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Chapter Eight -Truce
Earth Date August 6, 1986

<Cybertron> Double Punch says, "This is border guard Double Punch of Tyrian, currently stationed in Vos.  I have found something rather ... strange.  Request the presence of one with knowledge of the 'Brotherhood of Chaos' organization."

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "Brotherhood of Chaos, eh? What draws you to that conclusion, Double Punch?"

<Cybertron> Double Punch says, "I believe I have found a remnant of one of them.  Or a warning."

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "Acknowledged. I suppose we should have a look at it, though time is rather short... Near Vos, did you say? Harrier was tracking one of them in that region."

<Cybertron> Double Punch says, "I am currently overseeing the construction of the defense cannons in the Hinterlands.  I came upon the object in my patrols."

<Cybertron> CatsCradle's voice is the sound of one who is being pulled in too many directions at one time, and no longer certain which should have the priority.  "I'll be coming, too.  I'm really the wrong part of the research equation, but the other part isn't readily available right now."   A wry note slips into her voice at that last.

<Cybertron> Double Punch says, "I will await your arrival.  Since the Subcommander is currently indisposed [yes, he still uses that title to refer to Skyquake, regardless of how disgraced or how mysteriously vanished Colossus is], I imagine I will have to represent Tyrian for the moment."


****

Vos Hinterland

On the open plain just beyond the empty chemical vats, the immense defense cannons soar upward into the night sky. A combination of Tyrian troops and Polyhex sentries remain at steady work, continuing their efforts to get these defenses active in time. Scattered among the workers are many of the 200 identical new warriors who were given life by Vector Sigma just the day before.

Double Punch is about as far on the perimeter of the scene as one can get and still get a good view of the goings-on, as he's really watching for potential trouble from beyond, his gaze sweeping the horizons. In his clawed hand, he holds a piece of ornate metal, though it's hard to tell what it is, being concealed by the pincher as it is at the moment.

CatsCradle slips out of the darkness, her form barely visible until she steps into the lights cast from the center of activity by the cannons. She heads towards the scorpion-bot, glancing once over at the cannons with a fretful expression.

Double Punch's luminous-green optics zero in on the movement right away, and he waits quietly for CatsCradle to come to him. Save for the light from his optics, he might be a statue, though a somewhat uniquely-colored one.

Ravenwing is not a professional tracker, no, but the individual she seeks betrayed Valckasta, so she has a greater than usual interest in finding him. The glow-in-the-dark paint job of Double Punch is not only known to her, but rather easy to spot, and she transforms in midair before dropping to a light landing near the Scorpion.

Thunderwing comes to a halt in the air for as long as it takes him to find Double Punch, then he lands a short distance away, kicking up dust as he does (much to his eternal chagrin).

Double Punch finally comes to life in the slightest of motion, which is merely a nod in the direction of the new arrivals. The green optics flash perhaps imperceptibly brighter as they pass across the one whom, by circumstance, he happens to be most familiar with, namely Ravenwing - but as Tyrian's representative at the moment, he addresses his words to Thunderwing. Raising the magenta claw tipping his right arm, he opens the pinchers a bit to reveal half a horned helmet. "I found it on my patrol route, as I said. I have been circling the perimeter of the work site. This was not in my path until my fifth orbit. It had been, almost certainly, placed in my way so that it might be found."

CatsCradle glances to Ravenwing. "You said Harrier was out this way? Could he have found it and put it for Double Punch to find, rather than take the time to bring it back? I'd rather hope for that, then think the Brotherhood is being that obvious."

Thunderwing tilts his head as he regards the helmet, and nods slowly, "An attempt to make a point of some kind or the other, then." As the helmet tells him very little, he glances over at Raven and asks, "Would this be part of what we are looking for?" The warlord falls silent, frowns a little and looks back at the working crews, regarding them for a moment before shrugging lightly.

Ravenwing notes, peering at the helmet, "Last I knew, Harrier was looking after you, so it's not likely that he was involved in this." When Thunderwing addresses her, she shakes her head. "Redshift had nothing like this in his design, my Lord."

Double Punch says, "There was no evidence of a nearby struggle. No spilled fuel, no other parts. Merely this."

Ravenwing says, "I'd recommend delivering it to the nearest lab for study, under quarantine. It might have some nasty surprises..."

Thunderwing nods again, to both officers, then looks back at the cannons and scowls, "Ominous place for such a thing to be placed, then. These..." He gestures towards the massive weapons, "...are being checked for any signs of sabotage, then?"

Over by the looming defense cannons, there's a ripple of commotion among the workers.

CatsCradle snorts softly. "Planted, then, just to watch us go nuts trying to solve the puzzle in two more days." She rubs at her forehead wearily, then glances quickly at the commotion. "Now what?"

Thunderwing frowns and echoes Cats' sentiment, "Indeed..." Oh, please don't let the cannons be having a meltdown or something. That would be Bad. Possibly even Very Bad.

Double Punch spins toward the murmur of sound and changed pattern of activity even as an eruption of laser fire and missiles converges on the cannon supports from behind the old Vos storage vats. Something's moving between them, firing as it goes, and the Tyrian warriors and Polyhex sentries immediately leap to respond, taking up a stance to protect the cannons.

Double Punch snarls, "This little souvenir was left as a prelude to *this*, perhaps!" He shifts into scorpion mode even as he speaks, and races toward the battle, the lethal tail swinging up over his back and the many legs making him appear to nearly skim over the ground.

Ravenwing takes a quick glance around to place everyone's positions. Her lord, she expects can take care of himself, but she gives CatsCradle a brief frown before she darts after Double Punch, making no visible preparations... but then again, her weaponry is normally out of sight.

CatsCradle snarls softly, "Two hundred new troops, and none of them can stop... whatever it is?" Then she looks suddenly frightened. "Unless those 200 are suddenly wigging out." The last thing they need is the loss of so much cannon fodder... er... mech-power now. She pelts after the scorpion, blending from shadow to shadow even more so than usual. Dirt on top of dark paint tends to make that easier.

Shapes flash into view against the explosions, which are, as of yet, doing minimal damage to the cannons. They're vehicle modes - and silhouetted against a burst of light, one transforms into the unmistakable silhouette of Optimus Prime. How he got here from Earth, and how long he's been here in the underground, is anyone's guess.

The two hundred new troops are certainly acting in a coordinated defensive effort, but they can only spread out so far from the cannons before leaving them an unprotected target. And the attackers have cover to hide behind as they keep moving and firing and moving on.

Thunderwing follows the others, his right arm beginning to reshape itself into a rather ugly weapon...before it slides back into its original shape again. When met with the somewhat incongruous sight of the Autobot leader, the Valckastan apparently reconsiders his strategy, but does not slow his pace. He mutters softly under his breath something to the fact of Autobots being more paranoid than certain others he could mention.

Ravenwing recalls the proposals for a truce, if not an alliance with the Autobots, and slows her approach, her silver optics narrowed in thought as Ultra Magnus appears as well. She finally stops altogether and glances back at her Lord. "Negotiations might be in order, my Lord." The Matrix, and whoever holds it, is left unmentioned for now.

Prime's voice sounds from somewhere behind cover, accompanied by another barrage of missiles and laser shots. "We must destroy the Decepticons' evil weapons of destruction!" Someone hasn't been listening to the broadband reports, it would seem - or, for some reason, doesn't care.

Ultra Magnus transforms and peers out at the rising structure of the cannons. Behind him, several other Autobots glance in the direction of Prime's words, a little uncertainly - and then follow their leader's orders, trusting in him.

Ravenwing raises her own voice in so-polite inquiry, "Oh, are you allied with Unicron to destroy Cybertron? A little... self-defeating, isn't it?"

CatsCradle eases the speed of her own approach, hands fisting nervously. Torn between millennia of hostility, with the pent-up rage and grief of the last week... and the sudden memory of Alpha Trion's words. She glances up to the night sky in the general direction of the last place she saw her mate. Then, it seems as if the decision is taken from her anyway, as Prime's words echo across to her.

Thunderwing has also noticed the larger Autobot and nods to Ravenwing, "Agreed." He grimaces as someone's aim is just a -little- off (or rather accurate, depending on whose side the shooter was on), and dodges a plasma burst. Well, -that- did nothing for his mood, nor did the commentary about 'evil weapons of destruction' and he pushes as close to the front line as he can and voices his objections somewhat less eloquently than his Director of Security, "HOLD!" Megs, he ain't, and he can only pray this actually has -some- kind of effect.

Double Punch has ducked into the shadows amidst the smoke and flames, trusting the new and established troops to protect the cannons. He for his part wants some prey of his own, and is just about ready to lunge at the momentarily distracted Mirage, when Thunderwing's command pauses him as well.

It's Ultra Magnus, not Prime, who motions to the others to hold their fire for a moment. Prime himself steps forward warily. His form is that which was seen on the ship which reappeared after the Autobots were thought destroyed - certainly recognizable as Prime, but somehow more powerful, more armored, and bristling with missiles. "Since when do you make yourself a target, Thunderwing?" he demands.

CatsCradle says in a soft, but clear voice, "Perhaps that should indicate how urgent the situation is, Prime."

Double Punch edges backwards and curls his legs under him, to leap toward the nearby Mirage, should the balance need to be tipped again. Seeing their comrade torn asunder in the massive pinchers, might give the Autobots cause to re-think their strategy, if they're not willing to hear out the Valckastan lord.

Normally, Ravenwing would let her Lord take care of himself, but this is somewhat greater artillery than one would normally face in battle, and she drops back to his side. Offering the sweetest of smirks, "I'm a nice target, too, Optimus Prime, but perhaps there's more to this than you may know..." Where *have* the Autobots been that they know nothing of what's going on? Oh, of course... underground. She raises her optics to gaze briefly heavenwards, then back to the business at hand.

Thunderwing smirks at the Autobot leader, even though his new appearance does make him blink before regaining his equanimity, "Since the Autobots became secondary threats...at best. You do realize what is out there, moving towards us, do you not?"

Slowly the defenders of the cannons also cease fire, though their weapons are still very much aimed in the direction of the attackers.

Optimus Prime says, "We have detected your attempts to draw us out of hiding, yes. And yet here before us is the evidence that you wish to lure us to our own destruction." The blue optics shimmer strangely. The Autobot leader, not the sharpest tactician at the best of times, seems at this moment to be overlooking some very obvious points. Ultra Magnus gives him a somewhat worried look and steps out of hiding a little to approach his leader, to stand with him in a united front.

Thunderwing arches a brow at the Autobot leader, then glances over at the assembled 'bots. He does not have the familiarity with the mech that others do, but all of this is...strange... He sighs and shakes his head, "No more than you wish our destruction, I assure you, Prime. But tell me, do these 'weapons of destruction' not seem rather...awkwardly made for the purpose of destroying you?" He looks pointedly at the cannons and the way they are aimed into space.

Prime says, "Explain your treachery, Decepticon."

Arrayed behind Ultra Magnus, some of the other Autobots stir a bit uncomfortably, exchanging glances. They still grip their weapons, and some look with hopeful optics to their leader, but ... there seems a definite concern passing among them in silent communication.

CatsCradle adds, "You might notice that there are an awful lot of troops aimed and you and /not/ firing? Think about it, Prime. We've got bigger problems than you, now, and you can either help us, or get out of our way." Her optics flash, the first sign of light from them in days. "Unless you really want this planet to be eaten with you on it. Personally, I have a much bigger stake in it than that."

Ultra Magnus speaks quietly, trying to pitch his voice low enough so that only Prime can hear him, but those with sharp senses will pick it up none the less. "Prime - the cannons are positioned to fire *out* into space. All those transmissions we've intercepted ... I don't think it's a hoax."

Ravenwing shakes her head slightly and ponders taking the first opportunity to off Prime. Not out of any anger or hate, but simply because he's too stupid to live. This isn't the Optimus Prime they've fought for so long, and... his troops seem to have their own doubts. She arches a brow at what she hears, then glances to her lord, expecting he's seen the same in them.

Thunderwing sighs and notes dryly, "Treachery? None. Merely the attempt at saving our world. These cannons were constructed for the purpose of dealing with Unicron." He nods at CatsCradle's words, "You would do well to listen to her, Prime. And if you are still convinced we are doing all of this to destroy you, then I believe Vector Sigma...and Alpha Trion will beg to differ." The Valckastan speaks those legendary names so mildly, and lets the words sink in for a moment, before continuing with a gesture to the newly created Decepticons, "It was convinced enough to grant us these..." Now, his words seem more directed towards the other Autobots, rather than their leader.

Thunderwing looks intently at the assembled Autobot troops, actually feeling some small sympathy with their quandary. Then he allows himself a quick, scrutinizing glance back at Prime and frowns, wishing for the presence of Soundwave, for something about all of this just makes a little voice in the back of his head scream.

Prime's optics flicker momentarily. For a moment he's silent, apparently listening ... though his attention is focused elsewhere as his head tilts a little. Then he snaps back to life, the powerful weapon in his hand coming up as he calls commandingly, "Autobots, do not be deceived! Attack!" He bolts forward, straight toward the base of the cannon structure, and out of sheer habit and long-standing training and admiration, a half-dozen smaller Autobots burst from hiding as well, before even stopping to think about it. Ultra Magnus stands there and stares after Prime in utter bafflement.

Ravenwing says, "Stop him, Magnus, or we will."

Thunderwing mutters an extremely uncouth (and fortunately, rather arcane) curse, but holds up his hand, "Decepticons, hold! Do not attack. If you can somehow incapacitate them with minimal damage, do so." Thoughts whirling at a thousand miles a minute, he too turns an appeal to saner minds...that is Ultra Magnus, "Yes, stop him. Surely you know there is something -wrong- about this."

Ultra Magnus simply can't bring himself to fire on Prime, his vaunted commander, but it's very clear to him now that there's something very wrong. This is corroborated almost at the same instant, as another individual bursts out of hiding to join Prime, screaming an insane battle cry. Upon his head, he wears half a horned helmet. The Valckastans might recognize him as their wayward warrior, Redshift. Together, he and Prime make for the cannons, firing off lasers and missiles.

The Decepticons, new and old, for their part, restrain their own instincts to attack, and instead leap for the onrushing duo to attempt to pound them into submission.

CatsCradle does not move. Instead she folds her arms and waits for the 200 or so new 'Cons to dog-pile on the Autobots. "Well, now we at least know where the helmet came from."

The other Autobots screech to a halt beside Ultra Magnus, their better judgment having overcome their reflex reaction.

Thunderwing fully expects to be lynched by his own people after giving such an order, but doesn't hold high hopes for his survival, should Unicron actually make it to Cybertron, so it's a risk worth taking. He is about to utter something else, then the little voice finally makes itself understood and the Valckastan falls absolutely silent, optics widening as he gleans a shred of a horrible truth. "...Colossus..." he whispers, then turns to the floundering Magnus with a renewed sense of urgency, "Prime...how long has he been like this? What happened?"

Ultra Magnus finally breaks his own horrified paralysis to rush forward, as his leader and the helmeted Brother are buried under a pile of Decepticons. A clash of metal and a mess of flailing limbs hide all detail, until Prime, in vehicle mode, bursts from among them, running down one hapless Decepticon and roaring off toward the distance.

Ravenwing's optics widen, then narrow in turn as things are suddenly made very clear... No need to inquire of Double Punch how long Colossus has been misbehaving; they all know perfectly well when it started. She gives the mech a commiserating look, though, and tells him softly, "Best to contact Skyquake. He needs to take full command of Vos/Tyrian. Also, the Predacons need to track Prime."

Double Punch too bolts out of hiding, but the escaping Autobot leader in his vehicle mode is far faster than he.

Ultra Magnus calls after him, "Prime-!" but without much hope of a reply. Clutching his weapon in frustration and anger, he realizes he has to make some choices now. "Autobots, stand down," he emphasizes to the others, and turns to Thunderwing. "That was ... not Prime. Not the Prime we have known."

CatsCradle's optics have returned to their startling white-lavender paleness. "There seems to be a lot of that going around," she says weakly.

A sleek jumpjet comes flying in from the east only to see...Thunderwing and Ultra Magnus in discussion?!

Thunderwing nods to the Autobot, then takes a moment to survey what progress is being made in subduing Redshift. Then he remembers the mech unfortunate enough to be run over by Prime, "Call medical staff out here." he asks of no one in particular before turning back to Magnus, "As CatsCradle said; we have experienced something similar ourselves. An otherwise sane and competent mech suddenly behaving very erratically, even bordering on paranoia. Does this sound at all familiar?"

The Tyrian warriors and Polyhex sentries slowly untangle themselves, to reveal a quite mangled individual in their midst, still bearing the battered half of the horned helmet. The cannons, though scored with laser fire and damaged in some support struts by missile impacts, are not severely hit, though there has been some setback in the work now.

CatsCradle points to Redshift, or rather to the helmet. "Bring that over, would you?" she calls. "I want to see what the whole thing looks like. Maybe there's an inscription or patterning on it, or something." Her expression shows that she'll try anything at this point.

Ultra Magnus looks reluctant, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. Finally he nods once. "He never gave an explanation of where he was rebuilt," he admits, "and at first, he seemed quite normal. But in time, with little things, there was more and more paranoia."

Harrier transforms and comes up behind Ravenwing. He glances around at the Tyrians. Miracle number one...the Valckastans and Tyrians are getting along. Miracle number two...With the Autobots.

Ironhide gives Ultra Magnus a glare. "It's *still* Prime," he drawls. "He's still our leader, and we've got a responsibility to him."

Double Punch keeps suspicious watch on the Autobots, the claws of his multiple legs clicking softly on the ground as he shifts his weight subtly from one to the other.

CatsCradle's optics fade a little further, and she finds herself giving Ironhide a sympathetic look. "Does he still show signs of Prime's personality, just overlaid by someone else?"

Ironhide answers vehemently, "You betcha, lady. He's still Prime."

CatsCradle gives a soft sigh. "Yes. He would be." She looks back in the direction she last saw her mate. "I have one of those, too."

One of the brand-new Tyrian troops pulls the twisted helmet-half off the remains of Redshift, and brings it over to CatsCradle as asked.

Ultra Magnus sighs and says, "He may still be Prime, but even you have to admit he's been quite irrational lately. And all these transmissions about the Great Devourer ... we can't just ignore that."

Thunderwing frowns and nods, but does not answer immediately, as he first glares irritably at Ironhide. He is more than happy to leave that one to Cats, however (and may Primus have mercy on the mech...), and turns back to Magnus and such answers as can be had there, "He and Colossus, then. Both have not been themselves, shall we say? Can we agree that they are probably influenced by an outside source?" He's 'seen' signs of it, of course, but it's always good to have these things confirmed.

Harrier's optics widen. He looks over at Double Punch. "Colossus was...infected by that...Unicron thing?"

Double Punch's pinchers snap together one after the other in a sharp metallic sound as Thunderwing speaks of his leader. The tail curls up defensively. Very grudgingly he says, "Lord Colossus was ... somewhat overly paranoid in recent times, perhaps."

Ravenwing is listening, but has also taken the opportunity to take a closer look at Redshift. No, things do not bode well for that mech, but she's not unjust. If he's simply "under the influence", he'll be locked up until this affair is done with. If, however, he's a willing traitor, then he dies. She suspects the former to the latter, though.

CatsCradle's gaze returns to rest thoughtfully on Prime. "He wasn't reconfigured, though. Maybe the hold isn't as strong on him, as it is on Diver?"

Ultra Magnus says, "We too have heard the legends of Unicron. Some of them, admittedly, filtered from information you Decepticons have gathered. If Unicron has the power to influence mechs from afar, he'd do everything possible to sabotage Cybertron's defensive efforts. It only makes sense."

Thunderwing nods and turns a look which holds something which might be sympathy to CatsCradle, "I have yet to encounter the Herald, but that would be my guess. And Prime seems somewhat changed, physically, which is...ominous."

Harrier murmurs, "Well that explains a bloody thing or two." Which, granted, is better than having Harrier think that Colossus was a nut-case.

Thunderwing takes a deep 'breath' and turns a sidelong look to Ravenwing, before addressing Ultra Magnus with the air of someone taking the first step out on very thin ice indeed, "Agreed. And bearing in mind that common enemy, powerful as he is, there is something I wish to ask you."

Sunstreaker and Sideswipe look up a the looming cannons. "It's not like we have the resources to build something like that," Sunstreaker mutters darkly to his brother. "Thanks to *them*," with a slight nod toward the Decepticons.

Ultra Magnus ignores the grumbling of his troops, and faces Thunderwing squarely.

CatsCradle's voice seems more distant. "Diver was actually pulled in by Unicron, rebuilt. That may be why the influence is so strongly held over him. And he was hard to stop before... now..." her voice trails off. She blinks and turns back to Ironhide. "But Diver's still in there."

Ravenwing can guess at the question and sends Redshift to Vos detention for now. Returning to her Lord's side, she crosses her arms and waits. After all, isn't this what Alpha Trion himself recommended?

Thunderwing looks up at the much taller mech and smirks wryly, stepping fully out on the metaphorical ice and hearing it creak all around him, "You come highly recommended as a source of information, Ultra Magnus, therefore...the Matrix, where is it?"

Harrier murmurs to Ravenwing, "What's the Matrix?"

Ultra Magnus actually "blinks" as his blue optics flicker dark and then bright again. "How could you know about...?" he murmurs softly.

Thunderwing smirks at the Autobot, "...an artifact of such religious and social importance to the Autobots that the records and tales are littered with references to it, if one knows where to look?" Well, that, and it also helps to have someone from another universe come up and tell you about it...

The Tyrian troops should really be getting back to work on the cannons. But, the thought doesn't seem to cross anyone's mind. Several hundred Decepticons intently observe the small group of Autobots in their midst, making no hostile moves.

CatsCradle suddenly realizes the poor Tyrian mech is still standing patiently beside her with the helmet. She takes it with a flickering smile of apology, and looks it over. Nothing. That seems to becoming her chant phrase. Nothingnothingnothing. Still, she'd go any direction now, if there was any sign of hope. Then as Thunderwing mentions the Matrix, she looks up sharply again, the helmet already forgotten once more.

Ravenwing says, "Not to mention that Alpha Trion was so good as to direct us to you."

Thunderwing nods along with Raven, "Oh, yes, that as well."

Ultra Magnus is silent for a long moment. "The Matrix is ... in a safe place," he says at last. "I had it removed to a place of safe keeping after Prime's unusual behavior." A mutter of dissent from the Autobots behind him. Ironhide, in particular, regards the big Autobot warrior with something akin to horror. But Magnus doesn't notice, or if he does, he steels himself and forges ahead. "It was meant to go to Prime when the time is right. As of now ... he can no longer be considered the Matrix Bearer until we free him from this evil influence."

Thunderwing considers that prospect and ventures, "Something which seems unlikely while Unicron is still in existence, no?" Well, perhaps Soundwave could do it...and perhaps not. Either case, a Unispawn telepath is just a little too scary to even contemplate.

Double Punch asks, "What is this Matrix? A weapon? An emblem?"

Harrier shrugs helplessly. "I haven't the foggiest."

Ironhide butts in again and demands of Thunderwing, "Why do you want to know, Decepticon?"

CatsCradle sends a quick hiss to Ironhide, "Look, just put it aside until this is over. If you care as much about Prime as you say you do, this maybe our only chance." Her voice goes taut. "I know that I'd bargain with Unicron myself, if it meant that I'd get my mate back, so the least you can do is be civil to us."

Thunderwing calls over his shoulder for the benefit of Harrier and Double Punch, "Both, certainly, and perhaps more than that." Once again, he is interrupted and glares at Ironhide. That mech is just...offensive, "Because, Autobot, I have it on very good authority that the Matrix is the only thing which could even come close to permanently deactivating Unicron. You do know of its power, do you not, or has your education been somewhat lacking in that regard?" Oh, but he isn't absolutely fascinated by the thing. Noooo...of course not.

Ultra Magnus gives Ironhide a warning look. " 'Light our darkest hour,'” he quotes. Is it possible?"

Thunderwing vaguely recognizes the quote from one of the endless texts he has been studying lately and shrugs, "Have you a better alternative?"

Ironhide grumbles something to himself and withdraws to stand with Jazz. The group seems torn between their distrust of the Decepticons - a distrust which is shading over onto Ultra Magnus at the moment - and their own concerns, having witnessed Prime's increasingly irrational behavior. And of course, there's the threat of Unicron itself.

Ultra Magnus takes another chance. "You Decepticons don't want this world destroyed any more than we do. That much, I can believe. You have the resources to build conventional weaponry, and I know you've been doing just that. We have the Matrix. What we lack is information. If we're to work together to face the common enemy, I'll ask you to share with us what you've gathered - and we, in turn, will share what we know. I can ... access the Matrix, when the time comes." A shadow darkens his optics; will he be the one to unleash the legendary power of this sacred artifact, rather than Optimus Prime, to whom it was promised? It doesn’t sit right with him. But he will do what he must.

Ravenwing hmmmmms and slowly, carefully opens a side compartment to retrieve some datadisk. Hopefully the Autobots won't have hysterics while she does so... Once they're in hand, she holds them out towards Magnus. "Perhaps one of your people can play back these scanner logs. It might give you an idea of what we face."

Ultra Magnus seems faintly surprised by the objectionless offer of data. He nods his thanks, steps forward, and accepts the disk. "I will have a courier sent to you with what information we have," he promises.

Thunderwing looks back at the Decepticons to see if anyone will voice violent objections to this, but seems quite pleased when Ravenwing makes what could be seen as the first gesture of goodwill. He inclines his head to Magnus and smirks wryly, "This probably feels as unnatural to you as it does to me, but it also seems to be the only way. I shall make similar arrangements for the Decepticon side."

CatsCradle says softly, "I'll supply copies of Diver's reports. All he learned before --" she breaks off.

Double Punch shifts his weight across his many scorpion-legs again, glowering at the Autobots. Itching to launch into an attack after all? Or are his thoughts a million miles away ... perhaps with the fate of his own lord?

Magnus nods to CatsCradle. "I will send word about where we can make a safe exchange." He still maintains precautions. Turning to the other Autobots, and keeping up an air of confidence and command, he announces, "Autobots, roll out - we have a battle to prepare for, and our leader to reclaim."

Ultra Magnus transforms into his troop-carrier mode, and drives off, followed - after a brief moment's hesitation - by the other Autobots. Ironhide favors the Decepticons with a last glare, before he too turns away and brings up the rear.

CatsCradle says slowly, "Unicron's taken Prime and Colossus... two of the leaders. And Diver was the fastest and one of the best fighters... he's taking the most powerful for himself, one by one."

Ravenwing makes a quick radio call after the mech. "You might try influencing your Lord with reminders of the past, of those he cares for, memories of better times. Remind him of who he was."

As he drives off, Ultra Magnus radios back to Ravenwing, "I'll make that attempt. Thanks. Lady Ravenwing, isn't it?"

Harrier murmurs, "Necessity makes strange bedfellows." It is a concept he knows well.

Double Punch peers at the Valckastan, but makes no reply.

As the Autobots drive off, the Tyrian and Polyhex troops realize they've been idling, and hurriedly get back to work on the cannons.

Ravenwing smirks at the incoming transmission, though not necessarily at Magnus. "A stealth operative who's known by the enemy, alas." To Magnus, she responds evenly, "I must confess that you are correct, Ultra Magnus."

Harrier shrugs at Double Punch. "I knew a mech in the spaceways...he originally wore their logo."

Double Punch says, "I suppose they can be made *useful*."

CatsCradle turns the piece of the helmet around in her hands a few more times, in case she missed seeing anything the first time. "I think," she says rather distantly, "that I should probably go back to my egg hunt. I really wish I had kept better track of where I hid them."

Double Punch turns away, scuttling off to go back to his patrols. He's determined that no more surprise visitors will disturb the construction.

Harrier murmurs to CatsCradle, 'Do you need any assistance?"

CatsCradle blinks back at Harrier. "Actually.... if you could..." She pulls out a data pad. "Today, I concentrated on locating spots. They're listed here. If you could get them brought in, that would leave me free to keep looking."

Harrier frowns a little. "I was intending on accompanying you..." But...they /do / need the energon...

Ravenwing studies CatsCradle for a moment, then says softly, "You did well today, CatsCradle. Your words were heard, and more importantly, felt by the Autobots. Diktat's influence, perhaps?"

CatsCradle says softly, "I'm not very good company right now. All I do when I'm alone is try to talk to Diver. Constantly. I /know/ he's listening." Then she looks at Raven. "I think... the influence has to do more with desperation, than Diktat."

Ravenwing says, "As long as it works."

Harrier murmurs, "I'm not looking for a partner for cocktails...I was...wondering if perhaps the company would give you any comfort."

Laserbeak soars overhead, squaking to those present.

Ravenwing is somewhat pensive, considering the implications that came of this cycle's encounter with the Autobots. So... Colossus' behaviour now have a logical explanation, but the situation is not quite the same as Divefire's. Influence versus possession. She nods a greeting to Laserbeak.

Laserbeak lands on CatsCradle's shoulder, giving her a soft squak in greeting

****

RUMORS
Maybe it's the tension of impending doom, or maybe it's just because they're young and inexperienced - but the rumor going around among the newly-created Tyrian troops is that a mysterious figure has been sighted on occasion near Starscream's memorial in Vos. He looks like a standard seeker design, in pale-silver and red - but when one looks more closely or goes to address him, he's gone without a trace. Border Guard Double Punch has been heard to threaten that anyone who sneaks up on the Vos cannons *again* will meet their end between his claws....



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