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Chapter Eleven - The End
Earth Date August 8, 1986

CYBERTRON NEWSCAST

CatsCradle
     CatsCradle's face appears once more. She seems more alert, although her optics are still faded. "Last night, Unicron's Heralds appeared again at the Training Grounds during the rescue efforts. The results were..." She looks blank for a moment, then shakes her head. "Megatron injured the one who was Divefire badly, and as we watched, Unicron's power reformed him."
     She is quiet for another long moment, then she leans forward into the camera. "Today is the day when it ends, one way or another. We are no longer Decepticons fighting Autobots, or Autobots fighting Decepticons. We are Cybertronians fighting for our world, our home, and... and those we love and have ever loved. Be strong, all of you. Miracles do happen." and she smiles faintly. "I have seen it."


LASERBEAK
     (The broken and battered visage of the tiny cassette-condor replaces the Spinny, and he has streams of energon coming down from his optics.)) "We all know I'm not the most rational mech here, but If I'm capable of learning anything, I know the Empire, for every compatriot of hers lost to an enemy will take ten. Tis our way, Tis /THE/ way. ((Brief footage of Divefire, Tempest and Ghost all relaxing on the beach in the pacific outside Trypticon is shown, as the condor actually begins to sob.)) "Well, dammit, I for one shalt not stand idly by while this death toll mounts. I must disagree with my Lord Megatron, I feel this Cosmic Rust idea will not work. So I propose whilst that attack is in operation, we load two away shuttles, Blast Off, carrying his fellow Combaticons, and Astrotrain carrying another crew of warriors. I propose a full blown assault on this thing. I ask not for the Empire, but for those who've fallen, Vengeance must be had. Laserbeak...out. ((He bows his head, clearly grief stricken as the screen returns to the spinny.))


MOTORMASTER
     <Motormaster's head and shoulders replace the Decepticon spinny, and it doesn't take a medic to see that he's still in bad shape. His face is a morass of scars and roughly patched tears, while his shoulders bear great dents and places where all paint has been carved away to reveal gunmetal gray. And... the especially observant might note that this is a lot closer than he usually zooms in. That his shoulders are tensed, as if bearing the burden of leaning on something. As if he doesn't want anyone to know he's on the verge of collapse.>
     Evenin', folks. Anybody who knows me knows I ain't exactly an eloquent speaker. I leave th' fiery, motivational speeches to Megatron an' the warlords, and do what I can with how I act. But today... somethin' hit me that I can't count on anyone else ta say. So bear with me, please.
     I had my own run-in with the Harbingers, as you probably know. The ones who've taken Divefire and Ghost's bodies. And the male one... he said somethin' to me. He called himself a disciple of Unicron. A representative of a greater power, tool of a god. And who knows, maybe he's right. I couldn't picture anyone but a God managin' ta make either of those two give way. And Unicron has been part of our myths as far back as we can tell. The Great Devourer, the Chaosbringer. But I've read those myths too, and I read about something in them. The opposite of him. An entity known as Primus.
     *He lowers his head, smiles faintly, tiredly* It just made me bitter at first when I lay there thinkin' about it last night. Where's our godlike powers? Where's our planet-sized champion? I asked myself all o' that an' more. I said to myself 'Unicron's here, so where's this other guy that we've never seen?' And then, somewhere down the line... I realized somethin'. I have seen the face of Primus. Not in anything so obvious as Unicron... but in somethin', in the end, far more powerful. I've seen it in comrades riskin' their lives ta save a soldier who's already dyin'. I've seen it in a laugh amongst friends over an inside joke. I've seen it in the courage that makes a terrified private pick up his gun and fight for what he believes in. And most of all, I've seen it in the love between mates.
     It might not seem like much, and I'm not askin' anyone to believe what I believe. I could be wrong. That could just be /us/, our own strength. But even if it is, I will tell you this. I would rather put faith in all those little bonds between us, in the loyalty and trust that makes us an Empire and the brotherhood that makes us Cybertronians, than in some oversized bully who's had his way for far, far too long. The one is worth dyin' for... the other is just an arrogant threat ta get pushed outta th' way. So... Cybertron and the Empire forever... and may Primus be wit' you whatever dangers you might face in the comin' darkness.
     Motormaster, out.
<Spinny>

****
Unicron
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.
With a flash, a small object leaves FTL-space and appears on the edge of the system. It's contours are quite recognizable, being unique in this universe. And he also re-emerges far closer to Unicron than he intended, the giant Transformer having moved since last he saw it.
Ghost is but a darker speck amidst the shadow cast by the monster planet itself. Wrapped within a veil of wispy emerald tinted plasmic fields, the femme seems to be in a state of utter rest. Until a thread of thought not of her own jolts her awake, optics flaring violet. Slowly, she unwraps her arms and wing-spars from around herself, drifting out of the planet eaters shadow in order to take a look at what has garnered her masters attention.
From inside Armada’s alt-mode, Ravenwing winces at what she sees on the viewscreen. Frag it, he'll be in striking range in an hour or two. She also feels uncomfortably close to Unicron, but assumes that Armada knows what he's doing.
Armada banks silently in the void of space, engines pulsing at low power as he tries to escape attention. Though he thinks now that's unlikely. "Damn," he utters to his passenger, "Hang on." He powers up his weapons systems. He does not yet detect the stealthy new Herald, but that doesn't mean he's taking any chances.
Ghost's wing spars fan out behind her, venting plasma for a brief moment before shadowfields wrap around the energy, forming spectral wings. Her attention is focused /for/ her on the movement that was noted and she is directed to intercept. Turing to transform, she instead ignites those fields, becoming a deep violet flash of movement on an intercept course.
Armada's radar flashes a small blip before it disappears. He silently curses to himself as the other craft suddenly becomes all-too visible. The Unispawn craft suddenly ignites his engines and attempts to blast past Unicron and the interceptor before it can reach him. He's not hopeful this will work, but it can't exactly hurt at this point. "Ravenwing," he emits, "are you capable of returning to the surface on your own?"
Ravenwing snorts softly. "Certainly, but my arrival is bound to be rather... unpleasant due to re-entry friction." She peers at the instrumentation in the cockpit, trying to translate it to more familiar terms. "Is that one of them? Doesn't look like Divefire..."
Ghost twists in space, watching as the other craft gains distance. A shake of her head and she once again goes to transform, wing spars flashing an incandescent fire as she shifts and changes, folding and.. rippling in on herself. Then, engines flare up with a sickly green hue, sending the interceptor proper towards her target.
Armada is at first hopeful as he gains some ground, but that changes drastically as the Herald transforms and is almost upon them. "Dammit. I would assume it is Ghost, from reports. And you might want to consider risking re-entry... it would give you a better chance than being ensnared by Unicron." As he says this, he fires off a neutron torpedo at the approaching interceptor, knowing it will do little, but hoping it will slow her down long enough.
Ravenwing tries something else... and radios Ghost, "Please break off your pursuit. We have other things that have yet to be done." She shakes her head at Armada's suggestion and points out, "I am not space-capable and would be a slow, easy target."
Ghost pulls up, with down being towards Cybertron, wings of the craft folding and curving as she wingovers, a tight roll accomplished as the torpedoes energy flashes into space. The subsequent wavefront of neutrons causes the craft to shudder once, counting the break away maneuver as the spectral wings wink out for a moment, the plasma venting to space in a kaleidoscope of color. Ravenwing can hear a click as the message is received and a short static staccato sent in return, pulses of simple static transmitting a message even as the craft begins to try and pull away, limping on engines until the wings reform. (Morse code, the joy of all recon says: Make haste, lady. There is no more time to read tales)
Armada is surprised by Ghost's actions, but takes the opportunity to blast towards Cybertron. Wonders never cease.. and this becomes more apparent when, in a less hopeful moment, a booming voice echoes through Armada's systems. Through some trick of the event, the voice is audible inside the cockpit of the spacejet.
"Armada. I am... Unicron. Join me and I will give you back the power you once knew and more..." Suddenly, Armada's engines sputter out by no will of his own and a surge of power through his frame makes the instruments and lights aboard flare brightly with a violet aura. Unpowered, the craft hurtles toward the planet despite its efforts to regain control.
"No!! I will not submit to you! I renounce that which I once was..." The Unispawn's voice trails off weakly as the surge of power is suddenly released and the echoing voice seems disappointed. "Very well. You may join your brethren in oblivion." Armada's engines come back on and he frantically maneuvers to not fall into a lethal re-entry vector.
Ghost's wings 'catch' back as the craft goes into a tight flip end-over-end, sliding to take back off towards the fleeing Armada, engines blazing brightly. It’s only a 30 second journey as her 'leash' is yanked, the craft veering tightly back towards Unicron proper for more orders...
Ravenwing makes a habit of strapping herself in, unlike a lot of other people, so while she's bounced around a bit by the on-off-on again maneuvers, nothing worse happens. "Odd how he has so much trouble gaining servants with any intelligence. Or not so odd, I suppose." Those words are not broadcast, simply spoken; no need to infuriate the Great Devourer.
Armada doesn't bother to reply to Ravenwing or transmit anything else to anyone. He's still quite disturbed by this whole encounter and just wants to get away. Firing his maneuvering jets, the spacejet coasts towards Cybertron and into its thin atmosphere.


****

Repair Bay

CatsCradle sits on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, chin resting on them, arms wrapped around them. And energon drip still runs into one arm; she has obviously gone through recent repairs, although they are merely functional, rather than with any thought to cosmetics. The result is a hodgepodge of mismatched and unpainted pieces. Her back armor and wings have been replaced, although they are the flat silver of base metal, and the adjacent armor shows heavy burns and bubbling where they had taken a wound of intense heat. Even though the new pieces are far from a pure silver color, they are still a strong contrast to the darkness of the rest of her armor, still covered with several layers of dirt and grime... as if the medics had no further time to dedicate to the repairs, other than for function alone... or perhaps out of fear for the femme's reputed treatment of medics. Her claws have been filed sharp again, until the silver shows through the ragged paint. Although her purple optics are the lightest shade outside of white, she appears to be at near-full recharge, indicating that the lack of color is from stress, rather than fatigue. She cannot seem to sit still, her fingers worrying at each other, or clenched tightly into fists to hide their tremors, and although her palms were also recently patched, flecks of blood are beginning to appear from the abuse the skin is taking from her claws curling into it. She seems to have aged and grown fragile and small. Still, her expression is calm. The waiting is over. Either she comes home tonight with her mate... or Cybertron is destroyed and she will not come home at all.

Motormaster has just finished making his little recording to be posted for all to view, and the moment he is done, the arms that were indeed propping him up give way, slumping him exhaustedly into a seat. His entire frame looks terrible, about as bad as CatsCradle's... but he, too, has that same oddly peaceful expression in his optics. He turns the chair around to face her, and manages a sincere smile, even though it looks like the expression would hurt, dragging himself to his feet once more to limp over to her bed and sit on the corner, "I never did get a chance to thank ya fer savin' me."

CatsCradle blinks, coming out of her own thoughts. "No thanks were ever necessary," she says softly. "I just wish... I could have done something more. Pull Diver out of it, so it never would have happened." She shakes her head, pressing against the sides of her head with the palms of her hands. "I keep going over it in my mind, over and over, trying to think of something I could have done differently. Something else to try."

Motormaster shakes his head slowly, "You did everythin' you could, Cats. Whatever happens, this wasn't your fault in any way. You've been the only one who could reach him at all, an' you've saved lives by doing so. And who knows, maybe if we win, you can save his too."

CatsCradle gives him a haunted look. "I've run out of things to try. I tried hanging on to him, telling him that the only way he was going to get rid of me was to kill me. He tossed me off like I was..." she sighs. "...like I was nothing. I even thought of trying to stage something, so he thought someone was going to kill me in front of him. That was really my last resort. It would have to look real... but then Ghost tried to kill me, and if anything, it only made him worse. And now... I just don't know what else to try."

Motormaster nods once, "I'm afraid that as long as Unicron is still in power, he's goin' ta beyond anybody's ability ta break th' controls."

Laserbeak slowly stirs in his repair bed

CatsCradle says softly, "I thought... I came so close a few times. Especially after he saved me at the Rodger Young... but he's gotten so much worse yesterday. I thought he really was going to kill me himself. Then Diver slipped out again... and..." her voice goes light, childlike and lost. "... he said goodbye to me..."

At her words, Motormaster’s face goes bleak with sympathy, and he reaches out a hand to take hers and offer whatever comfort he can, "I'm sorry." What else is there to say?

CatsCradle looks back at him. "I don't know whether to give up all hope... or grab on it that much more tightly, because it meant he was still in there. Still." She looks away again, toying with the tubing from the energon drip going into her arm.

Laserbeak looks around wearily and spots a downtrodden duo of Cats and Motormaster, weakly raising a wing in greeting to them.

Motormaster looks back to Laserbeak as he moves, and smiles just a bit in relief to see the bird is alive, "Welcome back ta th' land o' th' livin', Beak." He then offers in a final, soft aside to CatsCradle, "Never give up. Unless he's dead and gone, there's hope."

CatsCradle gives Laserbeak a weak smile, then her gaze goes back to Moto. "Megatron believes there's hope. He believes he can bring Ghost back. And if a siblings' bond can do it, I have to keep believing that I can do it, too." She sighs. "I just wish the waiting was over."

Laserbeak slowly speaks with a pronounced grimace on his face "Ruse and Resyke are they? The last thing I remember was..."

Motormaster responds, "They're fine... beaten up like us, but fine all the same. They're going to be okay if we get through tonight." And to both of them, head lowered, "The wait'll be over soon."

CatsCradle says quickly, "They'll be fine. Needed to have parts of them put back together again..." and again the weak smile, "... but that seems to be the latest fashion style anyway." She ruefully touches one of the replaced panels, shining dully without paint.

Motormaster asks softly, "Do you think she'd be proud of how I've handled myself?" He probably doesn't need to explain who.

CatsCradle's optics go startled. "Oh, yes, Moto. You've... you've stayed strong. Stronger than me. So much more."

Laserbeak gives the obligatory smile and attempts to hop down from the bed, but really does more of a fall, as his dented frame lands to the floor.

Motormaster nods once, firming his jaw with a squeak from jury-rig repairs, "Then that's enough for me. Thank you."

CatsCradle tugs again at the tubing. "Now, me... she'd have probably pounded me senseless by now. I understood her... but she never understood me, I don't think. Such similar backgrounds, and such different directions from it."

Motormaster watches Beak topple with a modicum of concern in his optics, "You gonna be ready to fight tonight, little mech?" Then to CatsCradle with a tired smile, "Nah. She'd understand. She might pretend she didn't, or be confused, but she always understood at some level."

Laserbeak shakes his head "I'm always ready, and remind me to buy Dive and Ghost drinks when we get them back..."

CatsCradle smiles again at the bird. "Just be sure to refuel, in all your readiness." She shakes her head again, more in rueful amusement at herself. She is certainly not one to talk on that front.

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "Unicron is within two hours of Cybertron, if he maintains his present velocity."

Two medics lead away Motormaster, intending to do their best to get him to combat readiness before the big moment arrives.  He gives a small wave to CatsCradle and Laserbeak as he departs.

CatsCradle's gaze follows the Stunticon, then she gives a little leap at the radio transmission. "Damn, I could fly there myself by now." From her expression, she is clearly tempted.  She suddenly gives a sharp sound and looks impatiently at the energon drip. Almost empty. She flicks the line to get the last few drops, then quickly withdraws the needle in her fuel line, pressing down on it with a drop of sealant with the surprising ease of someone who has done the process before. She snaps the panel shut and eases herself off the bed. "I can't take it anymore. I'm going to go see."

****

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.


Ravenwing has just seen Armada off; the mech had a brush with the Dark Side and was somewhat shaken. He only has a couple of hours to get over it, though.

Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "The Ark Wannabe has been sent to Lutha with all our records and noncombatant personnel. I only just returned with Armada and saw that Unicron is about an hour away."
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "...so soon? *sigh* Well, that was only to be expected, one supposes, but... *is this mech capable of voicing regret? If so, there is a trace of it in is voice, then it is banished and resolve takes its place* Very well. But...Ravenwing, honestly...'Ark Wannabe'? Not that it matters now, mind."
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "Alas, my lord, but it seemed so very appropriate, considering Colossus' insistence on gaining possession of the Ark, and that this craft was to take its place."
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "Primus...one wonders what future scholars will make of our civilization, should that which we leave on Lutha be all that remains, 'ere the cycle has passed. But very well, 'Ark Wannabe' it is."
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "The collection of data is complete, and they should have an accurate picture of who we are or were. Regardless of what happens today, the Empire will go on... and speaking of going on... *you* should also be elsewhere."
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "...pardon? *juuuust a hint of ice there*"
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "*innocently* That, or *very* quickly create your Heir and send him or her off to Lutha."
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "*is not amused in the slightest* Or you could simply return to stasis and remain there."
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "Alas, the facilities don't exist off planet. Doesn't it seem... logical that the succession be ensured? Plus, there are no particularly high-ranking officers with the Ark Wannabe."
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "*vocal smirk* Then you may bring Spinister along with you. I am sure the two of you will manage."
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "There's another that would be more likely... You are certain that we should risk both of us this way, my Lord? *ponders Armada, ponders waiting until doom is upon them, *then* hitting her stubborn sire over the head and packing him off in Armada*"
Thunderwing transmits to Ravenwing: "Both? Hardly. As you have admitted yourself, you lack experience in combat. What may well be the last stand of our kind is hardly the place or the time to begin practicing."
Ravenwing transmits to Thunderwing: "What better time than now? *drops the subject, secure in the knowledge that she has a plan* O:)"
****
CONFIDENTIAL MESSAGE
THUNDERWING
Greetings Armada.
As you well know, I have always encouraged my officers to think for themselves and not obey my directives blindly. I also greatly value the insights offered by those under my command. This time, however, I will issue an order which will -not- be questioned, disobeyed, or even subjected to creative interpretation: Should it become apparent that Unicron will emerge victorious in the inevitable confrontation to come, you are to take Ravenwing and evacuate her to Lutha. No doubt she will protest most vigorously, but do not let that deter you. Browbeat her with her duty to Valckasta in capacity of being my Heir if you must. In fact, if you must in any way incapacitate her in order to secure some manner of success, you have my blessing to do so. The spirit of Valckasta must survive, and Ravenwing was created to be its future ruler.
On a more pragmatic note, her combat skills will, if you are correct about Unicron, make little difference on the battlefield. Being the person she is, she will be far more adept at taking charge of matters on Lutha.

****

Airfield

CatsCradle strides onto the airfield, her gaze more attuned towards the sky than to anything else. The lights from the area give her a strange appearance, her old armor still darkened with grime, and the unpainted parts of her replaced armor, wings, back and palms, gleam a dull silver. She sees Ravenwing and makes her way over to her. "Can you see it yet?"

Laserbeak limps after CatsCradle

Ravenwing snorts softly. "We saw him on the way in, and Armada had to do some maneuvering to get past him. About two hours away, CatsCradle." She peers closely at the femme and says, "It may yet come down to you, and whether or not your mate listens to you. Even if he doesn't appear to, there is still hope." She ponders telling them what she learned from Ghost, but that's a high security level bit of information.

CatsCradle's hands pull at each other, tugging at her claws. "I don't know what else to try. He let Ghost try to kill me yesterday."

Ravenwing says, "It may have appeared that way. Just... continue talking to him."

Laserbeak frowns "I guess my suggestion for an away team is pretty pointless, since he'll be here quicker then Domino's." Chasm's TV influence shines through yet again.

CatsCradle says faintly, "I haven't stopped talking to him. Every minute possible. I used to be able to tell that he was listening. I just knew, somehow. Now... I just can't tell anymore."

Ravenwing nods. "His master's presence is probably overwhelming." To Laserbeak, she points out gently, "An away team wouldn't bother Trypticon, let alone Unicron. There are measures in place, both open and covert. We shall shortly see if they are good enough. If not... a colony has been established somewhere, along with all our records. Even if we die, the Empire will live on."

CatsCradle adds, just as softly, "And there's still Earth..."

Ravenwing says, "If Unicron leaves it. It is the next available... meal."

CatsCradle speaks suddenly, with more energy. "D'you know, this was where I first met Diver? He came from Earth, bringing energon. It was the first source we had seen in millennia. He landed over there..." and she points, "I told him later that he had been a miracle to a starving planet. He didn't believe it, couldn't think that of himself. But he had been asleep so long... and he had never been starving." She makes no notice of Ravenwing's words of Earth's fate, as if she didn't hear them.

Laserbeak watches the two femmes converse as his gaze just stares out into space, almost awaiting his fate.

Ravenwing wonders if the other femme is losing it... "Remind him of that. Even if your words get no response, there may be a cumulative effect. Don't give up on him."

CatsCradle doesn't look at her, her gaze still on the sky. "He's never stopped being a miracle to me. If we just haven't used our miracles up..."

Ravenwing's silver optics light up in amusement, for the first time in weeks, and she almost smiles. Not at anything CatsCradle may have said, but at the incoming transmission from her Lord. She shakes her head, trying to maintain her composure, and tells CatsCradle, "In a way, all existence is a miracle. We shall see, and very shortly."

CatsCradle sighs. "Good. I can't take the waiting. Each time I see him, he gets worse." She presses her palms to her temples again. "Thank Primus this will be the last time. I can't take any more."

Ravenwing siiiighs. "You can because you must. Necessity is an excellent motivator, and we have quite a bit of that. I'm not saying that things aren't very grim, but neither are they hopeless. No one thing is likely to stop him, but perhaps a combination of efforts, between the cannons of Vos and a few other classified methods may at least hurt him badly enough to force him away. With more time, we can develop more effective measures."

CatsCradle nods. "Yes... yes, I can buy time."

Ravenwing says, "Buy time, and perhaps repossess his spirit."

Scorcher limps slightly as she walks onto the airfield. She looks exhausted and drained, and badly in need of a maintenance cycle or two

Motormaster looks to be in not much better shape than Scorcher as he too walks in a short while behind her... but at some point in the very recent past, frantically working medics have gotten him up to combat readiness at least. He's still not painted, and in fact has lost more coats in the replacement of various armor panels and such, but he stands tall again. Oh yeah, and somebody fished his sword out of the fallen building, because he's carrying that with him.

Laserbeak gives Scorch a feeble, painful wave of the wing.

Scorcher sort of waves at the group and finds herself something to lean to while she sits down "It's almost here, isn't it?" she asks

CatsCradle all but paces in place as she scans the sky, looking for the first sight of either the planet-eater... or the Heralds... and having absolutely no idea what to do when she sees them. She looks little better than Moto, with the same mismatched and unpainted armoring, and the rest still with its layers of dirt. "Yeah," she says softly in answer to Scorcher.

Motormaster absently rests the blade of his sword across the back of his shoulders behind his head, the saw-teeth still for the moment all along the length where it stretches out a good couple feet into empty air. He, too, looks to the sky. "Zero hour."

Ravenwing leans against a hangar, her silver optics narrowed speculatively as she maintains a leisurely radio conversation with her Lord while waiting for Armada to return. She, too, seems as tired as anyone else but still has the energy to offer nods of greetings to the new arrivals. Scorcher gets a more searching look.

Scorcher looks up too "Think it will be quick?" she asks softly. She seems resigned, not the panic you might expect from her. She looks in better shape than most assembled here, but she too has seen action, ferrying vital construction materials under heavy fire

CatsCradle says, "I think you will be too busy to notice time spans."

Scorcher sighs deeply. "Well. The big guns are ready. Or so I'm told. They're hooking up the power supply or something. We didn't lose too many construction crew, all things considered, between the Autobots and those spooks attacking."

Motormaster notes absently, "Probably helped that most o' the Autobots are workin' wit' us now."

Scorcher raises her eyebrows at that. "They are?"

CatsCradle gives Moto a faint smile. "And we've a few more troops on top of that. Now, if Resyke pulls through with his task, we at least have a good sized force."

Laserbeak doesn't even note the new arrivals as he continues to gaze skyward "The Time is upon us methinks."

Motormaster nods to Scorcher, "Unicron's gonna eat us all th' same, no matter what symbol yer wearin'. Next ta that... well, it makes folks willin' ta sign a few truces they wouldn't otherwise. End o' the world'll do that to you." He then smiles at CatsCradle, "Everybody workin' together. Never figured on it."

CatsCradle repeats something similar from her broadcast. "We're Cybertronians today. Not factions of armies."

Scorcher looks at the nightsky again. She does not expect to see it again. She wonders if she has time to go visit the two cyberjets who are back in the repairbay in critical condition. To say goodbye or something even though they can not hear her.

Laserbeak says, "You think a would be destroyer of everything could get here already so I can get this done and have a drink, rather inconsiderate of him if ya ask me."  He takes a bottle with exactly one shot left in it out of his hidden compartment, and tilts it back, and as he finishes it he says "Good till the last drop."

Motormaster turns his head as the other four Stunticons trail in, each in their own various states of disrepair. None of them say anything for once, just join the general crowd and look up as well.

<Cybertron> Polyhex conveys to the other Decepticon warlords the image of Trypticon arriving in the Polyhex main plaza. As the huge tyrannosaur-shaped Decepticon touches down, an entry hatch in his side opens up, and out spills a veritable swarm of Insecticon clones.

Skyjack and Snowscape walk onto the airfield, both looking battered and worn out, but freshly recharged.

Scorcher shuts down her optics and most other non essential systems, preserving energon while waiting for Unicron to show up

Skyjack walks over to where he spots Scorcher. "I thought I told you to recharge." he says. "You haven't been back to it, have you?"

Snowscape chuckles "She did, boss."

Skyjack glares down at the femme. "Writing 'DIE UNICRON!' in mile high letters on the world shield is NOT proper use of resources, youngster!"

Armada enters from the hangar bay, where'd he'd been commiserating with his own thoughts in a dark corner.  He makes his way over to Ravenwing's side, glancing at her a moment with intensity before returning his attention to the other Decepticons and then, too, peering up into the sky. Though he doesn't need to look... he can feel Unicron.

Ravenwing glances up as Armada approaches and recalls one last detail that needs to be done... She straightens up and takes several steps away from the small gathering, beckoning Armada to accompany her.  She lowers her voice even though they're out of easy hearing distance. "One last thing... Valckasta's succession must be ensured, and to do *that*, I must ask something of you that may seem like treason..."

Armada arches an optic ridge, also listening to the broadcasts, but nods, listening.

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Megatron.  Trypticon and the Insecticons have arrived.  Orbital defense platforms stand at readiness.  Vos cannons are prepared.  Space bridge relay centers have been distributed at various points across Cybertron.  What are your orders, Commander?"

Ravenwing pauses, as she really doesn't like what she has to say. "While I am Thunderwing's creation, I am not necessarily his Heir, so that leaves him as the only Lord High Commander. Even if I *were* his Heir, he is the more experienced Lord, while I am... expendable. The point of all this is that I am asking you to get him off of Cybertron should it look like all is lost. He will not go willingly, either, but it is necessary."

Armada's optics dim slightly and he looks troubled, "I understand. But... I cannot obey. I have direct orders from Lord Thunderwing himself." He remains still, fully expecting a pretty severe reaction.

<Cybertron> Megatron says, "All Decepticons are to assemble at Vos. We will base our defense activities there. What is the enemy's ETA?"

Ravenwing is about to ask just what those direct orders are, but the announcement is an opportune interruption.

Armada is also prepared to weather a barrage of questions and demands, but is somewhat relieved, ironically, by the summons. He gives a last, apologetic look and readies to fly to Vos.

Snowscape laughs as he turns away from the scene, obedient to the emperor's orders

CatsCradle clenches her fists tightly, her claws wearing through the new patches on her palms already. "Well, then..." she says and breaks off, not really having anything else to add.

Harrier slips up beside CatsCradle. "My lady, I believe we have all the energon gathered."

CatsCradle blinks over to Harrier with distraction. "What? Oh... oh, good." She looks around at the others, not really seeing them. "We should go, then."

Laserbeak rolls out his neck... and stretches his wings, albeit painfully.

<Cybertron> Ravenwing says, "Within the hour, Megatron."

Scorcher scrambles to her feet, avoiding Skyjack's eye. The cyberjet leader's expression softens and he adds, "Even if I agree with the sentiment, Hots"

<Cybertron> Megatron says, "Activate the orbital defenses in 1800 astroseconds."

Motormaster says softly, “It's time." He turns away, as do his fellow teammates and groundpounders, preparing to depart... but he waves them on ahead as he spots Harrier, deciding he has one more thing he needs to take care of. As they depart, he walks over to the chivalrous fellow... and now, his former fearsome facade is gone, leaving only peace and determination in its place. His voice is quiet, warm, too as he says, "She once named you among the three people in the universe that she trusted enough to watch her back. So never think that she didn't care about you. She did." He turns, and calls, "Alright, Stunticons, get ready to roll out!"

Harrier startles for a second, having been a bit afraid of the big Stunticon, and for a moment he stares blankly until he realizes who Motormaster is talking about. "Tempest?" he says, a bit unsure he heard that right.

Scorcher says wearily, "Anybody needs a lift? I've done enough shuttling these past days that I can do so one more time."  She transforms.

CatsCradle looks up at the sky again.  Her lips move, softly speaking over her radio, “Diver... I love you...”  She closes her optics then, briefly listening... to nothing.   She steps back then and takes a running leap into the sky, transforming as soon as she is clear.

Armada transforms into his Spacejet mode and his hatch slides open, offering Ravenwing a quick lift.

Ravenwing intends to have a few words with the mech, so climbs into the sleek craft.


****

Vos Hinterland


Megatron arrives, flying in from Polyhex. He had paid a quick visit to the crypt of his son before he got the call. How surprised he is to find that someone had built a memorial here in Vos for Starscream. But now he has to take care about the living. He shortly greets those who are already here.

Skyraider salutes when he sees Megatron

Megatron says, "Skyraider, report!"

Skyraider snaps to attention. "Ready for orders, Lord Megatron!" With that, he gives a sharp salute.

Soundwave flies in with Megatron to join an already gathered group of warriors. Behind them, the looming form of Trypticon flies in, engines oddly quiet for such a huge construction. Swarming around him like a dark shifting halo is that cloud of Insecticons, led by Shrapnel, Kickback, and Bombshell.

..And somewhere in that cloud is Resyke.

Harrier stares, almost appalled, at the horde of Insecticons, the likes of which he has never seen before. Are they even robots, really? He thinks the bug-modes look more like some kind of alien monsters.

Motormaster lands a short ways away, his team with him, stretching his various limbs so that the repairs creak warningly in response, "Well, it feels like a good day ta die to me." He flips his sword out and glances back at his brothers, "Let's give 'em hell."

Double Punch is poised near the cannons. There are still entire pieces missing from the paneling that was supposed to shield them, but their support structure is in place, and they are functional. The new Tyrian troops stand at alert readiness.

Thunderwing turns from his inspection of the cannons to survey the arriving Decepticons. The mass of Insecticon clones is met by definite wariness from the Valckastan, as he isn't entirely sure how one stops them eating once they've started.

Armada flies in with Ravenwing safely ensconced in his cockpit. It isn't hard to pick out the Valckastan lord, and the spacejet circles down and lands gently nearby, hatch sliding open to let the passenger exit. Once she has, he transforms and salutes his commander.

Ravenwing disembarks from Armada's alt mode and slowly makes her way towards her Lord, assuming that Armada is doing the same. Her silver optics swirl as she looks at Thunderwing, almost... guiltily. Then again, her request was refused.

CatsCradle transforms and lands just outside the main part of the group. The lights glint off her mismatched, unpainted armor, and slides off the rest of the armor in her normal colors, although still with many layers of dirt. She steps closer, falling in step not too far from Moto. Her fists are clenched, and droplets of blood can be seen building up from the palms. Her optics are barely a shade above white, but she doesn't miss a step.

Soundwave calls his creations toward him with a silent mental command. His telepathic shielding is so perfectly in place that even they cannot sense any fear, any emotion whatsoever, from him, other than that ever-present sense of reassurance that comes to them over the link. He stands quietly a bit apart from the others, yet close enough to keep careful watch on Megatron, and lifts his optics to the stars, waiting in absolute serenity.

Laserbeak, the dinged winged one, squaks to the Boss and lands on his father's shoulder as he arrives. "The point of no return,"  he says as his lasers hum.

The night is still, a nameless sense of dread in the air....

Scorcher stays close to her cyberjet comrades. She looks scared but determined.

Thunderwing nods a greeting to Armada and Ravenwing, arching a brow in polite curiosity at the latter. Then he glares at the horizon. Where -are- those Autobots, anyway? Had he a watch, he'd be constantly looking at it and tapping a foot impatiently.

Skyraider arms his lasers

Resyke removes himself from the swarm to stand next to Soundwave, almost looking like one of his creations himself with his borrowed cassetticon armor.

Laserbeak gives his bug buddy a nod.

Resyke nods in reply, nervous as hell.

To those watching from below, it appears at first as though one of Cybertron's moons is edging over the horizon....

But, this moon is far too large, and far too close! This metal-plated orb is circled by the telltale rings of Unicron. As it edges ever closer, in eerie complete silence, more and more of the stars are blotted out by its bulk. The great forward-facing horns tilt toward the planet's surface, and the maw opens like a lethal flower unfolding its petals....

Motormaster glances aside to CatsCradle and with a calm smile reaches out a fist to her, “Good luck, femme."

CatsCradle gives Moto a faint smile and rests her hand lightly on his. Then her gaze is drawn to the sky again, at the creature who did worse to her mate than kill him.

From out of the surrounding wasteland comes a tall soldier, with two smaller troops on either side of him, carrying a large weapon at his shoulder and walking with purpose towards his destiny.

Onslaught says little in the way of greeting. He knows the others here dislike him and he has no particular love for their disregard of the ways of war as he sees them. But today they face something larger than interpersonal rivalries.

Skyraider looks around at his fellow warriors and wonders with sadness how many will survive the coming fight.

Harrier looks up and half whimpers, "Tell me I'm not seeing this."

Skyjack passes Scorcher an almost drained energon cube, muttering, "If you're too stubborn to recharge before a battle, at least take this. You'll need your strength."

Scorcher silently thanks Skyjack, then looks at the cannons with a sense of proprietary pride. She hauled enough of the material that went into its construction to feel it is *hers* too.

Skyraider looks up, dread and terror etched across his face as he sees the monstrosity. "It-its so BIG!"

Soundwave hears the steps of the new arrival, but does not turn back toward him. He looks up toward the approaching monster. His voice conveys the familiar harmonics, with the certainty of promise in the undertones. "You will not have Megatron, planet-killer. Nor my creations."

Thunderwing sees Unicron for the second time in his life and manages a somewhat lame, if still detached, "Ah..." The sight -is- grand...in an utterly morbid and terrifying way. Very hard to come up with something properly snide to say in the face of that.

Armada's optics narrow to slits, but from those slits blaze a sanguine defiance. He has faced the temptation and turned away, now his fate it tied to Cybertron's. He looks over at the two Valckastans, his thoughts inscrutable, then up at his father.

Megatron checks the instruments. They have to be careful when to use their defenses - energy is limited. three... two... one... "Activate the orbital defenses!"

A faint bluish shimmer flashes on across the sky. Those with sensitive hearing will detect the supersonic whine of the powerful shield that has just sprung up between the orbital defense platforms - a flimsy barrier, at best, between the Great Devourer and those bracing for impact below.

Onslaught casts a short glance around at his not-long-ago adversaries that have become, once again, his fellow soldiers and fellow Decepticons, thanks to the planet-eater. He wonders if he will survive to win his freedom... well... if he thinks about it he will /not/ survive. He murmurs to his troops, "It is just one more enemy. A large one, an unusual one, but still an enemy. All the rules of war apply."

Laserbeak looks around briefly at each of his comrades "The bigger they are...aww, screw the clichés. This things killed my friends. I say it’s time for some revenge. For his time is at hand, he will not take this planet now, or ever. For we are Decepticons...forever." And with that he lobs his empty bottle in Unicron's general direction.

Ravenwing stares upwards at the Great Devourer, who's haunted her sleep for months now, ever since the Brotherhood of Chaos investigation began. It's finally here and one way or another, there will be an ending. She spares a glance for Armada and her father, but makes no speeches of defiance, simply waits for an opportunity to act effectively.

Scorcher makes a soft mewling sound at the first sight of the monster

Resyke's jaw drops.. he's too stunned to do anything but make a little squeaking sound.

Megatron says, "Soundwave, take over the spacebridge controls. And be ready."

Soundwave nods to Megatron calmly.

Skyraider contemplates retreat.. such a thing can’t be beaten. However, his thoughts trail to those who have come before him. Eyes narrowing he raises his arm lasers, pointed at Unicron.

CatsCradle's gaze leaves the planet-eater, scanning the sky around it. "Where is he?" she murmurs in an agonized tone, shifting impatiently.

Another flash of blue light crackles across the sky as the planet-killer's horns contact the shield. For a long moment, the orb hangs motionless in space, blue lightning dancing around the points of the projections, which seem to be unable to pierce the shield.

Avenger, the leader of the new Tyrians, whispers, "Defense cannons powered up and ready."

Harrier prepares to face the Great Devourer. In the back of his mind he, perhaps more so than many of the others, would be able to abandon Cybertron. He came from elsewhere, he could return. But he doesn't WANT to. This is HIS planet, HIS ancestral home...HIS species that had welcomed him back. And he owes this bastard planet-eater for a friend.

Megatron narrows his optics. He is not so foolish to believe that this may stop Unicron for long.

Harrier murmurs, "It actually seems to be holding him...jolly good!"

CatsCradle says faintly, "No. Diver could burst through it easily. If he could, his master should be able to sneeze at it and break it down.

And then ... the orb begins to shift.

Armor plates the size of continents slide apart, revealing the molten flames of chaos below. Hellish light bursts from the seams and then is swallowed into darkness again as the external structure opens, to reveal the emergence of monstrous limbs. The orb's horned projections push forward to reveal themselves as horns on a helmet, as the head rises into view. The ring surrounding the planet unfurls into a skeletal set of wings that frame the impossibly immense robot.

It's only too easy to see how some would consider this being a dark god of destruction. Armored in orange and matte gray, and adorned with building-sized spines along his limbs, this monstrous robot stands as tall as the diameter of any respectable planet, weightless and not at all hindered by his size in the icy void of space. His horned helmet, shielding glowing-green eyes larger than star cruisers, is recognizable as a vastly-larger version of the same horned helmets worn by the Brotherhood of Chaos. The face is particularly frightening in its lack of emotion; the agent of Cybertron's doom is not even malevolent, merely intent on his task and without recourse to pity. The cavernous maw could swallow a fleet of spaceborne defenders whole. His great hands could crush moons, his feet could flatten cities. The entire nightmare apparition is framed in a skeletal set of wings that span the width of the Cybertron system.

Skyjack and Snowscape just stare dumbly at the huge attacker. It is their first sight of him and even though they were told just how big it is, it is not the same as actually seeing it for themselves.

Resyke stammers, "Wh...wh...wh...wh..."

Skyraider steps back hastily, nearly tripping, face filled with terror. "That’s impossible.. it’s impossible, its has to be!"

Megatron stares at what he sees. "I don't believe it... It is a Transformer!"

Laserbeak shakes his head, "Well there's something you don’t see everyday..."

Brawl mutters, "Boss, when you said it's just like any other enemy only bigger, you weren't kiddin', were ya."

Scorcher fires her laser at the thing. It does not do any good, does not even reach the target, but she has to do something, or she would run away screaming.

Skyjack puts a hand on Scorcher's shoulder. "Not now, Hots."

With Skyjack's hand to steady her and Snowscape's reassuring wink, Scorcher holds her fire. She does not have any weapons that could reach him anyway.
Harrier tilts his head back...looking up....up...up... and has never felt more small, more ineffective, in his life.

*Now* Ravenwing is surprised. So Unicron is a Transformer... She scowls upwards at the monster and shivers, then her gaze drifts back towards Megatron. Did she overheard something about the spacebridge...?

Armada's optics flick over towards Thunderwing, as if inquiring.

Thunderwing grimaces as the Devourer transforms. Well, -that- certainly brings about certain ominous possibilities... He catches Armada's glance, and seems lost in thought for a moment, then shakes his head ever so slightly. 'Not yet', the look in his optics seems to say.

Megatron murmurs: "So /that/ is your little secret..." He looks over to Skyraider. "Ready the cannons, be prepared to fire."

CatsCradle's fists clench tighter... but instead, somehow, she feels calmer about fighting the more familiar form of a robot-body, rather than the mysterious and ambiguous form of a near-featureless planet. She's fought other Transformers before. This one is just bigger.... lots'n'lots bigger, maybe... but still more familiar. She searches the sky again for the Heralds.

For only a moment, a flicker of emotion seems to cross the terrifyingly blank features that fill the sky. Unicron is ... annoyed by this delay, as he looks down toward the planet's surface. His voice shakes the very ground, echoing out of a bottomless pit of doom: "DID YOU THINK I WOULD SPARE YOUR WRETCHED LITTLE PLANET? CYBERTRON - PREPARE FOR DISMEMBERMENT."

 A single immense hand, curved into a claw, rakes down from the sky and tears through the shielding as though it were tissue paper. With a painfully bright blue sizzle, the shield overloads and dies, the bluish hue on the starfield disappearing with it. Unicron turns his head slightly and unleashes a fountain of green flame from his mouth, which instantly melts the nearest orbital defense platform. He then turns his attention, with horribly calm deliberation, to one of Cybertron's moons visible from below.

Armada 's fists clench into helpless balls at his sides. He knows full well no mere laser will do anything against his former creator. He mutters to himself, "So... I have come full circle. Now perhaps we shall see what my fate will be."

Resyke cringes, babbling incoherently.

Skyraider jumps, dragged from his thoughts by Megatron’s orders. "Yes, sir," he says hastily as he readies the cannons. "Ready to fire on your command, my Lord."

Megatron says, "Soundwave, activate the Spacebridge!  NOW, Skyraider!”

Skyraider takes careful aims with his cannon. "This is for Tempest and Divefire. DIE UNICRON!" He shouts as he upons up on the Great Devourer.

On Megatron's order, the powerful planetary defense cannons surge to life, the thunder of artillary lighting the sky. At the same moment, Soundwave sends a signal back to Polyhex. Can they get a fix on Unicron to scatter his atoms across nothingness with the space bridge?

Motormaster presses his lips into a thin line as he looks upwards... Unicron has revealed his true form, and destruction threatens what little remains that he might care about. But there's still one last thing he can give in the name of those lost and those he would save... and while he knows it won't do any good, he has to try. He glances back to his team, “Ready?" One by one, they each nod. And then, with a deep breath, he gives that old war cry, “Stunticons, merge to form Menasor!"

Scorcher dully cheers the Stunticons on when they merge

CatsCradle's attention is pulled away by Motormaster's voice, and she turns, wanting to get a last look at the Stunticon leader, before he disappears into the gestalt. Then as the cannons fire, she looks back to the sky again, chewing into her lip.

From the ranks of the assembled Decepticons, Scrapper's cry echoes that of the Stunticons. "Constructicons, merge into Devastator!" The huge green combiner rises up and towers over the others - though against Unicron, he is merely a toy.

A resounding series of clanks results as the Stunticons link with one another, rising up over the battlefield... and yet, a speck of dust to the current threat. They will, though, try their best, and with a glance at Devastator, Menasor gestures towards Unicron's face. Specifically, the optics. One apiece. Then he activates the huge, blazing electrosword and the cyclo-cannon both, and leaps skyward on roaring jets, heading right for the terrible Bringer of Chaos.

Onslaught has, on the odd occasion, felt himself to be looking into the face of death before, but never more so than this moment. And, as before, the looking renders him fearless. There is no tomorrow to worry about--no tomorrow that may never come. There is only today, the battle, to survive minute by minute, second by second, until you are victorious. He transforms, preparing to add the thunder of his cannons to the Vos artillery.

Thunderwing watches the sky...and the thing which takes up an offensive amount of space up there. Hearing the various plans being put into action, he waits to see what the results will be...if any.

Laserbeak watches as everyone begins opens up on the big ugly, and not wanting to feel left out, he looks to his father conveying a mix of emotion to him.  Then he snaps his gaze back to Unicron, firing off both lasers, however feeble they are, mainly to calm himself more then anything.

Unicron is almost disinterested in the scurryings below him. A beam lances out of his mouth and carves a piece out of the moon.

CatsCradle murmurs, "Like a human, kicking over an ant farm...." She does not bother to add to the weapons fire, instead conserving her energy.

Ravenwing takes a few steps closer to her Lord as the combiners merge. Thus far, there's been little she can do, but she has hopes for the spacebridge... Though not accustomed to fidgeting, she's certainly close to it.

Resyke cowers, his weapons too short-range to reach the huge dark-god hovering above Cybertron.

Many of the new Tyrians rise into the sky to approach Unicron with their own weapons. Double Punch glares after them, but instead of following, transforms and takes his turn at one of the cannons' controls.

The Insecticons rise upward in a great buzzing cloud.

Megatron clenches his fists. His brain works feverishly: the next step must be ready - there is a good probability that the measures will fail.

Unicron's own energy output is such, and the technique being attempted is so experimental, that the space bridge beam seems to slip right off its lock on the planet-killer. Indeed, a swirl of bright light surrounds the space near the monster - but, instead of seeing Unicron disintegrate into his component atoms, a great rift is opened in the fabric of space. The swirling colors of a wormhole glisten against the rift torn into the velvet black of the void. Against that unnatural light, a swarm of dark shapes becomes visible in silhouette. They look like a second swarm of Insecticons at first.....

Soundwave conveys information from Shockwave, "Unexpected result of spacebridge application. Unicron unaffected."

Skyraider looks at the rift puzzled. "What now?"

Onslaught monitors his shots, and realizes that they pepper Unicron's leg to absolutely no effect. He hates to use his greatest weapon so early in the fight, but what choice does he have? The Combaticons' handheld weapons aren't even an irritant to Unicron. So he gives the order. "Combaticons, MERGE!"

Thunderwing frowns and shakes his head to rid it of the idea that this cloud is comprised of ever more Heralds. Happy thoughts!

Megatron says, "But it /had/ some kind of result, Soundwave."

Ravenwing spares the time to look around. Where *are* those blasted Autobots? She growls softly at the failure of the spacebridge, as it was, in her opinion, the best chance they had. Another speculative glance at her Lord, then she returns her attention to the skies.

Bruticus raises his massive head skyward and speaks his "orders" aloud. "Bruticus crush Unicron!"

As the shapes in space draw near, as the rift closes behind them, it becomes clear that this is a tremendous space fleet - a flotilla the likes of which hasn't been seen over Cybertron for at least two generations. There must be a thousand ships, each one with the capacity to carry some 16,000 troops - and the lead vessel, the largest, is a silver asymmetrical craft with a scorpion-tail poised over its back, bearing on its hull the proud Decepticon insignia! Only ... it's not *quite* the Decepticon insignia, it's different somehow - recognizable, but different.

Only those who were active on Cybertron some 4 million years ago, after Megatron's disappearance, might recognize this distinctive warship as the "Twilight," which left Cybertron under the command of a rogue warlord. He did not, at the time of his exodus, have such a fleet at his command....

Harrier whimpers a little at the alien spacecraft. "Those aren't Insecticons!" If they're enemies, at least they're enemies he would know how to deal with...he'd rather face those than Unicron. On the other hand, the Decepticons do NOT need any more enemies right now....

Laserbeak looks to his father with REAL fear for the first time, now terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought "I hope those are friends."

Scorcher just stares at the sky, frozen with indecision.

Skyraider says, "I hope they attack Unicron first, at least. that would be useful."

Armada's usually stoic expression shifts from concern to outright worry. Quite against his better judgment, he finds himself gripping the handle of his plasma rifle tightly. This new development brings him no comfort. He glances at Ravenwing momentarily, then back up to Unicron. He sees little hope at this point.

Megatron frowns. "What the Hades is that fleet now? Try to contact them, Soundwave, I have to know if they are enemies or allies."

Thunderwing's optics widen a fraction as the ships draw closer, then a mixture of surprise and outrage flits over his features. Surprise at who he suspects is in command of this fleet, outrage at the idea of possibly (minute as that chance might be) owing his and Cybertron's existence to someone who has been missing for four million years and have returned only by freak accident, "...Jhiaxus?"

Soundwave wants to rise up into the air to join those already flying, but he stays on the ground, able to convey orders back and forth from Polyhex, and yes, able to keep watch on Megatron.

Resyke mumbles to himself, trying not to look at the sky, "Gotta be strong.. big tough warrior, that's me..."

From a point beyond the demonic form of chaos made whole, a light appears. Not in any natural way however, nor a precursor to any hope of any form, it is rather a precursor to the arrival of fear, mayhem and destruction. The prologue to the main event and an epitaph of doom. They are twined in their movements, one a sleek and demonic craft of terrible crimson, riding a beam of pure fusion energy, the other a the other seems to be a twisted shadow of the first, gliding underneath, outline rippling as it vectors on wings made of shadowy spectral wings, moving along with flashes of violet and emerald hues counterbalancing the crimson fire above. Together they come to take away hope, together they are one whole, one being and one destiny for the Transformers... They are death.

Unicron calmly rips another chunk out of the moon and sucks it into his mouth a bit at a time. To his heralds, he thunders, "DEAL WITH THESE INSECTS."

CatsCradle sees a streak of purple cutting through the night sky, and she whimpers softly. "They're coming."

Soundwave says, "No reply from the fleet, Commander."

Skyjack steadies Scorcher, to prevent her from being blown off her feet by the sheer volume of Unicron's voice.

Skyraider watches as the new guys come in on an intercept course. Without a second thought, he raises his arm lasers and starts firing at Unicron. "Eat this!"

Menasor doesn't even slow down to glance at the fleet as it appears in the bizarre manner of the space bridge malfunction... let's hear it for gestalt single-minded stupidity. Instead, he finally begins to reach great heights, raising his immense cannon and aiming it right at Unicron's face... the weapon thunders once, then twice, then a third time, each blast practically of the magnitude of the defense cannons themselves. Closer... closer...

Bruticus grumbles at the sight of Menasor leading the charge. That unruly conglomeration of road-maniacs! It is the job of a war machine like he to do so! He increases power, determined to catch up to Menasor and surpass him in the assault.

Unicron turns again and swings toward Menasor, swatting a hand at him, and directing his heralds to finish off the annoyance. He glowers down at Cybertron's surface, the optics lighting with a twin set of beams that carves into the planet's surface near the defense cannons.

Menasor tumbles backwards in a last-moment maneuver to avoid the immense hand... it is a lucky thing that he has already hit vacuum, or the shockwave of air might well and knocked the Stunticon combiner all the way back to the surface. Instead, he rebalances quickly, firing various jets, and then brings the blazing sword back in a slash at the huge fingers, each one easily as large as the gestalt itself... and resumes powering for those big green optics that are now firing at the planet.

Bruticus looks at Menasor with almost a "heh" sort of expression as he races the other gestalt towards Unicron's face. Menasor's tumble gave Bruticus the chance to pull level with him...

Menasor returns Bruticus's look with a waved salute of his sword... and an increase of power to his jets, until he's practically redlining trying to get there. It's only a short distance now...

The thousand ships are only for a few moments disoriented. They converge on Unicron and unload their firepower into him - firepower which pings off his armor. The monster turns away from the disintegrating moon and unleashes another blast of flame from his mouth, which melts several dozen vessels on the spot. A rain of glowing ash and molten metal sizzles down from above.

Megatron smirks coldly. "Insects? Good idea... We have to get the Insecticons to... INTO Unicron." He glances at Soundwave. "Seems they are on our side. Whatever... we have to get a spacebridge transponder into Unicron."

Scorcher growls angrily as she recognizes the two who are responsible for the fact that Space Case and SunTiger are in the repair bay, and for the fact that SunTiger might never fly again

Ramjet arrives late for the battle. Unusual for him. His 4 jet engines leave glowing streaks in his wake as afterburners fire and accelerate him to attack speed. As a sonic boom rumble marks his passage high overhead, those below might see the reason for his tardiness. In addition to his normal payload, slung underneath his fuselage on a retrofitted centerline, is the biggest bomb he could find. As the fleet starts to get obliterated, his course becomes more erratic, forced to dodge and weave...or simply ram straight through the burning wreckage as it drops from orbit. His flightpath is however plain and he continues to head straight for Unicron.

Skyraider looks at Megatron as he overhears what he said. Inside Unicron? That’s gonna be tough.

Armada swivels his head to Megatron, "We might be able to simply feed him one, commander. He usually takes some time to process his... food."

In the preparations to set up a space bridge big enough to affect Unicron (or such was the hope), Soundwave has any number of pieces left over. He draws a transponder from storage and looks around for a fast flyer.

CatsCradle says softly, "I'd try... but I'm afraid I'd only.... attract attention." Her fingers trace the silver of her unpainted armor. "I'm a little too visible these days, too... didn't think I'd need stealth in this battle."

Resyke looks down at his boots. "Um.. I could do it" he says in a small voice. "I'm not good for much else."  He knows he isn’t a fast flier, though.

Soundwave says, "Resyke, you and I-"

Megatron nods to Armada’s proposal. "And Insecticons are difficult to digest. Soundwave, we will send one of the clones to take the transponder inside. Meanwhile, Shockwave should be ready to transport them!

Resyke looks up at Soundwave with a resolute expression.

Thunderwing shakes his head tiredly and addresses Megatron, "The fleet is indeed on our side." He falls silent and amends, "Nominally, one supposes. Who knows what kind of person Jhiaxus will be after all this time. If he is still in command, that is." Then he turns his attention back up into space, to the battle which the Heralds have now joined.

Scorcher's targeting radar locks on Divefire and Ghost as they approach.

Laserbeak spies his former friends, and simply says "THEY’RE HERE!"

Skyraider looks at the two in disbelief. Divefire and Ghost.. alive? He turns to Megatron. "My Lord, whatever it is your planning, I volunteer."

Soundwave hands the transponder to Resyke. Without needing to be asked, a Shrapnel clone lands to join them - or is it, perhaps, Shrapnel himself?

Armada speaks again, "It is likely that whoever feeds it to Unicron... shall not return."

Unicron lowers a foot to the planet's surface, just beyond the Hinterlands. The impact sends a shudder through the ground, impressive enough to knock some of the smaller Transformers off their feet and throw off the aim of the ongoing firing of the cannons.

Resyke cries, "Whhooaa!" as the ground shakes, tipping him off his feet.

Laserbeak says, "Father, let me do it."

Resyke hurriedly gets up and takes the transponder. "No.. Beak.. you're too valuable. Me, I'm just a cleaner."

Soundwave motions to Skyraider. "Carry Resyke and Shrapnel with you. Quickly."

Skyraider says, "Yes, sir.""

Resyke transforms into his Giant Cockroach mode.

Skyraider transforms into his jet mode.  Resyke also transforms and scurries up and into Skyraider's cockpit, transponder held carefully in his mandibles.

CatsCradle looks over to Ravenwing, almost for confirmation.  Ravenwing nods encouragingly to CatsCradle. "Do what you can to distract him; anything would help." She stares upwards at the oncoming heralds, pondering... She's one of the more powerful seekers and has a better chance than most against them. Which isn't saying that is much of a chance. Then there's this component that needs to be delivered... Decisions, decisions.

Armada gazes at Ravenwing and, almost as if reading her thoughts, says quietly, "You will be needed here, lady Ravenwing. It would be a sore blow to the Empire to lose your abilities." He jumps aside quickly to avoid a piece of falling ship debris.

CatsCradle looks back up into the sky again, her voice soft, but not hesitant, as she speaks into her radio, "Diver? Diver, I'm here. I love you, Diver. Can you hear me?"

Soundwave sends Skyraider on his way hurriedly. They don't have much time.

Scorcher looses her footing, but never her target lock on the approaching heralds.. She snarls as she crawls up to her feet again.

The crimson jet arches in the sky at the command of his master, vectoring systems flicking his trajectory over in the pulse of a heart beat before a pulse of power from his engines has his frame heading for one of the fleet of ships. The speed of his flight doubles, then triples, over and over again becoming a bolt of fire as his entire frame empowers with the fires of fusion, a purple arrow cleaving through the night for a target. A medium cruiser of the fleet spots the oncoming fighter and tries in vain to target its weapons on the jet, but it is all to late. With a scream of metal being struck with the blow of a titan and finding itself being superheated all at the same time, Divefire plunges into, through and out the cruiser with no let up in his speed. In his wake the cruiser erupts in fire and then explodes in a blinding explosion as he arches through the night to find his next target.

Megatron addresses Thunderwing, while trying not to stumble from the planetquake: "Who is Jhiaxus, Thunderwing? I don't know him."

Thunderwing begins what promises to be a rather convoluted explanation, then decides against it as the ground shakes to remind him how pressed for time they really are. He waves a hand dismissively, "Think of him as a Decepticon warlord who never swore allegiance to you. Anything else will take too much time. They are on our side, however. ...I think."

Megatron says, "Or is he that little warlord..?"  He realizes that it is exactly what Thunderwing is telling him. Damn, this is really not the time for small-talk.

Scorcher can't do anything about the monster that is bigger than her home planet. However, she can try to help against those two mockeries of former decepticons.  She transforms into her jet mode, fires up her engines, then her afterburners and tears off the surface of Cybertron with a scream of overheated and tearing metal. The other two cyberjets are only a fraction of a second behind her.

Unicron's other foot comes crashing down onto Cybertron's surface, many miles away. Another quake shudders across the ground.

The crimson herald’s shadow breaks away from him , wing-overing like it has gone mad, those strange flight members bending in the thin drag of the atmosphere. A sudden burst of acceleration causes the craft to curve towards the strange fleet attacking the dark destroyer, rippling lines of power shunting across the surface of her forward fuselage before being lanced out towards once of the attacking newcomers to this assault upon all that is dear. The twisting trio of lances ripple through the armoring of the transport even as the interceptor follows in her beam’s wake, frame crackling with residual power called on from planes other than this one. There is a moment where time stands still for the ship... before the opposite side bubbles outwards like caramel boiling in a pot. With a shudder, the ship spawns a blackened-violet haze from the entry wound like a disease, the shadows curling outwards to lance back in at their victim even as their master rips through the other side, wing-spars and membranes now all but black. The interceptor continues onwards, trailing thick cords of nothing that seem to tear the attacked vessel apart.

Ramjet watches the heralds engaging the fleet and sees the Gestalts engaging the giant  in hand to hand combat. As he gets ever closer to Unicron, he also has to dodge incoming fire from the surface below, but manages to avoid being blown out of the sky by their own guns...obviously nobody who has ever talked to him is targeting them. He follows Menasor and Bruticus higher, towards its face.

Bruticus hears Onslaught's mind murmuring strategy from somewhere within his consciousness. Go for a weak point. How...a feint? A stratagem? Oh, hell...(must be Brawl's influence)...how about STRAIGHT ON THROUGH?!

Even Brawl's itching for a fight can't override the other four voices in Bruticus' mind that inform him those eye beams will /hurt/...or, most likely, be lethal. Bruticus takes evasive action, cutting his engines for a moment so he drops abruptly, under the beams' fire.

Unicron unleashes another twin set of green eyebeams, toward the larger toy robots that are so intent on flying up toward his face.

Scorcher desperately tries to scan the two heralds, finding what tactical information on them she can and broadcast it to the fleet in the hope that they can use it to defend themselves.

CatsCradle keeps talking, her voice gaining strength. "Remember, Diver, I told you I wouldn't leave you. I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere without you. Do you hear me? I'm not leaving."

Laserbeak looks to his father, knowing he must do something, but not really sure what he can do.

Skyjack shimmers and then disappears underneath his subspace cloak.

Ravenwing arches a brow at Armada, then glances to Thunderwing. She really wishes he were safely on Lutha so she's not distracted with having to protect him and only had to worry about herself and Armada. She also wishes there were something she could do, but stands waiting, her hands curled into fists at her side.

Thunderwing seems to almost sense Raven's gaze and returns it with a level, inquiring one of his own. The drawled 'yeeees?' implied in it can almost be heard. He then turns his attention back to watching the heralds, confirming that, yes, that which he sensed in Colossus and Prime is indeed the same taint he now finds causing the Heralds to glow like dark suns to his extraordinary senses...not that this makes any difference now, but the scholar in him is just anal enough to appreciate getting loose ends properly attended to.

Soundwave meanwhile is listening for any contact from Reskye and Skyraider.

Megatron watches the battle, preparing himself. He is ready to use his last weapon again. He knows that even it will not seriously damage Unicron, but it might hurt - especially if the antimatter blast hits something as sensible as the optic...

So focused are the various Stunticon-minds on the race (this practically being what they live for) that they only notice the coming blast at the very last moment, hastily trying to get out of the way. However, they catch a piece of the farm it looks like they're about to buy, the edge of that terrible corona of emerald power slams Menasor, knocking the powerful robot spinning away, surrounded by a halo of flame and electricity.

Scorcher yowls as one of those beams comes close enough to make the paint on her body bubble with heat

Laserbeak transmits a message to Ghost.

Ramjet dodges past Bruticus and Menasor as they draw Unicron's fire. He l banks about, evading a moon sized fist, turning back onto his collision course and heading right for Unicron's mouth. He turns his radio on just long enough to yell, "Decepticons Forever!" ...

Ramjet flies into Unicron's mouth and explodes.

Unicron is getting irritated with this now. After the two gestalts evade his blasts, and one of the little jets was so kind as to fly right into his mouth to be destroyed by the building heat, he lowers his head and rakes downward with a hand, ripping into the planet's surface.

Scorcher manages to get a firm scanlock on the purplish transformer that once was Divefire. Not paying any attention to her surroundings she tries to draw every bit of information she can and broadcast it to the other warriors.

Double Punch is forced to leap away from the defense cannons as they snap at the base and crash down toward the nearby warriors.

Megatron says, "Soundwave, is the spacebridge ready? As soon as the transponder is placed, I want the clones transported."

CatsCradle shakes her head to Ravenwing. "He's not answering," she says in agony, then turns her attention back to the sky, speaking softly again. "Diver, remember when we first met? When you brought the first energon from Earth? And I called you a miracle? Diver, you've been a miracle to me ever since then. Please, love... don't stop now..."

Armada is thrown to the ground by the quake from Unicron's hand. As he picks himself up, he shouts over the din, "Where are the Autobots? We require their help! We cannot prevail against this alone."

Thunderwing nods grimly to Armada and has been pondering that very question himself. He glares in the direction of Autobot territory, silently cursing the sibling breed for apparently falling off the face of the planet at the worst possible time.

Resyke transmits to Soundwave: "*static*...hear me Sound *static* ...side Unicron, and *static* ..place to put transpon *static*"

Soundwave just at that moment gets the signal he's been waiting for. Somehow, amidst all the explosions in space, Resyke and Skyraider have gotten swallowed by Unicron without even a break in the action. "Transponder is in place," he confirms, then adds, "However, there is a problem in Polyhex. Space bridge relays used up all available power during the first attempt." For the first time he draws his own laser rifle, and grips it tightly.

Laserbeak can't just sit there anymore.  He mouths the word "Goodbye" to his father, and races skyward, hell-bent on doing whatever he can, as he scans the skies for the one they knew as Ghost.

Soundwave's optic band flashes bright as Laserbeak soars upward - but, can he really call his creation back? When he himself may be in the sky fighting alongside him, futilely, at any moment?

Armada transmits to Thunderwing: "My lord, we MUST have the Matrix! Nothing else can stop Unicron."

A series of laser flashes track Divefire, though the Decepticon that must have fired them can't be seen.

The defense cannons fall silent as Unicron rips an entire chunk out of Cybertron's surface and devours it. The cannon struts shatter and fall around the warriors at their base in twisted beams of metal.

Thunderwing transmits to Armada: "So it would seem. Damn Ultra Magnus! Where is the mech... *stress talking, anyone?*"

Laserbeak transmits to Ghost: " You are in there somewhere Ghost I know it..."

Megatron stares at Soundwave. "WHAT?" He hits the console with his fist. "We need energon and quickly!

CatsCradle's control snaps. "Isn't there /any/ of all that energon left that I brought in? Hell, I'd been saving that stuff for millennia."

<Cybertron> A distinctive voice sounds against a background of faint static over the planetary Decepticon broadband. Perhaps the listeners are already dead, for it is the voice of the dead - the unmistakable voice of Starscream. The Air Commander speaks, "I can help you. Don't ask me how or why, but I still exist. Somehow. And in such a state that I can offer my own life's energy for one last burst of power to the space bridge. Megatron ... destroy that thing for me!" With that, the voice goes silent, and a few seconds later, Polyhex reports a renewed surge of power to the space bridge relays. It will not last long.

Megatron is shocked. For the first time in his life he is visibly shocked in public. "Starscream?" he whispers. However, his instincts drag him back to his task again and he orders: "Activate the spacebridge. Get the Insecticons inside that pest!"

Ravenwing stumbles as the shockwave from Unicron's hand shakes the ground around her, almost bumping into her Lord. To CatsCradle, she says, "Keep it up, if you please. Regardless of whether he answers, he still hears what you say." After she steadies herself, she pauses in amazement at hearing that familiar whiny voice after she thought he was dead and gone.

Without being told, the swarm of Insecticon clones drops down and converges, ready for transport. If anyone else wishes to accompany them, they can probably sneak into the beam before they can be called back. The space bridge machinery starts to hum....

Laserbeak notes his only option, and turns to follow the Insecticons...

Even before he was transformed into a Herald of Unicron, Divefire was perhaps one of the fastest vehicles in. Now, with the raw energy of chaos at his side he is but a blur on the edges of perception, a crimson streak of fire that enlightens the sky in death as it smashes through vessel after vessel, ripping through the fleet as if it were nothing. The fleet of smaller ships try valiantly to keep up in his wake, but they may as well be chasing the patterns of thought. As he streaks to the end of the line of ships his form bursts into transformation and he stops suddenly, turning again to look back at the fleet that would hope to destroy his master and he grins, long and sickly as power starts to build.

Thunderwing blinks as Starscream, of all people, actually offers to do something productive. Death's improved the mech, it seems... As for the very fact that a dead person is talking to them...well, a god is currently ripping the planet to pieces. You know how it is said that stranger things happen? Well, this is that time.

Harrier briefly considers finding a starship and flying like hell--to the first available planet. What good will this do the Decepticon Empire if all its members die here and now? But...it's not only that he'd get shot by the others if he said this. It's that if he loses this--his manor, his fellows, the validation that he hadn't been living a lie all those years--to run now would be to lose /everything./

CatsCradle says in the same snapping voice, "Harrier, were there /any/ of those cache's you didn't get to?"

Harrier looks back over his shoulder, "No, milady, you told us to take in everything and we did." He wishes he could tell her otherwise...

Laserbeak conveys telepathically to Soundwave: 'I'm going with the Insecticons...

Soundwave conveys telepathically to Laserbeak: 'Laserbeak-! You ... yes. Go, and do what you can. I am still here for you when you return.'.

And filling the sky, Unicron's visage tilts toward the insects at his feet, until it has picked up one particular form. "YOU," he thunders, and it's hard to tell who he's really looking at - but as he continues, the object of his interest is made clear, "YOU ARE THE RULER OF THIS WORLD, ITS GREATEST WARRIOR. YOU WILL SURVIVE CYBERTRON'S END. YOU WILL MAKE A USEFUL SLAVE TO ME IN MY FURTHER JOURNEYS." The traction beam with which he sucks up entire populations from inhabited worlds, reaches out from his mouth to seek out the silver Decepticon leader.

Megatron looks up. "What?" He raises his cannon. "I will be slave of NOBODY!"

Bruticus is busy dodging Unicron's massive hands and the odd laser beam from the Chaos Bringer's eyes. He doesn't want to give away that the face is his target by firing too early.

Finally, the Stunticon giant stirs again, purple optics flickering dimly to life. It hurts, in a way that a gestalt almost never does... as if everything in his body is fused into one piece. Indeed, that could be possible. It would explain why he hasn't collapsed into component pieces, at least. He raises a hand, rubbing at his face, and groggily continues to spin... and then his optics catch on Divefire preparing to unleash ungodly amounts of power on the fleet. A threat to allies. He must act... ignoring the streamers of fire it shoots through him, he raises his gun again, sights carefully, and unleashes a torrent of spinning energy waves towards the male Herald of Unicron.

Scorcher screams, a scream cut short, as one of Ghost's cords cuts through her, almost negligently destroying the minor annoyance that tried to interfere with her fellow herald and her master's plans
.
Like a seething murky dart, the phantom-styled craft continues to maneuver through the incoming fleet. Those coiling wisps trail after the craft, twisting and seething like the sparks of the doomed, phantom faces appearing and disappearing as they are used to strike at another ship in passing. Where her darkness touches, white-grey armoring is left behind as if aged suddenly in but a moments time, or leeched of the needed energy to keep molecules bound together. With a rumbling thunderclap, the mockery of a Decepticon stealth interceptor turns on the proverbial dime, diving back into the nested group of ships, leaving behind in her wake several gutted ships that continue to die as they try to move away. Those that seemed only touched by the nothing are slow in their death as armoring buckles under stress from other plates, the weakened zones leading into cascading structural failures. Then.. the Dark Herald seems to dissolve into a veiled warping of light, only to reform in her bipedal form, wingspars outspun to focus lancelets of plasma at those that are trying to flee their crafts destruction.

Scorcher falls from the sky. Unconscious. Or worse  The space bridge beam catches her in her fall.

Even as the Insecticon clones and their accompaniment start to be drawn up in the beam of the space bridge, Unicron's own tractor beam tries to draw Megatron up toward him. Soundwave's optic band flashes so bright as to go almost white. For a moment he's caught in the replay of a four-million-year-old memory - a warning, a portent of nightmare, a lifetime of blame and a disaster for the whole Empire. He lunges forward and slams sideways into Megatron, pushing him out of the tractor beam...  and is drawn upward and sucked into the monster's mouth.

Harrier gasps, "Bloody hell, it's after Megatron" even as Soundwave makes his sacrifice.

CatsCradle's claws tear at her hands. "Dammit, I should have spent longer looking..." But to do that might have meant Moto's life if she hadn't found him in time. As the tractor beam comes for Megatron, she gives a frustrated cry. Her 'field would not be strong enough against /that/... and she has to keep trying to reach her mate through all of... Chaos. She closes her optics, trying to narrow her focus down to her words again. "Diver, remember our son? Remember Starwave? He's so much like you, love. Remember..." she tries a small laugh, but the sound that comes out could not possibly resemble one. "Remember when he shot Striker, when Ruse had disguised him as Prime? He will be a fine son, Diver. A son to be proud of. A son, and a daughter... they'll never be, Diver, if you don't come back to me."

Laserbeak conveys telepathically to Soundwave: 'Father....'

****

Unicron, interior:


        Within the monster, smooth-sided cavernous passageways stretch in all directions into a maze of light and darkness. One passes the shuddering crunch of energy-conversion furnaces, like toothed mouths chewing entire chunks of planets into debris, and turning inanimate material into an ongoing source of power. Beyond the hellish heat of the furnaces, conveyor lines carry living beings from holding cages toward immense vats of acid, where they're dropped and consumed to become one with the Great Devourer. Conflicting roars and whispers of machinery, the rush of fluids carried through pipes as big around as entire transport tunnels, and ever-shifting light effects, create a sense of disorientation which is only enhanced by the steadily moving floor and walls of the passages.

Scorcher involuntarily transforms even as she slams into the slimy plating that seems to make up the interior of Unicron.  She collapses, leaking frightening amounts of fluids and energon from a cut that almost tore her in two

Soundwave is drawn into Unicron's immense body and makes his way down the dark tunnels.

Resyke jumps as Decepticons materialize in front of him. "Gyaaaah!"

Skyraider says, "So, Resyke, any clue on what's happenin' out there?"

Laserbeak lands by Resyke and mutters, "Okay, anyone have a plan of action?"

Skyraider looks towards Laserbeak. "We were hopin' you'd have one."

Soundwave searches out the signal of his creation, and reorients inside the monster, kicking in his flight engines.

Laserbeak nods. "Well... This thing's energy production chambers have to go..."

The vast horde of Insecticon clones and their fellow travelers, have materialized around Resyke and Skyraider. Soundwave is heading toward them.

Laserbeak conveys telepathically to Soundwave: 'Father are you ok?'

Skyraider looks at the new arrivals. "Welcome to the party," he says flatly.

Resyke waves to Beak and the HORDE of Insecticon clones. "Glad you could make it guys!" he says, before he spots the unconscious Scorcher. "Oh no!" he cries, running over to the prone form.

Skyraider spots Scorcher on the ground. "SCORCHER!" He runs over, worry overwhelming him.

Several of the Insecticon clones click their mandibles and chatterhiss "she isss food"

Resyke waves his arms around. "No, damnit! You leave her alone! Geez! You're inside Unicron! It's ... like being inside a HUGE pie! Start eating the walls!"

Skyraider looks to the Insecticons. "NO! She is a Decepticon. And none of you will touch her, not while I'm still active!"

Soundwave finally joins the others as the hoard of clones scurries in all directions and starts eating. This activates Unicron's internal defenses, and a series of claws on snaking cables emerge from all sides, trying to snap up the invaders.

Skyraider kneels beside Scorcher, checking to see if she's all right. Dammit, if only he'd paid attention in metamechanics class..

Laserbeak tries blasting through the nearest wall.

Most of the clones turn their attention on their surroundings but some linger. "Dead!" they chitter. "Food!"

Resyke jumps again. "Gah! Claws!" he says, shooting jets of corrosive, undiluted cleaning product at the nearest defense mechanism.

Skyraider stands between the Insecticons and Scorcher in a combat stance. "If you want her, you'll have to go through me!"

There may not be much left to divert the clones, because those snapping pinchers grab hold of the invaders and try to haul them off. Soundwave tries to fire on them with his rifle and his shoulder cannon, but he's quickly snapped up and hauled away - as is the motionless Scorcher, and her defender Skyraider. That leaves the little guys to see if they can help....

Resyke looks... ANGRY. "Damnit! You STUPID claws! STUPID Unicron! Come back with my friends!" he yells, spraying acid in every direction. "Come on, Beak! We've got to rescue them!"

Skyraider watches helplessly as he’s dragged off to some other part of Unicron.

Laserbeak looks to Resyke, and watches his father get hauled away... "Aww YOU SONOFA^&$#!" He transforms and tries to shock Unicron's interior defenses.

An entire panel of Unicron's interior slides open, to reveal a whole conveyor line of robots, to which Soundwave, Skyraider, and Scorcher are added. They're being dragged toward vats of acid. Way up ahead, the unfortunate citizenry of Mercurious, which Unicron devoured a week ago, is dropping one by one into the scalding pools.

Skyraider looks at the pit of acid. "Oh you have to be kidding! Of all the ways to go!"

Struggling along with the other captives, are three large, familiar shapes. It's Grimlock, Sludge, and Snarl, who disappeared under such mysterious circumstances some time ago.

Resyke yells, "NO!", and dashes forward, diving into the hatch.. with no plan but to do SOMETHING!

Laserbeak watches his first idea fail, and flies after Resyke.

Soundwave calls out, "Laserbeak, Resyke - you must close the lid over the acid vats! Destroy the support holding the lid open!"

Laserbeak fires at the support struts holding the lid open...

Skyraider says, "HURRY!"

Resyke nods, diving off the conveyor, activating anti-gravs and transforming into insect mode... and CHEWING on the support, in true Insecticon fashion.

As Laserbeak fires through one support, and Resyke chews through the other, the huge heavy metal lid crashes down over the acid vat - a split second before Soundwave, Skyraider, and Scorcher are dropped. They fall heavily onto the lid's surface ... a moment before an even heavier weight crashes down behind them. The Dinobots!

Laserbeak flies over to check and make sure everyone's okay...

Resyke waves his antennae nervously, and emits, "Better get off that lid.. It might not hold!"

Scorcher slowly slides off the lid to land on the floor way below, in a graceless heap of limbs and hydraulic fluids

Skyraider jumps off the lid, landing on his feet. "Thanks for the rescue." He turns towards Scorcher. "You OK Scorcher?"

Soundwave says, "Skyraider, bring Scorcher with you. I believe-" he looks up, as a rift forms in the side of their prison. A swarm of clones has actually eaten a small hole in the side, through which the stars are visible - and the firepower of the space fleet.

Grimlock looks over his Dinobots and the other Decepticons. "Me Grimlock glad to see you!" he announces.

Resyke scurries down from the chewed-through support, still waving his antennae agitatedly.

Skyraider picks up Scorcher in both hands and follows Soundwave.

Laserbeak grins now that his father's ok. "Glad to see you too, Grimlock."

Scorcher's fluids form ghastly smears on Skyraider's armour as he carries her. Skyraider pays no heed to the smears. He just hopes Scorcher is still operational.

Resyke skitters alongside the others, fighting the instinct to revert to core Insecticon programming.

Laserbeak looks to his father. "Any bright ideas?"

Skyraider looks towards Soundwave, a notion dawning on him. "Soundwave, you're a scientist. You've built the Cassettes. Can you repair Scorcher?"

Soundwave rises upward toward the rift the Insecticon clones have chewed into the body wall. "We must first withdraw from here and let the Insecticons do their work. Come! Bring Scorcher."  He flies toward the rift, even as Unicron's internal repairs systems race to seal it up again.

Skyraider leaps through the rift, carrying Scorcher with him.

Resyke transforms and follows, spraying a burst of acid at the rift as he does so. Just in case.

****
Vos

It's at that moment that Ultra Magnus roars onto the scene, with a group of Autobots in his wake. He transforms and holds up an object that, from all descriptions, can only be the legendary "Matrix" - a blue-glowing gem encased in a metal holder, conveniently outfitted with a handle to each side.

Ravenwing murmurs to Megatron, "Let him go... there will be others inside, and he can join them as long as Unicron is kept busy." She almost snarls as the Autobots *finally* make their appearance, taking a careful look around for the Unicron-tainted Prime as well.

Thunderwing is taken aback by the rapid series of events which culminates in Soundwave being...well...swallowed. Not good. However you look at it, a Unispawn telepath is not a particularly appealing thought. In the midst of this, the Autobots -finally- make their appearance, and the Valckastan smirks at Armada. Apparently the mech has them on a leash...or not. But more importantly, that gem simply -must- be the Matrix, if all the descriptions of it were at all correct. Cybertron may finally stand a chance, then...

Megatron gets back onto his feet, firing regular blasts at the invader. Sure, that has no sense, but he is angry. And now, using the antimatter was... too dangerous. He calms down a bit at Ravenwing's words. And there are the Autobots...

Ultra Magnus casts a look toward Thunderwing. "We came as soon as we could. We had to travel far below ground to retrieve this." He quickly bites back the excuses, and holds up this sacred Autobot relic, trying unsuccessfully to pull the casing open. "Open, dammit, open!" he mutters under his breath. "You've got to light our darkest h-" Before he can finish the words, another Autobot bursts out of the debris around the toppled planetary defense cannons. It's Optimus Prime - and he's accompanied by Colossus!

Megatron walks over to Ultra Magnus. "What is that senseless bubbling, Magnus. Do you know how it works or don't you?"

In the night sky, the heart of a star begins to form with Divefire as its center. A corona of liquid purple energy shimmers and swarms around him before flaring out at a rapid rate, a rising sphere of a sun with only one task... to rid those insects that might sting its lord. The fleet of interceptors streak past and close to the sun, bodies suddenly failing them at the raw and unyielding heat that pours out. Others behind take as much evasive action as they can, living for another minute. Then Menasor's beam of power lances out towards the sphere, striking true at its target.  White light obscures the sphere and its creator. For a moment there is silence and hope... But only for a moment, for as the light clears the sphere is far beyond what it was with its creator not even touched. With a laugh on the edge of insanity, he throws his hands forward and the sphere of the sun becomes a beam of total fusion energy, crashing into the rows of ships, ripping them apart as armor melts and evaporates under the raw onslaught. It would be enough if this lasted for just a second or three, but such is the power of Chaos the beam alights the night for minutes, washing though the once vast fleet and slowly begging to whittle it down to nothing but the most powerful.

Armada's head snaps up, not expecting the abrupt arrival to his summons. As Magnus tries to unleash the Matrix and Prime appears with Colossus, he too senses what Thunderwing does. Unicron's influence. Armada barks, "Stop them! Unicron must not have the Matrix!!"

Ignoring Megatron, ignoring Armada, ignoring everyone, Prime bolts toward Magnus, shouting, "So, *old friend* - you sought to claim the power of the Matrix for yourself!" Although Magnus is aware of Prime's deranged state of mind, the accusation none the less startles him - just long enough for Colossus to tackle him, and for Prime to rip the Matrix from his grasp.

Thunderwing is about to snarl something rather impolite to Magnus, but is preempted...and somewhat baffled by the fact that the Matrix will not do the Autobot's bidding. The moment is broken by the arrival of Prime and Colossus, the two would-be Heralds. Or that is at least how he thinks of them, as they simply will not be categorized any other way. The Valckastan lord becomes instantly wary, as here is a threat he can react to directly. But there is something else...disturbing his concentration.

Harrier understands "protect the matrix," and though in most cases he'd be terrified of Prime and Colossus, next to Unicron and the dark heralds, Prime and Colossus look almost manageable. So he darts to Magnus' defense....

Megatron give the order to a few present Tyrians. "Get Prime and Colossus, they shall not interfere."

Ravenwing's optics narrow at the sight as the two together attack the unfortunate Magnus, but then it was expected. Her internal weaponry hums smoothly as she lines up to fire on Optimus Prime. Not for the first time, either, but this time it's not in the back, alas. She aims for where her weaponry can do the most damage: his face.

CatsCradle breaks off sending pleas to her mate to leap towards Prime, snarling, optics blazing. This isn't the mild explorer, but the feral, barely-sane scavenging creature. Her mate's life, soul and sanity, depend on the Matrix. She doesn't dare let it fall away.

Menasor watches in horror as Divefire absorbs the blast, lips pulling back in a snarl... he's not intelligent enough to attach the plasma present in the shot to the absorption, but is intelligent to try something else when one thing fails. So he fires away, and this time it's nothing fancy or special. It's just a really, really big and powerful laser, cutting a swath of bright light through the darkness of space.

Optimus Prime whirls toward the monstrosity filling the sky above them. He raises the Matrix high above his head, his blue optics burning with an insane light. "Unicron, my master - with this, I shall make you my slave!"

But, something's wrong. Prime can't open the Matrix either! And is unaware that he's about to get blasted by Ravenwing and CatsCradle.

Harrier sees Cats leap at Prime and therefore sets about delaying the arrival of Colossus. Hoping he'll get forgiven later, he pulls down his double barreled hunting laser and starts sniping at the Tyrian leader.

Megatron shakes his head. Prime really got mad. He raises his cannon and fires at the Autobot. "Enough of this nonsense.

Actually, CatsCradle has forgotten such things as lasers. Somehow in her mind, she is transformed back to the weaponless street-rat she used to be... weaponless except for her claws. However some awareness remains... enough to make her wary of others going for her target. She is not about to get shot down by her own pack.

Armada also leaps forward towards Prime, not knowing what he'll do, but knowing he'll die before he lets Unicron have the Matrix. Though he's far enough away as to arrive much later than the others and Megatron's blast.

The small, still, yet oh so insistent voice which has made its presence known in the back of Thunderwing's mind ever since the Autobots arrived, finally becomes a shout as the Matrix refuses to be controlled by Prime himself. Acting without thought for once, following only a raw instinct which tells him that this is the right thing to do - this is how it should be for him, that this was somehow promised him, the Valckastan lord darts forward into the fray. He doesn't focus on doing any particular damage to either Prime or Colossus, yet launches himself at the taller and heavier Autobot leader and snatches at the Matrix.

Ghost's optics flicker flash emerald and violet as she lashes out with those tendrils indiscriminately. Propelled up on a growing twist of darkening clouds of electrons gone mad, the she-herald raises a hand, fingertalons curving around a coalescing twist of nothing, balling it into her palm before dropping down through the fleet being scattered by the light of Unicron. The ball pules before it snaps outwards, joining with the dim haze around her, lightning bolts of onyx and amethyst joining with adamantine and emerald in a phasestorm. With all the blind fury of a cyclone, the raging dance around her contuse as she moves, sending ships twisting and tumbling as their flight controls and engine systems take the brunt of the strange unnatural stormfront. She makes not a sound, no catcalls, no baiting as she strikes out, pulsing the energines out in a tiered circle with her at the epicenter. There is no malice, no enjoyment on her expression if anyone could get close enough to enjoy, only a flat, emotionless veneer cracked with a sudden-wrought moment of pained agony.

Prime is struck dead-on by Ravenwing's shot, which throws him off-balance, reeling backward. The Matrix flies from his grasp to bounce along the ground.

Megatron orders. "Now get that thing and get it to work!" He obviously means the Matrix.

All this time, the space fleet is keeping Unicron somewhat distracted, though dozens upon hundreds of ships are being destroyed in Cybertron's orbit. Glowing ashes and burning metal rains from the sky.

Bruticus is still intact. On occasion he is able to land on Unicron and fire his weapon into joints in the monster's plating, hoping to do some kind of damage. Most of it is probably no more than a hangnail-level irritant, but he's doing his bit to keep Unicron distracted. If only he could get near the /face/...but Unicron's mighty arms and deadly eye lasers won't allow it.

Thunderwing more or less falls flat on his face as his intended target is thrown out of the way. The indignity of it all! But he recovers quickly, and rolls to his feet and reaches for the Matrix once more, every motion fueled by something which seems to have very little to do with rational thought.

CatsCradle isn't able to stop herself from plowing into the stumbling Prime, nor is she able to keep from sinking her claws through armor. Hatred for old enemies dies hard, and there is a week's worth of hell pent up in the femme's body, pain beyond sanity. For a brief minute, the joy of Prime's blood is overpowering.

Armada recovers form his failed tackle to stand up beside Thunderwing, seeing what he is doing, to defend his lord. Plasma rifle ready and arm blades fully deployed, he dares anyone to intrude. Even Unicron.

Prime, still blinded, takes CatsCradle's attack and falls back, even as a mixed group of Autobots and Decepticons help to restrain him and his unexpected ally, Colossus.

Unicron seems to be growing downright angry now. Something's chewing at him from the inside, and the one thing he most wants destroyed, is now within his sight. Perhaps even in the grasp of one who can get the bauble to work. To his closest herald, the one formerly known as Divefire, he thunders, "DESTROY THE MATRIX!"

Divefire regards his handwork with a smirk of satisfaction as a scurry of laser shots from the interceptors of the fleet patter off his frame. With a casual gesture of his hand, a bolt of energy rips the sky to smash into a lead ship, causing it to come apart and injure its fellows. All the while the laser shots of Menasor streak for his frame, distracted as he is by the smaller ships and his own smugness the first blast hits him square, sending him tumbling head over heels with smoke pouring from his frame. With a burst of his cape though he rights himself, parrying one blast with a gesture of his forearm and dodging the last. With a snarl he spits out towards the giant, "The hurt... Allow me to... To..." He pauses, in mid thought, head snapping towards his master as his tekno lance arrives in his hands from subspace. "Yes, my master, I understand... The Matrix will be yours!" With a flare of his cape, his form streaks away from the carnage he has wrecked on the fleet towards the surface and the scrum for the one thing that Unicron most fears...

Megatron transmits a message to Ghost.

Harrier finally begins to believe they might have a chance. If Unicron is so worried about the Matrix, then it must really represent a threat...and it will NOT be destroyed! The ever-so-prim Duke is suddenly all pirate, gunning with all his might at those who would take the Matrix.

An explosion and a renewed rain of burning cinders marks the end of the grand starship Twilight over Cybertron's skies. As the ship shatters apart from one too many hits, the surviving warriors within, transform to their own spaceworthy modes and streak from the burning debris. Among them is their leader.

Ravenwing is taken aback by the rapid events, but leaves Prime and Colossus to the others and drops back to her Lord's side, glancing worriedly at him. He has always been interested in exactly this type of... artifact, but she's never seen him look so strange. She shakes her head slightly and waits for the attackers to come to them.

Megatron demands: "Hurry up, Thunderwing. I will try to buy you some more time." And he takes off, flying towards Unicron.

Ghost is centered in the midst of a phasestorm of her own making, so far unstruck by anything as the fields seem to envelop energy sent her way. With a twist, she begins to head towards Menasor, on her own orders but midway, she doubles as if wracked with pain, movements mirroring Divefire’s almost exactly as he is struck, tumbling heels over head before she can right herself. Faint afterimages of white dance across her frame, exactly where her fellow herald had been hit and finally, she speaks, "Now...." one word, softly spoken as her hands raise, shunting that storm into her frame, focusing and lancing out at the behemoth attacking both her lord and her other.

Menasor is simply too battered at this point to do anything but look at the incoming blast, a flicker of pride that comes to life in /all/ 5 causing the huge warrior to raise his chin defiantly. He will fall, but he will not do so begging for mercy or afraid of the end...

Menasor has been through a lot. He has been broken by a zombie-gestalt, wrecked by Omega Supreme and Superion together, blasted apart by Bruticus's gun when it overloaded and detonated. All of that is nothing compared to this. The flames overwhelm the behemoth, a storm of darkness that laps him up, curls around him, envelopes him... there is no explosion, no dramatic or heroic finale. When it fades, there is only debris, a cloud of it that slowly expands. The Stunticons have been annihilated.

Ghost's frame seems to solidify as the giant amalgam of the Stunticons falls to the energy that seethed from her. Snapping around to seek other prey, the she-herald twists instead, letting out a shrill cry to the stars as she flinches, pinpoints of light shining from a shoulder cover as if struck there. She spins with an unseen impact, doubling over as more of that dead white shade creeps across her armoring, the fanciful edges reminiscent of a plasma strike but in negative image. On her back, the skeletal wingspars snap outwards, the fiery dance of shadow and energy twisting in on itself as it diverts, summoned elsewhere for another purpose, leaving her with all the signs of having been damaged by attacks not having even come near her.

Soundwave flies out of a rift between two of Unicron's armor plates, chewed by the Insecticon clones, with Laserbeak, Resyke, and Skyraider following - Skyraider carrying the very damaged Scorcher. And behind them come Grimlock, Sludge, and Snarl!  Grimlock is one too pleased at the undignified treatment he's gotten at the hands of Unicron for the past few months since his disappearance. He transforms to Tyrannosaur mode and lunges toward the metal wall that is Unicron. "Me Grimlock kick butt!" he snarls, and does exactly that.

Laserbeak flies out of Unicron's side, and flies full speed at Divefire's back, sensing opportunity, lasers firing all the way.

Divefire’s form flows to the ground of Cybertron, his optics ablaze with the command of his master and his will. With a sudden shifting of his cape his whole body stops just above the ground, before touching down lightly. Once more the corona of power seeps from his body in a sickly light as he stalks forward, optics darting across the forces that stand here. The lords and ladies of Valkasta. "Give me the Matrix you pathetic fools before I rip your forms in to their atoms and take it from your graves!" he spits, one hand forward and playing with power, the other brandishing his lance with intent to maim.

Armada's optics blaze crimson as he glares at Divefire. "Then you shall have to destroy me first. You shall not have the Matrix." His tone echoes with a hint of finality. Nothing shall dissuade him. He raises his arm blades, knowing it may be his last act, as he disobeys a former order from Thunderwing. Suddenly, his frame is silhouetted by a blue glow from Thunderwing. Though he does not dare turn, his stance locked into a defensive stance until the very end against the Herald and former Decepticon.

Laserbeak can actually feel the tide turn as Divefire staggers, so he breaks off his attack run and he turns towards the one he used to call Ghost...intent on putting her out of her misery.

Thunderwing's hand closes on one of the handles of the faintly glowing artifact, and the effect is as dramatic as it is immediate: With a soft, yet definite 'click' the casing opens and a brilliant blue light spills forth, lighting a very dark hour indeed. The Valckastan warlord is obscured by the light and his cry of shock and triumph almost drowned by a strange rush in the air. ...but for all this, there seems to be no indication of the Matrix actually doing what it is supposed to do. Unicron does not crumble to dust, as some legends would have it.

Unicron's great hand lunges for the planet's surface again ... but as Thunderwing unleashes the light of the Matrix, he pulls it back with a rumbling growl, as though burnt.

Skyjack briefly shimmers into existence next to Skyraider, startling the mech no end "Is she alive?" he asks anxiously.

Resyke almost jumps out of his shell as Skyjack materializes. "Yeeeh!"

Soundwave drops down toward the surface and the devastation below.

Anxious as Skyjack is about the little femme in his team, he has a larger responsibility. Somehow those two heralds and their monstrous master must be stopped. He reactivates his subspace cloaking and again tries to get a clear shot at the herald who used to be Ghost and who just casually destroyed one of the strongest gestalts.

Resyke turns to Skyraider. "You.. you should be fighting. I'll guard Scorcher." Yeah, like the little Insecticon could guard /anything/.

Skyraider looks towards Resyke. the Insecticon had a point. Skyraider stands up and starts shooting at Divefire, shouting, "Die, Die!!"

CatsCradle jerks out of her shredding spree at the voice... the sound of her mate, the tones of his demon. She pushes herself away from Prime with sudden disregard for a target so focused on only seconds before. Hopefully someone will detain him; her attention is only for the Herald coming for them. Automatically shaking the mixture of Prime's blood and her own from her hands, she darts to stand before the others, between them and the Herald. "Diver, don't do this," she pleads, her hands outstretched to him.

Ravenwing doesn't bother to make any speeches, she simply opens fire on the Herald. Only the slightest hesitation, recalling that this was once CatsCradle's lifemate, but there is simply no choice any longer.

Harrier stares at the Matrix in wonder and awe...but with Unicron wreaking havoc behind him, the moment passes quickly and Harrier recovers enough to ask, "So what's that bloody Matrix supposed to /do/?"

Strong magnetic fields built up, keeping the antimatter under control, but also straining his systems to the edge. Energy is drawn from his systems - Large amounts of energy, draining his body of it. And then a blast emerges from his cannon, blinding bright. And this beam heads directly for Unicron's optic. Hopefully that will gain Thunderwing some time...

Unicron swats at the blue light, apparently finding it uncomfortable. He actually draws back a bit, causing the cannon blast from Megatron to glance off his helmet.

Megatron thinks: 'At least it /was/ a distraction...' before he collapses, falling towards the planet surface.

Soundwave twists in the air and manages just barely to catch Megatron as he falls unconscious from the antimatter blast- though not in time to keep them both from crashing into a ruined building. The two Decepticons disappear a cloud of debris and rending metal.

Streaking down from the sky is a chrome-and-gold Stratobomber, whom some here may recognize as Jhiaxus. His ion cannons come online to target Divefire, even as Armada distracts the herald.

Jhiaxus unleashes a tremendous blast from his ion cannons, which target Divefire with a roar that has not been heard on Cybertron for four million years.

Divefire’s expression shifts into one of amused annoyance as several strikes hit his armor:  Laserbeak's ruby powered lasers, Ravenwing's formidable plasma rifle in other times would of course make him fall back in pain. Now however the shots hit, harm and then strangely start to heal in a flow of energy not of his own. "Fools, all of you fools!" he screams, stepping to plunge forward as Cats steps in his way, giving him a moment’s hesitation... then the wash of the Matrix claws over his body.  Finally, his head snaps up to regard the raw ionic energy heading for his frame, with no time to react with everything else going on, he simply... cringes...

CatsCradle's optics blink suddenly, past The Herald to the oncoming stratobomber, and the universe seems to freeze, then go into slow-motion. The cannons glowing briefly, the ion blast hurtling towards the cringing form of.... "No," she whispers. Then she is darting forward, the grace that deserted her over the last week returning in a sudden explosion of movement, and she leaps directly into the oncoming energy. There is a brief flare that might have been the beginnings of tangle of energy weaving together, but the blazing rush of power pounds over it, and it disappears.

Jhiaxus’ shot impacts full-force with CatsCradle. Even had he wanted to, there was no time left to call back the attack. The Stratobomber roars on past.

Armada's optics dim slightly at CatsCradle's act. Love and compassionate, but foolish. He prepares for an onslaught from Divefire fortified anew by his rage at his mate's death.

Divefire’s optics go wide in horror as CatsCradle's frame darts past him and takes the shot meant for him. Without thought, he leaps after her falling form, arms outstretched to catch her, falling with her and looking to her for any signs of life, anything at all as he opens his mouth producing only...silence. There is no great rage, no harboring anger of explosion from an angry god, only the outpouring of loss and shock.

CatsCradle's body curls into Divefire's arms, armor scorched to liquid, skin and cable systems melted to her frame on the side that had taken the blast. Awareness past pain. Familiar arms around her again. Optics opening, faint glow of purple, searching for green. She reaches up with one hand, gently traces the lines of his face, leaving behind blood and greasy ash. "I love you," she whispers. "Always."

Jhiaxus banks around for another run at Divefire, the ion cannon powering up again. He's far enough away now that he can shift direction if he wants to, but - no one has convinced him Divefire isn't still a threat. With the remains of his fleet raining down around him, he roars toward the herald a second time.

Skyraider walks over to Divefire, arm laser pointed toward his head. "Prepare for extermination, traitor," he announces, barely holding his rage in check.  He begins powering up his laser for maximum damage, murder in his optics. He intends to finish Divefire with one shot.

Divefire looks down at Cats’ battered frame, expression pale in shock as something claws at his mind, begging for release in pain and rage. "I... I..." He can't quite make the words with his voice, nothing quite making sense on his perceptions. Then with a rage born from turmoil, guilt and pain from a week that has been a lifetime, he breaks free. A glittering deep base scream consumes him, at the same time as his energy swims with the flares of his fusion energy he has been commanding all this time. A corona of raw anger at all that has happened, powerful enough to knock any one or thing passing his way back from him, shining like a beacon as he fights through every last obstacle to reclaim himself and his dignity. "I... SERVE... NO ONE!" The light flares from the purple to the white, brilliant as it is painful. As it dies down, he cradles Cats closer to his body and whispers to her, near tears himself. "Always... Forever... I love you."

Jhiaxus’ flightpath is disrupted by the flare of energy from Divefire. Going into a spin, the Stratobomber manages to right itself as it once again thunders past Unicron's herald.

Skyraider watches Divefire with shock. He lowers his laser and steps back, unsure what to do.

Armada steps back from Divefire's aura, shocked by the Herald's success in breaking free from Unicron's hold. He turns to Thunderwing, "My lord... you must destroy Unicron. The Matrix! While he is still hurt and his Heralds cannot stop you!"

Two slim arms, one scorched to the frame, one still armored, slip around Divefire's neck. A face presses against his throat, wet with tears. For the first time in her memory, CatsCradle is crying.

The ground trembles again as Unicron rises upward a little off Cybertron's surface. The expressionless face contorts in anger. He gathers himself, and balls his hands into fists to drive them through the hated blue light of the Matrix energy and into the planet's surface itself. The rift chewed into his inner wall by the Insecticon clones has been sealed, and perhaps the Insecticons have been captured by those internal defense systems and already dissolved in the acid vats ... or perhaps not. But the Chaos Bringer is determined to take Cybertron with him if he himself should be destroyed.

Thunderwing 's wits were soundly scattered by the contact with the sheer power of the Matrix, but little by little, he gathers his madly racing thoughts and forms something resembling coherent consciousness. Rising to his feet, he snarls as he finds a Herald on Cybertronian ground, and Unicron still in the sky. With several months' worth of apprehension and frustration at the arrival of the destruction of his world suddenly boiling to the surface, combined with the mad hate the brightly shining gem seems to harbour for Unicron and his ilk, Thunderwing begins...experimenting...fear him. A mental nudge, not so much an order as a suggestion, causes the Matrix to issue forth a pulse of blue light at the Devourer.

Skyjack sees Ghost’s injuries and brings his most powerful attack to bear on her. He fires two high explosive carrying missiles at her, followed by another two as soon as he can summon them from subspace and load them in his launcher. One after the other slams into the shadowy frame of the she-herald.

Skyraider fires his arm lasers at Ghost, adding his attacks to Skyjack’s.

Resyke is standing on the surface of Cybertron, beside the slowly dying Scorcher.. which is NOT the best place to be right now. Staggering around like a bad Star-Trek extra, the little cleaner tries desperately to remain standing and protect his fallen comrade. "Wh..whoa..."

Laserbeak locks onto Ghost and draws near her as his lasers hum. "Goodbye Ghost." He lets loose with both lasers on Ghost, streams of energon flowing down from his optics...

Snowscape crashes into a building not too far from the others, being shot out of the sky by a stray blast

The Dinobots don't seem to realize they're not doing much good up there against Unicron. Sludge bashes at his outer plating with his tail, Slag gores with his horns, but it's the most superficial of damage. Even Trypticon has little effect.

Ghost's form has taken on a gaunt, wasted half shadowy nebulousness with the damages she has suffered on her others behalf. A shake of her head as she begins to fall, wingspars spreading outwards as her optics flash silvered twilight for a brief moment before going a classic shade of violent violet, lips curving into a snarl as a blind rage overtakes her and she screams, "I AM NOT A PUPPET TO HAVE STRINGS PULLED! NYAAAAAAAAAH!" From within, blackness coils and twists, dancing towards the falling silver form of Megatron to cushion his fall with the shifting of atoms from another plane. Then the shots taken begin to strike at her, first the misslies, some streaking through the spectral wings and igniting with a fiery flash, hilighting her in a strange negative image like a photofilm replica. A moment and in that light a translucent shimmer of her former self seems to twist free, merging with the gaunt apparition she has become as lasers streak through her, eliciting another scream of rage and denial.

Resyke falls flat on his aft as Ghost screams, a stray piece of masonry impacting on the side of his helmet. Dizzy and scared, he transforms into cockroach mode, chittering incoherently near the fallen Scorcher.

Harrier watches Thunderwing unleash the power of the Matrix. He's always been a /little/ afraid of Thunderwing, but now...Thunderwing just doesn't seem quite himself. Still, no use in complaining now, since the Matrix actually seems to be doing more than bouncing off Unicron's hide.

Ravenwing's first duty is to protect her lord, so she stays by his side, her optics fixed briefly on Divefire. There's no sympathy for him, though, just regret that his weakness cost CatsCradle so dearly. Ghost's rebellion, however, isn't a surprise to her, and she nods in approval before returning her attention to Thunderwing and his dangerous new toy.

Armada, like Ravenwing, remains rooted to Thunderwing's side, an indigo statue ready to strike. He does spare a glance up at his creator and the streak of blue energy emitting from the Matrix. This is all quite new to him, as he was taken out of the picture before this could be done in his universe.

Laserbeak turns towards Unicron, flying towards him with reckless abandon, lasers blarring as he simply says "For my friends you’ve taken, for the empire...you die."

Unicron doesn't even notice Laserbeak as his fists plunge downward toward the planet's surface.

Megatron's systems slowly come back online, but he is completely drained of energy. Not to mention that his circuits complain about the strain.

Soundwave stirs, something having cushioned the fall at the last moment. He shakes his head to clear his vision, and realizes that it's not vision that's damaged, or injuries that are responsible for the strange reverberations that are screaming through his mind.

Megatron completely gets online. He wants to get up, but his body refuses to work. This is annoying... “Soundwave, help me,” he whispers.  He grasps Soundwave's arm, trying to get his feet work again. And somehow he manage it, but staggering. "What is the... actual... status of the battle?”

Skyjack continues to fire at Ghost even after his missile launcher's click empty. It takes him a long moment to realize he is running dry

Resyke is partially buried under a falling wall, as the dark god tears into the planet's surface.

Laserbeak continues to strafe Unicron, trying not to reveal his true intentions, as he shifts into high gear and lines himself up one a collision course with one of his optics.

Ghost spins around, raising a hand as solid blackness coalesces there, no color, the total absence of all that is light forming around her, seemingly mending the places where she had shown damages. Plumes of that shadowstuff begin to form between her wingspars as her frame ripples in on itself, the gauntness remaining but now harboring a dim black-violet glow that blurs her outlines entirely. Her optics remain violet now, overshot with flashing crackles of deep emerald as something forms on her left forearm. A twisting maelstrom of atriad beam lashes through the air indiscriminately, targeting those that would dare to attack the She-herald.

Ravenwing raises her voice almost reluctantly, "Stand down against the former heralds for a few moments, please. They can be of more help to us than against us. Ghost, Divefire... to whom are your loyalties now?"

Unicron's fists plunge deep into Cybertron's surface, ripping entire plates open and exposing layers that haven't seen the light of the stars for countless millennia. The surrounding plains of Vos lurch upward and shatter, throwing those on the ground in every possible direction.

Armada is thrown into Ravenwing and away from his lord, much to his frustration. He instinctively clutches at the Valckastan and tries to right himself, but he can't seem to find the ground...

Scorcher bounces around, limply, unresisting. The systems that lock her in stasis against extreme damage are beginning to fail due to lack of energon

Laserbeak grins as he continues to go unnoticed. Over the radio, he says, "Tell Jackie to give my tab to Ravage." With that he crashes into Unicron's optic...lost in the resulting plume of smoke.

Skyraider looks around at his fellow warriors. Seeing Scorcher on her feet, he rushes over to her. "Scorcher! Are you all right?"

Soundwave wants to respond, but is thrown off his feet again as the ground comes up around them.

Resyke lunges out of the rubble that partially covers the cockroach, making a grab for his injured comrade - A futile attempt as the ground buckles underneath him. Resyke disappears from sight, thrown somewhere into Cybertron's underground..

Divefire’s form flips back into the sky as the plates of Cybertron shift from the blow of his former master, wing cape flaring again to right his movements and letting him hover in the sky again, though his face is a picture of uncertainty as he tries to grasp reality again. "Ghost... Ghost isn't in charge of herself yet..." He intones to whom ever is listening. "And right now I've got only two things on my mind and I've got to do them on my own." He looks down at his battered mate and looks around in a certain amount of desperation. "Can anyone take her for me?"

CatsCradle makes a soft sound of denial, her arms tightening around her mate's neck. "No," she murmurs. "Don't..."

Megatron loses his equilibrium again, falling together with Soundwave. An annoyed sound coming from his lips.

As Laserbeak crashes through Unicron's optic lens, the blue light streaming from the Matrix, somewhere within Thunderwing's grasp, where-ever he is, starts to seep into the opening....

Those triad beams of energy whipsnap through the thin atmosphere, beating a tempo of pain and agony wherever they touch. At the epicenter, the She-Herald continues to rage against the machine that controls her silently, form still being forced to obey commands. Afterimages seem to follow her as she dances in the air, ghostly half shadows with their own dissolute lightnings echoing her own. Afterimages that seem prone to odd movements of their own, jerky half shifts out of sequence with their mistress.

Jhiaxus, in the air during the monster's impact on the ground, none the less has to swerve to avoid debris thrown up from below.

Ravenwing was just managing to keep to her own feet, but doesn't withstand the impact with Armada, thankyouverymuch. Knocked to the ground, she growls and rolls to get to her feet again, offering a hand up to Armada. Not a bad idea to get into the air to avoid these lovely tumbles, but where is Thunderwing?

Thunderwing is thrown to the ground, and emits another low growl of frustration and anger about to reach dangerous levels. As though the Unispawn's words only now registered with him, he looks up and nods at Armada. It's probably a reflection of the light from gem still tightly clutched in his hand, but for a moment, his white optics seem tinged by sapphire. Rising to his feet, he notices the hole where one of Unicron's optics once were and the effect he suspects is already taking place within the Devourer. At another inquiring nudge at the Matrix's 'mind' the light grows stronger and steadier, before finally culminating in a lance of blue brilliance which turns Cybertron's dusk into daylight before streaking towards Unicron.

Armada takes the proffered hand, using it and his other limb to pull himself out from underneath a large section of ruptured ground. After extricating himself, he hovers up above the crushed landscape, just in time to whirl around at Thunderwing's sudden... surge.

Ravenwing is somewhat reassured that her lord is acting more himself. She really didn't like that blank look in his optics and the play of energy around him, but tells herself that it's just a tool. She hopes.

Megatron gets onto his knees. "Soundwave?"

Skyraider grabs a hold of Scorcher as she is about to fall to the ground in a spineless heap. He realizes that the emergency stasis, which is about the only thing that keeps her alive, is fading as her energy runs out. Not knowing what else to do he hooks her up to a powersupply and tries to ignore the flashes of energon and angry sparks that play around the ghastly wound that almost cuts her in two

Resyke ...is nowhere to be seen.

Megatron says, "Soundwave?"

Divefire silently places Cats onto the ground, in about as safe a place as he can manage. Carefully he untangles her arms from him and smiles down at her face. "I'm coming back this time, I promise." It's said with a sincerity this time, a look in his optics of utter determination not to fail his friends and colleagues again. With a final look he stands, and then lifts off the ground, streaking towards his former companion in a streak of fire, only dimmed by the glittering of his optics. "Ghost!" he calls out as he nears, battering past the shadows that leap out to try and decay his frame with flares of his own light, plasma fires reach out to clear the sky of the darkness. "Fight him, Ghost! Fight Chaos Bringer! You are no one’s slave, no one’s puppet! You are the mistress of your own destiny and you are my shadow! I need you, need your strength to fight him! Come back to us!" The tinge of hope and desperation clings to his voice as his words echo in his mind, trying to reach her in every way he can, every way he knows how. This has to work... This must... The alternative does not bear thinking about.

CatsCradle lets out a small whimper of protest and pain as Diver settles her in a crumpled little ball, but as he speaks to her, promises her, her face relaxes, optics glowing at him, follow him as he streaks to rescue one other, and help save a world.

The veritable storm of lashing triad lances of energy begins to coil in on itself as the creator of it turns at the sound of a voice both without and within.. Wing-spars fan outwards, framing her with a backdrop of the abyss, black so deep that light cannot escape. It is as if she freezes, the beams curling in back to join with that violet haze around her, her optics flickerflashing through shades of violet and silver so rapidly as if to seem to be drowning pools of hope amidst the end. Her thoughts are a chaotic rift of anger so deep, hatred so vast that it seems to have enveloped her entirely until amidst the ruin, a single image shines like a beacon, a flash of the sun playing against deep turquoise waters that lap against amber sand. She raises her hands, pulling into her frame all the power that holds her here, every iota from every plane she touches reeling inwards as if flowing in like the tides change. Her optics lock with her counterparts as she 'breathes' a simple set of words, focused solely on pulling everything she can into herself, "Prepare.. to.. receive.." They seem to echo, hanging on the air in one of those endless moments before she twists, frame folding in on itself with an agonizing scream of metal on metal, some plates bending against physics until she has formed into a rifle that continues to suck at the very light itself.

Skyjack breaks off his attack run as Ghost seems to come to herself and then transforms into a deadly looking weapon. He shimmers into existence some distance away from Divefire

Armada cranes his neck up as the two Heralds fight for control. His heart goes out to them, knowing that battle all too well himself. He whispers, "You can, Ghost... Unicron is a coward, and now he's scared." He then glances back at his lord, wondering what the power of the Matrix might be doing to him.

Megatron, regaining control over his body again, touches Soundwave by the arm. "Soundwave, answer me!

Soundwave tries to fight back the voices in his own mind, and begins succeeding. As though seeing him from a great distance away, he turns his head to regard Megatron. The flickering red optic band slowly stabilizes into something near its normal shade. "Commander..."

Skyjack sees that ordinary weapons won't do any good now. HE slowly lands next to Skyraider who is trying to keep Scorcher alive somehow

Harrier watches the battle in awe, a scale beyond his participation. He does what he can to watch over the survivors, to help them hang on until the battle is won.

Thunderwing is doing just fine, thanks. Oh, sure, he's hovering a short distance off the ground now, but flying is a Decepticon thing. The light emanating from the matrix has also spread down, enveloping the mech in a haze of blue foxfire, but all things considered, that is probably not completely unexpected either. The fact that the fiercely brilliant artifact is itself hovering some inches -above- Thunderwing's outstretched hands could probably be considered unusual, however.

Ravenwing gives her lord a more worried look, but the priority right now is Unicron, not him. Unicron must be stopped, or they all die. It's as simple as that. Her gaze focuses on the giant threatening them. Surely all the attempts they've made have had a cumulative effect on him...

Megatron says, "Let's get out of this rubble. I think I can walk on my own again."

Soundwave pulls himself to his feet again and offers to help Megatron. In the blue floodlight he notices Skyraider and Skyjack hovering over Scorcher, and makes his way toward them. He's aware there are others injured, perhaps even more badly, but she happens to be closest, and it gives him a task to focus on. His mind reaches out for Laserbeak at the same time...

Skyraider looks towards Skyjack as he lands beside him, worry on his face. "She’s dying, I think," he says, "I just hope this works until we can get help for her."

Megatron can walk again, but don't ask him to use his weapon at the moment. He is simply sucked dry of energy. And this hammering headache... How he hates that. Slowly, he gets aware of the shining light and the hovering Thunderwing.

Soundwave drops down beside Scorcher and starts to seal the leaks, hoping it's not too late, because he doesn't have any energy on hand to replace what she's lost. He can, at the very least, prevent her from losing more.

Divefire instinctively holds out his hand as all his concentration fortifies his mind against the encroaches of the Chaos Bringer as he screams his indignation at the Heralds defiance of his will. For a moment Divefire rocks back in space, being struck by an unseen force on a battlefield on plane only a very few have known, but images of his hopes, his dreams, those he would call friends and the pain of what he has done to them rise back in pure hatred of his former master. The tug shifts on his mind, pushed back but not beaten and then he feels something else at his side, living in the shadow of his rage, reinforcing his determination with raw logic and precise thinking. The two he made to become his will become something more then the Master of Chaos had thought possibly and together, in both planes of the mental and the physical, they shine. Divefire's frame blazes with energy born not of his master but of his own, a light pure in its definition and its task as the weapon he holds feeds on the light he creates. Ghost's weapon forms shadows deepen to be the pure contrast of the light, a power born of the shadows, of the darkness and of the pain. With a snarl two voices reach out as one to echo out into the battlefield. "We are one... Unified... We are all that you can never be... Receive our gift, oh Master of Chaos!" And with those final mocking words power erupts. The shadow and the light combine, becoming a part of each other focused through Ghost's weapon form. A beam of utter brilliance arches out to touch Unicron with the wrath of a thousand thousand victims of his rampages, smashing through his remaining optic, but not stopping there. The fury will not be abated by an optic and continues, smashing though the interiors of his head in once clean line, blasting out the back of what forms his head and dissipating into the space to go back to what created it.

Unicron roars more in outrage than in pain as first Laserbeak's form crashes through his huge optic lens, then Divefire's and Ghost's attack pierces the other. But the roar turns to a shriek of incredulous pain as the light of the Matrix flows into the openings in his eyes. What it could not accomplish immediately from the outside, it effects with a vengeance from within. Cracks appear in Unicron's armor as his limbs sever at the joins and his body blows itself apart in an incredible pyrotechnic display. Building-sized chunks of shredded metal hail down from above, and the Matrix's blue light is augmented by the red of a rain of fire.

Soundwave tries to shield the motionless Scorcher with his own body from the falling debris.

Laserbeak is jarred lose when Unicron writhes in pain, and falls back towards Cybertron unconscious and smoldering.

Skyraider uses himself as a shield to block the debris from hitting Scorcher

Those Decepticons still in the air, are forced to either land and take cover, or try to dodge the cascade of sharp-edged burning metal from above.

Ravenwing leaps into the air to join Thunderwing, keeping a careful watch for the rain of debris and ready to yank him out of the way should any come his way. The blue light gives her the shivers, but if necessary, she'll grab for his arm.

Resyke is somewhere underground, so isn't in danger from falling metal.. just cave ins. Woo.

CatsCradle huddles, trying to make herself as small as possible against the raining debris, not having anything left to put into a 'field. Even so, her optics still scan the skies... searching...

After Soundwave seals up the worst of the leaks Scorcher's condition no longer deteriorates. She is still almost cut in two and internal mechanisms as well as cables and fluid lines trail out of the ragged ugly tear. Whether she lives or dies remains to be seen, but she may live long enough now to make it to the repair bay

Laserbeak plummets out of the sky like a burnt bat out of hell as a trail of smoke follows his carcass towards Cybertron's surface.

Skyraider faces Soundwave, "Is she OK? Will she live?"

Soundwave looks up through the smoke. "I believe so."

Through the haze of smoke and flame and burning debris, a horrific sight can be seen in the sky above Vos: Unicron's head, blasted from its body and nearly intact except for the empty eye sockets and the hole blown clean out the back, swings around into high orbit as though to take the place of the moon it devoured only hours earlier.

As Unicron is destroyed, the Matrix emits one last jubilant burst of blinding light, almost incidentally incinerating much of the debris falling in its general vicinity. But then its casing abruptly clicks shut once again, and the brilliance immediately dies down to the soft glow more common to the gem. With the burst of power which suspended him vanishing so suddenly, Thunderwing almost falls out of the sky, but manages to avoid it by instinctively reaching out at the presence beside him...which happens to be Raven.

Ravenwing is briefly dragged down by the sudden weight of her Lord, but her heel thrusters are more than enough for the added load, and she eases them both to the ground, still looking skywards. At least until the Matrix-produced eye of the storm is noted, then she can set down with more confidence. "My lord?" she inquires quietly.

Armada transforms swiftly and angles his nose upwards against the rain of metal and material, occasionally blasting a larger chunk out of his way. His engines pulse silently, as is his voice, but inside, he wants to yell for joy.

Skyraider starts firing his lasers upwards, being sure not to hit anyone, shouting with joy.

Ghost's weapons form continues to suck in the light from her counterpart as the two truly become as one in their drive to fight back against a torment, against the end of a way of life, the end of an age. The shadows thicken and spin with the light, focusing through her weapons barrel and output with all the fury and rage that she has drawn on for her retaliation against he that would dare send her against that which she holds more dear than life itself. The output continues in a think outpouring of power drawn from the two heralds as well as being drawn from the links that Unicron had given them from his own surfeit of power. Wisps of vaporizes metal sheathing waft from the weapon as it continues to focus, purify and strike in one continuous lance, the exterior of the weapon taking on that dull hue of violet overheated crystal, places beginning to dim translucent, the incandescent fire within shining through in patches as she focuses on that one thing until Unicron meets the energies from the matrix. As the chaos Bringer breaks into a showering of thousands upon thousands of glittering pieces of metal falling towards the planet in a strange fireworks display, she finally shuts off, parts of her transparent and shining before dulling to a lackluster gray amidst the blackened sections. She goes silent, fury spent.

Ultra Magnus digs his way out from under a mountain of shattered metal. Nearby, another Autobot comes to light, and then the rest of the group ... looking around warily. Incredulous that the threat is over, and even more incredulous that it was a Decepticon who dealt the killing blow, they draw together behind their current leader, Ultra Magnus.

Skyjack grabs Skyraider by the shoulders and says softly but urgently "thank you ... for saving her"

Megatron groans. Headache and then debris crashing onto his helmet... He shakes his head, trying to shake the pain off. Forget the aching, there are much more important things to do. "Decepticons, regroup and gather our damaged for repairs!"

Jhiaxus comes to a landing, transforming just before he touches ground. The chrome-and-gold plating is scorched and charred, and as he looks up into the falling ashes, he realizes that his fleet is gone, along with the monster that attacked the homeworld.

Skyraider looks towards Skyjack, All he can manage is,  "Don't mention it,"

More debris is shoved aside to reveal Colossus, who stands up with the look of one to have woken up out of a nightmare to find himself in unknown surroundings. And indeed, the place is unrecognizable.

Thunderwing touches down and regains his balance somewhat awkwardly. He stands silent and still for a moment, looking down at the thing which is now held by one handle in his right hand like some outlandish lantern, then he turns his attention to Ravenwing and smirks in a familiar enough drawl, "Yes?"

Megatron makes his way over to Thunderwing. The planet he has tried to revived and rebuilt destroyed again, but he will not give up, starting to rebuilt it again. He steps in front of the Valckastian warlord. "Well done, Thunderwing, very well done."

Armada transforms and lands next to his lord, a smile cracking his usual facade. "I knew it could defeat Unicron. But for you to wield it, my lord.. I never thought such possible." He regards Ultra Magnus with some disgust, "Though it only stands to reason."

Ultra Magnus takes a hesitant step toward Thunderwing. "The Matrix..." he begins.

Ravenwing finishes for the Autobot, "... seems to have a taken a liking to Lord High Commander Thunderwing." She takes a step away, giving her lord some room, and simply stands by his side, her arms crossed. A useful bauble, the Matrix...

Thunderwing looks from Megatron to Magnus, smirking slightly at both, "Of course, Megatron. You expected anything less?" All right, rebooting supercilious bastard-ness. All's well with the world. To the Autobot he states, "An interesting thing, this... And I am inclined to agree with my Director of Security here." He gestures vaguely in Raven's direction.

Laserbeak is one of those falling debris as he pulls within sight of those one ground, dead weight hurdling towards them.  Soundwave perhaps senses something about one of those falling pieces of metal. Leaping upward into the air to intercept, he reaches for the falling bird.  The cassette’s limbs droop from his creator’s arms lifelessly

A scuffling sound is heard just out of sight, then Ironhide limps into view, helping a battered Optimus Prime. He too has Colossus' look of having woken from a nightmare - but his optics widen as he realizes the nightmare is all too real, and still going on. There is Thunderwing, holding the sacred Matrix that was meant to be his. "Decepticon..." he warns, perhaps unaware of what he's been doing and what has happened until this exact moment. "Your evil has unleashed this calamity upon us?" He gestures around at the wreckage.

Thunderwing finally turns to Armada and there is something -almost- like a true smile there, "We would all do well to trust your advice in the future, I think."
Jhiaxus moves forward and draws his ion cannon again. It's a nearly casual gesture, but he moves to join Thunderwing and Megatron and those near them, adding himself in an unspoken gesture to those who would keep the Autobots at bay, should they try to forcibly remove the Matrix from Thunderwing's possession.

Thunderwing...snaps. He's currently feeling bipolar enough to justify a complete 180 degree mood swing as he rounds on the Autobot leader...or whatever he is, these days, "-I- released?" he snarls, displaying a row of fangs eminently suited for such an expression. "I am not the one who carried the taint of Unicron...as your followers will no doubt remind you."

Soundwave sets Laserbeak down gently, aware of another brewing confrontation during which he should be standing by his leader. But Laserbeak first needs to be stabilized - and it looks as though there is plenty of deterrent to the Autobots already.

Megatron glances at Prime then sarcastically says to Ultra Magnus: "Better you tell him, he wouldn't believe me anyway."

Ultra Magnus says, "Erm, Prime ... there are a few things we should fill you in on." He looks around at the Decepticons, at the obviously displayed weaponry on some of them. "And I don't think this is the time or the place."

Skywarp teleports in following a bright flash of light.

Harrier stares in wonder. No matter what happens to him in the future, he will never forget this day.

Prime is just disoriented enough to be taken aback. In his slowly clearing awareness, he realizes they are indeed outnumbered. "Our sacred life-force will not be allowed to remain in your evil clutches, Thunderwing," Prime vows, but gestures to his troops, who seem only too willing to fall back into place behind him. "We must retreat ... for the moment."

Ravenwing arches a brow at Thunderwing's outburst... he's not known for them, but then this has been a trying week. "Go, Ultra Magnus, and take your master with you. The Matrix has made its choice, and it was not Prime." There's no malice in her voice, just matter-of-factness.

Skywarp wipes some dust from his arms and smitters.

Megatron sighs. "Pathetic as always, Prime."

Thunderwing has burned out whatever psychological reserves there was, and is only half-listening to anything which goes on outside the grey mists which seem to be coming out of nowhere to fill his head. He sighs tiredly, "Go. Leave now, and this cycle can end as it should - with the people of Cybertron celebrating the death of the Devourer, while attempting to rebuild their lives. There will be time enough for the war later." There is an edge to his voice which calmly dares anyone, Autobot or Decepticon, to argue with him in light of what has passed here.

Armada takes his cue and steps forward, "You should rest, my lord. We can take the Matrix back to safety in Valckasta."

Harrier looks a little nervously at Thunderwing. The rest of them look like hell, but Thunderwing looks better than ever before.

Prime looks vaguely horrified by the notion of *his* Matrix having chosen a Decepticon. He would be more horrified still, no doubt, if he could recall that he himself could not open it, nor could Ultra Magnus. Rather than remain further at such a disadvantage, however, he turns and transforms. "Autobots, roll out!" he commands, and the familiar tone and manner seems to reassure his followers. All but Magnus, who glances back over his shoulder for a long moment at Thunderwing before he, too, transforms and follows the others.

Ravenwing has been watching Thunderwing closely, and offers a more tactful suggestion, "Valckasta is likely in need of your attention, as indeed all the realms will be."

Armada nods to Ravenwing, "Indeed. We can also radio the transport on Lutha that it is safe to return home."

Megatron studies Thunderwing for a moment. So, he is the 'chosen one' of the Matrix? "Well, Thunderwing, then take good care of that thing. It seems to have lethal effects on Planet-Eaters.

Ravenwing follows, yes, as she expects her sire to go straight to his quarters, and Valckasta may very well need attention.

Thunderwing looks from Ravenwing to Armada and seems wryly amused by the fact that he's apparently not fooling anyone...except Harrier, it seems, but he'll take all the victories he can get, right now. He nods almost gratefully, "Yes. Hopefully there will actually be a city left to come back to..." As he turns to leave, he halts, then glances over his shoulder at Megatron...and smirks, "Oh, I intend to, Megatron. There is much still to learn..." Did that sound just a bit ominous?

Armada transforms and his hatch slides open to allow his lord to ride in style, if he so desires.

Thunderwing would normally not be fond of such a display of...well, weakness, but there is no argument as he takes Armada up on his silent offer.

Megatron nods slowly. "And Ravenwing will sure assist you." Why does this sound like: 'Ravenwing should better have an optic on you....."

Ravenwing will be watching, oh yes, but as subtly as she can manage.

Armada's engines glow as he hovers up off the ground and quietly soars away towards Valckasta. Assuming Ravenwing will follow as she wishes.

Jhiaxus watches the others start to wander off, the haze of smoke and ash still hanging in the air. He is a warlord without an army now, without ships, without territory. Of his fleet of a thousand starcraft, each with their tens of thousands of troops, only a few hundred have survived.

Megatron decides that the conversation is over and goes looking for his sister.

Jhiaxus rises into the air and transforms. Those who came with him, those who still live, take the cue from their leader and follow. Among them is his subcommander Rook, as it happens. Where they will go, they give no indication. The low thrumming of Jhiaxus' powerful engines withdraws rapidly into the distance.

Amid the torrent of falling metal the dying light of an angelic fury echoes out into the night. With shoulders slack, limbs hanging limp and head bowed with fatigue, only the cape from his wings cast out Divefire falls slowly to the ground, with Ghost clutched tightly in his hand. More through the blessing of Fate then hyper evolved reactions, the rain of debris avoids his form and he touches down on his knees to the planets badly torn surface, fighting to remain awake as he calls with a mental question, looking down at his hands while gasping a little at the exhaustion that wants to claim him.

A small voice calls out, in the twilight of the devastation: "Diver?"

Ghost remains in Divefire’s hands until he makes contact with the ground, all but lifeless. Then.. with the soft grinding of gears against gears, she transforms, falling to her knees, wing-spars lying flat against her back, head hanging down as her optics remain closed tightly. She can hear something faint, something only a fraction of what it was and with a shake of her head, she replies on that strange mental plane that seems torn beyond repair.. "Go to your mate... She.. needs you."

Divefire silently looks to his shadow, a thought of action forming before she brushes it aside with a snap. "All right." He breathes in the real world, forcing himself to stand slowly with limbs that creak in the effort and protest as he stands. "But I'm coming back for you..." he intones in a growl, its source unclear before he starts to stagger away, scanning the battlefield for his mate and finally finding her, unaware of what else is going on and not much caring either. With a faint smile, he falls to his knees next to her and finds her hand with his. "Hey."

CatsCradle smiles at Diver, through tears, burns, and dirt. "Hey, yourself," she whispers back, and slips her arms around him again. *Back! He's back!* He had promised... but the reality of touch assures when words might not have the same power. The rest of the world can do whatever the hell they want. Her soul is home again.

Ghost remains on hands and knees, optics shuttered, senses dulled to all the commotion around for a few lingering moments. Her wingspars shift, falling about her in a skeletal draping, tips scratching at the debris covered ground before she pushes herself up, to one knee amidst systems now screaming protests. Another pause, head still bowed before she gets to her feet, staggering off-balance. Her head turns, optics unshuttering to peer at the sky and the replacement moon, forever a reminder of things past. Gathering her ragged pride around her like a tattered cloak against the universe, she turns to pad near silently away.

Skywarp looks at Starscream’s memorial and just stares at it for a few.

Skyjack walks up to Soundwave and asks quietly "Permission to bring Scorcher to your repair facilities? She will need the best possible care, and what we have in Polyhex no doubt is badly damaged. Even more so than it already was"

Soundwave nods to Skyjack. "Of course."

Skyjack salutes briefly "Thank you sir"

Skyraider walks over to Scorcher, "How are you feeling?"

Laserbeak slowly regains consciousness and looks to his father pleadingly. "Did we win?"

Soundwave looks down at Laserbeak, his optics shading for the first time in recent memory into a warm "smile." "We did, Laserbeak."

Laserbeak says, "is everyone okay?"

Soundwave's optic band shades slightly darker again. "There have been many sacrifices today."

Skywarp just plunges himself to the ground as seeming to be tired.

Skyjack lifts the unconscious Scorcher in his arms with extreme care not to damage the emergency patches over the worst of her injuries.
Skyraider watches Skyjack puzzled. "Where are you taking her?"

Skyjack calls over his shoulder to the Anxious Skyraider "You could check orbit for lasercores and injured decepticons. Many thousands were in those ships. Perhaps some have survived. I'm taking Scorcher to the repairbay"  He carefully picks his way across the rubble strewn field, carrying the limp figure of Scorcher in his arms, up the ramp of Trypticon

Skywarp gets up on his feet and walks to Soundwave and speaks softly to him. "Soundwave, did you take scans on Unicron's weapons?"

Skyraider looked up at the sky. So many Decepticons...taking Skyjack's advice, he transforms and begins searching for anything of value in space, such as laser cores.

Soundwave replies to Skywarp, "They were weapons greatly beyond our comprehension, Skywarp. But perhaps in the debris we will learn more."

Skywarp grins. "We could use them for ourselves if it is possible.”

Soundwave says, "Indeed. But we have much restoration to do first. And, Ghost has survived, Laserbeak. It is my hope that there will be no lasting damage. But I cannot tell."

Skywarp nods. "Anyway aren’t you the slightest curious about what secrets that matrix holds?"’

Soundwave finally looks up from his other thoughts and concerns to reply to Skywarp's speculation, "I will be interested to discuss Thunderwing's experiences with him in the future. Many things we thought were legend and myth, have come to life before our optics today."

Skywarp nods.

Skyraider returns after searching the area. He walks up to Soundwave. "Soundwave, I’ve searched the area for laser cores, and am happy to report that I have the Stunticons' laser cores." He shows Soundwave the five laser cores.

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "We will see to our injured warriors, and then assess the extent of the damage to our world.  Those in Vos may make use of Trypticon's repair bay.  I will be on duty there."

Soundwave pauses on his way up the ramp into Trypticon. Shifting Laserbeak over a little onto one arm, he accepts the laser cores, some of the warmth coming back into the red shade of his optic band. "I am pleased you have found them, Skyraider. I will do what I can to restore them, if it is in any way possible."

Skyraider says, "Soundwave, could you tell Scorcher I said hello..oh, and get well soon."

Soundwave nods to Skyraider. "I shall do so."

Skyraider salutes and turns to walk away

Ghost continues to walk away, head bowed, wingspars limp behind her as she moves to simply fade away into the night.

Megatron says, "Ghost? Ghost, where are you?!"

Ghost slows then pauses to peer over her shoulder, optics a silvered shade of violet-emerald. She bears no expression saved the pained face of exhaustion born past the point of recall. Turning slowly, she waits for Megatron to draw near, calling out, voice a soft alto ripple, "Yes.. my lord?”

Megatron makes his way over to her. "Stop calling me 'my lord'. To many have witnessed the speech yesterday." He smiles softly. "I'm glad to have you back, Ghost."

Ghost flinches at the words and the smile, drawing in on herself as she simply nods.

Megatron says, "You have proven today that no-one ever again will keep us enslaved."

Ghost shifts her center of balance, peering over at her brother with a fathomless expression, a blankness that seems to simply accept the words without reaction. "Yes sir."

Megatron places his hand on his sister's shoulder. "Ghost?"

Ghost steps away at the contact, jerking back as her frame blurs slightly. Her optics narrow, loosing color as she seems to fight to keep herself distanced. "Yes?"

Megatron says, "Ghost, it is me, Megatron. What is wrong?"

Ghost manages to lift a brow, peering at her brother for a quiet moment before she glances off, "I know who you are, sir." She goes silent again before continuing, voice flat, "I.. just need.. to.. be.. " she falters, "alone."

Megatron sets his jaws. "You also need repairs..." He sighs. "However, I doubt I will able stop you, even though I don't know where you want to go." He sighs again. "Damn, I am simply glad that I did not lose you.”
Skyraider walks up to Megatron, but stops short, unsure of whether to continue.

Divefire wraps his arms around Cats, holding her with the rest of the strength the strength he has left. "Told you I'd be back... Just didn't think it would take so long..." He pauses as his voice catches as he looks upon his mate... "Primus... I'm sorry, Cats... I just couldn't fight him... Couldn't..."

CatsCradle's fingers touch Diver's lips. "Shh, love. I know. I knew all along." She rests her head on his shoulder, clinging to him as hard as he to her.

Laserbeak turns over and painstakingly crawls beside a familiar form. "Dive? You’re not dead?" He absently taps the mech on the back of the leg to get his attention.

Divefire’s body shudders as he tries desperately to cling onto some last shred of dignity. After a moment he turns his head, still holding Cats to his frame and looks down to Laserbeak, nodding slightly. "Yeah 'Beak, I'm still alive..."

Laserbeak flips onto his back and grimaces as he looks up at the happy couple, and he jokes with a grin "Ya know dropping a building on yer friends ain’t none to friendly."

CatsCradle rests her head on her mate's shoulder, closing her optics. "Maybe, we'll make him rebuild it... later. Much later."

Divefire looks to Laserbeak and knows what he says is a joke, knows the humor the tape is famed for and yet, he can't laugh. The expression of guarded emotions he battled onto his face collapses in of itself as a torrent of images hit his mind and he fights just to remain upright. "I'm sorry Laserbeak... I just..." And words fail his as his optics close to fight back the stem of sorrow.

CatsCradle leans forward again, nuzzling her face to her mate's. "It's all right, love... or, will be, anyway. " She kisses his forehead, then presses her own forehead to it. "I'm here. I was always here. I tried... kept trying to talk to you..." her own sorrow begins to slip loose. "Every moment I could, I tried..."

Laserbeak waves a dismissive wing at the couple. "Oh shh. Go be happy, and make up for lost time...If you follow."

Divefire‘s expression is that of mechanoid being haunted by a nightmare of his own making, he shakes his head with a defiance, refusing to fall into that pit now. "Later, 'Beak. Much later..." He echoes out, before regarding his mate again. "You need to get fixed up. No arguments either." He tries to intone a little of his old force and humor into that statement but it cracks in the back of his voice.

CatsCradle shakes her head slowly. "No arguments. The repair bay and I reached a truce this week." Her fingers trace his face. "Just as long as you stay with me."

Divefire nods slightly as he shifts her weight in his arms and slowly stands, staggering a little with the weight. "I'm not going anywhere..." He takes one step forward and nearly falls flat on his face, but gathers himself together enough to remain upright. "Apart from maybe down."

CatsCradle's arms tighten around him. "Just a little farther, love," she murmurs. "Repairs... and soon, home to Earth. Not tonight... but soon. Where there is quiet, and blue skies, and sunshine, and each other."

Divefire steels himself, forcing his legs to take the weight of Cats frame as he places one foot in front of the other in a controlled and determined action. Slowly he makes his way towards and into the familiar city of Trypticon.

****

<Cybertron> Resyke's voice sounds across the channel, interrupted by distortion and bursts of static.  "Can anyone *static*..me? *static*..underground. Is.. anyone alive? *static*.. Unicron! *static, sounds of sobbing*

<Cybertron> Laserbeak says, "Buggy!"

<Cybertron> Soundwave says, "Resyke?  What is your condition?  (boosts the signal a little to get through)"

<Cybertron> Resyke ..*static* ..erbeak! I'm *static* vents.. trying to *static* ..up to surface.

<Cybertron> Laserbeak says, "Resyke are you okay?"

<Cybertron> Resyke *static* light.. Think I can *static*

****

Medical Corner - Trypticon

     The neatly arranged corner packs as much equipment and parts as possible into a relatively small space, claimed from the recreational area itself. There are few tables, with tight spaces between them for medical staff to maneuver between as well as a sign that simply states: Due to the lack of room, please wait outside the perimeter if you are not wounded or needing repairs. Thank you, MSE.


CatsCradle calls out as Diver weaves in rather unsteadily with her in his arms, "Someone help? A hand please?"

Soundwave notices, of course, and steps calmly over to Laserbeak to pluck the ener-beers out of his grip and sets them on a shelf within view. With a shake of his head at his creation, he moves forward to assist Divefire and Cats.

CatsCradle peers at Soundwave from a face liberally streaked with tears, grime, and burns. "I think... I think we need some time off."

Divefire staggers over to a med table and with help, lowers Cats down the table. With his cargo in safe hands he steps back, and promptly falls to the floor, landing hard on his aft and his back sagging against the struts of another table.

Laserbeak frowns.. so close but yet so far...

Soundwave guides Cats and Diver to a repair table. "Perhaps we all do, CatsCradle. But we will not have that luxury until we have seen to the damage. First and foremost, our damaged warriors who risked so much today."

CatsCradle doesn't seem to hear Soundwave's answer as her mate slides to the floor, and she leans over with a dismayed sound, reaching her good hand out to him.

Soundwave helps Divefire up onto a med table of his own.

Resyke stumbles into the medical corner, parts falling from him like rain. "..Buldin fell 'n me again." he mutters.

Divefire would resist Soundwave's help, but with total and utter exhaustion running through his systems, he just looks to the ceiling and loses himself in his own thoughts.

CatsCradle leans off her table, frantically patting her mate's arm. "No, love, don't... stay with me. Don't think right now. Later, when you're stronger... when we're stronger. Then... then we can face it together."

Soundwave goes right to the next arrival, and plucks the little Insecticon off the floor to place him next to Laserbeak. The two of them certainly don't take up a whole med table.

Laserbeak relaxes, impending doom averted Cybertron saved... "Who were all those ships...we owe them a debt of gratitude." He wingpoints to Resyke "Wha happened?"

Resyke looks over at Laserbeak and grins for the first time this cycle. "Th' groun open up 'n swallow me." he says, then pauses, grin fading. "..Scorcher?" he asks.

Soundwave starts on the patient with the most damages, CatsCradle. Calmly he gets to work, assessing her damage and starting to assemble replacement parts. There's a layer of grime and scorchmarks and dents and gashes over his own plating, but he was nonetheless one of the lucky ones.

CatsCradle ignores the repairing process, batting Soundwave's hands away when they interfere with her attention towards her mate. "Diver?"

Soundwave replies to Laserbeak's question as he works on Cats, "The leader of the flotilla is a Decepticon named Jhiaxus. We presumed him long dead when he was not found upon our return to Cybertron. Apparently such was not the case."

Divefire doesn't hear a thing past Laserbeak's mention of the ships. His mind takes the mention the vessels and replays exactly what he did to them, over and over again. The guilt and pain of causing so many deaths slams into him again and again and again, pounding into his psyche and demanding an answer for his actions. Had he the energy, he would run from here, in a vain attempt to run from himself. But he can do nothing but lie here and remember...

CatsCradle cries out again, soft and lost, and she gives Soundwave a fierce shove away. She all but falls off her bed, sending medical whatsits skittering away and lunges across to lean over her mate's bed. "Diver, stop it, look at me, Diver... you're leaving me again..."

Laserbeak looks to Resyke, and points over feebly "She'll be fine, methinks." Then he points to the Enerbeers Soundwave positioned out his reach, facing him on an opposite ledge. "So I'm not getting up, what are the chances of them coming to me?" He then hears his father "Good thing he ain't And the dinos are okay, too!"

Soundwave says, "Scorcher will recover. And we have retrieved the Dinobots, so there is some good news. And ... we survived." He addresses this last to everyone in the room. "We, as a culture, as a species, as a planet, have survived. It has always been the case that great things require great sacrifice, and this will not be forgotten." He moves quickly to catch CatsCradle, fixing a more stern expression on her. "Remain still," he says."

Resyke just lies there, listening to the conversations taking place around him. Unicron is destroyed, but life goes on. Why can't there just be a happy ending?

CatsCradle struggles against Soundwave's hold. "Diver," she calls out desperately. "You said you'd stay with me."

Divefire’s optics close and tighten as he tries to reign in his own thoughts, trying desperately not to think and just act. "I'm trying..." He breathes out in a gasp. "Just... hurts..."

Laserbeak looks around and suddenly realizes something "Where's the Stunticons? Motormaster! Ender?"

Soundwave moves around the table slightly. He's aware of the importance of CatsCradle as an emotional anchor for her mate, and does not want to interfere with this, but at the same time there's still extensive damage to be seen to. For a moment he acts as though he does not hear Laserbeak's question, concentrating on his current task. Though it is, of course, ridiculous to assume Soundwave didn't hear something, and from his own creation, no less.

Laserbeak looks around and frowns as the silence speaks volumes. "They didn’t make it did they?"

Soundwave replies, "They can perhaps be rebuilt."

Resyke blinks. "P...perhaps?"

Soundwave says, "Skyraider discovered their laser cores. A superficial examination indicates no severe damage to the housing."

Laserbeak nods and looks to his father again "The Constructicons? And Combaticons?"

Soundwave says, "I am certain I saw several members of each team."

CatsCradle catches Diver's face in her hands, one scorched, one not. "Look at me, love," she says quickly. "Look into my optics. Listen to me? All right, think now, dear... just look at my optics -- they're even the right color, aren't they -- and think... think of us at the lake. Laying on the sand... the clouds above us... the sound of the waterfall... just us. Keep that image, love. Whenever things... start to tilt, go back to that image. Only that image. Can you do that, Diver?"

Divefire nods his head slightly, focusing hard on Cats words and her face, locking his mind into that image and keeping it set there with all the determination he has left. "I.. I got it..."

Resyke blinks back tears. "Wh...what about Kickback? And Bombshell? Shrapnel?"he asks in a small voice.

Soundwave deals with Cats' most severe damage, stepping away to leave her to talk to Divefire, whose injuries seem more emotional than physical. Keeping a surreptitious optic on them both, however, lest they try to sneak off before repairs are complete, he next goes to check over Resyke. The little Insecticon does look unusual with bits and pieces of cassette armor stuck on his plating like that.

Resyke smiles weakly. "It was the only armor that would fit."

Soundwave says, "Most of the Insecticon clones were destroyed. But ... their creators are tenacious."

CatsCradle says softly, "All right." She shifts to sit on the edge of his bed, still stroking his face with her good hand. "And you can add new bits to the scene, to help keep you grounded in it. Add the scent of the pine trees and the flowers... the feel of the breeze coming off the water... the sounds of the birds singing. When you start to tilt, concentrate on adding something more. A butterfly going by. The hum of insects. Keep building it. We'll make it real as soon as we can travel, I promise."

Soundwave wishes he had more definite answers. He doesn't want to raise false hopes, nor destroy hope. He'll simply have to wait until the reports come in. Right now the best he can do is see to repairs. Resyke has a good bit of crushing damage.

Laserbeak looks to the cleaner con. "We may have to stay outta the bar for a few days."

Resyke turns to Laserbeak, trying to ignore Soundwave's repairs. "Uh.. why?"

Laserbeak tilts his head at the bug. And replies, “Cause I'm well done and you’re a pancake?"

Resyke grins again, then winces. "Maybe we can persuade Jackie to come visit us?"

Soundwave says, "That is as logical a reasoning as any." On occasion he still glances over at Diver and Cats to keep tabs on how they're doing, and around at the other patients in the repair bay. The Stunticons' cores rest safely within a storage compartment.

Laserbeak tries to sincere " Of course father, I only go there for recreational purposes I'd never do anything as idiotic as get myself overenergized." He gives Resyke a winkwink nudgenudge.

Soundwave gives Laserbeak a look that indicates he knows all about it.

Resyke laughs. "Ow.. stop saying stuff like that Beak.."

Laserbeak mutters to his drinking buddy, "I think the jig is up."

Divefire lets out a hard sight as he just focuses on Cats’ words, on the scene of his home and nothing else, forcing back the guilt under a wall of survival instinct. "Get, fixed..." He utters to Cats, his normally gruff voice a shade of itself.

CatsCradle says softly, "I will, love." She bends over to kiss his forehead, her face wet with tears again, this time at his pain. "Soundwave?" she calls.

Soundwave finishes up the most critical repairs on Resyke, even replacing some of the cassette-armor bits with something that matches his normal appearance - though there are still patches of cassette-style armor on him. He steps back over to CatsCradle. "Are you prepared to hold still for further repairs?" he asks, without any real reprimand in the tone; it's merely a question.

CatsCradle nods, her gaze never leaving her mate. "Yes. But first, check him, please."

Laserbeak chuckles at Cats "You’re not a good patient!"

CatsCradle's face blends into a soft smile. "You hear that, Diver? I'm not a good patient."

Resyke blinks his optics, suddenly extremely weary. "I'm... gonna shut down for a while" he mumbles.

Soundwave does a scan of Divefire's condition. As expected, there's not much physical damage. "Your weapons systems will require rewiring, and you must refuel. Otherwise you are not badly damaged." There's some energon left in storage here in the med corner, and Soundwave retrieves a few cubes. It's not enough to fully power him, but enough to keep him going until more can be obtained.

Laserbeak looks to the bug. "That's as good an idea I heard all day." With that, he shuts his optics and laughs, before fading off.

Resyke's optics go dark as the little cleaner puts himself into a rest-cycle. Night folks.

Divefire grabs Soundwave's wrist to get his attention, as his other hand reaches into a panel just to the side of his chest, pulling out what looks to be like a laser core. Silently he places it in Soundwave's hand and intones with a horse voice. "Tempest..."

CatsCradle's breath catches in a sob. "Oh, Diver... you saved her..." She bends over him again, curving her good hand to his face.

Soundwave meets Divefire's optics for a silent moment, then closes his hand around the object, nodding in understanding. He puts the core, appropriately enough, into storage with the Stunticons.

Ghost and Megatron come in.  Megatron says, "Soundwave, I have another patient for you."  Then he realizes how urgently he needs energon himself.

Divefire watches Soundwave place his charge into storage before his head falls back, a little more energy playing over his frame now thanks to the energon. "I guess..." He intones back to Cats, voice still hollow of real emotion.

CatsCradle runs a finger down the bridge of his nose, trying for a playful voice. "You see... I told you... a miracle in all the darkness."

Ghost walks with the occasional shudder, hand clasping Megatron’s, wingspars moving to press tightly into her back. Her expression is distant once more as she looks everywhere, but at no one in particular.

Laserbeak is half asleep on a recharge bed as he wing-waves to Megatron, then nearly falls off the bed upon seeing Ghost. "You’re not dead!"

Soundwave guides both Ghost and Megatron to the remaining med tables.

Ghost shies away from Soundwave, sidestepping closer to Megatron for a moment before she releases his hand, sliding onto a med table and sitting there, drawing her knees up to her chest, head bowing over them.

Divefire’s expression flickers at the touch, and at the words. He wants to yell, scream about the darkness and the pain, all of which he caused by his own hand. And yet there is nothing, just a void, held deeply inside of himself, and an echo of something else.

Megatron sits on the side of his bed beside his sister, wrapping his arm around her. He /is/ concerned. "Sometimes - I was told - it helps to cry..." he whispers to her, nearly not audible.

CatsCradle sees her mate's expression. "The lake, love," she murmurs. "Think of the lake. I'm sitting next to you, with my arms around you, and nothing can get at you. I won't let it. Not even your own thoughts, memories. I'll only let love through." She raises her voice slightly. "Soundwave, whenever you're ready. I promise, I won't throw anything."

Laserbeak looks to Ghost apologetically. "I'm sorry I um...shot you."

Soundwave checks over both Megatron and Ghost to make sure they're not in imminent danger of leaking to death, noting the energy depletion. As for Divefire, he finds a few more cubes in storage and hands the fuel source to them both. "I will see to you as soon as I have completed CatsCradle's repairs." Best not to miss the opportunity while it exists. He waits a fraction of a second, though, for a possible counterorder from Megatron.

Ghost draws more in on herself, not answering as she shutters her optics closed. She finally speaks, voice a near-whisper, "You did what had to be done, little friend."

Megatron doesn't know what she is talking about, but doesn't ask. Somehow he has the feeling it would be wrong to ask right now.

Divefire takes the cubes from Soundwave with a slight motion of his hand, and naturally starts absorbing the energon from the cube through his hand.  Only , when he notices it a few moments later, does he find it odd, just another reminder of the change. "Everything's changed,” he whispers to himself, staring at his arm, though his gaze is looking right through it.

Soundwave returns to the task he began earlier, then. Watching him, one might almost think everything was normal, that they had not just faced down a planet-killer at the loss of countless lives and much damage and injury, at the cost of scarring both physical and emotional - one might think, from watching Soundwave's steady, reassuring movements, that he was not himself stunned by the events they have all just lived through, and horrified by the thought of all those lives lost. It would do the others no good to lose every semblance of normalcy, he knows. He continues calmly on CatsCradle's repairs.

Laserbeak looks to Ghost. "That doesn't make me feel any less crappy about doing it."

Ghost shudders as she covers her face with her hands, leaning into Megatron's arm. She takes a shuddering intake of air, then another in quick succession.

CatsCradle sits still as Soundwave works on her... a truly unusual reaction... but she keeps talking in the same soft voice. "Not everything, love. We still love each other. We still have a family. We still have Earth."

Ion cannon damage is nothing to brush off, and Soundwave takes some time working on structural replacements and renewing burnt-out circuitry. What he cannot take the luxury to see to, at this point in time, is the external cosmetic damage.

Divefire breathes slowly, trying to keep himself calm and in control as he shifts his gaze back to Cats. "Yeah... True... I'll... I'll be okay..." he utters finally, all the while trying to convince himself of that fact.

Megatron simply holds his sister, being there for her. He hasn't really been able to be there for her before, but he does the best he can.

CatsCradle gives another slight smile as she watches Soundwave work. "Perhaps it was time for a new paint scheme anyway," she murmurs. "New start. For all of us."

Laserbeak looks around. "If I wake up and I'm polka dot, There will be a price to pay." With that he lays back and shuts his optics.

Soundwave's optic band darkens a bit. More like a setback to a point far back in the war, he thinks to himself, the faint echo of this thought perhaps reaching Laserbeak before Soundwave shuts down the telepathic barrier again.

Ghost struggles to stop shivering, spars rattling softly before she stiffens and simply grows silent.

Soundwave has done what he can for Cats and Diver and Resyke; Laserbeak still needs some components replaced, and Megatron seems physically fine. Ghost will bear watching in a similar manner as Divefire.

Megatron whispers: "I'm here, don't worry. I'm here." He remembers having heard the voice of his son during the fight. Possibly just a hallucination... He had lost his son and his best friend. He will not lose his sister.

Soundwave runs another scan over Ghost. "You will require some replacement parts," he notes quietly. He doesn't say just how many. First to get her to lie back and let him work.

CatsCradle slips from her table as soon as Soundwave has finished and eases to sit on the edge of Diver's. She glances around the repair bay, filled with wounded, and constant reminders... She leans over her mate. "I... I think I can get to your lab, if you can."

Ghost remains frozen under Megatron’s arm, optics tightly shuttered, fingers curling into palms as she whispers softly, "Please.. Stay away.. Soundwave..."

Soundwave touches a hand to her shoulder. "Attempt to relax, Ghost. I know this is difficult, but you are among friends." A brief look from the side of his optics toward Cats and Diver ... they're surely the best therapy for one another, and he raises no objection to the notion that they want to head out to a more welcoming place.

Laserbeak suddenly wakes up as if jarred from sleep. "Father...I need to ask you something."

Soundwave says, "Certainly."

Laserbeak says, "I heard something before which surprised me.""
Ghost shudders and lets out a soft whimper, shrinking away from Soundwave as best she can, starting to uncurl as she opens her optics, "Just.. Don’t! I... " her voice drops to a whisper, "Not ready for friends.." a soft snarl.

Soundwave doesn't seem to react to her manner at all. "You will, at the very least, require repairs. ... What have you heard, Laserbeak?"

Laserbeak says, "Ahh..A voice. Starscream. I don’t think I was drinking.""

Divefire sits up slowly, testing his body and suddenly not trusting it, despite the fact the form has been in use all week in the toughest of conditions. Slowly he looks over to Megatron, and the Ghost and his expression flickers as she reacts to Soundwave's presence, internally knowing exactly what she means. He shifts his gaze to Cats, still in a silent turmoil before he nods slightly. "The lab... Yeah, the lab would be good... Or just... alone..."

Megatron looks up. "I heard it too... Starscream..."

Soundwave nods. "You were not imagining it."

Soundwave says, "Unless an individual in Polyhex was playing an inappropriate joke. Which I cannot imagine under Shockwave's supervision. The space bridge was devoid of power until after that moment."

CatsCradle nods. "The lab's not Earth, not the lake... but it's home, too." She nestles close to his side, supporting him as much as taking comfort from the touch. She glances for a moment at Soundwave, then trusts him to chose the right time to tell Megatron about the laser core Diver brought back with him. Then, her gaze goes a little absent, sorting back over the blur of the last few hours. "Speaking of imagining... did I really tear Prime apart?"

Megatron whispers: "Starscream..."

Soundwave says, "I have no explanation, Commander. There is a great deal we have no explanation for."

Soundwave amends, "Not yet."

Laserbeak looks puzzled. "How? I heard rumors amongst the ranks about seeing a mysterious seeker around, it would appear there is a correlation. "

Ghost hiccups... optics widening as she looks at her brother before pulling away from the sheltering arm, moving to slide off of the table. "Havetoleave and get away. Need to be alone. Sorryexcuseme." a rapid patter of flatwords.

Soundwave says, "Insufficient data." He drops the formality for a moment and allows himself to speculate. "There are those who believe the energy-patterns of one's consciousness may survive deactivation in some circumstances..." He breaks off and steps into Ghost's path."

Laserbeak slowly gets out of his bed and tries to calm Ghost down "Ghost please...you should rest."

Megatron is confused. "No, Ghost, stay! You need repairs.

Divefire flinches at Ghost's panic, felling it calling at his own desire to get the hell away from every one and thing. But looking as Soundwave steps in front of her path he closes his optics again and tries to ignore the flood of emotions coursing over his mind, with his voice an echo again he asks Cats with out looking to her. "What... What did you do to Prime?"

Ghost drops to the floor, backing up as far as she can, optics flickering as she peers in turn at those blocking her egress. She raises her hands in front of her, palms out, "I need to be alone... Please?"

Soundwave says, "You will be. But you must allow me to replace a few vital components. I cannot in good conscience let you walk away before then. It will take but a few minutes."

CatsCradle looks up at Diver's face, her own expression rather... vague. "I think I clawed him to pieces... but... I'm a little hazy on most of the last week."

Divefire breathes a slow and slightly ragged breath, fingers starting to dig into the med table with a battle he's losing slowly. "Heh... You went psycho-child on Prime? What, er... What did you tell me about doing that?"

Laserbeak returns to his bed with a thud. "Rest now. Talk later."

CatsCradle tugs at his hand. "You can lecture me later. Let's go home?"

Ghost gives a shake of her head, struggling for control over her residual dislike for medical combined with sheer shock of all that has occurred. Slowly, inch by inch, she exerts a stringent control over herself, hands curling up to clench tightly, head bowing, optics shuttering. another shuddering intake of air is taken before she manages a stiff nod, shivering every so often but no longer trying to flee outright.

Soundwave shifts into action, the skilled repaireon's touch guiding Ghost almost unobtrusively back to a seat on the med table, where he uses the continued momentum of the motion to access a panel in her side. True to his word, he works swiftly and silently, replacing only the most vital burnt-out components. "Are you certain you wish to remain alone?" he asks as he works.

Divefire shifts his gaze slightly to look Cats in the optics, as he shakes his head slightly, forcing his hands to relax from ripping into the table. "Not... Yet. Got to make sure..." And although he can't complete the sentence as his attention surges back inside himself for a moment, it should be rather clear as to what, or whom he's referring to.

Ghost seems willing to let herself be guided, keeping her optics tightly shut. Her hands remained clenched as she sits there, motionless as a statue, no longer shivering. Just there. She nods once, not trusting her voice to remain under that icy shielding of distance.

Soundwave accepts this after having asked once. "Very well. At times we require solitude to sort out our own responses to events."

CatsCradle studies his face carefully, chewing on her lip. She knows what he means, but she fears if either Ghost or her mate loses control, the other will follow by sheer proximity. She nods slowly, her gaze not leaving his optics. "All right," she says softly, and begins to try and ease his fingers apart from the table, curling her fingers around his, remembering doing something similar, a week ago, the day this nightmare started.

Ghost remains still before she looks up at Soundwave, arching a brow in a quizzical expression as she tries to make something akin to a moment of wry humor, "Is this.. how you ask someone for a drink, sir?"

Divefire lets his fingers be taken in the grip and slowly he forces his upper body to relax, flexing his shoulders and then flaring out his wings. "All right... Time to go home,” he manages to Cats in more accurate depiction of his normal voice.

CatsCradle smiles softly and nestles against him again, torn between the comfort of hearing an almost-normal tone from him and the disorientation of him being so much larger now. "Home," she agrees and begins to ease with him towards the door.

Divefire slips of the bay in near silence, only his foot steps on the cold metal echo out as he heads for the door. Before he reaches he pauses, head bowed in a moments thought. But then it goes and he shifts out of the room to go and find a little peace, followed by his mate.

Soundwave tilts his head a bit as he regards Ghost. "This is how I see to it that a valuable warrior is repaired enough to do what she must do." His optic band flickers a little brighter in a reassuring "smile." "Were I to ask someone out for a drink, I would likely be more direct."

Ghost nods in reply, shuttering her optics once more, still remaining utterly immobile. She doesn’t even smile at that, "I have done what was needed to be done, sir. All I want now is rest and peace and cold dark to be alone in."

Soundwave finishes up quickly and painlessly. He's not totally satisfied - there's a great deal more that he wants to see to. But the most vital replacements are done. He nods to her. "Rest, then, and take the solitude you need. But do not forget the rest of the world beyond it, and those who can assist you if you require it."  He steps back and regards Ghost. "You are free to go. If you wish."
Ghost draws her knees back up to her chest as she sits up, wrapping her arms around them and resting her head bowed down. She stays silent, lost in her own thoughts...
Soundwave takes her response to mean that she's perhaps not so eager to rush off on her own after all. Again he accepts this quietly, and brings out a small datapad, situating himself near her to work, rather than finding a place at a computer console. Perhaps his proximity will have some soothing effect.
Ghost's shoulders shift as she tenses, then they shake as a muffled choked off hiccup comes from her, remaining as quiet as she can as she finally succumbs to a moment to cry.
Laserbeak slowly stirs from his bed, his nightmares keeping him awake. He sits up to see Ghost crying and just stares, unsure what to say. "Ma'am if ya need anyone to talk to..."
Soundwave pretends not to notice at first, given Ghost's response to attempted comforting so far; perhaps she really needs to center herself in her own time. But with Laserbeak's calling attention to the situation, he weighs his words and notes, "Express yourself as you must, Ghost. You have been through a great deal. We are here with you."
Ghost buries her face in the curve of her own arms, shaking quietly. A moment and she seems to have settled before she murmurs, voice a raspy whisper, "Not used to this... " nonsensical perhaps. "Don't want to let go."
Soundwave turns to her now, and again touches her shoulder lightly. "I understand. But you cannot force yourself not to feel."
Laserbeak limps over to her and hops onto her shoulder gently nuzzling her with his head. "Yer among friends, Ghost."
Ghost lifts her head, optics shimmering silvered twilight as she peers at the avian on her shoulder, wet streaks trailing down dark cheeks. Her hands unlace as she reaches up to pet the avain before looking at Soundwave, brows furrowing as she stifles another hiccup sob. "I know.. It.. is very.. " she pauses, shivering, "...painful."
Soundwave speaks quietly, the harmonics in his voice reverberating. "It will be more so if you do not allow yourself expression."
Laserbeak looks to Ghost as she cries, and remembers he had to shoot her and Divefire. That makes him cry too. So much for happy time. He mutters something about needing a drink... "You made the right decision in the end Ghost. Remember that."
Soundwave sighs, and against his better judgment gets up and gets those enerbeers that Laserbeak dragged in here earlier.
Ghost gives a shake of her head at the avians beer mutter, scooping him off of her shoulder to cradle him on his back, "No beer for you." she mumbles, still crying softly, but voice is slightly more level. "Need someone not utterly burned out to remind me to laugh, yes?"
Laserbeak looks to her teary optics through his own and grins "Well remind me not to cross you. You turned a would-be god into a busted pinata. Now we can boast the ugliest moon in this..or any galaxy."
Soundwave puts the enerbeers down on the next table. "Perhaps for later," he decides. "And, you must admit, the moon is unique. Consider it a symbol of our perseverance."
Ghost gives the avian a gentle hug, "We should be celebrating our continued existence, not..." she trails off, unable to speak the words. Another shudder, voice breaking, "Never.. ever. *ever* do something that foolish again, Laserbeak! If I grow mad, run... It took everything I had not to.. to.." She bows her head and again leaks tears, shuddering.
Laserbeak looks to her then his father "Which stupid thing I do now?"
Soundwave finishes for Ghost, "Not to destroy him?"
Ghost nods rapidly, cradling the avian..
Soundwave says, "You see, then. You did not."
Laserbeak looks to Ghost actually sobbing... "I didn’t want to Ghost... I just..." and he bows his head at loss for words.
Soundwave says, "But consider. If our friends cannot bring us back from the brink, what other hope was there?"
Ghost chokes back another hiccup.. "Didn't just do it because he is a friend..."
Soundwave says, "You would not in your right mind destroy a fellow Decepticon, Ghost. And even influenced by Unicron, you were strong enough to resist."
Laserbeak sobs as Ghost cries and Soundwave tries to preserve a semblance of order "I organized a crew to rescue you, Ghost...but when I saw you like that...I lost it. I'm so sorry."
Ghost gives a shake of her head, turning to settle the avian on the table beside her. "Others fell by my hand, Soundwave.. " she closes her optics and bows her head back to rest in the curves of her arms on her knees as she withdraws back into herself. "I... did.. not wish.. to cause you any more pain at the loss of anything you held dear. Laserbeak...” she is still crying, shoulders shaking, "...is your creation."
Ruse slowly walks in... repaired but... rattled. She saw the guns from the repairbay in the capital. She then stops seeing Ghost... and Soundwave. She doesn't seem to care however as she goes and has a seat on the repairtable, "So No Cron, no enslavement hm?"
Soundwave radiates his usual supportive calm, at least from all appearances. But his optic band does flicker faintly at Ghost's words. He realizes he's going to have to have a long conversation with Ghost at some point, but - now is surely not the time. Instead, he briefly pictures and then hurriedly withdraws from the concept of Laserbeak having been killed, and says to Ghost, "Then I am grateful to you for his life, Ghost. You still made the choice when you could."
Ruse watches silently and resides herself to the background. Mentally she growls as she missed everything.. as always. oO(Probably should have just stayed gone.) She looks to Laserbeak and nods to him glad that it appears all the cassettes made it out ok.
Laserbeak looks around realizing he did something incredibly stupid. He sobs some more and nods to Ruse as she comes in..."I..." The great orator is speechless.
Soundwave glances over at Ruse. "We were victorious," he confirms, without adding a "Where have *you* been?" or anything of the sort.
Ghost pulls into herself, spars tucking in tight as she balls up, shaking but as quiet as she can be.
Ruse dims her optics, "As always...." Not mocking just somewhat saddened she doesn't seem to be playing the grand roles she envisioned for herself as a cassette.
Laserbeak hops back up on Ghost's shoulder, not add a witty joke, but just to perch there, and enjoy things being somewhat the way they were, Even though he still sobbing.
Ruse glances to Laserbeak and... just looks at him oddly. What happened? Of course, she won’t know she was away... as par the course.
Soundwave encourages gently, "Laserbeak, perhaps you can fill Ruse in." If they speak of the events, they become, increasingly, less and less monstrous in the re-telling, more and more with the realization that they've survived.
Ghost lifts her head to peer at Laserbeak for a moment, then starts to unfold herself, turning to stare at the floor, "Go on, Laserbeak.." she murmurs as she slides to stand, "Mer Ruse has.. full rights to know what occurred. Who better to tell than a bird that got a bird’s eye view?"
Laserbeak looks to Ruse, then his Father, then Ghost. Finally he reverts his gaze to Ruse. He cracks a grin at the bird's eye pun. "We assembled at Vos, to greet Unicron.  Our initial defenses failed. Then the strange stuff began. Starscream saved our afts, then Jhixaus showed up and attacked Unicron..."
Ruse blinks, "Star.... scream?!" She perks up, "Where is he?! How did he return, I mean Megatron, didn't he... where is he?!"
Ghost gently lifts the bird off of her shoulder, setting him on her table as she readies herself to leave. Her cheeks are still streaked, but her optics have gone an ash gray hue. "You are welcome, sir." She pauses before nodding more to herself, "At least I made the right choice to not destroy when I had the ability to do so."
Soundwave muses almost to himself, "Where is Starscream? That is an intriguing question."
Laserbeak shakes his head. "How...why? Questions for another time. He recharged our defense batteries with his essence. Then after that, Jhixaus’ armada got blown up and I flew through Unicron's eye. Don't remember the rest. I woke up after it was over.
Soundwave adds, "Thunderwing. Thunderwing utilized the Autobot artifact which they seemed to hold in such sacred regard, and dealt the killing blow to the Great Devourer."
Ruse says, "... oh.... so he.. oh... I see. So.. this Jhixaus lead an armada that got blown up and our outer defense where recharged. Then Thunderwing used a Autobot relic and that killed Unicron... hm. Guess he wasn't so mighty to fall to something made by ‘Bots."
Soundwave says, "An object upon which Ghost has done a considerable amount of research," he reminds her of her contributions.
Ghost nods absently as she begins to pad quietly towards the door, whispering an absent reply, "Anyone would have done the same, sir."
Soundwave says, "Not anyone. And perhaps you will assist me in unlocking more of its secrets. Then there may be answers for Ruse's questions."
Ruse says, "... it’s a shame we had to destroy the shell really. Such a planet sans the mind would have made the perfect homeworld by processing planet energy much more efficiently then we do with cubes and random spots of fuel on worlds. Who knows, maybe it is what Cybertron will evolve into someday."
Soundwave says, "Be careful what you wish for, Ruse."
Laserbeak growls "It's a shame that thing wasn't destroyed sooner. without costing us so many and half our planet."
Ghost gives a shake of her head, "I do better in the field alone sir. Not enclosed.” She stares at the door a moment, pausing in step, "If I am not needed... I will.. be off comm for a while."
Ruse says, "... Soundwave... don't worry about that. I rarely get what I really want. Besides I was just musing... I have a... less fear laden image of the monster since... I never really got up close with it."
Soundwave nods to Ghost. "You know where to seek me out."
Laserbeak just collapses back on to the table. "Please be careful, Ghost."
Ghost chuckles dryly, an odd sound, "Always, Laserbeak. After all, who would really consider testing me right now?" A pause, "Yes sir. I know. Good cycle to you all."
Laserbeak grins at his friend...first time he can call her that in a while... and lays there laughing "Long day..."
Ruse is just silent.
Ghost stops in the doorway as it opens and glances at Ruse, arching a brow over an optic brightening to light lavender, "You know.. stubbornness *does* run in the family." a faint tentative, oddly shy smile.
Soundwave silently agrees with Laserbeak. It has indeed been a long day. Tilting his head a bit, he regards Ruse. "What would be your wish, Ruse?" he asks, a note of curiosity in this undertones of the harmonics.
Ruse looks to Ghost and blinks her optics saying nothing.. family. She is glad Ghost is back yet she. is changed. Is she still the same Ghost she never got to knew? She glances to Soundwave and murmurs, "To be the ultimate trickster... and most powerful .. no.... most.. um.. well. to be able to do like you all do and shape history. I just feel lost among so many... powerful figures who each contribute in their own way while I... just seem to end up not being of much help.
Laserbeak looks To Ruse and grins "Yea. I'm all big and powerful."
Ghost's smile dissipates, mask of ice coming back into play as she turns and flees medical, that moment enough to get her to leave and leave quickly.

****

Divefire's lab

        Past the fortified door, a staircase leads down and then to a room that spreads out quickly. The floor to ceiling height is enough to house a Guardian Robot standing up. Most of the floor space is filled with workbenches with a verity of equipment on it, ranging from the odd to the obscure. Through a door near the back of the main workspace is a living quarters with enough room for at least two Transformers to live. Perhaps surprisingly, all the surfaces and work areas of the lab look clean and cared for. Judging by the condition it would be sensible to assume some one has been living here of late.

CatsCradle peers around chewing on her lip again. If anything, the lab is more of a mess than it was the last time they left Cybertron. Storage compartments are open, cases stacked in precarious piles... but every bit of the ancient energon is gone.

Divefire walks down the familiar steps with a strange gait, not being used to being this size, being at an entirely different perspective now. However he pauses at the bottom to look around his lab and despite everything, he blinks and asks in a half-shocked voice. "What the blazes did you do to my lab?"

CatsCradle looks up at him nervously. "I told you I had brought all that energon in, right? Well... it went back out again." Her voice tightens a little. "And I haven't exactly had time to houseclean this week."

Divefire’s expression pales a little as he walks over to one of the benches.  He reaches a hand out to touch the piles of equipment and artifacts. "I had this all organized..."

CatsCradle's voice goes nervous again. "I kept it all in the same spots." She points. "Stuff from that cabinet went into that case. And I labeled it, see?" She remains by the door, her composure deserting her, unsure of her mate's reaction. Just a few hours ago, he was destroying whole fleets...

Divefire shakes his head slightly, shoulders and wings drooping a little as he regards the mess. "Right... Well, I can sort it all out later... Yeah."

CatsCradle is quiet for a long moment, then says in a small voice, "I spent all week digging up about three million years' worth of hoarding. The rest... I just couldn't find, not in time."

Divefire pauses from his consideration of one of the items in his hand, before he looks over his shoulder to Cats. "That's a lot of energon..."

CatsCradle nods, looking down at her hands, fingers tugging at each other. "I know.... I didn't know what else to do."

Divefire tries his best to give her a smile, but it comes out in half echo, not quit reaching his optics. "You did everything you could do."

CatsCradle shakes her head. "No. I... I lost time, that first day. I didn't know..." Her fingers keep twining around each other. "I didn't know you were alive. No one told me. If ... if I had had that extra time, maybe I could have found more." Her words begin coming faster, falling over each other. "We ran out, partway through, maybe we would have had enough if I hadn't..."

Divefire turns on his heel and walks to her, reaching out for her with his arms and pulling her close, pushing his own inner turmoil away for now. "Listen to me. I know you did everything you could do. I heard you all the time you were talking to me. If it wasn't for you, I'd have killed every last being on this planet and carried on to run roughshod over an entire universe. You did everything, Cats. Everything."

CatsCradle shudders against him, trying to pull herself back in control... he needs me too much, can't do this now... "I knew you were listening," she says, her voice muffled against his chest. "I knew you were."

Divefire wraps his arms tightly around her back and just cradles her. "Of course I was.  It kept me hanging on. Fighting."

CatsCradle clings tighter. "If you hadn't come out those times... if I hadn't been able to see you in there... I wouldn't have been here to talk to you. It was that close." She steps away, rubbing at her face. "In any case... I'll help you resort the lab. It will give us something brainless and tedious to do, until we can go back to Earth." She gives him a tentative smile. "The living area looks pretty normal, though."

Divefire nods slightly, a part of him actually looking forward to the sorting out and the memories along with the items.  "Well, right now I think collapsing into bed works for me."

CatsCradle says softly, "Sleep...." She tastes the word carefully, rolling it over. "Yeah... sleep... I think I can do that." She sounds very surprised. "And maybe... maybe eat something... there's got to be /something/ left in here someplace..."

Divefire nods slightly absently, feeling his body start to shut down around him, despite the protests of his mind. "The energon dispenser should work, still. Long as the Polyhex pipelines are still intact."

CatsCradle gives him a gentle push towards the living quarters. "Go. I'll scavenge."

Divefire heads for the living quarters, opening the door with a touch of his hand and sliding into the half-light of the dimly lit quarters.

CatsCradle comes in a few minutes later, with a full cube and one that looks like it really wanted to be, but gave up partway through. "It's running real slow. Something along the lines took a hit."

Divefire nods slightly, optics closing as he lies back on the bed. "Maybe I'll take a look at it tomorrow then..."

CatsCradle sets the cubes on the floor next to the bed within reach and gently pulls the blankets up over him. Then she sits on the bed, tucking her legs under her in a much slower and stiffer movement than usual. She picks up the half-cube and sips at it hesitantly. "Do you want the other?" she murmurs, soft enough not to wake him if he has already fallen asleep.

Divefire murmurs lightly as he shifts a little awkwardly on his wings. "No... I'm fine..."

CatsCradle sets her cube down again, still with energon in it, although she had made a dent in what had been there. She slides under the blankets and cautiously curls her fingers inside his hand.

Divefire grips the hand, but with a light grip as he slowly powers down, finally.

CatsCradle’s gaze rests on her mate for a long time as he slips into sleep, almost afraid to close her optics herself, for fear that he might disappear again. But he does hold her hand in his... she'd know, then. She finally begins to relax in spite of herself, her optics dimming and finally winking out.

****

RUMOR:
         In the shattered Avenue of Conquerors a lonesome mechanism should have been seen, visiting the crypt of the former Aircommander. They say, it had been the Decepticon leader. And someone mentioned that he had whispered: "I am proud of you, my son."

****

CYBERTRON NEWSCASTS

RAVENWING
     As I am sure is the case with all of us, I find that my home is badly damaged. Structural damage is the worst, followed by materials and equipment, but thankfully few more lives were lost in Unicron's fall. Most of this would be easily repaired, if not for the now-critical lack of energy and materials. We can recycle metals, certainly, but there is more to rebuilding than the framework. I would suggest salvaging what we can of Unicron's fragmented body, and with apologies to whoever's fleet that was, the remnants of the ships as well. Energy is another matter, but we still have sources on Earth, no? If not, we can try other methods on other planets.
     Ravenwing, Director of Security
     Valckasta

MEGATRON
         Decepticons, we have done what was thought to be impossible: we destroyed the so-called Chaosbringer - Unicron. His worshippers, due to their foolish superstition, believed him a god. We - on the other hand - showed that he (Correct, he doesn't call Unicron "it" anymore) was nothing more but a giant - indeed highly sophisticated - Transformer. We also showed the power that lies inside the Decepticon people when it stands together as one force! Together, we are invincible!
         Decepticons, our hearts are with the fallen, those who showed their loyalty to their people and Cybertron by giving the most valuable they had - their lives. We also learned that true loyalty doesn't end with the dead... (A hint to Starscream's action?)
         However, there is no time for grief right now! We will honor those who were gone by caring for the living, those they died for. We will rebuild Cybertron and lead our empire to new glory!
         Decepticons never surrender!

MEGATRON
         *to the administrations of Polyhex, Valckasta, and Vos* I contacted our mining outposts. We only lost a few that were in the direct path of Unicron. Luckily, neither Ghost nor Divefire were aware of their existence. (See how good it is, not to tell everyone everything? ;))
         The only problem we have is the transportation; we lost many ships and Shuttles. And those warriors who have the appropriate Alternate forms have to be repaired first. However, I was able to contact a 'trading ship' that agreed to assist us.
         Megatron out.

CatsCradle
     CatsCradle appears once again, most of her paint missing. She shows recent repairs, none of it cosmetic. Her face still shows the ongoing strain she carries, however perhaps it is replaced by a source of a different type. She takes a deep breath. "As of this time, I resign my position at the Grinder. It was only meant to be a temporary transitional position, in the wake of Straxus' death. The Grinder administration has made great progress in the interim, to the point in which my position is really in name only, and I... now have other priorities. The Grinder is perfectly capable of running itself, and in the wake of this upheaval... it is time for them to pull together all that much more. I have full confidence in their abilities, and my last request to them as representative of the Grinder, is that all members of administration, staff, and cadets dedicate every molecule of their being to the rebuilding and rebirth of Cybertron." She gives a faded smile and the transmission winks out.

SOUNDWAVE
     (Soundwave appears on screen, part of Trypticon's med corner visible behind him. His optic band is steady, his voice reverberating with its usual harmonics; he comes across at once grave and reassuring.) Those of us who have survived the assault on our world, and fought the Great Devourer with every drop of energon and every weapon at our disposal, now represent the future and the indomitable Decepticon spirit. Many have given their lives in the ultimate act of loyalty to the empire and to the homeworld. Many lie waiting for repairs and restoration. Among the badly-wounded is Scorcher, whose injuries would almost be less severe if she were a disembodied laser core, like the Stunticons - who yet survive in this state. They can be reconstructed, as can others. Among the missing are Ramjet, Dirge, and Reflector. Many have emotional wounds that will take longer to heal than the physical damage. Among those whose most critical damage has been seen to, are Ghost, Divefire, Laserbeak, Resyke, Thrust, and CatsCradle. I have attached a full list of names to this report in a separate file. Many who were destroyed in the space fleet, we do not even have records of. Our world has been set back into a dark age akin to the middle of the last war - drained of fuel, in ruins, with unknown enemies perhaps waiting to take advantage of our weakened state. And yet, we will rise from the ashes and rebuild, as we have done before.
     This time, let nothing stand against us.



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