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Forging the Star

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Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:37 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Summary: A reluctant team of Decepticon titan hunters may be Cybertron's only hope when an ancient evil resurfaces, seeking to use abandoned Regenesis worlds for their own sinister ends.

Author's Note: This story takes place during current IDW continuity, following the events of Spotlight: Trailcutter/The Reluctant Specialist and Robots in Disguise #10 and prior to Robots in Disguise #17.


Prologue

LV-117, the Past and the Present

The slavering mech unearthed the temple ruin. He prepared to continue, drilling into the clay walls.

A tendril pulled the noose on his neck. The robot attempted to continue its task, even as its master insisted it cease.

"Useless," its master noted. "Disable the command routine."

The scientist used his tendril on a datapad. The robot's drill ceased to operate and it stood still before the clay temple.

"Return your pet to the ship, Doctor," the master instructed. "I'll collect the artifact."

The scientist led the robot away. The master levitated into the clay structure, to the sacred relic at the temple center. Slowly built over, once revered centuries earlier, stood one of the last Chalcitis crystals. What had once been believed to be treasures from their planet had long since become what it was always meant to be: simple fuel.

Yet the crystal had mutated. Altered itself. Its yellow tint had been corrupted, spiked with an unnatural green hue. Its beauty was gone, replaced only by the hollow machinations of the Decepticon who'd seeded this planet.

Shockwave would never understand the measure of his crime. His executioners would see him destroyed quickly, so his dangerous, capable mind could never again inflict itself upon the galaxy... or threaten their empire.

The master drew up a tendril to his helmet and patched into communications. "This is Praefectus," he spoke to his men. "This crystal's been contaminated."

"Standby, commander," his scientist recommended. "This planet will take care of the rest."

Prafectus did not care to wait, but his scientist was reliable. So he complied. So he waited.

The clay temple around him was abruptly replaced... melted down, the soil beneath him turned to red rock, streams of magma erupting in the distance, the planet tearing itself apart...

"What is going on?!" Praefectus demanded.

He heard only static.

"Answer me, Phaedrus! What have you done?!"

The ground beneath him began to split. He moved quickly to retreat, but...

...the soil was brown and green. There were no cracks in the rock. The clay temple stood before him, the crystal at its center bright yellow.

Praefectus could not comprehend it. But he returned his attention to the crystal, and encircled it with his tendril. With a free limb he fired his metal shell's laser, and cut off a sizable piece.

Beneath it, the rest of the crystal turned green, again affected by the poison Shockwave had introduced.

"Commander? Are you there?" Phaedrus asked over the comm in Praefectus's helmet.

Praefectus looked over the yellow crystal in his tendril, and again at the green one still at the temple center.

"Yes, I'm here," Praefectus replied. "I'm en route to the ship."

Praefectus exited the temple and hovered over to the landing site. Dozens of Phaedrus's mechs, the empty, sparkless husks of dead Cybertronians, loaded the tainted green ore into their ship.

"You would sully our empire with the Decepticon's corrupted ore?" Praefectus asked as he boarded the massive, city-sized vehicle, floating past the rebuilt, reprogrammed robots as they carried out their menial task.

"We'll need more, actually. A lot more," Phaedrus replied. "We need to make two rapid jumps."

"Oh? To where?" Praefectus asked.

"Secondly, to Arduria. The Nihilicons there are all freezing over digging into the core. They need to be replaced."

"And firstly?"

"To... Cybertron, Commander," Phaedrus answered.

"Cybertron." Praefectus repeated flatly.

"Yes. I must acquire more raw material. I don't have a sufficient supply of brain modules to rebuild a new neural net-"

"Do not presume to tell me what supplies we need," Praefectus commanded. "Make no mistake; your experiment repulses me. Were it not for your results, I'd have decommissioned it long ago."

"Commander..." Phaedrus began, but he stopped once his commander met him in person, reaching the bridge of their ship.

"The Cybertronians are useful in only one way, Phaedrus," Praefectus said. "As our slaves. Those that still live..." He let the sentiment hang as he assumed his post, the other scientists and executioners looking on.

"Commander-" Phaedrus began again, but he stopped with a wave of Prafectus's tendril.

Praefectus was silent for several moments, watching out his monitor as the planet once more began to change around them, jumping forward in time...

...there he stood, poised over the crumbling, decaying planet. His orange shell made him easy to spot, as he looked down at another living Cybertronian, red and blue in color. Instruments aboard their ship began to react, warning of the danger as the soil beneath them grew increasingly unstable, as temperatures began to rise...

"My greatest student, Shockwave, sent Bludgeon and Monstructor on this quest," the mad scientist Cybertronian explained. "You believe we saw chaos in the heart of Cybertron, Orion...?"

"True chaos is coming."

He pontificated further... out in the distance, before being obstructed by falling rock. Falling rock that conveniently hid their massive ship from the two Cybertronians and their own ship, approaching from space...

...and just as quickly they were gone. The planet was lush and alive.

"Resources are paramount," Praefectus finally said. "We will take what we must, and then we will be gone. Limit your operations to a site away from their new settlement in Iacon."

"Yes, Commander," Phaedrus agreed. He drew up a holographic display of the metal planet from his datapad. "There is a foundry here, in Vos, the site of a battle with 3,000 confirmed casualties, primarily Decepticon. If we send a detachment down, I'll complete the acquisition in one standard solar cycle."

Praefectus considered. "Remaining energon reserves?"

An engineer intervened. "Sufficient. However, following the second jump we will have used up all non-essential."

Praefectus nodded. "Very well. You may have your wish, Phaedrus." He turned his attention to the subordinates further along the bridge. "Helmsman, raise the titan."

"Yes, Commander."

Phaedrus quietly celebrated as he enthusiastically raised a tendril. "For the glory of the Quintessons."

Praefectus was more subdued. "For the glory of the Quintesson Empire."

The remaining Nihilicons finished boarding and the city-ship's ramps retracted. Engines flared up, and the Metrotitan lifted off from the planet's surface.

"Activate the space bridge," Praefectus ordered.

The helmsman input the command code. The Metrotitan cried out within, as his internal bridge was forced to activate, and the unwitting servant disappeared in a flash of light, at his tentacled master's whim.
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:25 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter One


Orbit Around Luna 2

...

I hate the waiting.

I hate uncertainty.

I hate my life.


Lockdown sat in front of his viewscreen in the captain's chair. Star Saber would call to reprimand him at any moment. He would have to offer some excuse, and had played it over again and again in his mind.

His attempt to seize the Titan's fragment had led him right into an Autobot vessel. Always start with the truth, or at least some piece of it. If his claim was verified by the ship's logs and his crew's own testimony, any little variations after the fact would be easier to explain.

Then, of course, they were routed by a well trained team of Autobots. Ex-Wreckers! More than they thought possible... they were outnumbered and at a strategic disadvantage! The latter claim was true; that force field trick had genuinely terrified him.

His subordinates had split off from him and wandered right into trouble. His subordinates were idiots. That was true.

Lockdown glanced briefly back at the bumbling Insecticons, Chop Shop, Venom, and Barrage. They'd been splitting from a container of energon goodies, but a fight had broken out over the remaining one. The three were locked in a strange pile of limbs and had somehow kicked up a dust cloud to obscure their fight in a completely sterile ship. They were so dumb they somehow defied the laws of thermodynamics.

Lockdown returned to the empty vidscreen and considered amending his report. No one would have trouble believing those three were disposed of. Maybe his team was outnumbered after Venom had been incapacitated. Not that it took much effort to believe that.

Lockdown looked past the disgusting organics to his other companions. Lugnut, the lumbering gladiator, sat quietly in the back, fuming to himself. It was an improvement over his usual mood: lamenting the death of Megatron, screaming revenge to the cosmos at every opportunity. No one had bothered to mention his leader lived on Cybertron, least of all Megatron himself. Powerful though Lugnut was, his sycophantic praise of their leader irked all of his comrades, and even the target of his effusive praise wearied of it. And, of course, if Lockdown let slip that Megatron was alive, Lugnut would immediately leave his ship and rush to rejoin the battle lines.

Ransack, patiently waiting for his fellow Insecticons to move their fight a bit further from him, quietly swooped in and ate their last energon goodie, otherwise unnoticed. He walked away, unfettered, as his comrades continued to brawl around, playing it cool. Unlike the other Insecticons, Ransack wasn't psychotic or dumber than Lugnut. He was an opportunist, but one capable of following his orders to the letter and getting the job done. He was the only one Lockdown had faith in to do anything besides fight.

Not that he had much choice but to give the others' assignments...

Sitting not far from him was Terradive, monitoring the communications. Lockdown knew him as another mercenary, working for Megatron in search of big bounties and rewards when the war was done. But unlike Lockdown, Terradive had a soft spot for some Autobot copter named Tomahawk, and whenever that 'Bot was involved, Terradive flew off the handle and pursued him relentlessly, abandoning his mission without a second thought. It was amateurish. No matter how reliable any 'Con seemed, once emotions got involved they were just as unpredictable -and just as expendable- as new recruits.

Lockdown still wore the badge, but had no faith in the cause. He kept his team of Titan Hunters because most of them were dumb enough to trust him, and strong enough to be handy in a tight spot. They were useful tools, and commanding over them gave him some sense of pride.

Pride that was immediately squashed once Tyrest and his pet soldier called.

The vidscreen displayed the words "SOUND ONLY" in Cybertronix. "Report," came Star Saber's voice.

"It... didn't go as planned," Lockdown replied.

"So," Star Saber mused, invisible behind that dark screen. "You failed. Again."

"Not quite how I'd put it..." Lockdown answered.

"Your words are immaterial. Only your results matter," Star Saber spat. "And your result is nothing, Decepticon."

Lockdown merely snarled.

"You will find something before you return here again," Star Saber told him. "If you dare to return with nothing... you will become nothing." The communication cut off.

Lockdown grimaced and turned to Terradive. "Scan for the energy signatures. We're moving out again."

"That went well," Ransack observed, walking over to the bridge.

"We're still alive. I was hoping he'd kill one of you," Lockdown replied. "Give me someone more competent than you fools."

Terradive glared at him. "Nothing on the scanner. Expanding range."

"Not that it matters," Lockdown noted. "Experience still counts for something..."

Terradive's instruments began to react. "Energy spike!"

Lockdown glanced over, bored. "Where?"

"Calculating trajectory now..." Terradive answered, fumbling with the machinery, and arbitrarily turning knobs, without the slightest clue what he was doing. Ransack walked over and took the controls.

I hate where I am. Stuck as the errand boy for lunatic judges and fleeing from no-name Autobots. Perpetually surrounded by idiots and trying to find some of the most powerful Cybertronians who ever lived.

"I've got a trail," Ransack replied. He prepared to read it, but stopped, looking at the Cybertronix and then pulling up a holographic display of Cybertron and Luna 1 and the surrounding system.

Results, Star Saber? It's not like one of the Titans will just...

"Lockdown," Ransack began. "The signature is local. Inside this solar system."

On the holographic display they saw it. A space bridge, opening above Cybertron. Lockdown, stunned, changed the frequency on his vidscreen, looking out at the space over his metal planet.

And there it was, a Metrotitan, in city mode, emerging from the jump... levitating right over the planet, and right in front of him. Lockdown just stared, his right hook slowly sliding down the captain's chair.

...fall... right... into my hand?
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:29 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Author's Note: The tract probe is the predecessor of the temporal probe, existing prior to transwarp technology.



Chapter Two


Cybertron, the Vos-Tarn Border


Vos. One of the few city-states of Cybertron to retain its independence from the politics of Iacon, was now just the dilapidated ruins of old factories. Like Kaon, it was an industrial hub, but unlike its neighbor Tarn, Vos had been blessed by fate, and sat upon an enormous reservoir of Energon, more than anywhere else on the planet. For centuries the Cybertronians who lived there aggregated and hoarded their prize, at the expense of their neighbor, Tarn, who processed that fuel and shipped it to satisfy the endless thirsts of the affluent in Iacon. Once Megatron rose from the pits of Kaon, however, Vos was one of the first five cities to fall under the might of the Decepticon war machine. With the military superiority of Tarn and the riches of Vos, the Decepticons were well situated to plunge the planet into a brutal war.

What was once rich and prosperous was now a dry hole, crumbling under an oppressive new atmosphere on a reborn, untamed planet. If there was any Energon left, it was nowhere to be seen in the dark ruins.

The arrival of the Metrotitan, landing its city-ship in the demilitarized zone between Tarn and Vos, was the first light it'd seen since the Decepticons abandoned the planet. The Quintesson Phaedrus and his Nihilicon drones were the first to set foot in vorns.

Phaedrus punched the command into his datapad: Bring me the brain modules.

His Nihilicons rolled out the ramps from the Metrotitan and began to collect. They scoured the city, moving towards a large concentration of Decepticons, destroyed en-masse by a precision strike on their fuel lines during an Autobot guerilla attack.

The Decepticons did not collect their dead. Any empties and other un-aligned Cybertronians would scour them for transformation cogs and innermost Energon. Things they valued.

Not things the Quintessons sought.

No, Energon was only a bonus. No, not even that. A necessary evil. A way to power their ship, to jump instantaneously through space. Its blue taint in worlds that had once belonged to them had crippled their own plans of expansion.

And now they would need to use the same technology... the same weapons that had stifled their efforts.

Still, as Phaedrus watched the mechs gather the necessary equipment, he knew his efforts were leading them closer to completion. With a more advanced neural network, with a sufficient supply of backups to carry on their orders, his Nihilcons would complete the dig and retrieve the last intact piece.

Shockwave had sent his forces to scour these planets he'd infected... only one missile remained. Only one intact blueprint was left for the Quintessons to utilize and reverse engineer.

And Phaedrus's Nihilicons were nearly there... so very near...


-

The Death's Head, in orbit over the planet

"No way," Terradive said. "No way."

"Can't be," Venom muttered.

"Maybe it's the Engex..." Barrage suggested.

"Shut up, all of you," Lockdown commanded, regaining his senses as he moved his ship closer. "We have protocols for this. We move in, and we shut down the space bridge as fast as possible."

"The Titan is awake," Terradive pointed out. "Unless it goes inert, it'll detect us coming."

"Then we make our search more innocuous," Lockdown replied, irritated at Terradive's interjection. "Dispatch a probe and begin a long range scan. Stay in the upper atmosphere, and avoid the radar range." He glanced around at his crew, considering his options. "Ransack, manually pilot it."

Ransack nodded and moved to his post on the bridge. He logged onto the ship board computer and input the command, a set of flight controls rising from the dashboard. "Ready."

"Launch it," Lockdown instructed.

Beneath them, a lower pod bay door opened. The tract probe fell out into the vacuum of space, but did not linger, its thrusters pushing it down into the atmosphere.

Lockdown, Terradive, and the Insecticons crowded around Ransack as his monitor displayed the probe's camera view. After pushing through the renewed, much more powerful atmosphere of Cybertron, it lingered over the Titan, its city-ship mode parked in the DMZ between Vos and Tarn.

"Magnify the image," Lockdown instructed.

Ransack zoomed in. The Titan had deployed ramps. Legions of Cybertronians moved in and out of it, carrying loads of scrap into the city ship.

"Impossible. Someone has a Titan cooperating with them?" Terradive asked.

"Autobots did," Chop Shop pointed out.

"If the Autbots had a Titan they would use it to defend Iacon," Lockdown sneered. "Magnify image."

"I'll have to get closer for a better view. We'll be in their radar range."

"Do it," Lockdown commanded. "This is the most valuable find we've ever had... if nothing else, we'll know who's got a Titan at their beck and call."

Ransack complied, moving the probe further down, dropping altitude.

The image became clearer... something was commanding the Cybertronians doing the labor. A strange, tentacled creature with a masked head... multiple masks on a single head. A strange cyborg, with organic limbs on a metal body.

Ransack drew back. "No way..."

Lockdown glanced at him. Ransack barely showed any emotion, and never hesitation. He carried out his orders with chilling efficiency. Yet now...

"What?" Lockdown asked.

Ransack shook his head, resuming his steady course. "I was posted on monitor duty in deep space, and used to work with the Terrorcons*. I heard a story from Hun-Gurr once, about the time they pursued Megatron to this junk planet**..." He was slow in talking, as though unable to believe his own words. "They tried to fight Megatron, five on one. They had him beaten until he... until he turned to a creature that looked just like that."

"Then what?" Barrage asked, apparently more interested in the story than the Titan or even the monitor image.

"Yeah, what happened next?" Venom asked.

Lockdown would normally berate them for speaking out of turn, but his own curiosity was piqued. He was silent, optics on the screen, audio sensors on Ransack.

"Megatron took something from that creature, and then defeated all five Terrorcons by himself," Ransack continued. "He was barely alive, until he took something from his tentacled friend... and then he was stronger than ever before."

"And you think this creature is the same species?" Terradive inquired.

"It's commanding a fleet of Cybertronians and riding in a Metrotitan," Ransack said. "I'm not the sharpest 'Con, but I don't think it's a coincidence."

"No," Lockdown agreed. "It's an opportunity."

The bounty hunter rose from his seat. "Let's play on your hunch, Ransack. If this thing is in command of the Titan, all we have to do is capture it... and make it lead us right inside."

He turned his claw hand to the hangar. "Venom, Barrage, Chop Shop, Lugnut, with me. We're going hunting."

Lugnut, silent throughout, slammed his clawed hands together. "Finally. Battle!"

-

The Metrotitan Interior Bridge


"Commander Praefectus, we have a bogey on the radar," an ensign informed his leader.

"That was quicker than anticipated..." Praefectus observed. "All auto-turrets online. Open a comm to Phaedrus."

A few seconds passed before the scientist appeared on screen. "Commander?"

"We've been detected," Praefectus informed his subordinate. "What is your projected completion time?"

"The operation is only 67% complete," Phaedrus answered. "We'll need another cycle."

"Time we cannot spare," Praefectus replied. "But we cannot afford to leave without our resources..." He contemplated. "Re-deploy the military units. Leave the collection to your most efficient transports."

"Commander, that will only slow completion..." Phaedrus protested.

"Yes," Praefectus agreed. "But it will remove any trace of detection. We'll have all the time necessary..."

"...once we are certain there are no witnesses."

Praefectus shut off communication and waited for his orders to be carried out.


-
*Spotlight: Sixshot
**The Transformers: Monstrosity Issue #7: Prey
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:40 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Three

There are a lot of tactics to respond to a bombing run. Standing directly under the point of impact is not recommended.

Lugnut slammed into the Nihilicons, still following their programming to gather the scrap of the fallen Decepticons. The living Decepticon bruiser ripped his way through the scavengers, who attempted to continue in their task, even as they suddenly found themselves without arms and legs.

Lockdown and the Insecticons landed shortly after their bigger compatriot. Lockdown pointed his claw to the Metrotitan's deployed ramps. "Get inside now," the bounty hunter instructed. "Remember the schematics?"

"Yup," Chop Shop replied.

"Then don't screw this up," Lockdown commanded. "Get to the space bridge and cut off the energon supply."

Chop Shop, Barrage and Venom flew, their wings buzzing over the still-shoveling Nihilicons. Lockdown moved to Lugnut's back.

"No screaming," Lugnut noted. "Not Autobots."

Lockdown glanced around. The Cybertronians dragging the broken Decepticons into the Metrotitan were unlike any he'd seen before... they seemed cobbled together, with many mismatched parts. It wasn't exactly unprecedented for a Decepticon to do a quick patch job with the limb of a fallen comrade... but whatever these things were, they had multiple mismatched limbs. Nearly all of them were in some state of disrepair, ambling about with broken wheels and lame legs. Were it not for the light in their optics, Lockdown would think them dead.

Until a few started shooting, anyway.

While their comrades continued to collect scrap, a unit of fliers moved in, firing their photon bursts and neutron assault rifles. Lockdown let Lugnut take the hits, using the bigger 'Con as a convenient shield. But peering over Lugnut's shoulder, Lockdown took stock of the fliers' ranks. One Seeker, a few cyberjets... and an Aerialbot? A neutral? These Cybertronians were of united factions?

Lockdown leveled his left arm at the fliers, his EMP generator rising up from his wrist. He selected a target and blasted it, immobilizing the cyberjet and bringing it down. Lugnut caught it between his claws and ripped the flier in two.

No spark left the frame. There was no light in that chamber... just oil. Just some purple substance, something less efficient, less potent than Energon. The cyberjet's optics faded, and it lay still on the ground of Vos, its head abruptly collected by one of its comrades, the rest left lying in two pieces.

"No spark," Lugnut noted, clearly confused.

"Yes," Lockdown acknowledged. "That much easier to kill."

Lockdown fired at each of the fliers with his EMP generator, grounding more of their number. He glanced at Lugnut and said three simple words: "Use the punch."

Lugnut lifted his right arm. A second conversion cog in his wrist activated, transforming his clawed hand into the pressure pad of his primary weapon, a gravity generator located in his hand.

Lockdown raised a diffraction barrier and waited. Usually, when Lugnut assumed this position his enemies fled, albeit to no avail. They couldn't escape the range of the blast.

It'd be visible from low orbit.

Lugnut's gravity generator hit the ground. A singularity formed from the impact, and the explosion erupted through the transporting Nihilicons and their grounded fliers, ripping through their assembly line in a brilliant flash.

-

Phaedrus watched from the ramp, stunned.

"That much power..." he mused, awed.

Praefectus set up communications. "What was that, Doctor?!"

"That..." Phaedrus tried to reply but had no solid answer. Only a hypothesis. Only a possibility.

Only an opportunity.

"Commander, I suggest we redeploy the Nihilicons," Phaedrus finally said. "And capture the Decepticon."

"Ridiculous," Praefectus replied. "We'll lose even more and have nothing to show-"

"Excuse me, Commander," Phaedrus interrupted. "I was going to suggest we move the Nihilicons to medium safe distance..."

"...and use the Titan."

Praefectus clearly didn't enjoy being interrupted. But he couldn't deny the facts...

"Very well," Praefectus agreed. "All hands prepare for transformation."

-

Barrage, Venom, and Chop Shop had buzzed past the unsuspecting Nihilicons and chewed a new hole just outside the ramp structure. They moved their way inwards, flying through the halls towards the Metrotitan's chest, towards the space bridge resting below his spark chamber.

They abruptly crashed into a wall as the interior of the Titan's body began to... convert.

Outside, Phaedrus and his remaining Nihilicons fled, giving a wide berth to their transport. The Titan's ramps retracted, and his legs extended outwards, as the back of the massive ship lifted off the ground...

Lugnut was watching the Nihilicons flee. "Run, cowards! Tell the Afterspark that you fell before the might of a glorious Decepticon warrior!"

Lockdown, meanwhile, lowered his diffraction barrier and watched the Titan rise.

Suddenly, running didn't seem like the cowardly thing to do.

"Ransack!" Lockdown screamed into his communicator. "Orbital jump! Now!"

"No can do," Ransack replied. "The atmosphere's made the positioning inaccurate. We try to jump and you could end up stuck in the moon."

"Then do an emergency drop and pick us up!" Lockdown ordered. "Do it now!"

The Death's Head broke the atmosphere above them. Lockdown looked up at the tiny speck of his ship in the sky, but his vision was quickly taken up by the Titan. Lugnut finally turned and faced the leviathan of the sky, his gravity generator still deployed.

"You want to challenge me, Autobot?!" Lugnut roared, proud, defiant. "Come forth and pay for your insolence!"

-

Within, Praefectus assumed manual control, his terminal setting up the apparatus. He waved his tendril, and the Titan drew back its arm.

He swung.

The Decepticon swung back. The resulting blast encircled the Titan's hand, blocking Praefectus's field of vision.

When the resulting explosion's light faded and his viewscreen returned to normal, the Decepticon lay, crushed into the ground of Vos, the Titan missing a few fragments of its index finger.

"Phaedrus, collect the specimen," Praefectus instructed. "And pray this was worth the effort."

-

Below, Phaedrus and his Nihilicons approached. Lockdown glanced at his comrade, battered by the attack, his armor cracked and his leg broken at the joint.

"That... all you can muster, Autobot?" Lugnut asked, still staring upwards at the Titan's hand. Staring straight ahead, probably because he couldn't move his neck.

"Surrender, Decepticon," Phaedrus instructed. "If you want to hang onto your miserable life a solar cycle longer... you'll join us aboard our ship."

Lockdown glanced at the tentacled cyborg. "And why would you let me live?"

"So that you may serve your masters, however briefly..." Phaedrus replied. "... by giving up your lives for the future of your species."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Lockdown asked, trying to stall, waiting for his ride to arrive.

"It means only that you will face judgment," Phaedrus answered. "And help us rebuild our empire, so we need not sully our hands by working with Cybertronians ever again."

"Not looking to bargain?" Lockdown inquired, trying to sound confident. "I can be quite a useful business partner."

"We have selected our own allies," Phaedrus replied, curt and dismissive. "You will be but tools aiding in our ascension... or perhaps I should say... digging."

Lockdown looked skyward. The Death's Head was closer...

"My Nihilicons are in place, commander," Phaedrus reported. "Set the space bridge to wide berth. And take us back to the site."

The Metrotitan cried out, as though in pain, as a massive energy field expanded from its chest...

-

Ransack, piloting the Death's Head, was focused on Lockdown on the ground below. Just a few more nano-kliks and he'd be there.

"Watch out!" Terradive called.

Ransack glanced to the left of his viewscreen. An energy field encroached upon him...

...and three nano-kliks later they were gone, the only remnants left on Vos the scattered remains of a few dead, cobbled together Cybertronians.
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:07 pm

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Four


"Hold on!" Ransack instructed his less-competent crewmate, as the Death's Head fell into the expanding portal. After a brilliant flash, the ship was flying through an intense snow storm. Instruments at Ransack's console went haywire, as one atmospheric disturbance was replaced by another, and the hull was bombarded by freezing winds and ice. Ransack couldn't see clearly through the hail, trying to reposition the ship, trying to make sense of his position... all he could infer was he was close to the ground, and the winds were not making it easy to adjust course.

The instruments continued screaming. At least Terradive wasn't peeking over his shoulder. Ransack tried to get the navigation specs intact, or get galactic positioning to tell him where he was... when the Death's Head made landfall, crashing into the tundra. He slammed into the console as the ship skidded along the icy ground, snow piling up around the cockpit.

After a few seconds, Ransack lifted up from the console, glancing around. Navigation was out. Temperature readings were down through the floor. The computers were still up, but his view screen was static.

"Terradive, get me a reading on the engines," Ransack instructed. He figured his compatriot would be distracted for a while, and the Insecticon tried to open comms.

"Lockdown, come in," Ransack called. "Lockdown."

He heard only static.

-

Lockdown heard a crackle over his communicator. Even amongst the freezing, howling winds, he could hear the attempt to reach him. Ransack... he'd been transported to wherever this frozen world was with them. The Titan Hunters weren't completely stranded.

But they were still completely at the mercy of these strange captors...

"Attempting to radio for help, Decepticon?" Phaedrus asked, as his Nihilicons loaded the unconscious Lugnut, carrying the bruiser on their backs. The Titan transformed back into city mode, as the smaller robots loaded their cargo.

Lockdown looked around at the icy tundra. "Where have you taken us?"

"Arduria," Phaedrus answered. "Our dig site."

Lockdown glanced around. There was a steep cliff nearby, barely distinguishable in the snow. "Digging for what?"

Phaedrus smiled. "Our future, Decepticon. The future of the galaxy."

A pair of unfamiliar cyborgs descended from the ramps of the Metrotitan. Unlike the scientist with the datapad, these brutes marched on two thick, massive legs, and had strong arms to match. Each of them carried a heavy staff, and each wore a mask that partially exposed the biological component within.

"Bailiffs, take our guest to the holding cell," Phaedrus instructed. "He was the leader of this operation. I want him isolated immediately."

The 'bailiffs' grunted and pointed their weapons at Lockdown.

Lockdown glanced back at the cliff's edge. "And this dig of yours'... how will it benefit us?"

"It won't," Phaedrus answered simply. "You Cybertronians poisoned our galaxy and took it away. The best mercy we can provide is letting you live long enough to restore our glory." Phaedrus waved a tendril, and a bailiff struck Lockdown in the leg, bringing him to a knee. "Enjoy this cold world, Decepticon... in a few solar cycles, we will burn it all away."

-

Chop Shop, Venom, and Barrage, previously trapped by a wall getting in their way, suddenly had the hallway open up again.

"This place is weird," Barrage observed.

"We can follow the same layout as before," Venom replied. "If it transformed back... we can still find the space bridge."

They heard the sound of footsteps behind them. Heavy footsteps.

"Better get there quick, then," Barrage said.

"Yup," Chop Shop agreed.

The trio buzzed down the hall, moving ever closer to the spark chamber.

-

Phaedrus levitated into the bridge, eyes on his datapad. "Commander, I believe we've found-" He was abruptly cut off when Praefectus struck him with the commander's own tendril, the scientist floored, his datapad skittering along the ground.

"Were my instructions unclear, Doctor?" Praefectus asked, as Phaedrus tried to lift himself. "We were detected by the Cybertronians. We brought a group of them here -here- to the very staging ground of our plan. Do you care to explain yourself?"

Phaedrus righted himself at last, reaching down to find his datapad. "The...the D-Decepticons..."

"Yes, the Decepticons," Praefectus interrupted. "Warmongers and opportunists... brought right to our doorstep. Their scanning equipment could be intact. They could find their way back here!"

"The Decepticons already know where 'here' is," Phaedrus replied. "And we have less to worry about from these pirates than we do from their command structure."

"Perhaps, Doctor, but this expedition of yours' cost us more than intel," Praefectus shot back. "We lost nearly a third of our Nihilicons, including all of our remaining military units. We've lost any chance of completing the operation."

"On the contrary, commander..." Phaedrus answered. "The Decepticons... these Decepticons... have just the tools we need."

Phaedrus floated over to his console and drew up prerecorded footage on the vidscreen, of Lockdown's emp generator and Lugnut's explosive punch.

"We need only the remaining Nihilicons for the final stage of the operation... once we can place a command routine into the remaining Decepticons," Phaedrus answered. "The big one will use the gift fate saw fit to bless him with, and rip through the planet's crust faster than ever before."

Phaedrus rewound, showing the footage of Lockdown again.

"And then the electromagnetic pulse from this one can disable the defense systems around Shockwave's missile," Phaedrus answered. "We won't need to use any of the Titan's essential energon to overload the computer."

Praefectus considered. "And what makes you think these Decepticons will cooperate?"

"They won't," Phaedrus answered. "We'll provide their bruiser some incentive."

Phaedrus held up one of the scavenged brain modules. "If there is one thing a Decepticon is good for... it's fighting a pointless battle for survival."

-

Terradive finally returned from the engine room. "They're shot," Terradive said simply.

"What I figured," Ransack nodded. He stepped up from the console and loaded his blaster.

"What are you planning now?" Terradive asked.

"Our ship isn't going to break through atmosphere this thick without thrust," Ransack said. "So we'll have to find another way off this snowball."

Ransack turned to the hatch. "We'll have to try and reconnect with Lockdown and break into the Titan..."

"...and steal the space bridge."
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:05 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Five

The Pits of Kaon, the past

Load ores. Carry. Deposit at furnace. Load energon crystals. Carry. Deposit at processing station. Rinse, repeat.

Day in, day out. Load. Carry. Deposit.

Strong. So carry. Big. So carry a lot.

Day end. Go to arena. Fight. Fight for Clench. Fight or die. Win. Make some shanix. Add new scars to frame.

Return to work. Load. Carry. Deposit.

Return to arena. Fight. Fight for Clench. Fight or die. Win. Make some shanix. No new scar today.

Return to work. Load. Carry. Deposit.

Return to arena. Fight. Fight for Clench. Fight or die. Lose. Lose for first time. Wait. Wait for the end.

Watch him rise. Watch his every movement. Favors right. Strong. Fast. Perfect form. Fearless. Angry.

Angry. But not at me. Not because of fight. Angry. Willing to kill. Desperate to kill. Unstoppable when focused. Very focused.

Megatron. The perfect warrior.

Powerful. Determined. Glorious.

Looking up at him. Looking up at the lights. Waiting. Waiting for him to drop the blade, go into the Afterspark. Waiting for the end.

"'Til all are one! 'Til all are one!"

He reaches down. " 'Til all are one."

Slash.

Darkness.

Wait.

...

...Still alive.

Wake in infirmary. Rebuilt. New armor.

"You fought well, Lugnut," he says. "The Kaon Crusher is worthy of his name."

Turn to him. Look upon him.

"I am Megatron," he says. "I am the beginning."

-

Metrotitan Brig, the Present

Arms held in place. Pressure pad taped over. Struggle against binds.

Angry. Focus on it, let it become fuel.

Struggle. Never stop fighting.

Even now, with Megatron gone, Cybertron is still broken and corrupt. Still ruled by broken government.

Autobots. Still trying to hold us down. Hold me down.

Nothing holds me down. I am a Decepticon.

More than that, I am a gladiator. A warrior. A proud one.

I pull against the bonds. I must be free. I must fight.

Nothing can hold me.

-

Phaedrus approached the captive Lugnut, watching him continue to struggle.

"Magna pulse," Phaedrus instructed a nearby technician. "Disable his higher functions and power off his core consciousness."

The bailiffs leveled their spears while the technician set to work. Lugnut was struck by the resulting energy burst, and cried out in rage, but fell still.

"Hold your positions," Phaedrus instructed the bailiffs. "I'll handle the rest."

The tentacled cyborg doctor lifted the brain module and moved to Lugnut's head.

-

Lockdown watched across the hall from his own holding chamber. Watched as the cyborg scientist installed a new brain module... as though it were possible for Lugnut to become any smarter.

But why? What were they going to accomplish?

Lockdown needed more information... if he was going to escape he would need opportunity. He would need a hole in their formation; a change in their pattern.

"What are you doing to him?" Lockdown asked, feigning concern and indignation.

"Reprogramming him," Phaedrus answered simply. After placing the new brain module alongside Lugnut's current one, Phaedrus began tapping his datapad. "I'm installing a shell program to overwrite his core consciousness."

A shell program? Now Lockdown was truly concerned. He knew Soundwave and Shockwave were capable of doing that... they'd been able to remotely control Beachcomber once before*... but these things knew enough about Cybertronian physiology to rewrite their minds? It was the first time Lockdown had seen any organic, even partially organic creature do that.

Their dead, sparkless warrior and laborers, a Metrotitan under their control, and now slowly gaining control over a bruiser like Lugnut. The situation was growing progressively more dire, and Lockdown knew it.

"And you'll do the same to me?" Lockdown asked.

"Inevitably, we will take you all back," Phaedrus answered. "And run you until you are of no more use, and use the spare parts left behind for the next generation."

"You think we're tools?" Lockdown asked, trying to hide his curiosity. Trying to sound angry; offended.

"You belong to us, Decepticon," Phaedrus replied. "All you Cybertronians were ours' once... and will be again."

Phaedrus returned to his work. "Very, very soon..."

-

Metrotitan Space Bridge Control

Finally finding their way inside, Chop Shop, Venom, and Barrage came to the Metrotitan's internal generator, the source of the space bridge.

"I don't understand," Barrage said.

"Nope," Chop Shop agreed.

They looked at the crystals being funneled into the generator. Not blue Energon. Not pink like the synthetic stuff Shockwave created on Earth. Yellow. Bright yellow.

"What the heck are these squid guys doing?" Barrage asked.

"Who cares?" Venom asked. "We try and activate the space bridge and jump back to Luna 1."

"Well, if either of you guys know where to start..."

-

Five Years Ago, Autobot Orbital Command Hub- The Surge

Lugnut pressed on, the vanguard of the attack. The sparsely guarded defenses fell before his might. There was no Fortress Maximus like on G9, no Optimus Prime like on Earth. Just the puny scientist Technobots and some persistent -but weak- flier named Dogfight.

The central point of the Autobots' galactic communications, barely defended. Easy prey.

But no glorious battle. Just a short, focused attack. No give. Only take.

They rounded up the weakling Autobots and waited. Waited for news of victory on Earth.

Waited for...

"Megatron has fallen!"

...the impossible.

"Retreating from Earth. Forces rerouted. Standby."

Megatron gone.

Decepticon defeat.

No Decepticons without Megatron.

No purpose without Megatron.

Nothing without Megatron.

Just alone, on an empty station in space.

-

Arduria Surface

Terradive glanced skyward. "If I could fly up and get a better look..."

"No," Ransack told him flatly. "Reroute power from your t-cog to your field dampers. Just like resisting energon radiation."

"But colder," Terradive grunted.

Ransack sighed irritably but didn't press the topic further. "We're almost there. C'mon."

The two stepped closer to the edge, towards the hole. And peered down.

Nihilcons, shoveling ice and snow and rock... digging straight down.

"What the hell are these cyborgs doing here?"

-

After the Chaos Event

Decepticon troops under his command, abandoned posts. Autobots freed by their comrades. Left Lugnut behind.

Left him to sit.

No purpose. No reason to fight.

Can't summon anger. Can't focus.

Waiting. Waiting for the end.

No glorious future for Cybertron, just darkness. Quiet. Toil.

Waiting for the end.

-

Metrotitan Bridge

Praefectus turned as Phaedrus led the Decepticon prisoner in.

"Commander, we are ready," Phaedrus said, proud.

"Lugnut," Phaedrus continued. "Break the ice."

Lugnut marched silently towards the hole, towards the dig site.

-

Lugnut dropped from the edge of the hole, passing a stunned Ransack and Terradive. He slammed into the tundra below, cracking the thick ice sheet.

He reared back his gravity singularity fist, and began.

Fight. Or die.

Anger. Focus. Purpose.

Darkness. Quiet. Toil.

Fight. Or die.

Wait for the end.




-
*Spotlight: Blaster
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:43 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Six

What Is Now Iacon; Before Recorded Cybertronian History

So many warriors. So many laborers. So much... opportunity.

In the absence of the Guiding Hand and their creator-god, the Cybertronians searched for some way to find meaning and purpose. The remaining followers of Mortilus and the supporters of Primus continued to skirmish. No government had yet formed, no agreements had been made with their growing population. New life forms were coming online in "hot spots" and many of them wandered their damaged, scarred metal planet without knowing how or from where they arose.

And the Quintessons stepped in to offer them answers. Their philosophical woes were eradicated... they instead welcomed their new lives of slavery, and their previously aware colleagues were routed away. They chased away their fellow Cybertronians, fearing the dangerous outsiders and retreating into the comforting tendrils of their masters.

The city the Cybertronians built was the shining light in the Quintesson's fledgling empire. They worked without tire, building munitions and vehicles to expand their fleets and arm their warriors. When they finished their labor, they fought for their masters' amusement, and rebuilt themselves when the savage displays were done.

The Quintessons were near their goal. With their fleet of ships and soldiers, they could wipe away the Galactic Council and impose their rightful rule over a willing, understanding, grateful galaxy.

And then... the Quintessons overreached themselves. And they were betrayed.

The Quintessons sought the largest, rarest of Cybertronian lifeforms... they called them leviathans, for their tendency to lay dormant underground after creation, to counterbalance their massive energy use. The Quintessons wanted to use them as dreadnaughts for their fleet, but acquiring each was a significant challenge. A challenge that only became more difficult when the Cybertronians under their command asked why they would enslave others like themselves, instead of merely isolating themselves as they had before. They recognized that the leviathans were not kept under Quintesson command of their own free will.

From outside their depots and factories, a Cybertronian approached. He stepped onto their border and hoisted the Matrix, the last remnant of Solomus, Wisdom Incarnate. He came to free the imprisoned, not with force, but with words. He preached a message he claimed was the creed of his creator-god, Primus: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."

And with the power contained within the Matrix, he freed the leviathans from the Quintesson's grasp. A single burst of energy undid solar cycles of effort. The Cybertronians once under their sway saw a new source of power, and a message they wanted to embrace.

The Quintessons enacted an escape protocol, and with a handful of their loyal Cybertronians, evacuated their principality to the natives. They took what they had built and accepted what had been achieved. Without sufficient resources to attack the whole of the planet and more hot spots coming alive each meta-cycle, the Quintessons indulged in strategic retreat, leaving the denizens of Cybertron to their newfound "freedom".

But with only a handful of the mighty leviathans under their command and several of their former followers left, the Quintessons had unfinished business with the planet. They left a remnant of their communications network on the planet and a few loyal Cybertronians to slowly re-integrate into the Cybertronian population. As they formed a government under the leadership of the Matrix bearer, the Quintessons' agents destroyed their factories and living quarters and erased the remnants of their technology, and killed the scientists and engineers to the last.

And then they waited... waited until a group known as the Knights of Cybertron left the planet, scattering the leviathans to the stars. Their targets no longer on Cybertron, the Quintessons and their loyalists spread out to the dark corners of the galaxy in pursuit.

Their empire incomplete, the Quintessons' fleet would skirmish with locals and suffer unacceptable losses. More and more of their weapons and ships were lost, and their plans of galactic conquest became ever more remote.

Eventually, they redeployed to their home system to enforce control of their own territory, and waited...

...waited until their star collapsed and their planet fell into the accretion disk of the black hole.

Their empire shattered, the Quintessons returned to the one other staging ground they'd kept tabs on.

A planet engulfed in civil war, its own resources gone.

Until a Decepticon known as Shockwave found the answers to all their prayers. His plan -Regenesis- would create a new supply of fuel and Cybertronians would flock to each new source, and return to their old master's loving grip.

But the worlds targeted by Regenesis had crystals of their own. Crystals that the Quintessons had once revered, long before they recognized the mineral as a resource; before they had applied it to technology and thought of it as sustenance and warmth and light, bequeathed unto them by a creator they'd never known. All of it poisoned by Shockwave's missiles.

But all was not lost. From what they'd learned thus far, they could use the same technology to rebuild their lost fuel source, before their own reserves were gone.

All they needed was to find one intact.

-
Metrotitan Bridge- Present

Praefectus watched on the monitor as the Decepticon bruiser slammed into the tundra again. The explosion rocked the hole, delving deeper, ripping through the thick ice with ease.

Phaedrus drew up a hologram of the dig, measuring the distance to the missile. "16 meters unearthed. 329 to go. I'm reassigning the Nihilicons to provide structural support while the Decepticon digs."

"And the Decepticon commanding officer with the EMP generator?" Praefectus asked.

"I'm in the process of overwriting the brain module," Phaedrus explained. "The shell program will be in place in 2.3 breems."

"We cannot risk our own units on the surface more than 3 cycles," Praefectus instructed. "Your Decepticons had better play their appointed parts. If we cannot extract the missile in that time frame, this'll all have been for naught." Praefectus turned one eye to glare at his scientist. "I will not return to the Imperium with nothing."

"Understood, Commander," Phaedrus agreed. "I'll see to the process personally..."

-

The three Insecticons looked up at the space bridge generator, still perplexed. Barrage finally peeled his eyes away from it and examined the yellow crystals being fed through the titan's fuel intake. The space bridge's reactor was pulsing yellow, the energy field growing increasingly brighter, its flashes more random and violent.

"What did these squids do?" Venom asked, scratching his head.

"Who cares? We try and trigger the space bridge," Chop Shop answered. "Find the... mechanism... thing."

Barrage followed the fuel line further past the space bridge core... and found the crystals in their raw, uncut state, loaded into the fuel pump one by one. The Energon of the titan only grew brighter, and the fuel pump seemed to corrode ever more rapidly with each new crystal mingled with the innermost energon pumping into the space bridge.

Barrage hoisted one of the crystals and examined it. "Well, if we can't find it... you guys think this stuff is explosive?"

"What you thinking?" Venom asked.

"I'm thinking if we can't force this guy to jump back to Luna 1, we can at least stop him from going anywhere..."

-

Ransack and Terradive perched on the edge of the dig site, looking straight down, as their comrade Lugnut continued to bore ever deeper with one explosion or another.

"Why is Lugnut digging into the ice?" Terradive asked. "Think the Titan's underground? Beneath this dig site?"

Ransack ignored his colleague's lack of insight and focused on the terrain. A handful of other Cybertronians were following Lugnut's movements, installing support beams as their hole grew deeper. They were looking for something underground... but their area of search was far too small for a titan. It was centralized, with redundant supports attached on higher levels, as though anticipating a cave-in.

"There's something under the ice they want," Ransack answered. "Something they're in a hurry to grab."

"They?" Terradive asked. "Why is Lugnut helping them? Uh, whoever the "they" are again?"

Ransack searched through the intense snowstorm. He could vaguely make out the Metrotitan's city mode, barely illuminated by the lights illuminating the dig site.

"We need to find Lockdown, and he's not here," Ransack replied. "Take a look around for a vantage point and make sure we can get in cl-" He was cut off as the ice beneath the two gave way, and both Cybertronians briefly felt empty air beneath them. And they fell.

As Ransack tumbled down the dig hole, he saw Terradive transform and fly. Natural response, for a flier... but he was sure to be seen.

Ransack, however, fell and landed on the ice sheet. From his upside down vision of the scene, he saw Lugnut standing across the white ground, stopping his attack and turning his single eye on the Insecticon.

"Oh, scrap."

-

Lockdown looked at his left arm beneath the stasis cuff, waiting for the doctor to arrive.

When Phaedrus finally arrived with his brain module and datapad, his muscle waiting outside the cell. "Ready to join our empire, Decepticon?"

"I'm not very good at following orders," Lockdown answered.

"Really? Then why join up with such a faction?" Phaedrus asked, pointing his tendril at the badge on Lockdown's chest.

Lockdown mumbled something.

Phaedrus drew closer, just as the bounty hunter intended. "Once more, Decepticon."

"I said-" Lugnut began, sending the signal. "-I have other talents."

An electromagnetic pulse unleashed from the generator in his arm struck Phaedrus and the bailiffs. The scientist fell backwards, immobile, his guards slumping down after him.

Lockdown reached his foot to Phaedrus's datapad, flicking it back towards him. With no viable means of operating it, Lockdown went with plan B.

And smashed it in two.

-

The Nihilicons, once adding structural supports to the dig, ceased operation and fell silent, their limbs going prone, their support beams clattering to the icy floor.

Praefectus watched, impatient, and drew up his scientist on the comms. "Phaedrus, what is happening?"

Silence.

"Phaedrus!"

-

Phaedrus looked at Lockdown as his commander continued to scream at him. "Your weapon's effect is temporary, Decepticon," Phaedrus told him. "And with its energy expenditure you cannot hope to immobilize my commander or the remaining bailiffs."

Lockdown finally extracted his arms, the stasis fields disabled either by his EMP or the loss of Phaedrus's handy tools. Either way...

"All I need it for is the titan, not you," Lockdown explained. "Once we jump out of here."

"Fool," Phaedrus spat. "There isn't enough energon left in this wreck to make the jump."

"Good to know," Lockdown said, adjusting his shoulder joints. "We'll have to drain some from your robot buddies then."

-

Lugnut saw another gladiator enter the arena. Someone dared to challenge him after seeing the Kaon Crusher use his fabled punch? Use it four times?

He remembered what he had to do.

Fight. Fight or die. Win.

Lugnut lunged for the spindly, scrawny competitor who dared to challenge him.

-

At the bottom of the dig, Ransack fled as Lugnut struck with his gravity singularity fist. Ice and rock erupted from the wall of the hole, as snow began spilling down. The immobilized Nihilicons were swept away or crushed by falling stones.

Ransack turned his attention to Lugnut, as the bruiser put the Insecticon back in the sights of his single eye.

Lugnut was one of the most powerful warriors the Decepticons had ever boasted. His fury could be matched only by Megatron, and the Kaon Crusher feared nothing.

But they did come smarter. Much smarter.

Ransack waited for Lugnut to charge... so he could bring the dig site down on top of his old comrade.

Better Lugnut than him...

-

On the bridge, Praefectus glared at his quite communicator. "Send the bailiffs," he instructed the nearest engineer. "Bring him back from the cell block."

Before the bailiffs could comply, the bridge door slid open, and an immobile Phaedrus was carelessly tossed within, crashing into one of the consoles.

Praefectus turned slowly, to see who would dare enter his command so brazenly.

Lockdown leveled his EMP at the tentacled cyborg commander. "Past time we had a talk, don't you think?"
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:23 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Seven

Speedy little bug, this challenger. He wasn't a load bearer or in demolitions. Not a typical gladiator.

But the Kaon Crusher would smash him, even if all of Clench's precious arena was torn down in the process. Lugnut pursued the Insecticon to the edge of the circular battle area and swung, but the bug ran past the bruiser's left leg, and one more impact of his gravity singularity fist struck the wall, cracking it, one of the supports giving way.

His internal computer was reporting unusual temperature readings. Lugnut disregarded. He'd endured intense heat before. An arena over the pits of Kaon could easily warm itself if the refineries below had a leak or equipment malfunction.

But he didn't feel warm. At least not from his environment. He felt something falling on his head. Something cold.

Whatever was amiss, he could ignore. At least until he'd squashed the bug.

-

"I don't owe you any explanation, Decepticon," Praefectus answered, signaling the remaining bailiffs aboard the bridge, who promptly moved in, forming a perimeter around Lockdown.

"You'll talk to me regardless," Lockdown assured him. "Or you'll join the scientist there in stasis lock."

Praefectus examined the EMP Generator on Lockdown's arm and weighed his options. He wasn't thrilled about being ordered around on his own bridge, but considering the circumstances... "What is it you want?"

"Straight to the point?" Lockdown mused. "I want the Titan, and enough Energon to power his space bridge. I'm taking it back home."

"Back to Cybertron?" Praefectus inquired. "To finally win the war for your Decepticons?"

It was Lockdown's turn to consider. These creatures clearly knew quite a bit about Cybertronians. Perhaps he could gain information by playing the fool, and there was no reason to divulge information about Luna 1 to this alien. "Of course."

"How typically short-sighted," Praefectus mocked. "How very much like a Decepticon; to destroy the majority of your remaining population and rule over sparse ruins."

"Didn't know we had an audience," Lockdown noted. He carefully eyed the bailiffs surrounding him, weighing his moves.

"You Cybertronians have always been part of our grand designs," Praefectus explained. "And these leviathans are weapons powerful enough to threaten an entire galaxy."

"We agree on one point," Lockdown sneered back. "If you know so much about us, why is it we know nothing about you?"

"That wasn't your function," Praefectus answered. "You were just tools; instruments of our will. We are your true masters, and your species' only hope for survival."

"And do our 'true masters' have names?" Lockdown asked.

"Does it matter what we are called?" Praefectus countered. "You need only understand our wish and our intention. What remains of your race can be slaughtered at our whim. You continue to endure, marooned on a single functioning city on your planet only because we permit it."

"Well, if you're not in the mood to answer me..." Lockdown moved his left arm, the EMP generator squarely at Praefectus's head. "...then to brass tacks. Abandon your ship and leave it to me."

"No." Praefectus replied.

Lockdown narrowed his optics. "I'll disable you."

"And then my bailiffs will capture you and rip the EMP generator out," Praefectus sneered back. "You really overestimate your bargaining position."

Lockdown continued to level the generator. Loathe as he was to admit it, the squid was correct. Even if he got the shot off, he'd be surrounded in moments.

"Lower your weapon and kneel before us," Praefectus instructed. "And I may allow you to be reprogrammed and serve us."

Lockdown prepared to fire.

-

Outside, in the freezing winds, Terradive fumbled to stay aloft but eventually managed to find an air current to ride along until his systems could adjust, even if his internal computer was constantly warning him about the temperature.

He circled over the dig site, watching explosions continue to rock the pit below. Between the snowstorm and the dim lighting, he could barely make out Lugnut and Ransack far below, and the Metrotitan's city mode off in the distance.

It was the only shelter, and he needed to get out of the cold quickly.

Terradive made a beeline for the city-ship ramp.

-

Chop Shop, Venom, and Barrage piled the remaining yellow crystals and deposited a demolitions charge at the flow regulator leading into the space bridge core.

"Now?" Venom asked.

"Yup," Chop Shop agreed. "Hit it."

The three switched to their insect forms and buzzed back into the corridor.

On their way out to the ramp they crashed into a familiar jet, a tangled mess of four Decepticons tumbling out into the snow.

-

Lockdown was a pragmatist; normally he'd be more inclined to make a deal than start a fight. He'd made dealings with aliens before in pursuit of valuable technologies and negotiated safe haven and transport when outside the planets selected for Megatron's infiltration. These creatures, however, weren't amenable to a bargain. Their arrogance reminded him of far too many gearheads he'd dealt with in the past. Their technology, their enslavement of Cybertronians, their manipulation of the titan... all of it valuable, none of it offered.

Every good bounty hunter knew when it was time to go guns blazing.

Lockdown fired his EMP generator square at Praefectus's head. The commander could not even cry out as he was struck and fell backwards, jaw stuck halfway open, attempting to scream but unmoving on the floor of the bridge.

The bailiffs moved to surround him to attack with their staves. Lockdown slashed the nearest with his hook, nearly beheading the bruiser. He blasted another, immobilizing it with his EMP, but he was outnumbered and quickly dogpiled by the bailiffs, still slashing under them, but soon pinned by their weight.

At least until a tremor rocked the titan, an explosion sending shockwaves through its superstructure. Lockdown saw opportunity and kicked one of the distracted bailiffs off him, and transformed to his motored form, quickly reversing and retreating from his many opponents, finding his way back to the hall.

One of the engineers attempted to make sense of the warnings coming in. "The space bridge core is collapsing! The damage to the flow regulator is preventing new intake; the gravity well is increasing exponentially!"

They turned to Phaedrus for instructions. Then to Praefectus for orders. Both their commanders in stasis lock, the Quintesson crew weighed their options.

And fled for the exit.

-

Lockdown sped down the hall towards the exit ramp. Wherever he'd been taken, it'd have to be an improvement over being surrounded by alien henchmen.

At least he thought that until he crashed into a pile-up of four of his comrades, Terradive and the Insecticons waiting at the base of the ramp and all five taking a tumble.

Lockdown transformed in midair and landed gracefully. His comrades didn't fare as well, landing in a multi-limbed heap.

"Status report," Lockdown instructed. "Quickly."

"We disabled the space bridge," Barrage explained.

"Disabled it? How?" Lockdown asked.

"Blew it up," Barrage answered. "Real good."

"Blew it-"

Lockdown glanced at the exterior of the titan, whipped by frozen air. Smoke was rising from the center, but more interesting than that, the entire superstructure was changing color, beginning to turn... yellow.

"...never mind." Lockdown said. "Where's the ship?"

"About a kilometer back," Terradive answered. "Pretty busted up though. Engines are shot."

Lockdown took stock of his troops. "Where is Ransack? Or Lugnut?"

"Uh, about that..."

-

Ransack slammed into the icy wall, thrown by the force of Lugnut's gravity singularity fist. He slid down into the pit, noting the hole had become considerably deeper.

Deep enough they'd hit something. Exposed something metal.

Something... Cybertronian.

A missile. A big one.

If Lugnut hit it...

...but the missile itself seemed to react to their presence. A holographic emitter emerged from the missile's super structure, and a projection appeared of a familiar one-eyed Decepticon.

"Verify disarm code," the projection of Shockwave instructed. "Auto termination will be enabled in 20 nano-kliks."

And Lugnut turned, charging towards Ransack's position.

One explosion from a fist, one from a missile... both about to go off in his face.

-

On the Metrotitan bridge, the bailiffs hoisted the prone bodies of Phaedrus and Praefectus, carrying them out. The immobile but conscious Phaedrus watched helplessly as the ship began to compact behind him, the internal structure drawn into the gravity well of the broken space bridge, the energy of the crystals starting a chain reaction.

Exactly as intended. Exactly as calculated.

But much too early, much too close.

It didn't matter how far they ran. They were trapped regardless.

In a few cycles, the crystals would all explode, and the energy would collect in the gravity well, using the Metrotitan's own hull as raw material...

...and the plasma would constrict together, held in place in that gravity well, forming a new sphere. The heavy metals of the titan's superstructure would fall into place at its core, and then the nuclear process would begin.

And they would all be consumed by the release of that energy. Burned by its heat or crushed by its gravity.

Exactly as planned, their star was being constructed... and they would all die when its form was complete.

Phaedrus watched more of the hull be ripped away, falling into the gravity well, the energies mingling and compounding...
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:50 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Eight

The gravitational well drew closer to his spark. The Titan knew this new pain -unlike the brutal redesign the Quintessons had imposed upon him- was a signal for the end. What he knew and had inferred from the scientist Phaedrus was that this process was inevitable, and would be his death knell.

He had faced the end before, fighting alongside his brothers against Mortilus and his enraged spawn Trypticon. He had been ready to die then, fighting for the future of Cybertron.

Now, he was the host of the Quintessons' schemes, and sacrificed for their plan to rebuild their empire. It was hard to draw solace in the end, knowing what his death would lead to.

The pain would end for him, but for his fellow Cybertronians there was far more pain to follow...

-

Lugnut lunged. Ransack dove for cover as the bruiser struck with his gravity singularity fist in the snow runoff beside the missile, and the explosion struck the hull of Shockwave's weapon.

The hologram of the cyclopean flickered and vanished, as the metal casing split away and raw, natural energon spilled out, along with wires, circuitry, and phosphex.

Though ripped open, the missile continued to function in some state, as another piece of the hull opened, revealing a scatter blaster and an X18 scrapmaker. Ransack glanced back at Lugnut as the Kaon Crusher watched the weapons rise.

"Beginning self decommission," came Shockwave's voice, recorded somewhere within the metal tube. "Neutralizing hostile presence."

The weapons discharged, unloading scrap on Lugnut. The bruiser stood his ground, his thick armor barely touched by the attacks. As Ransack watched, however, he saw the missile's temperature rise, the snow turning to a puddle of water in seconds... it was going to ignite the phosphex and explode! The weapons were mere diversions to the missile's own programming.

The raw energon left was barely more than three crystals. Still, with a little jury rigging from the spare parts and the insertion of proper fuel, their ship might've flown again...

...Ransack moved, knowing he was rushing from one explosion to another, and hoping he would be fast enough-

-when the missile and Lugnut both were struck by an energy field, and remained stationary, their weapons powering down, their temperatures falling.

And Lockdown, EMP generator deployed, stood above the pit with Terradive and the other Insecticons.

"Glad you could make it, boss," Ransack noted.

"You were very lucky," Lockdown replied. "Of course, if you'd just stayed with the ship..."

Ransack pointed at Lugnut. "This one went right off the deep end."

"We have our alien guests to thank for that," Lockdown replied, turning to glance back at the glowing, crumbling Titan. "Maybe they'll be more inclined to share now that they're stuck out in the cold too..."

-

The Bailiffs finally stepped out onto the tundra, the ramp being pulled up into the collapsing superstructure behind them. They joined the bridge crew in the snow with the immobilized Praefectus and Phaedrus in tow, the latter watching in horror but unable to speak.

Praefectus's ensign tried to stir his commander. "What do we do?"

Praefectus could not reply, but his mind was racing. With the leviathan's destruction, a signal would be sent back to their fleet and the Imperium. Reinforcements would arrive instantaneously to counteract such catastrophic failure, before the Cybertronians or the Galactic Council could find any remnant of the leviathan.

And, of course... to punish the commander who had failed them in his appointed task.

The bridge crew were split between retreating and watching the process unfold. If they proceeded outside the immediate vicinity of danger, they could avoid the inevitable release of solar radiation and wait for their comrades to rescue them.

But as they pressed their evacuation, they found their path blocked by the Decepticons they'd tried to imprison, minus the large one Phaedrus had reprogrammed.

Lockdown stuck his EMP generator in the ensign's face. "Explain. Now."

The ensign was frantic. "We have to retreat! We aren't to the minimum safe distance!"

"Then walk and talk," Lockdown ordered. "Or I'll immobilize you too and you can freeze and burn to death."

Lockdown waved his claw at the yellow sphere forming within the collapsing Metrotitan. "What did you do?"

The ensign was frantic. "We- please, we just need to get further from the axis of rotation, or the gases will incinerate us all! Take us... further, away... and I will tell you everything!"

"Yes," Lockdown agreed. "You will."

The Decepticons under his command waved their guns at the Bailiffs, who reluctantly surrendered their spears. The Insecticons herded them, while Terradive brought up the rear with his trident. As their parade marched past the dig site, Ransack waved down at the bottom of the pit, the stolen energon crystals still in hand.

"What about Lugnut?" Ransack asked.

"We'll come back for him," Lockdown answered. "If he lives."

-

Once back at the wreckage of the Death's Head, Lockdown set Ransack, his only competent subordinate, to install the energon into the ship. If possible, they could raise the ship's shields and survive the collapse of the solar cloud and radiation discharge.

Lockdown loaded several of the squids into the ship, while the bailiffs and lower ranking squids continued to flee, hoping their slow hover could reach minimum safe distance in time. The former bounty hunter turned his attention to the ensign and Phaedrus.

"Now, then," Lockdown instructed. "Everything."

"The leviathans' space bridge has always been our tool," the ensign answered. "Both to quickly move our forces and to reverse engineer into our own technology. Dr. Phaedrus-" He gave the immobile scientist a guilty look. "-found a way to rebuild the flow regulator to accept an energy source that the leviathan wouldn't be able to convert into an energon substitute.

"The crystals are fuel like your energon, but provide sustenance to organics as well as synthetics," the ensign continued. "They are also composed of pre-solar grains, and the particle composition within them could be activated via a nuclear reaction brought about by significant gravitational pressure.

"By using the leviathan's space bridge, and the leviathan itself as raw material, we could create a miniature sun." the ensign finished.

"Sounds like you have all that you need," Lockdown noted. "Why did you need Shockwave's missile?"

"I...will answer."

Phaedrus finally stirred, though only his lips seemed able to move. "The Decepticon scientist used your crystals -your energon- in an attempt to create additional supplies of resources. Instead, his tampering with planetary structures had a variety of unexpected results, here and on other planets."

Lockdown eyed Phaedrus suspiciously. "And why did that interest you?"

"With a single ore, Shockwave broke a planet from the time stream," Phaedrus answered. "Another he seeded radiated cold so powerful it could be weaponized. That technology... could not only provide us with our own fuel sources, but allow us to alter the structure of planets under the control of our enemies..."

Beginning to regain control, Phaedrus continued to play still, moving only a single tendril behind his back. They'd left him unbound...

"Enemies," Lockdown mused. "And how is it you know so much about Cybertronians?" He'd been rebuffed by Praefectus, but the scientist might've been more chatty.

"We have always been your keepers," Phaedrus answered, subtly activating his long range comms. "And you our willing slaves."

"You squids sure like to dance around simple questions," Lockdown observed.

-

In orbit above Arduria, a second leviathan warped in, responding to the automated distress call of its comrade. The ship's commander ordered a long range sensor sweep, even as the crew remained in orbit, watching the star form beneath them.

"We have been to Cybertron, before." it came, barely coherent through gravitational interference. "We will go back and begin again."

"And who exactly, is 'we'?"

"Positive identification of a Cybertronian," the ship's communications officer noted.

"Isolate the signal," the commander ordered. "Prepare the hangar and crew quarters for orbital jump."

-

"We are many," Phaedrus answered. "Kings without thrones."

"One more time, squid, before I take off one of those extra faces," Lockdown snarled. "Who are you?"

Praefectus, less subtle than his scientist, rose from the gathered Quintessons in the ship, and leveled a blaster at Lockdown.

"We are your makers, Decepticon," Praefectus answered. "And now... we will unmake you."

Lockdown swung his arm around to discharge his EMP generator. Praefectus prepared to fire.

And abruptly vanished in a flash of blue, alongside his comrades, disappearing within an energy burst.

Lockdown stared at the empty hull for several seconds before realizing: "Orbital jump-!"

"Lockdown!"

The former bounty hunter glanced up at Ransack. "No go on the shield generator."

"You tell me this now?!" Lockdown raged.

"Yeah," Ransack replied with a toothy grin. "I think I can get the engines to hold together instead."

-

Aboard the leviathan in orbit, the Quintessons under Praefectus' command appeared, one of their comrades lying dead following a blaster bolt.

"The Decepticons!" Praefectus raged. "We can hit them with an orbital bombardment!"

An ensign waved him off. "The solar discharge will handle the rest."

Praefectus looked down at the surface of Arduria, as the new sun began to expand...

-

Aboard the Death's Head, a very tense Lockdown watched Ransack seal the thruster. "Well?!" the captain demanded.

"Fire 'em up," Ransack said. "And, uh, don't stand near the windows."

Lockdown raced up to the bridge and fired up the primary ignition.

The Death's Head began its slow move along the surface, the ice already melting from the intense heat of the sun forming on the planet's own surface. Lockdown took the helm and tried desperately to pull up, everything behind his ship indistinguishable behind a sphere of pure light.

The ship continued to skid along the surface, occasionally riding on empty air...

...the ball of light behind him was growing larger, and Lockdown pushed the engines to maximum burn. If the energon couldn't carry them off the surface, they'd be dead anyway.

Shame about Lugnut...

...the Death's Head was airborne. There was no clear view through the ice and debris in the air, but the ship's telemetry confirmed they were on course.

Terradive and the Insecticons looked on from their stations. No one was concerned about being shot down or astro-navigation; they were all fixated on Lockdown's attempt to reach escape velocity.

They heard a subtle boom. Behind them, a cloud of dust was launched at high speed, blasting towards them, accelerated all the more by the release of particles.

Warning lights flashed on the fuel gauge. Ransack stood by the engines, liberally applying coolant as they struggled to stay together.

The ship was struck by the release of energy at the rear. The Death's Head tumbled through the atmosphere...

...stars, blackness. Space, right in front of them...

-

The Quintessons watched the energies recede, the miniature star hovering over the planet, barren rock exposed over nearly a quarter of the hemisphere. The ice had receded and melted. Vast oceans poured in over the empty rock, stopping at the edge of the star and the hole its gravity well left in the surface of the planet.

Premature, perhaps... but exactly as they had expected the process to go.

The ship's commander turned to Praefectus and Phaedrus. "The Imperial Triumvirate will decide what to do with you. For your sake... I hope you have something to show them from this misadventure."

Praefectus hung his head. He knew what awaited.

At least he could take solace in seeing the Cybertronians burn...

-

Passing out of Arduria's orbit, Lockdown looked up at his sparking console. His ship was still damaged, its fuel nearly depleted...

...but he was alive, and from the chatter he could now hear, it seemed so was his crew.

Lockdown glanced at Ransack, standing near the engines, spitting out black smoke and sparks. "Damage report?"

"We're not dead?" Ransack suggested.

Lockdown nodded. "Good enough."

He glanced back at the planet, and the Titan in orbit over it, and the sun now hovering just barely over the planet's surface.

"Power down everything," Lockdown commanded. "We're gonna' have to wait a while..."
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:17 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Chapter Nine

"Commander Intentus."

"Report, Ensign," the ship's commander instructed. The ensign drew up the view screen, allowing the bridge crew and the guests under Praefectus's command to see the sphere clearly, hovering mere feet above the planet's surface, over a patch of land still burnt away from the initial flare.

"The fusion reaction was successful, and a dwarf star has formed," the ensign explained. "However, the process was premature. The stellar life cycle will have been shortened by billions of years."

"Best estimate?" Intentus asked, barely paying attention.

"Stellar collapse in 3.7 billion years," the ensign replied, loading relevant radiation and elemental readings to the view screen. "The majority of the hydrogen atoms had already converted prior to the stabilization. A significant percentage of the leviathan's mass was broken down into carbon atoms and remained intact around the sphere's gravity well."

Intentus nodded. "Is it viable?"

"To an extent," the ensign replied. "It cannot be moved, and this planet's crystals have already been converted into an energon substitute. New crystal lines may form once all the particles complete rotation, but the energy output will be substantially limited."

"Understood," Intentus confirmed, waving the ensign off. "Squad Leaders, have you recovered anything from the surface?"

"We're beginning orbital jump now, Commander," came the reply. "We have a few trophies."

A few moments passed, and the ship received an orbital jump. The ensign switched feeds on the view screen, displaying the hangar where the bailiffs and their Lieutenant had arrived. The bailiffs supported a massive ice block, with a one-eyed Cybertronian figure frozen within.

"A Decepticon?" Intentus asked.

"Designation Lugnut," Phaedrus charmed in. "I installed a shell program to use this Decepticon in accessing the dig site."

"Did he survive?" Intentus asked, not bothering to look at Phaedrus.

"Unclear, Commander," his Lieutenant answered. "No vital signs, but the subject could be in stasis lock."

"Put him in the brig," Intentus instructed. "I won't risk any security breaches, and that one's a load bearer. Keep him isolated and keep him offline." While a team of bailiffs carried Lugnut away, Intentus turned his attention to the Lieutenant. "Were you able to recover any piece of the missile?"

"Yes, Commander," the Lieutenant answered. "Damaged... but intact fragments were still in the mine, and flash frozen before the particle discharge."

"I will notify the Imperium immediately," Intentus replied. "Well done, Lieutenant. Deposit the findings in the laboratory and resume your post."

Intentus turned to Praefectus and Phaedrus, pleased with himself. "You may be redeemed after all."

"It wasn't worth the trade," Praefectus replied grimly.

"On that we agree, Commander," Intentus told him. "You will be punished for your failure... but your rank and reputation may yet be salvaged."

Praefectus nodded. "Were there any signs of the other Decepticons?"

"They attempted to flee the planet, and were in the atmosphere during the particle discharge," Intentus replied, waving a tentacle in clear dismissal. "We've seen no trail; no attempt to leave the system, even when our reinforcements arrived."

"Either they're cosmic dust or they're stranded in a broken ship," Intentus continued. "We will find them. There will be no witnesses."

-

Lockdown watched the Titan drift further away, as the Death's Head was pulled into the gravity well of another planet in the system, slowly orbiting it, hiding in the same arc as one of its three moons, shadowed by the rock. He glanced around at Terradive and Ransack, keeping the system running on a minimum of power, not putting out any flash of life for their alien enemies to detect.

I was right, Lockdown mused. I do hate my life.

He had the ultimate prize within his grasp; a functional, intact Metrotitan, and it slipped away through some twisted combination of these alien enemies and his own troops' incompetence. Whatever the Insecticons did to the space bridge had set off a chain reaction that nearly destroyed a planet.

They had escaped, barely intact, thanks only to Ransack. Thanks to Lockdown's only capable subordinate.

"Lockdown," Barrage said. "I brought you something."

But then again, one of the idiots under his command had a curious tendency; a lucky habit of being the bearer of good news.

Barrage handed the former bounty hunter a yellow crystal, scarcely larger than Lockdown's index finger. He examined it carefully.

"This is what the squids were using to power the space bridge," Barrage said. "Don't know what it is, but Tyrest might have a use for it."

Lockdown nodded, holding the shard up between his fingertips. "At least we won't be going home empty handed."

He turned his attention to Ransack, still working on the engines. "Incidentally," Lockdown asked. "when will that be?"

"I'd get comfortable," Ransack suggested. "We'll be drifting here until those guys stop looking."

Lockdown sneered. "And when they do?"

"We have enough juice for a quantum jump," Ransack replied. "Closest port should be about 484 AU (astronomical units) from our position. We can leave just as soon as we know we won't be followed."

Lockdown glanced again at the yellow crystal, and mused on what the squids had shown him... what little they revealed.

They could control Cybertronians, even the titans. They understood how to use Cybertronian technology; some of them looked like they were Cybertronian technology.

Lockdown considered himself knowledgeable. Well versed in intergalactic cooperation and working around the laws of one sector or another. He'd dealt with many aliens. Many capable aliens.

None who knew this much. None who commanded Cybertronians. None who knew facets of their history and their physiology.

And none who would be so capable of revenge on him, if they knew he'd survived.

-
Hours passed. The Titan's sensors and the Quintessons' own ships and patrols found nothing.

"We have completed our comm scan and sensor sweeps, Commander," the ensign told Intentus. "No ion trail, no long range distress beacon. There is some debris on the planet's surface but nothing conclusive."

"We already found one Decepticon intact," Phaedrus pointed out. "Their commander was clever; capable. If this one survived-"

"I appreciate your counsel, Doctor, but we have limited resources to expand on the search for your wayward foes," Intentus instructed. "We will be returning to see if any new mining operations can be viable on this planet. If your wayward Decepticons leave a trail, we will find it." Intentus returned to his command chair, looking down at Phaedrus and Praefectus. "For now, we will return to the Imperium to present our data."

"What if the Decepticons are alive?" Praefectus asked.

"We will hunt them to the last and wipe them out," Intentus replied. "If they lived, we will find them."

"Why has the Imperial Triumvirate called us back?" Phaedrus asked.

"Why else, Doctor?" Intentus countered, showing a sly smile. "They're going to hold a trial."

-

Lockdown watched the Metrotitan initiate a jump. In a brilliant flash, their enemies were gone.

"That... was faster than I expected," Ransack noted.

"Our biggest catch slips right through our hands," Lockdown noted.

"We have information," Ransack replied. "That has to be worth something."

Lockdown nodded. "We'll see how merciful the Chief Justice is feeling when we return."

-

The Outer Rim, Shortly After

Praefectus heard the call; his full formal military rank and designation. He floated to the platform, before the triumvirate, looking up at the highest authority of his species, barely visible in their thrones high above him.

A prosecutor floated over to him. "Do you wish to enter a plea?"

Praefectus did not reply. He was already at the pit.

"Do you wish to beg for your life?" the prosecutor asked.

If it had ever helped, Praefectus had never witnessed it. Perhaps it helped someone, but not often. Not for him. Not for this failure.

The prosecutor turned his attention to the triumvirate above. "Has the Imperial Triumvirate reached a verdict?"

"We have." came the reply, ringing out over the comm systems.

"Guilty or innocent?"

It didn't matter. He was already on trial.

There was only one outcome for him. The only thing the verdict would change would be how history viewed him: as unworthy of his rank, and duly punished, or a victim of circumstance rightly disciplined.

"Innocent."

The latter. That, Praefectus could take small comfort in.

"Carnificis," the prosecutor called to the executioner. "Feed him to the Sharkticons."

The platform below Praefectus gave away. His own gravity generator could not support his weight in the vacuum over the pit. Praefectus fell.

He did not scream. He was dying with his rank and honor intact. It was something to hold to.

Something to hold to as the savage monsters his empire kept ripped away everything else.

-

Phaedrus heard the verdict. He heard his former commander fall. He knew it was his turn next, as he waited in the dingy cell.

At least they'd given him a view; of the rest of the fleet. The three remaining Titans orbited their central hub, flanked by the smaller ships, the medical frigates, and the colonist vessels. Apparently they had all gathered here to witness the trial.

One of their hopes had been squandered. They hungered for vengeance.

The prosecutor floated over to the cell block. "Doctor?"

Phaedrus looked up. "I didn't hear the call."

The prosecutor pulled up a datapad, holding it in his tendril before the cell bars. A hologram of one of the Imperial Triumvirate materialized before Phaedrus.

"Doctor," the Triumvir greeted. "Are you interested in a suspended sentence?"

"Suspended?" Phaedrus repeated.

The Triumvir expanded his holographic projection, showing the remaining fragments of the recovered Regenesis missile. "Our scientists have been unable to process any new data; much less reverse engineer the contents. If you could assist us in this matter... your own sentence would be delayed, until you are finished."

"The process would take decades. Centuries," Phaedrus answered, bargaining.

"Your life would remain forever in our hand, Doctor," the Triumvir answered. "That you will die at my will is inevitable. You might be able to be of service to us until such time as I deem otherwise."

The alternative was a trip down the pit. "I accept your offer."

"Excellent," the Triumvir nodded. "We will arrange for your new post while we move the fleet to our next destination."

"Destination?" Phaedrus repeated.

"We are making a renewed fuel run, using one of the locations you identified as seeded by the Decepticons," the Triumvir explained. "An exploratory command will be moved in pursuit of Ore-13 and collected by our refueling cruisers."

"Ore-13?" Phaedrus replied. "That planet is inhabited by a sentient species."

"On a backwater planet in the Sol system," the Triumvir confirmed. "A smear we will wipe from the face of the galaxy."

A new misadventure, into an unknown planet in pursuit of resources. Any new data could aid him in reverse engineering Shockwave's technology...

Phaedrus raised his tendril. "For the glory of the Quintesson Empire."

The Triumvir laughed in approval, switching from one mask to another.

Another gamble, with an even smaller fleet... Phaedrus thought. If this planet can put up significant resistance, we could be set back again.

And we can only hope there will be no new actions on behalf of the Cybertronians...

-
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Re: Forging the Star

Postby Henry921 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:27 am

Motto: "All I have to be is exceptional."
Weapon: Battle Blades
Epilogue

Cybertron, Not Long After


The final battle would be for resources.

And he would control the balance of power. Regenesis would assure that Shockwave was placed to decide the fate of Cybertron and -indeed- his whole race.

He had planted a seed, before the war. Before the empurata and the shadowplay. Before he had even become his true self, he had prepared for this moment.

His Thirteen ores. His thirteen missiles. His thirteen experiments. His thirteen answers.

Thirteen ores. And one seed.

Buried, beneath the surface of Cybertron. Everything came down to this moment.

Shockwave kept his optic locked on Dreadwing. Watched him lay still for several moments.

Watched his optic flicker back to life. Heard him gasp in surprise.

Ore 14. Resurrection.

"Arise, Dreadwing," Shockwave instructed. "You shall be the first to experience my ultimate triumph."

Dreadwing complained about warning, but Shockwave paid him no heed. Instead he focused on his subordinate's last question: "What now?"

What now?

He was at the precipice. Dreadwing would never comprehend its significance, but Shockwave could indulge this inquiry.

"What now? Indeed..." Shockwave raised his single hand. "Now, the time has come. The final cataclysm is at hand..."

"...at my hand."



The Beginning



Author's Note: This is my first attempt at Transformers fan fiction in more than a decade. I hope it's proven entertaining, and I'm grateful to everyone who saw this story through to the end.

Thanks for reading. :D
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Transformers Podcast: Twincast / Podcast #98 - Combiner Wars
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