This is the sequel to my other story, What Time We Have Left. The title is pretty much self-explanatory, I suppose; this fic is going to focus on the trails and tribulations of friends and lovers coming back together rather than the pain and reconciliations of parting. I hope that As We Come Together lives up to What Time We Have Left. Please, do leave a review! I'm anxious to know what you all think!
Darksyde- Truly an allusion to both the Predacons' ship in Beast Wars and the infamous dark side of Star Wars; the name was absolutely too good to waste! Captained by Virus and maintained by her crew consisting of Trojan, Worm, Flamewar, Soundwave (plus accompanying symbiotes), and Nightshade, it is undoubtedly a formidable ship.
Nightshade- A character developed by Violet Light and belongs exclusively to her. She is a Decepticon femme apprenticing to Soundwave. Intelligent and deadly, her home-fic is Vapour Trails, which really is an excellent read! Just so everyone knows, I did seek permission to use Nightshade as a character; if anyone else wishes to use her in their stories, please, do go to Violet to ask for permission.
A galaxy-sized thank you goes out to Litahatchee, Violet Light, and Lady Tecuma for all their wonderful help, advice, and betaing. I don't know where this fic would be without them!
Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers. End of Story.
As We Come Together
In Which the Nemesis Returns
They stared at the sky for what seemed like an eternity. For the Autobots, they stared into the immensity of space with tired optics, hope glimmering in their glowing blue depths as the last vestiges of Optimus Prime's message to the stars echoed in their processors. Out there, somewhere, were their friends, their comrades, and, for some, their lovers. The Allspark all but destroyed not even a few short human weeks ago, the last chance of their species' survival gone, they still looked to the stars in hope that perhaps someone, anyone, would hear their call and answer.
For the two small, organic humans amongst them, the sky was laid out in an array of pinpoints of light and endless darkness in a pattern that was so familiar to them and yet now so very different. As they gazed into the limitless reaches of the universe beyond their small planet, into the grand mysteries of the vastness of space, it was no longer the empty night sky full of only stars and plants they had watched as children- there was life out there now. As surely as there were four giant alien robots sitting around them now, stargazing in the exact same manner they were, the two humans now knew that it was not just empty space they were staring into, but a full universe thriving with possibilities as far reaching as cosmos themselves.
Sam was the first to break the silence that had settled upon the lookout as all-encompassing as the night had, his gaze breaking away from the slow, rapturous dance of the stars to fall upon his yellow-armored guardian, who had assumed his bipedal form shortly after the make-out session on his hood had ended. Blue, blue optics were transfixed to the sky above. The only sound that could be heard around them was the gentle hum of some bot's systems, the breathy hiss of servos and hydraulics. It seemed almost a shame to ruin the quiet.
"Do you think anyone will answer?"
Suddenly, those blue optics Sam had been watching were now turned onto him, Bumblebee watching him in a spectrum of ways that the human could never hope to imagine. Not only those blue optics, but the optics of Optimus Prime, Ironhide, and Ratchet turned to him as well, just as Mikaela's dark human eyes affixed to him.
"I… do not know," Bumblebee replied after a fashion. The rough, static-choked, British accented voice Bumblebee had first spoken with in the aftermath of Mission City, his first real voice in over thousands of years, had healed greatly since then, smoothing out, sounding younger in pitch, like the teenager he was supposed to be equivalent to. "There are many… possibilities. I would like to hope that someone would answer…"
"Someone will answer," Optimus said determinedly. By his voice alone, the matter was settled. The deep resonance that he stirred in the chests of the humans and Autobots alike left no room to contradict the resolution in his voice; because Optimus Prime said they would answer, they would answer. "Be it only one or one hundred of our kind, there will be someone out there who hears the call." He sighed, his great head turning so that his glowing optics were now directed at the vastness of the dark, speckled sky. "And even if we must wait until all the stars have turned to dust, we must wait patiently for their answer…"
Time, as the omnipresent thief of all things, soon stole away the last dregs of what remained of Sam and Mikaela's eleventh grade of high school. In the wake of the theft, the air was fraught with blazing heat and the jubilant celebration of freedom. Teenagers of every sort now overran malls, fast food establishments, parks, and any place viable for swimming, as per the unwritten rule of summer when all other life was choked out by the swarm of freed teenagers.
It seemed that only two particular teens were exempt from the wild high of summer, those two teenagers being the only two on the planet to be fully aware, and in constant contact with, an alien species.
Instead of the norm their fellow adolescents followed in trolling from one day to the next in the malls, in the theatres, doing nothing else except appeasing the honeyed god of self-indulgence, Sam and Mikaela were gladly spending every moment of their time with their new alien friends, helping in any way they could to better accommodate the metal giants to the new organic world they were now calling home.
Accommodating them, though, was easier said than done when all they had to work with was a hot, blazing desert and an abandoned air base that had seen better days.
Sam stared at the dilapidated structure with no small amount of shame; the Autobots had risked everything to save Earth and its people from the Decepticons, and this was all that his government could spare? Talk about ungrateful. He turned pleading eyes to the Army Ranger standing next to him, his own expression spelling out exactly what he thought about the lacklustre air base that was now to be the Autobot's home.
"Will, you have got to be kidding me," Sam said, an arm flung out towards to the heap of junk jutting out from the dry desert ground. "That's just cruel and unusual to give that to them."
"I know what you mean, kid, but this was all the bigwigs were willing to spare in the way of housing needs," Will replied, though he sounded disgruntled. "I don't like it either, but this is all we have for now."
Mikaela crossed her arms over her chest, her dark eyes affixed to the offending base. "For now?" she asked. "Does that mean someone had a heart and decided to offer up a little more for the future?"
Before Will could answer, a glint of hot desert sun on glistening metal caught their eyes. The Autobots were done inspecting the clusters of buildings that had been offered to them. It was hard to pick out the details in their expressions, and more so difficult to translate the expressions into a human equivalent, but it was easy enough to tell by their sunken stances that they were resigned.
"We can find a better place for you guys, y'know!" Sam called to them. "You don't have to stay here if you don't want to- it sucks and we all know it!"
Optimus's long strides ensured that he would be the first to make it to the tiny group of humans who waited for them beyond the perimeter of the air base. "No, this will do just fine, Sam. If this is all your government can spare, then we will accept it as temporary headquarters for now." A great whoosh of hot air billowed from his vents, something the humans equated to as a sigh.
"The government's being ungrateful, stingy bastards," Sam grumbled in reply. "You saved our freaking planet; you deserve more than just a couple of rusted metal shacks in the middle of nowhere."
Will laid a hand on the teen's shoulder, quieting him. He moved to stand in front of Optimus, and the towering leader kneeled so that the human did not have to crane his neck so drastically. "As sad as the offering may be, those buildings are not the only thing that we are prepared to aid you with," he said, spewing forth the rehearsed lines that he had been given as one of the human liaisons between the American government and the Autobots. "We are also prepared to supply you and your people with whatever materials or technologies you should believe to need to better adjust yourselves here."
"Your technology we could do without, but raw materials are what we are in desperate need of," Ratchet intoned brusquely. "Until we can land the Ark somewhere, I will not be caught any longer on this planet without a suitable place from which I can conduct proper maintenance and repairs. I will prepare a list of every element and compound available on this world that we are in sore need of, and the exact quantity required. The list will be sent to you in a couple of days, Captain Lennox."
Will grinned and offered a quick salute to the medic. "I'll be waiting for it with bells on, Ratch'," he replied, laughing when the Autobots failed to understand the idiom. While they searched the internet for the meaning, Will tried once more to get across that he really didn't need to be referred to as "Captain" all the time; his name would do just fine.
Ironhide slanted the soldier a gruff look. "It's your rank and title of respect; you do not wish to be referred to by it?"
Will smiled, shaking his head. "We're all friends here, aren't we? You don't see me calling you "Weapons Specialist Ironhide" all the time. First name basis suits me just fine."
Optimus nodded. "Very well, William Lennox."
Will laughed, wiping the accumulated sweat from his brow. 'William Lennox' was an improvement; if only he could get them to call him 'Will.'
Bumblebee trooped over to the two younger humans, crouching down by them with a mischievous glimmer in his optics. "Do you want to get out of the sun?" he asked.
Sam grinned, his eyes instantly falling to the rusted buildings. "You know it," he replied. "Let's go explore that heaps of junk you now call a base."
Metal hands gently picked the pair of teens up and deposited them on broad, yellow shoulders. The trek there was little awkward, Bumblebee's limp causing his passengers to bump back and forth.
The battle of Mission City having only been a short time ago, only a few weeks by human standards, the injuries sustained to the Autobots were still taking their time to heal. Bumblebee's injuries, in particular, were taking a long time to heal. Without the use of temporary plating to patch the scout's legs back on, Ratchet's welding job had been arduous and recovery was still proving difficult.
Mikaela rapped Bumblebee lightly on the side of his head. "We can walk, you know," she pointed out. "There's no need to stress your legs out by adding our weight."
Revs of light laughter vibrated through the mech. "Your weight combined is hardly anything to be concerned about," Bumblebee replied. "I am fine carrying you."
"You're sure?" she asked.
"Yes, I am."
Approaching the main hanger, the largest in the entire complex, Bumblebee and his two charges slipped in through the off-kilter open doors, stepping into the dry, shadowy compound quietly. Once the humans' eyes adjusted to the sudden shift in illumination, Sam let out a sudden wolf whistle that echoed about the empty room.
"It's… definitely a fixer upper," he said. Indeed, it was. A fine layer of dust clung heavily to every surface, hanging thickly in the air so that every breath was like breathing in cotton balls. Motes of light filtered in through cracked, grimy windows, casting a dim glow over the piles of abandoned wreckage that lay haphazardly around the ground, rusting quietly in their forgotten graves. In the moderate silence, muffled fluttering drifted down from the high rafters where birds and rodents had made their homes. The hangar was quite large by human standards, but probably quite cramped to the Cybertronians.
"I believe Optimus wishes to make this the main area of the base," Bumblebee informed.
Mikaela wrinkled her nose. "Do all of you even fit in here?" she asked.
"We do… somewhat," Bumblebee replied. "There just is not a lot of room to move around."
"It's like trying to fit all you guys into a closet," she huffed.
"This is only a temporary arrangement until the Ark can be set down," Bumblebee reminded her.
"And then you can all come out of the closet?" Sam asked, grinning. He received a light jab from his girlfriend for his troubles, though they both laughed.
Bumblebee may have missed the joke, but he understood the gist of what Sam was saying. "As soon as we figure out a way to land the Ark without it catching too much human attention we will be able to…"come out of the closet" as you say, and move our base operations into the ship."
Although Sam gave into a fresh bout of laughter, Mikaela made a valiant attempt at calming down. "From what I understand, the Ark is pretty huge, right? Any ideas on how you're going to land something so big without drawing any attention?"
"We have been debating the problem for a while, actually," Bumblebee replied, settling down on the dusty floor. "The best that we have come up with so far is to remotely connect with the Ark's operational systems and initiate a powerful electromagnetic pulse, similar to the solar flares your sun gives off, in order to disrupt Earth's satellites for a short period of time. Hopefully, the pulse will render your detection systems offline long enough for the ship to be guided down safely. What we are most worried about is what civilian humans will see when the ship hits the upper atmosphere; even before entering the exosphere the Ark will be plainly visible by the naked human eye."
"The exosphere, huh? Your Ark must be pretty freaking huge if we could see from all the way up there," Sam said.
"Even by our standards, the Ark is a large ship. It was originally built to accommodate a large crew on deep space exploration missions."
Sam gave an impressed whistled. "No chance that it could transform into something that resembles a meteor like you guys can?"
"No. Even if it did have the capability of adapting a transition mode like we do for planet fall, the appearance of a meteor that size would undoubtedly cause a panic. The most we could do is compact the ship into its docking/storage mode for planet fall, though even that would be considered quite large by your standards."
"Is there a chance that you could wait to land the ship until there is an overcast sky?" Mikaela offered. "You could use the cloud cover as a way to hide its entry."
Bumblebee nodded, his faceplate perking up in what the humans recognized as a smile of sorts. "It is a possible course of action that we have considered, but cloud cover only offers localized camouflage; something will have to be devised in order to hide the Ark from more distant prying eyes."
"How about we blindfold the entire country?" Sam offered. "Or maybe we pull a fast one on them and say "Hey! Look over there, it's the Death Star!" so while they're all looking in one direction, you guys land in the Ark in the other."
It looked as if the Autobot was trying to fully compute what Sam just offered. "…the chances of a plan like that succeeding are highly unlikely."
"Hey, don't count out the power of misdirection just yet, buddy. It really does work; just take a look at our elections."
Mikaela rolled her eyes, reaching into her bag to grab the two water bottles stashed there. "You've been out in the sun too long," she sighed, shoving Sam's water into his hands. After she took a swig of her own, downing half the bottle, she addressed Bee. "I hope you guys figure out something soon. This place," she gestured to the dust and rusting junk, "is a piece of crap."
Bumblebee tipped his head, considering. "I hope so, as well," he replied. "Once a proper landing procedure has been figured out, planet fall will be much easier for the others if-," there was a little bit of static, "when they arrive."
Sam offered a smile, patting the armor of Bumblebee's shin. "There'll be an answer coming any day now, you'll see," he said, watching as the scout's optics dimmed for a moment, and then brightened fractionally. "It's like Optimus said, right? We just have to wait a little while. Sooner or later though, someone will come."
"Yes, sooner or later," Bumblebee replied softly. A change in subject was needed. He reached out to encompass Sam in one hand, Mikaela in the other, and set them both on his shoulder once more. "Come on, there is still much to show you."
Galaxies away, speeding through the vast throws and eddies of a wormhole, the Nemesis was set on a course that would take it home. That is, if home still existed. There was no telling if Cybertron still stood or if it had fallen long ago and was naught but a husk of rusting metal now. Whether it still be a warzone or laid as a rusting mass-gravesite mattered little to the Nemesis itself, for its course was locked in and the ship was bound to its headings; it's flight path determined by Starscream's will alone. It would not be changed for anything.
The reason for the Seeker's solitary role as the single crew member on the ship; he had been the only 'Con smart enough to leave the battle, and the atmosphere, alive.
Barricade had only managed to escape battle; the atmosphere had proven a bit of a challenge. He'd been left behind, for Starscream had been unwilling to aid his fellow Decepticon with his aerial-shortcomings. But leaving Earth did not make Starscream a coward. No, instead it made him smart; certainly smarter than the dead mechs left to rust at the bottom of one of Earth's oceans. He, unlike the others, simply knew when a battle was won and when it was lost. Mission City had been lost the moment he witnessed a puny organic pest thrust the Allspark into Megatron's chest.
After that, there had been no further reason to stay.
Inadvertently, the meat-sack, Sam Witwicky, had given Starscream exactly what he'd wanted for many millennia; the destruction of Megatron. And now that his lordship the ex-Lord High Protector of Cybertron was out of the picture, the sole duty of leadership of the Decepticons rested fully and rightfully on Starscream's shoulders. And, as anyone who just won the prize of a life time would, Starscream was heading home to gloat. As soon as he established his power over the Decepticons as their true lord, relishing the moment he would tell them their precious Megatron was long gone, he would gather his forces and launch an army for Earth.
For the Decepticons, they would see the attack as revenge for the death of Megatron; for Starscream, the destruction of Earth would only serve for his own personal satisfaction in seeing his once-great leader's grave as nothing more than a pile of ashes.
Slight turbulence rocked the ship, a few short chirps from a sensor-array alerting Starscream to the approaching threshold of the wormhole, normal space expanding around him until he was thrust into a dark, empty galaxy far, far from Earth. Calibrating his sensors to get a better fix on his new location, he identified the area as the Beta-Zen galaxy, an essentially empty region of space with little more than a few burning yellow stars and red giants here and there, a lot of space-junk, and a number of planets, but only a few inhabited. Sentient life was debatable.
With the burning might of a nearby red giant blazing the back of the Nemesis, Starscream engaged his slip-stream drive and set off through the quiet emptiness towards home.
Little did he know, the emptiness of the Beta-Zen galaxy was not so empty after all…
Hidden amongst decaying chunks of worthless rubble, soaked in the shadows of rock and refuse like some metallic predator, was the Darksyde. It was a moderately sized vessel, adequate to be manned by at least half a dozen bots. The hull plating was dull, rusted in some places, wielded on haphazardly in others; an old ship, perhaps, or simply one that had not been well taken care of. A single insignia was painted on its broad dorsal plating; bold, untouched, nestled in a wasteland of rotting metal, lay an immaculate Decepticon crest. It was the only thing that looked well taken care of.
While the Darksyde was aptly named for its crew of Decepticons- for the dark side had long since become synonymous with the Decepticon cause- the ship's actual occupations were less of war and destruction and more of shady dealings and illegal deeds- in exchange for the right price, of course. Whereas much of the standing crew came from the powerful upper ranks of the Decepticon army, Soundwave and Flamewar to name two, upon the Darksyde they were essentially mercenaries now whose services could easily be bought up by the highest bidder.
Much to their utter disgust, their lives were owned by those who could pay.
It was not a nice existence they led. No one had tasted luxury for vorns. Sadly, even their bear existence was better than going back to the war-machines they had once called comrades who had spiralled into dissension in the absence of a true leader. The Darksyde was far better than risking the return of their universal betrayer, Starscream.
"Sensors picking up anything?"
A sigh. "Well, just keep monitoring, then."
"There's nothing to monitor out here except slag and rock."
"Then just put the sensors on full sweep and catch a bit of recharge; we'll be moving on shortly anyways."
Having just completed one of its many unscrupulous contracts, the Darksyde was anchored down in the normally empty Beta-Zen sector for a little respite from the toils of business. Gentle spatial distortions rocked the ship as if it sat on an ocean. Peaceful times like this were not relaxing, they were monotonous.
Nightshade perked up as a telltale blip from proximity sensors declared the approach of a ship. "Something just came up on sensors," she announced.
"A new client?" Flamewar inquired, being the only other bot on the bridge at the moment. She was loath to the idea it was the last client they dealt with coming back for more; he was an abhorrent mech who had made her energon run cold.
"Not sure." By protocol, Nightshade activated the identification scans. She rechecked the results, and then sent out a new scan to confirm. "…Flamewar, you might want to come see this."
"What is it?" She came over quickly, peering over the Intelligence officer's shoulder. One optic-ridge rose quickly. "It couldn't possibly be-?" Air caught in her intakes, her spark fluttering as her optics drew over the familiar lines of the oncoming ship.
"I'm not imagining it then, am I? You see it too? The Nemesis?" Nightshade asked carefully.
"Yeah, I see it. It's the Nemesis alright." Flamewar tapped out a few of her own scans on the vessel to confirm its identity. It was the Decepticon deep-space vessel, no doubt about it. It was the very ship that was carrying her lover home. She breathed a disbelieving laugh, watching the dark behemoth slide through space towards their hiding spot. "I'll be damned…" Her sharp, clawed hand flew to the Darksyde's internal-comms.
"Virus, Soundwave, you better report to the bridge immediately-," her burning optics flickered to the ever-growing image of the Nemesis on the active view screen, her grin now impossible to wipe from her faceplate, "-you'll never believe what just showed up on sensors."
Nightshade laughed a little, locking all sensors onto the ship in order to track its every movement. "Should we hail them now or surprise them when they come a little closer?" she asked. She really wanted to hail them, anticipating the moment that Frenzy's little faceplate would materialize over the view screen. Her mentor was going to be very please to know that his symbiote had finally come home.
"Don't break our cover yet. Wait until the others arrive."
"Right, of course." Nightshade rocked in her seat a little, tracking the newly arrived ship with her optics. "Do you think they found the Allspark, Flamewar? And Megatron?"
"Of course they have or else Starscream wouldn't dare show his faceplate around here," Flamewar replied. "It's either that, or everyone's dead and he's come crawling back home to admit his defeat, and we both know how likely that would be. Starscream would rather fly up his own aft than come crawling back to the Decepticons empty handed."
Nightshade nodded, optics flickering to the doorway as she awaited the arrival of Soundwave. He was taking far too long. "So… what are you going to do once you meet up with Barricade again?" she asked cheekily, bobbing her optic-ridges. Having lived alongside Flamewar for vorns upon the Darksyde, Nightshade had been privy to the various steamy escapades the ex-Femme Commander and her lover had embarked on.
Flamewar leaned back a bit, smirking. "First I'm going to ask him what took him so damn long to come home, and then I'm going to grab that mech's interface cable and screw him until his paint comes off. I'll make sure he isn't capable of going anywhere again for a long time."
The other femme laughed. "I don't think he'd mind."
"How do you think Soundwave's going to take it that Frenzy's back?" Flamewar inquired.
"He'll be pleased," Nightshade replied, smiling softly. "Hopefully Frenzy's processors have sorted themselves out by now and he'll be able to recognize us; I know that is what Soundwave is hoping for. He's been waiting a very long time for Frenzy's return, as have I."
"I have no doubt," Flamewar nodded, placing a light hand upon the Intelligence officer's shoulder. "I am sure that Frenzy will be very pleased to break contract with Barricade and return to his original master. I must admit, that is what I am hoping for. It's extremely disconcerting to have a chattering little bug as a voyeur when you're trying to have your way with someone."
Nightshade offered a bit of laughter; she herself had grown used to voyeuristic company. "How do you think Virus is going to react to Starscream's return?"
"Like a nuclear explosion. You know how she is; she can hold a grudge until the universe implodes. Kaon was nothing compared to what she'll probably do to Screamer." Flamewar glanced to the entrance as well before returning her gaze to the other dark-armored femme, smirking.
"She did do a number on the base, didn't she?" Nightshade said. She remembered that orn well. True to Virus' promise should Starscream double-cross her, the quadruped had shown up in Kaon's midst with a defected Flamewar at her side, and proceeded to wreak absolute havoc on the base. Devoid of any real leader and still riding on the high of Iacon's recent destruction, the Kaon mechs went down hard. Shortly after that, the Decepticon ranks all over Cybertron began to go into dissension, choosing to rather further their own gains than pretend to listen to anyone else. Splinter factions starting popping up after that, causing a lot of trouble for the Autobots who had to defend against them. The uncontrolled division in the ranks was what prompted Soundwave's departure from the Deceptions and his subsequent invitation onto the Darksyde.
"Now that they're back, do you think that we'll return to the Decepticons?" the officer asked cautiously, or maybe that was hope in her voice.
Flamewar considered the question thoughtfully. "I don't know… possibly. If Megatron is back, then Virus will undoubtedly follow, and the Darksyde is her ship, after all, so it will go too. I am loath to the idea of facing Starscream again, but Megatron, on the other hand… I would return to the Decepticons for him. The war will be ours with his return. It would be nice to finally have a place where we belong again."
Finally, the pneumatic hiss of the bridge door sliding open reached their audio receptors. Both femmes swung around to meet the arrival, their gazes meeting the stony gaze of Soundwave's visor. Nightshade snapped up from her seat to greet her mentor. He nodded to her, then to Flamewar, moving silently through the bridge to stand with the two femmes to await the captain's arrival. Virus entered shortly after, flanked, as usual, by Trojan and Worm.
"This better be good," she snarled, her bulky frame shifting heavily from side to side as she sauntered over to Nightshade's station.
Nightshade was quick to present her findings, hardly able to contain her excitement. "A lone deep-space vessel has entered the sector through a previously unknown wormhole."
Soundwave cocked his head. "Client?" he asked, mirroring Flamewar's earlier inquiry. His apprentice shook her head quickly.
"No, I wouldn't think so," she replied.
"Who, then? Have you identified the ship?" Virus asked, growling impatiently.
"Yes. We've scanned it several times to make sure." Nightshade glanced to Flamewar, who smiled and nodded in return. "The ship has been identified as the Nemesis."
Soundwave nudged aside his apprentice so that he could do a scan of his own to confirm- he needed to see the truth with his own optics. And not a single astrosecond later the proof came streaming in to him through the consol. "Confirmed. The approaching ship is the Nemesis."
"Megatron is back," Virus whispered reverently. She went to stand before the view screen, rearing back onto her hind legs so that she was pressed to the monitor, staring at the approaching ship as if it were Primus aboard and not the Lord High Protector. "Confirm their life-signs," she ordered as her optics traced the ship. "Scan their spark resonance signatures; I want to see that Megatron is on that ship."
Soundwave nodded, complying with the order. Flamewar and Nightshade stood eagerly at his shoulders, watching his ever move with excited zeal shining in their optics. It was the first time in a long time that any of them had had something to look forward to. Virus fell back on all fours, coming to stand behind Soundwave to await the news she had waited countless vorns to here; Megatron had returned.
Suddenly, Soundwave's entire frame went rigid, his fingers frozen on the controls.
Virus glared at the broad back. "What? What is it?" she hissed.
Flamewar stumbled away from the consol, shaking her head. "It- it can't be…" The scans had to be wrong. It was impossible. Soundwave's scans had to be false, or wrong, or corrupted somehow; it was impossible that the Nemesis could be devoid of all life, save for the miserable single life-sign they had picked up on.
Soundwave's fist came down on the controls furiously, shattering it. Nightshade snarled, her own fists moving to create their own craters in the wall.
"Report now! I demand you tell me what's on that ship!" Virus snarled, capturing Flamewar's arm in her jaws and threatening to tear it free from her frame.
Flamewar glared viciously at the captain of the Darksyde, ignoring the piercing pain of her arm as it twisted painfully in its socket. The pain that throbbed in her spark hurt worse. "Nothing's on that ship," she spat, disappointment and bitterness choking her. "Nothing of worth, anyways; no Allspark, no Megatron, no nothing."
The quadruped bristled, throwing Flamewar back and rounding on the towering presence of Soundwave. "Is it true?!" she demanded.
"Affirmative; nothing of worth aboard. Only a single life-sign detected."
"Have you identified the life-sign?" she snarled.
"And?! Who is it?!"
Soundwave's fists clenched angrily, the glare from his visor reflecting the fury of a sun. "Starscream."
The reaction was instantaneous. Virus reared, her wide, fanged maw stretched open to the heavens in an energon-curdling roar. She came crashing back down on all fours, only to strike out with her claws and take the captain's chair right out of its spot, flinging it across the bridge. "That's not possible!" she howled. "Where is Megatron?!"
"He is not within the ship, nor following within the vicinity of it," Soundwave informed. "He does not register on sensors at all."
"Are you sure?" the quadruped snapped. "There's no way that radiation from the wormhole or the red giant could have interfered with the scans?"
"It's Soundwave, Virus, of course he's sure!" Flamewar snarled. "Megatron isn't there; Frenzy's not there; Barricade's not there! Just fragging Starscream!"
"What are we to do?" Nightshade inquired, facing the fearsome captain of the Darksyde unflinchingly. Her own optics were burning bright with rage.
"I owe that little fragger a turn for double-crossing me back on Cybertron," Virus growled, pacing the room agitatedly. "Now seems as good a time as any to repay him. Depressurize the hangar; I'm going to go greet him personally."
Flamewar hissed, pushing herself up from where she'd been discarded. Her optics stole to Soundwave's gaze, locking with the mech; they exchanged an understanding. Starscream had taken away her lover and stole one of Soundwave's symbiotes away from him. If anything, they had a far greater debt to repay the Seeker then Virus did.
"We're coming with you," Flamewar growled, charging her weapon just as Soundwave gathered his from subspace. "Let us be the welcome party."
"Whoa there. Halt the ship, Smokescreen, and hold our position. Something going on over there," Mirage warned, examining the scene unfolding on the view screen. The Uller came to a slow stop just beyond the range of the enemy ships' sensors. From their position, they could clearly make out the forms of the two separate ships- one being the familiar Darksyde whom they'd been tracking, the other being a monstrous sized deep-space vessel.
Smokescreen narrowed his optics on the behemoth ship. "Wouldn't you say that looks like the Nemesis?"
Mirage scrutinized the distant imagine, nodding after a fashion. "Yes, it certainly looks like it."
Hound drew a sharp drag of air through his intakes. "Where's the Ark,?" he asked anxiously. "Optimus and the others-?"
"Perhaps… they didn't make it in time," Mirage reasoned, bowing his head.
"Hey, hey, don't go getting emotional on me, you two. Something's not quite right; the Darksyde's is flying into a defensive position," Smokescreen announced, dragging attention back to the two 'Con ships. "It might just be me, but it doesn't look like they're about to throw party for their guests."
"Nobody ever said the Decepticons were known for their warm welcomes," Hound said.
Small flickers of movement from the ventral side of the Darksyde caught their attention. They could just make out three dark figures exiting the hangar.
"I don't believe it; they've finally flipped their circuit breakers!" Smokescreen exclaimed incredulously, zooming in on the free-floating Decepticons making their way towards the oncoming ship. "Those three are going to try and attack the Nemesis on their own!"
"Stranger things have happened," Mirage sighed, trying to make any possible sense of what he was witnessing. "Draw the ship back beyond weapons range. If there is going to be a skirmish of some sort, I don't want to get involved. " He glanced to Hound, who sat poised at tactical. "Raise the cloaks as well so we don't draw any attention to ourselves."
"Right." Immediately, the Uller hummed to life as its powerful cloaking array came online. Several holographic projectors deployed along the small ship's hull- there was a flicker over the plating for only a moment, one second an Autobot tracking ship floating in space, the next a completely inconspicuous piece of space rock drifting along in space. The holographic cloaking array may have been severely power-draining, but it was supremely useful at times like these when they wished to go unnoticed.
"What are we to do now?" Smokescreen inquired.
"We watch," Mirage replied. "If we're lucky, they'll destroy each other. If not, we send out a warning on all Autobot frequencies that our worst fears have come to pass; Optimus and the Ark have failed on their mission to retrieve the Allspark. The Nemesis has returned."