Coming Together, Tearing Asunder


            Sunfire watched the mixture of blue and red-purple as the sun sank to the sanctuary of the horizon, signifying the end of the day. The star was a hologram as was the sky it floated in but right now that didn’t matter. The display was equally impressive as it would have been had the star been a real one.

            Things had been looking up since she’d encountered Tempest on Cindras Two once again. She’d convinced Avatar Prime and the others to allow the Decepticon scout to return with them to Eden, citing the fact that Tempest’s knowledge was invaluable to them. They had reluctantly agreed, Militant especially, but accepted her advice and permitted their enemy’s presence in their midst.

            To play it safe, she’d had Tempest remain in her spacecraft form to keep from panicking the general populace. She’d communicated with the Transformer several times, keeping her up to date on the daily minutia she’d been experiencing since they landed. But so far only a select few among the Masters knew the alien craft’s true form. To everyone else it was merely a curiosity brought back by the mysterious guest whom had appeared among them so many weeks ago and pleaded for their help.

            Their help...

            She had pleaded her case to the Council of Primes before, even going so far as to provide them with the direct evidence the more stubborn among their group had demanded. There was no more arguing to be done–it was time the Children of Primus made their choice. To join her alliance and fight alongside their long time enemies or to go it alone and suffer the consequences of not confronting the Armada directly.

            She only hoped she had fought hard enough to make her argument to them. She’d recalled the events of the recent past and wasn’t able to think of anything she could’ve done differently. Still, a small part of her mind agonized over the details, irrationally worrying that she could’ve somehow done more then she already had. That all her efforts would be for naught.

            She heard footsteps nearby and glanced up to see a young woman with dark hair approach.

            “The door was open,” she said. “I hope I’m not intruding...”

            “No, that’s fine,” Sunfire replied. “I’m glad to see you, actually. I can use the company.”

            Rapture moved beside her on the balcony and leaned on the stone-like material that Sunfire had propped herself on previously. The material pulsated gently where she leaned, as if acknowledging her presence.

            “It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?” she asked. Sunfire knew it was more of a statement then a question and nodded.

            “They’ve made a magnificent home for themselves,” she agreed. “A true paradise. Eden made manifest in the physical sense.”

            They gazed at the artificial sunset, neither uttering a word as they watched the star dip further behind the horizon. 

            Sunfire glanced at her companion, noting that she now wore the organic garb of their hosts unlike when she’d first encountered her. Every time she’d seen Rapture now she seemed more at peace then before. Like whatever burdens she’d come to Eden with had been lifted from her lithe shoulders.

            She felt envious at that thought. Peace was something she hadn’t known since before the Decepticons had re-emerged. Ever since, either as a mechanoid or a human, she’d had her own burdens to bear. There could be no true peace in her heart until her mission was accomplished and their enemy vanquished.

            “You like it here?” she asked.

            Rapture glanced at her. “Yes, I think I do,” she replied. “The Children are so different from my own people and yet the same in the important ways. They’re more refined and advanced, beyond all the petty concerns the people on Earth worry about. There’s no greed or hatred, no intolerance–just harmony and well being.”

            Sunfire nodded. “They do seem to have a pretty good system here. Although their hatred of the Transformers is a sticking point for me.”

            “Can you blame them?” Rapture met her gaze. “You heard the story about what they did to the people of Earth so many millennia ago. Destroying the planet’s eco system and forcing the inhabitants to flee to space. They lost their war and their home! Is it any wonder they wanted revenge?”

            Sunfire glanced at the landscape beyond. “I suppose not. It just seems like despite all their advances, they can’t abandon their base urges.” She sighed. “No matter how far civilizations come, there’s always some sort of intolerance or dark seed planted in amongst it all. Society can be shaped into a fine jewel but no matter how hard people try, there will always be some flaw present.”

            “We’re smart creatures but imperfect,” Rapture offered. “That is our burden... and sometimes our pride.”

            “How so?”

            “Our drive to be better comes from our need to overcome our flaws,” she explained. “Without that drive, I don’t know where we’d have gotten as a people.”

            “But why strive to be better when our innate imperfections will always manifest themselves in whatever we achieve?”

            Rapture smiled. “You really haven’t been human very long, have you?”

            “No...” Sunfire replied. “No, I haven’t... but we’re not all that different as species. Transformers are far from being perfection incarnate as personalities.”

            “Can’t you just program out imperfection? You’re machines!”

            It was Sunfire’s turn to smile. “Its not that simple, I’m afraid.”

            “It never is.” Rapture glanced out at the landscape beyond. “Still, we try anyway.”

            The star was moving below the horizon now and the sky was beginning to darken. Above them, the sky began to fill with pin-pricks of light. Nearby, Sunfire also observed a hologram of the Creator’s Cloak nebula beginning to form in the sky.

            “Do you think the Children will abandon their Jihad now that you’ve revealed your reason for being here?” Rapture asked. “There’s been a lot of bad blood between them and the Transformers for a long time–even if the Transformers don’t recall it.”

            “It’s strange that the conflict was forgotten by our side,” Sunfire admitted. “Still, a lot of records were lost in the early stages of the Great War so its not inconceivable by any means. Add to that, the War kept our people busy with each other and mostly oblivious to external threats.”

            “That’s interesting but it doesn’t really answer my question.”

            “No, I guess not,” Sunfire conceded. “I was just thinking out loud there... As to whether or not they’ll go along with my plan, I really hope so. It’s clear from my appearance and knowledge that the Syntara had believed the Masters involvement was important. Really, they’re in as much danger as the Transformers are. If I can get them on-side then maybe things will work out yet.”

            “And if you’re wrong?” Rapture countered. “This thing runs deep with them and many of them won’t give it up so easily. Add to that, you’ve brought that one Transformer here to their sanctuary–the majority don’t know what she really is but those that do will factor that in to their decision.”

            Sunfire met her gaze. “I can’t afford to be wrong, Rapture. If I do my job right, then I won’t be. I just have to make sure I get through to the Circle and make them see that this in their best interests and the best interests of their people.”

            “You said that your kind were more similar to ours then we realized,” Rapture offered. “Perhaps you should focus on that point in your final argument to the Circle.”

            She considered the other’s words.

            “You’re right,” she agreed. “I have to make them see that we’re all the same at our cores. Focus on the things that bind us rather then divide us.”

            “You’ll need one hell of a good speech to win them over.” Rapture headed for the balcony entrance. “Come on inside. I’ve got some ideas to run by you.”

            Sunfire shrugged and followed.

                                    *                                   *                                   *

            “Let the Circle of Primes convene now,” Avatar Prime spoke as he stood at one end of the circular table. All around him, a mixture of other Masters seated themselves in organic chairs that they had summoned up from the material of the walls and floor about them.

            “We have much to discuss here,” Avatar continued. He gazed at the lone woman standing in the center of the room, a light illuminating the spot she stood in. To the eye, she appeared simply as another of their number, her snow white hair and green eyes matching the Masters perfectly. In reality, she was as far removed from them as they were from the humans of Earth.

            “We must make a decision for our people,” he continued. “A decision with far reaching consequences for us all. Shall we put aside our holy Jihad, our guiding mission for eons so that we may come together with our hated enemies, the Mechs, against a dark enemy that stands ready to annihilate us all–or continue on as we have and hope this threat is not as it seems.”

            “Indeed,” Healer Prime observed. “To some of us, the answer seems all too obvious.”

            “Not to all,” Militant Prime interrupted. He gazed at Avatar. “Are we to abandon all that we have ever stood for–all that we are simply because of this woman?”

            “Thou hath seen the dark fleet for thyself!” Healer interjected. “We almost died because you needed proof so dearly! You have it now–what more do you need?”

            “How do we know what we experienced wasn’t some sort of elaborate deception?” Militant argued. “Thou hath lied to us about thy true intent from the very start! Even now, she hath brought one of the vile Mechs here to our Sanctuary! Who can speak to what she truly plans as our fate?”

            Sunfire spoke up. “Much like when you offered to accept me into your number, I can’t tell you what to decide. But you know that fleet is real–and if I were in league with them, then why bother with this elaborate deception? We could simply destroy you all and be done with it! The Armada is real and we must work together to deal with it! This is the truth.”

            “And the Mech?” Militant demanded. “Why hath thou brought it to us?” He looked to the others. “Mark my words well! No good can come of its presence among us!”

            “Tempest is no ordinary Transformer!” Sunfire argued. “She is one of the Watchers that had sent me on this mission. In a former life, she had been the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime. When he died, that Syntara assumed a new form as a Decepticon. She is an invaluable source of information in the battle.”

            Avatar regarded her, wondering at her determination. Sunfire was young and strong in heart and mind yet at times he sensed a frailty as well. She was idealistic in her core, simple, like a child to him. He felt protective, like she was one of his own offspring rather then a total stranger.

            “And you were once one of them?” he asked. “A Mech, like this Tempest, transformed by these watchers into a human woman.”

            “It is beyond our science,” Observer Prime chimed in. “Still, there are many things not yet known to our kind. To rule them out simply because we do not understand them is foolish.”

            “Agreed.” Tutor Prime nodded.

            “It is true I was once an Autobot warrior and am now a human,” Sunfire said. “Once steel now flesh and bone. I have a perspective none of you can truly have... as a Mech, I lived and loved. As a human, I find that my heart and mind are not that far removed from what they once were. If only you could see that both Master and Transformer have far more in common then you realize. We are the same, in our souls. Imperfect beings, blessed with love, joy and hope... cursed with anger, pain, sorrow. Both much closer then either realizes or can accept... all that we are, have been, can be will be eliminated. Wiped out as if it never existed by this Enemy unless we act. This is the truth...”

            There was silence in the chamber. Avatar glanced at Militant, noticing that their chief opponent was paused, considering the meaning of her words. Others, such as Tutor Prime and Observer Prime, who’s positions were more nebulous also seemed to be lost in thought.

            He glanced at Sunfire, the fire in her eyes clearly present. She would not give up on this battle until she had won, that was certain to him. He felt pride welling up inside him at her actions. She was an incredible woman, the daughter he wished he’d raised but that had been taken from him all too soon by circumstance.

            “Thou hath discussed this, considered it in depth,” he said to the assembled circle. “The time for consideration has passed us. What say thee?”

            “Aye,” Healer cast her vote.

            “Aye,” Observer agreed.

            “Very well,” Guidous Prime chimed in after a moment.

            He went around the table, gathering positive reactions, some swifter then others but all positive in their agreement to Sunfire’s plan. Finally, he reached Militant Prime on the opposite end of the table.

            “What say thee, Militant?”

            “Thy concern regarding Sunfire and the Mechs remains,” Militant answered slowly. “However... there is wisdom in acting against an enemy. Thy vote is cast aye while thy reservations remain. Thy shalt continue to watch and wait for a treacherous turn to the circumstances.”

            Avatar nodded. “Very well, then. Thy concerns are noted...” He glanced at the others. “This session is concluded then.”

            “Wait,” Observer said. “Must we not make our intentions known to the others? Surely they must know the Council hath acted in their best interests in this matter.”

            He nodded. ”Very well,” he agreed. “Tonight, at the supper hour, thou shalt call all our peoples together and make proclamation that we intend to set aside the Jihad, to make supplication to our enemy that we might side with them against the Armada.”

            The others rose and broke up into smaller groups slowly, conversing among themselves as they did. Avatar Prime made his way toward Sunfire.

            “The Children have made the right choice in this matter,” she told him. “Only united are we going to stand a chance against the Armada.”

            “Thy hope that it is the correct choice,” he said. “Thou put our kind at further danger if the Mechs will not come to our aid in this fight.”

            “They will,” she replied. “You’re the first to accept but you won’t be the last... I give you my word.”

            He smiled. “Thou are under no such obligation. Thy know thou art only doing as thy think best.”       “I appreciate your faith in me, Avatar,” she said. “Most people wouldn’t be so quick to accept such extraordinary circumstances when they present themselves.”

            “Thy am not most people.” He smiled. “Thou hath acquitted thyself well in this matter.”

            “Thank you, Avatar.” She turned slightly. “I’d better go inform Tempest of what’s going on.”

            He nodded. “Very well. Thy shalt see thee tonight at the proclamation.”

                                    *                                   *                                   *

            The cavern where Tempest was docked was small and empty. The area was adjacent to the Masters main docking facilities but separated off to ensure that no unauthorized personnel stumbled upon the alien craft nor, Sunfire suspected, that Tempest would easily be able to leave.

            She glanced about, reaching out with her mind as she did, searching for any hidden surveillance or security. Finding none, she was satisfied they were along and approached the ship.

            “How are you holding up?” she asked.

            “I’m not crazy on the accommodations,” Tempest’s voice replied, seemingly from nowhere. “It’s too cramped in here for my tastes. And I have no one to talk to.”

            Sunfire smiled slightly at that. “Sorry to hear that. But its for the best, given where we are and all.”

            “I just don’t care for being cooped up here,” Tempest said. “But I agree with the logic behind it. Besides, I’ve been through a lot worse in my time.”

            “If its any consolation, it shouldn’t be for much longer.” She ran her hand gently along the smooth metal fuselage of the craft. “The Circle of Primes has agreed to my proposal and are ready to side with us against the Armada. They plan to announce their decision to their people tonight and after that I imagine they’ll allow you out in the open.”

            “I’m glad to hear things are going as planned,” Tempest replied. “The Masters can be stubborn in their thinking–your argument must have been quite convincing.”

            “It was.” Sunfire seated herself on the ground beside the vessel. “It also helped that we encountered some of the enemy ships first hand and they saw what they were capable of. That was the real deciding factor, I suspect.”

            “Yet you survived? I am impressed by your resilience, Sunny.”

            She found herself smiling at that. No one had called her Sunny in some time. The Masters never knew of her old nickname among her Autobot comrades and so far she hadn’t spent much time among her former comrades for that to be an issue.

            “It was good fortune more then anything,” she explained. “I took a vessel of the Masters into the Armada’s staging grounds to see the enemy for themselves. We got detected by security and very nearly destroyed before I returned us to safety here.”

            “It was a rash thing to do,” Tempest observed. “Still, there are times when being rash is all you can do to make a point.”

            “I don’t think Optimus Prime would’ve ever said that,” Sunfire retorted.

            “No, he wouldn’t have. However, he knew it to be true and there were times when I went to extraordinary lengths to get my point across–with my comrades and enemies alike.”

            “Presuming the Masters are now on-side with us, who do you think we should contact next?” Sunfire asked. “I’m of the opinion the Autobots should be next on the list–assuming there’s anyone left, of course.”

            “They’re a tough bunch,” the other replied. “I have faith many of them made it to Oberon and are still functional.”

            “There were some things brewing when I left them–another Autobot was there claiming to be Sunfire reborn. Even stranger, there was a Gobot calling himself Optimus Prime. He knew nothing of the Syntara however and the other one... I don’t know what to make of her.”

            “The Armada are powerful and resourceful,” Tempest explained. “It’s possible their presence there was some sort of ploy to confound the Autobots. They prefer to use subterfuge and manipulation as their primary means of attack then when everyone is fighting each other, they move in for the kill and wipe out whoever’s left.”

            “That does make sense,” Sunfire agreed. “At least generally, anyway. What the exact point was, though, I didn’t find out. I was still new from being brought back–my mind was fragmented from all the knowledge I’d been given and it took some time to make sense of things. Right after that, I left for Eden.”

            “If I’m right, I believe Megatron’s benefactors are also the Armada,” Tempest added. “He returned from nowhere with an army of Decepticons and a vast battleship. Things he couldn’t have simply acquired without resources... someone gave him a push off and it does fit with their mode of operation.”

            She mulled the new information over. “Do you think he’s actively allied with them?”

            “I’m not certain,” Tempest confessed. “However, from what I was able to determine it seems like he’d started off with them and quickly went his own way. He never made any mention of superiors and everything I did in his service seemed to support the Decepticons best interests not theirs.”

            “Going rogue does fit with his style,” she agreed. “Perhaps when the time comes, we can use that our advantage.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “If he did go rogue, certainly he would regard his masters as potential enemies,” she explained. “It would make him a bit more open to an alliance of powers that are set to take them on.”

            “You’re right. One thing I know all too well about my old enemy is that he is opportunistic–if we were able to convince him we had the means to attack the Armada and actually hurt them, he would certainly ally himself with us.”

            “So, all we’d have to do is convince him that we can hurt the Armada,” Sunfire added. “Right now, we have no idea if that’s true or not.”

            “Details...” Tempest said non-chalantly. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

            “Uh, I guess...”

            “Have a little faith that things will work out,” Tempest told her. “Sometimes, that’s all we have to carry ourselves forward with.”

            Sunfire glanced up at the purple and silver craft. She was glad Tempest was there, glad someone else truly understood what was at stake in all of this. Certainly if the Decepticon could be optimistic about their future chances it didn’t hurt her to take a similar approach.

            “Its great to have you around, old friend,” she told Tempest. “This was a huge burden to bear alone.”

            “Until I saw you at Cindras Two, I thought it was my burden alone,” Tempest replied. “I can see now that we were both mistaken.” She was silent a moment. “I have a confession to make, Sonny...”

            She regarded the Decepticon. “Go ahead, Tempest.”

            “I–I nearly gave up,” she replied. “Back on the Dark Glory... I was stripped of my powers. I felt...helpless. I felt like it was all going to end and there was nothing I could do to change things from their path.”

            “What changed your mind?”

            “I spoke to another Decepticon, a mysterious character called Face,” Tempest explained. “I told him my story and he helped me regain my perspective on things. Made me see that I still had a power of sorts and that it was my responsibility to use it.”

            “Who is this character?” Sunfire asked. “Can he be trusted?”

            “He’s been among the Decepticons ranks for some time. As to whether or not he can be trusted... I don’t know. I don’t think he had designs on telling Megatron about me, though.”

            “Hmm,” Sunfire mulled the matter over. “You say he gave you your perspective back. That’s fortunate. If you’d lost faith and never struck out on your own we would’ve never hooked up again.”

            “Agreed. Whatever his ultimate goal, he inadvertently brought us back together,” Tempest said. “Now, together, we’re going to make this thing happen. The Armada are not going to get this Universe without a fight!”

            Sunfire wondered silently how long it would be before the Armada recognized the threat they posed and took action to try and prevent their success.

            She decided not to voice her concerns to Tempest for the time being. After all, she didn’t want to dampen their resolve.

            “Together, Tempest,” she said instead. “Nothing’s going to stop us.”

                                    *                                   *                                   *

            Sunfire watched the multitude of people assembled before her. The majority of the Masters were present–men, women and children alike, milling about slightly, awaiting the formal convening of the assembly.

            The cavern they were in was vast, the largest she could recall seeing in her time here. Avatar had referred to it as the Hall of Convocation and it was reserved for the rare occasions when the Circle needed to address their people directly to explain their edicts.

            This was definitely one such occasion.

            Somehow, she’d succeeded in convincing the Masters that they needed to side with the Transformers against the Armada. With a little fortune, perhaps they could convince the Autobots next and get them on-side with the Alliance. That would just leave Megatron and his Decepticons–but she’d known from the start they would not be easy allies to make.

            Still, she’d worry about such matters later when the occasion called for them. For the time being, getting the Masters on her side was the priority.

            Sunfire glanced behind her and to the large organic curtain that concealed Tempest behind the stage. It was Avatar’s plan to explain their purpose to their people and then reveal the Transformer when the time was right. Otherwise, he feared a negative reaction to a Mech when they’d been their enemies for so long.

            Avatar Prime and the Circle stepped forward to the podium.

            “Children of Primus,” Avatar spoke. “Hear thee now for the proclamation of the Circle of Primes must be made known to all of thee.”

            She watched in fascination as the assembled Masters that had not yet settled in their places immediately fell into order so that the Circle could continue its announcement with a minimum of disruption.

            “It has come with a great deliberation and consideration, yet the Circle of Primes hath decided to forestall thy holy Jihad against thy great enemy, the Mechs.” Avatar paused, allowing his words to sink in among his people.

            He turned to look at Sunfire and she moved forward, allowing the rest of them to see her. “This woman, thou art a harbinger of great distress amongst our people. Thou hath spoken of a great enemy, a dark enemy even worse then thee hath believed the Mechs to ever be. The Circle hath witnessed the Enemy itself and barely lived to speak the tale. A dark fleet of vessels, an enemy Armada that threatens to destroy thy kind completely because of thy connection to our father, holy Primus.”

            Sunfire watched the assembled Masters in the audience react in gasps and whisper among themselves, trying to assimilate this new information.

            “Worse still, she hath told thee we must make peace with the Mechs and unite with them, lest we all be destroyed because thy are divided,” he paused. “Tis not an easy decision to make... but it is one thy must make and so thy have. The Masters shall put aside our Jihad and work toward uniting with our enemies against this Armada.”

            A multitude of reactions erupted from the audience and Sunfire knew most of them were stunned with the revelation they’d just received. Some were also angry, having all they’d believed in for so long suddenly overturned with this new information. After all, they’d lead their lives believing the Mechs to be evil and now had been told they had to side with them for the common good...

            She snapped out of her reverie as a sound caught her attention. She glanced up in time to see an energy blast strike Avatar in the chest.

            “Thy are betrayed!” Militant Prime snapped. He pointed into the audience at a rapidly moving figure among the clutch of people. “Sentinels! Stop him!”

            He flung himself down into the people as several others moved in concert, trying to stop the shooter from making his escape.

            Sunfire glanced down at Avatar Prime on the deck of the podium near to her. Healer Prime and Rapture had rushed to his side. Healer worked feverishly to remove his armor and attend his wounds.

            Behind them, Militant Prime and his Sentinels closed on their enemy. Militant unleashed a blast of his acid weapon, striking the attacker in the face. He collapsed immediately, clutching helplessly at his face.

            Sunfire studied his fallen form from a distance, taking in the details as best she could. One thing was clear:

            The attacker wore the armor and dress of a Master.