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Chapter Five - Nothing
Earth Date August 4, 1986
Sky above Polyhex
Below sprawls the administrative capital of the Decepticon Militarized Zone. From the air, it might possibly be able to make out the original hexagonal design of the city, now built over with newer structures, walls and fortifications. Aerial landmarks that catch one’s attention are the Main Access Plaza and the Pantechnon Amphitheatre. Strip lights from the landing field near the Hangar Bay beckon with invitations to land.
Around the normal anchoring point of the Rodger Young, a swarm of ships move in formations of spirals, streaks and sharp turns, spitting fire that is returned in kind by a now familiar shape. A dark crimson jet of demonic design parries, darts and destroys as if at whim, while occasionally streaking across the Young's bows and letting lose a stream of fire at the old ship.
Ravenwing ponders breaks from hectic work and how they inevitably turn into new crises as she flies upwards from Polyhex to answer the broadband distress calls. She snorts softly to herself at the target and wonders if she should delay her arrival a bit...
Megatron arrives upon Polihex after receiving the alarm. The Rodger Young is under attack. Well, this battle can be shortened.
Ravenwing hmmmmms at the others involved. Megatron, she assumes can handle himself; those other defenders cannot. She fires her thrusters to increase speed and join in their formation, though from the looks of it, they're accomplishing little. It's not for the fragging ship, she tells herself, it's for the warriors dying in defense of it.
CatsCradle flies in, fast and silent, her dark form almost unseen, her over-tired engines pushed to their hardest. As she comes in sight of the aerial battle, she pulls up and transforms, hovering to a stop. She is no less haggard than the night before, and another layer of grime has been added, dulling her paint that much more. Her bleached-optics are about the only part of her visible.
Divefire lances across the bows of the Rodger Young, raining a torrent of plasma across its flank before powering vertically up, fusion engines ablaze as his crimson frame catches the twilight, glinting as laser fire and missiles chase his trail. Vectoring units twist and power the ship into a spiral, flipping it on its axis to catch a cocky seeker unawares with a bright blast of plasma, knocking him from the sky as engines flare again to move him back to speed before his fellows try and avenge the falling Decepticon.
Megatron radios to the defenders. "Decepticons, withdraw from the ship!" And then he heads towards the Rodger Young himself. However, he is not attacking Divefire... he seems to want to enter the ship.
The defenders of the airspace start to fall back after a moment, following their Emperor’s command. Pulling back to a holding pattern away from the Young they await more orders like the good troops that they are.
Ravenwing also pulls back, but now that they're... not safe, but safer, she breaks away from the formation to head in Megatron's direction. The battered CatsCradle is noted, but now isn't the time to speak to her.
Megatron opens a hatch to enter, wary for possible attacks.
Divefire pauses for a moment in his slices through the air, noting the Emperor and the Watcher move closer to his target. With another burst of his engines’ power, he spirals down towards the Young, frame starting to glow with a purple light, energy refracting off his armor as his demonic flight form aims to enter the Young forcibly.
CatsCradle flies down towards the ship at a much slower rate, reluctant and forcing herself to continue. She doesn't seem to notice any of the other ships or her emperor, her gaze frozen on the crimson form, still trying to convince herself that the one creating so much destruction... how could that possibly be her mate?
Megatron leaves the ship after a short while. What the hell has he done in there?
Ravenwing alters course slightly and fires in front of Divefire, at least on his projected heading. She doesn't expect her weapons to be effective, but then his master was easily distracted, and the slave may also be.
CatsCradle winces at the firing, knowing it was to come, but cringing from the reality. She lands on the hull of the ship, crouched against it, her claws squealing into the metal for balance.
Noise cannot be heard in space, but this area is still within the atmosphere. The sound of the Rodger Young’s meson cannon’s activation is audible... but it is not the sound of it powering to fire. It is more a strange humming, that grows louder, vibrating through the entire ship.
Divefire’s descent continues, airframe now glowing a sickly purple along its edges, leaving a trail of power in the sky as he dives down towards the Young. The Watcher’s shot is noted, but with a flare of thrusters and vectoring systems his fame moves to let the shot strike across him, distracting him little from his task at hand. With an unrelenting force he strikes into the Rodger Young, cleaving into and through its outer armor and disappearing inside. The sound that follows moments later, can only be described as the war cry of an angry god...
Ravenwing can guess what's happening, and suspects that Divefire may as well. This is rather... stronger methods than expected, but she has to concur with the Emperor's judgment: Divefire is too dangerous to allow to live. CatsCradle... she sighs inwardly, but one needs to remember that comrades do die in war.
CatsCradle doesn't seem to notice either the sound or the vibration. Instead, she swings down along the hull towards the Divefire-sized tear in the armor, visible for a brief second in the reflections of the ship's lights.
Megatron hasn't realized that Cats is on the ship. He has set the ship's cannon on overload. Better to lose this ship and a living dead, then to endanger Polyhex and its troops.
CatsCradle's hesitant voice sounds over the radio, "Diver? Diver, it's me... I'm right outside the ship. Diver, let me come in, please?"
The sound of small explosions starts to filter out over the sound of the meson cannon overloading from the Rodger Young. Fireballs erupt over it's massive hulking frame, panels of armor buckling then shooting off in vents of plasma gas. Then its entire frame starts to glow, pulsing as the core of the cannon reaches critical and then...
The white nova of the exploding ship slow draws back into itself, leaving a fine trail of particles in the air that slowly flutter back to the surface of Cybertron in an odd representation of snow. In this snow globe like image, a familiar, if unexpected scene plays out. The former Decepticon once known as Divefire hovers away from the coroner of the explosion, his wing cape glowing with a protective aura and the Scavenger known as CatsCradle in his arms...
Ravenwing would arch a brow if she weren't in Fighter mode. Hmmmmmmmm. He remembers CatsCradle after all, but not his loyalty to the Empire. While she's glad that CatsCradle is still among the living, that leaves the problem of Divefire, who has shrugged off one of the most potent attacks of which the Empire is currently capable. If physical force doesn't work... perhaps less physical methods would. Maybe Chasm can actually be of some use for a change... though it's more likely he'd refuse to risk his precious chassis unless bribed.
CatsCradle catches her breath for a moment, stunned by the intensity of the explosion, and uncertain what happened. The arms around her feel familiar... if not physically, then at least emotionally. Her arms slip up reflexively to clutch around his neck, and she presses her face against his throat so she does not have to look at him and accept the differences as reality. As long as she doesn't look...
Megatron doesn't believe what he just heard over radio. Where did CatsCradle come from?! Damn...sure, Divefire was her mate, but... He sets his jaw, determined to not lose another warrior...
Divefire floats in the sky. For all his recent activity, the Harbinger is suddenly very still, a motionless mass of metal, save for a flare of his anti grav systems. If anyone could see his expression at this moment, they would notice it is blank, free of the lines of emotion. Even his optics are dimmed... as if this tranquil moment might last forever...
Illusions however, shatter... And with a howl of demonic furry the Harbinger awakens, cloak flaring outwards with power, optics igniting with a rage not of this world. "What madness is this?!" he booms, staring at what is in his arms. "I am the Harbinger of Chaos, I am Might, made incarnate! I am supreme and nothing is beyond my will! Begone from my grasp, pathetic creature!"
CatsCradle does not make a sign that she heard his words, but her shoulders sag, as if the weight on them increased to an unbearable weight. She stirs in his arms and moves just enough to gently kiss his throat, her lips barely touching his skin. Still without looking into his face, she says softly, in a voice barely above a whisper, "Do you remember, Diver? When I told you how I used to be nothing. Barely more than some creature, starving and insane. And how you told me that I captured your spark, when you didn't think there was any of it left? Do you remember our lake on Earth, and Starwave and Firewave?" Her arms tighten around his neck, fingers locking into the niches of his armor. "Diver... I'm nothing again."
Megatron follows Divefire. No, not another Decepticon shall fall into the "hand" of that thing! "Release CatsCradle, Divefire!"
In the distance the tiny speck of another aircraft is visible.
The next thing Ravenwing knows, there's a mottled jump jet right beside her. "My lady, I heard the explosion...are you all right?"
Ravenwing is maintaining a holding pattern around the epicenter that is Divefire and CatsCradle, watching and listening. This would be out of hearing range for most, but then again she's not most. "I'm fine, Harrier. Stand by until something happens. Perhaps a touch of magic, perhaps a disaster." She's wondering about his own condition, but this probably isn't the right time to ask.
Harrier says, "Roger that," and takes position off her wingtip. Whatever might be going through his mind, it isn't taking his concentration off his flying.
Divefire’s whole body shivers at the contact, though not with pleasure. The expression of the Harbinger reflects a war being raged in his mind. Images crash against mental walls placed by a being of god-like power and deep inside the warrior that once was, a soundless cry echoes out... Its real world reflection is something else however, a flicker of movement and the Harbinger rips the Scavenger from his frame, throwing her towards the Emperor with vehemence. "I am not Divefire! How many more times must you insects be told this?! I am the Harbinger of Chaos, the will of Unicron! I am Destruction incarnate! Behold, witness my power and tremble with the fear of your own destiny!" The demon rages once more, powering up fully, an aurora and halo of power building up around his frame, a fire around his soul worthy of his former name.
Harrier just...stares. He asks Ravenwing stupidly, "Is that...Divefire?!"
CatsCradle curls into a ball as she tumbles through the air, making no effort to stop herself. Her voice a wail of grief, she screams, "Diver... you promised you'd never leave me alone!"
Megatron catches CatsCradle in flight. "You are a fool, Divefire! Do you hear me? A fool! Your 'master' will soon be destroyed!" His optics glow like the fires of hell. This is a vow he makes: Unicron's destruction.
Harrier fires his engines, moving up beside Megatron. CatsCradle's cries disturb him. He hates to see the femme hurting so. And if Megatron needs back up, he shall have it.
Ravenwing wasn't in a position to help with CatsCradle, but the Emperor handles that. She takes up a flanking position on Megatron's other side and answers calmly, "No, that's just Unicron's slave infused with his master's power. And it's been something of a remarkable day in that I've agreed with all of Megatron's words and actions thus far. It can't last for much longer..." Her own temper is under control, but she makes no vows, at least not out loud.
Harrier says, low under his breath, "That...didn't happen to Tempest, did it?"
Megatron addresses Divefire again: "Return to your 'master' and tell him that it will be better for him to avoid this planet. His size will not save him from Megatron's wrath."
CatsCradle screams, "He's in there, I know he is!" She struggles against Megatron's arms, blindly trying to claw away. Her voice breaks, but she keeps on screaming, "Diver, listen to me, dammit, don't leave me alone! Let him go, dammit, LET HIM GO!" Her voice cracks down to nothing, "Let him go," she gasps, repeating it over and over, "Please just let him go, don't leave me alone, Diver, please, let him go..."
Megatron holds CatsCradle secure, despite her attempts to break free. These aren't the first scratches he’s gotten from a female... He answers Harrier: "No, Harrier. Divefire was simply sucked into the thing; Tempest was in the middle of an explosion..."
Divefire at this point is far beyond rational thought, the Harbinger riding the high crest of a wave of power provided by his master. Power echoes out from every port on his body, cape flared wide, arms outstretched forwards, optics so intensely alight they shine out of the frame of his face and into the twilight. The corona of power intensifies as he takes aim in front of him, at the Emperor and those who flank him. "Now... Feel the power of Chaos, taste its unbridled..."
...silence, stillness interrupts the flow of words, halting the demonstration as his optics blink once and one weak word echoes out: "...no..."
A howl of frustration roars out, not from the figure of the Harbinger, but around him, coming from somewhere, and something, else... The crimson and black figure suddenly goes tense, caught in an inevasible grip of high tension as the aurora of power vanishes around him, a silent scream caught in the back of his throat. Then the space around him tears, ripping apart as he is summoned back to the one that created him, the space where he was suddenly replaced with nothing but... Silence.
Harrier is not sure whether to be relieved that Tempest was spared such a fate or sorry that the yellow Seeker is dead. At the moment, he's going to pick relieved. "That thing has control of his body...."
CatsCradle gasps out in small sobbing breaths, "He's still in there, I know he is. He's still in there." Then in a final whisper, "Don't leave me alone..."
Harrier murmurs as gently as he can to CatsCradle, "You're not alone, milady. Your whole side is around you."
Ravenwing glances between the place Divefire was, and CatsCradle now in the Emperor's arms. "Not... entirely. Methinks Unicron was not pleased, and Divefire will now suffer for it. It was thus with Armada's fellow Unicron-spawn. CatsCradle... I believe you did, yes, so there is still hope."
Megatron narrows his optics as Divefire disappears. "It wants war, it will get it," he grumbles. Then he looks at CatsCradle. He knows she was talking to Divefire, and not him, nevertheless, he answers: "We won't leave you alone, CatsCradle.”
CatsCradle manages to choke out, "Diver... the children... my family dead, before they could live." She doesn't have to words to say that she could be in a crowded room... but she'd always still be alone.
Harrier watches Megatron hold CatsCradle. "Sir, how are we going to /fight/ something that could devour a Decepticon whole?"
Megatron silently says: "Don't give up so fast, CatsCradle." He faces Harrier: "We will find its weakness, don't worry, Harrier."
Harrier takes Cats carefully in his arms. "She really does need to go to the repair bay." He looks at Ravenwing to see if she is coming along.
Ravenwing is thinking that this would do Harrier some good, too, and yes, she intends to accompany them.
Repair Bay - Polyhex
Harrier carries CatsCradle into the repair bay and gently lays her on a table.
CatsCradle promptly curls up in a tight ball, her hands pressed against the sides of her head. The palms of her hands are lacerated open, with both fresh and new blood, but she doesn't seem to notice that or where she is.
Ravenwing is also thinking that a Repair Bay isn't the best place for CatsCradle, but it's the best they can do at the moment. At least she seems oblivious of her location. "Restraints...? I don't know if she'll disappear again or not."
Harrier murmurs, "Maybe it would be better if someone were to watch over her. I hate to cage her..." He carefully reaches out a hand to her to see if he can get a response, but something in him knows better than to actually try to touch her.
Thrust folds his arms and watches and wonders just what happened. He must really start reading daily reports more.
Ravenwing nods. "Agreed, especially given her phobia. If not you alone, then round-the-cycle attendants. Don't expect it to be easy, either; she's had stealth training."
Harrier sighs. "Poor thing..." His optics shine down at Cats. "I...know very little about her. Can you tell me more?"
Motormaster steps inside from the engineering deck outside, pausing a moment to let a sonic shower clean some of the dust and such from the construction efforts off him, then continuing on in, purple optics flicking about the room briskly, "What happened?"
Harrier looks upwards at the stranger who has entered the repair bay. He looks, meaningfully, at CatsCradle. "She is...grieving, sir."
CatsCradle lowers her hands from her head, and rolls them into fists, her claws sinking into to the palms, explaining the lacerations. She tucks them under her chin. "I know he's in there," she murmurs blankly. "They can't kill him. He's still in there."
Ravenwing peers at the friend of Catatonia and hopes that CatsCradle hasn't joined her again. Ah, she's still capable of speech after all. "Divefire, slave of Unicron, felt obliged to demonstrate how powerful his master is. Megatron blew up that old navigational hazard that was Straxus' ship in an attempt to destroy him, but it failed. At least in destroying Divefire; the Rodger Young rained all over Polyhex."
Motormaster remains implacable as he looks at the broken CatsCradle, though his optics do catch the light strangely for a moment. Then he looks away again, voice cold and harsh, "If she cannot control herself, then sedate 'r restrain her. We don't have time or manpower to waste on this. If we aren't ready when the time comes, there will be no one left to mourn."
Harrier, having no idea who Motormaster is, snaps back at him, "If you don't mind, SOME of us have lost people in this battle and they deserve a little respect!" Then he returns his attention to CatsCradle. "Hush now...we'll get him back for you...but he needs your help. He needs you to be waiting for him."
CatsCradle blinks, her gaze going from Moto to Harrier and back again. "How much more energon do we need?" she asks in a harsh voice.
Harrier blinks, confused. "Energon?" he repeats.
Ravenwing is torn between sympathy for CatsCradle and acknowledgment that Motormaster is correct. She did her own grieving for her lifemate, but it didn't incapacitate her. Then again, Mandate wasn't turned into a caricature of himself and enslaved by a god, either.
CatsCradle pushes herself up to a half-sitting. "Energon," she says, her voice cracking... something in her vocal unit over-stressed by the screaming. "We need it for the defenses, don't we? How much more?" Her gaze has settled on Moto.
Motormaster doesn't even flinch at Harrier's words, face just as expressionless as ever as he looks down at the smaller mech, "If you are not too foolish to understand the idea, /soldier/, then you might realize that I'm trying to stop that from happening to others. That is my priority. As it is, that wasn't a request for debate from an chivalrous little idiot. It was an order. If you wish to challenge it, feel free to go to one of the warlords. Until then, however, I expect it to be obeyed." He looks to CatsCradle as she does the same to him," We have no set goal. We are getting as much as we can as fast as we can. If it is enough, so be it. If we have too much when the time comes... all the better."
CatsCradle closes her optics, doing a mental count. "I've got about enough ready to fill your trailer, Moto. It's taking me forever to bring it in load by load. After that, I have to go digging again."
Harrier curls his lip and lets out a most ungentlemanly /growl/, rather like someone else we all know... But /this/ one has the self discipline to draw himself up and say, "And who might you be that your orders are ones I should follow?"
Motormaster doesn't withdraw at all.. in fact, he somewhat amazingly continues to simply /not react/ physically, his voice remaining that same cold lash as he snarls to himself, "I don't have /time/ for this." His gaze darts back to Harrier and he snaps out in clipped, precise words, "Motormaster, ranked at level seven in the Decepticon hierarchy and leader of the Stunticon team. Now, unless you feel the need to take samples of my metallic structure and run it through a scanner to make sure, I suggest you find something useful to do." His gaze returns to CatsCradle, "Where?"
Harrier might be tempted to make argument--the hotheaded Valckastan is known for opening his mouth at inopportune times--but there's something in Motormaster's manner that says very loudly that the Stunticon Commander is Not To Be Argued With. Looking somewhat bewildered at his own complacency, Harrier finds himself nodding and asking, "Do you have any suggestions, sir?"
Laserbeak stomps into the room angrily... angry midget bird.
CatsCradle pushes herself off the bed, leaning against it heavily. "The Shadowzones. Some of it ain't the best stuff. Tempest would turn her nose up at it. I never did."
Harrier's optics flicker at bit at Tempest's name...a little whuff of air escapes his intakes...but he keeps the lid on his feelings, and is gratified to see CatsCradle communicating. "Do you...need help carrying any of it?"
Thrust looks down at Beaky and offers an arm.
And for the first time, there might be a reaction from the Stunticon leader to that same name of Tempest, a twitch of his clenched jaw, a flicker in the optics. But it fades in the next moment, and if anything leaves him even more chilled than ever, "Amazing how you weren't interested in orders a moment ago, and now you're willing to take /suggestions/. However, this seems to be an excellent task for you. Gather the energon, bring it here." Again, now to Cats, "Are you fit for duty?" Just that.
Ravenwing studies the Stunticon thoughtfully and ponders whether or not he should be in a command position in his condition. Primus, can't anyone accept that people die in wars all the time? Thankfully, not everyone in the Empire is turned into a basket case on losing friends, lovers, or family members, or there would be no Empire. Her gaze drifts to Harrier, and she nods encouragingly to the boy. It will do him good to keep busy, and he can look after CatsCradle at the same time. As for herself, that supposedly brief break from her work has become rather extended, so it's time she returns to Valckasta. "Carry on," she says softly to Harrier, then heads out.
Harrier nods to Ravenwing, and then turns his attention to CatsCradle. The boy is, it seems a sucker for a femme in distress. "I will...do ask you ask me, m'lady CatsCradle."
CatsCradle looks up at Moto, her tone matching his. "You may be a rank Seven, but I've been fighting this war a hell of a lot longer than you. Don't talk to me about duty. I've saved that energon for four million years. A third of all my rations. Before that, I begged, I stole, I whored, I drained it out of dead bodies. I owe nothing after this, not to anyone, not to the Decepticons. Nothing." Then her voice dies down. "Which is just as well, because nothing is all that's left." She looks down at her hands, stained in grime and blood, still clenched into fists, claws embedded. She lets out a quick breath. "You'd get your hands dirty," she says in a faint, not unkind voice, to Harrier.
Harrier looks at her frankly, his armour gleaming with the finest polish Valckasta has to offer, and he says simply, softly, "What you describe is simply business as usual where I am from."
Motormaster just nods his head once, after all of CatsCradle's tirade, “Very well." He turns without another word to depart.
*Harrier's image comes on the monitor* This evening Polyhex was attacked by the Unicron-possessed Divefire. Megatron attempted to destroy the attacker by blowing up the ship Roger Young with Divefire aboard. The attack was unsuccessful in stopping Divefire and the Roger Young was destroyed. However, it appears Unicron was not impressed with Divefire's actions as he recalled Divefire, who disappeared.
The lady CatsCradle was present and reacted very badly to the sight of her possessed mate. She is currently in my company. It is she who was leaving the energon stockpiles around and we are continuing to unearth new stockpiles and donate them to the war effort against Unicron. I...suggest that a close optic be kept on her. Her mental state leaves somewhat to be desired.
Soundwave, you have my allowance to reactivate Onslaught to complete the Combaticon team...