A/N: Ah... The end of an arc. Another milestone. Thirty chapters and counting. But it also means that we're running low on already-written chapters. I'm not quite feeling the magic at the moment, but hey! Revenge of the Fallen comes out -- what, next week? If it has the same effect on me that the first movie did... WHOO! I foresee this story easily surpassing forty chapters. It's rapidly gaining the title of the longest story I've ever written. I just need to get the Transformers plot-bunnies biting again. They're biting for all but Transformers.

I'm back on hiatus with this chapter. Frankly I have no idea when I'll return to this story. Ideally, it'll be when the third arc is finished (or very close to it). In the meantime, I might put up some of the other madness I've been working on.

Disclaimer: Transformers is property of HasTak and some other companies whose names elude me.

'Til All Are One

Chapter Thirty: Implode/Explode

"Do you have a plan?" Perceptor asked.

"No! No, I don't have a plan!" First Aid hissed, a squeak rising in his voice, much to his annoyance. "I don't have the faintest fragging clue that could even lead to the formation of a plan! Perceptor!" He seized the mech's collar armor. "Let me recap the situation for you! Everyone's been captured! The shuttle has been blown up! I have no doubts that the Decepticons will be searching for us! It's up to you and me to save their afts! And we're not fighters! At this point, all I want to do is stay alive!"

"And to accomplish that," Perceptor started. "We will require the assistance of our comrades."

First Aid's face sagged.

"You're telling me that in order to stay alive, we need to save the others in a suicide run that could potentially kill us?"

"Allow me to be the first to admit that this strikes me as a paradox of sorts."

"No, no. 'Paradox' isn't quite the word I want. This is pretty contradictory when you think about it, but that's not the word I'm looking for."

"Then enlighten me to our situation's true nature. I'm drawing a blank, unfortunately."

"I don't know what it is, but 'paradox' is not the word I want! A conundrum?"

"Perhaps... 'oxymoron'?"

"Irony?-- That's it; that's the word I'm looking for."

"Yes, I agree that our situation is very ironic." Perceptor nodded, arms crossed. "But we still need to formulate a plan if we are to be successful."

"Okay..." First Aid paced the width of the alley they were currently standing in. "Let's go over the facts again. Everyone's been captured, we don't have a ride anymore, and the Decepticons are probably out searching for us as we speak."

"Meaning the ship is abandoned, save for perhaps a guard or two." Perceptor pointed out. "It would be beneficial even right now to retreat to its general vicinity. They will not think to search for us there."

"Good thinking. Okay, so we get in, incapacitate whoever's on guard duty, get everyone out and then..." The young medic trailed off, falling into uncertainty.

"And then transportation becomes an issue." Perceptor finished. "Ours has been reduced to scrap metal."

First Aid paced back and forth angrily, his processor trying to muddle through the problem and come with a good solution or ten. Not for the first time, he wished he had Prowl's battle computer.

Stealing a ship was no doubt out of the question. Pit, they would be fragging lucky to find another ship that could accommodate anyone of their size. In fact, the only ship in the dockyard that was of Cybertronian design was the Nemesis--

Oh no... No, we would have to be insane... That's about as suicidal as you could possibly get...

"Perceptor," He turned to the pondering scientist. "What is we were to, say, knock off two cyber-sparrows with one energy bolt? A solution for our transportation issues and a way to rescue our comrades at the same time?"

"First Aid," Perceptor was already frowning. "The only way we could possibly accomplish that would be to-- No."

He had come to the same conclusion.

"That is begging for death." the scientist said firmly.

"I'm aware of that, but that's the only way I can see." First Aid said. "And besides!" Time to whip out the big guns. "The Solarise system is where we need to go and that's a long way from here! The only way we're going to reach it is through the transwarp drive that the Nemesis possesses!"

"You are truly insane." Perceptor commented mildly.

"Do you have a better idea?" First Aid asked pointedly.

Unfortunately for Perceptor, he didn't. He was a scientist, not a fighter. The klik he had seen Megatron, he had bolted for his very existence.

"This is utter madness!" the scientist hissed.

It was a few breems later. The duo had snuck back to the side of the docking yard where the Nemesis was docked, cold and serene and everything a Decepticon flagship should be.

"This is utter, utter madness!" Perceptor hissed again.

"And we'll fail if you don't stop hissing like a leaky pipe!" First Aid snapped. "Now tell me. Do you see anyone outside?"

Perceptor looked over the top of the trash receptacle -- these things were large and everywhere -- towards the entrance of the ship.

"No." he said after a moment's contemplation.

"Good. Now what happened inside?" First Aid asked.

"We made it to the first junction before the alarms went off." Perceptor recounted. "There were attack drones. A good deal were abrogated before the Constructicons appeared--"



"'Abrogated' means...?"

"Destroyed." Perceptor huffed. "The Constructicons appeared and only moments later, Megatron appeared as well. I should warn you; he is equipped with a very powerful fusion cannon. I did not remain for much longer afterwards."

"I gathered that." First Aid said dryly. "But from what you're saying, I guess that the drones won't be much of a problem now?"

"Oh, I assume that there was some who escaped destruction by sheer chance, but I imagine that their numbers are severely depleted now." Perceptor replied. "No, I don't believe that they will be much of a problem for us."

"Good." First Aid steeled himself for the most insane thing he had ever done in his life. "Okay, let's move in or roll out or whatever. Let's go!"

"Wait, First Aid." Perceptor grabbed his elbow before he could even move. "Perhaps there is a better way to go about doing this? One with a lesser probability of us getting killed?!"

"Perceptor, you know how everyone's been saying lately that I've been channeling Ratchet?"

"To a startling degree, I might add. Your fluid pressure levels have been a bit higher than what they normally are."

"Yeah well, if you don't get your aft in gear right now, you're going to get a sneak peek of what Ratchet might do to you when you see him again!"

Perceptor didn't flinch because First Aid was not nearly as frightening as the CMO; even if the young medic's infinite well of patience did indeed possess a bottom. He had expected that, in all honesty. One did not live with others for an extended period of time in close quarters under stressful conditions without said others completely grinding your gears into dust. It was a wonder that First Aid still had any patience left.

Perhaps it would be in my best interest to do as he instructs. Perceptor mused. He is currently the highest-ranked officer after Red Alert, after all...

So once again, Perceptor found himself walking down towards the proverbial Mouth of Doom, hoping, praying to Primus and all the gods above who cared enough to listen that this wouldn't end with his body parts strewn across the length and breadth of creation.

"Soundwave..." Barricade's low voice floated to his audials and the police interceptor sidled up beside him. "Whatever plan you've got, it might be a good time to put it into action!"

"Negative." Soundwave replied. "The plan cannot begin. The pieces are still not all in place."

"What are you waiting for?" Barricade asked, scowling. "If you're waiting for Megatron to crack completely, then you might want to get a move on! He's not that far away from totally losing it!"

Soundwave didn't say anything. He was understandably reluctant to engage his plan. Between Megatron's growing insanity and the fact there were still a great deal of Decepticons loyal to him, the Communications Officer could easily be fragged by anyone. Disrupting a power-base and taking down the loyalists wasn't an easy thing to do; as evidenced by Starscream many, many times in the past. It was a shame that the Seeker seemed to be terminated. Soundwave wouldn't admit it out loud, but he could have probably used the jet's help for this. At least until his back-up arrived.

But he just might be able to sway the Constructicons to his side. They were already unhappy with the Decepticon lord. They just needed a few pushes in the right direction.

"So what are you waiting for?" Barricade asked, irritated. "I refuse to jump into this blind, scrap-for-brains!"

There was still silence from the blue mech.

"You didn't even dispatch Laserbeak, did you--"

Soundwave moved faster than the transformed Saleen could react; seizing him around the neck and pushing him away from the main drag of the crowd. When they had a modicum of privacy, Soundwave disengaged the face mask and spoke in a whisper.

"Listen!" he hissed, because there was a voice modulator in the mask that produced the monotonous tone. "I will not tell you anything because I do not want the plan to fail. The more who know it, the higher the probability of it failing. All I ask is that you do what I say, when I say it. No questions asked. Do you understand?"

Barricade nodded quickly, not sure if he was more disturbed by the fact that Soundwave actually sounded like a normal mech underneath that mask, or because he only disengaged the mask when he felt that he could trust the mech he was talking to.

He had learned that from Frenzy.

It was a funny feeling, realizing that someone trusted you when you had never been considered trustworthy before.

Barricade must have been entertaining more mutinous thoughts than even he had realized.

Soundwave let him go and the mask slid back into place -- just as the Constructicons came around the corner. Scrapper had already crossed his arms and he looked utterly determined. The rest of the Constructicons wore similar expressions. Scrapper's optics flicked from Soundwave to Barricade and back again.

"We know that you're planning something that only Starscream would be stupid enough to do, Soundwave. And you're doing it right under Megatron's nose." the lead Constructicon said. "We just wanted you to know that it's not going to happen."

Great. Barricade thought, irritated. Looks we're going to be leaving a trail of bodies...

Scrapper glowered deeply. "You're not doing it without us. We've been talking and we want in on it."

Soundwave let himself smile, because he knew no one would see it.

All the pieces of his little plan were starting to fall into place.

"Geez Bluestreak, you're starting to feel really warm." Sideswipe commented, feeling the hotter-than-usual air blow from the sniper's vents. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

In lieu of a response, Bluestreak just shrugged. There was nothing he could do about the virus except sit back and let the anti-viral programs work. He cursed at himself for getting zapped. The surge of electricity had dragged the virus out of its little cage so it could wreak merry havoc on his systems. At least the damn thing was only at half its former strength.

The lack of good energon probably wasn't helping matters much at all. Their dispenser aboard the shuttle had been overtaxed and the poor thing had been spitting out increasingly lower quality energon a lot lately. The batch might have been going bad; that would explain the weird taste.

Bluestreak just huddled against the twin's leg and shivered convulsively.

"Hey 'Bolt, how's Slingshot holding up over there?" Hound asked, wincing as he shifted. He had taken a bad hit to the back of his right leg.

"Got the all bleeding stopped, at least, and I think he's stable." Silverbolt replied. He still sounded nervous. "But I'd really feel a lot better with a patch-job done."

Sideswipe snorted. "Who wouldn't?"

"Please shut up Sideswipe." Mirage requested, his optics shuttered. "I'm trying to think of a way out of this."

"A way to get out of this?" Sideswipe repeated. "And just how do you plan on doing that?"

"I don't know; that's what I'm trying to figure out." Mirage said, flashing the red twin a daggered look.

"Hey, I don't know if you've noticed this or not with your head up your aft, but both the Constructicons and Megatron are gonna be on our skidplates if we so much as shake them in their general direction!" Sideswipe snapped.

"I have noticed, thank you very much!" Mirage snapped back in a very ill-temper. "I'm trying to think of a way that will get the Decepticons off our skidplates long enough for us to get out of here! I suggest you put that underdeveloped processor of yours to the same task!"

"Oh, you wanna go?" Sideswipe asked with a challenging glare, clenching a fist. "I'll take you down, right here, right now!"

"Oh, not with the state you're in right now!" Mirage said, crossing his arms.

"Knock it off over there!" Red Alert shouted. "This is no time for in-fighting!"

"Well excuse me for being in a bad mood!" Sideswipe rolled his optics. "I just haven't seen my brother in some-odd months! And I miss him! There! I said it!"

"We all have things we miss!" Mirage said, scowling.

"Oh, you miss your precious tower?" Sideswipe taunted mockingly. "Miss the high-life? Miss watching the rest of us scrounge around in the muck below?"

"Why you--! That is it!" Mirage was on his feet. Sideswipe managed to stand after some struggling.

"C'mon!" The red twin crooked a finger. "I'll whip your aft from here to Cybertron and back!"

"I'd like to see you try!" Mirage challenged, bringing his fists up.

"Mirage! Sideswipe!" Hound interposed his body between them. "For the love of Primus, would you knock it off?! This isn't helping our situation!"

"He isn't helping!" Mirage pointed a finger the red twin, looking to his friend for support.

"I said, knock it off!" Red Alert repeated, pounding a fist on the wall that divided the cells.

"Shut up Red!" Sideswipe shouted.

"Show some respect!" the Security Director barked. "Sideswipe, I order you to sit your aft right back down! Mirage, you too!"

"Oh yeah! Come over here and make us!" Sideswipe sneered, pulling a face at the wall.

"C'mon guys, this isn't the time to be fighting--" Hound tried to reason with them, a hand on their chassis.

"No! He's going down!" Mirage said angrily, fighting to get around the scout's hand. "I've had enough of him poking fun at my previous lifestyle! I'm here now and that's what matters!"

"Maybe if you had put your spark into it from the beginning..." Sideswipe let it hang teasingly and Mirage just leapt on him with a battle-howl. The red twin was quick to fight back and the situation went on a downhill slide from there.

Somewhere amidst all the yelling and insults and flying fists and feet and the orders from Red Alert to cut it out and trying to ignore the closed-in feel Hound was creating by keeping him protected from the flying fists, Bluestreak felt something very important.

"Hound?" he tugged at the green/gray scout's elbow.

"What is it, Blue?" Hound barely pulled his optics away from the two angry mechs brawling on the floor.

"The floor's shaking."

Hound's attention shifted downwards where he noticed that the floor was indeed shaking. Vibrating, more like. Then he jumped forward and started pulling Mirage and Sideswipe apart.

"C'mon you two! Knock it off! Knock it off!"

"Oow!!" Sideswipe let out a sudden howl of pain. "Raj! My arm! Oh Primus, my arm! Let go of it!"

"Do you take it back?" Mirage asked, not relinquishing his grip on the already-damaged right shoulder. "All of it?"

"Yes! All of it! I'm sorry for all the times me and Sunny made fun of you and we'll never do it again! Just let go already!"

Mirage let go and Sideswipe lurched out of the spy's reach, cradling his damaged shoulder.

"You aft-hole." he muttered with a glare.

"You ingrates." Red Alert muttered from the other cell.

"Does anyone else feel the floor shaking?" Hound asked.

That caused everyone's attention to shift downwards.

"The engines." Silverbolt said. "We're pulling out."

Sideswipe fixed Mirage with an uncharacteristically grim look.

"So much for getting out." he said.

And then he slid right back to the floor, crossed his arms and glared at the far wall.

He was moving along on the rooftops and that was why he noticed his ship was moving. Crimson optics whipped around, focusing on the spire of the Nemesis. It was leaving the shelter of the station ceiling, but why? There was no one on board.

Except for the Autobots.

"Constructicons! Triple-changers! Soundwave! Barricade!" Megatron barked into his comlink. "The Autobots have taken the Nemesis! Stop them! Stop them now!"

There was no reply, but he was sure that his soldiers were on their way. Megatron leapt from the rooftop, transforming as he did, and he ripped across the artificial sky.

No, no, no! They would not get away with his ship! He would kill them! He was going to kill them! All of them! He didn't care anymore!

But the Nemesis had pulled out completely by the time he got anywhere near the platform and he landed with a howl, scaring away the rest of the passer-bys.

And now they must be killed! Destroy them! Destroy them and give their mangled bodies to Prime as a gift!

"Astrotrain! Take your team-mates and chase down the Autobots!"

"Blitzwing and Octane haven't been cleared for space travel--"

"Do I sound like I care?!" Megatron roared angrily. "Stop the Autobots before they get away with my ship! I don't care how you do it! Stop them! Stop them now!"

The time for mercy has long since passed.

As much as they hated to admit it, the Autobots had a long history of running away.

It wasn't truly their fault, they could argue. The Decepticons had had access to stronger weaponry and could put more firepower behind them. They had also had the numbers to spread out and overwhelm, whereas the Autobots found that they accomplished more when in small groups of five or six. Chipping away at the base worked better for them than striking in one massive blow; a tactic Megatron favored.

There were times, however, where they would strike one massive blow.

And this, both Perceptor and First Aid felt, was one of them.

"Okay, let me see if I've got this correct." Red Alert started slowly, pacing back and forth across the command deck of the (almost depressingly easily) hijacked ship, the Nemesis. "We have just hijacked the Decepticon flagship -- the Decepticon flagship -- and Megatron has no idea that this has happened."

"That seems to be the case, yes." Perceptor replied with a self-satisfied smile.

The Decepticon ship was now positioned "above" the space station, out of the path of those ships heading for the checkpoint. Everyone was staring at Perceptor and First Aid, both of whom were very proud of themselves for having done the hijacking and not even having to fire off a single shot.

The downside was, it probably hadn't gone unnoticed. They had forgotten to unhook the docking line and had been forced to snap it and it had done so loudly. Secondly, the steering for Decepticon ships was the reverse of their own, meaning when they had tried to leave the station, they had gone the opposite direction instead. Thirdly, the Decepticons had racked up quite a bill while they had been here and that hadn't been fully paid off yet.

Oh well. That was in Megatron's hands now.

"And what is stopping Megatron from taking remote control of the ship?" Red Alert asked, crossing his arms.

"That's where your input is required." Perceptor said, gesturing to a nearby console with a 'have at it' expression. Red Alert sat down instantly and started fabricating new access codes to lock the Decepticons out of their own systems.

On the other side of the deck--

"Aid, is this legal?" Air Raid asked as he cut the metal panel into the right size.

"I'm sure it's not, but this is the best I can do with the supplies I have." First Aid said, welding one of the new patches to Slingshot's battered frame. "Besides, I don't plan on returning this ship to the Decepticons."

The young medic had decided to strip off a few panels from the underside of the console and use them for the patch-job.

"Hey, when you're done over there, come check on Bluestreak." Sideswipe called, now in a bit better mood thanks to the fact he was finally out of the brig and there didn't appear to be a chance he would be going back there any time soon.

"Well, this is certainly one of the more hair-brained schemes ever put together by the Autobot forces." Mirage commented. He looked so serious sitting there in the gigantic throne-like chair in the center of the deck with both his arms and legs crossed and Hound just cracked up. It wasn't long before everyone was laughing as reality checked itself.

They had made off with the fragging Nemesis.

The Decepticon flagship was theirs and damn if they weren't feeling as giddy as Pit about it. This was most certainly one for the history books. They were probably the first group of Autobots to have done something as stupid as this.

Sure, they were rather beat up, suffering from various and numerous injuries, but they were all alive and that was the most important part.

What a story to tell the others when they met up with them.

"Encryption done." Red Alert announced triumphantly a breem or two later. "It's the best I can do on short notice, but there's still no way any Decepticon is getting through my firewalls! Not even Megatron himself!"

"Speaking of the Decepticons..." Silverbolt slid into the seat behind the helm. "We should leave before the Nemesis is reported stolen."

"Good, yes!" Red Alert swiveled in his chair. "Silverbolt, take us out!"

"Decepticon steering is the reverse of ours." Perceptor informed the Aerialbot quickly.

Silverbolt nodded and pushed forward. The Nemesis glided forward smoothly. Anyone who could move under their own power climbed into seats at certain consoles to do a job.

"Red, we're coming up on the security checkpoint." Silverbolt announced, already angling the ship down to join a line.

"Blow right through it!" Red Alert ordered.


"I know this goes against every scrap of programming that I possess, but this isn't our ship." Red Alert explained, ignoring everyone's shocked expressions. "This is our only chance to reach Prime. As soon as we're in the clear, activate the transwarp drive and get us the frag out of here!"

"You are insane!" Sideswipe shouted. "Where the frag do you plan on taking us anyways?!"

"Anywhere but here!" Red Alert said. "Silverbolt, faster!"

"Oh-- kay." Silverbolt pushed in the throttle. The Nemesis started to pick up speed.

"They're hailing us. They want us to stop!" Mirage shouted from near the communications array.

"Keep going." Red Alert said tersely

"They're going to fire a warning shot if we don't stop and get in line!" Mirage added.

"Holy slag! Look at those ion cannons!" Sideswipe yelped. "They're gonna fire those at us?! The fraggers are huge!"

"I didn't know a security checkpoint was allowed to have ion cannons that big." Air Raid remarked.

"They're not allowed to. It's illegal." First Aid told him. The sensors dinged and he looked down. "And the situation just got worse. We seem to have the triple-changers coming after us."

"Damn those fraggers." Sideswipe muttered. "Can we lose them?"

"And you're calling me insane?" Red Alert canted a browridge at the red twin, before he turned around. "Silverbolt! Why are you slowing down?!"

"Stop!" Silverbolt recommended frantically. "If they fire on us, it won't matter anymore if we stole this ship or not! We'll be scrapped!"

"Keep going!" Red Alert shouted.

Against his will -- he rather liked living -- Silverbolt pushed more speed out of the Nemesis. The ion cannons mounted atop the each checkpoint shot off a blast, but he swerved the ship. Most of the ion blasts were avoided, but a few dragged along the hull, leaving black, sparking trails behind and causing some of the instruments inside the main control room to suddenly fritz.

"Damage report!" Red Alert requested.

"Forward external sensors are gone! Hull integrity is down nine percent!" Perceptor announced. "The triple-changers are firing on us from behind!" He spasmed with terror. "And the cannons are getting ready to fire again!"

"Get some coordinates in and us out of here!" First Aid yelled from the back

"Transwarp drive is already warming up!" Hound said, punching at a few buttons. "Just hold 'em all off a bit longer!"

"We may not have a bit longer!" Sideswipe snapped.

"Can't rush it! The warp engines have to warm up first!" Hound snapped back.

Two more ion blasts slammed into the Nemesis's belly, three more on the starboard side and one more on the port side. The ship rocked alarmingly and lost a little speed. Different alarms started to scream various warnings as the triple-changers continued to throw everything they had at the ship. They were looking to cripple it, but not permanently. Megatron was going to want the Nemesis back.

"We've lost the third primary sub-light engine!" Perceptor swore. "Hull integrity is at seventy-seven percent! It really isn't helping that we have three Decepticons trying to stop us as well." He put his head in his hands. "I can't believe we're actually doing this..."

"Turning on the secondary sub-light engines!" Mirage announced. He too swore at one of the read-outs. "Red! The ship is threatening to separate! If we get hit too many times, the back end will come off and we'll lose the warp engines!"

Red Alert shot a look at the green-gray scout. "Hound, are we ready for warp?"

"They're sixty-two percent charged!" he announced. "Another breem!"

What appeared to be a pale bolt of electricity shot toward the Nemesis, enveloping it and everyone clutched their heads in brief pain. They all felt something in their CPUs shut down.

"Hacksaw in my processor!" Sideswipe shouted, effectively describing the feeling. He shook his head to clear it. The pain and the feeling dissipated as quickly as it had come.

"What was that?" Silverbolt asked, looking around while trying to steer the ship through the rain of fire.

"Felt like a disrupter blast!" First Aid said, very clinically. He ran a scan on everyone. "Yes, our internal comms are down as well as our receivers! Our scanners have been hampered!"

More ion blasts rocked the ship down to its core.

"Hull integrity is at fifty-eight percent and at the speed which we're traveling, it will go down faster!" Perceptor shouted from his station. "Rear external sensors are lost and the second primary sub-light engine is twenty percent damaged!"

"Warp engines are seventy-six percent charged!"

"They're sending skimmers after us!" Mirage announced, shocked. "Now that is illegal!"

Skimmers were police drones, designed with the specific function to chase and sabotage any spacecraft breaking the law. They cut the engines lines and threatened to cut the life-support systems in order to get the criminals to surrender. They could only be called off by whoever held the controller. It was illegal for a simple security checkpoint to have these things. Granted, it was also illegal for a simple security checkpoint to be outfitted with a series of ion cannons, but apparently since they thought that this corner of space was largely uninhabited, they could get away with anything out here.

"Hull integrity is at fifty-one percent!"

"Warp engines are eighty-four percent charged!"

The ion cannons swung around for the shots that would finish the Nemesis off.

With a burst of speed, the triple-changers landed on the hull and dug their claws in tight.

"Eighty-eight percent charged!"

The skimmers closed in, ready to attach themselves to the engines and cut the lines.

"Ship separation is still being threatened!"

"Ninety-six percent charged!"

"Hull integrity is at forty-eight percent!"

The ion cannons fired off another charge, this one aimed directly for the warp engines.

The thick, damaged metal hull rattled ominously. It sounded like it was going to fall apart.

"One hundred percent!"

"Punch it!" Red Alert screamed.

The ion cannons fired.

Perceptor threw the lever.

For a moment, time itself seemed to slow. The stars stretched into long shining lines and twisted together. The Nemesis glowed and the transwarp engines lit up like a brilliant fire. The ion blasts struck the transwarp engines just as they reached their peak and the two very different energies mingled and then reacted quite violently with one another, exploding in a massive conflagration that lit up the cosmos.

No one really saw what happened to the Nemesis behind the explosion, but there was an odd sound -- not unlike tearing paper -- strangely heard in the void.

Standard warp drives were meant for short hops through space; a quick escape from danger and ideal for most shuttles. A transwarp drive worked in much the same fashion of a space bridge by creating a wormhole to travel very long distances; except that if the engines were calibrated improperly, then time travel could be accidentally achieved as well. It was a delicate balance; as once they were created, wormholes were not to be trifled with for they could be quite unstable.

The wormholes, however, usually never remained open for very long. Only this time... This new one didn't seem to be closing.

It was disturbing enough to watch the Nemesis explode (implode? Barricade couldn't tell.), but it was even more disturbing to listen to Megatron's furious yells when the triple-changers failed to respond to his hales. He ranted and cursed and paced the edge of the platform where the Nemesis had been docked. He had already thrown a passing service drone over the side and was currently raving at the diminutive docking master for such things as lax security. There was only one thought cycling through Barricade's processor as he watched this: That's not Megatron.

The docking master was a four-armed, four legged humanoid that stood at least ten feet tall and appeared to have two eyes but a close inspection revealed four eyes, two in each socket. Body-build suggested it was male, but it still only reached a little past Megatron's knee. Megatron was using his considerable height to install fear into the humanoid, but the docking master appeared unruffled. Scanner suggested otherwise, however. The humanoid's heart-rate was faster, despite respiration being well-controlled, and chemicals were surging. There was a gleam of sweat on the humanoid's forehead.

"--We cannot give you compensation for the theft of your craft. You left a number of unpaid bills and theft does not waive those bills." the docking master said, showing quite a bit of moxie in standing up to the Decepticon lord. "You can file a complaint and a stolen vehicle report, but until you pay your expenses, we cannot reimburse the docking fee. That's final."

"Then allow me to file a complaint!" Megatron roared, a clawed hand sweeping the docking master right over the edge with very little effort. He fell with a wail and was quickly silenced as he dropped out of the air membrane that protected the station from the vacuum. He turned to the docking master's cohorts, who promptly shook their heads and backed off; not about to tangle with the mech who had just so easily killed their boss.

"Intelligent." he rumbled softly, Pit-fire optics narrowing to burning points. "You will now obey me. All incoming ships will be tagged. All incoming and outgoing communications will be monitored. You will inform me if any Autobots enter the vicinity. I will give you their known hailing frequencies and I will not tolerate any mistakes. Is that clear?"

The four-armed humanoids quickly nodded their assent.

"Then get to work!"

They all scattered obediently. Megatron turned to look at his subordinates instead. None of them spoke; they stood by respectfully and a little apart from each other so they wouldn't look like too much of a group. The Decepticon lord said nothing and soon walked away to find the main control room. His threatening presence did nothing to calm the already anxious beings that had been alarmed by the explosion (implosion? Barricade still wasn't sure.) and those beings scattered to corners of the station just to be away from him. After a moment of thick silence, the Constructicons wandered away to find something to keep themselves occupied.

Barricade tilted his head slightly and rubbed at a few old scratches etched into his helm. He wasn't sure what to say about this. Unless they could hijack a ship for themselves or there was one coming for them, they were stuck here. He didn't fancy being stuck here. Especially not with Megatron stomping around and losing his mind. Barricade hated to admit it, but he would feel safer around Starscream, of all mechs.

Truly, the world must be ending.

The Saleen then noticed that Soundwave had trekked to the end of the dock, peering out into the cosmos beyond. Something like curiosity spurred Barricade to go have a look as well and he joined the Communications Officer at the edge. And there, seeming to drift slowly among the stars was what looked to be a nebula, but experience told Barricade that it was far from a nebula. It had all the colors of one, but it looked oddly surreal; like it wasn't even supposed to be there.

"What." was all he was able to say.

"A wormhole." Soundwave replied. "A tear in the fabric of space."

"Is that good or bad?" Barricade wondered, glancing at the blue mech.

"Its exit: important." Soundwave said. "Its exit will determine its importance."

Barricade glanced around to see if Megatron was anywhere nearby. The Decepticon lord appeared to be off bullying some of the station workers.

"So... let's say it comes out somewhere near Earth's solar system." the Saleen offered and Soundwave nodded in return. That could become a problem; easy access to Earth and all.

However, it was all guesswork at this point. No doubt the coordinates would have been provided by the Nemesis's main computer, but there was still the question of whether or not the ship had even survived long enough to be sucked through the wormhole.

Barricade had his doubts, but Soundwave knew better. If the Nemesis had been destroyed, he would have felt the bonds sever in death. His cassettes had still been aboard when the ship had been hijacked. Part of him didn't care; it had gotten them far away from Megatron, but he was worried, as was natural for any creator. If his cassettes had survived, then there was every chance that the Autobots had survived as well. That pleased him; for in the grand scheme of his plan, he would need the Autobots to bring down Megatron in the end. Soundwave didn't anticipate living to see the end of this. Not once Megatron discovered his mutiny.

And there it was; a soft, gentle touch against his mental shields. It was a request; the questioner sitting patiently beyond his shields, waiting to be allowed in. Soundwave smiled under his mask. Megatron could monitor the communications all he wanted, but he was never going to catch this one. Never in a million years.

He lowered his mental shields just enough to allow for psychic speech, knowing that his "visitor" had enough power to crush his mind even over the distance that separated them and though they were well-acquainted through their mutual telepathy, he wasn't going to take any chances. His "visitor" giggled over this briefly, not even trying to read his thoughts. That one had just come.

'Operation: Unseen is go.'

The blue mech smiled a little wider.

'Outside contacts?' he inquired.

'A fiery dive through the storm to the lightning.' was the reply. 'The wave shall not be rattled by the thunder, lest a shock comes.'

It took Soundwave a moment to puzzle through that. His fellow telepath had a habit of speaking in riddles when it was suitable. He knew little to nothing of his fellow telepaths, as they were very few and far between. But he understood that without proper training early in life, it was highly possible for a mech to fall to a form of insanity. He had communicated with this one long enough to understand that this telepath had been treading the line between sanity and madness for some time.

Soundwave was asking seven mechs -- seven members of the most notorious Black Ops team in Cybertron's history; each mech a master in their chosen field -- to help him. In particular, he sought the help of only one of them. He wanted the spy to seamlessly infiltrate the Darksyde and its troops and to bring down the Decepticon Empire from within.

It was the only way to bring down Megatron.

And bring down whatever it was that was driving him insane.

--Arc Two: Lost in Space Complete --