Chapter 21: How the War was Won
Journal of Captain Marissa Fairborn, United States Air Force
Earth Date March 25, 2013 (approx.)
With the defeat and arrest of Megatron at Nova Cronum, the Decepticon front lines collapsed. Given the many coup attempts against him – as well as his growing paranoia – Megatron had apparently thoroughly purged the ranks of his high-level officers and so the Decepticons' military hierarchy was thrown into chaos the moment he was no longer there to rule from the top. Decepticon troops found themselves isolated with no clear chain of command, receiving contradictory orders from at least half a dozen different guys looking to take over the big job. Rewind and Blaster had made sure to repeatedly broadcast Megatron's defeat over every known frequency and the blow to Decepticon morale had been tremendous. It took another four months – barely more than an eye blink by Cybertronian standard – until Autobot troops invaded Polyhex, the Decepticon capitol. Decepticon resistance was stiff, but poorly organized. Grimlock reserved for himself the pleasure of kicking down the doors of Fortress Darkmount, leading his Dynobots as the spearhead of a massive charge. Those within the fortress finally surrendered and the Autobots' flag (or holographic symbol, rather) was raised on Darkmount's highest spire. As far as we can tell the Decepticons no longer exist as a cohesive military or political entity at this point. There are scattered Decepticon troops all over Cybertron and the Grid Worlds, naturally, but to the best of our knowledge there is no longer any unifying command structure. What worries me, though, is the so-called Big List. Ever since he took over as Optimus Prime's chief strategist Prowl has kept a list of the most important and/or dangerous Decepticons that he considered priority targets and tracked their movements to the best of the Autobots' intelligence network's ability. And as it turns out, quite a few names on that list are currently unaccounted for. Soundwave, The good news is, though, that Wheeljack, Perceptor, and Brainstorm have conducted a thorough search of Darkmount Fortress and found what appears to be Shockwave's main laboratory. If there are any records to be found regarding Shockwave's Space Bridge improvements, odds are they'll be there.
It took another four months – barely more than an eye blink by Cybertronian standard – until Autobot troops invaded Polyhex, the Decepticon capitol. Decepticon resistance was stiff, but poorly organized. Grimlock reserved for himself the pleasure of kicking down the doors of Fortress Darkmount, leading his Dynobots as the spearhead of a massive charge. Those within the fortress finally surrendered and the Autobots' flag (or holographic symbol, rather) was raised on Darkmount's highest spire.
As far as we can tell the Decepticons no longer exist as a cohesive military or political entity at this point. There are scattered Decepticon troops all over Cybertron and the Grid Worlds, naturally, but to the best of our knowledge there is no longer any unifying command structure. What worries me, though, is the so-called Big List. Ever since he took over as Optimus Prime's chief strategist Prowl has kept a list of the most important and/or dangerous Decepticons that he considered priority targets and tracked their movements to the best of the Autobots' intelligence network's ability. And as it turns out, quite a few names on that list are currently unaccounted for.
The good news is, though, that Wheeljack, Perceptor, and Brainstorm have conducted a thorough search of Darkmount Fortress and found what appears to be Shockwave's main laboratory. If there are any records to be found regarding Shockwave's Space Bridge improvements, odds are they'll be there.
Fortress Darkmount, Polyhex, Planet Cybertron
March 25, 2013
"So what have you found?" Marissa asked, looking around the room. Apparently it had once been the main strategic planning centre for the Decepticon war effort. Now the Autobot symbol was displayed on the far wall.
"The good news is," Wheeljack began, putting several data pads on the table before him, "that Shockwave was apparently forced to leave in a hurry. Most of the hard drives have been deleted, but not formatted. Chromedome and Mainframe are working on data recovery as we speak. We've already reviewed some of it and... yeah, I'll leave the high-level quantum-wormhole-transwarp theoretical stuff to Perceptor, but the long and short of it is: we believe we'll be able to make Shockwave's receiver-less Space Bridge work."
Marissa gasped, barely able to keep from jumping for joy. "You mean..."
"Yes," Wheeljack told her. "We need to do a lot of number crunching, which will probably take quite some time, but... I'm confident we can send you home, Marissa!"
Unable to restrain herself, Marissa ran forward and hugged Wheeljack... well, his arm, anyway. Given that she was in her Headmaster suit and standing on top of the table, it was the only practical way.
"Thank you, Wheeljack," she just said. "Thank you so much."
"I don't want to spoil the moment," Ultra Magnus said from the other side of the table, "but you said 'good news', which implies, I assume, that there is also bad news?"
Wheeljack nodded, gently recovering his arm from Marissa's hug to pick up another data pad.
"We went over every scrap of data we found in this fortress and apparently Shockwave arranged for a large number of materials and troops to be shipped to a remote location during the last stellar cycle or so. It was mostly hidden in larger transfer orders, but after Megatron's defeat at Nova Cronum he apparently stopped being stealthy and just shipped stuff off wholesale."
"Do we know where?" Optimus Prime asked.
"Roughly," Wheeljack replied. "Somewhere on the outskirts of Kaon, though the orders include passing the materials on to Decepticon units already present, so it's possible they simply moved them elsewhere afterwards."
Prowl studied the data on Wheeljack's pad.
"We know that Shockwave was only with Megatron out of convenience. From all this I'd say that he saw the writing on the wall and made preparations for the post-Megatron era. Given the troops and materials, either he's setting up a new Decepticon central command hub somewhere else on the planet or he might be planning on abandoning Cybertron altogether to start fresh elsewhere."
Rewind, who had been taping everything as it happened, hopped onto the table besides Marissa.
"I would bet my Shanix on the latter option. The outer Kaon province Protex was the site of the colony shipyards. Pre-war the ships designed to seek out new planets to add to the Space Bridge grid were constructed there. I doubt there are any completed ships left; they were probably scavenged for the war effort long ago. It should still have all the facilities necessary to construct one, though."
Prime nodded. "It's worth investigating. Marissa, take your Maniacs, hook up with Silverbolt, and do aerial reconnaissance of the area. If Shockwave is holed up somewhere in Kaon, I want him found."
Marissa nodded enthusiastically. They had the means to send her home, but as long as Shockwave was free, she knew they couldn't take the risk of actually doing it. So he had to be found. Jumping off the table, she ran towards the landing platform where she'd parked Thrymir.
"Maniacs," she opened her com. "Form up! We got work to do!"
Province Protex, Torus State Kaon
March 25, 2013
"Anything?" Marissa asked.
Maverick's Maniacs had hooked up with Silverbolt's Superion Squad and were busy searching every square mile of the war-torn Kaon landscape. This was still technically Decepticon territory, such as it was, and they'd been shot at twice by small Decepticon forces on the ground. Those were just scattered remnants, though, and not what they were looking for.
"Nothing so far," Silverbolt called back. Seniority put the large Autobot flyer in charge of this joint mission.
"We're coming up on the Protex shipyards now if the maps Rewind dug up are to be believed," Steelwing reported. "Never thought I'd actually see them in person."
Marissa reminded herself that Steelwing was very young for a Cybertronian, only a few 10,000 years old. The tales of Cybertronian ships sailing the stars to settle new planets that could then be reached on foot simply by stepping through a Space Bridge were just that for her: tales.
Just ahead Marissa could see huge gaps in the metal landscape. From the maps she'd seen she knew them to be construction pits, somewhat similar to dry docks on Earth. In the distant past huge space arks had been constructed here. Now they all stood empty, whatever half-finished ships they'd once contained had long been eaten up by the war.
"I'm getting high-level energy readings," Swoop announced. "Coming from the far end of the yards."
"Gun it, people," Silverbolt ordered. "Activate weapons and keep a sensor out for enemy units!"
The two squadrons shot forward. Moments later they came under fire.
"I make three, no, make that four flak batteries. They form a perimeter around the far-end construction pit."
"Pair off and take them out!"
With Swoop on her wing Marissa went into a steep dive until she had the far left flak battery in her sights. Giving the mental command to fire her blaster cannons was almost an afterthought. As she came out of her dive, though, she saw something huge moving just ahead.
"It's a slaggin' ship," Swoop cursed. "The one-eyed bastard really built himself a ship."
A giant wedge-shaped craft rose from the construction pit as if being lifted out by some unseen giant's hands. Something else was moving as well, though. The formerly featureless landscape beside the construction pit began to shift and transform. A huge arch rose out of the ground, forming a circle easily big enough to allow the newly risen ship to pass through it.
"Sensors are picking up transwarp radiation," Silverbolt announced. "That arch is a Space Bridge terminal."
Silverbolt had barely finished his sentence when the interior of the arch flared to life. Marissa had seen more than her share of Space Bridges by now to recognize them. On the far side of that swirling pool of energy was another world. Shockwave was trying to leave Cybertron.
"Maniacs! Take out that arch," she ordered.
Before they could move in, though, a squadron of Seekers separated from the slow-moving ship and screamed directly towards them, filling the sky with blaster fire. Unable to break loose, Marissa had to concentrate fully on the ensuing dogfight. The Decepticons were outnumbered, but didn't seem to care, joyfully sacrificing themselves to buy precious time.
"He's getting away," someone yelled over the com.
Cursing, Marissa blew a Seeker away and accelerated Thrymir for all he was worth. Swoop, Steelwing, and Highbrow were right behind her, she noticed, as they quickly closed the distance to the Decepticon ship.
Not quickly enough, though.
The Space Bridge winked out of existence, leaving no trace of the space ship that had been here moments ago. Marissa and her wingmates shot through empty air. Moments later explosions bloomed across the entire giant Space Bridge arch, shattering it in an instant.
"Bastard closed the door behind him," Swoop cursed.
"Calling Iacon! Blaster can you hear me? Did you guys pick up that Space Bridge transit?"
The com channel crackled for a moment, then Blaster came online.
"Impossible not to, girl. Biggest Space Bridge portal in eons, I think. They picked that up all the way up on Lunar 1, I think."
"Do we know where they went?"
"The number crunchers are working on it. We should have a destination point in a few Breems."
There was no logic to it, no conceivable way it should be possible, but Marissa had a horrible sinking feeling that she knew exactly where Shockwave had gone. Dread settled in the pit of her stomach.
22 miles above Tromso, Norway
March 25, 2013
The Space Bridge portal closed behind them, leaving the Decepticon Fleet Carrier Nemesis drifting in orbit above the world the alien Marissa Fairborn had come from. Shockwave stood on the bridge, his single optic looking down onto the face of this new planet with satisfaction.
"Phase I is complete," he stated. "Begin preparations for phase II."
Completely invisible to Earth's sensors, the space craft slowly began its descent towards the planet below.
Next time on "Humans in Disguise":The War for Cybertron is all but over. But the Battle for Earth is about to begin. Marissa Fairborn returns home after years of being lost in space. She is not the same woman that vanished from Earth so long ago. Then again, neither is Earth the same planet she left behind.