First of all, I wish you a merry Christmas and a little ahead, a happy New Year 2010.
And, well… this is it: the last chapter of this fan fiction.
Before leaving you read this chapter, I'd like to precise a point about Cyclonus/Hurricane being in fact Skywarp/Thundercracker. I know that there is a polemic among the fans about who, among Skywarp, Thundercracker and Bombshell, became Cyclonus and Scourge. Frankly, in two years, I read all possible combinations on Wikipedia. Therefore, I decided that, for this story, Cyclonus would be the upgraded version of Skywarp, and Scourge, the one of Bombshell. As for Thundercracker, he became the light blue twin of Cyclonus, who briefly appears in the 1985 Movie.
This is my own view, and I understand that not everybody shares it.
Now, enjoy the chapter!
Vicious Circle – Chapter 19: Squaring the circle (3)
Dark Mount Castle
"They're going to take me back to the past!" Starscream cried out in terror, shrinking away to hide behind Astrotrain's biggest frame. "Please, somebody helps me!"
"Calm down Starscream, it's not by panicking that we'll get rid of them," Astrotrain shouted, trying to pull him together. He could feel the Seeker clinging to him, each of his panel shaking with fear. "Choose another time for your nervous breakdown!" he grumbled.
As expected, the monsters attacked first. One leaped at them, but not fast enough to avoid Astrotrain's laser shot. One of the two others immediately charged, his fist smashing the wall very close to Astrotrain's head. Here again, the heavy body of the creature slowed it down, allowing the triple changer to dodge and land it a kick in the stomach.
"Damn it, Starscream, give me some help! I can't hold them back forever!" he shouted, but the Seeker refused to throw himself into the fight.
When he turned his face to check the enemy's progress, one was very close, his jaws opened as to bite him in the neck. He barely had the time to try to protect himself that the Vampiricons collapsed to a heap, hit in the back by laser shots.
"Advice: Move quickly!"
Astrotrain would have recognized this droning tone among thousands of voice frequencies. He scanned the corridor in search of the voice's owner and made out a shape, right behind the monster that blocked the left exit. The last Vampiricon was quickly bumped off by a nasty laser shot which ripped off a great part of his back panels. That opened the window they needed to escape, but not a very long time, Astrotrain new hit. He flipped Sunstorm over his shoulder and grabbed Starscream's wrist. The Seeker protested weakly when the triple changer dragged him in his runaway. Lasers shots showered on the three mechs while Soundwave covered them as best as he could.
"Here! Hurry!" the Communication Officer shouted, opening the exit door to leave enough space to Astrotrain, his burden and Starscream to slip into a shed.
Soundwave shot the monster with the wounded back in the head and closed the door right after he rushed into the room. Laser shots and blows started to rain on the door panels, threatening to break it open.
"Hold him!" Astrotrain shouted as he took Sunstorm off his shoulder and nestled him into Starscream's arms. The red Seeker was still too shocked to say anything and held Sunstorm tight in his arms. Astrotrain ran to Soundwave, who was already busy stacking up statues and boxes, anything big enough to block the access. In less than a breem, the door panels disappeared behind a pile of artistic stuffs.
"Assessment: door won't keep intruders at bay a long time," Soundwave informed coldly. "Question: who are they?"
"Vampiricons… Although I don't know what Vampiricons are," Astrotrain retorted, nodding to Starscream. "Ask him."
Soundwave darted the red light of his visor to the terrorized Seeker.
"Advice: state what you know."
Starscream had to gather all his willpower to clear his thoughts and stop trembling when he realized how expectantly Soundwave and Astrotrain were waiting for an answer. 'I am not alone against the Vampiricons,' he tried to reassure himself. He lowered his optics at Sunstorm, who pressed his energon stained-face against his chest. His red optics glowed weakly, reflecting a quick drop in energy level.
"Can you help me… laying him down?" he asked.
"Table behind you: perfect berth," advised Soundwave as he walked to the Seeker. He helped Starscream lifting up the wounded Seeker on the berth, splashing energon on his own paint-job in the process. He removed expertly the damaged cockpit and began the inspection of the leaking pipes. "Starscream must reply to previous question!" he insisted, while starting the patching work.
"Vampiricons are the Quintessons' creations. At the Era which Silvergun comes from, under the reign of King Quintessa, they formed an Elite Guard, and were responsible for holding in check the gladiators, and killing them when they became useless." He explained, feeling his energon running cold at the memory of his first encounters with the monsters. "The Quintessons sent them after us when we escaped from a gladiatorial combat. They chased us underground, and almost killed us."
"Why are they still after you?" Astrotrain asked, adding a new statue to the pile. "You're back to the future, now, not a part of the past!"
"I think… The Quintessons of this past Era want me as a guinea pig," Starscream explained, while his spark beat faster in his chest. "They understood I was built in a more advanced technology, and want to study me in order to reverse engineer it," he added in a whisper.
Soundwave lowered his face and brushed thoughtfully the side of his helmet, a nervous twitch arising when he was worried or deep in his thoughts. Usually, it was the forerunner of a danger or big problems.
"Hypothesis: if Vampiricons want to bring Starscream back to the past to steal his technology, then we are all in danger. They might potentially bring us back as well."
Starscream felt his knees buckling and watched a horrified look growing on Astrotrain's face. As if Soundwave's assumption was not enough, on the other side, the Vampiricons started to hit the door again, causing the fall of some boxes and statues from the improvised dam.
'Oh, no, please, Silvergun, protect us!' he pleaded through the bond he shared with the gladiator. 'The Vampiricons are here to take me away from you… Don't let them do!'
Silvergun winced when a dull pain stabbed his spark. On the alert, he stood up from his large seat, gazing about Dark Mont Castle's dark spires. The gloomy shape of his new possession appeared in the corner of his vision, but it didn't ease the ache in his chest.
"Is something wrong?" asked Rodimus Prime, also alerted by his sudden tension.
"I don't know… It's like Starscream was screaming, calling me for help," Silvergun replied as he turned to the Autobot leader. "Are you sure he's safe at Dark Mount?"
"Yes, you don't have to worry. I have a squadron of twelve bots guarding the surroundings round the clock. If the castle was attacked, we can mobilize twenty other commando bots in record time," Rodimus asserted and then lowered his voice. "Besides, you have nothing to fear right now. The negotiation round with the Decepticons is about to start. In regard to the energy shortage on Charr and their dependence towards our energon supply, I doubt they're ready to mess it up by attacking you."
Rodimus Prime's very sensible analysis was not enough to put Silvergun's mind at ease. He still felt discomfort in his spark.
"Can you ask your guards to check if Starscream is fine and safe?" he insisted.
"Yes, sure. If it allows you to relax, I'm going to ask them."
Dark Mount Castle
"Is he going to be fine?" Starscream asked worryingly when Soundwave turned Sunstorm over so that he lay on his back. "Will he pull through?"
"Diagnosis: main energon leaks patched up. More quality repairs necessary." Soundwave replied before adding more casually: "Now… tell me who he is."
Starscream bit his lip component: he should have seen this coming: Soundwave was suspicious of something.
"He's my brother," he replied pitifully and lowered his face ashamedly, unable to stare at the red visor.
The Communication Officer cocked his head to the right side, giving him a questioning look.
"Fact: Starscream had never had brother. Question: who is he?" he insisted.
Starscream wished he could become a cyber mouse and hide behind one of the boxes clogging the small place.
"I have a brother," he murmured unconvincingly, still not daring looking at the navy blue Transformer.
"Oh, please, Starscream! Stop this bad comedy!" Astrotrain shouted as he grabbed his chin and forced him to look up. "Soundwave is not a fool. Tell him the truth!" he said curtly.
The Seeker pulled away and recoiled until his back collided with the wall. He gave a pleading look at his former lover, but found no kindness in the red optics.
"He's my clone," he admitted pathetically.
Increasingly surprised, Soundwave looked again at Astrotrain, who shrugged nervously, and then stared back at Starscream.
"Reminder: cloning a sentient being is disapproved by both Decepticon and Autobot laws. Question: why did you do this?"
The Seeker lowered once again his face. Primus, that was so hard to confess his intentions.
"I planned to make Sunstorm the first prototype of my future army to take over Megatron. I finished building him just before the attack of Autobot city… just before my supposed death. I didn't have the time to bring him to life or construct other clones," he explained. "I brought him a couple of cycles ago."
"Question: why did you revive him now? There is no more Megatron to take over."
Starscream casted a sad glance at his former lover.
"I did him for Astrotrain," he confessed.
The triple changer startled and threw him a surprised look.
"For me?" he questioned. "Why?"
"You were so sad and so desperate that I thought it would console you to have a new Seeker to cherish. He's just like me, you know. He has the same qualities," he assured and then he sighed, "And, I'm afraid, the same flaws I had at the time I cloned myself."
Astrotrain stared at him in shock and then walked to the table where Sunstorm lay. He leaned over the unconscious Seeker, studying closely the still dark face. As if he had sense the triple changer's presence, Sunstorm's optics flickered with life, meeting Astrotrain's red optics.
"Who are you?" he asked nervously. He suddenly seemed to remind the Vampiricon's attack. "You saved my life, didn't you?" he asked.
Astrotrain couldn't tear his optics off the colorful creature who stared at him with his bright optics. Deep inside him, a storm of feelings raged. He was flattered that such a beauty was meant for him, and in another hand, it disgusted him that Starscream was trying to push him in his arms to get rid of his former bond mate. He startled, feeling a light brush on his forearm. He realized that Sunstorm's optics were set on him, a discrete smile playing on his lips.
"What's your name?" the silver and gold Seeker asked again.
The triple changer didn't recognize his own voice, inexplicably soft. A shiver escaped him when Sunstorm's hand closed on his wrist and weakly invited him to sit at the edge of the berth. He complied without a word or a hint of reluctance, his fascination for the angel-like face only growing.
"Astrotrain… I like this name," Sunstorm eventually replied.
Starscream watched with a renewed hope Astrotrain sitting by Sunstorm's side. The triple changer seemed totally enthralled by his creation, not tearing his optics off the beautiful clone. Sunstorm was calm; all trace of malfunctioning had disappeared. Was it possible that Astrotrain and Sunstorm could really get along together, and maybe more, become lovers? It was too early to assert it, but at least, the early stages were heartening. The Seeker smiled to himself, forgetting a few kliks that Quintessons' killers were after him, infringing upon his liberty and attempting to his companion's lives.
"Soundwave, how did you spot the Vampiricons?" he suddenly asked the Communication Officer.
"Reason: I saw them flying to the castle. A black swarm like never seen before."
"If you have seen them, it means that perhaps, other might have seen them too!" he exclaimed hopefully.
Soundwave nodded encouragingly.
"Clarification: I sent an alert message to the Autobot headquarters before joining you."
A joyful smile graced the Seeker's face as he foresaw a way to escape the terrible threat.
"Then, the only thing we have to do is to prevent them from catching us until the reinforcement comes."
They focused on the door and the pile of boxes and equipments. On the other side, the Vampiricons were still hammering the panels in order to smash it open.
"They will end up cracking this open quickly," Starscream said worryingly. "Isn't there another way out?"
Soundwave pointed out a large air vent in the ceiling.
"Suggestion: We should use it to go out before they use it to get in."
Silvergun raised his chin when he felt Cyclonus' gaze on him, and flashed his optics to show that he was not impressed. The Decepticon did not even blink an optic, remaining impassive.
"Cyclonus, I'm grateful that you accepted to discuss directly with Silvergun about the possible truce we could establish between the Decepticons and the Autobots," Rodimus Prime stated, motioning to shake hands. He withdrew it when Cyclonus didn't move an inch to pay back the favor. "Shall we start discussing?" he added, slightly confused.
They sat around a large oval table, Silvergun facing directly Cyclonus. The silver white robot gazed at the blue Jet former sitting on Cyclonus right side, wondering if the two were twins or just clones.
"I will go straight to the point," Cyclonus said. He glared at Silvergun: "I would like to know which guarantees you offer for the Decepticons if I agree to sign the truce."
"We planned to present them in a second part of the meeting, Cy-"
Rodimus Prime fell silent when the Decepticon waved away.
"I was talking to Silvergun, Prime, not to you," Cyclonus said harshly. "I guess he's able to reply without your help."
The Autobot leader nodded in acceptance and glanced at Silvergun, smiling encouragingly. The gladiator didn't bother to smile back and glared at the Air Commander, feeling already pissed off by his aggressiveness.
"In a few words, I will make sure that each Decepticon could be reinstated in the Cybertronian society, and be treated like all the other Cybertronians. This means that the Decepticons will benefit from the same rights and comply with the same duties as the Autobots," Silvergun stated clearly.
"It's not enough," Cyclonus retorted. He leaned forward, looking deeply into Silvergun's optics. "I want the guarantee that none of the Decepticons will be prosecuted for acts of war," he growled.
Silvergun beckoned Rodimus Prime to stay quiet.
"You want that each Decepticon has a fresh start in life, don't you?" Silvergun rephrased. "Then, they shall have it."
"Wait, Silvergun, I can't-" Rodimus Prime tried to raise an objection but once again, Silvergun didn't leave him the opportunity.
"Frankly, Prime, how can I refuse my future faction the opportunity of a fresh start while some of them helped me to change my fate?" Silvergun spoke. "I know that some of your Autobots would like that Justice punish some of the Decepticons for their crimes, but if they want peace, they will have to learn forgiveness," he concluded.
Rodimus Prime lowered his face and didn't try to raise any further objections. The gladiator had a serious point.
"Now, Cyclonus, are you satisfied?" Silvergun asked.
The red optics of the Air Commander flashed angrily as he glared at the silver warrior. Silvergun could tell by the vibrations coming from his armor that Cyclonus hated him, certainly because he had killed Galvatron. However, the Decepticon was clever and loyal to his faction: he would put aside his dislikes if it brought advantages to the Decepticons.
"Cyclonus, it's an opportunity we cannot miss," said the blue Shuttle former at low voice.
The Air Commander gave him a harsh look and let out a resigned sigh.
"If you have these conditions respected, then, yes, you will have your truce," Cyclonus promised. "And the Decepticon leadership as well."
Silvergun chuckled lightly to hide his surprise that Cyclonus didn't try to fight more.
"Then, we should fill in a document reminding each one of us what we agreed about," he suggested.
Dark Mount Castle
Astrotrain lifted delicately Sunstorm off the table, asking him to put his arms around his neck and hold tight. The wounded Seeker complied almost happily, burying his face in the protective chest, while a smile played about the triple changer's lips. Starscream smiled as well, definitely happy with the last developments.
"Starscream, advice: react quickly. Priority: escape."
The former Air Commander looked up at the gaping hole in the ceiling. Soundwave and Astrotrain had managed to unscrew the air vent, unveiling a complex pipe network. The idea was to go through it to find an escape way out Dark Mount Castle. Starscream was fine with this plan, except for the first part, involving a 700-meter-vertical flight. In other words, he would have to cling to someone if he wanted to make it to the horizontal part of the network. Astrotrain carrying Sunstorm, the only candidate was… Soundwave. Although the Communication Officer had been a great support in the past weeks, Starscream still felt reticent about touching him.
"Starscream?" asked Soundwave as he cocked his head to his side. "Action: now!"
"Yes… yes…" The Seeker slipped his arms around the navy blue mech's shoulders, feeling more uneasy as ever. "You know, I'm already taken," he warned.
A whistle echoed from the masked mouth of Soundwave. Starscream understood he was laughing. Making fun of him, to be more precise.
"Information: I'm not crazy enough to risk my life seducing Silvergun's bond mate", he said, powering his anti-gravity system. "Hold tight."
Slowly, they rose from the ground and entered the pipe.
Silvergun watched with satisfaction Cyclonus signing the data pad summing up the details of the truce. Rodimus Prime signed it as well, and so did the gladiator, writing down his new title: "Silvergun, Decepticon leader".
"Now that it is done, when can I inform your new troops that they're allowed to come to Dark Mount?" asked Cyclonus to his new master.
Silvergun peeped at Rodimus Prime, who stood aside in a middle of a debate with his Security Director, Firewall. He didn't know what the two were talking about, but they looked pretty worried. 'What's going on?' he wondered, suddenly alarmed. Anyway, he had to give an answer to his new Second in Command.
"I will first meet the Decepticons and make sure they not only understand the terms of the truce, but they also come round to it," he stated, somehow surprised by the amazing ease he could speak with. Perhaps, he was fated to lead. "On the meanwhile, Rodimus Prime will make sure that the Autobots agree with the truce and try nothing "unfortunate". I prefer a progressive return for the Decepticons, in order to avoid them problems. I'll direct this delicate step with Rodimus," he added.
Cyclonus nodded, feeling a little less hostile to the gladiator than before. He had to grant some qualities to Silvergun: he was charismatic and talked sense. Galvatron also bare charisma, but had always been unable to talk or act sensibly. It comforted him in the idea he had taken the right decision by choosing him as the new leader, although the power of the Decepticon army would decrease in the future. However, it was a question of survival, not prestige anymore.
They both turn their optics to Rodimus Prime when he approached, looking distraught. Worry immediately showed up on Silvergun's faceplate.
"What's going on?"
The Air Commander wasn't sure of what he read on the Autobot Leader's optics, but he had the feeling it was something very close to fear.
"What's going on, Rodimus?" Silvergun repeated through gritted teeth, "Why don't you answer me?"
"It's Dark Mount: six mysterious robots have attacked your Castle," Rodimus finally answered tremulously. "Two of my men were killed, and the others had to retreat. There is no news about Starscream, as well as Astrotrain. We received a beacon signal from Soundwave, confirming the intrusion of the six robots. They might be still trapped on the castle, chased by the intruders."
Cyclonus observed closely the reactions of his new leader and was stunned how bloodthirsty he now looked. With his optics flashing madly, his whole body tensed and his energy field radiating with promises of death, he was as much frightening as Galvatron was.
"Who did this?" Silvergun inquired in a low and dangerous growl.
"The squad guarding the Hall of Heroes was attacked as well. The surveillance cameras took this following scene," Rodimus Prime replied in a faltering voice.
A small camera got out a subspace in his wrist, showing a three-dimension image in front of Silvergun.
"Vampiricons!" the Decepticon warlord groaned, his voice clearly filled with anger.
The four mechs recoiled in fear when his energy field flared with an unconstrained rage and his optics flashed so intensely that they seemed to burn, illuminating sinisterly his angry face.
"They came to take him back to the past," he muttered, smashing his fist so hard in the table that it collapsed to the ground. "I'm going to kill them. Starscream will never return to the past; his fate is to remain here with me!" he screamed, kicking away the broken remains.
Like Thundercracker, Rodimus Prime and the Security Officer, Cyclonus was rooted to the spot. He suddenly had the odd feeling to be watching one of Galvatron's terrible fits of anger. With a major difference: Silvergun wasn't taking on other mechs, only on furniture. But yet, he was impressed by his new leader's aura: violent, overwhelming and untamed. The aura of a true Decepticon leader, he was now sure of that.
"My Lord, where are you going?" Cyclonus asked when the silver warlord turned his back on them and headed for the exit.
Silvergun looked over his shoulder, his burning optics piercing him as hard as a laser shot.
"The Vampiricons… I'm going to kill them all," he curtly replied. He glared at the Autobot Leader. "And a good advice, Prime: find a way to close the time bridge ASAP. Other Vampiricons are certainly on their ways. More of your men are going to die," he added, resuming his walk.
Cyclonus threw a knowing look at Thundercracker, who replied by a nod.
"Wait, my leader!" the Air Commander called again and ran after Silvergun, followed by his wing mate. The gladiator stopped when he heard their footsteps and turned to glare at them. "Wait, My Lord, we're going with you," Cyclonus offered. "We want to help."
Dark Mount Castle
They had been crawling in the pipe for a good cycle. Starscream crawled in front, followed by Soundwave; Sunstorm was next and Astrotrain brought the rear, helping the wounded Seeker to keep up with the pace. Starscream had first been worried about Soundwave having an exceptional view on his aft, but his worries had transferred to a more disturbing point: the Vampiricons were following them in the intricate web of pipes.
"No, I can't continue… I'm exhausted!"
Sunstorm's raspy voice was followed once again by a loud clang as he collapsed to the ground, unable to stay on his all fours. Starscream looked over his shoulder worryingly, watching Astrotrain patting gently the Seeker's back, whispering words of comfort.
"He's exhausted, he won't be able to stay online a long time," the triple changer informed. "We are slowing you down… We have to split," he concluded while helping the Jet to come back to a kneeling position.
"No, we have to stay together!" Starscream replied, trying his best to negotiate a U-turn in the narrow pipe.
"Assessment: Astrotrain is right." Soundwave retorted as he grabbed the Jet's ankle and pushed him forward. "Advice: continue crawling straight ahead," he stated, pushing again on the Seeker's limb.
"But… if we leave Astrotrain and Sunstorm back, the Vampiricons are going to kill them!" Starscream protested, trying to break free.
"They won't kill us, I swear," Astrotrain assured as he wrapped an arm around Sunstorm's back and waist. He held up his riffle, which he set against the wall. "And do you really believe I will leave you in peace, you and the mindless brute you've chosen as a lover?" he mocked as he pulled the trigger.
The explosion opened a clear hole in the metal, large enough for Astrotrain to jump through, with Sunstorm in his arms. Starscream stretched his neck to have a look, but Soundwave pushed him backward, encouraging him to continue crawling.
"Warning: pursuers are after us. We must crawl quicker," the navy blue mech stated.
"But we can't leave them! The Vampiricons will go after them!" the Seeker protested, trying once again to turn back.
"Astrotrain is old enough to look after himself," Soundwave retorted, pushing on Starscream's chest to prompt him to move. "If we escape from this castle, we'll be able to call for reinforcement and help him. We don't have a minute to lose."
Starscream looked again at the hole in which the triple changer and the wounded Seeker have disappeared and lowering his face ashamedly, he obeyed to Soundwave's injunction.
Outside Dark Mount Castle
Silvergun left Cyclonus' cockpit and watched with some surprise the Jet former transforming to robot mode. How could this robot, which was a little smaller than he was, be able to transform into a ship so big, able to welcome easily two or three Transformers?
"My lord?" Cyclonus asked, rousing him from his thoughts. "What are your orders now?"
"According to Firewall, Soundwave's signal came from the abandoned part of the Castle," Silvergun replied as he pointed at the left side of the building. "Start by this part. I warn you once again: shoot on sight and do not let them come too close to you. The Vampiricons are strong, quick and don't show mercy when it comes to fighting."
"Yes, my lord!" both Cyclonus and Thundercracker replied.
"I will first retrieve my axe and my cannon, and then join you," he completed as he moved away.
The two Shuttle formers bowed down before running to the designated area.
"Ah, Perceptor, that's nice to see you!" Rodimus Prime warmly welcomed the scientist, promptly offering him a seat. "Have you progressed regarding the way we could close the time bridge?" he urged.
"I have indeed an idea, but I am not completely sure it will work," the telescope former replied. "Based on the information given by Soundwave, it appears that the time bridge is very similar to a space bridge as for its functioning," he spoke affectedly. "Which means, it has the same weakness as a space bridge: it implodes if a too important source of energy tries to go through it."
"Which means?" Rodimus Prime leaned over the scientist with an expectant look. "We can destroy it, can't we?"
"It is only an assumption but… yes, we could destroy it by having a bomb exploding at the entrance point or at the exit point. I am, however, afraid that it leads also to the destruction of the Hall of Heroes," Perceptor added, nodding lightly with a thoughtful expression.
"That's not a problem. This Hall was a place for the Decepticon propaganda, and I'm sure that Silvergun doesn't need such a place," Rodimus Prime retorted as he grabbed the telescope by an arm and stare deeply at his optics. "Perceptor, we have to close it as soon as possible. Tell me what you need to accomplish this miracle, and I'll have all the materials ready as quick as possible."
"Then, I think we shall ask Metroplex to come. His overwhelming firepower might be enough to trigger the chain reaction," Perceptor replied.
The scientist's conclusion brought a wild smile on Rodimus Prime's face.
"I will have the big guy standing nearby the Hall of Heroes within a cycle. Today, we'll stop all this madness," he declared enthusiastically.
Dark Mount Castle
Decepticon war statues and artifacts took up the vast Hall in which Cyclonus and Thundercracker walked in.
"Megatron's private collection," Thundercracker murmured, "All dedicated to his glory."
They scanned the area in search of some signs of fighting. Broken statues scattered on the floor confirmed them that they were getting warm.
"Do you hear that?" Thundercracker suddenly asked. A far gnashing reached his audios, coming from the back-end of the Hall. "I think these Vampiricons are not far away," he added.
"Let's check out!" Cyclonus petulantly decreed.
His blue sibling grabbed him by the shoulders.
"Wait! You remembered what Silvergun told us a moment ago! He asked us to be careful and stay away from them."
"We're Decepticons, and he is our new leader. We must show him that we are worthy warriors," the Air Commander retorted, pushing aside Thundercracker. "However, you can stay here if you are afraid."
"I'm not afraid."
They walked silently to the back of the Hall, checking with great caution each corner and each shadow of statue. Arrived to the exit, they noticed the mark of claws left on the ripped door.
"Silvergun told us the truth: they are powerful and dangerous," Thundercracker whispered.
Cyclonus didn't care replying and resolutely moved in the corridor, his attention being immediately attracted by the new gnashing echoing from the back-end of the corridor.
"Over there!" he informed as he grabbed firmly his riffle.
The two Decepticons hugged the walls, their optics not leaving their target. Arrived half-way, they could see that the door had been ripped open the same way as the first one, and the small storage room devastated.
"We arrive too late, I'm afraid," Thundercracker concluded, lowering his riffle.
Cyclonus grunted as a matter of an answer. His expression fell when he noticed two pairs of cruel optics flashing in the dark.
"Fall back!" he shouted, pushing Thundercracker aside as the two monsters pounced on them. They were both flattened to the ground by the heavy weight of their attackers. Cyclonus' hands shot by reflex around the black robot's neck, which tried to bite him in the face. Fortunately, the Air Commander was resourceful and kicked the Vampiricons in the stomach; strongly enough to ruin his balance and knock him down. Leaving no chance to the groggy robot, he collected his riffle and set it against the face of the horrible thing and pulled the trigger. His face exploded in a splash of energon, scattering spare parts all around.
A few meters from him, Thundercarcker was still struggling dearly for his life, but was starting to lose. Merciless, Cyclonus aimed at the attacker's head and ended up its life the same way he had killed the other Vampiricon.
"You're okay?" he asked to his wing mate, helping him to his feet.
"Uh, yes, I think so…" the other replied, slightly moved.
Cyclonus gave him a friendly hug and looked at the two dead robots. "Finally, they are not so hard to kill," he mocked. He pointed at the storage room: "They lied in ambush. There must be a reason," he added, "I'm going to inform our Lord to join us here."
Not far away from the storage room
"We're going to die… They'll kill us!"
Sunstorm trembled with fear, huddling up closer against Astrotrain. The triple changer gave a gentle pat on his shoulder, trying to ease the Seeker's anxiety and pain. He could feel the clone's spark racing, ready to blow up.
"Don't worry, Sunstorm, I won't let them hurting you," he assured, making his best to hide his own worries.
Sunstorm looked up at him, his beautiful face showing his distress.
"But they're going to hurt you. How can you protect me if you are wounded?" he whined.
The naive question raised a smirk on Astrotrain's face.
"I am a Decepticon triple changer: I don't get killed so easily," he stated proudly. He lowered his face to stare at the foggy optics. "And you are also a Decepticon: you won't let yourself killed without fighting."
Sunstorm opened his mouth, hesitating to say a word. "Yes, I will fight," he finally assured. Leaning on Astrotrain and standing on the tip of his thrusters, he closed the distance between their lips, giving the triple changer a light kiss.
"What… what was that for?" Astrotrain stuttered, unable to hide his surprise.
The golden and silver Seeker smiled gently.
"I don't know… I just felt I had to, like if it was a part of my core programming," he shyly explained.
They kept staring at each other long kliks, during which they lost the meaning of time, drowning in each other's optics. It was a sinister growl that raised them from their daydream. They realized that two of their pursuers had landed on the small silo in which they had taken refuge.
"Don't forget, Sunstorm, we have to face them together to stay alive," Astrotrain murmured, tightening his grip on the Seeker's back. He felt Sunstorm straightening up and saw him raise a null ray riffle. "You know to use it, right?"
"I… I think so."
They couldn't exchange any further encouraging words as one of the Vampiricons charged, showing his teeth as a promise of a horrible and painful death. Astrotrain and Sunstorm's shots pierced through his chest, cutting it in half. But their relief was short-lived as the second Vampiricon charged, snatching away Astrotrain's riffle. He bit viciously his arm, pushing them both against the wall. Astrotrain clenched his jaws, trying to ignore the pain and push Sunstorm away from the fray.
"Pick someone of your own size!" boomed a deep and familiar voice.
The head of the Vampiricons popped out as it was brutally torn out, while its body crashed into the far wall. Astrotrain steadied himself against the wall, and was glad to feel Sunstorm clinging at his chest. He then glared at the red optics burning madly in front of him, trying to hide that he was immensely grateful to him for this help.
"Silvergun, it kills me to say that, but it's nice to see you again," he finally admitted.
The gladiator didn't say a word as he fixed his optics upon Sunstorm, who recoiled behind Astrotrain, afraid by the threatening figure.
"I see you have finally decided to turn over a new leaf," he finally said. "Once this nightmare is over, I'll teach you how to fight properly for saving your Seeker. You were lame."
Astrotrain grimaced, more because it hurt his ego than because of the pain in his injured arm.
"Instead of bragging, your Lordship, King of the Arena, you'd better hurry if you want to save Starscream!" he hissed. He then nodded at the hole in the wall from which they had come. "Starscream and Soundwave continued into the air-lock. As far as I remember, it leads to a departure ramp."
"Tell me how to go there!"
"My Lord, we can lead you to this ramp," said a voice coming from the hall.
The silhouette of Cyclonus and his sibling, Hurricane, appeared on the threshold.
"Don't be stupid, you two never lived here!" Astrotrain retorted. "How can you lead the way?"
The Air Commander addressed him a sly smirk.
"Don't be so sure, Chow-Chow brain. This ramp was our trine's favorite training place in this castle," Cyclonus retorted.
"Yes: Starscream, Thundercracker and I."
In another part of the castle
"Starscream: warning. You have to stand up and move."
The Seeker gathered all his remaining strength to glare at the Communication officer. How Soundwave managed to stand up and keep his cool after the obstacle course through the air lock network was a mystery.
"I need a break," he said, running an internal scan to assess his power level. It was a little low, actually, 45%. "I really need a break," he repeated, his optics now pleading for mercy.
"Starscream, stand up and move. They're after us."
The Jet former sighed and rose to his feet laboriously. He had to grant the Communication officer a quality: his rationality could overcome any feeling of fear. Soundwave was never afraid. Fear was something that would be forever foreign to him.
"Where do we go now?" he asked, leaning against the wall. "We're trapped. It's impossible to open this shutter!" He sighed heavily. "I know it very well: I used to train here with 'Warp and TC. Megatron closed it with this damn shutter to bother me."
"Impossible is not a word belonging to my vocabulary." Suiting the action to the word, the navy blue mech knelt down and grabbed the lower part of the shutter. The iron curtain hissed as it was forced open, unveiling the uncluttered walls of a backyard. "Starscream, move," Soundwave ordered.
The Seeker nodded and followed his former arch rival. Arrived at the outer wall, Soundwave knelt to give the Seeker a leg up, but a fearsome punched knocked him down, smashing his facemask.
Starscream recoiled to the wall, staring in fear at the hideous figure. There was no escape way and nobody would come to his rescue. He was contemplating disaster, before being swallowed by it.
"Don't even think putting your filthy servos on him!"
The Seeker stared wide-eyed at his hero, not daring to move; just staring at him, finding him majestic as his dark hand covered the face of Vampiricon and drew it away from him. The fusion cannon roared, and the monster ceased to leave, a large hole smoking in his chest. Starscream watched it fall to the ground, grey and dead, and then looked back at the one who made his spark pulsing, so alive.
Strong arms imprisoned him in a tender embrace.
"It's over, Starscream. It's over," Silvergun assured, claiming his lips for an urgent kiss. The Seeker relaxed in his embrace, processing slowly the reality behind those words. "The nightmare is over, Little Prince", the gladiator repeated, caressing Starscream's face and neck as he set his forehead against the Seeker's helm.
Starscream shut off his optics, laying his head on his lover's shoulder.
"I was so afraid of losing you," he murmured, nuzzling Silvergun's neck.
"So did I, Little Prince, so did I."
They stayed into each other arms, serene and happy, until a tremendous quake shook Cybertron's ground, making Dark Mount Castle's walls tremble.
"What's going on?" Starscream exclaimed, immediately alerted by the familiar sound of an explosion.
"I don't know," the warlord replied, tightening his grip on his lover's back as to better protect him. He looked up at the sky, and immediately spotted the pillar of fire and smoke that darkened it, hiding the stars. "What the slag is that?"
They both looked at the dark cumulus that spread its shadow over the whole area, wondering what new disaster would sweep down on them.
Rodimus Prime's voice frequency... Both Starscream and the gladiator exchanged questioning looks, wondering why the Autobot leader sounded so enthusiastic.
"What's going on, Prime? What was that explosion?" Silvergun asked, deeply worried.
(We closed it, Silvergun! We blew up the time anomaly!) The two lovers stared at each other in shock, their spark hammering in their chests. (Unfortunately, we wiped away the Hall of Heroes in the process… But, eh…! We did it!)
Starscream's knees buckled, as he was not ready for the immense hope and joy that took over him. The nightmare was really over. He started to shed tears of joy when Silvergun clasped him to his chest, cherishing feverishly his face.
"Thank you, Prime, thank you for what you've done," he whispered, mixing his tears with Starscream's.
"Come, we should leave them alone," Cyclonus suggested, grabbing Thundercracker by an arm.
"But… You don't want to tell him that we are back?" The blue Jet was both shocked and pained. "After all this time, we disserved this reunion."
The Air Commander shook his head.
"Sorry, I don't feel ready yet to become again Skywarp, or to face Starscream. I still partly resent him for jettisoning us through deep space," Cyclonus explained. "Let me some time to decide who I want to be, and to forgive him."
Thundercracker lowered his face, obviously disappointed.
"Okay, I understand your point," he conceded. "However, don't take too much time, because I'm eager to tell him that I'm still alive and forgive him for what he had done to me. I want our trine back."
Cyclonus gave him an understanding nod and left the place.
Silvergun and Starscream helped Soundwave to his feet. The poor bot was groggy, difficultly standing on his feet after the violent punch he had received. He gratefully accepted Silvergun's support to keep in a standing position. Part of his facemask was completely smashed, unveiling the faceplate hidden beneath.
"Hold on a nanoclick!" Silvergun exclaimed, suddenly having a doubt about what he saw of Soundwave's face. Despite the Communication Officer's reluctance to look at him, he wiped away the remains of the mask and blankly stared at the features. "You?"
Surprised by his bond mate's exclamation, Starscream also studied the face and gaped widely open as he recognized the mech.
Soundwave seemed equally surprised to be called this name.
"Sorry… I don't know any Wiper," he finally answered, gathering all his concentration to formulate a coherent reply.
"You were my closest friend back to the past era," Silvergun insisted. "Don't you remember?"
"That's right! And I met you as well in this past. You repaired me and built me an armor for the gladiatorial tournament!" added Starscream. "The last time we saw you, you had been reprogrammed by the Quintessons to take us prisoners!"
Soundwave's optics became blurry and he lowered his face.
"Sorry. I don't remember anything of my past life before Megatron reprogrammed me, several million years ago," he confessed. "I've always felt close to him, without understanding why…"
Silvergun exchanged a worried look with Starscream, who replied by a nod.
"That's not important right now. Let's go back inside the castle and have you repaired," he finally said.
They returned to the main hall, where the first medical squad led by Pulse had just arrived. Starscream saw with relief that Sunstorm was already linked to a medical machine, under the careful watch of Astrotrain. A smile graced his lips when he noticed that the triple changer actually held his hand.
"Who is this Seeker with Astrotrain?" Silvergun asked after handing Soundwave over Pulse's care. "He really looks like you."
Starscream's smile grew wider as he turned over to face his bond mate. Their gaze locked, soft and loving, while their lips met. They kissed a long time, not giving a damn about time, about the surroundings and all the dozen of mechs watching them. They finally parted, disturbed by the cheers and whistles thundering around them. For once, Silvergun forgot his gladiator's pride and didn't take offense. They smiled at each other, definitely realizing they were safe, together, forever.
"That's a long story I'll tell you later. We have all our time," Starscream replied, laying his head over Silvergun's shoulder.
Far away from the castle, the wreckage of the Hall of the Heroes still smoked, symbol of the destruction of the biggest threat that had ever jeopardized their lives. He felt Silvergun kissing his forehead and sighed peacefully in his audios.
"The future is ours."
In another dimension, at the other side of the closed time bridge
The Quintessons did not bother too long about their non-returning squad of Vampiricons or the tremendous explosion which devastated part of their industrial district. A few thousand years later, a new threat to their power rose from the bowels of Cybertron. A Transformer who, they thought, had been long destroyed: Skullcrusher. The Master Gladiator had won several hundreds of slaves over his ambitions, and thanks to his eloquence, he met with more approvals every day.
A Civil War finally burst in the streets of Kaon, lead by the gladiator, now self-proclaimed General of the Cybertronian Liberation Army. The whole planet soon flared up with laser shots and explosion, the insurgents slowly crushing the Quintessons' troops and pushing them out of Cybertron. Weak and wounded, the alien creatures finally abandoned the planet, one million year after Silvergun's disappearance.
That glorious day, the General declared the victory of the Cybertronian sentient over the Quintessons' tyranny from the newly named Hall of Heroes, previously called the Alphar. Facing his troops, mainly composed of former gladiators and war machines, he remembered the day he had fought against Silvergun. That day when his life had turned upside down. He peeped at Alpha Trion, the other strong bot of the Liberation War, certain that soon, their antagonism about leadership would appear. A curious idea developed on his head: changing his name to reinforce his aura of true leader, and make everybody forget that he came from the lowest cast of the Cybertronians.
'What was this name that Silvergun had pompously chosen for himself, already? Ah, yes…'
He stood straight on the highest step of the main terrace, ready to make the first speech of his new carrier as Lord Protector, a title he shared with Alpha Trion.
"My fellow citizens, the time for the Cybertronian race to rise free from the ruins of the Quintessons' decadence has come!" he stated, pausing for a moment to savor the cheers coming from his men. "I, as Lord Protector, will take all measures to make sure that our race enjoys prosperity, and will protect it against any enemies who would try to enslave it again."
New cheers washed over him, making him feeling so powerful that it could have led him straight to an overload.
"From now on, I shall be called Lord Protector Megatron," he added, his strong voice covering the enthusiastic cries coming from the crowd.
Watching Alpha Trion out of the corner of his optics, he read surprise on the other Lord Protector's faceplate, sign that he wasn't the only one remembering Silvergun. But whatever, he didn't care anymore about this stupid brat, who had disappeared for a so long time that it made no doubt about his death. Only mattered for him the cheers coming from his warriors and the power, which was now at hand.
"All Hail Megatron!"
History tends to repeat itself: there will always be a Megatron rising somewhere in the Universe.
Well… What to say? I just hope that you enjoyed the conclusion of this fiction. Actually, I still don't go over the idea I have finished this story.
I have to thank you, my dear readers, who supported me during the past three years. And also to congratulate you, because you managed to change my mind. I had first planned to make this fiction a tragedy, but many of you convinced me that a happy ending would be actually nicer. You made me grow fond of Silvergun and Starscream's characters, and I didn't have the heart to make them suffer any longer…
I thank also Silvernight, who beta-read a good half of the whole story, and gave me lot's of advice to improve my writing English skills.
Thanks to all!