Copyright 2007, masterfwiffo. All rights reserved.
Skyfire stared at Jetfire in disbelief. "That... was a hell of a story." She announced.
"You're telling me." Jetfire sighed.
Skyfire just stood there, contemplating the long tale. "An Omega Protectorate clone, and a group that's been on Earth for at least 65 million years... Jetfire, none of this makes any sense."
"I know, I know. Evac and his chaotic mood swings certainly haven't made any of this easier. Optimus's neurocircuits are shot, and mine are too. I don't think I could take another surprise from him."
"Well, you're getting one."
Jetfire and Skyfire jumped at Optimus's words. Jetfire quickly saluted.
"Forget it Jetfire." Optimus growled. "Oh, hi Skyfire. Listen, Jetfire, something big has come up."
"Just spit it out already." Jetfire sighed. "Nothing could surprise me at this point."
"How about a second Matrix?"
Jetfire was struck speechless. Skyfire couldn't help but laugh at the expression on his face.
Evac leaned back in his seat, glancing around the spacious room which Sentinel Prime called his quarters. It was simple and bare, save for several shelves filled with ancient texts, and a flat desk, the only adornment on which was a small holoprojector which shifted between pictures of other Transformers.
Across that desk, Sentinel Prime sat, his face grim, one text in particular open in front of him, the ancient page-like bindings well kept - but still fragile with age. Sentinel Prime let his optics darken for a time, then he spoke quietly.
"Allow me to tell you a story, Evac Prime."
Evac glanced at him, annoyed at the addition to his name. "Ok. Go on."
"A long time ago, when I was a younger bot serving under the great Virtus Prime, a copy of an ancient relic came into my possession. This relic was called 'the Covenant of Primus.' Perhaps you have heard of it?"
Evac shook his head in a negative.
Sentinel Prime sighed. "Ah well. Anyway, after Virtus Prime's..." He paused for a moment, as though the memory brought him pain. "After his assassination, I actually opened this book and began to read it. And it was then I felt my eyes were finally opened, as though a truth I had been seeking my entire life was now before me. The words in these texts, the stories therein... they are not tales, but history, living history and stories of a past that Cybertronians everywhere share."
"What does this have to do with me?" Evac asked impatiently.
Sentinel Prime sighed. "Your coming was predicted in the Covenant of Primus. Your presence here, your existence proves it!"
Evac stared at him. "Are you saying I'm a savior or something?"
Sentinel Prime shook his head quickly. "No, no, not like this. You see, the first section of the Covenant of Primus tells a story, a story of the conflict between light and darkness... But more importantly, of the seven seeds Primus scattered throughout the universe - and the seven lights that guided them."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Nobody did." Sentinel Prime said sorrowfully. "Both Virtus Prime and Nomen Prime, my predecessors, thought the Covenant of Primus was but a legend. But you prove it!"
"Prove what, exactly?"
"That there were seven Matrix's! That the Cybertronian race is grander than we could have ever imagined! That the legends of Primus are true!"
Evac frowned. "I'm sorry. I don't understand."
Sentinel Prime sighed. "Then let me explain it to you." He opened the book and closed his eyes, reciting the beginning from memory. "When the Universe began, there was Light and there was Dark..."
Jazz, Crosswise, Red Alert, and Ironhide sat around a small table set up somewhere in the back portion of Iacon's primary military center, the two humans with them and watching intensely the rather dull game of Sharkticon.
Jazz leaned back and sighed. "I fold." He growled, tossing his cards on the table.
"You can't fold in Sharkticon." Ironhide pointed out, rather unhelpfully.
Jazz ignored him. "I don't get it." He grumbled in exasperation. "What's all this nonsense about that thing in Evac's chest?"
"Well, if everybody's right," Red Alert said casually, "Then he's holding a Matrix."
"Giving it a name doesn't help." Jazz muttered.
"It's been the symbol of Autobot leadership for centuries." Crosswise offered. Jazz, Ironhide and Red Alert stopped to stare at her. She shrugged. "I did a little bit of reading in Aris's archives when I could."
Ironhide nodded. "She's right. It's almost a sacred relic to us. We still don't know anything about the energy source that powers it, and until now, the Prime's had been the only one that was thought to exist."
"So, Evac's got a pretty toy, and everybody is all excited about it?" Jazz quipped.
Optimus's voice cut off any answer. "It goes far deeper than that." He, Jetfire and Skyfire stepped up to the table, seating themselves.
"Hey Sky!" Ironhide whooped. "My, you're looking good these days."
"Knock it off, Ironhide." Skyfire answered, "Or I'll kick you into the next cycle."
"I wouldn't take her up on that." Jetfire quickly added. "She will."
Optimus chuckled, pleased to have a moment's break from the stress he was feeling. "Skyfire, I believe you know Red Alert already. This is Crosswise and Jazz, two of the Transformers we picked up on Earth." Skyfire nodded curtly, her eyes quickly sizing up the two of them.
"Don't forget us!" Chris called out, clambering up onto the table where his small form could be seen. Michelle hesitated, then climbed up after him.
"Of course, where are my manners?" Optimus said pleasantly. "This is Chris, and this is Michelle, humans from Earth."
Skyfire opened her mouth, then closed it. "Never mind, I don't want to know."
Optimus glanced over the table again. "Where's Aidia?"
"She's with Aris." Red Alert reported. "We don't have a suitable ship for her at the moment, so she's helping her choose a more mobile form for the time being."
"Good." Optimus nodded. "Now, I need all of you to listen, because what I'm going to tell you is very important, but cannot leave this room."
"Go ahead Optimus." Ironhide nodded. "We're listening."
"By now, you must all realize that Evac, and you two Jazz, Crosswise - are very unique within our society. Because Cybertronian space travel hasn't existed until relatively recently, how you got to Earth remains a mystery."
"We had a ship." Jazz muttered. "I... just can't remember what happened to it."
"But the point is," Optimus continued, "We didn't. But you all still remember Cybertron, correct?"
Jazz and Crosswise both fidgeted uncomfortably. Jazz spoke first. "Well... not quite."
"Evac was right." Crosswise said softly. "This isn't our Cybertron. It doesn't feel right."
"It's changed." Jetfire shrugged. "It's been a long time. Let's assume for now there aren't two Cybertrons in the universe and that you did come from here. The question is, how did you get to Earth?"
"And we think we know the answer." Skyfire continued. "Sentinel Prime always talked a lot about the Covenant of Primus - an ancient holy book from the dark ages of Cybertron. In it, there are many stories - stories of the creation of the universe, how Cybertron came to be, and so on."
"One story in particular came to mind after it was revealed Evac was carrying a Matrix." Optimus said quietly. "It tells of a great evil that threatened Cybertron, and in desperation, Primus, the Lord of Light, cast six 'lights' away into the universe, and kept one for himself, hiding the seven from the darkness."
"What's all that supposed to mean?" Crosswise asked.
Jetfire leaned forward. "Myths are often rooted in fact somewhere." He said. "Consider this - perhaps this tale came from an exodus, one which the technology and methodology was long lost to history. Six colonies of Cybertronians, launched from Cybertron itself, forming a total of seven ancient Transformer homeworlds."
Optimus nodded. "And Earth was just one. Imagine - perhaps there are five more, waiting to be discovered!"
"It's possible." Jazz conceded, somewhat reluctantly. "I don't know, something about the story doesn't sit right. Why did we leave?"
"And why did we forget?" Crosswise asked, her voice distant.
"We don't have all the answers." Optimus continued. "But it is a theory. I think Sentinel Prime believes that too."
"Well, if it's true, then what?" Jazz asked. "What, exactly, does it have to do with us? Apparently, our colony is destroyed, so what now?"
"That..." Optimus said hesitantly, "I don't know."
"You tell a fascinating story." Evac said dryly. "Now, what do you want me to do?"
Sentinel Prime sighed again. "Evac, you were alive when this exodus first happened. That means you know things that I, or anyone on Cybertron, could not possibly comprehend. I want you to share with me all you know, all you remember, so that I too may be enlightened."
Evac shook his head. "I don't remember. I told you that already."
"You said that your Omega Supreme remembered." Sentinel Prime pointed out.
Evac's face immediately soured. "Yeah, well, he won't do us any good now, will he."
"I'm sorry for your loss, Evac. You must understand that." Sentinel Prime answered gently. "I too, lost a good friend in Omega Protectorate. He-"
"You have no idea what I lost." Evac snapped bitterly.
"Evac." Cybertron's Prime said softly. "I nearly lost my world. I cannot count the number of friends I've lost to this war. If anyone understands, Evac, it is me."
Evac let his eyes dim for a long moment, letting air flow into his intakes slowly. "What do you want me to do?"
"Let us go to your friends. I may be able to help with your memories."
Optimus and his crew were in the midst of teaching Skyfire Poker when the two Primes arrived. Optimus immediately turned and saluted, as did the other Autobots.
"At ease." Sentinel Prime said gently. "There is no need for formalities here."
"Evac, you ok?" Jazz asked quickly.
Michelle looked up hopefully. Evac met her gaze, and for the first time since they had left Earth, he smiled. "Yes, I'm fine." Michelle's eyes closed, a peaceful look crossing her face, as Jazz and Crosswise both visibly relaxed.
Sentinel Prime stepped forward. "I have a proposition for the three of you." He said. "I believe there is a way to recover your memories."
Crosswise and Jazz glanced at each other. "We could remember, what happened?" Crosswise said anxiously.
Sentinel Prime nodded. "Yes."
"Wait, hold on a second." Red Alert protested, standing up. "You aren't talking about the Restoration Device, are you?"
Sentinel Prime nodded. "I am, yes."
"That thing's never been proven!" Red Alert protested. "The side effects-"
Sentinel Prime held up his hand. "Yes, I know. Which is why I wish to ask them for their permission." He turned toward Evac, Crosswise and Jazz, and bowed slightly.
"Hold on a sec now." Jazz said nervously. "What is this thing?"
Sentinel Prime answered him. "The Restoration Device was designed to recover all data from a Transformer's memory drive. I commissioned it in an effort to aid former Quintesson slaves, who typically get their memories completely wiped."
Red Alert interrupted him. "However, it's not completely stable. While we can almost always recover the memory, the side effects are unpredictable at best."
"What side effects?" Evac asked, eyeing Sentinel Prime suspiciously.
Red Alert continued. "Sometimes the old memories dominate newer ones, and recollections of recent events are lost. Worse, if it's been a long time since the wipe, the subject cannot always reconcile his old memories with the ones he's acquired since the wipe. This can lead to mental instability, or worse. "
Sentinel Prime waved his hand casually. "This is true. But those only show up in extreme cases. Your wipes weren't total, so there should be no problem."
Evac shook his head. "No."
Sentinel Prime was crestfallen. "Evac, if you-"
"No!" Evac yelled. "I will not risk losing everything I remember, and the friendships I've made since I've reawakened."
"Evac..." Michelle whispered quietly. He met her gaze, and then turned back toward Sentinel Prime, his face set.
"We aren't doing it either." Jazz said firmly, casting a meaningful glance at Chris. "I'm not losing my friendships."
"I'll do it."
Jazz and Evac both whirled, staring at Crosswise, who kept her eyes solemnly on the ground. Crosswise shyly looked back at them, and a faint smile crossed her face. "I'll do it." She repeated.
"Hey, hey, hold on now." Jazz said quickly, taking her arm. "You don't have to-"
"Jazz, I want to." Crosswise said softly. "I want to know what happened to us."
"But Crosswise, what about all that effort you put into learning everything, all our friendships, all our memories!" Jazz protested. "What about... us?"
"It'll be ok Jazz." Crosswise answered,. "I can relearn anything I forget. Besides, that's half the fun. And Jazz..." She took his hand and gazed into his face. "I could never forget you."
Evac rubbed his fingers over his eyes. "I don't like it." He growled. "But I won't stop you. If that is your choice."
"It is." Crosswise smiled, looking back up to Sentinel Prime. "Just tell me what I need to do."
Sentinel Prime nodded. "Thank you, Crosswise. Follow me, all of you."
Punch stepped back from wall, his finely tuned and unnatural sensors penetrating easily to hear the conversation inside. He turned, cupping his hand to the side of his head and backing into a corner.
"Hey Boss," He whispered through transmitters so advanced even the best Autobot equipment could not begin to register, "They're running a memory retrieval operation on one of the Earth bots. Want me to interfere?"
"Negative. The consequences of such an action will play right into my hands."
"Ok then. You're the boss."
"That I am."
Sentinel Prime escorted the group for some time, talking pleasantly about his memories of a happier, more peaceful time. Evac never paid attention, watching Crosswise warily. Jazz hung close too, unwilling to let his hands leave the partner he had pledged himself to so long ago. That pledge was one of the few things in his mind that fore-ran their awakening, and certainly the most prominent. Even now, that pledge repeated itself over in his mind, each word as clear as the day it had been spoken, all those eons ago...
"We're here." Sentinel Prime announced. Motioning to the great white building behind him. "This is Iacon's primary medical facility. The most advanced medical technology on Cybertron is here. Come in."
Aidia was waiting just beyond the gated doors, standing patiently, a soft sad smile on her face. Beside her, a familiar humanoid figure floated.
"There's no need for disguises here Aris." Optimus chuckled warmly.
Aris crossed her arms over her chest. "Hmph. I like it, thank you very much." Aidia giggled in spite of herself. Skyfire leaned over to Jetfire and whispered, "Have you had that unit's AI checked?"
Optimus chuckled again. "Don't worry Aris, we'll have a new ship ready for you shortly, I'm sure."
"You better." Aris pouted, and turned and headed down to visit with Chris and Michelle.
Sentinel Prime stepped forward. "If you please, we're expected." He turned, leading them down one of the pristine corridors.
Red Alert brushed past Optimus, hurrying to Aidia. "Are you feeling all right?"
Aidia took his hand and squeezed gently. "I'm fine Red. Really."
Red Alert sighed. "All right. Just... keep me informed." Aidia smiled and nodded, leading the older warrior after the others.
The group moved down the long hallways, past many closed doors. Evac cast a glance in an open one, and immediately turned away in disgust, upon seeing the mangled form within. The horrors of war had filled the hospital to the brim. Hidden behind the clean white doors were hundreds of maimed and torn apart soldiers, and as many medics rushing to save their fading sparks. The brief image he had glimpsed was enough to make Evac ill. He glanced up and saw Sentinel Prime stopping for a moment. An Autobot nurse was pushing a soldier on-top of a cart - a huge gash running along his face and down the rest of his body. Sentinel Prime stopped the nurse, and knelt down beside the wounded soldier. The soldier turned to face his leader, his mouth slowly trying to open but unable to move due to the damage. Sentinel Prime shook his head and placed his hand on the warrior's mutilated face. Kneeling, he whispered whispered into the soldier's audials. The soldier's eyes closed, and the mouth managed to turn into a contented, peaceful smile. Sentinel Prime nodded at the nurse and she pushed the soldier onwards.
Evac came up to Sentinel Prime, and touched his shoulder. "What did you tell him?" He asked quietly.
"What little I could." Sentinel Prime answered, sorrow etched on his features.
Evac considered pressing the question, but decided against it.
A short time later, Sentinel Prime made another stop, this time in front of a large door. "Here we are."
A white robot opened the door, ushering them into the spacious room. "This is Ratchet." Sentinel Prime introduced him. "He invented this technique, and he will manage your operation. He is also one of the best medical practitioners among all Transformers." Sentinel Prime addressed Crosswise. "He will keep you safe."
"You have my word." Ratchet said gently. "Follow me." He motioned to another nurse. "Repairese, prepare the room." The nurse nodded, turning and heading into a room encased in heavy glass. Inside there was some unusually large machinery, and a table, with little else.
"May I help?" Aidia volunteered.
Ratchet turned, squinting at her. "You're not one I recognize."
"I was taught by you." Aidia said shyly, "Back in the Iacon Halls."
Ratchet seemed slightly taken aback. "You were at- Well then. Very well. I could use another set of eyes. Repairese will tell you what to do."
Aidia followed the elder nurse into the small room. The others made to follow but Ratchet stopped them. "The rest of you have to wait out here. You can observe the proceedings from here."
"Hold on a sec-" Jazz objected, but Crosswise silenced him with a touch.
"It'll be ok Jazz." She whispered, giving him a tight hug. "Don't worry." Jazz's optic went dark for a long moment as he held her close. Then he let go, and stepped back.
"You come back in one piece." He whispered.
Ratchet took Crosswise's hand and led her into the room, closing the door tightly behind her. He escorted Crosswise to the table, and she got up onto it. Jazz rushed to the glass, and touched it. Crosswise waved cheerfully at him, then Ratchet lay her down, his fingers working dexterously to attach bits of machinery onto her. He then touched a button, and Crosswise's optics dimmed, and her form went limp.
Jazz nearly panicked before Sentinel Prime touched him. "He took her offline." Sentinel Prime said softly. "Allow him to do his work."
Jazz sighed, turning and heading to the corner. Chris hurried over to him, and seated himself next to his friend, as Jazz leaned up against the wall, his face etched with worry.
Sentinel Prime sighed, then turned to the crowd. "The procedure takes some time. Make yourselves comfortable." The group dispersed over the room, clumping together in small groups. Sentinel Prime positioned himself near the door and nodded at Ratchet. The doctor gave a salute, then glanced over at Repairese and Aidia to make sure they were ready. Finding everything to his satisfaction, he turned and began the painstaking process of restoring her memory.
The next few hours seemed to crawl by at a painfully slow pace. Evac spent his time staring off dully into space, as Michelle tried her best to bring some sort of spirit back into him. Chris hung close to Jazz, who was moping quietly in the corner, flipping sullenly between music tunes he had brought from Earth. The Autobots remained mostly clustered together, talking quietly among themselves, and catching up with recent events via Skyfire. Sentinel Prime excused himself a short time into the procedure, anxious to give what little moral support he could to some of the fallen soldiers in the hospital.
Inside the room, Ratchet bustled about inside Crosswise's head, making the most of the technique he had invented. With conflicts with the Quintessons on the rise, and the horrendous slavery practices for which they were known, his Restoration device became a small beacon of hope in dark times. The Quintessonian memory wiping process was cruel and painful, and all who underwent it had its pain and torment as their sole remaining memories. These transformers whose lives were taken from them by the Quints found a ray of hope in the device, the possibility of bringing back the life they had been made to forget. But when the Civil War began, the technique fell into virtual disuse. The Quintessons were no longer the enemy, but they still lurked in the background, performing raids on Autobot and Decepticon alike, still taking slaves when they could. But with resources tied up in defending Cybertron from Decepticon attack, the transformers captured during the war years seemed doomed to a bleak existence, without memory or thought of who they once were. Ratchet continued the practice whenever he could, hoping that his invention could give hope to those who had none.
He briefly shut his eyes with a relieved sigh, and gently closed up Crosswise's head. The procedure had seemed unusually easy to him - whatever had taken her memories was nowhere near as sophisticated as the Quintesson process. He nodded at Aidia and Repairese, thanking them silently for their help. They turned to Crosswise and started the procedure of bringing her back online. Ratchet stepped out of the enclosed room and opened the door. "I'm done." He announced.
Jazz leapt to his feet and ran to him. "How is she?" He asked anxiously.
Ratchet smiled. "We're bringing her back online now. Go to her, I'm sure having you there will help."
Jazz didn't bother to respond, just brushed past him into the room. Evac came up to the old doctor and bowed his head. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, of course." Ratchet waved his hand. "If you wish, you can go in too." He turned to the rest of the Autobots. "But I'm afraid the room isn't big enough for the rest of you." He said apologetically.
Optimus nodded. "Don't mind us. Just tell us what happens in there."
Crosswise awoke to find Jazz clasping her hand tightly. She looked over at him, and smiled faintly. "Hi Jazz." She whispered. "I'm back."
"Thank God you're ok." Jazz whispered hoarsely.
"You feeling all right?" Chris asked from Jazz's side, struggling to peek over the edge of the table.
Crosswise giggled. "Yes Chris, I'm fine."
Jazz sighed with relief. "You remember him."
"I remember everything Jazz." Crosswise said smiling. "I remember Cybertron. I remember Earth... I remember..." Her voice trailed off as she began mentally searching through everything that had been unlocked.
"What do you remember Crosswise?" Evac asked gently, coming up behind Jazz.
"It's still a little fuzzy." Crosswise said, confusion on her face. She glanced up at Evac. "I remember..." Evac leaned forward. As he did, something triggered a memory that had been buried deep. Everything came back to her in a rush. Her eyes widened, then closed tightly, as she made a startled gasp. Jazz gripped her hand tighter. "Crosswise?" He asked anxiously.
"I remember..." She said hoarsely, then her eyes shot open, she took one horrified look at Evac, and she screamed.
Evac stumbled backwards in shock. Jazz grabbed Crosswise tightly as her scream faded and she was reduced suddenly to violent, pained sobs. Ratchet rushed into the room, pushing a stunned Evac aside, as he began running over diagnostics.
"What's wrong with her?" Jazz demanded, clutching her shaking body tightly to him.
"Nothing." Ratchet answered in confusion. "Everything says she's fine! If it's not medical, then-" He turned toward Crosswise. She had buried her head in Jazz's shoulder, who stared at her in shock and worry. "What did she remember?" Ratchet asked hoarsely.
Crosswise could only shake in response, inaudible cries her only means of expression.
Ramjet casually strolled inside the Nemesis's dimly lit corridors, trying to decide how best to handle his first assignment from the one who had resurrected him, his new master. He mentally ran through a list of acquaintances he knew, trying to decide who was most likely to know. He thought for awhile, then settled on one in particular. One who, fortunately, worked nearby.
"Pathetic. I've never seen a bunch of greenhorns lacking spirit like you guys do." Ramjet smiled as he heard the familiar voice, one who had once trained him. He peeked into the room, and sure enough, Brawl was bawling out a bunch of new recruits who failed to live up to his arbitrary standards. Brawl verbally abused them for a few Cycles more, then dismissed them, turning away with a grunt.
"It doesn't get easier, does it?" Ramjet said casually.
"Nope." Brawl grunted, recognizing one of his former students instantly. "Back when you were around, least you guys had fighting spirit. Nowadays, all I get is a bunch of punks who don't want any responsibility of their own. Bah. It's a wonder this army hasn't fallen apart yet."
"Maybe it's 'cause you're so good at your job." Ramjet said, genuine affection from his previous life slipping into his words. Brawl didn't even notice.
"Say, I was wondering if you can help me." Ramjet continued. "I've got a message to deliver to General Megatron. I don't suppose you could tell me where he is. I can't seem to find him."
"You won't find him here." Brawl grunted. "He and Magmatron took off."
"They did?" Ramjet feigned surprise. "Where to?"
"Secret mission." Brawl leaned closer in. "Between you and me, I hear they're heading to the Saldaria Quadrant."
"Saldaria?" Ramjet shook his head, no longer needing to feign surprise. "Isn't that in the Quintesson sector?"
"Past it." Brawl answered. "Way past it. Gigatron thinks he's found a weapon there."
"No kidding?" Ramjet cocked an eyeridge. "That's interesting. Well, thanks for your help Brawl. Guess that message delivery will have to wait."
Brawl grunted something and headed off. Ramjet immediately cupped his hand to his head. "Saldaria." He reported, on a signal no Decepticon could detect. "What the Pit do they want there?"
"That's all I needed to know." His master responded. "Good work."
Hightail sat alone in the rec room of the Darkseid. They had been en route to their destination for a stellar cycle or two now, and she was feeling somewhat abandoned at the moment. Skywarp and Megatron were in a secret meeting with Magmatron, who was only now disclosing the purpose of their mission to them. And none of the other Decepticons seemed willing to even glance at her, much less talk to her. So she sat alone, staring dully at the stars flashing past.
A tap on her shoulder startled her, and she whirled to face the second largest Decepticon she had ever seen. While no Tidal Wave, the Decepticon in front of her towered well over any of the other Decepticon's onboard. Heavyset, and armed with visible weapons, his pointed face leaned down toward her. "And who, might I ask, are you." The Decepticon rumbled.
"Hightail." She responded quickly, staring up at him with wide eyes. "I'm, err, with Megatron."
"Megatron must like them young." A second voice hissed behind her. She whirled again as another Decepticon slid into the seat beside her, red eyes glowing evilly. Coated in black and accented with white, he looked no more pleasant than his companion.
"Who are you two?" Hightail asked, trying desperately to keep down the fear that threatened to overwhelm her.
"I'm called Barricade." The smaller one crooned, "And that is Blackout. You looked, heh, lonely, so I'd thought we'd talk."
"I'm ok, really." Hightail protested, trying not to look him in the eye.
"Is that so, little one?" Barricade asked, his hand creeping along her shoulder. Hightail shuddered - something about his touch seemed unnatural and sinister. "I think we could spice up your life a little bit. Right, Blackout?"
"Right." Blackout chuckled. "Just a little bit."
"Hold it, you two."
Barricade and Blackout whirled as Demolisher strolled up, Cyclonus in tow. "She's with us, lay off her."
"I see Megatron's lapdogs like to stick together." Barricade sneered. "Don't you have some sucking up to do?"
"You looking for a fight?" Cyclonus demanded, weapons drawn.
"I might be." Barricade snarled.
Blackout put his arm out suddenly, calming his companion. "Now, now Barricade. No need for that. Come on." The colossus stood up, and walked off. Barricade eyed Demolisher and Cyclonus for a moment, then followed him.
"You ok, kid?" Demolisher asked gruffly.
"Yes." She sighed. "Thank you. Who are those two?"
"Couple of Magmatron's ruffians." Demolisher muttered. "Pay them no mind. And stay out of trouble."
Hightail shuddered. "I try..." She whispered.
Demolisher put his hand gently on her shoulder. "Don't worry too much. We're here to watch your back."
"Thanks." Hightail sighed, thankful to know someone else she could turn to.
Shockwave, Sixshot and their companion, Payload, watched the scene with detached bemusement.
"I can't believe Megatron's bringing in kids." Payload chuckled. "He continues to surprise me. But he knows what he's doing, so I guess he's ok."
"Too bad you couldn't join our crew." Sixshot said kindly.
"Working for Magmatron ain't so bad." Payload answered, reclining as his lone optic, similar to Sixshot and Shockwave's own, stared at the ceiling. "Pity we had to break up the last surviving Enforcer group though."
"Yeah, pity." Shockwave muttered, not paying the least bit of attention to the conversation. His eyes were focused on one last figure, sitting alone in the corner.
Starscream. He hadn't spoken to anyone since the Darksied had departed, merely watched everything in silence. A trait unusual for the Seeker, and one that Shockwave found most distressing. Shockwave had no great love for Megatron, but he liked Starscream far, far less. And something in Starscream's optics sent warning signals through Shockwave's mind. The seeker was planning something, though Shockwave hadn't the faintest idea what. And the uncertainty was what worried Shockwave the most.
As for Starscream, he sat brooding alone, contemplating his own plans and schemes, all of which seemed brilliant at first, but littered with flaws upon further review. Starscream knew he needed a plan, some sort of trump card that guaranteed that the coup he was seeking would succeed, yet none presented itself. He sighed, staring out the window, when some small amount of activity caught his eye. A quartet of Minicons marched quickly through the room, heading for the main conference room where Megatron was meeting. Their presence puzzled Starscream - unless Magmatron had a fondness for them, he could see no use for their presence. They were weak in combat and poor engineers, good only for menial labor in his eyes. And yet... One of the Minicons paused, turning to glance around the room. Starscream got a good long look at it, and gasped. "It can't be..."
The Minicon turned, and headed into the conference room. Starscream smiled. Perhaps he had just found his trump card.
Megatron stood, arms crossed with a stern expression on his face. "I want an explanation, Magmatron. We've been out two full Stellar Cycles now, and you have yet to tell me what we're doing or where we're heading."
"Yes, yes, I suppose it's time to enlighten you." Magmatron answered casually. "Just wait a moment."
"For our honored guests."
Megatron grunted something vulgar, and marched toward the main window, overlooking the starscape that moved past them.
Behind him, Skywarp fidgeted uncomfortably. He glanced over at Magmatron's Second in Command, a quiet, brooding robot by the name of Wreckage, who had somehow managed to remain at attention, quiet, and expressionless for the past thirty klicks of Megatron and Magmatron arguing about various details. That kind of discipline never ceased to amaze Skywarp. He could only wish he had that much self-control.
The Conference Room door opened, and Megatron glanced over in annoyance. Seeing no one, he turned away and grunted, "You should have your machinery looked over again. It appears to be malfunctioning."
"Or, you're just not observant." A voice piped up.
Megatron's eyes widened, and he whirled, staring downwards this time at a tiny figure grinning cockily up at him. "Leader-One." Megatron hissed.
"Good to see you too, old friend." Leader-One sneered.
"Gentlemen, Gentlemen." Magmatron said coyly, stepping forward. "I'm glad you two know each other already, but come now, we have business to discuss."
"What business can possibly involve him?" Megatron demanded. "The Armada Wars ended ages ago, and the Minicon technology was proven inviable."
"You should know." Leader-One cackled.
Megatron ignored him. "Why is he here?"
"He is merely an escort for our real diplomats." Magmatron answered, motioning toward three Minicons who stood behind Leader-One. One, a darkened form with gold etchings, hovered so that he could face Megatron. The Minicon made a bow, and with a voice that, despite it's softness, made Megatrons circuits tingle, hissed out, "I am Sunstorm. It is an honor to meet you, Lord Megatron."
"And I am Dirge." A second Minicon added, in a voice far louder than his size would have indicated. "And our third member, Thrust. You may know of us already."
"The Terror Blade." Megatron muttered. "I had thought you were destroyed during the Armada Wars."
"As did we all." Magmatron interjected. "It was only recently that we found them, alive and well, aboard a meandering spaceship."
"I assume this has to do with our mission." Megatron said, turning toward Magmatron.
"Yes." Dirge said, loudly again. "During our absence, we made a great discovery. We learned the location of the Minicon home-world."
Megatron shrugged. "So? What good would that do us?"
"That's what we thought," Magmatron said gravely. "Until we sent a small scouting party to the coordinates they retrieved."
"And what happened?"
"They were destroyed. We do not know by what, but it seems the Minicons there have developed a highly effective weapon system. Our job is to determine what it is."
Megatron shook his head. "Gigatron is wasting both of us on this? That makes no sense."
"Yes." Magmatron said coolly. "Gigatron would have sent you alone. But he sent me to make sure your job is accomplished well."
Megatron was visibly taken aback by that statement. Skywarp started, staring at his leader, who turned quickly to hide his shock. Though simple, the implications Magmatron's words carried were immense - this was not a mission, but a test of loyalty and competence. Megatron thought quickly, trying to calculate the best response - but the mere idea that Gigatron didn't trust him enough to handle a simple mission such at this was painful.
"Very well." Megatron said flatly, doing his best to hide the anger that was welling up in him. "How much longer until we arrive?"
"Several more Stellar Cycles." Magmatron announced.
"Good." Megatron growled. "I'll go prepare myself." He exited quickly, nearly trampling over the Minicons in his haste to exit the room. Skywarp followed, concern plainly written on his face.
Magmatron watched him go, a smile on his face. "His confidence is shattered so easily." He chuckled. "I must make note to use this again on him later."
Crosswise sat alone, knees drawn up close to her body, staring off into space. Jazz stood nearby, trying to hide his conflicted emotions. They had been escorted to this small room, well away from prying eyes, and left there to recuperate. She had held closely to Jazz the whole time, until they got there, then she had told him quietly that she wanted to be left alone. He glanced woefully back at her, hoping she'd at least acknowledge him, but no such response came. She was lost in sorrowful, brooding thoughts. A hand touched his shoulder, and Jazz jumped in response. He whirled, to find Sentinel Prime staring gravely at him. "I came as soon as I heard." He said softly. "I'm sorry."
"Ain't your fault." Jazz sighed. "Nobody could have known what was buried in her mind."
"If I may," Sentinel Prime said softly, "I would like to talk to her. Alone, if possible."
Jazz glanced sorrowfully back at Crosswise and nodded. "All right. I'll be outside."
"I'll let you know if she needs you." Sentinel Prime answered. "You have my solemn word."
Jazz nodded, and headed out. Sentinel Prime stepped toward Crosswise and knelt down, holding her shoulder gently. "You're a brave person, Crosswise." He said quietly. "Few would volunteer for what you did."
Crosswise glanced at him, but said nothing.
Sentinel Prime looked-into her distant eyes. "You hurt." He said softly. "I want to help you." Crosswise shuddered in response. "Please," Sentinel Prime whispered. "I must know. What is it that happened to you?"
Crosswise's eyes closed for a long moment, and she took a deep intake of air. "I saw... the death... of a world..."
Sentinel Prime gazed out over the ruined sections of Iacon, his face grim. Crosswise had told him a long and sorrowful tale, and it was one that he now wished he could unlearn. His eyes overlooked Cybertron, all that he could see, and he shuddered with a primal fear that had begun to blossom within him. The Legends were true. All of them. Of Light and Darkness. And with that thought came fear, a fear that no Decepticon could ever bring.
Sentinel Prime looked back at Ultra Magnus, and smiled, immediately doing his best to hide his troubled thoughts. "Yes, old friend. What can I do for you?"
Ultra Magnus hesitated for a moment, then said, "We've intercepted a Decepticon transmission. Both Megatron and Magmatron are headed to the Saldaria Quadrant, an unexplored sector just past Quintesson borders. For what purpose, I cannot guess."
Sentinel Prime frowned, his brow furrowed in thought. "Megatron saw Evac." He muttered. "And the two Generals together, heading for unknown space. Could it be.. that they've found another?"
"Another Matrix, sir?" Ultra Magnus asked.
Sentinel Prime bowed his head. "Bring Evac and Optimus to me. I would like to talk to them both, personally."
Ultra Magnus bowed, and turned away. Sentinel Prime watched him exit, and turned back toward the view of Iacon. Beautiful Iacon.
His optics dimmed. The Legends were true. And if prophecies were correct, a time of darkness was going to descend upon all of Cybertron...
Punch cupped his hand to his head. "Hey Boss, I just overheard something that might interest you. We intercepted-"
"I know." The voice answered. "I sent it."
"Oh. You need me to get invited along on the trip?"
"No. I have agents waiting there already. Return to your duties."
"Ok. You're the boss." Punch shut off his comm.
"And so it begins." The voice said to darkness. "Things are in motion which cannot be undone. The Past comes to light, and the hopes of this future are wracked by fear and doubt, all of it according to my plans. Bit by bit, piece by piece, the universe is speeding toward Chaos, the inevitable conflict between light, and darkness. And I shall be there, spurring it on, as the glorious conflict erupts until all is consumed by it."
"And in that, I shall have my glory."