A/N: Yay readers! I'm personally not too pleased with how does the crossovers thing; I think it makes far more sense to just allow you to select multiple fandoms for a story, and have a separate category for the crossovers that span a bajillion universes. Anyways, this chapter is still setting up some characters; the next chapter will be back to giant robots fighting as well as more explanation on the Vajra-Cybertronian-Protoculture connection.
Chapter 4: Lion
"Fold Quartz – a most marvelous material that allowed the Insecticon race to flourish among the stars. And now, thanks to the research conducted by my team, so will Cybertron reap the benefits of this super-dimensional compound!"
~Starscream, Head of Cybertronian Science Division, later Decepticon Air Commander
Bumblebee and Arcee cruised about the San Francisco region of Island I, looking for any hint of what might have caused the fold waves that were received on Cybertron two years ago. Since landing on this world, both scouts had felt a series of fold waves at more or less regular intervals, although the waves were too weak and faint for Bumblebee to pinpoint alone. Bumblebee had heard of this planet, although he was a little perplexed by what he saw, though; since ancient times, Cybertronian star charts indicated that the planet was the Insecticon homeworld, but now it seemed to be inhabited by another race of small bipedal city-dwelling organics who called themselves "humans."
It was Arcee who managed to locate the source of the fold waves due to her decentralized nature. She was actually constructed out of three separate robots linked to a hive mind, which allowed her to more easily triangulate where the small ripples were coming from. Currently, she was a fleet of pink Ducati 848 motorcycles, a disguise adopted to blend in with her surroundings. Bumblebee was glad Arcee was on the team; while he undoubtedly could have achieved the same result, it would have taken far longer, and the Autobots were running out of time in this war.
"Hey, Arcee," Bumblebee called out as his sensors actively scanned for any sign of Cybertronian life. "Wanna race? If I beat you there, you owe me a kiss!"
"Come on, be serious," Arcee replied. "We don't have much time."
"So if we race, we get there faster, right?" Bumblebee retorted. Back on Cybertron, he had a fondness for speed that led him to select a yellow 2057 Camaro as his disguise form.
"Come on, be serious," Arcee shot back. "Are you not aware of who you're talking to here? The bot's not been made that can match me for speed," she bragged, revving her engines. "Forget the kiss, if you're not eating dust by the time we get there, I'll rotate your tires."
There was a brief period of silence, followed by a jubilant cry as three pink streaks zipped their way across Island 1, closely followed by a yellow streak.
For Ensign Megumi Kaminska, the next several days could be best defined by questions upon questions by various investigative personnel. Currently, she paced about the temporary barracks they had assigned her. It was decently furnished and had the façade of a normal living arrangements, but Megumi knew that it was but a step up from "house arrest" – she was not allowed to really go anywhere, for the simple reason that Rear Admiral Halstead, who was in charge of the investigation, had not quite determined whether she had been negligent in her duties.
Megumi shook her head. What else could she have done? She and her fellow crew had done everything they could – indeed, better than could have been expected from the crews of other ships – while blind the whole time. She doubted the much-vaunted SMS could have done better.
More distressing is the mere fact that their enemies had used NUNS mecha, which brought into question how they had come across those mecha. Before she could dwell too much on that, however, there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," she called out, snapping to attention as soon as she saw that it was Rear Admiral Halstead. Next to him was a man dressed in a sharp black suit.
"At ease," Halstead said, Megumi relaxed. "Well, Ensign, I have good news and bad news. Good news is, I'm apparently no longer investigating your case. In fact, you and what few survivors there were are getting off scot-free. On the other hand, you are now under the custody of the gentleman standing beside me."
"Agent John Simmons, Department of Overtechnology Research, Ouranos Division," the man said, holding up a badge. "Come with me."
"Well, we're both there," Bumblebee said to Arcee as both Autobots pulled up to what looked like a gathering hall. "Tie?"
"Yeah," Arcee replied. "Tie. Hold on, I'm getting a transmission." She paused for a second, listening intently. "It's from Prime. Sitrep?"
"This is Bumblebee," the yellow scout called back. "We're on-site, but we haven't seen anything yet. I've been trying the universal greeting, but I haven't been getting any results."
Backstage at the Tenkumon Concert Hall, Sheryl and Ranka were being prepped for their performance. In the old days, this would have consisted of much fussing over the two idols by makeup and costume personnel, but due to the holographic costume generators that allowed for instantaneous costume changes in real time, this was no longer needed. As a result, the two girls were instead facing each other, warming up their throats and performing breathing exercises to keep them relaxed for their show.
The exercises were going well, when Sheryl and Ranka heard a series of strange syllables.
"You hear that?" Sheryl said, cocking her head to one side in confusion.
"Yeah," Ranka replied. "What was that?"
"I don't know. Does 'Bah-weep-granaaagh-weep-nini-bong' sound like anything to you?"
Ranka shook her head. "Nope. This is getting weird."
"Yes, it is," Sheryl replied. She looked up at a large screen, where an older man was currently giving a speech. "Whatever. The show's about to start," she said, getting up and moving to the wings of the stage. "Good luck!"
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, I know you're not here to listen to this old man prattle on about the war," President Stephen Ikari said to the packed crowd in front of him. "Heaven knows we've had enough of it when we were coming to this world. So, without further ado, I present to you, the Galactic Nymph, Sheryl Nome! And the Super-dimensional Cinderella, Ranka Lee!"
A series of loud cheers and clapping welcomed the two singers on stage. Sheryl and Ranka smiled as each took a mike.
"Thanks you, thank you," Sheryl said. "It's an honor to be here and performing for the people of New Frontier. Like the President said, you're here for a night of music, but I feel it's important to bring up something else. Now, I know we've all heard about the accident one week ago. Let us have a moment of silence for those lost during the accident, and for those brave servicemen of the Spacy who are currently risking their lives to defend our home and protect our way of life."
The entire audience complied, bowing their heads in recognition. As Ranka did likewise, she looked sideways at Sheryl and noted that she still had much to learn from the older woman, especially where showmanship and public relations were concerned. After the moment of silence was over, Sheryl looked at the audience and smiled, then turned to Ranka and winked, giving her the cue to begin their routine.
"Ladies," Sheryl said, amidst a set of synthesized bells that began chiming the introduction to "Lion."
"Gentlemen," Ranka added.
"Friends," both said together. "LISTEN TO MY SONG!"
A set of power guitars roared their tune as the holo-projectors went to work, adorning Sheryl and Ranka in ornate costumes that would take a dozen slaves a dozen days to sew. Fireworks erupted behind them, sending brilliant shades of pink and purple streaking across the sky.
"The stars are turning round and round at the centre of the galaxy.
If you sneeze, a butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance."
"Should we really be doing this? It seems we should be up there in Valkyries," SMS First Lieutenant Vasily Ivanov muttered, firing up his EX-Gear suit. The small flight-capable exoskeleton emitted a low whine as it powered up. EX-Gears were a recent development, meant to enhance a pilot's ability to "sync" with his variable fighter and improve performance. "You know, in case more of those comet things come."
"The door you guarding cannot be opened by any key.
It's such an embarrassing story."
"I think it's all right," Luca Angeloni replied, doing the same. "Major Ozma's up there, along with the Pixies and Diamond Force. They should be more than a match, right, Alto?"
"Though they often lick one another, lions are strong."
"Yes." First Lieutenant Alto Saotome nodded, then turned to Vasily, Luca, and two other SMS pilots. "There's the signal. Let's do this."
The five SMS pilots flipped a small switch on their EX-Gears, then blasted off towards the center of the stage, sending clouds of colored smoke behind them. The New Frontier government was giving them paid leave to fly acrobatics for this memorial concert, and by God they were going to make an impression.
As Sheryl sang, she saw and exchanged glances with Alto as he flew by towards her. Her eyes seemed to sparkle as she and Ranka began the chorus of the song with increased fervor.
"I want to survive.
I want to survive.
I still can't stop wanting to live.
Guided by the constellations, our eyes met."
"By Primus," Bumblebee choked out, "Arcee, are you receiving?"
"Yeah," Arcee replied, surprised by the fold waves emanating from the concert hall. "What do you think that is?"
"I–" Bumblebee was about to reply when Optimus Prime cut in.
"Bumblebee, Arcee, come in! Where are these fold waves coming from?"
"I – I don't know, Prime! I'm not finding anything!" Bumblebee replied. "I'm scanning as hard as I can, but I'm not finding anything, Cybertronian or Insecticon!"
"Neither am I, Prime," Arcee added. "Here, I'm linking everything we've picked up with you. Do you or any of the others recognize anything?"
"Receiving transmission," Prime said. "Forwarding. Ironhide, Ratchet, Jazz, run analysis against this world's FoldWeb."
"Wait, can it be?" Bumblebee's voice was filled with incredulity. "Are the fold waves coming from humans?"
"I want to survive.
I am at a loss,
Gently withering away from this world.
But until I show you my true self, I will not sleep."
What few bits of emotion were left in Soundwave's personality circuitry lit up as soon as the fold waves from the concert hit.
"Barricade, come in," Soundwave called out. "Report status."
"Looks like we've been mislead, Director," Barricade called back. "It's fleshlings, though I have no idea how in the Pit fleshlings managed to send out fold waves, much less waves similar to those emitted by Insecticon queens. I'm sending you a file of what I'm seeing as we speak."
"I see," Soundwave replied as he browsed through the file and compared it with his databanks. "Barricade, I have an assignment for you."