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Chapter Three - Plans Begin

Earth Date August 3, 1986

Command Center

Megatron tests the radio connections to the defense systems on the asteroids.  The first set is functional.

While Megatron is so distracted, someone slips into the room from an old Transformer-sized service duct that has been long forgotten. A paw quietly slips it back into place so it is not discovered by the leader and sealed up. Quietly the intruder approaches the commander, and there is a momentary pause as she stops... before a voice breaks the normal sounds of the room, "You know it won't work."

Megatron frowns for a second, surprised. Then he starts to grin. "So, you've developed into a weapons expert, young lady?" He slowly turns around, facing his daughter.

Armada chooses this instant to explore the command center. He's never been to Polyhex here before much, and he's sick of waiting in the repair bay. As he steps through the doors into the room, he's struck by how similar this command center is to the one he knew in his universe. Spotting Megatron, the Unispawn strides over and salutes the Emperor carefully, waiting to be addressed before offering anything.

Ruse slits her optics. "Well my father is a gun...," she answers back in a teasing tone. She adds, "Seriously though.. I come back from one of my journeys to find you trying to put out a fire with a can of oxygen.. I can't believe you can't see how this will fail." She gives a casual look to Armada as she almost comes close to insulting Megatron ... but not quite... and hey someone has to be around to tell him when he is making a mistake when Soundwave is not.

Megatron studies her for a while. Sometimes she reminds him of her brother with the difference that the Decepticon leader cannot really be angry with her. She has the right charm to twist her daddy around her little finger. "If you use it right you can fight fire with fire, young lady." Of course, he knows that the traditional methods won't really be a match for the threat that's heading their way, but they can gain moments of precious time.

Armada watches this exchange with some disbelief at first, then as the relationship dawns on him, with some concealed amusement. He has no 'blood' relatives here, but his relationship with Cyclonus (and some degree, Scourge) was similar. Of the conversation, he can only assume they are talking about Cybertron's defenses against Unicron.

Ruse nods her head slightly in agreement, "True ... but this won't. It will in fact cause the creature coming towards us to grow stronger. After all … it absorbed a moon filled with antimatter, what will a few cannons do but be absorbed as well?" She is doing well to hide her current mixed feelings about her father from him. Her tone is steady and neither insulting nor friendly.

Megatron looks at her, his optics are very serious. "It is heading this way anyway..." He points at the defense systems. "These are stationed in the belt of asteroids. They may tempt this thing to stay there for a while." He takes a seat. "We are working on other possibilities to stop it, Ruse. Including those aside from the conventional ways."

Ruse inquires somewhat curiously, "Such as?" She tilts her head and flicks her tail blade back and forth a bit in mild show of excitement of learning what secret plans others might not know....

Armada finally speaks, despite his usual habit of not doing so unless spoken to first. But in this case, he feels like he is the resident expert. "My lord, I must agree with my comrade here. Even our most powerful battle stations will be like gnats to Unicron. If they do not simply anger him, which is something I recommend against, they will merely provide more sustenance. I do not wish to sound defeatist, but I think a mass evacuation of all non-essential personnel and artifacts and information would be wise. Just in case."

Megatron smirks painfully. "I agree with you, Armada. And we have an escape plan - however, we need all personnel to prepare the planet." He turns to his daughter again. "Curious, aren't we?"

Ruse glances to Armada and hms, "...considering I am out of the loop. Yes." She transforms suddenly in a burst of motion, then walks over and extends a hand, "I am Ruse. Sorry to have not noticed you. You are a new creation to the ranks, I assume?" She shades her optics a bit brighter and smirks, glancing back to Megatron, "One with half a lasercore to think ahead and caution even the mighty Megatron with words of wisdom, just in case."

Armada takes Ruse's hand and grasps it firmly before letting go. "Armada, but I am not a new creation here. My origins are... unique here." He glances at Megatron, but figures the rumors are already all over anyway; best head them off. "I am not of this universe and was created by... Unicron there." His optics watch intently for any reaction. "Though he does not hold me under any sway."

Ruse stares at Armada and instantly becomes ... uneasy ... taking a step back, "I see. Yet you rebel against your creator. Hm." She crosses her arms and glances to Megatron and awaits him to perhaps tell her of some of the ... more important events she has knowledge of already through rumors taken with a grain of salt.

Megatron nods. "The only true expert on the matter we have." He rubs his chin. "What - beside the usual weaponry and the artifact - have you used, trying to stop this thing, Armada?"

Thrust strolls in, looking as if he can't believe he remembered how to get here.... He looks at then,  thinks for a moment, then turns to Megatron.  “Megatron... will.... can we beat this thing?"

Megatron says, "Either we will succeed or we will be doomed, Thrust. Those are the simple facts."

Thrust looks surprised for a moment, then regains his composure. "I follow you without question; you are my leader ... and now you can't tell me one way or the other?"

Ruse says, "Thrust, we will survive ... that is a given. We are mobile creatures, after all, not like Earth plant life. However our 'home' may be destroyed if we cannot destroy Unicron, and as a result, much of our history as ... will be gone forever."

There's a shuffle in the doorway, as if someone is hesitating outside ... then the figure makes up his mind and steps into the doorway with a sharp salute, though he says nothing.

Megatron notices the figure that entered, setting his jaw plates as he realize who he is. "Welcome, Harrier," he says slowly.

Harrier takes a step forward into the room. The young mech's optics betray an obvious concern, but he's doing his best to show a stiff upper lip in the face of whatever's worrying him. "I have ... heard rumors of great trouble for the Empire," he begins. "I am here to offer my help."

Thrust says, "So what are we going to do to fight this thing? Just how /can/ we fight this thing?"

Ruse smirks, "Looks like all the roamers are finding their way back to protect their home this eve..." Herself included. She glances to Thrust, "That is a question you should ask Armada."

Thrust looks to Armada, "And what can you tell us? Have you told Megatron everything he needs to know to make us victorious against this?"

Armada is quiet for some time as he considers Megatron's question about Unicron. He finally speaks, his voice low and intense, "I was not exactly on the side fighting against Unicron until the end, but there was only the one artifact that he feared. Even the might of all the gestalts and Dinobots were but mere dents on his shell. I was taken from that place before the very end, but I know now that Cybertron was victorious, though at terrible cost."

Megatron stands, walking over to Harrier, while responding to Armada: "They didn't consider using very small 'weapons'?"

Harrier is obviously having a difficult time. His hands shake as he does his best not to blurt out the question on his mind and instead act as befits a soldier.

Megatron says, "I appreciate your offer, Harrier. We will need all the help we get."

Thrust mutters, "If this thing eats planets, it will make short work of us.  I don't see how we can win...."

Ruse says, "... such a strike requires knowledge of a very vital 'weak spot,' commander. Information currently not in our possession."

Harrier looks around the room and then finds a way to begin. "I heard ... only rumors, in Valckasta, of your recon mission. I wondered..."

Thrust says, "But someone fast enough might be able to get in. We don't have anyone fast enough ... anymore. "

Armada tries to consider what 'small weapons' Megatron might be talking about. "All the combined power of Cybertron, Autobot, Decepticon, and otherwise, did little to my creator." He addresses Thrust and Ruse, "Unicron must have weak points, but even I do not know them. If we could somehow get inside to his neural cortex, we might be able to stop him. But it would be exceedingly difficult; not only to find it, but if we get too close, we would be devoured."

Harrier turns pale at the word "devoured."

Thrust's optics widen, "D…devoured? Oh thank you, for that mental image...." He regains his composure, and then looks to everyone. "Why can't we find a way to bring a scout ship up behind him and then one of us gets off and sneaks"

Ruse says, "Because he is the size of a planet. Could one travel in stealth to his mind in the time left to us?"

Thrust says, "Perhaps we could poison him? Coal energon....."  He shakes his head suddenly.  "That's a lot of coal ... that was stupid...." He sighs and thinks maybe he should shut up.

Ruse says, "If antimatter didn't give him food poisoning, I don't think energon coal would even make him burp."

Armada frowns, "You do not understand. Unicron devours entire planetary systems. Do you think he cannot compensate for 'unpleasant' minerals?"

Megatron says, "I wonder how he would react to cosmic rust..."

Armada says, "Perhaps if such a disease were to get past his external defenses and into the vulnerable systems."

Ruse looks to Armada, "Ok, so, you said he was afraid of something. What was it?"

Armada looks at Megatron in response to Ruse's question, "That is not for me to reveal."

Harrier becomes more and more agitated, though he hardly seems to be hearing the conversation. He forces himself to listen. "This thing ... eats planets?"

Thrust looks to Harrier, "Yup."

Harrier gulps and asks Thrust, "What about ... individual Transformers?"

Thrust says, "Seasoning, I would assume."

Armada doesn't bother to verify Thrust's comment.

Megatron decides, "Harrier, I think we should talk outside - privately."

Harrier nods and draws himself to attention at Megatron's order. He steps back to allow Megatron to leave first.


Throne Room

        This chamber is largely used for ceremonial purposes, such as the declaration of duels (which nowadays must usually be approved by the reigning Emperor or his court) or the giving of ceremonial awards. While impressive with its vast space, walls laminated in regal purple, small knee-sized statues of previous emperors and its imposing steel throne on a raised dais, the throne room is a decorative anachronism and a relic of past eras of Imperial decadence.

Harrier salutes at the doorway again, his optics filled with worry and ... yes, dread. "You wished to see me, sir?"

Megatron looks towards the end of the hall where the throne is. This hall isn't his style - too much pomp for his taste. Instead of answering, he asks, "What do you want to know?"

Harrier bows his head and murmurs, "Tempest's present condition, sir. The rumors..." He bites off. No need to repeat them. Megatron will know the truth.

Megatron turns around, facing the other. "She is dead, Harrier," he answers, trying to keep his voice steady.

Harrier had been expecting those words, but just because he'd been figuring that he would hear them, does not mean that he was /ready/ to hear them or to accept what they really mean. He takes a step backwards, stumbles, goes down on one knee. He knows Megatron is speaking the truth and he does not know what to say, simply dimming his optics and wishing there had been some mistake.

Megatron quietly adds, "She refused all orders to return to the ship..." He walks over to the other mech. "I..." He doesn't know what to say.

Harrier gets up, facing Megatron, though his optics are shining with tears. "I ... was afraid she would do something like that some day." He pauses. "I ... thought she was doing well, for a while."

Megatron says, "Maybe ... she found her peace now..." Why doesn't he believe that? Maybe he simply doesn't /want/ to believe it.

Harrier bows his head. "She used to say she would tear down everything to destruction if she could ... did she ever tell you that?" He looks up at him, searching for someone to share his loss.

Megatron sets his jaw. "She had the potential to do great things, but she refused to see it." He rubs his forehead. "Her loss will leave a large gap in the hearts of her friends..." And he is one of them.

Harrier shakes his head. "Did she do /anything/ to hurt it, at least?"

Megatron says, "She set up an explosion inside that thing's inlet, giving us the chance to escape its tractor beams."

Harrier sighs. "There's that at least, that it wasn't all just a waste." He shakes his head again. "Though I can never imagine her playing the hero." A pause. "She ... wanted to die, didn't she?"

Megatron unconsciously shakes his head. "A survivor doesn't want to die," he murmurs.  "I think she wanted revenge..."

Harrier tilts his head. "Revenge? On who..."

Megatron stares into the distance. "This thing is a giant killing machine. The personification of the ultimate predator ... something destiny had turned Tempest into - a predator."

Harrier nods. "The personification of the universe she hated." He lets out a sigh. "I wish I'd been there to stop her."

Megatron shakes his head. "You would not have been able to. Motormaster wasn't able to stop her either."

Megatron to Soundwave
         I have seen the threat myself, and it is apparent to me that our defense system will only stop it for a while; this planet-eating machine can not be defeated in traditional ways. Then let's try unusual ways.
         The "legend" of Unicron seems to be true, so the "legend" of the artifact that can defeat him might be true as well. I want Valckasta to continue following its tracks.
         Further I want the analyses of the data we received. Possibly, we may find a weak spot on that thing. Maybe we have to think "small" to deal with it: a virus for example. Chasm should be prepared in this case.
         I'm even pondering the possibility of infecting it with Cosmic Rust.
         In any case, we will do everything to stop the Planeteater. Even if that means I have to get sucked into it to tear it apart from the inside!

On to Chapter Four

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