Fate/Trans Form

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Nerroth, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 10


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    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Darkness Squirms


    The circle of darkness - in which an elaborate pattern had been formed, yet the lines of which seemed to draw in what little light was present, and formed a kind of anti-pattern upon the ground - 'flared', or perhaps anti-flared, if such a term could be applicable in the circumstance.

    Within, a sphere of aethyric energy coalesced, rapidly taking shape and form, guided by the hand of the fiery being standing before it.

    Soon, the ceremony was complete...

    ...and the being stepped forth, out of the circle, and bowed slightly to the Fallen.

    "Welcome to the beginning of the End," Fallen said, calmly addressing the new arrival.

    Said arrival, however, was not quick to response.

    Instead, there was simply a smile.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Bumblebee Captured

    Throughout the night, and for most of the day, Rodimus Prime - or Hot Rod, as he once was, and appeared as again - alternated between a state of unconsciousness and a semi-lucid state, during which he twitched and shook, the agony of the damage done coursing through his body, his own systems fighting a desperate battle to restore him.

    Aquila had tended to him as best he could, and as his scanners and search algorithms studied the affliction affecting the commander, and he pieced together the half-coherent descriptions of the assailant, he felt a deeping sickness in the pit of his stomach.

    No, it couldn't be, he tried to say to himself, but the data is hard to refute, nevertheless...

    "How... how is he?" Aquila was asked, in a more nervous voice than he had usually heard from the individual in question.

    He looked over and shook his head. "the damage is significant, Rin - and I worry how long he can stay like this. We need to transport him to our regional HQ and into our dedicated medical facility, but before we can risk moving him I need to be confident that his condition has stabilised enough for the journey."

    "I... see..." she said, her voice subdued. "Can I... speak to him?"

    He nodded, his head feeling heavier than usual. "Yes, of course... but I cannot say what, if anything, he can hear from you."

    Resolving to try, she stepped forth, and walked over to his side, near where his head was resting. It was turned slightly to one side, and she could almost imagine jumping up onto his shoulder and looking down.

    Instead, she reached a hand over to his upper arm, and traced her fingertips against the edge. The sensation of the material was unlike any metal she had ever touched - and she couldn't quite understand why.

    All the same, she wished that he was somehow able to return to his human form - it would have been easier to talk to him that way - size-wise, at least.

    Still, she tried her best. "Rodimus... Garret... whatever. I - I hope you can hear me, because... you should know that I don't like to repeat myself, so you really better be listening..."

    Wiping the side of her eye with one of her right fingertips, she pressed on. "I wanted to say that I'm... I'm... sorry. Those things I said... about you... about what kind of being you are... about what you have done, and what you can do... once you get back on your feet... they aren't what..."

    Slowly, a dull light flickered in Rodimus' eyes, as he slowly regained a sense of lucidity - as if her words, her effort to reach out to him - was stirring his consciousness forth. "Rin..." he whispered, feeling the pain of every facial movement as he tried to speak. "I'm the one who should apologise. I... I let my rashness and... sentiment get the better of me... and now..."

    He lifted his head slightly to direct his eyes to the gaping maw in his chest, where the Matrix had been ripped out. "I... have lost..."

    Seeing this, she smiled, placed the palms of her hands against him, and rested the side of her head, as if listening to whatever hearbeat-analogue was underneath. "Nothing... you cannot regain... my friend."

    He turned his head again to see her, and smiled, somehow not feeling the same kind of pain as before. "Friend..."

    She stepped back a little, and put her hands on her hips, while winking at him. "I think it might be easier to do this when you're back in human form, though!"

    "I'll... get right on that..." he joked, trying to lift himself up, his body trying to turn the tide and get him back into some kind of decent shape - or at least decent enough to crawl into a CR chamber and let it do the rest for a few days.

    "By the way," Rodimus asked, his optic lids blinking, "what's happening with everyone now?"

    "Saber and Hawk have been scouring the skies over the city in search of a lead, Rider and Shirou in his..." she could say it, she tried to say to herself. "Archer-like form have been leaping from rooftop to rooftop, while Sakura and I have been here with Aquila to keep an eye on things here, and hope you'd improve."

    Rodimus managed, just about, to get himself seated. "I see. How is Sakura, by the way? I hope she wasn't upset seeing me in this condition..."

    Rin spoke of how her imouto was coping. "She was shocked to see you at first, and she's been in and out to see you while you've been under - but after the initial shock passed, she's been keeping busy, saying that you're going to be hungry when you get well enough to eat! I have to admit, I was surprised to hear her say that, but she told me that she knows that you'll be fine. She has a lot of faith in you, you know..."

    That thought made him smile that little more widely. "I only hope her faith is justified - and what about you? Or should I ask?"

    "Well..." she looked across to the side slightly, in a more playful expression, "you could ask, but I don't know if you'll be ready to hear the answer!"

    Before they could continue, another arrival entered the shed where Rodimus was being kept - it was Ilya.

    "Rin," she said, her usual playfulness set aside, "you'd better get out here, now."


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - An Ominous Sign


    A moment or so earlier, a knock could be heard at the front door - to which Shirou, who was back in his usual 17-year-old form, went to answer.

    "One second, let me..." he said, before the person he saw on the other side of the door stunned him into silence.

    The person at the door, who was clad in an elaborate black and white dress, deathly pale-skinned and with a sickly yellow taint in the eyes, disrupted the smooth facial features by smirking back at Shirou.

    The person was about to speak, before Artia came to the door to stand beside Shirou - both of them had returned relatively recently from their latest patrols. When her head turned to see the newcomer, she could not believe what she was seeing.

    "I - impossible..." she whispered.

    The newcomer mockingly nodded. "Hello again, Father. It's been a long time - or, perhaps, not as long as one might imagine."

    The voice was unmistakable. "Mordred..."

    "So, you do recognise me, despite this," Mordred replied, as she lifted a fingertip to her cheek, pointing at the eyes which had been green in her past life. "I almost wish I could say that I came just to see this for myself - the home that you have made for yourself in this foreign land, and the commoner you allowed turn the King into a Queen..."

    Artia's eyes flared at the insult directed towards her lover. "How dare you speak of Shirou in such a way!"

    In a flash, the two had managed to draw their swords, and hold them mere millimetres from each other's right cheeks. Despite what appearance their respective facial featured might betray, the sharpness in the two pairs of opposing eyes was unmistakable in its intensity.

    However, Artia and Shirou noticed how Mordred's sword - jet-black, with a blood-red pattern upon the sides of the blade - was similar in form and power to Excalibur itself. Yet, while the holy sword glowed with an inner radiance, its counterpart seemed to suck in the light around it by its very presence.

    Shirou Traced Kanshou and Bakuya, and tried to hold them towards the side of Mordred's exposed neck, but before he moved too closely she edged the tip of her blade against Artia's cheek. At the same time, Artia herself moved the tip of Exccalibur, and parallel streaks of blood dripped from each face.

    "Ah ah ah, commoner - you have no place in this," taunted Mordred, "but you need not worry."

    Apparently satisfied with the blood drawn from her 'father', Mordred edged the blade away, a move cautiously mirrored by Artia. "I am here, this time, to deliver a message - from my lord, the Fallen one."

    "Message?" said Shirou, as Hawk arrived on the scene, his own sword in hand, but holding back for the time being.

    "My lord wishes to inform you that your facility at the Oumuroyama is now under our occupation..." as she spoke, she lifted a piece from a pouch at her waist, and threw it with her loose hand onto the ground before Hawk, who gasped at the sight, "and that he - and I - will look forward to your prompt arrival."

    "No..." Hawk said, as he sank to his knees, lifting the object in his hand. It was a human heart - but not a regular one.

    "Oh, one of yours, I presume," added Mordred, turning her gaze slightly towards the Pretender commander. "He didn't last long, but at least he helped test the sharpness of my blade. Aren't you pleased that I found a use for him?"

    His gaze bore into Mordred's eyes, but the latter showed nothing even close to concern or remorse. Instead, all that Hawk saw was a bottomless well of hate.

    "So, I must be going," Mordred turned back to Artia, "as your Japanese friends say, jaane... Father." before somehow fading off into nothingness, her form and that of her sword wisping away before their eyes. Artia tried to swing Excalibur in a rush, but it was too late - all it parted was air.

    "Who..." Artia turned to Hawk, as she fought to control her mounting rage, which proved almost impossible, despite how well she knew that reason and level-headedness was need now, more than ever. "Who was..."

    "I had Agent D stay on guard at the HQ - it was supposed to be secure, a low-risk assignment..." He thought of the relatively new recruit who had perished, cut down before he had a chance to turn his experience on Countdown's interstellar flight crew into a success here on Earth.

    "I'm sorry, Hawk." She didn't know what else to say.

    Ilya and Rin had just rushed over to join them - Ilya having caught a glimpse of the altercation at the door, before rushing to get the Tohsaka heir to the scene - and were at something of a loss as to what to say, or do.

    "Garret-san gets hurt," said Shirou,

    "Mordred has emerged," cursed Arria,

    "HQ has been compromised," rued Hawk.

    "It's looking pretty grim, alright," sighed Rin.

    "That may be so..."

    A new voice - but not that new. A slightly younger-looking version of the man everyone had come to know staggered over to the others, holding his side and limping along, with the aid of Aquila.

    "Garret! What are you - " asked Rin, incredulously. No-one knew what effect reverting to human form would have in his current state, but somehow, there he was, just barely.

    "...but as a man much wiser than I once said," he continued, holding a comm unit in his hand, "it's always darkest before the dawn."


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Arrival to Earth


    The insertion pods had been in development for years - an attempt to develop a system which would allow Autobots to deploy rapidly from any part of the Earth to another, in case of emergency. The technology had been provided on a test basis to a number of candidates, but while tests at Autobot City had been somewhat promising, never had the system been fully operated in the field.

    Until now.


    From launch points in California, in New York State, in Bavaria and at Autobot City in Alaska, four pods streaked into the upper atmosphere, racing like fiery comets through the skies, angled so as to converge on an area of sky above Osaka Bay, and on their way to Fuyuki-shi.

    As the four pods approached one another, they altered course, so as to enter a kind of loose formation, as they coursed downwards, as part of Operation Arrival.


    The four cometary trails emerged in the dark sky, racing like chariots of flame and steel to the surface.

    The assembled group at the Emiya-tei looked skywards, seeing one, two, then three flashes of light, as the not-quite comets closed in.

    The comets broke formation, and each raced into a different direction - two receded into the distance, while the third and fourth arced towards the city.




    The first streaked overhead, and ploughed into an empty carpark, near a convention centre being used for a motor show.

    The centre had large glass windows at the front, which were all shattered in one moment as the shockwave from the impact struck them.

    Fortunately, the centre was empty of human life - the show was not set to begin for another day or two.

    But as the last of the armour was shaken off, the being which had made such a dramatic entrance looked over some of the vehicles on display...

    ...and found one particular model to suit its needs.


    All it took was a scan and a reformat for a new street model to hit the road, and a few moments later, the vehicle was on its way.



    The second plunged into the waters of Osaka Bay, and a stream of flotsam bubbled to the surface in its wake - and were there anyone to hear, sounds of armour being shed, of an alternate form being taken, and of magnetohydrodynamic engines being pulsed would have been there to hear.

    However, the arrival had no need for an audience, as it sailed silently through the waters, en route to Fuyuki-shi.




    Meanwhile, a pair of JASDF F-15Js flying out of Kasuga, Fukuoka, were on patrol over the Sea of Japan, where not much out of the ordinary was taking place...

    ...until a massive meteor streaked past them, giving the pilots the fright of their lives.

    After some panicked messages to the tower at their home base - including incredulity at how no signal was appearing on their radar systems - the pilots were ordered to return home for debriefing, and to make sure no damage was caused to their craft.

    However, the comet continued to approach the sea, and passed through a large cloud several hundred metres above sea level.


    A burst of light broke from within the cloud.

    And a few seconds later, shards of 'debris' were falling out of the cloud and into the waters below.

    And a new fighter craft, with a very different red signal instead of a JASDF sundisc, burst from the cloud cover, raced over the waves, and banked to head towards the rendez-vous point.



    "Hello?" asked the lady, looking over the edge of the newly-formed crater beyond, carefully trying to keep her balance at its edge.

    Yet, her care was not quite up to the task, and she fell over the edge, set to crash against the ground...

    ...until a large bio-mechanical hand was outstretched, catching her in mid-fall.

    "Thank you, Autobot-san," she said, as the being emerged from the crater and placed her carefully upon the ground.

    It looked back at her and simply nodded, before a ripple of electricity rolled over its chassis, and it began a complex re-formation into a massive truck-trailer.

    She looked on as the engine started, the vehicle drove onto the road - but not before it opened its door and invited her in.

    As he held a hand to the red ribbon in the side of her hair, and gathered the bag she had been carrying groceries in before stopping at the crater, she thought of how she had been rescued by a firend from the stars, once again.


    The Autobots had transformed, and were rolling out.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The rumbling could be heard already - and the group looked to the front entrance in anticipation.

    "Will they be here soon?" Rin asked, trying not to show too much of her enthusiasm for the event.

    Garret smiled and gestured to the driveway. "See for yourself."

    A massive blue-and-white vehicle turned off the road and drove through the entrance into the area in front of the Emiya-tei's front door, flanked by a sleek sports vehicle on one side. As the sports car parked itself off to one side, the trailer's rear door opened, and an alien-looking vehicle designed primarily for marine use used a kind of antigrav system to hover its way out and onto the driveway. Meanwhile, a jet craft flew at a low altitude overhead, slowing to a crawl over the household.


    And as one, they become more...

    ...than meets the eye.


    The sports car almost jumped up as it transformed and took the shape of an Autobot warrior, winking and holding a thumbs-up as it took form.

    In contrast, the marine vehicle used a more down-to-earth transformation, calmly standing to attention before the assembled crowd.

    The jet made its own transformation in mid-air, and came to rest alongside his compatriots, politely nodding and bowing.

    And the fourth, the truck-trailer, opened the door to let its guest step out and join the others, before it lifted itself upwards, first turning the cab into a white-and-blue biomech, then disassembling the trailer and merging with it to assume his final form.

    "Waverider, Landmine, Cloudburst..." spoke the largest of the arrivals, "and Ultra Magnus, at your service."


    If the Fallen wants a fight, thought Garret to himself, by Primus, he's going to get one.


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 10.
     
  2. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    Great to see you posting new chapters lately. I'll leave some comments once I've had proper time to read through all the new ones.
     
  3. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Glad to hear it!


    (The other fiction I've been working on is non-TF related, mostly - though I did enter the current writing contest at the IDW boards, and am hoping to find an artist for a second Mosaic...)
     
  4. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    Cool! I'll have to check that out too.
     
  5. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Yay!

    Oh, and please note that the earlier parts of this fic have been revised - mostly to fix formatting issues. If you don't mind, please let me know if it reads better now...
     
  6. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    This piece was submitted as part of a writing contest, at the fan creations section of the IDW Publishing forums - only with the originally-intended italics included. It's intended to take place in the F/TF setting.


    Oni




    “Taka-san!” Akemi would say, the name of her partner carried like a bird’s song upon the wind, into the ears of its intended recipient. From the very first time he had heard that irreplaceable sound, this being, who had but one name before arriving on Earth, yet had assumed many identities in the millennia since, knew he could not escape the calling of his human heart.

    For human it was – with the use of Pretender technology, he and his comrades had assumed organic forms when arriving on this world, the better to hide in plain sight. What none of them realised, however, was how fundamentally changed their new lives as organics would be...

    And yet, none of them could imagine going back. If anyone suggested to them that they shed these forms and remain ‘purely’ bio-mechanical entities, they would reject the very notion out of hand, in the manner that a human might reject reverting to one of its evolutionary ancestors.

    This being himself, who had chosen to settle among the archipelago that was gradually acquiring the name of Japan, had heard the siren call before. Once every several hundred years, or maybe once a millennium, he would encounter a person of such stunning character that he would break the oath he swore to himself after every faded love – only to witness the dance play out once more. No matter how much time they spent together, his partner would grow old and pass on, while he, functionally immortal, would weep over the parting, and try to move on – but never forgetting the times spent together.

    But this time, he was not granted the chance to see the passing go peacefully, at the end of a long life, as he had always done before.

    This time, his partner was slain.

    “Akemi…” he sobbed, as the tears streaked down his human face, his arms holding tenderly onto the mortal remains of his itoshii – his beloved. She had committed suicide, before the men who had invaded their home could reach her, before he had the chance to kill the last one and save her life.

    They had called out far less generous terms. “Oni!” “Bakemono!” “Youkai!” – the men had not dared to strike him down directly, to challenge who they, in their ignorance, termed as a monster, a daemon, a creature to be feared and hated. No, they had come to burn his home and kill the woman they decried as a traitor to her species, but she had denied them this opportunity.

    But they were about to learn…

    …just what kind of oni the man they had crossed could be.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The castle which had served as the headquarters for the clan which had orchestrated the attack was in flames. Within lay scenes from a deranged abattoir – limbs severed, skulls smashed, chests ripped apart, in a fury more suited to the most notorious Decepticon stories back on Cybertron, not to the leader of the Pretenders on Earth.

    “Tasukete, onegai… nanitozo!”
    pleaded the last, the head of the now-ruined clan, as he was dragged through the snow to a point overlooking the burning castle. Spare me, he pleaded, please, I beg you…

    But the being had only one thing to say, as he raised the human upwards, and skewered him using his own swords upon the wooden cross: “Ore wa… Oni ga!”

    I am a daemon.


    This done, Taka - Hawk - walked away, the weight of what he had done already bearing heavily upon his spark – his soul – as the crucified man slowly bled and froze to death in the winter storm.
     
  7. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 11


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - The All Spark


    The group was assembled at the shed, in a rough circle, as a holographic image of the HQ at Oumuroyama was activated. With one exception, the group were all in human form - Magnus was making do in truck form,, parked just outside, emitting the holo-image from an emitter in his cab.

    "This is the most recent layout of the complex at Oumuroyama," Hawk addressed the others. "While we have no idea yet of what state the in-built defences are, or what kind of damage the invaders have done, this layout is still our best means of devising a viable operation."

    "I've never had to fight to take back my own base like this," cursed Lander, the human form of Landmine, "it's almost enough to make me not notice how many fine ladies are present..."

    "Halt, mein herr," said Phoenix (aka Cloudburst) - who was more used to speaking Deutsch than English or Japanese... "I apologise for my colleague's impolite nature. Do we have any information yet about whether our comm network or database have been compromised?"

    Hawk shook his head. "Unfortunately not, old friend. When we get in there, I'm relying on you to handle that side of the operation."

    "Natürlich, Gefährte,"
    Phoenix assured him, before remembering - again - what language the others were speaking... "I mean, of course."

    The third recently-arrived Pretender was trying to run scenarios through his mind - and didn't like any of them. "I never did like us picking a base that wasn't on the coast - there's only so much I can do to help on land..."

    "You'll do fine," Hawk assured him. "The three of you are going to be with me - we'll try to take the lower entrance, then make our way inwards - if that is acceptable to you, Garret-dono."

    Garret was happy to defer to Hawk's judgement. "Agreed. The way I see it, we'll have three main priorities in this attack - to secure the facility, engage the enemy, and retrieve the Matrix. Hawk, I'm trusting you and your team to get to the most important sites and neutralise them."

    "Hai," Hawk nodded. "If we can reach the sub-reactor, we can use the terminals there to assume control of the entire facility - or whatever is left for us to regain."

    "Do what you can," Rodimus agreed. "Artia, I want you and Shirou to look out for Mordred, and do whatever you can to remove her from the equation."

    "Count on it," Artia insisted.

    "Thank you. Aquila," he turned to the somewhat withdrawn scientist, "I want you to be part of the team which goes after Fallen himself. There's still a lot more that we don't know about him than I'd like, and any information you can gather would be most welcome."

    When hearing this, he tried not to sound apprehensive - which struck the others as being somewhat uncharacteristic. "I understand, but if this being has any sort of relation to the one that I and others encountered during Cybertron's Dark Ages, I can't guarantee how much, if anything, I can gather..."

    "Well, in that case," Garret simply said, "you can help us try to take him down."

    "I will," Aquila answered - hoping the various upgrades he had acquired in the interim would be enough to make a dent in this most formidable of foes.

    "You're still in no great shape to fight, Garret," Magnus pointed out, "even if you were fully healthy, your current biomechanical form won't be enough to put an opponent of this level down."

    "I'm aware of that, Magnus," Garret replied, "and no doubt Fallen is, too...

    ...in fact, I'm counting on it."


    --------------------------------------------------


    Once the last preparations were made, and Hawk signalled that Agent E had arrived in the city, the task force set out.

    Star Saber, Metalhawk, Jetfire and Cloudburst flew in a diamond formation overhead, while Ultra Magnus led the ground convoy, with Landmine flanking him to one side, carrying Diver in the passenger's seat. Garret and Rin were seated in Magnus' truck cab, while Shirou sat in the pilot seat of Star Saber's flight mode.

    Garret wasn't happy with leaving only one Autobot in the city - and a new arrival, at that - but he couldn't escape the feeling that trying to take on Fallen and his new ally with anything less would be too risky... and even then, there was no guarantee the force assembled would be enough.

    "Worried?" Rin asked him, more rhetorically than anything.

    He sighed. "Pretty much - this whole thing is a long shot, and our part is the most risky of all. Are you sure you're ready to try this?"

    "I wouldn't want you to hog all of the fun, now would I?" she joked back - and he went over the plan in his mind again.

    At least, that part which wouldn't need to be adjusted once they got there.


    Nevertheless, it had to work - they had to stop whatever it is that Fallen had planned.

    There would be no second chance.


    --------------------------------------------------


    (...to be continued)
     
  8. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    (...continued)


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Cavalry in Blood



    Her sword planted into the earth beneath her, Mordred stood silently along the caldera of the Oumuroyama, her eyes gazing westwards as she waited for the inevitable.

    Fallen had asked for her to stand guard and draw as many of the arrivals into combat as she could - but even without such a 'request', Mordred had precisely no interest in lying in wait within the subterranean complex, watching over whatever project the elder being had in motion below.

    She cared not for such matters.

    Let that thing burn the whole world, Mordred thought to herself.

    So long as I can deal with Father first.


    She would have her chance soon enough, as her heightened senses - a bonus of the new form the Fallen had granted - allowed her to detect the approaching task force.

    There were more of them than had been expected, though Mordred scoffed at the prospect of reinforcements.

    As far as she was concerned, if Fallen couldn't handle a few extra foes, that was his problem.

    She drew her sword, the aura of which had left blackened stains in the soil beneath her feet, and aimed it towards the one she knew was Father.

    All that was left was to issue the challenge.

    "Come and face me!"


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Scorponok



    As the task force approached, the diamond formation broke, with Metalhawk and Cloudburst banking to the right, Jetfire to the left, and Star Saber throttling forth, diving headlong towards Mordred.

    "Are you ready, Shirou?" Star Saber asked as she began the dive.

    He nodded, as he assumed his larger form.

    At this, her canopy opened, and Shirou leaped into the air - after which Star Saber assumed her lily-white armoured form and brought Excalibur down in an overhead arc.

    "Here I am, Mordred!" Saber roared, as her opponent summoned her own dark armour in place of the dress she had been wearing, and parried the incoming strike with her own blade.


    Meanwhile, Landmine swerved to one side and allowed Diver to jump out, over to where Metalhawk and Cloudburst were landing. Landmine assumed his form as the human Lander, and summoned his armour, as the three others did the same.

    "Lander, Diver, Phoenix, with me!" called Hawk, as he summoned his weapons, and directed the group to the lower entrance.


    At the upper entrance, the massive truck-trailer form of Ultra Magnus - which no longer had Garret and Rin sitting up front - revved its powerful engines and drove forth, as Jetfire prepared his twin dorsal linear accelerators.

    "Fire in the hole!" he announced, as the accelerators powered up and fired, sending two pulses of superheated energy at hypervelocitic speeds. The impact smashed through the armoured entrance, and the after-effect rolled down the passageway, scorching the floor, walls and ceiling all the way to the far bulkhead - all in less than the time it took for the last smouldering fragments of the entrance to drift down to lace the nearby trees of the Aokigahara forest.

    The route cleared, Magnus rolled through the entrance and down the corridor, Jetfire transforming and flying in after him, weapons at the ready.

    "The accelerators will take a few moments to recharge, but my secondary weaponry should be enough to let us bypass the entrance to the farther chamber," Jetfire stated.

    "No need," assured Magnus, "I can deal with this one..."


    --------------------------------------------------


    "I see you brought your pet commoner with you, Father," Mordred hissed, as her sword clashed once more with Excalibur. "Though I can't promise to take care of him for you once I have finished our little bout!"

    "I will not forgive such a disgraceful tone regarding Shirou!" roared Saber, the bitter sting of Mordred's words driving her on in a raging fury. "And you should be more concerned about your own immediate fate!"

    Despite the exchange, Shirou could see that the two were all too evenly matched. Saber looked more powerful, more responsive, more dangerous than at any time she had been his Servant - although he was all too aware of how limiting his inadequacy as a Master had been. Perhaps this was what Saber would have been like had Tohsaka been her Master, he wondered to himself... or what might she possessed back in her first life.

    And yet, whether it was from the template that she had originally been forged by, or due to the un-natural 'modifications' that she seemed to have been granted, Mordred was matching her every step and turn, her every slice and thrust, her every parry and riposte.

    It was so hard for him to simply stand aside - he wanted to dive in swords drawn and take on the one who had already drawn blood from his beloved - but for the time being he held on, while trying to think of what, if anything, he could do should he need to step in.

    Assuming I
    can do anything, that is, he cursed to himself.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Getting through the entrance was straightforward enough - unlike the other team's more dramatic method, Phoenix had cracked the door code, while Hawk took point, sword and rifle in hand.

    "Looks like the damage to this section is relatively minor," Hawk assessed, looking over the corridor. "The autoguns are off-line - Phoenix, can you access the securoty net wirelessly and keep them that way until we get to the Energy Control Room?"

    "Ja," Phoenix assured him, "it seems this section of the base's network has not been as badly tampered with as the others, and since the access code we used enables it to treat us as friendly, I should have enough time to lock it down completely. However, mein herr, I need to get to the terminals in the ECR to assess anything further."

    "Even so, I don't think we should risk just dashing down the hallway," Diver pointed out, while secretly wishing he could somehow flood the corridor.

    "Mr. Cheery McDolphin is right," quipped Lander, "I don't think even my fine-tuned charm will help me with that hot red-eyed maid if I'm shot full of large, smoking holes..."

    "Can you think of any other part of your anatomy for even five seconds, Glenn von Landmire?" retorted Phoenix.

    "Oh you mean, like you with the whole forty-thousand-year-old virgin routine you're so good at?" Lander shot back, hinting at the tensions that arose from the minor matter of these four individuals being the only ones of their kind for a very, very long time...

    "Come on, let's move!" Hawk broke in, as he headed to the first recess along the left-hand side of the corridor.

    Diver followed suit, waiting for a moment before running on to the next recess on the right-hand side.

    "Fair enough - I guess your new 'soulmate' might have something to say about the matter, after all," Lander couldn't avoid the last jab, as he ran past Hawk and Diver along the corridor.

    "What I and my life partner do in the privacy of our local swinger's clubs is none of your concern!" Phoenix hissed back... and bringing the verbal sparring to an awkward end for the time being.


    Silently, the group moved on, as Phoenix continued to try and finish locking down the security system for the autoguns.

    Opening a private channel to Hawk, there was one matter which the Autobot comm officer wished to discuss. "I could not help but notice the choice of shell being worn by our current commander, Hawk."

    "I wondered when you'd mention that,"
    sighed the latter, figuring that the issue would be raised sooner or later.

    "You do know the particulars of that pattern, ja?" Phoenix asked, his words somewhat carefully-parsed.

    Hawk tried to assure him. "It wasn't a deliberate choice - it must have been either still in the pattern buffer when he underwent the procedure, or somehow selected form the list of samples."

    "So you are trying to tell me that out of the more than ten million samples in the database, as well as the range of potential combinations the system can generate sui generis, that Rodimus ended up with that particular genetic sequence?" Phoenix tried to hide it, but he was clearly concerned.

    "I... don't have an answer for you, friend,
    " Hawk admitted apologetically.

    "I was there, Hawk,"
    Phoenix pointed out, referring to a memory that was more recent than he cared to admit. "and so was the other. Does he know yet?"

    Hawk merely shook his head, the only outwardly visible sign that any conversation had taken place.


    However, the matter was set to one side as Phoenix unlocked the door lock leading into the geo-thermal chamber leading to the ECR...

    ...and the team had barely enough time to gasp in shock before diving for cover.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The double-doors at the far bulkhead were smashed apart, as Magnus crashed through them and into the wide space within.

    As Jetfire followed suit, they were profoundly un-nerved at the sight that awaited them.


    The walls and floors had been broken, warped by the entropic miasma that spread from Fallen's very presence. Assembled broken components, shorn gun emplacements and upended computer terminals had been assembled into a disjointed pile, slowly melting and congealing into a hideous mass of corrupted matter.

    They could see the Matrix suspended in mid-air, hovering between the apex of this mass and the centre of the ceiling, tendrils of darkness trying to reach its surface, yet being turned back one by one at the behest of an unseen force.

    "Even for my Master, cracking a Matrix takes time," a darkly mirthful voice echoed around the chamber, as the Fallen emerged from a flame-sphere, facing the new arrivals from a vantage point atop the mass, "but they do say that all things come to those who wait..."

    Sending a narrow-beam databurst to the Air Guardian as he stirred his engine further, Magnus had but one word to say, as the swiftly-formulated plan was set in motion:

    "Execute."


    Banking to one side as he aimed his wrist-mounted cannon, Jetfire shot twin lances of energy towards the base of the mass, solidifying the matter into an impromptu ramp for just long enough in order to allow Magnus to race up the slope at full throttle, defying Fallen's home-field advantage as he approached.

    "Oh, a challenge!" Fallen gloated, dismissive of the incoming threat - not even making an effort to hinder Magnus' approach.

    That was his first mistake.

    "Oh, here we go-aaaark!" Fallen cursed, as the full force of Magnus' truck mode crashed into him, knocking him backwards and down the further side of the mass.

    Magnus arced in the air, maintaining enough forward momentum to push Fallen forth, and as he began to fall forwards to the ground, the rear door of the trailer slid open...

    ...and a red sports car raced outwards, aiming at the Matrix above.

    Can I make it? Rodimus asked himself, as he launched himself as far forward as he could - but the arc he was travelling on was not quite far enough.

    They had no choice.

    "Rin!" he called, as he transformed, lifting her out of his drive compartment and up in the palm of his right hand.

    "Ikimasu!" she shouted, as her Reinforced limbs sprang into motion, her hand outstretched, reaching towards the impossibly intricate light she could see in the centre of the Matrix.

    Time slowed to a crawl, as she could hear her own heartbeat and the air filling and being expelled from her lungs, the surroundings receding dramatically into a single point before her.


    Almost...


    Almost there...


    Just a fingertip away...



    And at the very apex of her leap, she made the faintest of contact - and she could feel the light of Primus envelop her very being.


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 11.
     
  9. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 12


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Linkin Park - What I've Done


    All I see is Darkness.

    Surrounding, overwhelming.

    Within, I fall deeper and deeper, far from my friends and allies, farther into the abyss.

    And then…

    I crash onto a metallic surface. The shock reverberates throughout my chassis, but soon fades.

    I lift myself up – and as I try to move forward, I soon see a light - one strong and pure enough to highlight the twisted metal structure around it.

    A faint beacon of hope, in the lair of the Beast itself.

    I approach the light – and as I recognise the source of the light, I can see how it dangles around the neck of a certain Cybertronian… an impossibly powerful warrior, an avatar of death.

    Galvatron!

    He and I speak to each other...

    I refer to the Matrix, the source of the light - to which he states that it will do me no good, as it cannot be opened.

    Not by a Decepticon, it cannot - certainly not one re-forged by the Chaos Bringer itself.

    Yet, he has a point - like it or not, he and I are allies of convienence, against a common foe...

    The conversation is cut short by a blinding red light, emerging from the surroundings. The Lord of Entropy roars a warning into Galvatron's mind, which succumbs to the torment. With the faint hope of an accord gone, the warrior’s expression changes, as his arm is raised, particle cannon aimed towards me.

    As he fires, I begin to run - my anger at his taunts overshadowed by the more immediate urge of survival.

    I decide to try a hit and fade tactic - hoping to evade his particle cannon blasts while striking at him when I can. It’s a desperate struggle, but I have nothing to lose.

    He taunts me again, saying how we all must die eventually.

    Not today, I insist - as I catch him with a surprise hit, before transforming and racing away.

    I feel each jump as I barely evade the incoming particle strikes, each leaving a crater of ruin in their wake - but once he transforms, his power and accuracy improve. The last few shots are too close, and I stumble to one side. Thinking on my feet, I transform again, and fire back with my wrist blasters - just enough to force him to revert to biomech mode.

    Taking the risk, I charge forward. I transform into my vehicle mode, and accelerate...

    I ram him, but desperate hope turns to panic, as assets his sheer physical might. Catching me as I make impact, he lifts me into the air, turns me over, and I barely have enough time to revert to my own biomech form before he begins to crush my throat with both hands.

    I feel time fading.

    He speaks to taunt me, but his mouth seems to move more slowly than normal.

    First Prime, he says, then Ultra Magnus.

    And now, me.

    I have mere moments left – and I cannot escape the awful feeling of dread that the last hope of my kind will die with me.

    He considers it a 'pity' that we Autobots die so easily at his hands, denying him the sense of satisfaction he might have otherwised wished for...

    ... and at this last insult, I turn away from his face, unable to bear the manlice it holds.

    Yet, without realising it, my fading vision focusses on the chain around his neck, the chain which holds –

    The Matrix!

    In a final, defiant gesture, I reach for it with my last ounce of strength...

    ...and it suddenly bursts into life.

    As it does so, I feel a new burst of energy, more than enough to allow me to push Galvatron away, then lift myself from the ground.

    I stand, and feel the beginnings of a great change, one which is altering the very core of my being. Time slows to a crawl, and I hear the voice of an old friend, an old mentor, speaking to me as if from the core of the Matrix itself:

    Arise, Rodimus Prime!



    But I am not Rodimus Prime, nor his former self, Hot Rod.

    What I see is a vision of what has been - of the culmination of a story I had heard parts of, but not fully imagined intul this moment.

    And yet...

    With all this, I not only witness the acts which took place, the words spoken, the crises overcome.

    I see the one - the man - whose courage, kindness and personality really were all too familiar...

    ...but still unique.

    I see the times he has spent while carrying the burden hardest to bear.

    I see the slow separation from those who had been his friends, his de facto family, over the past two years.

    I see the change - I
    feel the change - that the new existence as Garret has brought to him.

    I see the moment he granted Sakura a unique gift - how he once again found things as they are, and without realising, changed them into what might be.

    And in the course of this, I see something else, too.

    I see a reflection in his eyes - both human and Cybertronian - of a person I know all too well.


    My own.


    And at last, I understand.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The vision faded, and as the Matrix freed itself from its unseen moorings, it - and Rin - fall towards Rodimus, who turns to face them, reaching for them as he hurtles down into the congealing mound of matter below.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Frenzy


    "Till all are none...

    Till all are none...

    Till all are none..."

    "Well, at least he isn't chanting 'Braaaaaaains!' or something..."

    Despite the attempt by Lander to crack an ice-breaking quip, the sickening feeling all four Pretender had at the sight facing them was hard to shake off.

    Somehow, the charred remains of Agent D - a gaping wound in his chest evidence of where Mordred had removed his still-beating heart not so long ago - were re-animated, though any semblance of consciousness or sanity were utterly erased.

    All it could do was stumble forth, direct the targeting systems in a suddenly re-activated set of autoguns, and chant the Entropic message that Fallen had set to repeat, over and over and over again...

    "How did that thing get the defence guns to work?" asked Diver, who was attempting to shelter behind one of the modular geo-thermal power generators in the cavernous room.

    "And more importantly, how do we get past those guns and into the ECR?" added Lander. In order to reach the control room, they would have to find a way to pass through this generator array - and somehow avoid causing critical damage to it while doing so.

    Hawk inwardly cursed the choice of layout - which had been intended to serve their observational and logistical needs, but had not been laid out with the prospect of having to re-take the base from an occupying invader in mind.

    "Somehow, it's managed to convince the IFF system that, since it was here before we were, that it is the ally, and we the attackers," Phoenix tried to respond. "I can override this, but only by getting to the terminal in the ECR."

    "Which still leaves us the need to run the gauntlet," sighed Diver. Just my day - a zombie Pretender and haywire defence guns... and I'm stuck out of the water, in this aquatic-tailored armour. Great.

    But then, if I can't use water to swim in...
    He suddenly realised something. "Hawk, I have an idea - but you might not like it."

    A short data-burst carried the outline to the others, at which Hawk nodded. "It will have to do. Lander, Phoenix, prepare to make a run to the next room, and get that system under control."

    The two nodded, while crouching along the edge of a second generator, ready to move.

    "Ok, Diver, when you are ready... but note that I intend to put Agent D to rest myself." Hawk thought of the day he had recruited Agent D - Domoro - one of the select group of new arrivals who had transferred from Countdown's interstellar operations unit in late 2005. At the same time, he fought a tinge of regret at not being there to save him.

    Forgive me,
    Hawk asked in a silent wish for the dead. You did not have the chance you deserved hereon Earth, but your loss will not be forgotten.

    "Now!"

    Reaching around swiftly, Diver threw his energo-axe across the killing zone of the autogun turrets, across the path of the approaching remains of Domoro - and into the side of one of the coolant chambers. The impact of the weapon sent gusts of super-heated steam into the chamber, flooding it swiftly - and as it reached what was once Domoro, the remaining flesh exposed by the wounds in the Pretender armour began to burn and char.

    Yet, it would not cease its movement.

    "Till all are none..."


    "Go!" Hawk, who had sealed his armour, along with the others - providing his organic skin with a temporary defence against the superheated steam - gave the order, and both Phoenix and Lander raced towards the exit, keeping low, evading the now-disoriented fire coming from the autoguns.

    Meanwhile, Diver ran to the vicinity of the coolant leak, hoping to use a modified shaped charge to melt the sides of the cover enough to re-seal the damage.

    Hawk, however, ran towards the remains of Domoro, and readied his sword.

    "Till all are none..."

    Its hands reached towards him, trying to grab on and choke the life from its opponent - but Hawk was too fast for it to react properly.

    He began to roar, as he sliced through the hardened shell, forcing the energo-blade to part the armour, before removing both of Domoro's arms midway along the upper arms.

    Hawk allowed himself no respite, daring not provide any kind of opening, as he sliced downwards, carving off the legs at a point just below the hips - leaving ruined stubs in their wake.

    And yet, even as it fell, it still spoke...

    ...until Hawk made one final strike, slicing off the head at the neck, causing it to roll to one side.

    "Till all..." the automated voice faded, unable to complete the sentence.

    Hawk, however, did so, but using a more familiar term: "...are one."


    Shortly afterwards, the guns fell silent, the fractured chamber was deactivated as the coolant was re-directed, and the ventilation system began pumping out the remaining steam.

    It could not remove the foetid stench from the ruined corpse, however.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Ebony Cross


    Shirou could not believe what he was seeing.

    It was enough of a sight to witness Saber and Mordred fight at a human scale - but at least he had somewhat expected to see that battle come to pass.

    What he did not expect was that while Saber had taken the massive form of Star Saber, that Mordred had leaped into the air... before doing so herself!

    Or rather, Mordred had become a deadly opposite to Star Saber - her bio-mechanical form equal, yet coated in black and purple, the green of Star Saber's eyes echoed by the same sickly yellow he had seen in the eyes that the human-form Mordred had used to aim such sheer hatred at 'his' Saber.

    Now the two were locked in a bitter aerial duel, but one which relied on the clash of swords, not the exchange of firepower.

    "Anything you can do, Father..." Mordred jeered, in preparation for another blow, "I, Void Saber, can do better!"

    "Ki-yuuuuuuuuuurk!" Star Saber groaned, the force of the activated dark blade pushing her backwards, straining her ability to maintain her balance in mid-air.

    "This is how it should have been at Camlann, Father," Void Saber hissed, "you cheated me of my victory then - but I will not let you escape a second time!"

    Pulling back, Void Saber gave ample evidence of how she truly felt about 'cheating' - as she drew her own Thermal Shot pistol and fired several shots at close range at her opponent. The hits were not overly damaging by themselves, serving more to disorient Star Saber just long enough for Mordred to rush forth, and land a crunching hit with the her fist, and with the hilt of her own blade.

    "Aaaagh!" Star Saber called out, the force of the hit driving her into the slope of the Oumuroyama, as Shirou howled in despair.

    She needs me...

    I have to do something...

    I have to step in...

    but how can I match the likes of Void Saber?

    I don't think either of us can face the likes of her alone.


    "Oh, you're still there, commoner? How quaint," laughed Void Saber, who had noticed Shirou's cry - and Shirou had barely enough time to jump to one side before the blasts rained down towards him, the last knocking him to one side, winding him.

    "Now lie there and try not to die too quickly," continued the taunt, "so you can see that your beloved will end her second life the way she ended her first - alone."


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Emiya


    "Never!"

    The surge of anger and rage filled Shirou to bursting point - as he jumped to his feet, and stared defiantly at Void Saber.

    "You know nothing about me, about her... about us!"

    He felt something change within him - a feeling he had not known since that day he destroyed the Grail at Mount Enzo.

    "All of my life, for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a Seigi no Mikata - to stand up for those who can't stand for themselves, to save those who need to be saved... to face those who would cause the innocent and good to suffer...

    ...and I saw how it can lead to a life of tragedy, of sacrifice... of an existence spent alone."

    Like you, Archer - I didn't know... but I know now.

    You chose the path of the World - and you tried to stop me from doing the same.

    But I can make a new path - one where I fight for what I believe in...

    ...but not at the cost of losing touch of the ones I love.


    "But if there is one thing that being with Saber has taught me..."

    The burst of energy enveloped him - he could feel his very being re-shaping, re-working...

    ...transforming.

    "is that true Heroes of Justice..."

    he could feel the new form taking shape - the wings forming at his back, the modules appearing behind his shoulders, the schematic of his emerging form imprinting itself in his consciousness.

    "stand united as one!"

    A final flash, and the new form was complete - a transformation heralded by a deep, bestial roar.

    The roar of a lion.


    "Shirou!" Star Saber looked on, shocked - reminded of the gentle giant that she had known when she was still a child, a symbol of courage, of hope, of ferocity...

    ...and of Victory.

    "Impossible!" cursed Void Saber, who fired more pistol shots at what Shirou had now become - but he jumped to evade them, while summoning a more potent arsenal.

    The twin barrels over his shoulders slid forward, their targeting system locking onto the opponent - before bursting into life, sending two massive fireballs which Void Saber blocked with her dark sword - yet the force was enough to send her flying backwards into the air.


    "Shirou!" Star Saber called out again, lifting herself up and reaching her hand towards him.

    He turned to face her, as he flew down to reach her. "Let me be your Victory Leo, Star Saber."

    "Victory Leo..." she almost whispered, before nodding. "Yes."

    As she said this, a spontaneous data burst passed between the two - and in that instant, they each realised just what they could do as one.

    "Let's seigou!"


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - The Bond


    A field of tall grass and flowers.

    A beautiful afternoon sky, a gentle breeze carried in the wind.

    After so long apart, I see her.

    She looks to me, wearing a mangificent dress.

    And when she sees me...

    And reaches for me...

    She smiles.

    "
    Tadaima, Saber", I say to her...

    "
    Okaerinasai, Shirou," she says in return to me...

    And at the moment we touch...

    Our very essences come together to form something...

    Wonderful.



    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Excalibur (Or alternatively, this might do.)


    Victory Leo had separated himself into several parts - all of which were now attached to Star Saber's form.

    A massive rifle had formed in the right hand, as Excalibur was held in the left - the shoulder cannon now resting to either side of Star Saber's head.

    And the eyes... they had formed a kind of yin-yang pattern - one half green, the other brown - which seemed to rotate in a matching pattern as they focussed on Void Saber.

    The voice had changed, too - it seemed to echo those of the two beings who had formed the new, composite entity. "Together, we are Victory Saber..."

    Racing forth at a speed that neither could have managed alone, Victory Saber surged towards Void Saber with Excalibur afire, radiant with an even brighter force than had been seen before.

    Defiant, Void Saber recklessly charged forth in turn, roaring as she attempted to undo this union, and everything that it represented about what Saber had in her life - her lives - that Mordred did not.

    But it was not enough.


    --------------------------------------------------


    "A good opening gambit, I'll grant you that..." Fallen mirthly spoke, as he faced off against Ultra Magnus at ground level.

    "Phase Two, execute!" Magnus said flatly, as he prepared the next step of the strike. Jetfire swept in and unleashed a barrage of fire at Fallen's flank, while Magnus assembled the ordnance cannon which had formed part of his trailer mode and prepared to fire.

    "Three... two... one... mark!" The immense burst of energy from the cannon reached out to hit Fallen square in the chest, but the latter managed to form a sphere of dark energy from his right hand to mitigate the blow. That which did get through scored a moderate amount of impact damage, but the perpetual flame which wreathed Fallen's chassis seemed to undo the damage even as it was formed.

    Fallen laughed aloud, amused by the fact they were almost - almost - managing to overwhelm his personal defences. "So, would it encourage you to know that you're getting close... or discourage you to know that you're not quite close enough?"

    He walked slowly towards Magnus, and launched what remained of the sphere at the City Commander - whose armour had already been singed and scorched through contact with the un-natural flames coating Fallen's body when the initial ram had taken place.

    "Gnn...nnnnnnnn!" Magnus blinked his optic membranes, as the fire bit at his armour and reached through to score damage on his inner form.

    Jetfire cried over to his colleague. "Magnus! Are you badly hurt?"

    "I'd worry more about yourself, if I were you," Fallen answered instead, raising his left arm and firing a pulse of dark energy from his forearm-mounted cannon. The shot caught Jetfire in his flank, disrupting his flight systems and sending him careening to one side.

    Fallen almost sighed, as he looked around. "Ah, this would have been much more fun against a Prime..."

    "If you insist."

    Fallen turned his gaze to the mass of matter, from which a rather taller and bulkier version of the red-and-yellow biomech who had fallen into it emerged, alongside a raven-haired human who had somehow been shielded from its effects.

    "Rodimus Prime!" Fallen cursed, before Rodimus landed a punch, then another, and a third, before grabbing Fallen's shoulders and kneeing him in the faceplate, sending him sprawling.

    Indignant, Rodimus returned the favour with relish. "I've been looking forward to this!"


    However, the moment was disrupted by a massive crashing sound, as one of the sides of the ceiling caved in - and two massive pieces of biomechanoid crashed into a newly-formed crater in the floor.

    "I am afraid I will have to oblige you to wait until another time, Rodimus Prime," Fallen said, using the distraction to form a sphere of fire around him, which lifted up into the air and through the gaping hole left by the crash.

    Victory Saber, who was able to look in at the scene, tried to swing Excalibur at the sphere, but it was too late - a portal emerged and sucked the sphere through it, before disappearing in turn.

    Fallen had escaped.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Kenji Kawai - Eternal Sin


    "Father..."

    In the wake of the battle, Mordred had tried to re-assume her human form - but her lower torso and legs were gone, the severance caused by Victory Saber's strike unable to be reversed.

    Saber, back in her lily-white armour, knelt beside the dying Mordred, as Shirou stood nearby, and theothers tried to count the cost of the day's events.

    Yet, despite everything, all Saber could do was reach for Mordred's ace with her hand, and shed a lonely tear. "You left me no choice, Mordred."

    "No, Father," Mordred tried to insist, weakly. "You see, I finally know what it is you were trying to tell me."

    She looked over to Shirou, the yellow eyes dimming slowly, but surely. "All I ever wanted was to be what you are, to have what you have, to not be a second-best copy of the original..."

    Saber, unable to fight back the sorrow and guilt, stroked Mordred's cheek with her hand. "I... I should have reached out to you, Mordred. But... by the time I learned how to set Arthur aside and let Arturia - Artia - be, it was too late."

    Mordred simply smiled at this, as she assured Saber. "And that is what I see now, Father - that instead of blinding myself, and trying to hurt you... I should have opened my eyes to see who you have become..."

    Saber leaned over to Mordred and placed a kiss on her forehead. "You are my flesh and blood, and even though it is too late, I want to... I want to..."

    "You just have, Father," Mordred's voice was fading. "If, for at least one moment, we can forgive each other..."

    Her eyelids began to shutter and close, and her head turned loosely to one side.

    "As Father... and Son."

    With those last words, Mordred faded away, her essence vanishing into the aether, her haunted soul knowing peace at long last.

    "Saber..." Shirou reached down to Saber, and she held on to him as she wept for the person who, despite everything, was her legacy.

    Or, at least, the legacy of her last life.

    She looked up at Shirou, and while looking in his eyes, wondered what legacy the two of them would forge together... in this life.


    Thy would find out sooner than they would have wished to imagine.

    "Hawk, I'm picking up a signal from Agent E in Fuyuki-shi," Phoenix addressed his colleague, concern showing on his face. "The signal came through after Fallen withdrew, but even now is still erratic, at best."

    "Patch it through," replied Hawk, who saw the indicator of the message - audio only - appear on the viewscreen of the data terminal.

    "Ha... This.... i....." spluttered the message.

    Phoenix worked in the control panel, trying to boost the signal. "Try it now."

    "Agent E, this is Hawk at Japan HQ - do you copy?" Hawk addressed the screen.

    The signal was somewhat stronger, but still far from ideal. "I read... but you... better get... fast."

    Hawk tried not to fear the worst. "What is it? What's happening?"

    This time, only one word made it through... but it was all that was needed.


    "...Decepticons!"


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 12.
     
  10. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 13


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Trevor Morris - Behold the Great King of England


    *Atmospheric entry algorithm compromised...*

    *Substantial damage to chassis from violent descent compounded by impact damage upon reaching the planetary surface...*

    *Severe impediments to numerous critical systems...*

    *Attempting to stabilise pathways linking optic and aural sensors to main neural network...*

    *Processing...*

    *Processing...*


    "Uhhhh..."

    My head felt as if it had been rolled over by a full squad of Wreckers, as my optics flickered open and I tried to get a bearing of my surroundings.

    My vision was hazy and blurry, and the sounds all around me were mostly muffled - and even the ones that did get through weren't ones I could readily identify.

    Except for that thin strand I just about recognised as my own voice, that is.

    "Wh... wha... whe..." If anyone heard me, I was somewhat incoherent - the last thing I remembered clearly was my departure from Countdown's interstellar operations vessel, and my subsequent attempt to descend through Earth's atmosphere...

    ...but if what the emergency readouts playing over my optic-lids was accurate, something had gone very wrong indeed.

    But then, I thought to myself, it could have been worse - at least I didn't burn up on re-entry, or crash into the mouth of an active volcano.

    I was still alive.

    And that should count for something.

    It took time for me to build up a sharper level of lucidity, but what I hadn't expected to hear was the sound of another voice - though one even weaker than my own. "Help..."

    It was a human.

    And he was dying.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Gradually, I managed to piece together what had happened.

    I had crashed in a karst-landscape region, near the coast of... wherever place on Earth this was, and I could hear the sound of running water seeping through the limestone cavern, and running beneath the surface out to wherever it was being compelled to go. Through the gaping hole that had been left in my wake, I could see the overcast skies, and the torrential rain lashing down and soaking my battered chassis.

    But that was not the worst of it.

    The young human male nearby had been launched through the air and was lying up against one of the cavern's walls - a thin stalactite had impaled through his abdomen, and was pinning him in place.

    And I couldn't do a damned thing to help him.

    "I'm... sorry..." I said, when I was finally able to speak somewhat clearly. "This... this wasn't supposed to..."

    I could see him shake his head, as he looked over to me - with an oddly calm look on his face. "It's better than what was about to happen to me before you arrived."

    He told me of how a woman with a cold and calculating gleam in her eyes had waited until he and his parents had been relatively isolated while exploring this regions before she struck - murdering his parents and dragging him to this place, for what purpose the human could not say for certain.

    As it happened, the woman was preparing some kind of sadistic ritual on the site where I had crash-landed - but I had 'intervened' before she could go to drag him over for whatever kind of trauma or sacrifice she intended to use him for.

    And yet...

    ...it was the force of my impact that had sent him flying, and had loosened the stalactite which was being left untreated for too long.

    "Urrrk!" I tried to move, but the pain wracked through me, and the energy was just not there to let me move in any event. "I can't... move..."

    "Well..." he joked, darkly, "if it helps, I'll stay right here with you while I can."

    I couldn't help but laugh at that.


    --------------------------------------------------


    When all you can do to help is to talk, and to listen, it's easy enough to try and do just that - but I hadn't expected him to have as sharp a mind as he had, even given the circumstance.

    We had spoken about all sorts of matters - I told him some of my experiences while serving under Countdown's command, of the kind of worlds I had seen in my time, and so forth, while he told me a little about what to expect regarding life on Earth, or at least the kind he could speak of based on his own knowledge and experience.

    "So, when you undergo this Pretender technique," he asked me, "do you have a particular sample you use, or is one made up for you?"

    "I don't know for sure," I admitted. "That was a detail I was expecting to learn about when I was being prepped for the procedure."

    He coughed a little, but tried to shake it off, before continuing. "Well, do you at least have a name you plan to go by?"

    "I have a few options, but I'm not sure which to go for," I answered. There was so much about this new life I had signed up for that was still to be worked out - not least, who I had to try and get used to being called in the future.

    So, we talked a little about the options, and he offered a few suggestions, though stopped to chuckle a little, before coughing more violently.

    "What is it?" I asked him, as I tried to move once more, but with no success.

    "Oh, I..." he coughed up blood this time, and was looking at it almost absent-mindedly as it was deposited on his hand. "I might be going through that slow realisation of just what kind of situation I currently find myself in..."

    He looked over to one side, and I could see tears rolling down his cheeks. "Or that my parents are..."

    "I'm sorry." I didn't know what else to say. I had mourned loss before, but I didn't know if what I had felt was anything like that a human had to deal with when one of their biological relatives passed on.

    He blinked, and his eyes seemed to regain some of their focus. "No - I'm grateful that you were able to bring them justice..."

    But not this way, I cursed at myself.

    This is not the way I wanted it to be.

    But no matter how much I wished otherwise, this was how it was.


    --------------------------------------------------


    "Entschuldigung!"

    A new voice echoed down, and I could soon see a new arrival jump down and land across from me.

    It was another Autobot - this one in human form, wearing an armoured Pretender shell.

    My new friend laughed a little when he saw, and heard, the event. "Not the kind of accent I was expecting to hear..."

    Phoenix looked over and saw him, then rushed over and tried to use his medikit to help...

    ...but even though he was able to remove the stalactite, there was nothing he could do to save him.

    "
    Verzeihen Sie mir," he said apoogetically, "I'm afraid I'm..."

    His strengeth was fading, but he struggled to speak to Phoenix nonethless. "Can you... take a... genetic sample... from me?"

    Phoenix was shocked, but nodded.

    "In that case," he continued, "let it be put to good use."

    He looked over at me, and I was so awed by the gesture, I didn't know how to express it.

    And so, I listened instead. "You... have opened my eyes to a lot, in a short time... and gave me the chance to... say goodbye like this..."

    He lifted his arm, as Phoenix used a part of the kit to extract a sample of his blood from it.

    "...and so, I want... to give you something... in return..."

    "I... I..." I was still unable to say, or think of, anything...

    "...so long... as you promise me... one thing..."

    The coughing continued, and his pulse was weakening - Phoenix tried to steady him, but there was only so much he could do.

    But it was still more than I could do...

    "Tell me," I said, determined to at least try this much.

    At this, he smiled, and his eyes started to close over - for the last time.

    "If I can't live in this brave new world of yours...

    ...live it for the both of us."


    He held on just long enough to see me nod, before letting go.


    He was gone.


    But he would not be forgotten.


    --------------------------------------------------


    A knock was heard at the front door of the Emiya-tei, which wa answered by Leysritt - Sella was tending to Ilya elsewhere.

    When she opened, she was somewhat surprised. "I did not expect to see you so early, Garret-san..."

    The man in question blinked, and looked somewhat confused. Garret-san?

    "I'm sorry," he answered, "you must have me mistaken for another. My name is Étienne Seonac de Champlain, and I was sent here by a man named Hawk."

    She took a moment to look at him, as if trying to digest what he was trying to say about himself, before nodding. "I see. Welcome to the Emiya-tei, de Champlain-san."

    "Thank you," he nodded, before stepping inside, "but Étienne, or Éti for short, is quite fine."

    The conversation was cut short as a hyper-excited voice could be heard echo down the corridor. "YAY!"

    "Ojou-sama!" Leysritt called down, barely taking a moment to excuse herself in front of Étienne. "Ojou-sama!"

    "IT'S HAPPENING! IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!" the voice roared, and Leysritt rushed down to slide the door of the room - which happened to be the main bathroom - slightly ajar.

    "What is -" Leysritt asked, when Sella rushed over and whispered to her from the other side...

    "Is anything the matter, ma'am?" Étienne called over, still standing in the entrance, somewhat non-plussed.

    Leysritt blushed as she looked over in response, but quickly regained her composure. "It is... nothing you need concern yourself with, Étienne."

    "Ok..." Étienne shrugged, as he chalked it down to one of a thousand smaller things about life on Earth he had yet to understnad properly.

    But then, even Earth-born humans don't get it all either, surely, he tried to remind himself - but he still sighed, nonetheless.

    Moving on, he checked his mobile phone - well, it looked like a mobile phone from the outside, but was a little bit more under the bonnet - and checked a few recent messages.

    I managed to swing tickets to the Habs-Leafs game next month, read the first message, let me know if you can make it over!

    Ah, good old Eject, Étienne thought, I knew he'd come through. They had only met briefly, when Blaster and his group of cassettes were on a whistle-stop tour of the Oumuroyama HQ, but the two had struck up a friendship and chatted, along with Rewind and a few others, on instant messaging programs and whatnot.

    He was about to check his scheduler to see whether he would have enough leave built up to ask for the time off to go over to Montréal and back for the game...


    ...when the warning light flashed, and he stepped out to look at the sky above the city.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Decepticons


    In the near-void several hundred kilometres above Japan, the formation emerged from a carefully-timed transwarp portal, and began its fiery descent through the ionosphere.

    Many of those descending were in their alternate forms - the heat shield on the bottom of what would look to the unwary as being merely an oddly-painted space shuttle began to turn white-hot, as did the outer surfaces of the blue-and-white arrow-shaped craft flanking it.

    However, while these, and one other (a sleek jet, which passed through the turmoil un-molested) did so, there was one who refused to take such a form in its descent.

    Instead, it stretched its arms out widely, its eyes glowing red, its face held in an expression of sheer contempt at those it would soon cast judgement upon - as the flames of atmospheric energy wreathed its monstrous frame.


    --------------------------------------------------


    As one force descended, another rolled in - as an imposing police vehicle made its way through the streets of Shinto, doing just enough to assert its presence, but not quite enough to cause any actual crashes or collisions - as it led a small convoy of vehicles onwards.

    In its drive compartment sat a holomatter simulacrum - a fake human - which rested a blue media player upon its lap. It had two unorthodox earbuds attached to it, and was apparently listening to music from the player itself.

    It looked out at the crowds of people being passed as the vehicle reached its destination - at the entrance to the tallest skyscraper in Shinto - and smiled.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Sakura smiled as she walked alongside Rider, the two carrying a collection of shopping bags. While she had been able to get a small amount on the trip which ended with Ultra Magnus offering her a lift back to the Emiya-tei - but this was the first time the two of them were able to go out and about together.

    They had taken the time to go clothes shopping together, as well as doing the rounds food-wise - and Sakura was pleased at the outfit she had picked out for Rider, which given her height was an accomplishment in itself.

    The new outfit she herself had found - and hoped to modify into one she could practice her sorcery more effectively in - was quite nice, too. The red band with gold leaf pieces on either end was a particular high point. "Thank you for coming with me today, Rider - I'm very happy to have you here with me."

    Rider looked over, smiled, and nodded. "I am happy too, Sakura..."

    They stopped as each noted the heightening murmur from the crowd, and the way more and more people were standing still, while looking upwards.

    "Can you see what they are, Rider?" asked Sakura - who didn't even notice how calmly she was taking the appearance of unknown objects in the skies above Fuyuki-shi. But then, had this taken place a few days beforehand, it might have drawn a more stunned reaction.

    Rider looked carefully for a few moments, as the objects closed in...

    ...then turned to reach out for Sakura.

    "We have to move, quickly!"


    --------------------------------------------------


    The group cleared the upper atmosphere, and as they approached the city, the space shuttle opened its dorsal bay as five passengers used the downward momentum of the shuttle to lift themselves clear, before they in turn readied themselves for the insertion.

    All five were in biomech form, yet each had a distinct, yet related appearance - bearing a stylised visage of different ferocious creatures upon their chasses, either on their chests or on the crowns of their heads.

    The shuttle's bay closed once more, before adjusting its angle of descent in order for it to join the flyers in a holding pattern above the skyline.

    The one who had made the descent unaided lifted himself upwards, backpack reactors slowing the approach, as he eventually came to rest on the roof of the building which the armoured vehicle was parked in front of below.

    A large and growing crowd had flocked to the area, camera crews rushing to the scene, police and military units reacting to control the crowds. All eyes were looking at the new arrivals in general, but at him most of all - as his feet crunched down on the rooftop, and he stepped forth to gaze at the sea of humanity below.

    At last... at long, long last... he thought to himself, this... is the moment.

    A new era is dawning,
    the other voice answered, unbidden as always.

    Look at those filthy creatures, he thought, knowing by now the voice would 'hear' him. Even now, they cannot see the truth before them - denied for so long the knowledge of who we are... of who I am.

    They are asking the question,
    the voice pointed out.

    Then I shall give them an answer.


    "People of Earth..." he called out, as he lifted his right arm forwards, sweeping his particle cannon in a wide arc.

    "My name..."

    Suddenly, he transformed into his tank mode, and aimed at the skyscraper across from him - the next-tellest in the city.

    "... is Death!"

    The barrel glowed white-hot, a vortex of energy coalescing in the chamber before discharging...

    ...and a thick beam of energy lanced over to the structure, engulfing its entire frame in a fraction of s second, before causing it to burst apart into a maelstrom of flame and ash.

    At the signal, the aerial force broke formation and commenced its assault - the shuttle summoning a ventral-mounted cannon and using it to bombard the streets below, as the others alternated between swatting the few news helicopters from the sky, turning cars and trucks on the ground into smoking craters, and lancing through the sides of buildings across the Shinto district.

    The five feral warriors began their own vicious assault, striking at ground level at the terrified humans below, ignoring the small-arms and assault rifle used in desperation against them by the police and SDF units they mauled their way through.

    The guns on the turret of the armoured police vehicle flared, mowing down the thin line of police officers who had held the cordon around them, then on through the rows of defenceless civilians beyond. As the other vehicles took new forms and opened fire, the holomatter simulacrum stepped out of the larger unit, still carrying the player and headphones, looking on at the devastation before it with a satisfied look on its face.

    And above it all, standing once more on the top of the only un-touched building in the centre of Shinto, Galvatron looked on at the sight before him...

    ...and was pleased.


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 13.
     
  11. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Here's a bio for the new guy.


    H'trorren (Earth name: Étienne Seonac de Champlain)

    Faction:
    Autobot
    Sub-Faction: Pretender
    Rank: Field Agent
    Motto: “On on n’oublions jamais.”

    Details:
    Possesses a human-form Pretender shell (as seen in Masterforce). Like other such Pretenders, he is capable of forming a 'battle mode' around his human shell in combat, and can revert to his original Cybertronic form, and back, at will.

    Cybertronian alt mode is an aerospace fighter craft. (This looks like Titanium Jetfire, only with green instead of red - biomech form has a retractable faceplate, shown extended on the figure, which when retracted shows a more human-like face with a nose, mouth, a pair of 'eye' optics, and whatnot. Oh, and without the landing-gear 'wardrobe malfuction' of the actual figure...)

    Wrist-mounted modules may be detached and combined with backpack to form a smaller jet craft - which may be piloted remotely, flown manually by another person, or by Étienne himself in Pretender form (should he choose not to re-integrate the modules before demolecularisation).

    While the remaining chassis could, technically, assume an alt mode by itself... Étienne tries not to use that option overly much.

    Is armed with an energo-sword and assault rifle in biomech form, and a smaller version of each in his armed Pretender form.

    Strength: 07
    Intelligence: 09
    Speed: 09
    Endurance: 07
    Rank: 07
    Courage: 08
    Firepower: 08
    Skill: 09

    Bio:

    If anyone asked him now about who and what he was, Étienne Seonac de Champlain would give his Earth name (even in biomech form) and describe himself as an Autobot Pretender – a Cybertronian disguised at a sub-molecular level in the body of a human-form Pretender shell – and a field agent assigned to Japan in general, and most recently to the troubled city of Fuyuki-shi.

    But it was not always so.

    Étienne was ‘born’ as the wholly bio-mechanical H’trorren 1200 years ago in New Iacon, one of the more recent generations to emerge in the new era to emerge in the wake of the Great Shutdown.

    Raised in a Cybertron which was, at the time, united under the rule of Shockwave and the Council, his formative years were peaceful ones – yet the (apparent) lack of interest in exploration, or in trying to track down those groups which were known to have taken the Great War with them into the wider galaxy, chafed at the inquisitive H’trorren.

    Fortunately for him, he was contacted secretly by representatives of the legendary Countdown – who had made a covert return to Cybertron, unwilling to risk revealing himself openly to Shockwave’s ‘unified’ government – and invited to join the crew of his interstellar operations craft.

    Leaving Cybertron behind, he served what was, in effect, his first turn of duty under Countdown’s command – exploring hitherto-unknown sectors of space, making layovers at friendly and allied worlds such as Paradron and (more recently) Nebulos, and engaging the forces of the cunning Skystalker in defence of indigenous species unable to fend the would-be Decepticon tyrant alone.

    However, his place among Countdown’s crew would come to an end during the tempestuous events of 2005. Responding to the emergency signal broadcast when Unicron attacked, Countdown’s vessel emerged from transwarp into the Alpha Centauri A system – where they were too late to take part in the engagement. By the time they approached Cybertron itself, the battle was over, but the terrible cost extracted was all too evident. After spending several weeks helping to recover Autobots and Decepticons left drifting in orbit, H’trorren approached Countdown with a transfer request – to go to the one world in this region of the galaxy where he felt he was needed most of all…

    …Earth.

    Countdown contacted Metalhawk – who not long before had made formal contact with the Autobots who had been active on Earth since 1984, taking his team of Pretenders back to the fold – and arranged for H’trorren to be transferred, as one of a new batch of volunteers who were to be added to Metalhawk’s team in Japan.

    However, when the transfer took place, an unforeseen error in his navigation system caused him to crash-land in the Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland – where his tragic first encounter with humanity took place.

    Now, he lives on Earth in the guise of a French-Canadian expatriate in Japan, the inheritor of the genetic profile of an Irish youth whose life he could not save, but whose memory he swore to honour. To that end, he tries each day to live up to his lost friend’s dying request:

    “If I can’t live in this brave new world of yours… live it for the both of us.”

    Only time will tell if he is successful.
     
  12. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 14


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Soccent Attack


    Death had come to the streets, the skyscrapers, and the skies themselves above the Shinto district of Fuyuki-shi.

    The nearest squadrons of JASDF F-15s had been scrambled and launched into action... only to be obliterated by the Decepticon flyers patrolling the besieged city - against which they were hopelessly outclassed.

    The police and SDF units on the ground fared no better. Soldiers were remorselessly gunned down, APCs and other military vehicles annihilated - either through firepower or through raw, brute force.

    Panic and terror gripped the civilian populace, who sought any means of shelter or escape they could find - be it through cramming the underground pedestrian network, cowering behind office walls and furniture in various buildings (including, ironically, the one atop which stood the most feared invader of all) or flocking down along the increasingly few streets, lanes and back alleys which had yet to become killing zones.

    Yet, the flyers above were merciless in targeting any moving object which made the error of revealing itself to their targeting sensors - and the feral quintuplet of bio-mechanical assailants had cordoned off an entire quarter of the district into their own de facto hunting grounds... as if preparing for what they knew would be the inevitable response from those they deemed more worthy prey.

    However, while many of the Decepticons present relished the opportunity to release the pent-up frustration and anger which the loss of the Great War, and the subsequent years of hiding from the watchful optics of their victorious enemies, there were a few who saw past the immediacy of the event, and realised what change it would represent.

    "This is nothing but trouble, boss," 'said' Swindle over a secret channel that only he and the one he sent the message to could access - a result of a long history of avoiding the ever-watchful eye of the Cobalt Sentries and their merciless commander. "Revealing our presence like this is not going to do any wonders for my business..."

    Onslaught, who knew his 'subordinate' all too well, thought little of the 'business' the notorious smuggler was referring to… usually.

    However, in one respect, he agreed - this was a fool's errand.

    Making their presence on Earth public before securing it from the prospect of Autobot interference or readying the logistical preparations needed to subjugate a world such as this had always been considered to be a grave error. Doing so in the aftermath of a lost and ruinous war, with no off-world support for a sustained campaign, and in the context of a world where there were already far too many covert links between the EDC and the Autobots for one's liking, spelled disaster for the barely-tenuous efforts needed to restore the Empire to anything like its former glory.

    Megatron would never have approved this, Onslaught thought to himself, as he and Swindle looked up to see the ghastly expression on Galvatron's face as the latter looked on at the carnage all around him. Inferno, even Starscream wasn’t this stupid.

    "And I'll tell you something else for free, boss," added Swindle, "there's something really wrong about those things up there. They aren't natural."

    Though Onslaught knew that such talk would be tantamount to treason if anyone other than him had heard it, in the core of his spark he knew Swindle was right.

    Every one of those Unicron-fashioned beings seemed to exude an aura of... wrongness about them - which for a ruthless bio-mech like Onslaught was quite telling.

    Even the least warped of them, the purple fighter craft, was known even among the Earth-bound Decepticons for being un-reasonably attached to Galvatron's service. It was almost as if he had been made that way - that Unicron must have embedded such blind loyalty into whatever it was he had in that spark chamber of his.

    And then there was Galvatron himself...

    "Kind of makes you wonder who it is we should be shooting at..." Swindle added, and this time Onslaught was goaded into a response. "Focus on the operation, Swindle! There's only so much of that line of reasoning that even I will tolerate from you."

    Swindle showed no outward reaction, but would have sighed and shrugged his shoulders had he done so. "Fair enough, boss - but I'm sticking to shooting the fleshies with uniforms on... and I'm already working on a means of getting us the slag outta here when the time comes."

    Onslaught remained silent, but it was enough to tell Swindle that he would call on him to deliver said means when the moment was ripe.

    In the meantime, Onslaught focussed on the three others who were supposed to be following his orders - cursing that they weren't his other Combaticon regulars.

    "Ruckus, Crankcase, Fracture, stay in formation!" he called over, with as much authority as he could muster through his vocal processor.

    "What's that, boss?" Ruckus roared, as he jumped forward to bring his fists crashing down onto the side of an SDF APC. "I can't hear you over all this racket!"

    The second Decepticon being called shook his head, while rolling out a fresh dose of verbal bile. "Maybe if you stopped being such a slaggin' loudmouth, you wouldn't keep making a fool of yourself! How did I ever get myself into this damned mess... stuck here on this mudball... watching that idiot make a fool of himself again..."

    "Enough of your tongue!" snapped the third, who spared just enough energy to say as much before rushing to the corner of a nearby street, then proceeding to stomp her foot upon the ground. The powerful seismic dischargers in her legs activated, and forced open gaping cracks in the ground below, streaking down the street and underneath the various corpses and wrecks littering it.

    All of which, of course, was beyond the plan that Onslaught had laid down for them.

    "I said get back in formation, NOW!" he commanded, but short of putting a few rounds in their backs, the trio would not listen.

    Swindle, staying close to Onslaught, commented more openly. "Makes you wish the gang was still together, huh?"

    Quite. Regardless of what he could say - at length - about Brawl, Vortex and Blast Off, at least they were somewhat more likely to fall in... not least because they knew enough to rely on each other more than to take their chances on their own.

    As far as Onslaught was concerned, this operation couldn’t end soon enough.


    --------------------------------------------------


    While this was taking place, the headphone-wearing holomatter simulacrum walked calmly, as it picked up the trace of communication between two more-than-ordinary local beings.

    The less scientifically-explicable side of this planet's indigenous life forms had become something of a field of study for the being controlling the holo-man, and the communications sent from the various sources uncovered concerning this city had made uncovering a more direct source of data a high priority.

    "Targets located," the holo-man spoke, in a monotone voice, which had more than a hint of a non-Terran origin.

    He lifted the blue player and faced it before him, pressing the eject button. "Squalktalk, Beastbox, eject and combine - mission: interference."

    Two cassette-type modules - which were shaped thus despite the player being (apparently) designed for digital media - leaped from the device, before transforming and combining in mid-air.

    "Mind if I play something interesting?" the gestalt being, Squalkbox, requested.

    The holo-man simply nodded.


    BGM: Julien-K - Technical Difficulties


    "I still can't get through to Garret-dono-tachi, Rider!" said Sakura quietly, yet with a heavy dose of serious concern in her voice.

    Rider took a moment to scout the immediate vicinity, before replying in a low voice. "They must be interfering with the signal. We should concentrate on getting out of this district without them following us."

    Sakura nodded. The thought of these creatures destroying the Emiya-tei was something she couldn't bear thinking about. "Hai!"

    Pocketing the device, she Reinforced her limbs and followed Rider's lead, as the two moved from room to room, then from alley to alley, heading for the river dividing the city.

    Using the shadows to try and mask their passage, the two made it to the side entrance of a fifteen-story office block, before they started to hear the approaching music…

    “Sakura!” Rider smashed through the glass entrance, and led Sakura through the building and away from the street, but the noise kept approaching.

    Suddenly, the PA system in the office started blaring, playing the same piece at an almost deafening rate.


    --------------------------------------------------


    As Squalkbox made the building’s speaker system his impromptu sound system, the holo-man walked in train, before activating the player once more.

    “Laserbeak, Ravage, eject – operation: interception.” At his command, two more modules released themselves, before transforming and racing into action. The first, taking the vague outline of a Terran condor, screeched through the skies as it headed towards its target. The second, assuming the form of a midnight-black jaguar, sprinted along the ground, eschewing its traditional method of blending un-noticed into the shadows at the behest of its watchful commander.

    There were yet more cards to be played, if necessary – but Soundwave was content to see what his two most trusted lieutenants could achieve.


    --------------------------------------------------


    “I’ve been so waiting to take my oeuvre into a more public realm - don’t you agree that it’s been worth the wait?” Squalkbox asked, almost as if he actually expected a serious critique of the piece, as he revealed himself before Rider and Sakura in the main lobby.

    Unamused, Rider raced forward and readied herself for the attack – but Squalkbox used his twin concussion cannon to compress the air beneath her, disrupting her leap and sending her to the ground, winded.

    “Rider!” Sakura called out, as she raised her hand and prepared to fire a sorcerous projectile at the assailant – while cursing how little time she had been given since her last battle to prepare herself this time around.

    However, as Laserbeak screeched into the lobby, Rider made an instinctive throw of her nail-tipped chain at the bio-mechanical condor. Faster than the Decepticon could react, the nail embedded itself in Laserbeak’s neck – and upon impact, Rider clamped on to the near end of the chain, before using herself as a fulcrum in order to spin Laserbeak through the air… and smashing into the side of Squalkbox.

    “Gr-aaak!” the ‘musician’ cried out, as he felt the force of the impact, sending both he and Laserbeak sprawling.

    Sakura had no time to be relieved, however – as she saw a jet-black metal jaguar sprint use the distraction to sprint towards her.

    Yet, she was in no mood to go down quietly. “Stay back!” she called out defiantly, as the building energy in her arm was unleashed. The bolt of energy enveloped Ravage’s overly-sensitive optics, causing him to leap blindly forward – allowing her just enough room to use her Reinforced limbs to scatter to one side.

    “let’s go, Master!” Rider insisted, as she scooped Sakura up into her arms, then jumped into the air, aiming to reach a high enough vantage point so as to escape the scene.

    --------------------------------------------------


    This was not going quite as well as he had hoped – but there were other options.

    This time, he held the player to himself, when giving the latest commands. “Rumble, Frenzy, transform – objective: demolition.”

    At this, the two white earphones which the holo-man had been ‘listening’ to removed themselves and ventured forth – then assuming their bio-mechanoid forms.

    “Just leave it to us, boss!” Frenzy said gleefully, as he and Rumble modified their arms into piledrivers, and made ready to demolish the office block altogether.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Rider had made it to a high enough level for her to feel comfortable leaping onwards, when she and Sakura could feel the boom-boom-boom from below… and sense the foundations of the building giving way.

    “Hold on!” she cried, as she leaped across the street, hoping to reach the other side in time…

    …but the side of the building was falling down towards them.

    In Rider’s arms, Sakura closed her eyes, and hoped for a miracle…


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - You’re a Soldier Now


    Recklessly separating themselves from Onslaught’s vicinity, Fracture jumped along the abandoned roofs of cars and trucks littering the street, her leg generators crushing each beneath her as she moved forth in a fit of murderous glee, while Ruckus followed not too far behind, revelling in his own fit of destruction.

    The moment was interrupted, however, as a sleek white-and-green jet raced mere metres above the ground, and banked sharply to expose its right wing just before Fracture could stop to realise what was happening. The craft’s wing sliced through her exposed and under-armoured lower torso, causing her to scream in shock as her upper chassis collapsed to the ground, her systems going into emergency stasis lock.

    Ruckus roared in response at this, instantly recognising the red emblems atop each of the fighter’s wings. “Wretched Autobot! Come and face me if you’re looking for a fight!”

    His shoulder-mounted cannon opened up, trying to catch the fast-moving jet as it banked and rolled one way, then the next – its own twin assault rifles strafing the ground beneath him, before scoring damage marks upon his reinforced chassis. “It’ll take worse than that to stop me ticking, Autobot!”

    “I’ll see what I can do, then!” he heard coming from one side – before a land vehicle he hadn’t even realised was approaching transformed, and a materialised energo-sword sliced forward, shattering his optic visor.

    Before Ruckus could react, the opponent jumped up and turned in mid-air, pressing what was supposed to be the sole of his foot against his face… before leg-mounted engines were ignited, and a rush of superheated flame coursed through the shattered visor and burst out from the sides and back of Ruckus’ head.

    Using his slowly-toppling chassis as leverage, the attacker then launched himself forth, where the jet disassembled itself into three pieces, each attaching back to the bio-mech’s form.

    “Two down…” Étienne said to no-one in particular, as he flew down the next street over, looking for other Decepticons to introduce himself to.

    Yet, he could hear a strange rumbling from around the next corner – and as he banked and changed course, he saw two figures leaping from the side of a collapsing building.

    “Hang on!” he called out, as he accelerated forth while rolling himself onto his ‘back’, reaching out his hands in a desperate effort to catch the pair…


    --------------------------------------------------


    Moments later, he had managed to roll himself back to an ‘upright’ flying position, and was racing away from the scene as fast as he dared while carrying the two.

    He looked down to see more clearly who it was – and when he saw the face, the eyes, of the plum-haired lady who looked up at him, he gasped.

    “You’re the most beautiful woman in the universe!”

    Immediately, he blushed – or about as much as a bio-mechanoid can do so – as he realised how profoundly ill-timed such a comment was.

    Nevertheless, the lady looked up at him, still holding on to her purple-haired friend, and almost blushed in return. “That’s a very kind thing for you to say, Autobot-san.”

    While under different circumstances, he would have wished to stop and ask just why it was she knew about his allegiance – or, perhaps, to clarify if the two were somehow related to the group at the Emiya residence he had been at earlier – he had more immediate concerns. “I’m going to try and cover for you as best I can – try and get out of Shinto, before they finish their work here…”

    “I can get her to safety,” Rider insisted, and Étienne nodded.

    “Good,” he said, as he came to land in a spot close to the edge of the district – hoping he was giving them enough of a head start so as to evade pursuit altogether. “Stay safe, both of you – and wish me luck!”

    Sakura held on tightly as Rider carried her to the ground, before carrying her to what they hoped will be safety. “Ganbatte kudasai, Autobot-san,” Sakura said, grateful for the rescue… albeit not quite sure what to make of the ‘other’ outburst.

    “Thanks,” he replied, as he turned and headed down the street. I’ll need it.


    --------------------------------------------------


    While he had bought the two time, Étienne had unwittingly launched himself into the lair of the beasts.

    He jolted to one side as he tried to dodge the rampaging rhino, as he passed a narrow intersection.

    He banked upwards and to the right, as a charging bull tried to skewer him on its horns.

    He was almost clawed in half by the leaping tiger, which roared with a deep and terrible fury as it tried to reach for him.

    He was battered and shaken in mid-air by the assault of the hawk, which strangely seemed to hold off from attempting to make a close-range kill.

    He thought he had escaped the worst of it…

    …until he glimpsed the golden lion which had been clamping into the side of a nearby building, just long enough to see it pounce and land a telling blow.

    Étienne crashed to the ground, his chassis battered and torn, deep gashed left by the claws of the leaping lion, as the Predacons gathered slowly about him.

    Their leader, Razorclaw, transformed from lion mode into his intimidating bio-mech form, and summoned his energo-sword as he walked calmly to the fallen one.

    “Do you have any last words, Autobot?” Razorclaw asked, almost dismissively, as if following some warped code of honour in allowing the victim a last gasp before the end.

    Étienne struggled to move, but managed to lift himself up just slightly enough to allow him to look back into the pitiless eyes of his would-be executioner. “And there I was… hoping I’d be the one… who’d get to ask one more of you Decepticons the same thing…”

    “Defiant, I like that,” Razorclaw nodded, almost in respect. “Worthy prey should not cower when the end approaches. But if you wish, I can pass on one piece of information for your spark to take with it on its journey…”

    He stopped in front of him, thumbed the activator on the sword, and raised it skywards.

    “All good things succumb… to those who wait.”

    And at the last, Étienne closed his eyes, and found himself thinking of that plum-haired angel he had been granted a glimpse at.

    If this is the end, let it not be in vain…


    His meeting with Eternity would have to wait, however – as his optics opened to the sound of a heavy booom just before him, and the sight of a massive explosion hitting Razorclaw in the chest and knocking him backwards.

    He looked around, and could see a massive craft swoop down from the sky, the white-hot barrel of the immense rifle upon its back smoking in the after-effect of the shot. The craft then separated into two – the foremost piece racing forth and transforming into an awe-inspiring knightly warrior, the aft piece taking the form of a massive winged, roaring lion.

    In the sky he could see a formation of flyers burst into action, a torrent of fire rippling through the sky towards the Decepticons flying above the city.

    Upon the ground, he could feel the rumble as the immense bulk of a blue and white truck-trailer drove down one of the streets, a sports car racing beside it, as it headed forth into the fray.

    And beside him, an oddly-hovering vehicle transformed and approached him, revealing a somewhat familiar face.

    “Wave.. rider?” Étienne asked, still badly wounded from Razorclaw’s earlier strike.

    The other Autobot nodded, before preparing a field triage kit to try and stem the worst of the damage. “You’re the one Phoenix mentioned. Nice to meet you properly – now please hold still while I try and fix you up.”

    “Oh yeah…” he wondered if his vision was blurring – he should have recognised that Cloudburst was up there, part of the arriving formation.

    Strengely, he found himself remembering something from earlier in the day. “Oh, by the way… who’s Garret?”

    Waverider simply pointed to one of the taller skyscrapers left standing. “That’s him up there.”

    Étienne was stunned as he saw a shining red and gold vehicle emerge from the building’s lower parking levels onto the roof, and noticed the canopy lift up, and a figure use what must have been an ejector seat to spring out of the driving compartment.

    He was even more taken aback to see the vehicle accelerate and launch itself off of the side of the building, transforming in mid-air before angling itself down towards Galvatron and smashing sideways into the Decepticon tyrant.

    So that must be Rodimus Prime himself, Étienne thought, as he found himself drifting into unconsciousness – but with just enough lucidity to make one final comment:

    “Awesome.”


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 14.
     
  13. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    I just added a prologue to the beginning - intended to make things a bit clearer TF-wise for the Fate fans, and a bit clearer Fate-wise for the Transfans.

    Here's hoping it works...
     
  14. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 15


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Downtown Battle


    The clash of tooth and claw rang out loudly, as Victory Leo and Razorclaw tore furiously at each other in their respective lion modes.

    The Predacon commander was letting slip the carefully-cultivated mask of analytical calculation with which he typically buried his own more feral urges, and lashed out with a wild abandon. Victory Leo, in contrast, was venting the overwhelming anger and fury he felt at the sight of his home town under attack, aching to rend Razorclaw asunder with his bare claws if he had to.

    While the two fought on, Star Saber kept the other Predacons at bay - none daring to close within reach of her deadly blade, but all doing their utmost to try and keep her off-balance, while Divebomb circled overhead and prepared to swoop down for a telling strafing run.

    Tantrum tried to use such a moment to get a clear run at what was momentarily Victory Leo's exposed flank - but Star Saber, using Excalibur to parry a strike from Rampage's energo-blade, still managed to reach her left fist over to punch through the exposed dorsal fuel tank on the charging bull's flank, causing a blast large enough to send the Predacon flying to one side.


    "If you wish for an available opponent, one stands right in front of you!" she defiantly called out, as she brushed Rampage to one side in turn and assumed a defensive stance, preparing for a further attack.

    "Not for long, cursed Autobot!" rashly cried Headstrong, who recklessly took the bait and raced towards Star Saber - only to have his path blocked by the thrown chassis of Razorclaw, who had been overpowered by Victory Leo just moments earlier.


    "Don't go too far, I'm not finished with you yet!" roared the winged lion - but Star Saber raised her hand to try and hold his ire in check.

    "Wait!" she said, "let's combine and finish this!"

    Victory Leo had to try and rein in the more feral urges he seemed to feel in lion form, but if anyone's voice commanded his attention, it was hers. "Right!"

    Razorclaw lifted himself off of Headstrong's battered chassis, as he looked to see Star Saber and Victory Leo combine into Victory Saber - and rather than being concerned, merely chuckled. "Only two of you combining? Curious..."

    Calling out to his unit, Razorclaw commanded: "Predacons, let's show them what a real combiner looks like!"


    Heeding the command, the four made their way towards their leader, and Victory Saber looked on as the gestalt entity took form.

    For the being taking shape before them was no mere amalgamation of parts, no limited fusing of consciousness, no lesser foe to be concerned with.

    Predaking... was something more.

    Releasing a low growl, the merged form sized up its opponent, and tensed its claws for the fight to come - as its deep voice rumbled forth. "Let us see how worthy a prey you truly are!"

    At this, Victory Saber leaped into the air, and materialised the V-Lock Cannon at its right hip, launching a series of explosive projectiles akin to Broken Phantasms at the foe - but Predaking activated its force field in time to absorb the brunt of the blasts.

    "A ranged battle? How unsporting..." goaded Pradaking, who launched himself into the air and prepared Razorclaw's energo-sword and its own enhanced claws to try and reach out for Victory Saber more directly.

    Victory Saber, in turn, held Excalibur with both hands, and rushed across to counter-attack. "Then see if you can handle us up close!"


    --------------------------------------------------


    (...to be continued)
     
  15. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    (...continued)


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Taking Back Sunday - What's it feel like to Be a Ghost?


    In contrast to the highly agile Sweeps obliged by their commander to provide an escort, the bulky shuttle mode Astrotrain was flying in was slow to react to the onrushing Autobot flyers - but he reasoned that he would have just enough time to turn and fight... or at least transform and land.

    He would have neither.

    Twin streaks of superheated energy raced faster than a human eye could follow, and punched two gaping, white-hot holes through Astrotrain's flanks, and out the other end. Critically hit, the Decepticon soon found itself plunging to the ground, then crashing into the flanks of an abandoned skyscraper.

    Rather than show any concern, however, the Sweeps were relieved of the need to protect what they considered to be dead weight, and instantly broke from their escort formation and followed their master Scourge - who was already racing forth into the fray.

    Cyclonus, meanwhile, had transformed into his bio-mechanoid form and was hovering over the city. Keeping a close watch on the tide of battle, he bore the responsibility for overseeing the tactical operation... since his own master was rather pre-occupied.

    He would not be left untroubled for long, however.


    --------------------------------------------------


    On the ground below, Ultra Magnus and Landmine transformed near an open square, and the latter took a flanking position as Magnus readied his ordnance cannon, this time choosing to operate it in missile launcher mode.

    "Can you draw his attention?" Magnus asked, to which Landmine smirked.

    "Well, if it isn't Mr. Smithers himself!" Landmine called out to Cyclonus.

    The supremely collected field commander would have brushed off almost any other insult, but the implication of that comment infuriated him. "How dare you!" he roared, as he plunged towards Landmine's position.

    However, his approach was disrupted by the need to evade the barrage of missiles Magnus fired from his launcher, and he relised his error as he found himself drawn into the City Commander's firing line.

    "Keep watch of my flank!" Magnus ordered, and Landmine moved off to one side, trying to take pot-shots at Cyclonus while watching for approaching Decepticons.

    "Rest assured, Magnus, you won't - ahh!" Cyclonus' words were stifled by a hit from the missile barrage, which staggered him to one side and left him more vulnerable to further strikes.

    Magnus spoke coolly, as he locked on for the next wave. "Don't worry, I won't -"

    "What the - gaaaah!" Landmine tried to call out, before an onrushing figure used the massive shield on his left forearm to swat the Pretender aside like a fly, before charging on into Magnus himself.

    "I've been looking forward to a good shot at you, Ultra Magnus!" Onslaught cried out, as the crunch of impact knocked Magnus to one side, and forcing him to drop his launcher.

    As the two began to brawl, Cyclonus approached the prone Landmine, intent on retribution. "If you don't already regret that choice of comment, you will soon enough."

    "Heh," Landmine 'spat' fluid back in response. "Of all the things to regret in one's life, getting at the likes of you is not what I'd consider one of them..."

    "We'll see," came the reply, as Cyclonus prepared to rip the impudent Autobot's spark core out of his chassis - before he heard a crashing sound come from the building that Galvatron was standing.

    Or, at least, was formerly standing.


    --------------------------------------------------


    "Come on, get your tailpipes out of there already!" Rumble called in, taunting the trapped Decepticons who Soundwave ordered to be removed from the rubble.

    While he never tolerated failure, he deemed the humiliation of enduring such a premature burial to be sufficient - not least since the more important task of resuming the search remained.

    In any case, he could not afford to be spiteful.

    At least, not right now.

    Frenzy was providing cover, itching to get in a fight, but knowing better than to refuse one of Soundwave's orders.

    However, it seemed that a fight was coming his way, all the same...

    A whooshing sound could be heard rushing through the air, and a moment later Frenzy was grasping at his neck, an energo-dagger slicing deeply into it.

    As he gurgled and collapsed into stasis lock, the assailant, freshly emerging from seemingly out of the aether, charged forward behind the protection of a red energo-shield, placing well-aimed shots into the other Decepticons between him and Soundwave.

    In reponse, Soundwave dismissed the holographic avatar, and transformed into his full biomech mode, readying his own rifle and shoulder-mounted launcher to initiate a counter-strike.

    "Soundwave superior, Autobots inferior!" the blue Decepticon stated in his signature monotone - to which the onrushing attacker smirked.

    "Autobot?" he responded. "Not quite." My true 'associates' have plans for you...

    The distance closed, and the assailant charged forth and placed a disruptive charge onto Soundwave's chest. It soon activated and sent the communications officer into convulsions, before forcing him to transform back into media player mode.

    Satisfied, the assailant turned to the remaining members of Soundwave's unit.

    ... and plans for the rest of you, too.


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Sam on the Roof


    "Are you sure about this?" Rin asked, as she held on to her seat, while Rodimus raced through the winding path to the rooftop.

    "I stopped him before, Rin," Rodimus tried to reassure her, "and I can do it again."

    She was less than convinced. "But you are still not fully recovered from -"

    "Trust me, Rin." He reached the rooftop, and the canopy opened above her head as her seat was primed. "Are you ready?"

    "Yes." With that, the seat was ejected, and Rin rushed into the air as the vehicle form of Rodimus Prime - a form she could spot the signs of damage on, even as it raced beneath her - burst off the side of the roof into the air, before transforming and diving in towards Galvatron.

    She could see the plumes of dust thrown up by the force of the impact, which drove both opponents into the floors beneath them and obscured them from sight.

    The seat's automated systems landed her onto the roof, but she had unfastened the seat-straps and jumped away before it touched down.

    Stepping over to the edge of the building, she gasped as the full, awful sight could be seen all around her.


    Battered ruins and piles of rubble were strewn in the wake of collapsed and gutted buildings, fires were burning in the chassis of ruined vehicles, the skies boomed with the not-so-distant sound of engine wash and weapon fire...

    ...and she shad a tear at the thought of hoe badly she left like she had failed.

    I am a Tohsaka,
    she thought to herself. This is my ward - these people my responsbility.

    I was supposed to protect them from monsters like these...

    I thought it had been enough..

    When I...


    She thought of the sacrifices she had made during the Grail War - some of which made before the awful truth about the Grail's dark corruption came to light.

    She had thought that even with all of the pain and hurt and bloodshed, that at least it had been enough to spare the people of Fuyuki-shi from terror.

    She shuddered at the thought that some of her classmates, some of her friends... some of her family... might already be found among the dead.

    But, she straightened herself up, and wiped the tear away with the side of her palm.

    I am a Tohsaka, she thought once more, as she felt her sorrow and fear turn into steely determination.

    And my mission... is only just beginning!


    With that, she felt the flow of prana course through her veins, as she jumped forth into the air on a carpet of sorcery, and raced onwards to her new destiny.


    --------------------------------------------------


    (...to be continued)
     
  16. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    (...continued)


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Optimus Vs Megatron


    The debris field which had formed in the wake of the impact cleared, and two diametrically opposed figures lifted themselves out of the gashes their massive forms had rent into the rooftop of the building.

    As the dust cleared, two sets of optics stared across the space between them intently - as if each pair was trying to bore holes right through to the back of the other's head.


    But only for a moment.


    Rodimus Prime picked himself up, then began to charge towards Galvatron - to which the latter responded by stretching out his arms, revealing thick bands of obsidian blackness, each with a nano-razor-sharp edge at their extremities.

    The hakai taitei had fashioned the chains which had once bound him into a bitterly ironic choice of weapon.

    Galvatron spun the three chains attached to his left wrist, before ferociously whipping them down towards Rodimus. The intended victim had other ideas, however - he dived and rolled diagonally, keeping his momentum going as much as he could while closing the gap between him and Galvatron, and while doing so retracted his left hand. In its place formed a spinning energo-saw, an upgraded form of the saw he had once used to liberate his old mentor from the clutches of a bio-mechanical sea monster on Quintessa.

    As Rodimus rolled, he brought his arm up and used the spinning energo-saw to cut through the chains. He struggled to cut through the dense metal, and winced as the part of the chains cut loose lashed down across his chassis.

    Galvatron, smirking at the sight, hoped to flay the young Prime as he stood, and readied his right arm for a further strike...

    ...but the young Prime was not to be taken down so lightly.

    Rodimus fought through the pain, leaving the broken ends of the chains behind, as he followed the remainder back to their owner and smashed himself into Galvatron with as much force as he could muster.

    This was enough to send the two flying off the far edge of the building, roaring at each other as they plummeted to the distant ground below.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The opposing squadrons of airborne craft were, at this stage of the engagement, only loosely holding any semblance of a recognisable formation, as Metalhawk, Phoenix and Jetfire engaged Scourge and his Sweeps in bitter aerial combat.

    Each one of the Sweeps posed a dangerous threat, but the Autobots were quite aware of how their commander was at a different level altogether.

    “Jetfire, Phoenix, formation 2-8-Delta-Yau, engage!” Metalhawk signalled to his comrades, at which the latter two banked to one side, forming a closer formation in an attempt to draw off the remaining Sweeps…

    …while Metalhawk himself raced towards Scourge, transformed in mid-air, and brought his energo-blade down towards the ferocious Decepticon.

    Said Decepticon, of course, was only too glad to oblige.

    “Heh heh heh,” he snorted, while transforming in response and launching a counter-charge, “you would mistake the hunter for the prey, then?”

    Scourge knew how much his ‘brother’ pre-occupied with bothersome things like the ‘big picture’ of tactics and strategies, as well as the fate of their ‘beloved’ leader…

    …but so long as he got to fight, he cared not one bit.

    Scourge’s claws glowed with a rich energon-pulsed light, as he parried the incoming sword strike. “I would be delighted to disabuse you of that notion, Autobot!”




    Meanwhile, away from this combat, Victory Saber and Predaking continued their own duel.

    Victory Saber was fast, powerful and flexible, seeming to make the most out of both the ranged firepower which Victory Leo brought to the mix, as well as the finely-honed meléé skills which were Star Saber’s forté.

    In contrast, Predaking’s actions seemed to be almost too fast for mere rationality or consciousness to take into account for. While the ferocity which abounded within the Predacon team was one thing, not even the formidable skill set of Razorclaw himself could account for the kind of… instinct that the gestalt possessed in a seemingly endless abundance.

    It was far from being just a creature of instinct, however.

    “I give you credit,” it remarked, sounding genuinely impressed, as if finding something it had been sorely lacking for a very long time, yet had not really expected to find. “You’re the most worthy prey I have faced in many stellar cycles.”

    “We are no-one’s prey!” Victory Saber called back defiantly, its voice almost mid-way between those of its constituent parts. Its yin-yang eyes burned brightly as it shoulder-charged into Predaking’s left flank, and the wings donated by Victory Leo and Divebomb respectively screeched and sparked against one another as the two plunged into the shallow waters of the bay, the two massive opponents crunching into the bed beneath the flotsam.

    The fight was by no means done, however, and the two were soon up, tearing at one another with increasing abandon, the few remaining onlookers trying to shelter along the nearby shore gasping in terror.


    No matter which proved the victor, they all knew that their lives had changed irrevocably.


    --------------------------------------------------


    “I bet there’s not a few out there itching to get a chance like this!” Onslaught was, despite himself, savouring the opportunity to get to grips with the (in)famous City Commander – respected, feared and loathed in equal measure by countless Decepticons, and not a few members of other factions who have sought to capitalise on the misery of the Great War over the millennia.

    It was not for nothing that Ultra Magnus was so renowned, however. “And you won’t be the last, Combaticon!”

    Magnus put his well-worn Diffusion training into practice, as he shifted his chassis weight in order to direct as much of the impact as he could – which, granted, was not overly much, and certainly not enough to stop Magnus from wincing audibly at the pain of the damage Onslaught’s attack had caused.

    It was enough, however, to let Magnus get an arm around the side of the Combaticon’s shield, and lift the latter clean into the air, and smashing into the concrete as Magnus rolled and brought his assailant down hard.

    “Landmine!” Magnus called out, all too aware that he was still in no position to intercept Cyclonus in time to prevent him from trying to finish off his comrade, but…

    In a flash, Magnus reached over to pick up the launcher he had been forced to let go of when Onslaught charged, and had just about enough time to throw it in Cyclonus’ direction before Onslaught grappled the City Commander once again.

    For the time being, there was nothing more he could do.


    --------------------------------------------------


    The sound of the air being parted by the thrown weapon reached Cyclonus’ aural sensors only a fraction of a second after the thunderous crash which signalled that his lord and the Prime were on their way down to their level, in a less than measured fashion.

    “Mi-” Cyclonus’ cry was interrupted as he was knocked to one side by the sheer mass of the oversized rocket launcher, and the prone Landmine couldn’t resist a bout of acerbic laughter at the Decepticon’s expense.

    “Aren’t you supposed to be one of those hyper-aware Unicron-forged super-mechs, Mr. Smithers?” he chuckled, fighting down the fluid forming in his mouth from an unhealed rupture in the back of his throat. “You can chase a ship halfway across the galaxy, but get flat-footed by a… *cough* …giant chunk of metal!”

    Such impudence would have earned Landmine an excruciating, and very final, retribution from Cyclonus at any other time – but once he shook off the moment of disorientation, there were far more pressing matters to attend to.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Here he is, the voice said, almost, but not quite, tainting him – never quite going away, but not often as assertive than it was at present.

    “Quite so,” Galvatron replied, not even realising he was speaking aloud while doing so.

    Ironically, Rodimus Prime – the one Autobot that had, in some way, haunted Galvatron’s thoughts ever since that terrible, calamitous day, separated from the present by only two years on a calendar, but by an immense gulf of void in the Emperor of Destruction’s tormented consciousness – had just made some comment or other regarding ‘last battle’ or ‘it ending here’ or some such nonsense, though its intended recipient seemed to have a more… immediate conversation partner.

    Go, fight him. Kill him. Kill him. Kill him. the voice commanded, taking on a more assertive tone than Galvatron had expected to hear from it.

    “I don’t need to be told!” the hakai taitei roared, as he lashed out with his bare hands, again and again and again, trying to breach the Prime’s defences and rip his faceplate off.

    But he was parried, blocked, shunted at every turn. The Prime could fight, and fight well, in this close-quarters kind of match-up which even in his pre-Matrix days was his favoured melée range.

    Galvatron’s frustration mounted, as his retribution – or was it even that? he wondered to himself for a moment – seemed to be, literally, out of reach.

    What are you waiting for?

    Are you not the heir of Megatron?

    Is this not your destiny, to extinguish the park of Primes?

    To forge a legacy of war and death throughout the cosmos?


    “Enough…”

    Do it. Do it now.

    “…I said…”

    DO IT!

    “ENOUGH!”

    He had been knocked to one side by the Prime, and almost out of sheer frustration, his hand reached to the ground, as if to throw the debris at his enemy’s face – when he managed to grab one of the severed heads of the chain he had fashioned earlier.

    Leaping forth, he stabbed the edge towards the Prime – the blade biting deep into the forearm which had been brought up to stifle the blow – and Galvatron pressed the arm back towards the Prime’s chest, seeking to force the weapon through the other side of the forearm and deep into the torso itself.

    It was insane…

    …but it worked.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Rodimus Prime had forced himself through far too much already, in such a relatively short time.

    He had still not recovered from the brutal assault by the Fallen, which had left scars that neither the set of regen treatments he had been given to try and recuperate, nor even the life-giving properties of the Matrix itself once re-claimed, could have undone.

    And now, having gone into this critical fight in such a condition, he was straining himself to his limits in order to take on a foe he had last won against only as a freshly-minted Prime… and remembered all too clearly how close he had come before that to not having any future at all.

    But it was not enough.


    “Aaaaaaagh!” he screamed, as the spike pierced his blocking forearm, and he felt the tip dig into his chest, just above the point behind which the Matrix itself was housed.

    He felt himself sink to his knees, as the inexorable might of the Decepticon emperor bore down upon him, remorseless and without mercy.

    He felt so weak…

    I can’t let myself fail, he thought, his mind fogging over, the strength in his limbs starting to flag.

    It can’t end… like this…

    So many people had needed him, had looked up to him, had turned to him as some sort of ‘Chosen One’ – as if he could somehow speak for Primus Himself, in the wake of the horrors wrought by Unicron in 2005.

    Of the losses suffered by the climax of the Great War.

    Of the death of no less a leader than Optimus Prime.
    Is this it? he cursed at himself. Is this all that I am, all that I can be?

    His optic-lids closed over, as he tried to push the pain away…


    “Get your fucking act in gear, damnit!”

    His optics opened again, and looked past Galvatron’s features to see a fiery young lady race down the flanks of a building on wings of pure energy, her hand outstretched and aimed at the lieutenant who was lifting himself up to hover over what he seemed to have hoped was the sight of his ‘Mighty’ leader finishing his weakened foe off.

    Rodimus could see Cyclonus try to reach out and rake the Terran out of the sky, but she was two steps ahead, sweeping to one side and barrelling around to pepper his back with alternating bolts of flame, ice and void.

    And she was actually hurting him, too!

    “If I have to shoo these Decepticon bastards out of my city alone,” she called down to him, her voice thick with rage and defiance, “I’ll pull you back from whatever the hell your version of the Afterlife is, so I can send you back there myself!”

    Galvatron looked up, seemingly in a kind of daze, but lucid enough for that moment to smirk at the Terran’s audacity.

    It was all the time that Rodimus needed.

    “Rrrrrrr…” Rodimus Prime lifted himself forward, taking the wound to the chest as he forced Galvatron back, and smashed into the Decepticon’s face with a powerful right hook.

    Galvatron’s grip weakened, and Rodimus tore his still-pierced arm free, leaving a fresh gash in his chest as he expended his last reserves at tearing into his foe.

    One punch rattled the armour on Galvatron’s shoulder. A knee to the chest shattered the transparent crimson plates in the hakai taitei’s abdomen. A stomp on the right thigh crumpled the skeletal structure beneath, bringing Galvatron to his knees, while a forceful downward elbow cracked into his back.

    His energy almost spent, Rodimus Prime clamped onto one of the three horns protruding from Galvatron’s helmet, and reached over to grasp onto his head with the other.

    “No…” Galvatron called out, “It… can’t… it can’t be…”

    Rodimus had only three words.

    “Yes, it is!”

    With a bellowing roar, Rodimus expended the very last drops of energy, pulling upwards, straining the connections linking Galvatron’s head to his shoulders…

    …until with a sickening lurch, they tore free completely.

    Galvatron’s remaining chassis flopped forward, shaking involuntarily, as the head flew away out of Rodimus’ grasp, becoming buried in a pile of dust and debris.

    But Rodimus could do no more.


    He leaned away from his foe’s remains, tried to carry himself forward, but made it no further than the second step before he fell forward, his collapse arrested by the outstretched fingers of his hands on either side.

    His last thought before losing consciousness was something which, had he the energy left for it, would have drawn a smile.

    I guess she won’t have to kill me, after all.


    And with that, his eyes faded, then all became darkness.


    --------------------------------------------------


    End of part 15.
     
  17. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Part 16


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - Optimus


    My optics opened – or, at least, what seemed to be such – and I found myself surrounded by the kind of world I had never seen before.

    Streams of data given shape and form, rainbows of light and shadow coursing over a surface of glistening ethereality, ghostly clouds hovering in an electric sky above me...

    …and in all of this, I stand alone.

    Yet, I know that I am in the midst of some kind of presence.


    I looked around, and I saw a portal to one side, leading away to Primus knows where – and to another, I saw a kind of hollow frame hover in the air, forming a kind of holographic image within its spacious confines.


    I turned to it, and it flickered to life.


    On it, I saw images of a time long past – the story of a being who I immediately recognised as one who had played a pivotal role in my life.


    I saw him at a data terminal, busying himself as an out-of-the-way records clerk, blissfully unaware of the great narrative that Fate would place him within.

    I saw him at his investiture, as the power of the Matrix bathed him, turning him from mid-level functionary to reluctant commander in all too brief a transition.

    I saw him rally his people, returning from an extended absence form his home world, reminding them of the credo of freedom and justice that he had come to embody for those under his command.

    I saw him slumber (mostly) undisturbed in the bowels of the great Ark, its construction a kind of lost art to future generations – entombed on an alien world alongside the stasis-locked chassis of both his closest comrades and his mortal foes.

    I saw him, re-formatted to suit the needs of an organic civilisation, leading the now-legendary group of ‘‘84s’ in a secret war to protect a bystanding species from the spectre of tyranny.

    And then…

    …I saw him fight his final battle.

    His moment of triumph over Megatron, snatched away by the foolishness of a young, impulsive intruder.

    His silence after descending with a sickening thud into the surface beneath him.

    His final words, and moments, as he passed from this life into the embrace of the Allspark.


    I couldn’t bear it – I wanted to turn away, to hide my shame and self-pity from the screen, as if to escape the judgement of whatever force had deigned to display this series of events to me.


    But then, I saw something else… something more.


    I saw a world upon which a revived Optimus stood, cheering as he ushered in a new era of liberty for an embattled people.

    I saw a red comet of holy light race from the surface of a broken world, arms outstretched before it to unleash the power of the Matrix against the Chaos Bringer itself.

    I saw a crimson fire truck park alongside a burning apartment block, dousing the flames diligently, as it and its often-estranged brother provided hope to the endangered humans within.

    I saw a pact agreed in the shadow of a dark and terrible void, in which a familiar-looking leader joined forces with an impossibly wise and ancient Cybertronian, in a quest to seek the means by which a great balance of forces may be restored.

    I saw a humble space bridge operator clear debris from a construction site in a far-off corner of the galaxy, alongside his loyal team – while wondering when he could get the chance to prove that being a hero could be in hi programming, after all.

    And finally, I saw a metal-flanked comet streak from the heavens onto a world not overly unlike one he had come to know well… then saw a silver bio-mechanoid emerge from an enclosed body of water, scan the form of a nearby automotive vehicle, and stand before two humans who held the key to their world’s future.


    Every one of them looked different to each other, and to the being I had known, but there was no mistaking who they all were.

    They were Optimus Prime.


    “Hello, old friend.”


    I turned from the monitor, and out of the portal emerged the one who was addressing me.

    As he stepped forth, it seemed as if clouds of images hovered over his chassis – as if distinct segments of each of the Optimus Primes shown upon the viewscreen flowed aside and blended with one another.

    However, the images coalesced as he came closer, and formed together into one shape – the Earth-mode Optimus I had known, all too briefly.

    “Optimus…” I said, trying to find the words I had hoped to express ever since that horrible moment in 2005, yet finding myself incapable of getting past even this one simple word.

    Although his face plate obscured certain facial reactions, I could still tell that he was smiling, and relaxed, as he placed his hand upon my shoulder. “You have nothing you need to ask me for, Rodimus Prime.”

    I was not quite ready to let my guilt go, however. “But… I did… I caused…”

    “You did your duty as an Autobot soldier,” Optimus reassured me, kindly, yet firmly. “In your place, I would have done the same.”

    He gestured to the electric vista around us with his free hand. “As for the rest… my time had come.”

    “Other versions of you live on,” I pointed out, referring to the Primes I had seen on the monitor.

    “Perhaps,” he answered, “but my time… has passed.”

    “…” I didn’t know how to answer that.

    I didn’t have to. “Yours is only just beginning, my friend.”

    I looked to him, and saw the well of knowledge, experience and wisdom in his glowing blue optics – and the assuredness behind him, in what he saw of me.

    He had faith in me.

    So, perhaps, it wouldn’t be so bad to have a little faith in myself, too.

    “In time, all things pass,” he added, “and your spark may, one day, find its home here – at which time I will be honoured to know of all of the things you will have done for our people, and for all life, in the world I have left behind.”

    “Hopefully, later rather than sooner,” I tried to quip, at which he nodded and laughed.

    “Ha ha, quite so! It’ll take time for you to be an old coot like me, anyway.” Even here, he had not lost that… for want of a better word, prime quality.

    “So, I’ll be going back, then?” I wondered, looking at the portal. After what had happened on Earth, I didn’t expect to open my real optics again.

    “Let’s just say,” Optimus answered, “that the universe is not quite done with you yet.”

    At this, he offered his hand, and I shook it gladly.


    I had been able to make peace with the past.


    And now, I knew that I had to make the most of the future.


    “Walk with the One, Rodimus Prime,” he told me.

    “I will,” I affirmed.

    “I know you will,” he said confidently.

    As he let go, I wondered just how I was supposed to get back, anyway.

    “Oh, two things,” Optimus asked me, suddenly.

    “Sure,” I answered.

    “Tell my brother that he should get on with believing in himself,” he told me, “the way I have always done, and always will.”

    I could not have agreed more with that assessment. “Of course.”

    I felt an odd drip on my hand, as I asked about the other matter, and noticed how bright everything was getting. “And the second?”

    Optimus smiled behind the face-plate, and spoke the last words I heard from him, as he, and everything else here, vanished behind the light enveloping me.

    “Try to think of something clever to say.”



    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Steve Jablonsky - No Sacrifice, No Victory


    The battle was over.


    With Galvatron’s fall, the combination of fear, duty and aggression which had driven the Decepticons onward collapsed in a heartbeat. Those who had not already been offlined or captured withdrew, vanishing from the skies above Fuyuki-shi almost as suddenly as they had arrived.

    The Shinto district was in ruins, with broken buildings, gutted chasses, maimed bodies and cowering dust-caked survivors left in the wake of the tsunami of violence.

    Now, slowly, people began to emerge from their hiding places, and while some were fearful to approach the aliens who remained – the ones who had fought and risked their own selves on their behalf – others carefully approached the still, silent form of the red-and-gold being who had so dramatically brought the invasion to a screeching halt.

    None were brave enough to approach so close as to actually make contact with the being, however.

    Except for one.


    “No…” Rin sobbed, her palm pressed down upon Rodimus Prime’s outstretched right hand.

    She had made it through, as had many others – but her mind was still numb to the thought of how many others had been slain in such a short time.

    Despite this, she found that the life she was most concerned about was that of this brave, bright, foolish, charming, selfless, yet all-too-mortal… man, who was no less important to her now, no matter whether the flesh he wore was organic or bio-mechanical.

    She didn’t care how selfish it may have seemed.

    She didn’t want to lose him.

    “Come back to me,” she sobbed, and a tear streaked down from her eye, landing on his hand below…


    A ripple of energy, as if riding the crest of a wave formed by the dropping of a stone in a pool of water, spread around the point of contact, and faded out.

    Then, a sound of pulsing energy reverberated around his bio-mechanical form, as his optic-lids opened, his fingers twitched slightly, and his optics glowed, then pulsed back to life.

    He looked down at her astonished face… and smiled.


    Rodimus lifted himself up, and looked out at the crowd of people who had been watching him, as well as noting the Autobots who were approaching on foot nearby.

    He thought of Optimus Prime’s parting words, and tried not to shake his head wryly when thinking about it. So the old spark had one last card to flicker over the table, after all.

    Still, the nest few moments would have nothing less than the weight of history upon them – and it was essential that he was up to the task.

    A Prime should do no less.


    And so, he stood, arms outstretched, as he spoke.

    “People of the Earth, my name is Rodimus Prime.

    I am of a species of sentient bio-mechanical life-forms from the planet Cybertron.

    Though our forms and types of being are distinct, we of the Autobots -” he pointed to the red faction logo upon his chest as he said this – “hold firm to the principle that freedom…

    …is the right of all sentient beings.

    On behalf of my people, I grieve with you for all of those who have been lost to us on this day – and though no words of mine can un-do this tragedy, I hope that I can assure you that so long as even one of my kind stands, their loss will not be in vain.

    And so, I offer to you on behalf of my people our friendship, support, protection, and partnership, for as long as you may wish for it…

    …till the day when all are One.”


    The crowd had initially been astonished to hear these words, but as he spoke, their expressions began to lift – seeing in the Autobot leader the promise of something they had abandoned in the face of the invasion…

    …hope.

    A few started at first, but soon the entire crowd was clapping and cheering, voicing and displaying their gratitude for the sacrifice made on their behalf, and demonstrating their acceptance of the offer made in the aftermath.

    And thus, the formal first contact between two worlds was made.


    But the day was not yet done, however.

    A data upload was sent wirelessly, informing Rodimus that reinforcements had arrived to Earth from Cybertron, and that the Protectobots and others had already deployed to the city in order to carry out rescue efforts, and help plan for a reconstruction project for the city.

    As he acknowledged this, two fast friends approached him, and bowed in greeting.

    “We have realised a discrepancy, Rodimus Prime, and have come to a decision regarding it,” Star Saber spoke.

    Victory Leo nodded in agreement. “Neither of us have formally signed up to the Autobots – but if you don’t mind…”

    “Of course.” The two knelt, as Rodimus placed a hand each upon their shoulders. “Do you accept the duties and responsibilities of an Autobot soldier, to fulfil those to the best of your ability, and to stand proudly as guardians of freedom and justice?”

    “Yes,” they spoke in unison.

    “All I needed to hear,” Rodimus smiled, as he stood back and withdrew his hands. “Arise, Star Saber and Victory Leo, and welcome to the Autobots. Till All Are One!”

    The two stood, as the auto-nanites within their forms brought forth fresh Autobot faction logos upon their chasses. “Till All Are One!”


    A new chapter in the history of both peoples had been written – and, perhaps, future generations might look upon this day as the end of an era, the onset of a golden age, or perhaps as the sign of an era of bitter consequence.


    But no matter which path the Fates had laid out, it was still up to those within to walk it.


    And that journey…


    …had only just begun.



    --------------------------------------------------


    End of Part 16.
     
  18. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    Epilogue


    --------------------------------------------------


    BGM: Mute Math – Transformers Theme


    The garage door opened, as the raven-haired woman stepped beneath the shutters and headed towards the flame-flanked vehicle parked within.

    Said vehicle opened its door to let her in, and she slid into the seat and sat quietly as the door closed itself behind her.

    As it shut, the engine revved, as the various monitors and lights activated on the dashboard, and the radio tuned in to a local station the woman had picked up an interest in listening to.

    A few moments later, the shutter was up high enough, and so the vehicle changed gear and smoothly drove itself out into the driveway, and on to the road.


    They had a lot to do that day.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Something was wrong.

    Well, things had been wrong to the point of catastrophe for a while now, but not quite like this.

    For one, the numbers of Decepticons who had made it this far back toward Chaar were relatively few – aside from the loss of Galvatron, other Decepticons had either fallen in battle, been detained, or otherwise unaccounted for.

    No-one knew where Soundwave had gone off to, for example, and the unstable vortex in which Swindle and Onslaught had jumped into had led them to who knows where.

    Plus, the Predacons had decided to abandon the group altogether, as if dismissing the rest of the Decepticons as surplus to their requirements, now that the cast-iron will of the one who had bound them to the cause was no longer present.

    Essentially, Cyclonus was left with little more than Scourge, a number of Sweeps, and whoever was left on Chaar to rally for duty.

    “So, now will you finally stop procrastinating, and actually take command of the Decepticons for a change?” Scourge was through with even the pretense of concealing his displeasure at the situation, that to his mind should have been resolved two years ago with Cyclonus stepping up to the plate.

    It was just as well that Scourge could think of nothing less appealing than taking that trouble himself – he was content with commanding his Sweeps, and letting his brother deal with the lesser Decepticons – or things would have taken a far more violent turn by now.

    “Enough!” Cyclonus’ mask of composure was cast to one side, his spark seething with anger and rage over what he had seen happen to Galvatron, a wound only deepened by the reality he could no longer ignore…

    …that Galvatron’s reign had been a disaster for the Decepticons.

    The worst part about what Scourge was saying stung his sense of duty the most – it really would have been better for them all had Cyclonus assumed command in the first place.


    But now, he had no excuse not to.


    Except that as he and the others landed on Chaar, he wondered just what it was he was supposed to be assuming command of.

    Before him, overshadowing the fortifications, rested an immense structure – which, in and of itself, took on the form and dimensions of a new city.

    He noted the ring of displacement which surrounded it, clear signs that this ‘city’ had somehow landed here of its own power.

    “Are you not impressed?” a voice asked, and Cyclonus looked down towards the source of the question.

    Two small beings stood on the central boarding ramp of the city, one in a cybernetic suit of black and silver, the other wearing a similar device in cream and purple.

    It was the latter who had posed the question – and Cyclonus’ sensors were able to see past the façade of the suit and recognise the modified, though still organic, form within.


    Nebulans, he sniffed.

    “Explain yourself, flesh-creature!” Cyclonus demanded, in no mood to tolerate insolence from this jumped-up hybrid-organic.

    “I have a name, Cyclonus,” the being responded. “If I can show you the courtesy of knowing yours, perhaps you could at least ask for mine in return?”

    Scourge smirked, hoping that the fleshling would prove just annoying enough to let his brother command he rip it apart.

    It was not quite there yet, but not far off, all the same. “You mean nothing to me.”

    “I knew he wouldn’t listen,” a deep rumbling voice echoed through the city, form an unknown source.

    At this, the Nebulan smiled. “Oh, we’ll see.”

    At this, a bay door opened, and an unusual treaded vehicle with twin massive mechanical claws and an overhanging tail rolled out.

    The black-and-silver one stepped to one side, as the other leaped up and landed on the roof of the vehicle’s cabin.

    “Once, I was known simply as Lord Zarak,” the being spoke, as the vehicle it stood upon transformed into a fearsome bio-mechanoid – to which Zarak’s transformed suit attached as a head.

    The rolling voice returned, this time emanating more closely. “And separately, we were more limited as life forms.”

    The city began to shake violently, and Cyclonus looked up, the bitter realisation of how poor the situation was about to become beginning to dawn upon him.

    “But together...”

    Towers and driveways folded and re-formed, tunnels and walkways retracted, turrets adjusted and gigantic structures shifted into place…

    “We... are more.”

    …and Zarak’s bio-mech attached itself within the emerging head of the terrible creation which beheld the surface of Chaar.

    And a new, combined voice boomed.

    “We… are Scorponok!


    --------------------------------------------------


    A sphere of un-natural flame raced through the folds of subspace, decaying and scarring the fabric of reality which lay upon its path.

    Within, an ancient being simmered with barely-suppressed fury, trying to focus its mind away from the frustration at having its recent efforts thwarted, and towards the far more important matter of planning the end of this accursed universal stream.

    I am the Avatar of Entropy.

    I have a duty to the Unbinding.

    A responsibility to upholding the promise of Bliss that the Great One seeks to offer the multiverse.

    Yes…

    It is only a matter of Time.


    The sphere changed course, and the Fallen turned his efforts to seeking out the means by which the coming campaign may be waged.


    --------------------------------------------------


    Upon the lunar surface, the recent arrival to this reality noted the data which had come from Earth regarding the series of events which had so changed the local dynamic of Terran-Cybertronian relations.

    There was a lot to consider, even with the added (stolen) processing power of the TransTech device the being had used to identify this universal stream in the first place.

    Even so, it smirked as it came to its first conclusion.

    I think I am going to do just nicely in this reality.


    Stowing the device in a storage bay, the being then transformed, raced across the rim of the crater before banking up into the void, and vanished through a hyperspace portal.

    It was time to get settled in.


    --------------------------------------------------


    “I’ll get it!”

    Time had passed since the Day of Consequence, and this was the first time that the gang had managed to find just enough time to enjoy something of a get-together at the Emiya-tei.

    Thankfully, while the existence of Cybertronians in general was now public knowledge, Pretender technology remained a closely-guarded secret – as had the aspects of events which could have compromised the long-standing secrecy of the Mage’s Association.

    Not that it hadn’t been a close-run thing, in terms of keeping the latter especially under wraps… and the Clock Tower still had a few uncomfortable questions it intended to ask a certain raven-haired magus.

    But they could wait.

    “So, got anything interesting there, Rin?” Garret asked, as he leaned over to see the letter that Tohsaka was just finished reading.

    She shrugged. “Meh, it’s another ‘invite’ from the Association. I’m sure they are eager to teach me all I need to know…”

    “Pfft,” Garret snorted. “Stick with us, and before too long they’ll be the one begging for you to teach them all you know!”

    “All that you don’t mind sharing, of course,” she pointed out.

    He smiled. “Well, I’ll trust your discretion.”


    Meanwhile, Shirou and Artia were chatting with Ilya – who really was starting to look taller.

    “I’m gonna catch up with you, onii-chan, just you wait!” she giggled, as she winked over to Artia, “though I guess I’ll get to your level first…”

    Artia responded with a well-placed tickle – her demeanour around the silver-haired girl softening considerably over the course of time they had spent together. “A lack of preparedness is still your enemy, Illyasviel!”

    “Ha ha!” Shirou laughed, before joining in the tickle-fest.


    Meanwhile, Professor Hawk got the door, and smiled to see the familiar face on the other side. “You look well, Étienne.”

    “Merci beaucoup,” Étienne replied, nodding in reply before taking a step inside. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I’d…”

    His voice faded as a certain person looked over and noticed his arrival.

    “So, you must be Étienne – it’s a pleasure to meet you at last,” Garret offered, smiling, offering his hand.

    It should have been easy to respond. Étienne had learned about the mix-up which left the commander with the same DNA as that he currently kept in trust, and in principle, it shouldn’t have been a problem.

    After all, had the donor known, he would have been happy enough… and wasn’t it good to have his legacy borne by less a hero than the Protector himself?

    It should have been fine…

    …but Étienne knew that, for too many reasons to count, it really wasn’t.

    “I’m sorry,” he whispered, as he turned to leave. “I can’t… I can’t do this.”

    Garret, who understood all too well, stepped back, and nodded. “I… understand.”

    But while Étienne began to step away, a fresh voice carried itself through the air to him – one which was as soft as silk, but still had the power to reach him like no other.

    “I have been waiting to meet you again, Autobot-san,” Sakura told him, as she stepped forth towards him.

    As he found himself turning back towards the door – towards her – he lifted his head and wondered for a moment if his optics hadn’t deceived him back then.

    However, with one look, he had his answer.

    You really are the most beautiful woman in the universe.


    Suddenly, sticking around didn’t seem like too bad an idea, after all.


    --------------------------------------------------


    In the interim between the landing of Galvatron’s severed head in a cloud of dust and debris, and the recovery of said item by the reclamation corps, two small, glowing spheres emerged momentarily from the frame, before vanishing into the ground.

    Some time later, the spheres re-emerged and skimmed over the Pacific Ocean, moving silently over the waters as they headed upon their destination.

    Or rather, one sphere seemed to be in the driving force, extending its control over the second as if cradling sensitive goods for transport.

    Over an unmarked stretch of ocean, the spheres plunged downwards, and sped through the depths, the various marine creatures passed en route paying them no heed.

    Eventually, the spheres approached the outer structure of an alien-constructed craft, submerged in the deep, yet still sealed within from the crushing pressure of the ocean beyond.

    The lead sphere floated through the corridors and into a kind of experiment chamber, where it dropped the second sphere into a kind of cubic box before racing into a waiting chassis.

    Its optics glowed, as power coursed through its long-dormant systems, and it stepped forth.

    “Good to see your Spark made it this far, fearless leader,” the bio-mech spoke, fir the first time in this new body. “Now, be so kind as to not extinguish before I finish the transfer!”

    Activating a series of panels and displays, the being set in motion a spark transfer process, which placed the second sphere into a ready and waiting Cybertronic form.

    Once complete, the being tapped the form, looking to get its attention. “Did you enjoy your nap, vaunted one?”

    “U… uh… YOU!” The voice coming from the object – a pistol scaled for use by a ‘regular’ Cybertronian – rasped in reply.

    “Oh, come now, Megatron, is that any way to address an old friend such as myself?” the other being chortled.

    The newly-awakened one stopped for a moment. “Wait… Megatron?”

    It examined its current form, and the realisation hit home. Yes… I am no longer in the same form – this chassis is closer to my older self.

    I am Megatron once again.



    “It’s just as well,” the being offered. “Being in that Unicron-fashioned form was so… uncomfortable. No wonder you were going crazy in there.”

    Crazy… Megatron had to admit that for the first time in… he couldn’t even remember… that he felt as lucid and sharp as he had been before striking that Faustian pact with the Chaos Bringer.

    “But that voice…” There had been one other element to his discomfiture, however. That constant echo, the taunting voice, which sounded so much like his old self – but in the final moments of the battle with Rodimus, had dropped its façade and revealed its true intent.

    “Unnnnh!” Megatron railed, as he tried to transform, but with little success. “What… what is this?”

    “Oh, keep up, Megatron,” the being chided him. “Don’t you remember – the Nucleon Project?”

    Nucleon… “Yes… it was meant to be a new form of energy,” Megatron replied, his memory starting to come back to him.

    “I had hoped it would allows us to both replace Energon and gain the lead over the Autobots,” the scientist mind of the other being worked over the process, “but it had a troubling side-effect of not allowing a Cybertronian to transform.”

    He lifted his hand up. “This chassis of mine is like that – stronger than the original, surely, but stuck as a bio-mech… albeit a stunningly magnificent specimen, if I do say so myself!”

    It only took a moment for the realisation to sink in. If the being had trapped his bio-mech form using Nucleon, than that meant Megatron’s current gun mode was – “I’ll find a way out of this, and when that happens, I’ll make you pay for this!”

    A maniacal laugh was the immediate reply. “Oh, I’m sure you will, but before then, I have plans for you, mighty Megatron.”

    It lifted the gun out of its mount, and pointed it towards a target drone at the other end of the room. “You may not be in a position to pull the trigger yourself, but I assure you that I am more than willing and able.”

    To demonstrate the point, he fired, and the force of the fusion cannon obliterated the target in one shot.

    “You’ll help me re-gain mastery of the Decepticons, and watch from the ideal vantage point as my reign is forged in fire across the galaxy!”

    “How dare you…” Megatron was fit to burst, but his captor had no mercy.

    “Say it,” he said. “Say my name, and let the walls shake with its echo!”

    With this, at least, Megatron found himself obliging his treacherous once-lieutenant.

    “Your fate is already sealed…

    …STAAAAAR…SCREEEEEEEEAM!”


    --------------------------------------------------


    This story will continue in Fate/Trans Form: The Era of Consequence.
     
  19. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

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    One last update, before the follow-up - another entry in an IDW forum writing comp.


    The Call of Fate

    H’trorren to Audentes – I think I’ve found another one.

    The green-and-white interceptor craft’s most recent mission was a grim one – combing the debris left behind by the wreckage of a number of allied starships, as well as that left in the wake of the destruction of Unicron’s main body, in search of survivors.

    His ship, the Audentes, had dis-engaged its transwarp drive and emerged near Cybertron too late to play a role in the battle, but arrived just in time to see the Entropic monster’s destruction at the hands of the Matrix…

    …a sight none on board would ever forget.

    So far, a number of high-profile individuals had already been rescued – H’trorren himself had been present when Ultra Magnus was recovered and brought on board.

    However, while most were recovered without incident, such was not so for the monstrous stasis-locked being H’trorren now uncovered...


    ---------------------


    “How are you doing, H’trorren?” asked the Audentes’ commanding officer – an Autobot of no small renown himself.

    H’trorren, for his part, was slouched forward slightly, his fingertips resting on the edge of a circular interface. Upon it currently showed a three-dimensional holo-image of the Milky Way galaxy.

    He looked across to his commander, and sighed – knowing that in an off-duty time like this, Countdown had little use for the usual protocols. “I’ve been getting close to a decision, sir.”

    “I was thinking as much,” Countdown answered, as he stepped to another side of the interface, and looked up.

    “I’ve seen my fair share out there, lad,” he added, as he looked at the image before him. “Yet, even so… I have never seen the likes of this.”

    It was as if Countdown himself was as much trying to come to terms with the advent of Unicron as any other who had, in one way or another, made it through the experience.

    H’trorren kept thinking of one particular aspect of this whole event, however. “I guess I was as shocked as anyone when we first arrived – but it wasn’t until I saw him that I found myself… asking the kind of questions that, well… I just can’t ignore.”

    Countdown remembered the moment vividly. There was something so… haunting about seeing the prone form of Galvatron up close. Even in its stasis-locked form, it un-nerved those around him to an extent that even Megatron himself had not done.

    Thankfully, Magnus and Rodimus Prime had been quick to see to the fallen Decepticon commander’s incarceration on Cybertron, and the crew of the Audentes would not have to worry about the prospect of that… thing re-awakening and ripping them all to shreds in moments.

    “I’ve been proud to serve alongside you, Countdown,” H’trorren acknowledged, “and been grateful for the role I’ve been able to play in my time aboard Audentes…”

    He turned to Countdown, his expression showing that he had reached his decision. “…but I feel it’s time to move on.”

    Countdown took a moment to consider this, and then nodded. “I understand.”

    At this, the chest module of Countdown’s larger trans-tector chassis opened. The smaller Micromaster form detached from its slot within, transformed, and saluted. “Audentes won’t be the same without you, H’trorren.”

    “Thank you, sir,” H'trorren replied, then saluted in return.

    “So,” Countdown gestured to the map, “do you have somewhere you want to move on to?”

    “Actually,” H’trorren smiled, as he adjusted the display in order to focus on a certain neighbouring star system, “I always wanted to try this place.”

    Countdown gave a lop-sided grin, as he pulled out a pocket datapad. “In that case…

    …I think I know just the man to talk to.”