, not noticing that everybody is listening to Megatron, "Somebody should give 'Case a good kick in the rear."

Soundwave taps into the comm system and tilts his head a bit, listening. "Incoming message for you from an external source, Commander," he reports. "Shall I play back?"

Tempest slinks into the command center, attracted by commotion. Her armour is grubby, and she look unkempt. Her optics are oddly dull as she watches everyone.

Ghost absently brushes at her customary layer of dust, debris and grime, optics dimming as she listens.

Motormaster stands near the center of the room, arms crossed over his chest and back to do the door. So he doesn't notice Tempest. As it is, he just presses his lips into a thin line at Megatron's response and nods his head, looking to Soundwave now.

Scorcher glances at some of the Decepticons, the ones who were on that same traumatic bug hunt mission as she.

Nightbird settles down to the ground again, her optics alert and watching Soundwave and the monitor.

Thrust stands a bit behind Megatron in his typical guard position. He is quiet but makes note to himself of where everyone is.

Resyke looks sideways at the grime falling from Ghost and Tempest, absently summoning his mop from subspace and beginning to clean the floor around the dusty duo.

Shockwave might be grateful to Resyke for keeping his command area free of unwelcome particulate matter, but he's busy checking the communications equipment at the moment, seeing if he can boost reception.

Soundwave searches further, silently, on the communications broadbands, as though looking for more information.

Scorcher decides that nobody is paying much attention to her and contentedly returns to trying to figure out what to do to her overheated lasers

Divefire sighs a little as he steps down the steps. "What, new and improved ways to blow Earth up?" he mutters in a dark tone.

Megatron frowns at Divefire’s comment. "It is a powerful defense system for Cybertron. There is a possible threat in our future should be prepared for and it is not the Autobots.”

Divefire’s frown tightens as he regards Megatron, making sure he's just in front and to the side of his leader. "I know, Megatron and I don't have a problem with that. It's just... Well, these things always seem to come around and bite us in the aft plate despite our best intentions."

Motormaster interjects, “I doubt a refusal to prepare at all would turn out much better fer us."

Soundwave does not look up from his console, but remarks inflectionlessly, "Problems with the space bridge yet again?"

Scorcher mutters to herself, after hearing Megatron's comment, "So that's what those freaking big guns are for."

Shockwave says, "I believe reception is at maximum now Soundwave, if you can reconstruct the entire signal."

Megatron puts further comments off.  Instead he is interested in the incoming message. "Soundwave, I was distracted: what kind of transmission were you talking about?”

Soundwave replays to himself. "Correction, Megatron. A general warning from a great distance away, to those near the source. I assumed it was to you personally as it is from some old acquaintances. Signal beacon confirms the source as the vessel 'Red Eclipse.'”

Tempest mumbles to herself, "There's always something bigger than you in the universe out to kill you."

Nightbird's optics glow brighter for a moment at the mention of the name, and she glances briefly at Tempest.

CatsCradle quietly makes her way to an unused console and perches on top of it, tucking her legs underneath her in her usual pose, elbows on her knees, and chin pillowed on her fists. She doesn't say anything, but she tilts her head, listening with interest.

Scorcher edges to where Cats, Divefire and Motormaster are standing

Divefire casts his glance over to Motormaster instead, taking a step over to his larger friend and leaving Megatron to do what he does best, that thing other than shoot Prime. "Yeah, yeah I know. I'm just getting jaded in my old age."

Motormaster tenses up a bit at the name of the ship, optics pointedly dropping to the plates of the deck. He forces himself to relax just a bit, focus on Divefire, "Yeah, well, keep yerself tagether bud. Can't have you snap now."

Scorcher does not like the sound of that. It looks like another mission is coming up and she wonders if she could escape out of the command center without being noticed

Resyke has no idea what the others are talking about. Something to do with the new defense system and an Eclipse?

Megatron is obviously surprised as the ship's name is mentioned. "Red Eclipse? Soundwave, open the channel!"

Tempest immediately perks up at that name, her optics wide. What the hell? She darts forward, just staring up at Megatron.

A faintly crackling signal comes through....

CatsCradle stretches a leg out to nudge Divefire with the toe of her foot. "Psst... what's the Red Eclipse?"

Divefire nods slightly, stretching out his shoulder joints to force a little tension out... which instantly returns at the name of the ship. "Oh great... Well as long as I don't have to smash through its forcefield again..." He glances over to Cats and voices in a stage whisper. "The ship Megatron commanded when he went AWOL and lost his memory. Band of pirates... Or free-lancing money-making professionals if you like."

CatsCradle ahs in remembrance. "Oh, yes... you got pinged by someone's shot, and I had to keep everyone from waking you up, or you'd kill them before you realized who they were."

Divefire nods slightly to Cats, a flash of humor in his optics. "Yeah, that was the one."

Crackling, Hellways comes over the radio: "Trading ship 'Red Eclipse' to surrounding ships. Position: sector Delta-Epsilon 5 Coordinates 3,-5,8 from center. There is something in this area and believe me it is not funny..." Another voice interferes in the background: "Darn, that is HUGE!!"

Ghost settles herself against the corner, wings folding into her back so they don't scrape along. Her arms fold over her front as she continues to be one of the shadowy observers in this unfolding event.

Megatron looks at Soundwave. Trading Ship? Nice description for a pirate vessel...

Tempest for the first time in days is showing actual interest in something. Her optics are suddenly perfectly alert and she watches the ship on the monitor. /Her/ ship. /Their/ ship. What's happening to their ship?

Soundwave makes a few more adjustments. "Reading a second signal from the same vicinity of space."

Motormaster pops his knuckle actuators, a harsh cracking sound, his jaw tightening under anger forced down, “Here’s to shipwrecks." It's a snarl, but a quiet one. Dive could probably hear him, and those with particularly acute senses.

Resyke quietly wonders what the deal is with Motormaster and shipwrecks..

Soundwave doesn't react to the quiet mutterings of those in the room.

Scorcher gingerly touches the barrel of her laser and hisses in pain as it burns the tip of her finger

Another very faint signal comes through....

The main screen flickers, and then displays the image of a thin female robot, unlike most Cybertronian models. Her voice carries a quiet urgency. "To whoever can receive this frequency. This is Curator Urkana from the commerce world Mercurious. We have fallen under attack by unknown forces operating from a massive battle station. Already one of our outlying moons containing our only defense outpost has been... Consumed by this force. We desperately require assistance. Repeat, to anyone who can receive this transmission, we need help at once. We... we cannot survive this assault."

After audibly swallowing, Hellway continues: "Well, this is a WARNING, clear sector. It is worse than expected. Whatever it is, it just... consumed a moon of this system. Object is heading -5,8,7 sector 4,3,-2... Okay, we just try to get our jump engine to work and head out of here...

Divefire’s humor vanishes as he looks over to Moto and gives him a sympathetic half-smile, knowing the poor guy is in pain and not really being able to help him out at the moment. And then someone mentions the words battle station, consumed and moon in the same sentence, and his optics widen, glowing in a constrained surprise and panic. "Did they just say consumed?"

CatsCradle's optics are wide and her hands cover her mouth. She gives her mate a look of pure fear.

Ghost blinks.. once.. Slowly turning her head towards the source of the transmissions, she raises a brow, mouthing, 'consumed?'. Brows furrow together as she steals a glance at Megatron.

Resyke blinks. "A big swarm of moon-eating monsters?" he remarks to himself quietly.

Soundwave's fingers flicker across the controls, bringing up a star map on a side screen, showing the points of origin of the two transmissions, well beyond the Sol system. To the urgency of the faint messages he adds deceptively calmly, "Also picking up unknown energy readings in the vicinity. Power output must be tremendous, for our sensors to pick it up at this range."

Megatron tries to listen to both signals at the same time. He grasps the microphone. "Hellway, can you hear me, acknowledge! What kind of object are you talking about?"

Tempest starts to pace, highly agitated now. To ravage a planet, that is nothing new. But to...devour it?

Nightbird absently twirls a shuriken in one hand as she considers the messages. Her specialty is infiltration, hand to hand fighting.. This is far beyond her usual scope.

Tempest turns her head, optics flashing at Motormaster, and lets out a soft but rolling snarl...but there is something else on her face as well. Pain. But then when the radio crackles again, she hisses, "Hellway, get the ship out of there."

Motormaster looks up at Tempest and just kind of sneers at her, faintly, when she snarls at him.

Tempest's optics flicker unreadably and she jerks her head away from Motormaster and slips up to the console not far from Megatron, watching him and the images on the monitor.

Scorcher, for once actually hearing what is said at a briefing, gulps and pales as all energon seems to drain out of her

Soundwave's calmly professional tone slips into something more speculative. "The Great Devourer," he muses, almost with curiosity, as though for the first time testing out the phrase from a new mindset.

Motormaster looks to Divefire as he takes this all in... and because of the conversation he had with his friend in the past, he asks one question only, a single word, “Unicron?"

Divefire looks from Cats’ face, his mate echoing his own inner feelings as he then slowly turns to Motormaster and looks up at him, holding his gaze for a long moment and saying nothing as he tries to swallow the fear welling up inside him. "For all our sakes, I really hope not." He finally manages out with an echo of his normal voice.

CatsCradle slips off her console and goes to Divefire's side, her face clearly terrified. She leans against him, pressing her face against his shoulder.

Motormaster gets something of a bleak expression at the reaction of his two friends to the news, trusting both of their judgment that he grows worried. He doesn't know enough to be afraid yet... but then, he's a Stunticon. Worry is alien enough for the moment. He flips up his radio, speaks into it rapidly, “Stunticons, report to the command center."

Surprised silence over the radio. "I think we are already dead, I'm hearing ghosts... Skipper, is that you?"

Thrust stares at the screen but says nothing

Soundwave amends, "Or something that fits the legend, in any case. We must gain more information to track the object's trajectory and assess its true capabilities."

Megatron says, "Yes, darn... Now what is that thing you're talking about? Describe it!"  He turns to Soundwave.  “Contact Thunderwing. We need a ship."

Soundwave nods, not surprised by Megatron's order.

Ghost gives a shake of her head, peering at Megatron for a moment before she stiffens at the mention of the Great Devourer, then Unicron. Things begin to slowly whirl in her mind... casting a shadow across her features as they slide into a tight-lipped scowl.

Ghost transmits a radio message.

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Soundwave calling Lord Thunderwing.  Are you receiving?"

Resyke has heard the name before, but that's about it. Making a mental note to ask someone about it later, Resyke flips his mop back into subspace and hangs around quietly at the back of the group.

Ghost receives a radio transmission.

Scorcher thinks longingly about her patrol stretch where she could have been now if Space Case had not pulled that stupid stunt with that cyber rat.

<Cybertron> Thunderwing says, "Yes. There is a problem?"

Again, Hellways voice is to hear while someone in the background curses something about "Damn heap of scrap..." obviously meaning the engine: "It's a giant ball... with a mouth or so... You remember the Tassil game on Bruja where this yellow ball rolls through a maze, eating score pads while the players try to catch it? This thing is eating moons instead...

Shockwave quietly gives orders to sentries, telling them to prepare for their departure and to gather the needed materials for a space voyage. A thousand details to attend to at any moment, and as usual, he knows them all.

Dirge strides silently into the room, with a curious look on his face. He keeps unobtrusively towards the back.

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Soundwave transmits to Valckasta a copy of several audio and visual signals that have just come into Polyhex: ****Crackling, Hellway comes over the radio: "Trading ship 'Red Eclipse' to surrounding ships. Position: sector Delta-Epsilon 5 Coordinates 3,-5,8 from center. There is something in this area and believe me it is not funny..." Another voice interferes in the background: "Darn, that is HUGE!!" After audibly swallowing, Hellway continues: "Well, this is a WARNING, clear sector. It is worse than expected. Whatever it is, it just... consumed a moon of this system. Object is heading -5,8,7 sector 4,3,-2... Okay, we just try to get our jump engine to work and head out of here...*** (audial signal shifts to visual, from another source) ********The main screen flickers, and then displays the image of a thin female robot, unlike most Cybertronian models. Her voice carries a quiet urgency. "To whoever can receive this frequency. This is Curator Urkana from the commerce world Mercurious. We have fallen under attack by unknown forces operating from a massive battle station. Already one of our outlying moons containing our only defense outpost has been... Consumed by this force. We desperately require assistance. Repeat, to anyone who can receive this transmission, we need help at once. We... we cannot survive this assault.”*****"

Scorcher looks at the door, expecting the other Cyberjets to walk in at any moment

<Cybertron> Thunderwing says, "...I see. Interesting."

Ghost's motionlessness shifts into a restless pacing as she moves out of the corner, sending off a transmission of her own as she moves from wall to wall, staying in the corner area, but pacing nonetheless.

<Cybertron> Soundwave forwards the rest of the message from the Red Eclipse: ****Again, Hellway's voice is to hear while someone in the background curses something about "Damn heap of scrap..." obviously meaning the engine: "It's a giant ball... with a mouth or so... You remember the Tassil game on Bruja where this yellow ball rolls through a mace, eating score pads while the players try to catch it? This thing is eating moons instead...****

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Megatron requests the use of one of your ships, Lord Thunderwing. We require further investigation, to see if this is indeed the long-standing legend come to life, and if it is on course for Cybertron."

Ghost receives a radio transmission.

Divefire holds onto Cats for a long moment, really rather feeling much the same at this moment in time before he takes ahold of her shoulders and looks firmly into her optics, studying her face for the longest time. "It'll be okay," he promises her in the quietest and most private of tones.

CatsCradle murmurs softly, "It won't matter. If it's not coming to Cybertron now, it will be some day. Or to Earth..."

Motormaster gives Divefire and CatsCradle their privacy, walking over to a console on the far side of the room and slumping into it, his face in his hands.

Soundwave seems at this time more curious than concerned, though if he is indeed concerned, he does not show it. His voice as he speaks to Thunderwing over the planetary channels is calm as always.

Megatron demands from the pirate ship: "Get your rear plates out of this area, we will take care of that. If you need a place to withdraw to, follow the coordinates of this transmission!”

Ghost transmits a radio message.

<Cybertron> Thunderwing says, "Of course. To the Polyhex starport, then. The Venture will arrive there shortly."

Dirge glances once at Scorcher, then steps towards Thrust, nodding once to the other Seeker. He listens to the transmissions with a skeptical frown on his face and leans a shoulder against the wall, and gazes around the room.

"You don't have to tell us twice to beat it, Terminator," Hellway answers. "Have to interrupt transmission, we are entering hyperspace!"

Resyke's antennae vibrate from all the tension in the room. Starting to get a little nervous, he wonders if following after everyone else was such a good idea..

<Cybertron> Skyquake’s deep and calm reverb of a voice echoes over the metallic tones of the radio. "This is Skyquake, I have been observing the recent transmissions... The provinces of Vos and Tyrian will be... redoubling their efforts in the completion of their appointed tasks."

Soundwave reports unnecessarily to Megatron, "Thunderwing is on his way with a ship. Suggest those who have been researching the Unicron myths be included in the mission, as well as those of a scientific bent. And-" he looks around the room - " a contingent of warriors would not be out of place."

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Acknowledged, Skyquake."

Scorcher tries to hide behind Motormaster so she won't be noticed

Motormaster raises his head, "What can warriors do against /that/, if the legends 'r right? Even Menasor, Bruticus, and Devastator all t'gether..." He rests a comforting hand on Scorcher's shoulder as she comes over, even if his words probably just 'cause more panic.

Resyke phews a bit. Contingent of warriors. Not a contingent of small cleanercons.  He is curious, though...

Ghost continues the pacing, snapturning as she nears the wall, taking four steps and snapturning again. Back and forth, back and forth.

<Cybertron> Shockwave says, "I am dispatching a technical team from Polyhex to assist, Skyquake. Do not hesitate to draw needed materials from stores as required."

<Cybertron> Skyquake says, "That will be, helpful... Shockwave."

Tempest stares at the monitor, as if communicating with it with her optics, and her mouth sets and her head nods as if some decision has been reached. "I'll go," she says.

Soundwave briefly considers, but does not voice, the suggestion that perhaps it might be best of the Decepticon leader were to stay behind in this case. He knows that would only be construed as insult, and would have no effect in any case.

CatsCradle says in a tight voice, "We should be running away from it, not towards." Her hand slips into Divefire's. "But... we really need to find out, don't we?" Her last words are directed solely to her mate.

Divefire’s shoulders straighten a little as he looks over to the screen and then Soundwave's words, nodding slightly at that, then finally looks to Cats and squeezing her hand tightly. "We need to find out everything we can about it as quickly as we can. I mean," he pauses for a second and attempts a smirk, which nearly works. "Could just be a death star or something."

CatsCradle smiles up at Divefire. "That's no moon, it's a space station?" she jokes weakly.

Megatron clenches his fist. "If it is Unicron, we will stop him," he states.

Soundwave says, "We do not yet know exactly what we face, Motormaster. There are stories and legends, but what is attacking the Mercurious sector at this time, is a real object. We require more details before we can make a judgment."

Motormaster nods once, jaw setting, "I never said I was afraid, Soundwave." He glances to the Stunticons, who conveniently arrive right then and gather in a loose semicircle near him. One by one, they each nod. He then looks back to the espionage coordinator and Megatron, voice strong, "Count us in."

Soundwave nods slightly to Motormaster. "I made no such insinuation. I am certain every Decepticon here will live up to what must be done."

Dirge continues to lean against the wall, still with a skeptical expression on his face.

Megatron says, "I don't care about stories and legends, we have to study the facts, find its weak point ant destroy it. This thing is not going to eat the worlds of our future empire."

Scorcher does not like the sound of that, as if it is a kind of recon mission. It does not look like it is the kind of mission she was trained for though, but there are not that many specialists gathered here either

Tempest looks at the monitor. "It's the primal force," she mutters. "The Universal Chaos. The day the sky splits open and the world spirals into hell." She regards the monitor. "It is...what created me."

Soundwave looks to Tempest, his optic band unreadable.

Tempest isn't really looking at anyone nor does she seem able to focus on anyone in the room. She's trapped in some world of her own.

Ghost continues with the pacing, half listening to the words being flung around like so many fallen stars in the maelstrom of heightened emotions running semi-rampant in the command center. Her thoughts are focused on something else for the moment.  Then, as she catches a few words here and there, she speaks up for the first time, "There are always some aspects of truth in any legend or myth. It is gleaning those fragments from the myriad combination of tales that takes time. Time in which we may or may not have any longer."

Divefire keeps his smirk at Cats’ words. "Remember, use the force..." He grates in an old sounding tone, then slowly looks over to Tempest and tilts his head. "What in the name of Primus do you mean by that, Tempest?"

Tempest turns her head, looking at and /through/ Divefire at something only she can see, and then slowly drags her optics to focus on him. "Unicron. The chaos-bringer...the father of chaos. All the raiders, all the predators in the universe are only smaller versions of that." She points at the screen. "That's the father of them all. The physical representation of the fury and hunger that tore Kilair apart."

CatsCradle looks towards Tempest, her fear muted temporarily by concern. "Chaos," she says faintly, "destroys everything. Worlds, lives, personalities... leaves nothing behind. Except the space for someone else to be born into."

Dirge raises a curious optic ridge at Tempest and CatsCradle as they speak, then turns towards the screen. Outwardly he appeared unconcerned by the sights and sounds of the room, but deep within his optics were the beginnings of panic.

Tempest nods slowly to CatsCradle, the optics still haunted. "Yes. And I've resented that birth for two million years."

CatsCradle chews on her lip. "I thought anything would be better than that darkness." She shudders suddenly, fingers tugging at each other. In a quick change of direction, she gives herself a quick shake. "We haven't even had a chance to find if it has weaknesses. We've been too busy just trying to find out if it existed."

Resyke unobtrusively eavesdrops on the Tempest/Divefire/CatsCradle conversation, optics wide under his visor. Chaos? Death? Oh..Slag!

Shockwave turns to Megatron, his single optic glowing. "I stand ready to join the expedition if you desire Megatron. However, I am also prepared to remain and oversee the acceleration of our defense preparations. What are your orders?"

Megatron says, "No, Shockwave, I need you here. You are to take care that the new defense systems will be completed. In case we cannot stop it, Cybertron must be protected."

Shockwave nods, his voice solemn. "I shall see to it, Megatron. Cybertron shall continue so long as one of my circuits remains functional." With that, he turns and heads out, rapidly firing off orders for the work ahead.

Ghost receives a radio message.

Motormaster says calmly, “So we make sure it doesn't happen again? This guy's the archetype? Well, we frag him and show all the little predators in the universe that we'll get to them in time, too. Nobody's immune."

Nightbird listens as well to the conversations, her optics giving away little. She does however nod to Motormaster, sharing his sentiments.

Thrust glances at Dirge but says nothing. What can he say? He’s just a soldier and will do what Megatron orders, though he’s not so sure they will win this one.

Soundwave says, "Ghost speaks the truth. We must first discern fact from fable." He stands and waits for Megatron to lead the way to the landing field, where Thunderwing will soon arrive."

Ghost's optics flicker as she returns to pacing, her radio clicking on then off then back on as she replies to a message.

Megatron lowers his optics: "Chaos-Bringer? Chaos is a source of new ideas and the birth place of new order. But this brings only death it seems..." He looks around. "Enough talk. Time to face the threat.”

Ghost transmits a radio message.

Soundwave transmits a radio message.

Megatron says, "What does Thunderwing say? Is the ship ready to board?"

Soundwave says, "He will arrive shortly. I suggest we be present to meet him when his vessel arrives."

Megatron says, "You can bet we are, Soundwave."

Tempest has a strange light in her optics, seeming to show some interest in something at last.

Megatron says, "To the landing field, Decepticons."

Resyke looks torn between curiosity and self-preservation.

****

Airfield

        This huge, flat expanse is a tangle of runways, lights, windsocks, guidance units and control relay interfaces. The broad vault of the sky stretches high above and while the walls of Polyhex are large, they cannot serve to keep flyers from taking off into the sky.


Divefire frowns tightly, knitting his hands then tensing them into tight balls as he walks with the others and voices to Cats, but in a normal enough voice to be heard. "We're not going out there to fight it, we're going out there to learn about it. That's all."

CatsCradle gives a nod, followed by a quick smile. She takes one of Diver's hands in her own and gently begins to ease his fingers out of the fist they are locked into.

Divefire lets Cats unfist one of his hands, while he looks up to the night and finds none of the comfort he normally finds in the starscape. "Hrm, you know this must be the first time I haven't wanted to go into perpetual danger all on my own..."

CatsCradle snorts softly. "Dear Primus, now I'm really terrified." She laces her fingers in Diver's and gives them a quick kiss.

Ghost moves after the rest of the traveling pack, slowing to remain a calculated distance from the he group, in her own personal space.

Resyke scuttles in at the back of the group.

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "We await your arrival, Lord Thunderwing. No further transmissions to report."

Dirge makes up the rear of the formation. He briefly regards the sky, then at the starcraft. His optics flickers once, then he resumes gazing at the other Cons.

Nightbird stands close to Megatron, her optics focused on him.

Thrust looks at his new air commander, "Well? What are your orders?"

Dirge turns back to Thrust and replies in a deadpan voice, "To be cannon fodder, just like everyone else." He smirks faintly, then asks the same question to the red Seeker. "Well. What are *your* orders?"

Thrust says, "To do what Megatron tells us to...."

Dirge scoffs a little at Thrust, then says, "Same difference, don't you think?" He folds his arms across his chest and stands with his legs apart.

Thrust looks to Megaton then back to Dirge, "Well....he’s our leader for a reason...now we will see just how good that reason is eh?"

Motormaster steps up to Tempest before they get on the ship, and after a brief pause, says only two things, "I may not get a chance to tell you this again, with all of this... so, I'm sorry." And with that, he heads over to Divefire.

Tempest startles, and looks like she wants to say something to Motormaster but she can't think of something in time...not before he moves away from her. Damn! Maybe she'll still have a chance to approach him...if she can find words for what she wants to tell him.

Megatron stands in front of the others, waiting for the ship. His optics are directed into the far distance where the stars sparkle in the cold darkness of space. He does not speak, and nothing shows what he is thinking about.

Resyke waves his antennae nervously, the only real way he has of expressing emotion in his insect mode.

The Valckasta Starship <Harbinger> lands and Ravenwing unseals the airlock.  Scorcher looks at the space ship, awed despite her misgivings

Soundwave stands quietly near Megatron as the Valckastan ship arrives.

Megatron suddenly takes Nightbird’s hand. "Well, let's face another challenge," he says quietly.

Nightbird's optics sparkle. "I am ready." She takes off for the air first this time.

Tempest quietly watches Nightbird and Megatron, and this time instead of snarling or hissing or shooting Nightbird a dirty look, she simply nods. Accepting something. She is strangely calm.

Ravenwing taps a few keys and broadcasts to the exterior, "Please come in. I'll need specific coordinates for our destination as well."

Divefire smirks slightly across to Cats, then drops his optics to the ground for a moment, then looking up at Motormaster's approaching footsteps and nodding slightly. "You know, there are no roads up there, right?"

Motormaster smiles faintly, bleakly, at Divefire's words, "I know, old pal... but maybe Menasor can do something." He looks skyward, voice dropping to almost soft, which is rare for a Stunticon, "Slow him down, give you people time."

Ghost watches the ship come in for a landing, running through an internal series of system checks and balances. Her optics rove over the gathering, noting the flanking officers arranged around her.. leader. A shake of her head and she stands still, waiting on everyone else to board first as she scouts the rear.

Resyke was going to do the same thing.. but decides it's best if he gets lost in the crowd.

Dirge glances once at Ghost, then walks into the Harbinger.

Scorcher sighs deeply and mutters "Anybody remind me what I'm doing here?"

Soundwave looks back as he catches Scorcher's soft words. "We will soon find out," he says, and follows the others.

Ghost glances at Scorcher, then peers at the ship, waiting for Thrust to enter before she takes a last look around. A nod and she heads into the ship herself.

****

Valckasta Starship <Harbinger>

     Reinforced steel bulkheads curve steeply on both sides of this ship's interior, more comfortable than most transports and certainly more elegant. There are two rows of seats staggered on each side of the center aisle, cushioned for both protection and comfort. The seats can swivel towards the aisle and fold back into beds for the passengers.
     Ahead of the passenger section is the bridge, complete with pilot and co-pilot seats, delicate and complex controls and instrumentation, and the six monitor screens, each displaying visual readings of the relational directions.
     Towards the rear is a fully-equipped lab with a vast array of securely-anchored instruments. In one corner is a shielded area for isolating possibly dangerous samples, and adjoining it is some standard decontamination equipment. Past that, at the far back of the ship is a good-sized cargo hold.

Thunderwing settles back in his seat and glances out through one of the viewports. With nothing particularly worth seeing yet, he looks back to Armada and seems to begin asking a question, but cuts it short as people begin arriving, honouring a promise and a permission from quite a while ago.

Armada stands near Thunderwing, looking quite grim.

Tempest seats herself by the side window, looking out--and up. At the stars.

Divefire walks in just behind Motormaster and takes a hold of his shoulder firmly, turning the larger truck towards him. "Listen to me." he half growls and whispers, "You do not sacrifice anything for a few seconds. That is not how we'll beat him. You plan, you fight, you fall back. And you repeat until he's dead. No heroics. You and your people are to damn good for that, you understand me?"

CatsCradle adds to her mate's words, "Besides, if it's anyone who's going to buy us time, it's the Combaticons, remember?"

Armada's mouth turns in a sneer at Divefire's comment. He keeps his thoughts to himself... these Decepticons don't need his unsolicited input.

Motormaster laughs softly, optics sparkling for a moment at the both of them, resting a hand on each's shoulder for just a second, "Thank you, both of you. I can keep my guys in line... but sometimes, I guess I need somebody to keep /me/ in line." He looks over to where Tempest is sitting alone, and hesitates, "Excuse me." And then he walks over, and sits next to her. Doesn't say anything, doesn't look at her, just sits there and looks out the window too.

Tempest takes a few moments to realize that she's not alone any more, and she's just about to turn with a sneer of annoyance when she realizes who it is. Oh. Gods. What now? She darts her attention back to the window--but she also leans back a little until her wing is brushing right up against him. How many people will she let close enough to touch--how many people will she trust her /back/ to? It's the best offer of trust she can make right now.

Resyke scuttles into the ship and takes up a position in an out of the way corner.

Scorcher waves faintly at Ravenwing as she spots her sitting behind the controls. The little femme does not look too happy, not to mention somewhat scared.

Megatron walks over to Thunderwing after he entered. Greetings, Thunderwing. I appreciate your cooperation. Soundwave has informed you about everything?"

Thunderwing turns to nod a greeting to the Emperor, "Unless there was more to learn which was not included in the transmissions, then yes."

Megatron says, "There is more to learn, Thunderwing, but that we /all/ have to find out at the destination of this flight."

Ghost stops just at the top of the entryramp, taking up a position at the exit, arms folded, back against the wall. She stays quiet, observing and listening to what she can.

Soundwave makes his way toward Ravenwing and takes out a small datapad, to which he has copied the exact coordinates of the transmissions received.  He looks over to Armada speculatively for a moment, then returns this attention to Ravenwing and the readings they must follow.

Scorcher finds herself a place near a window and looks out, feeling completely out of her place and useless

Nightbird is looking over the interior of the ship, perhaps memorizing lines of fire and escape routes.

Ravenwing runs check after check. No harm in making sure that the newly-maintenanced ship is in perfect condition, even though she does trust Valckasta's mechanics. One frag of a trial by fire coming up shortly, though beneath the apparent calm, she's both furious and afraid. Too soon... Nodding her thanks to Soundwave, she takes the datapad and glances at it briefly, then sets the navcomp. Without looking back, she says, "Lift off in 500 astroseconds. Please be seated, if you are not already."

Megatron smirks. "Decepticons, you heard what Lady Ravenwing said." He takes a seat.

Thunderwing turns a -very- level look to Megatron, but manages to restrain the first comment to jump to mind and settles for a dry, "Yes...I do believe that was the point of this little outing." With that, he pointedly begins taking Raven's advice.

Scorcher pales even more, if that is possible

Resyke wonders if tagging along is going to get him in trouble. Best to stay in his smaller roach mode and lurk under a chair or something, at least for the time being.

Thrust takes a seat quietly.

Nightbird takes her seat, and gazes out the window, oblivious to all the others for the moment.

Soundwave finds a place near one of the consoles, so he can be ready to make scans if needed.

Armada's gaze sweeps across the assembled Decepticons, wondering if any of them will come back alive. He then sits behind Thunderwing.

Ghost arches a brow, looking at all of those seating themselves. She frowns a moment before finds what she was looking for. Padding towards a back area with a few niches for cargo, she rather quietly transforms into her Plasma Fusion Rifle mode and maglocks herself into position, taking up even less space as she settles in for the ride with no windows or anyone close by.

Dirge spots a window seat towards the back, and locks his chassis into it. He gazes out the window with detached interest.

CatsCradle slips into the nearest empty seat and curls up in it. With a toe, she reaches out and pokes Resyke. "Take a seat, kiddo. Otherwise, you'll be rolling up and down the aisle, even with all those legs to hold on with."

Resyke jumps a little as he's nudged. "Oh, Okay..whoa!" he says, as the ship takes off, scuttling up to cling onto a seat with all six legs

The Harbinger is still a pleasure to pilot, maneuvering almost as well as a sentient ship. Ravenwing takes the ship up almost unnoticed. No restraints necessary just yet; that will come with evasive maneuvers, though she hopes those prove to be unnecessary.

Nightbird gazes down on the jewel that is Cybertron, her optics bright and gleaming.

Divefire glances over to see Scorcher looking a little lost and as he sits in a convenient seat he pointedly grabs a wrist and pulls her to a seat. "Sit down before you fall down."

Scorcher plops down in the nearest seat, or rather is dropped into it by Divefire, but it does not make her feel any better

.Soundwave watches the screen quietly.  He remains still and focused as time passes. Even at superlight speeds, it takes a while to close in on the signals they received from so far away. Occasionally he checks a reading and announces, "Unknown energy pattern increasing as we approach."

Ravenwing frowns at the readings that also display on her console and slows the ship, proceeding more cautiously now.

Armada shifts in his seat, frowning. Casually-seeming, his hand reaches up to the bulkhead next to him and his fist grips the ridged surface, optics glowing.

The screen shows the emptiness of space, which is all-encompassing. Every few minutes there is a gleam that might be a distant star-otherwise, the blackness surrounding and swallowing. Those who pass this way must put their trust in their instruments, for there are no stars or planets, which can guide them. The average creature that comes this way shivers in the dark vacuum, struggling to remember a universe less barren than this sector of space. ... However, as the ship proceeds, one can see worlds in the distance, a small solar system out in the middle of nowhere. What first looks like a binary planet in a gravitational dance around each other, resolves into...

Mercurious: This highly technological world has made itself an outpost of trade and commerce far out in the middle of nowhere. Orbital platforms and moons fitted with landing sites and accommodations ring the planet like electrons spaced around a central nucleus, all interwoven by the paths of silvered ships that are constantly in motion. It was from here that the cry for help originated, and indeed the world is under assault by...

Nightbird gets closer to the window, the tip of her mask almost bumping into the transparent material.

Tempest appears comfortable flying through the void. Space. Home. A home, of sorts, at least. And then she draws her attention towards Mercurious...and destiny.

Armada's fist tightens even more on the bulkhead, his joints creaking from the stress as his lifts his gaze towards the viewscreen...

Resyke clings to the seat tightly, not used to space travel.

Motormaster leans closer to the window him and Tempest are looking out of, optics brightening with something that is almost actually fear, the first time anyone's /ever/ seen that in a Stunticon... a hand reaches out to take Tempest's...

Tempest is visibly surprised, and then she takes Motormaster's hand in his, though she looks at him curiously, not sure of his intentions. Confused, shocked, puzzled...and not letting him go.

Ravenwing is making a very cautious approach, using any platforms, moons, hell, even drifting garbage as cover. There's a certain amount of worry about... something going on behind her, but she leaves it to her Lord to handle any potential problems there.

Thunderwing is not watching the events outside the ship. Apparently, he finds such reactions as Armada might display to be far more interesting, and settles for merely observing that one instead. If something interesting on a cataclysmic scale will happen outside, odds are he will notice, one way or the other.

Divefire stands up and steps forward to the bridge of the ship, optics on the object that is slowly forming on the scanners and visually in front of them. "No chance of that being a speck of space dust, or maybe even some jam on our radar..."

Scorcher is obviously scared. Not about whatever it is that they are facing for she did not pay enough attention to the briefing to understand what it is, nor about being in space. She just is terrified at the thought of not being able to fly on her own outside the ship, of being trapped inside it

Armada's mouth moves silently for a moment as he stares at the screen in disbelief. His hand drops from the bulkhead into his lap and his voice can barely be heard above the hum of the engines and other passenger noises. "Primus save us all... it is my old master."

Thunderwing nods at the other Valckastan, as though that settled any questions as to the identity of the...thing outside far better than any number of sensor readings and scientific evaluations could. For some reason, this actually seems to calm and satisfy him somewhat. "Ah, very well." Then his optics narrow in honest inquiry, rather than the suspicion one might imagine after hearing a statement like that, "You are...well?" If not, he's got his hand on Ye Olde Button...

Dirge gazes out the window, his previous skeptical expression wiped out by stunned shock. He cannot believe what he was seeing outside the window. His optics widen with terror, then he turns towards Armada's faint voice. "Your old master?" he asked the other mech incredulously, his own voice only just carrying over the din in the spacecraft. "What do you mean by that?"

Armada doesn't even hear Dirge, nor would he answer right now even if he did. As is, it seems to take some time for Thunderwing's question to sink in. His optics jerk away from the visual of the Devourer as if afraid of being sensed through his gaze. At first, his response is faint, "I.... do not.... yes, Lord Thunderwing. I am sorry." The tone resolves into its usual baritone rumble.

Thunderwing smirks, though the expression does not carry the usual coldly superior edge to it, "As you say, Armada. See that it stays that way, if you please." With that, he spares his first glance outside and...is fascinated. Well, first more than a little startled at the scale of the thing, but then quite, quite enraptured with the sight, morbid though it may be.

CatsCradle curls up in a tighter ball in her chair. No need to go see for herself. The reactions of the others are plain enough. She pulls her knees up to her chest and rests her forehead on them.

Ghost remains maglocked into a weapons cradle. She might even be sleeping the trip away. who knows.

Outside on the viewscreen, eclipsing the planet Mercurious, is a massive metal sphere, a planet unfettered by gravity: Beyond good, beyond evil, beyond your wildest imagination! This monstrous, horned sphere is legend and nightmare come to life - a planet-sized battlestation moving through space - a morbid dark mirror of Cybertron itself, plated in interlaced metal. The gravitational pull of its sheer mass and the subsonic shudder of powerful engines seem to shake the very foundations of subatomic structure if one comes too close. It moves on its chosen path in the relentless, unwavering manner of a force of nature, ominous in its alienness and yet familiarity, Destruction personified, on an inexorable approach. Everything in its path will be swept aside or devoured in the single-minded pursuit of a goal far beyond the comprehension of most mortal beings.

Soundwave leans forward a little, as though in fascination. "A grain of truth to mythology," he muses to himself.

Nightbird draws her sword by pure reflex, grasping it tightly. The sheer scale of it.. For perhaps the first time she can recall, her weapons and skills might as well not exist for all the good they will do.

Thrust stares at the image out of the window. How in the world are they going to fight THAT?

Tempest stares at it and her hand tightens on Motormaster's. It is, indeed, the greatest predator of all. The ultimate hunter...the appetite and urges and dispassionate predation of the Spaceways all in physical form.

Ravenwing comes to a full stop, her fingers dancing briskly over the controls as she calls up the Harbinger's scanners and instrumentation to display on the main screen. She also allows the ship to slowly rotate until it is facing away from the Great Devourer. After all, a quick getaway might be needed in the near future. She also hopes that there's enough clutter in this system to provide cover.

Divefire’s jaw drops as he looks out of the view port and sees the thing he has been hunting for so long now. The terrified realization that it is real and in front of them covers his features for the longest moment before he sighs slowly, forcing the tension out of his shoulders as he speaks in a low growl. "Unicron... And I was so hoping for the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man, or even Mega Maid..."

CatsCradle bursts into a muffled laugh and falls silent again.

Up on the screen, the outer moons of the planet are sucked into a maw vast enough to swallow them whole. The swarming little silver ships disappear in clouds of explosions all around.

Nightbird says quietly to Megatron "How do we fight it?"

Soundwave says calmly, "Lord Thunderwing, what is the armament on this vessel?"

Thunderwing doesn't look away from his scrutiny of Unicron, but answers Soundwave in a vague, if amused tone, "Would 'not enough' suffice as an answer?"

Armada does decide to answer this time, "There is no weapon we have to fight Him. Keep your distance."

Ghost remains in her own world of not looking or wanting to know until she has had a chance to see the reports.

Megatron ponders to take an orbit but then decides: "Stay out of its closer gravitational field. Darn, who built this..?"

Scorcher looks up, realizing that everybody else is staring intently at something

Ravenwing decides a little more distance would be in order, as those other ships aren't faring too well. She takes them a ways back, but not directly towards Cybertron. She doesn't want to lead the thing there, if it's FTL-capable. Still in scanner range, and still too close for *her* comfort.

Divefire leans forward over a console, calling up scanner readings and growling silently at the interference that he's getting at this range. "What about scanners and sensor resolution? All I'm getting is vague power readings and whole planet’s worth of static."

CatsCradle pushes herself to her feet and makes her way up to the others, peering around Divefire's shoulder.

The broadband crackles with panicked cries for help from the planet, but those calling out into the void sound pretty certain they won't receive an answer. A few ships streak away from the doomed world, trying to escape.

Motormaster clenches Tempest's hand tightly, and stabs his other one towards the window, "Look! Some are trying to get away!

Tempest watches those handful of ships with morbid fascination. "Who," she whispers, her voice hoarse, "do you leave behind?"

Armada mutters 'My ... getting ... close ... ... ... ... for ... We cannot ... ... to ... ... ... those ... '.

Thunderwing nods to Armada, then simply reaches over and taps Raven on the shoulder, assuming that she heard. She usually does, "He makes an excellent point, no?"

Soundwave says, "But perhaps we can stop the Devourer here before it continues to other worlds."

Megatron narrows his optics. "Maybe, Soundwave..." He points at one of the remaining moons. "Ravenwing, go down there. And take care that the shadow of the planet is between us and the battlestation.

Apparently the Mercurians are making a last-ditch effort. One determined individual manages to get a clear moment's airtime on the nearby broadbands, and the message comes in in a shout: "If *anyone* can hear me - stay clear of the fifth moon. This is our last hope. Those who can save themselves, do so!"

Armada abruptly stands and barks, "No!"

Soundwave warns, "Receiving readings of an extreme power charge building on the moon's surface. Suggest we stay clear after all."

Ravenwing hopes her Lord means Armada and not Soundwave, as setting the Harbinger against Unicron would be like a microbe challenging Menasor. That "extreme power charge" doesn't sound very welcoming, nor does the prospect of landing on Unicron's next meal.

Divefire plugs a few numbers into the console he's over. "Getting a mass estimate on that moon now..."

Megatron says, "Change of order: Stay in distance!"

No sooner are the words spoken, than the monstrous ring of teeth opens and swallows the moon. A blast of energy overloads the viewscreen, shaking the ship in the shockwave of a powerful explosion.

Armada slumps back in his seat, looking defeated. A strange sense of deja vu settles over him.

Soundwave has to hang on tightly to his console to avoid getting thrown from his seat.

Nightbird shields her optics as the light flashes through the window.

Ravenwing snarls as she fights the "turbulence", rolling with the shockwave and letting it push them even further away. She doesn't need visual for this; instruments are what she depends on.

Motormaster is hurled from his seat, having never actually strapped in, his head slamming into one of the seats on the other side of the craft across the aisle with a disturbing crunching sound before he slumps to the ground, energon beginning to drip from a crack in his helmet... he doesn't appear overly hurt however, thanks to that miraculous armor integrity field he's got.

Thunderwing rises, as though about to add his own argument in concert with that of Armada, but as saner minds prevail and the ship is indeed ordered to withdraw, he settles for looking to the presumed heavens in supplication. Or, he would, had the shockwave not dumped him rather unceremoniously back in his seat. Well, that did nothing what-so-ever for his dignity...

Ghost is even shifted in the maglocked cradle as the energy wavefront passes over the ship. If anything, that brings her out of her self imposed distance from everyone else. The maglock whines and releases the weapon as power is shunted to more important systems. Falling out, she clatters to the floor in a moment of being utterly stunned..

Scorcher somehow manages to end up upside down strapped into her seat after the shockwave passes and everybody stops tumbling, or other wise moving, around

Divefire grabs a hold of the console with one hand and ducks away from the blinding light as best he can, shielding his optics with his free hand before he loses his grip and slams backwards a few paces on his aft. "Primus! ... So that's why you don't cross the streams. ‘Twould Be Bad..."

CatsCradle catches on to Diver, bracing herself against him and burying her face against his shoulder from the intense light. She still has not said a word since they first came in sight of Unicron.

Megatron grasps tightly the armrests of his chair. "Status report! Is it destroyed?"

Nightbird tries to readjust her optics and looks out the window again. Surely that was enough?

Dirge grips tightly onto the edge of the seat. Even with his body strapped in, he finds himself precariously close to the floor. He dangles sideways for a moment, before hastily righting himself.

Armada just shakes his head, holding onto the arm rests as the shockwave clears.

The ship rocks and shudders and slowly stabilizes even as the forward viewscreen begins to snow back into a picture. The moon is gone ... and the monster that devoured it is undented. In fact, the horned extensions are at this very moment plunging deep into the surface of the planet itself, as a beam of destruction lances out and cuts into the side of the world.

Tempest is tossed about, and grabs cat-like at anything nearby--seat backs, wall, handholds--with a natural reflex born of years of practice. She gets a few more dents in her armour but overall does a pretty decent job of keeping herself upright. Once gravity kicks back in, she looks about and then darts over, crouching in a seat and looking down at Motormaster. With, yes, obvious concern.

Armada's voice is taut, like a string about to break, "I recommend we leave immediately, before we are noticed."

Motormaster gets to his hands and knees, purple optics flickering back on with a gritted snarl of pain as he raises his head, looks to the screen... and just sits there with his mouth open for a moment, "No... how could it survive that?!"

Soundwave leans forward again intently. "Countersuggestion. The creature, or object, or being - is currently occupied devouring its prey. If we are to take close readings, now may be our only opportunity."

Nightbird says softly, "Not even damaged.." She looks over to Soundwave.

Scorcher says something although it comes out more like "mmmbl mmmhmmb!"DDDDDDDDDCCCD CDmhmmb!"  She sure sounds angry though.  She struggles to get out from underneath that pile of luggage that landed on top of her when the ship was shook like a rag doll.  She curses as her struggles cause a heavy box to shift and land on her face, before sliding further making quite a racket

Ravenwing says, "Mayhaps he can multi-task. I would advise moving to the limit of scanner range and doing what we can with that."

Divefire slowly makes himself stand and then helps Cats to her feet, looking over her once before moving back to the console and working over it feverishly. "I don't believe it... That was... That was a blazing anti-matter explosion! Like some one just slammed a couple of black holes down a particle accelerator!"

Thunderwing takes a few moments to make sure everything is where it's supposed to be, and to realign his thoughts which seem to be racing in all directions at once. Looking out of the viewport, at the destruction outside, he nods to Raven, "Agreed." It's his ship, and anyone who wants to argue can take it up with him.

Tempest looks at the screen and somehow does not appear overly surprised. "It's the ultimate predator. The most highly evolved hunter." Her optics suddenly slit. "It must have some weakness...perhaps from inside. Like a parasite, or a virus... A vulnerable core?"

Ghost transforms up, landing on her feet with a faint scowl as she moves towards the groupings of others, picking up on Soundwave’s words and adding some of her own, "Additional Suggestion: Rather than risk the entire ship, send someone with space capabilities and stealth systems for the scan. The good of the many."

Thrust asks rapidly, "Good of the many? Are you crazy?

CatsCradle says fiercely to Divefire, "Don't you dare!"

Divefire glances across to Cats as he hears Ghost's words, but then he nods slightly. "Because I'm so stealthy... I can do more good here, don't worry I know that," he mutters to her in a private tone.

CatsCradle sighs softly and leans over Divefire's shoulder, trying to puzzle out the readings. "Besides, someone has to be ready to pull them out, if they need it," she says in a strange tone of reluctance and acceptance. "And you're the fastest." Her face creases in frustration, wishing she understood more of what she was reading.

Megatron is somehow fascinated and shocked at the same time. "Unbelievable," he murmurs. "I agree, Ravenwing, however we need to learn more about it."

Soundwave stands, and nods. “I will approach outside the vessel if I have a volunteer for transportation.”

Ghost glances around before she states firmly, "The good of the many verses the good of the one, Thrust. I volunteer."

Thrust stares at his leader in shock, "Learn more about it? Now....." he makes a stand, "I have never questioned your orders Megatron...but this is crazy...we cant fight this thing...”  He looks back at Ghost.  “Go volunteer, then.  I won’t stand in your way.”

Dirge finds himself agreeing with Thrust and he nods at the red Seeker. "We should get out of here before it's too late!" he says, his voice rising in a panicked crescendo. He turns towards Megatron and says, "It is not completely certain that this... creature... will be heading towards Cybertron. What if it doesn't? We would be wasting our time and risking our lives."

Megatron says, "Should we wait until it reaches Cybertron and destroys our homeworld? You have to know the enemy to destroy it, Thrust."

Thrust says, "No I don’t want it to destroy Cybertron but you tell me how we are suppose to stop THAT!" He’s scared and it shows, though he tries to keep it from overwhelming him.

Ravenwing scowls at the readouts, though more at Ghost's suggestion. "Armada... did he ever show indications of being able to detect stealth systems?"

Armada sighs, his despair now visible. "To my knowledge, such devices made no difference to Unicron. His power is beyond our understanding."

Soundwave transforms and shrinks down. Without waiting for permission - since Megatron will surely counterorder if he feels he must - he says to Ghost, "Transport me closer, Ghost. The others must remain out of range."

Ghost reaches out to take the tape recorder, nodding once. "Understood, Commander." Her optics have a gleam to them.

Motormaster staggers to his feet, “If the person who goes doesn't come back, we won't get anything from it. He was disruptin' the communications around the planet, right?!"

Tempest suddenly looks questioningly at Motormaster. Suddenly her plan has come into doubt.

Divefire turns to look over his shoulder, regarding Ghost for a moment. "Stay out of his gravity well.  It looks like it's fluctuating at will.  It catches you, that's it."

Ghost gives Divefire a nod, "I don't plan on getting *that* close," she comments as she turns to head towards the egress. "And I have faith in Soundwave’s capabilities to reach past communications disruptions." She pauses at the doorway, waiting for it to be opened so she can transform and depart.

Nightbird watches the others. She also has some invisibility to sensors of course, but no space flight or scanning abilities. Still, she looks to Megatron, ready to serve as she can.

Soundwave says, "I believe the attack itself was disrupting lines of communication." On screen, the monster continues to tear chunks out of Mercurious. Those who close in on the scene, will have to go quickly. "Ghost and I can handle the mission."

Megatron says, "Nothing is without a weak spot..."

Thrust look to Dirge then back out the window then back to Megatron. " And how are we to find its weak spot and still be around to use it?"

Megatron looks at Dirge. "It will head for Cybertron," he says. He looks at Soundwave. "Permission granted.

Armada says quietly, "I will go, if you wish. It may be that Unicron may not consider me a threat." He looks at Thunderwing meaningfully, waiting.

Thunderwing arches a brow at Armada, "Or maybe he will find you an irresistible novelty, worthy of his full attention. You do not exist here, after all." Oblique, but to the point.

Tempest murmurs, "There are better ways to live than hiding from something more powerful than you...."

Ravenwing supposes there's not much she can do in the face of such heroic nonsense. A probe would be a lot easier and better than risking two lives, one of them an officer, but... it's not her choice.

Scorcher finally manages to wiggle free of the luggage and safety belt that were holding her down in a rather undignified position.. She gets to her feet and straightens her armour, blushing fit enough to read by and deeply grateful that nobody was paying attention to her

Nightbird looks to Ghost and Soundwave. "Stay cautious."

Megatron says, "Launch probes to distract the thing... if it can be distracted."

Ravenwing, if she were alone here instead of having so many command-rank officers aboard, would be prepared to try to distract Unicron should he notice Ghost, but... best to get them away instead. "I would suggest waiting until there was a need to distract him, Megatron."

Megatron nods. "Your point, Ravenwing. Do so."

Armada can't sit still any longer and stands, walking over to stand behind Ravenwing's chair and watch the readouts. One hand grips the back of her seat, the fingers just barely making contact with her back. "You cannot 'distract' Unicron. His awareness goes beyond that."

Ravenwing sighs and watches the readouts. "If he is omniscient, then we are doomed, Armada. I prefer to think that we have some chance, however small." She adds, lowering her voice so as to not be easily heard, "If you cannot believe that, then force yourself to act as though you did, or you will not be able to do anything at all."

Thunderwing sinks back into his seat and his own thoughts as he watches the scene unfolding outside.

Soundwave waits for Ghost to carry him outside the vessel. On screen, debris of the shattering planet start to sail into space.

Ghost transforms into her Stealth Interceptor mode as the hatch opens, sparing a nod to Armada before she reforms around her cargo, pushing off into space.  Pieces of dismantled planet fly in all directions around them.

Armada transmits a radio message to Ghost.  

Dirge frowns deeply as it appears that they were going to investigate this planet-eater after all. If he could, he would have taken the ship and forced it back towards Cybertron. What if this planet-eater was to suddenly turn around and suck them all into its monstrous mouth. He says, to no-one in particular, "This is madness. Utter madness."

Scorcher saunters forward, to the rather grim looking group. She is tempted to say, "What was that?" ...but from the expression of everybody's face she decides against it.


Megatron watches the screen, his jaw set, his mental processor working feverishly. He knows that thing is heading for Cybertron... No one will eat his home world!

Nightbird slips a hand on Megatron's shoulder. She says in her echoing whisper, "We'll find the way to stop it."

Megatron places his own hand on that of his mate, nodding. "Nothing will ever again hold control over us," he says with a strange undertone.

Ravenwing takes careful note of the range and estimated strength of that tractor beam. She doesn't like it one bit, and narrows her silver optics as it sweeps near Ghost.

Scorcher looks at the screen now, but all she can see is a metal planet and lots of asteroids, which does not seem too strange to her, after all they were supposed to be going to some planet that was under attack by a battle platform or something?

Tempest slinks forward, towards the porthole, observing Ghost...and the odd metal planet's reactions to her.

Divefire watches over things from his console, frowning as the tractor beam arches out. "Armada, you got a clue how powerful those beams of his are, and I swear if you say 'All powerful, I’ll...'"

Armada's optics flick down towards Ravenwing and he nods, "I apologize. I did not mean to imply he was omnipotent or omniscient. Even Unicron had his weaknesses in my world-" Suddenly, the Unispawn's optics go wide and his hands clutch at the pilot's seat helplessly as a groan escapes his lips and he sinks to his knees. "Noooooooo..... I..... won't...... no..."

Divefire blinks as he looks over to Armada. "...make you fall to your knees and make you babble incoherently, yeah... 'Cus I can do that..."

Nightbird snaps up and ignites her sword. She gazes at Armada, not sure how to help him.

Scorcher looks at the strange Decepticon who suddenly falls to his knees, moaning. She wonders what she should do.

Ravenwing snaps, still not looking away from her controls, "Restrain him."

Nightbird stows her sword with a fluid motion and pulls out her monofilliment cable from the sai at her wrist. Wasting no time, she moves to restrain Armada.

Scorcher understands a simple command and puts her laser against Armada's head

Armada lets out a gurgling yell, incoherent streams of babble. What might sound like statistics, plans, directions... But before anyone can pin the Unispawn down, his back arches like he's being electrocuted and a thin shriek echoes from his mouth, eery and disturbing. "NO!! Do not touch me!!" he suddenly shouts.

Scorcher jerks away in surprise when Armada suddenly begins to scream

Resyke hides under the seat. He's bugging out!

Motormaster is staring out the window, a track of fuel running down his face from where his helmet is cracked, a streak of purple along his temple, cheek and down his throat.

Tempest's optics narrow as she watches the events play out. She looks back at Motormaster, over her shoulder...her optics wide and a bit sad. Then she returns her attention to Ghost.

Ghost glides out of the ship, framing shifting shades and refraction ratings as she smoothes her outlines over in order to occlude most known sensory systems. Her engines flicker, then catch on fully, all three flaring up brilliantly as she immediately goes into an evasive pattern, systems blinking silent proximity alarms at the debris field she has leapt into.

As though knowing very well that something's approaching, the monster planet sends out a tractor beam on a wide sweep, drawing those scattering pieces of planet back toward it - and also, the beam passes over Ghost.

From within Ghost, Soundwave tries to pick up emissions from any and all fields of the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as sending out a telepathic scan - carefully at first, as he does not thoughtlessly probe alien minds....  "Telepathic scan reveals...." and then he falls silent, his entire focus on what he senses.

Ghost's internal systems beep a warning as her engines kick up a notch, an internal vibration setting in as she veers obliquely to the debris, doing her best to use the spinning matter chunks as cover. Over the internal comm, she queries, voice showing no sign of the silent pull she is feeling, "Beginning a passover arch." Another faint internal whine as she pushes cross the debris, the HUD display going utterly dark as she concentrates on maneuvering.

Planetary debris is slowly sucked back toward Unicron as the huge ring of teeth crunches down on the remains. Ghost, too, is drawn forward   Her entire undercarriage gives a sudden twist as she makes a sudden course adjustment, engines flaring up into a white-blue haze of sudden power output. Her internal voice remains calm, perhaps with a tinge of concern, "Commander. I can’t get any closer un.." she trails off, vectoring wildly like a trout on a fishing line, jerking back suddenly as all systems redline at once, power output going directly to engines and engines alone, even the cloaking system dropping for every iota of energy to spare. Her voice comes back with an icy veneer of calm over the depths of panic, "We're... not.. getting any further.." she trails off, having to focus entirely on trying to maintain the distance, trying *not* to get pulled any closer..

Soundwave snaps himself out of his sensory focus. The melodic voice emitting from the tape player has an unaccustomed undercurrent of urgency as he notices the struggles of his transport vessel. "Status, Ghost?  Fire thrusters to break free.”

Megatron opens the radio channel. "Ghost, Soundwave, return to the ship, at once!"  He looks at Armada.  “And get him under control before I do it.”

Nightbird makes a leap for Armada, ready to restrain him.

Ravenwing thinks it's time for that distraction and prepares to launch half the Harbinger's probes. Not an attack, no, just an attempt at distraction. Any information that might be returned would be a bonus.

Ghost wingovers in a maneuver designed to be used against standard tractor beams, putting every trick she recalls from her training into play as she jerks and twists against that invisible line tethering her and drawing her ever closer. The white output of the trio of engines shifts to a fiery crimson as her systems switch from one fuel system to another, normal to emergency, drawing power from weapons and sensors alike, "Can’t... Get... " she grates...

Soundwave transforms, then unlatches her hold from the inside and climbs out.  Wrapping his arms around the point of her body where her wings meet, he applies all possible power from his own engines as well.  His additional flight power is just enough to keep the two of them steady ... for a few seconds. Then the gravitational pull draws them slowly, slowly inward toward the monster.

Ghost's systems accept the additional energy, drawing on it as if they have been depleted past the point of emptiness. Everything continues to shake and vibrate as she twists and skews, frame starting to show the toll of the heat being generated internally and externally as a haze of light shrouds the craft. For a moment, she seems to gain a spot of distance... before she falls back, one engines starting to sputter as if burning itself out..

Motormaster whirls around as Armada spastically jerks about in his seat, cursing softly and drawing his chainsword, “Your old master, huh..." He looks to Divefire, “Could Unicron still control him?"

Divefire’s head rocks back to his control panel screams for his attention as Ghost's readings spikes. "Son of a... I don't think they're going to make it out of there... We can't lose..." And that's it.  The decision is made, and he runs for the air lock, not thinking of anything else.  

CatsCradle lets out a soft muffled sound, as her mate dives for the airlock, her face panicked, but not in the least bit surprised. She lunges for the nearest window, her clawtips squealing against the metal frame around it.

Tempest is still caught in her moment of indecision when Divefire bolts for the airlock. "No!" she yells at him--~that's supposed to be my job~--but she is far too late to stop him.

Ravenwing says, "If you *must*, then try slapping a tractor on her from directly opposite Unicron. That might be enough to break them free."

Megatron jerks around. Everyone seems to be going crazy.   "Divefire, you idiot, get back here!"

CatsCradle says in a faint voice, "You can't stop him." She presses her forehead against the window, tiny and scared.

Divefire has no time to hear or answer questions, nor does he have  the desire to stop and debate his decision...madness as it may be. With a quick motion,  he's out of the airlock and transforming, fusion engines flaring to their maximum power output as the Orbital Interceptor streaks for the demon and whom he holds.

Dirge looks out of the window with increasing dismay as Ghost appears frozen in mid-space. "See, I told you," he drones. "Now look at what is happening..." He jerks his head towards Armada as the mech goes into histrionics. "We should throw *this* mech outside and drag those two back in," he hisses darkly, and stabs a laser towards Armada.

As if taking Dirge's suggestion to heart, Armada suddenly leaps up and makes a direct line for the airlock right as Divefire leaves, swiftly sidestepping Nightbird and jetting out before anyone can stop him.

Scorcher fires a laser bolt after Armada, out of reflex and without realizing that she might actually hit somebody else

Ravenwing taps a panel and a spread of six probes are launched from the Harbinger almost like missiles, their engines igniting as they head directly towards Unicron.

Megatron grumbles. "Damn fools... Ravenwing, activate the tractor beam to retrieve Ghost and Soundwave.”

Ravenwing says, "Out of range."

Megatron says, "Then stay ready to do it. They will make it!"

Strange chittering noises come from under the seat where Resyke hides.

Ravenwing growls, "He knows we're here... Damn, the only FTL-capable ones are out there playing hero. If there weren't so much bloody brass aboard, I'd do exactly what I told Divefire."

As Unicron, his senses now very much aware of everything around him, detects additional objects coming toward him, another tractor beam sweeps out and locks onto the probes. For a moment the pull on Ghost and Soundwave lessens, and they're able to gain some ground.  Ghost starts to curse, softly as she continues the fight, venting concern in words usually meant as a personal attack on another. The diatribe continues even as she gains an iota of distance.. Her mind whirls and flickers before she gets a thought, "Commander, do you think he can capture things not of this plane?"

Soundwave's voice is low and devoid of its harmonics as his whole energy is going into trying to add his own flight engine power to Ghost's, but he replies, "It is a physical being. But there is a mind of such complexity that I cannot tell you for certain."

Ghost hnnngs, "Transform.. I can't transform with you in full form.. Its the only thing I can think of to try, engines are starting to gutter. It’s going to be a tight maneuver and.. weird."

Soundwave has some idea of what Ghost is meaning to attempt. Curling up again, he folds himself toward Ghost's cargo hold and transforms just in time to avoid being sucked forward by the tractor beam.

Scorcher stands in the airlock and continues to fire at the swiftly disappearing frame of Armada, that being the last command she was given.

Nightbird puts a restraining hand on Scorcher, and closes the airlock.

Scorcher blinks a few times when Nightbird touches her and stops firing. She tries to remember what she was thinking only moments ago. It looks as if the fear and tension around her have affected her far more than she thought.

Dirge leans back into his seat with surprise as Armada leaves for space, following Divefire. He unstraps himself and steps towards the viewscreen, murmuring with faint amusement, "It wasn't difficult to make him leave." He tilts his head slightly towards the strange sound emitting from beneath a chair, then turns back towards the scene outside the spacecraft. "Great," Dirge mutters. "Now we're going to have to drag in Ghost, Soundwave, AND Divefire."

Divefire’s form darts between the recently-created space junk which impedes his race towards Unicron somewhat.  Even so, as he moves between each object, his engines flare ever harder, burning to their maximum output as he closes on the beast in a number of straight lines and angles.

Tempest is still frozen in some sort of hesitation. She has never been a hero, nor a team player. But... She looks back over her shoulder at Motormaster again. His presence is affecting her somehow.

Motormaster is back to the window, expression agonized... Divefire and Ghost are two of only a handful of true friends that he has, and now he's watching them both potentially be lost. And he's helpless to do anything about it, something he hates to be in the best of situations.

Just as Unicron drew the probes toward himself, which momentarily lessened his hold on Ghost, he now reaches out for the swiftly approaching form of Divefire. Complex his mind may be, but he too can only concentrate on so many things at once.

Ghost cuts her engines entirely, getting jerked towards the monster planet with a suddenness that blurs the craft’s outlines. Then, of all the suicidal things to do, she transforms back into robot form, holding the cassette recorder tightly as she focuses on something else.. It takes a moment as well as several thousand meters of lost distance between her and certain doom, but she manages it. A flicker, a shimmer of collected darkness as she initiates her own unique cloaking system, forming over into shadowmatter in order to make a last ditch effort to escape the tractor beam’s loving embrace.

For just a moment, the tractor beam drawing in Ghost has a lock on ... nothing at all.

Megatron says, "Do you have bombs aboard we can feed it with?"

Ravenwing briefly checks the ship's armament. "Missiles, yes, but only as a distraction; they won't do him any harm. Launching..." The Harbinger rolls to bring the torpedo bays to bear on the target, disconcerting for those using visual, then fires.

Tempest says quietly, "Megatron. I have high explosives."

Megatron says, "They do not need to harm him, just disturb the tractor beam."  He is too focused on Ravenwing and the drama outside, to hear Tempest.

Tempest says quietly, "Do you have any means on board to deliver that much explosive?"

Motormaster hears Tempest, but doesn't register for just a moment... but then he whirls to face her, optics wide and bright, shaking his head just a little.

Armada transforms into his spacejet mode as soon as he's outside, right behind Divefire. Dodging planetary chunks like a mere obstacle course, the Unispawn jet throws himself in a more or less direct line for Soundwave and Ghost, though to help or hinder their escape remains uncertain. As soon as he reaches the two other Decepticons, lights flicker onboard as he diverts power to his weapons control.... and launches two cargo lines towards them. Transmitting to grab them, he shifts all of his considerable fusion power to his engines.

Scorcher says softly and with a wondering voice "That's not a planet is it?"

Nightbird keeps a steadying hand on Scorcher. "After a fashion. Be calm, we will deal with it."

Scorcher is entirely calm. Though it is the kind of calm that could mask a screaming fit of panic.

Ghost is slingshotted towards her escape route as the beam has nothing on which to focus for the moment. That gains the true-ghostly femme the distance she had lost, but at the cost of her reserves. Reaching out with a hand, she reforms suddenly, disoriented but with enough sense to try and grapple for the tow cable that was tossed in her general direction, still holding tightly onto Soundwave..

As Ghost leaps backward out of the grasp of the beam, the invisible force seems to grope around for a moment, trying to lock onto her new location .. and onto Armada who is nearby. But it's still tentative, because Divefire is right in its path as well.

Resyke nervously starts chewing on the underside of the seat he's hiding under.

Divefire feels the tugs of the tractor beam on his frame as thrusters fire from nose cone and wing tips, spiraling his form and maneuvering his flight path right into the tractor beam as his fusion engines power well past their maximum capacity. "C'mon planet boy... Eat me..." He glowers out in one last word of defiance and forcing down the shear terror of staring into death's maw.

As the Harbinger's torpedoes streak toward the monster planet, they impact against its surface in explosions of energy - which seem, in a strange way, to be welcomed by the monster, as though it's taking in the added energy for itself. With a sudden output of added power, the distant Harbinger shudders as the tractor beam tries to get a fix on it as well.

Ghost gets out in a voice unlike her usual tones, "They need to get out of here, commander. The good of the one does not outweigh the good of the many..."

Megatron says, "Increase distance, Ravenwing!"

Ravenwing snarls in frustration as she watches one set get free only to see the other attacked. No other weapons can reach Unicron at this distance, so there's no more she can do with weaponry. The distant tractor gains her attention, and she slams the thrusters on with no warning at all, maneuvering violently from side to side to get free of the lock.

Megatron grasps the console to remain on his feet.

Scorcher smashes into the airlock door as Ravenwing suddenly maneuvers the Harbinger. Then she is flung backwards only to end up tangled in the seats

Armada begins withdrawing the tow cables back into his chassis, Ghost clinging to it like a tattered fish. "Divefire, I have them... return to the ship!" he transmits in a burst, which he hopes will get through. Rotating so he brings his FTL-capable engines to bear, and once Ghost and Soundwave are safely clinging underneath him, and fires them at full power. Even then, without Unicron's full focus, the movement forward is very slight. "Damn.. hold on tightly!" Diverting all power from his fusion core, his engines red-line and then some. The sheer magnitude of the thrust pushes out a trail of plasma more than a mile long, but the spacejet at first begins creeping forward, then as Unicron focuses on the Harbinger, Armada blasts forwards almost out of control and towards the shuttle.

Ghost wraps the tow cable around her arm, wincing as she gets jerked through the not-so-empty void of space.

The increased traction sucks Divefire right toward the toothed ring. If he ever had a chance of pulling out, it's gone now.

CatsCradle braces herself against the wall, her gaze never leaving the window. She lets out a soft whimper, frozen in terror.

Motormaster turns just in time to see Divefire getting sucked back towards the monstrosity, whirling and pounding on the metal wall of the ship with all his strength, fortunately not enough to actually hurt the hull, "You stupid, stupid... you told /me/ not to play a hero..."

Megatron clenches his jaw-plates. "I told that fool to remain on board!"

Dirge watches Divefire with an aghast expression on his face as Divefire is pulled towards the Great Devourer. "See! See!" he cries, one finger pointing at the viewscreen, his voice loud with fright. "If we don't get out of here NOW we're all going to END UP LIKE DIVEFIRE!"

Megatron says, "Shut up, Dirge!"

Dirge turns towards Megatron and cries, oblivious to his order or of rank. "Shut up?! Not when THIS IS HAPPENING!" He turns towards the airlock for a moment, regarding the new arrivals, then turns back to Megatron. In a calmer voice he says, "Now. Can't we leave?"

Megatron glares dangerously at Dirge, telling him clearly that it can be dangerous to yell at him.

Armada rights himself just as they come within range of the Harbinger. Hoping to Primus the airlock will open in time, he thrusts towards the opening as two of his primary engine cores explode with minor pops of flame, which are quickly extinguished in the almost-vacuum. He slams into the airlock with Ghost and Soundwave in tow, smashing into the reinforced retaining wall and lies there, smoking.

Ghost is slingshotted into the shuttle as Armada crashes in for a landing of sorts. She balls herself up, slamming into the retaining wall with her 'hero', doing her best to protect the cassette recorder she's had a death grip on since transforming. Her wings snap upon impact, brittle from the fight against the tractor beam before she slides down the wall, still curled up.

Soundwave is quite safely still in Ghost's grasp, even as he's jarred by the impact.

Nightbird moves to check over her recovered teammates, even though she can do little to help the injured.

Ravenwing barely manages to coordinate her evasive maneuvers with Armada's arrival. Slamming against him at these speeds would likely kill him and damage the ship. If people inside aren't fastened down, they're going to be knocked every which way due to violent maneuvers.

Tempest's optics are flat with the shellshock calm of someone who's seen her share of destruction. No, never on this scale before...there's a hint of jerkiness to her movements showing even she is rattled...but there's a detachment about her that keeps her calm. Too calm.  She turns to Megatron says, strangely steady, "Can you get the Harbringer clear of it?"

Ghost slowly and with much popping and creaking, unfolds herself from around Soundwave.. Her optics are a pale pale shade of lightest lavender, almost silvered as she shudders, systems still in enough shock not to warn her about any damages.

Soundwave remains still and silent for several long moments, though he appears undamaged. Then he slowly transforms, forcing his awareness to the here and now again. He can analyze what he learned later. He realizes from the shuddering of the ship, that something is still wrong, as he tries to maintain his balance. "Status, Ravenwing?" he says, even as he looks over Ghost and Armada to assess damages.

Divefire reels, thrusters flaring in one last defiant pose, forcing his engines away from the monsters mouth, the stress ripping plates from his armored jet form, a form that was devised to be the fastest, most powerful space craft in existence. And for a moment, as cockpit lights wink out and engines flare to a power that has only been hinted it, it looks as if it might just live up to that reputation. His form jerks forward, against the tug of the tractor beam fighting it all the way... Then Unicron becomes... annoyed. The tractor beam glows, encasing the jet and pulling it to him even as panels shift and FTL drives open and fire.

Nothing but the brightest light escapes for a second and then... Then... panel by panel, Divefire is summoned to his destiny... And oblivion.

Megatron barks, despite he knows it is too late : "Damn, Ravenwing, more bombs!”

Nightbird glances to CatsCradle, wondering what her reaction will be.

CatsCradle steps away from the window, her optics so pale they seem white. With absolutely no expression, she turns, takes one step, then bolts for the airlock.

Scorcher is frozen in shock.

Resyke crawls out from under the seat, in robot mode. "Wh..what happened?" he says, standing on tip-toes to peer at the screen.

Motormaster lunges for the airlock, unthinking, unreasoning, “I’ve got to help him, we can't just leave him! He's a Decepticon!" Lucky thing Nightbird shut it.

Tempest turns to Motormaster and says, her voice stern but steady, "He's dead. Don't you die too." Despite her voice, there's a glitter of concern in the optics.

Resyke blinks and looks around. "Where's Divefire?" he asks, just as CatsCradle bolts for the airlock

Nightbird runs for the airlock too, determined to keep it closed.

Tempest moves in a fluid lunge to bar CatsCradle's way.

CatsCradle claws blindly at Tempest, trying to tear free. "It's my right," she gasps out. "He's my mate, it's my right to go with him! Let me go, dammit!"

Soundwave hurriedly closes the distance between himself and CatsCradle, taking hold of her shoulders from behind. "He would not want you to follow," he says insistently, trying to pull her away from Tempest.

Ghost's voice rasps, "Someone.. sedate.. her.. We have to break free... "

Tempest grabs at Cats' hands and tries to twist them behind her back. Then she looks for someone to pass Cats off to and settles on Motormaster. "Here, take her," she says to him, and then adds, "You still have something to live for." It's not clear who she's talking to--probably Cats.

Motormaster slumps to his knees at the airlock, knowing he couldn't do anything ever if he got. Knowing even if he could fly, even if he was a better flier than Starscream, he would still just get sucked in. And hating himself for not trying. For what damn sure feels like cowardice. A friend lost, and he's not even going to try and save him. And then he has CatsCradle brought to him, and so struggles back to his feet. He can still help his friend one way. Save his mate. And so, with that strength that is so useless right now, he restrains Cats instead, tugging her close.

CatsCradle crumples against Motormaster, shaking too hard to stand. "Let me go," she pleads. "Just please let me go, he promised not to leave me alone, let me go."

Motormaster easily supports CatsCradle's crumpled weight, tears of optical lubricant streaming down his own cheeks even as he restrains her from doing what he himself wants to do, saying brokenly, “I’m sorry. I'm sorry." Whether that's to Divefire or her is anybody’s guess.

Megatron says, "Soundwave, take care of CatsCradle. I don't need another loss in our ranks."  Then he looks from Tempest to Ravenwing: "Any signs of Divefire? If not... take us out of here.. “

The Harbinger jerks like a fish on a line as the beam resolidifies around the ship. Now it only has one object of focus again, and though the vessel is some distance away, Unicron *wants* it.

Armada remains jammed up against the wall in spacejet mode, his nose slightly bent and half of his rear engine assembly gone. His voice echoes from the damaged craft, terse and pained, "There is nothing left to save, Motormaster. Turn your attention to saving the rest of your comrades."  He manages with much grinding and pain to transform, though for the moment he lies prostrate on the floor. He gasps, "Does this ship... have separation capability?"

Ravenwing is grateful for the precision that went into this ship's construction. Anything less, and they'd already have been eaten. She has no time to check on the passengers, only to keep the Harbinger in constant, violent motion to try to shake his grip on them. She brings the powerful engines up to and past red-line.

Dirge glances at Megatron, and contritely bows his head and steps away from the leader. He turns around towards the sound of the commotion and frowns. Inwardly he feels sympathetic to CatsCradle's plight, and for a brief moment, sympathy appears from deep within his optics.

Resyke just stands there feeling completely and utterly helpless. Divefire is dead, there's a planet eating monster trying to consume them all, and there's nothing the little bug can do. Sighing, he scuttles over the shuddering floor to where CatsCradle is being restrained, mech-fluid tears running down his face. "I'm sorry.. I'm sorry" he says, unconsciously echoing Motormaster.

Tempest now says to Ravenwing, "We're not getting anywhere, are we?"

Ghost glances at Armada and manages, despite it all, or perhaps because of it, to make a quip, "Actually.. Should have stayed .85 parsecs out."

Armada pulls himself up with a holding strap on the wall and stumbles towards the front of the shuttle, "Ravenwing, can you eject any part of the shuttle's assembly? Cargo, instruments, anything?"

Ghost slumps back down the wall, hands clenching into fists in her lap as she chides herself silently for a failure only she can see.

Soundwave leaves Cats to Motormaster, and makes his way precariously across the shuddering deck toward where Ravenwing is still fighting with the controls. The engine output is at its maximum, it seems, and he almost hates to say so, but he must make the announcement, "We seem unable to break free."

Tempest looks over at Motormaster and CatsCradle. Once again she wonders...but...They're all going to die at this rate. She steps over to Soundwave.

Tempest mutters '... ... think a ... ... ... distract it long enough to give ... a ... '.

Soundwave is silent for a long moment at Tempest's question, then nods to her.

Tempest nods only once in response, and quietly moves down the length of the ship with her regular fluid grace, neither looking at anyone else nor drawing attention to herself...until with steady hand she jams the airlock open.

Megatron grasps the console so hard that his fingers leave marks in it. They have faced the enemy now. It is strong, very strong, but not all-mighty... Yes, he tries to keep his thoughts straight on the problem, trying not to let upcoming emotions distract him. This is war and war means losses - but the survivors have to go on.

Though the ship is unable to break away, it is not being drawn any closer either. The monster planet shifts on the screen, the last debris of the destroyed world of Mercurious spinning like dust in the void around his gravitational pull. The great horns open outward and orient on the ship.

Scorcher can not see the screen from the position she is in, which probably is a good thing. She is shocked enough by what Cats did, and what that implies.

Ravenwing finally finds the time to murmur, "We need to break the stalemate."

Megatron addresses Ravenwing, "Can the ship deal with the strain if we jump directly into hyperdrive?"

Armada glances over at Ghost for a moment before looking back at the screen over Ravenwing's shoulder. "And Unicron holds all the pieces of the board." He wheels around to look at Megatron in disbelief.

Ghost slowly gets to her feet once more, optics refocusing on the here and now. She catches movement, watching as Tempest walks calmly past. A brow lifts and a strange expression crosses her face before she turns to look at Motormaster, lips going into a thin line as she deliberately moves into his field of vision, blocking the view of the back of the ship and the now open hatch.

Soundwave watches her movements. His optic band shades dark, and he tenses for action. His audial sensors fix Motormaster's position exactly - the scenario clicking into place in his mind already.

Nightbird is silent, watching, waiting. She notices Soundwave and then Tempest.

Tempest has given no warning as to her intended actions, and it probably takes everyone by surprise when that airlock opens...this was planned with cold-blooded precision.

As the lock opens, Soundwave moves forward, sharing a split-second look with Ghost.

CatsCradle hears the airlock open again, and with a burst of claws, fists, kicks, and teeth, she lunges for it again.

Scorcher is probably the one closest to CatsCradle, but she makes no move to stop her.

Motormaster finally looks around, still holding CatsCradle back... and finds Tempest not around. And then the airlock door opens, and his head snaps around, to find Ghost blocking his way. His other friend... but he doesn't care. His head shakes in wordless denial, and then he slams CatsCradle into a restrainment couch... and slamming for the door.

Tempest snaps, "Resyke, close it," and is outside in a flash, transforming into her CF-18 Hornet Jet mode. She is incapable of breaking Earth's gravity in her current jet mode, but once out in space her mode is perfectly capable of maneuvering.

Soundwave at that instant slams sideways into Motormaster. Poor Resyke may get caught in the middle...

Ghost's optics dull as she glances at Soundwave, expression void of anything. Tensing, she braces to block the rushing Motormaster, shifting a foot in front, a foot to the rear, before she leaps in unison with Soundwave to tackle Motormaster.

Resyke is knocked from his feet by the flailing clawstorm fury of CatsCradle's dart for the airlock, then kicked along the floor towards the open airlock by Soundwave/Motormaster's impact.. "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Nightbird quickly catches Resyke before he can go too far, and then closes the airlock.

Resyke is still waving his arms and legs in mid air as Nightbird picks him up. "Yeee....huh?"

It is entirely possible that neither Soundwave or Ghost could stop Motormaster alone, especially in his current berserk status. It is definite that Soundwave only manages to slow him down with his blow, and then Ghost barely manages to bring him down with a crunch to the floor... and that he cries out thereafter, but not in any pain at the fall. No, there are sobbed, barely-coherent words in the cry,"Don'tpleasedon'tPLEASE!DON'TLETHER!"

Ravenwing was about to answer Megatron, but the light indicating the airlock opening catches her attention. A quick flash of fury and she stabs a finger at the appropriate control, sealing the airlock off with a command override and hoping that stops the mass exodus to doom.

Ghost maintains a hold on Motormaster, sending off a radio message, words softly murmured out loud as she hangs on...

Armada instinctively seats himself in the nearest chair and fastens his belts. He watches with detached interest... such sacrifices are insignificant compared to the billions of beings that just died on Mercurious.

Soundwave knows Motormaster won't hear his words now, any more than CatsCradle would hear words of explanation for Divefire's heroics, so he only concentrates on hanging onto Motormaster and trying to provide some form of comfort from the contact.

CatsCradle screams once in a mixture of fury and a grief that goes past pain, then abruptly goes silent as the airlock shuts again, still struggling against the restraints in frantic spasms.

Ghost just holds onto Motormaster tightly, expression blank, optics shadowed as she listens without listening.

Motormaster stops thrashing, finally, as airlock shuts with finality, just lying there and crying uncontrollably, as his best friend and the femme he loves are both taken away in the same twenty minutes.

Tempest radios back to the Harbringer, "Tempest to bridge. Vector me in on its most visible weak point. I am loaded to capacity with high explosive--" this revelation delivered in a calm and toneless voice, and suggesting the whole thing was circulating in her little mind long before the Harbringer launched. "You /will/ take this opportunity to fly clear...or not. I'm not doing this just for you."

Scorcher now *does* get sick, after hearing that message from Tempest

Megatron suddenly is distracted as the sensors indicate the opening of an airlock and an object that is heading towards Unicron. "What the hell?" Then the radio message comes in. "Tempest? Tempest, return to ship immediately! That is an order! Acknowledge!" he barks into the radio.

Tempest turns her attention to Unicron. Her radio channel is still open and they can hear the words. "Two million years ago the skies of my homeworld were torn open by predators of smaller scale than you. And for two million years since I've learned to hate and hurt. It's payback time you..."

Ravenwing fights down her anger and answers levelly, "I note that missile detonations seemed to *strengthen* it, Tempest. Please abort the mission."

Megatron says, "Tempest, you foolish femme, get back here!"

Armada sighs and shakes his head, "You cannot chop down a mountain with an axe. You must either climb over the mountain or avoid it altogether."

Soundwave must make the terrible choice - he knows Tempest won't be called back. Now he can perhaps help the rest escape. He radios her with the coordinates of the dead center of Unicron's maw, deducing that an explosion *inside* the ring of teeth will at least shake the tractor beam loose long enough for the ship to jump to FTL.

Nightbird says, "It might prove enough of a distraction for our escape though."

Megatron yells in desperate anger: "I don't want to hear that! She has to come back here!"

Tempest takes target on Unicron. Let's see what happens when the explosion is /inside/. She feels the tractor beam pulling in on her. She hears Megatron's words but... "Let me have my peace. Is that too much to ask?" A single pause. "Tell Motormaster..." No. Still no words. "Take care of him." And....she guns her engines. Instead of fighting the beam, she aids it....

Megatron says, "DAMN, COME BACK!!!"

Resyke has no words. People are dying.

Scorcher switches off her audio receptors and closes her eyes

Ravenwing is ready to initiate FTL, should Tempest be proved correct in her theory. She doesn't agonize over the deaths, for there are other lives at stake here as well. Grief, if any, will come later.

Armada says, "My lord Megatron, give her the dignity of her attempt. Remember the rest of the Empire... it needs you more than ever if it is to survive."

Tempest sees the stars fade into a blur of light and colour as she screams at full speed into the maw of the monster. Over the radio comes a single transmission barely readable from the static. "Motormaster...love..." And then she's gone, into the mouth....

Megatron hisses. "Am I just surrounded by heroic fools..?" He clenches both his fists.

Dirge watches the viewscreen with dispassionate optics, too overwhelmed and numbed by the magnitude of what had just happened to care anymore. He replies to Megatron's question, "Don't worry, at least one of your warriors has enough sense to remain *on* this ship."

Soundwave draws back but keeps his hand on Motormaster's shoulder, his expression unreadable.

Motormaster just lays there, optics dead, shaken by occasional sobs... he's staring at the airlock, but it's doubtful that he sees it. "I love you." He whispers it, practically subvocalized.

Ghost's grip shifts on Motormaster as she stops holding him down, instead offering something in the way of comfort in an embrace. No words, just a shake of her head as she pats his shoulder, keeping a hug.

On the screen, the toothed ring closes over Tempest's form, and for a moment there is nothing. Then a burst of light flares up from between the teeth like a strobe flash, almost tiny against the huge surface. It would seem almost insignificant, but ... the ship shudders and leaps forward as the tractor beam momentarily fades.

Ravenwing already has a finger on the FTL drive control, waiting, waiting, waiting... As soon as the tractor beam falters, she slams it down and they jump into faster-than-light speed and safely out of Unicron's reach.

Soundwave is thrown sideways into the nearest wall again as the ship lurches forward.

Resyke staggers and falls, skidding across the shuddering floor as the ship goes FTL  He bounces off the walls like a Insecticon pinball, eventually sliding to a stop under the same chair he spent most of this mission cowering under.

Megatron stares at the monitor, seeing the yellow seeker disappear inside the monster. "No... NO!!!" He jerks around. "Why didn’y you stop her? WHY?" And then the FTL jump throws him onto the floor.

Armada watches the viewscreen as the form of Unicron and the dead Decepticons, Mercurious, and all else vanishes. Fortunately, he's strapped into a seat and isn't affected by the sudden lurch.

CatsCradle lets out another strangled cry as she feels the ship's jump, then she goes limp and completely silent.

Scorcher could not stop herself from watching. Energon tears stream down her face. For Cats, for Motormaster and also for Divefire and even Tempest

Nightbird uses her magnetic grappling boots to stay steady and find a chair. She also has no particular words for the moment.

Soundwave makes his way toward the front of the ship again. Pushing aside his own shock and sadness at the losses they have endured today, and the desire to comfort those who need it now, he realizes he still has a job to do. Punching up the scanners, he directs the view back toward the monster planet, receding in the distance.

Ghost isn’t strapped in, is on the floor trying to hold Motormaster out of some misplaced sense of duty. She tightens her hold on the other mechanism at the sudden shift in momentum .

Motormaster curls in on himself, in a fetal position on the floor, the proud Stunticon well and truly broken now mumbling to himself,” Tempest... I'm sorry... I'm so sorry... please... let this not be real..."

Soundwave pauses, and magnifies the image as something emerges from Unicron. For a moment he almost doesn't recognize it...

Armada glances up as Soundwave approaches. The Unispawn pitches his voice low for him and Ravenwing to hear, "Soundwave... He will come for Cybertron now-" he suddenly cuts off and his mouth grits down tightly, /feeling/ the change happening. "And he will not be alone."

Soundwave keeps his gaze fixed to the viewscreen, but he answers Armada as though from very far away, "I was reading his thoughts when he reached out for you, Armada. There are things he wished to know. He is indeed on course for Cybertron, but he seeks assistance from within."

The view from the screen shows something new, and something old...

It starts with a small, hash light echoing out into the new void. From it something grows and becomes, being reborn as structures alter and reform becoming something far more and less. In the fires of something that would consume the universe, he is reborn anew! He is Divefire, herald of Unicron!

Behold, for he has been reborn! What has been suggested and hinted at has become form and made real by the power and will of a god!

His helm is as it always was a well-crafted face that flows into a hard chin with deep green optics, which now burn with an almost controlled rage. His helmet flows back, in smooth line, with only air vent like protrusion on his forehead. In a dash of the metallic crimson flame his chest wares the frontal section of his flight mode, smooth and sleek nose cone stretching down his chest to his abdomen. Underneath this and to the sides is the sleek ebony armour of his third mode, in contoured lines of agility and power while from his shoulders the front fenders of his alt mode smooth out. His arms flow down in smooth lines, his upper arms straight and sleek, almost seeker like in their lines, while his lower arms curve in heavy armour, yet don't impede his movement it seems. His hands seem dexterous, agile and oddly, glow with a dark purple light.

His legs are clean lines, drawing from his car form once more, and lack detail in as much as the armour they carry obscure any structure details. Feet are formed from the trunk of his car mode, yet look solid and on his ankles anti gravity jets boost his movement. Behind his main frame a metallic cloak formed of his wings in an Omni flexible pattern hangs down to just above his knees, shining the deep metallic crimson of his flight mode and obscuring his one other feature. Sheathed in the folds of his wings his fusion engines hide, venting down the wings and allowing hyper speed movements in any direction and the occasional fanning to emphasize his mood.

There was always power in this one... Now however it is there for all to see. All to see in the name of his master, Unicron!

Soundwave for just a moment takes his optics off the screen of the receding view behind them. "CatsCradle," he says evenly. "You may wish to see this."

Megatron gets onto his feet again. Slowly he walks over to Motormaster, his optics burning. "You say you loved her? So why didn't you stop her?" he hisses. Of course, Motormaster was not able to stop Tempest, but Megatron doesn't want to see that.

Motormaster doesn't respond to Megatron. He just raises his head with optics that ask for the Decepticon leader to, yes, kill him. Megatron doesn't want to see that it's not his fault? He sure thinks it is.

Ghost looks up at Megatron as he nears. She slowly and painfully untangles herself, getting to her feet, voice flat and perhaps harsh, "Before you utter another word, my brother, think of all that which you love and hold dear and remember that her sacrifice is all that stood between you loosing all and you loosing one. It is *his* loss and *his* pain you should have pity for, not your own."

Nightbird steps up beside Megatron and puts her arm around his waist, quietly offering whatever comfort she can.

Skywarp looks at the screen and smirks. "Big dumb thing.. What would it take to kill it!"

Dirge responds to Skywarp, "Why don't you go outside and see for yourself?"

Skywarp walks closer to Dirge as his optics look at Dirge with an unpleasant look. "Do you think I am stupid..? Do it yourself!"

Dirge gazes back at Skywarp with unflinching optics. "Why Skywarp, you just hit the nail on the head." He smirks at the other Seeker. "I've seen enough of that creature today to last a lifetime." He turns around towards the other Cons for a moment, and throws over his shoulder, "Shouldn't we return to Cybertron now and deal with the rest later?"

Armada sighs and nods at Soundwave's assessment. "I... I should not have come. He was able to reach out to me and seize my mind. He now knows all I do about Cybertron and our defenses, our plans and our fears. And he knows of that other self... the one which created me and that was defeated." He glances back at the other quarreling Decepticons, "And if we do not find a way to stop him, there will be no one left to mourn."

Soundwave meets Armada's gaze. "Then I will have to find out all that you know when we return, Armada."

Ravenwing says calmly, still not looking away from her console, "I hope the information gained was worth what it cost us. Yes, while it would be entertaining to point fingers and assign blame, we have something more important with which to deal now, don't we?"

Soundwave nods absently in agreement with Ravenwing, and continues to Armada, "Consider, however, that you were able to return Ghost and myself to the ship."

Megatron still glares at Motormaster. "He did not stop her!" he states again. Then he looks down. "/I/ did not stop her," he adds quietly. He did not really realize that Ghost called him "brother" in public. He looks at his mate. "I'm sorry..." he whispers.

Nightbird says softly, "I know."  She gently guides Megatron back to a seat.

Scorcher looks at Motormaster, optics blurred by tears. She thinks of all the times he eased her fears. Explained things to her when she was confused or scared. And tries to find a way to help him now that he is the one who needs it, but can't think of anything. Finally she crawls out of the chair and offers him a wordless hug

Motormaster doesn't accept the hug that Scorcher gives, but doesn't resist it. He just lies there, looking at Megatron with a hollow gaze.

Scorcher just stands there, dripping energon on Motormaster's shoulders

Megatron returns back to the command console. His jaw is set, his face a mask - he looks somehow old and feels the same. He lost his best friend... but her sacrifice should not have been without sense. They will save Cybertron and destroy Unicron.

Ghost intakes a great gout of air, systems now warning her. Her voice remains flat, but without the harsh edge, softer in some way. "It was her choice." she offers, peering at Megatron and feeling terribly old for a brief moment, "And from it, we now have the chance to do whatever we can to stop this... monstrosity." The word whatever is held slightly longer as she turns on a heel, step-stumbling towards a seat growing blurry.  She misses the chair and instead slumps to the floor, optics unfocused as her thoughts whirl and mill. "Whatever it takes..." she mutters.

Armada grimaces as he shifts in his seat, the damage to his engines not very pleasant. "I felt him trying to take control of me... but without the main conduit of his power, my former lord, he could not fully take control." He pitches his voice for all to hear, if they'll listen, "And I also felt some of his intent. He will come for Cybertron next with full speed. And then a few lost companions will seem paltry."

Ravenwing sets course for Cybertron at the Harbinger's best speed. If she were alone, she'd want to estimate Unicron's own velocity and estimated time of arrival on Cybertron, but... not this time.

Soundwave remains externally calm as he keeps the ship's sensors fixed on Unicron as long as possible, then stores the information for later analysis. He'll have a great deal to try to make sense of.

Ravenwing sets the Harbinger gently down, the ship still responding like a dream even after the pounding it took.
Skywarp looks around and stays silent.
Armada starts to unstrap himself from the seat, despite the extreme pain and loss of energy he's suffering, but instead lets out a grunt and slumps back in the seat, half-conscious.
Ghost slowly looks over at the ships compliment, using that time to try and pull herself together enough to be able to walk off the ship. She puts a hand on the seat, the other under her as she drags herself to a knee, joints stiff with the lack of movement along the trip back home. A shake of her head and she pushes up, resting heavily on the chair as she sways, determination set in her features. "Scorcher.." she says softly, "Could you.. and Dirge and Thrust help Motormaster to his quarters?" she asks...
Scorcher nods mutely at Ghost's request
Motormaster is helped to his feet and led off, lifeless and dull.
Soundwave knows he really needs to debrief Armada on what exactly the mysterious Decepticon may know, which how Unicron knows. He picks up the semi-conscious form and says to Ravenwing, "He will receive care in Polyhex med bay." Looking back toward the others, he says, "Ghost, you require repairs as well."
Ghost looks as if she didn’t hear Soundwave or is ignoring the need repairs comment. Reaching for the next row of seats, she slide-shuffles to that one, pausing to sway as she continues on her single minded goal of walking out of here under her own power.
Ravenwing turns around to look at her passengers, the angry tightly leashed. None of this had to happen, none of it. She chides herself now for pointing fingers and shoves her anger back out of the way. "I would suggest making sure that Trypticon is fully repaired, fully fueled, and capable of fighting."
Megatron says, "Not only Trypticon, the entire planet of Cybertron will be fully battle ready."
Skywarp says, "Too bad we don’t have any Autobots to throw at it!"
Ravenwing turns her attention now to the silent CatsCradle.
Megatron walks over to his sister, offering her a helping hand.
Ghost glances at the hand, almost snarling.. before she shakes her head, "I'll get out under my own power, sir."
Megatron looks at her. "Ghost, this is not the time for wrongful pride," he says calmly, still offering his help.
Ghost lifts a brow, peering at her brother for a moment before she sighs, "As you wish, sir." She takes the offered hand, moving very very slowly and stiffly.
Megatron decides: "I'll take you directly to the med bay. And I will not listen to any arguments.”
Ghost blinks, before she frowns, "I don’t want to go to medical. I just need to rest. Really. I'm fine!" she rasps, jerking her hand back and standing there on her own power for a moment or three, defiantly.
Megatron says, "No arguments!"
Ghost's optics narrow as she stares at Megatron for a moment longer before shaking her head, "As.. you.. wish."
Skywarp looks and walks towards Megatron. "Megatron, might it be a problem if I'd make a suggestion?"
Megatron says, "What is it, Skywarp?"
Skywarp grins. "You may not like this, but hey.." and stands normal. "Well since we need to destroy that thing, wouldn't it be smart to ask the Autobots to help? It is a common enemy, perhaps let the Autobots loose their fighters while we help from a distance!"  He smirks "Two problems solved in one blow!"
Megatron grumbles: "I will think about it. And now wipe the grin out of your face, Skywarp, and assist CatsCradle. She lost her mate..."
Skywarp nods. "Will do!"  He walks towards CatsCradle then looks down at her.
Ghost tries to use Skywarp’s question asking as a point to make her own egress, sidestepping around another row of seats as she step-staggers towards the exit.
Resyke returns from his brief jaunt outside to check if the planet was still there.. no, really. After what he saw today... Resyke shudders a bit, then scuttles over to where Skywarp stands next to CatsCradle, looking at the femme with sympathetic (and still fluid-filled) optics.
Skywarp looks at Resyke. "Let's get our comrade in the medbay."
Resyke wonders how he's going to be of any help, but nods all the same, not trusting himself to speak.
Megatron shakes his head at his sister and decides to pick her up, carrying her over to the med bay. "Stubborness," he grumbles laconically, "must be a family disease."
Ghost gacks as she gets hauled off of her feet. She tries to flail about albeit weakly. "Let me down! Let me..."
Megatron says, "You hardly can walk by yourself, warrior, so be quiet."
Ghost lets herself go limp, glaring as best she can, "I was .." she trails off, exhaustion settling in for its overdue visit.. "Errr..... No more complaints.. The world just turned 45 degrees off center. I think I'm going to get ill.”
Skywarp bends down and picks up Cats, then walks toward the airlock.
Resyke does his best to help, then hurries after the teleporting Seeker.

****
Repair Bay
        The place Decepticons seek medical care, the repair bay makes every effort to put the patient at ease. The temperature and lighting are optimized for comfort, and the walls are a neutral grey. There are thirty beds along each wall, all with display panels. Equipment and tools are stored in the wall between beds and diagnostic scanners emerge from under the beds when in use. Off of the main room is a an emergency room to be used when conditions become too crowded. Overall the repair bay appears to visitors as somewhat antiquated but still functional. Most severe injuries can be treated here by a skilled medic.

Motormaster was guided here by the trio Ghost assigned to do so.  Now he lays on his side on one of the medbay beds, just kind of looking through the wall on the far side of the room.
Ghost is deposited by Megatron who thereafter departs to go do Megatron-sort-of things. She curls up on her side, her abhorrence for being helpless in medical overcoming her exhaustion and pain to keep her in a brightly aware, agonizing state of being.
Motormaster stirs just a bit as Ghost is brought in, raising his head and looking at her with that dead gaze, lips moving as if he was going to say something, but can't quite find the words.
Ghost turns her head to peer at the other being in the room not a medical drone. She attempts a smile, but the rictus quality of her face seems inclined to not allow that.. She lets out a soft hiss, optics still that dull shade of gray.
Motormaster finally finds his voice, a hoarse thin creature that lacks anything but the wish that life didn't have to hurt so much, "I'm so sorry."
Ghost's veneer of icy emotionlessness starts to crack slightly as she pushes herself up to sit, still staring at Motormaster.. She hiccups.. before sliding off of her own medical table, swaying as she pads wingless over to Motormaster, "My.. fault.. " she rasps, voice still flat and devoid of anything resembling healthy grief.
Motormaster sits up slowly, painfully... he was jostled rather badly in all of the goings-on. But more than that, he lacks much volition. All he does once on his feet is to reach out a hand to caress Ghost's face, his own face wracked with tearless, soundless sobs. He has no more of either to give. "No... not yours... not yours..." And then he moves to pull her into a hug.
Resyke scuttles in, looking upset. Duh. He just kinda stops as he sees Moto and Ghost. The bug was going to blurt out that Skywarp is on his way with CatsCradle.. but these two look like they've got other things to worry about. Sighing, the little cleaner quietly backs out of the room.
Ghost wraps her arms around one of the few beings she has dared to call friend, trying to console him in his loss, patting his shoulder and squeezing tightly. Her voice is a ragged, harsh rasp, "She was... " her words fail her, something akin to a strangled sob quickly quelled by a harsh sense of duty and pride. "She will be missed. More than she ever knew she would be."
Motormaster shakes uncontrollably but subtly, a helpless shiver that encompasses his entire chassis and that she can probably feel as she embraces him. He whispers brokenly, helplessly, "I told her I didn't want her... I told her it was over... I meant to fix things, I was going to do it the minute we got back... if I hadn't ever hurt her, she wouldn't have done this... she'd have stayed with me... what do I do? What do I do?"
Soundwave comes in, carrying the damaged form of Armada., stepping around Resyke carefully as the Insecticon scuttles out of the room.  He carefully puts Armada down on a nearby repair table.
Ghost tightens her hug on Motormaster, feeling the subtle shaking as she tries to think of words to soothe and calm.. This isn’t her cup of tea.. A shuddering sigh and she pats his back, "Cry.." she finally states, "Cry until you can't cry anymore and when you are finished, remember her as she was. The pain.. will not ever depart, but it will dim into a pale ache until you remember more the happiness than the despair that you feel now."
Soundwave begins quietly to work on the mysterious Decepticon, leaving Ghost and Motormaster their peace, though his manner radiates a steady calm that belies his innermost thoughts.
Motormaster slumps against her, burying his face in the older femme's shoulder and sobbing helplessly, strangely vulnerable in a way he never has been. A part of him is as dead as the femme that he loved, and it hurts worse than anything ever has. "Why did she have to be so damn brave... both of them... I should've gone. Not them. Never them. They didn't deserve it. They'd hurt enough!"
Ghost continues to pat Motormaster’s shoulder, fighting her own sense of dismay and distress to provide a strong support for her friend at his darkest moment. Her voice remains raspy, but picks up a glint of its usual alto lilt. "They chose. They are lucky that they could choose. And they went knowing that in doing so, they.. " She chokes a moment, optics flashing a violent violent before returning to that dull ash gray, "They gave us the time to defend ourselves and gain our freedom."
Soundwave fixes Armada's minor damage; his unconscious state seems more from a mental and emotional overload than from any true physical damage. He'll be waiting for the purple Decepticon to awaken of his own accord, so he can have a long talk with him. Finally he turns toward Ghost and Motormaster. His harmonic voice echoes Ghost's words, "She is correct, Motormaster. It was a choice between the death of two, and the death of all. Each of us might have made that same choice, had we been able."
Motormaster turns and looks to the Decepticon shaman, finally releasing Ghost from his tight clasp of her and bleakly looking at Soundwave, “They died for us to live." He looks between them both, as if confirming this... he knows it. It's obvious, but he needs it confirmed. It's all he has. He takes a deep, shaky breath, “I... I shame their memory bein' like this. I'm a leader... my team... the Empire..." He lowers his head, chokes up, and when he speaks again, his voice is low, sad, but finally firm again, “She died for me. I will... I'll make her proud. Duty. That's all I've got. I'll help destroy Unicron. And then...then I'll mourn. For the only people who've ever..." He just shakes his head, unable to finish.
Ghost staggers as the grip is released, having been using that to remain upright. Her hands grip the tables edge tightly, knuckles creaking as she nods once, voice unsteady. "Even leaders need time to grieve for their loss, Motormaster. That is how you.. learn more about.. yourself and... grow stronger."
Soundwave confirms in a quiet reverberation, "They died so that we would live, and continue the fight, so our world may live. At times like this we must sometimes reserve our grief for a later time, and concentrate on duty. Perhaps there will one day be sufficient time to mourn."  He steps over to Ghost and helps steady her. "You require attention as well," he says.
Ravenwing steps silently inside and looks around for Armada.
Soundwave looks toward the door as Ravenwing enters. "Armada's repairs have been seen to. I must confer with him when he awakens."
Motormaster inclines his head in acknowledgment, face still twisted by agonizing sorrow and loss, but a new sort of determination through into the mix as well, “She... they both wouldn't have wanted me to give up. Especially not over them. I just wish... I'd had a chance to say what needed to be said."
Ghost glances at Soundwave, "I'll be fine. Just have to regain my balance.. And Then I'll sit back down.." she says flatly. "Just want to.. Make sure that.. " She frowns, "Motormaster knows that it isn’t his fault."
Soundwave says, "There is never sufficient time." For a moment the optic band flickers slightly, then steadies. "But I believe that if asked, they would be aware of what you wished to say." Another pause. "And if the being that emerged from Unicron has anything left of Divefire to it, he may not be beyond recovery. It is perhaps a false hope, but one I do not intend to give up on until proven to the contrary. I wish I could say the same for Tempest."  He gently but insistently guides Ghost to a seat.
Motormaster nods slowly, seeming to soak that in, "I... hope you're right. I hope he knew... and she knew. And maybe... maybe I can still help /him/, if nothing else." He looks to a window, "Did she... ever tell you where Kilair was?"
Ghost lets herself be eased into a seat, what was left of her drive to stay upright simply fleeing. "I'm sorry.," she mutters, "Should've..." a shake of her head.. "Damn."
Soundwave says, "I have a general idea. She told me a bit of her homeworld."
Motormaster nods, looking mostly tired now, his body demanding that he rest. Somehow, though, he doubts that sleep will come tonight, "I'd like to have what you know, soon. She wanted to take me there. I think... it'd be good if I still went."
Soundwave says, "After we have dealt with the current threat, I will see to it, Motormaster." He murmurs to Ghost, “Just as you wish to assure Motormaster that he bears no blame in today's events, nor do you. There is plenty of recrimination to go around, but it will not help us, nor is it rational. We cannot help how we feel, but we must look beyond our impulses at times.'”
Ghost heaves a rattle-filled sigh, lifting a brow to peer at Soundwave, pushing emotion back out of her voice and expression. "My apologies, Commander."
Motormaster nods, with a sad little smile, “I think she'd like that." And then he stretches out on his back, staring up at the ceiling, and falls silent.
Soundwave takes some energon cubes out of storage, handing one to Ghost and placing another beside Motormaster. It is unlikely they will feel like refueling, he knows, but out of sheer practical concerns they may want to keep their energy levels up. He himself takes up a place at the repair bay computer console and starts working through some of the information he has obtained today. There are still great gaps in the knowledge, but they have more to go on now than before.
Ghost peers at the cube listlessly for a moment before speaking, voice flat, "Commander. You should refuel as well."
Soundwave looks up as Ghost speaks. Inclining his head slightly, he assures her, "I will do so." He makes, however, no move to obtain energon for himself, not having given any sort of timeframe as to *when* he will do so.
Ghost's optics narrow to thin slits as some inkling of emotion rises.. Not a positive one. She jerks herself to her feet, snatches the cube and stalks over to drop it next to Soundwave, "If you would, sir." She states flatly, "do me the honor of joining me in a minor refreshment before you once again submerge yourself in duty."
Soundwave looks at Ghost calmly. "Where have I heard this before?" he asks, making some attempt at humor, but not really succeeding.
Ghost arches a brow, lips threatening to break into either a scowl or a faint wry smile, "Same company, different time. Although this eve I should think that there is too much work to be pilfered away from for a moment of time to recover. " Her voice cracks, lilting alto back, "But you are needed at top form... And .." she lifts a brow, "I would rest much better knowing that whomever is working on this matter is at a full systems’ charge."
Soundwave supposes she's right, with the same logic that he would use. But he senses an opportunity as well. "Then you will join me," he states, and gets up to obtain another cube. That's one way to get other stubborn 'Cons to look after themselves.
Ghost musters up a weak smile, "I would be delighted." She drops back into a seat, wincing at the missing wings. Turning her head, she looks over at Motormaster once more, her expression sliding back under that mask of void.
Soundwave hands her an energon cube for a second time, and then drinks his, returning as soon as possible to his computer screen. "I will see to your wings presently," he assures her, but right now there's a critical bit of information he needs to calculate out.
Ghost shrugs, wincing, "Do as you will. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."
Ghost sips her energon cube slowly, letting herself go stiff as she stares off, mind whirling faster than she can physically follow for the time being.
Soundwave says, "If you wish to speak of the day's events, Ghost, I am listening. I am at the same time formulating what we have learned today, but I am listening."
Ghost glances over, looking blank for a moment before she shakes her head, "You have work to do sir. I have.. time to think.. I have little to say."
Soundwave says, "I am capable of paying attention to more than one matter at a time. The choice is yours, but the offer stands."
Ghost lifts a brow, looking over at Motormaster before she looks back, lips set into a thin frown. "I thank you for the offer, sir."
Motormaster is, to all appearances, actually asleep in spite of his expectation. He twitches occasionally and whimpers at some unpleasant dream that torments him.
Ghost grows distant again, staring off before she peers sidelong at Soundwave, or at some point just over his head and to the left.
Soundwave continues to work quietly at his console. He's aware of the slight movements of the others in the room, of course.
Ghost fehs.. once.. before she peers at Soundwave again. "Sir?" a pause, "I would like to talk about the recent events." Pride doesn’t ease the conscience...
Soundwave pauses in his work. Yes, he can pay attention to numerous things at once, but he also knows when he needs to give his full attention. He turns toward Ghost. "Divefire and Tempest's fate troubles you," he says, and it is not a question.
Ghost nods once. "It bothers me greatly." she says softly.
Soundwave says, "Understandable. And saying yet again that if not for their sacrifice, the whole ship would have been destroyed - including our leader - is of little consolation at this time."
Ghost gives a weak smile, "My mind knows that it was what was needed to insure the safety of all. But I still grieve for those that have lost so much in what should have been a simple maneuver."
Soundwave says, "I know, Ghost. As do I. Young as you are, you have known loss in your time as well, I know. And it does not grow easier, upon having seen it many times. One learns, however, to put one's own needs aside for the time, and concentrate on what must be done. That is not to say you must deny your feelings. But we must all choose the time and the place."
Ghost stares off, optics still ash gray, "There are times for those things and times to work past them." She glances at the resting Motormaster, "I just couldn’t not be strong for those that have far more reason to be in anguish."
Soundwave nods. "There is nothing truly that can be said, beyond the repeated assurances. What the deceased would have wanted. What their purpose was. The reminder that we each might have done the same. But we can be of assistance and support by our presence."
Ghost heaves a sigh again.,... "My apologies, Sir.. But It still disturbs me.. "
Soundwave says, "You need not apologize. What would you have done, though, if you had it to live over again?""
Ghost stares off, "Well..." she trails off, focusing on thinking clearly. She frowns a moment, "If I had been able to, I would have prevented Tempest from being the sacrifice for our departure."
Soundwave nods thoughtfully. "That would have been your instinctive response. Yet in action you stepped between her and Motormaster - do you recall? - so he would not see her intent right away. I believe you had guessed her intention by that time. As had I."
Ghost lifts a brow, "I remember all too clearly. I just did not have the energy to do what I had considered myself. Better one pair separated and my brothers friend alive than.." she shrugs.
Soundwave says, "It was necessary for someone to escape with the information. I was able to get a sense of Unicron's mind when he contacted Armada. Given time I might have been able to analyze the multiple levels of this being's mind, but what I did sense, made it clear that he knows what Armada knows now, and additionally ... that he fears this Autobot artifact, this 'Matrix.' Wherever it may be."
Ghost's optics narrow to slits, "Now that I have a name for this artifact, my hunt for it should be slightly easier." She glares at a wall before giving up on trying to let herself get irate. She's just that weary. "Sir?"
Soundwave tilts his head a bit and observes her., then says, "You may speak your mind to me, Ghost, whatever it may be."
Ghost offers a faint semi-frown, "You have much work to do. And I have much rest to accomplish before I can work. " She smiles warily. "Thank you for speaking with me."
Soundwave regards her steadily, then nods. "I am not difficult to find. Keep me informed of what you discover in the pursuit of this 'Matrix.' And return after you have rested so I may repair your wings."
Ghost lifts a brow, "I wouldn’t be able to do much recon if I were wingless, sir." An attempt at humor. She pauses as she gets out of the seat, still weak but more steady now that she's rested some and had fuel.
Soundwave says, "Good. Then you will take rest cycle first." The optic band shades infinitesimally brighter in a faint 'smile,' then Soundwave turns back to his own tasks.
Ghost glances around before she nods to herself, turning and padding quietly outwards, footfalls uneven but steady. She pauses at the door and glances back if only to reassure herself that some things do continue on despite anything else and in that, she finds a small iota of comfort.

****

BROADCASTS

SOUNDWAVE
     We have learned today that the legends of Unicron, the Chaos Bringer, are based in fact. The fact may not fit the legend precisely, but we do know that the being - for it is a living being - is capable of destroying worlds. My analysis of its trajectory indicates it is indeed heading for Cybertron. Certain events have given it some knowledge of the state of our defenses - which are, to be honest, in less than ideal condition against this threat. We shall have to accomplish in seven days what we presumed we could build over 20 years. Assuming the rate of speed remains constant, I calculate we have only this much time. There are plans in progress, but I encourage all Decepticons who have suggestions toward the implementation of defenses, to make their thoughts known, for this is not the time to be reluctant to speak. (here he pauses for a moment, the optic band shading a little darker, and then continues) The new information we have about Unicron, was obtained at the cost of two lives. Divefire and Tempest sacrificed themselves so that the rest of us might escape, so that Cybertron itself may be properly defended. We must not let them down. We shall triumph against this, our greatest threat, as we have done in the past. But make no mistake, we have a great and difficult battle ahead of us. We may yet lose more brave warriors. But the Decepticons will survive.


MEGATRON
         *Megatron's face appears on the screen. He does not show whatever emotion he is dealing with. However, he looks somehow old and tired. And those who know him well will realize this as a sign of personal consternation that he tries to keep hidden.*
         Decepticons, two brave warriors have given their lives to save their comrades from a threat that is bigger than all dangers we had ever met before. But there is no time for grief yet! We will honor our fallen by stopping the menace, destroying it!
         Within the next few days there will arrive modules for a planet wide defense system. We all have to work together to get it place quickly, fighting the second enemy that threatens us: time! However, we Decepticons will succeed! The foe that heads our way might be powerful, but it is not all-mighty.
         I will not tell you that there will be no further losses - this is a war, and you all know too well what war means. However, our race will survive to fulfill our destiny to rule the universe!


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