The Day of the Screaming Star


By Tony “Thunder” Klepack


            “I don’t even need a minute, Starscream,” Skyquake’s voice boomed from his large frame, his jade optics aglow with inner fire. “I will tear your head module from your body and use it as a trophy!”

            “So that’s a no, then?” Starscream quipped.

            “Prepare to feel the full fury of the Decepticon Empire, you conniving scum!” Skyquake drew his finger across his neck and Soundwave instantly cut the comm channel, leaving any reply Starscream might have had forever lost.

            “Sound the battle alert,” he commanded. “All forces are to launch immediately!”

            “Secondary weapon systems are coming on-line,” Nightracer announced nearby. “It’s not much, but it’ll give us something to shoot back.”

            “Watch for any fire they give us and do your best to counter it,” he replied.

            “Shields are up,” Leadfoot stated. “But only at fifty percent power.”

            “That’ll have to do,” Skyquake acknowledged.

            Where was Megatron, he wondered. Had he been anywhere near that explosion when it had happened or had he managed to avoid it. He hoped their leader was on his way–he had no wish to command the battle from here. He longed to be out in the void, leading the charge personally along with his Predators, free to kill all who opposed him.

            “The enemy is launching an attack,” Leadfoot stated. “Multiple fighters are showing up on scanners.”

            “Our first wave is nearly ready,” someone else reported.

            “Excellent. Tell them to show the enemy no mercy!” Skyquake hissed.

            It was time to show Starscream the error of his ways once and for all. Megatron had not dealt with him in a permanent fashion all these years, for whatever reason. Skyquake would have no such compulsions about relieving the Seeker of his life, regardless of whatever new abilities or tricks he had gained while away.

            “Let the battle begin!” he hissed. “Decepticons forever!”

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            The journey from Cybertron had been long and all through it, Arthuralayas had time to consider his actions and his failure in protecting the Sacred Vessel from the accursed Mechs. He had dreaded his return to Eden–to have to tell the Circle that he had failed in his assigned task, especially after having come so close to success.

            It was true they had also lost their clone army of Disciples but the Vessel had been so much more important ultimately. The Disciples had merely been a tool in their overall plans–a means an end, nothing more. They had come to Cybertron for the final remains of their Grand Creator–the Disciples had been a way to accomplish that and ultimately, it was hoped, pacify the Mechs as well.

            The stench of failure hung over him and he feared the reproach he would certainly receive at the Circle’s judgement. He could only hope and pray they would be in a forgiving mood as he explained himself to them. Perhaps if he threw himself at their collective mercy they would see fit to spare him the humiliation he knew he deserved.

            He had arrived only an hour before he appeared before the Circle–he had decided his news was too important to delay relaying to his leaders. He could rest and recover once they were informed and they could mete out his punishment accordingly.

            As the Circle of Primes convened, he noted they all seemed sullen and distant. He sensed something was wrong immediately and when Avatar Prime failed to appear among their number he feared the worst had happened in his absence.

            “Speak, thy servant Arthuralayas,” Militant Prime spoke in their leader’s absence. “What doth thou hath to report? Why hath thou abandoned thy station?”

            “Forgive thyself for thy abandonment, but it was necessary,” he replied. “Cybertron is no longer a safe place for our kind. The Mechs hath struck in full force, their power like a savage hammer, tearing our Disciples to shreds.” He shook his head. “The Disciples are no more, rendered powerless in the battle...”

            The Circle reacted to this visibly, although it seemed like it was a mixture of responses in their faces which surprised Arthuralayas. It seemed almost like a few of them were relieved while others faces conveyed his own frustration and anger at the loss.

            “What of the Sacred Vessel?” Militant demanded. “The last shred of our Holy Creator...”

            Arthuralayas tensed up. “Our legion hath found the Mech that was its reciprocal,” he explained. “In a gesture of divine kindness, it surrendered up its essence to us willingly, recognizing our claim. And yet, in that moment of triumph for our kind...” he trailed off.

            “What doth happened?” Militant snapped. “Do not leave us in suspense!”

            He shook his head, his defeat asserting itself in his posture. “The accursed Mechs found us, fought us and took it. We were rendered helpless against their power.”

            Healer Prime spoke up. “And yet, they did sparest thou in their victory?”

            He blinked curiously at her comment. “Indeed, they did. They did not take our lives in their claiming of our prize.” He paused a moment, considering the circumstances of the battle. “Thy see it clearly now. They sought to dishonor us by sparing our lives, knowing that we would return in defeat to our people, humiliated, shamed.”

            “Perhaps,” Healer retorted, her tone unconvinced. He wondered if she doubted his words, seeing some other unlikely reason for their sparing of his life.

            “Doth the Mechs understand what it is they claimed as their prize?” Militant asked.

            He shook his head. “There is no way to know for certain. Still, they are an ignorant species so it is possible they are unawares.”

            The Circle fell quiet, considering his information.

            “If I may speak further,” Arthuralayas offered, fearing the silence.

            “Thou may,” Healer Prime answered.

            “Thy hath failed our people and thy shalt accept any punishment thou deem fit for it is well deserved. Thy ask that thou spare my warriors in this–they acted properly and fitly in their conduct, serving our people well. It is thy alone who failed thee.”

            They were silent a moment longer.

            “Thy failure is a great blow to our kind,” Militant Prime spoke finally. “Yet, thou speaks well on thy troops. Should any punishment arise from this situation then they will yet be spared it.”

            He bowed. “My thanks to thee,” he replied. He fell silent, awaiting further direction. He hoped they would reveal what happened in his absence–his curiosity about Avatar’s absence had been piqued.

            “Much has transpired in thy absence, noble Arthuralayas,” Tutor Prime spoke up. “As thee has certainly noticed, Avatar Prime is absent from this congregation.”

            He nodded. “Indeed, what–“

            Militant cut him off. “Our noble comrade, Avatar Prime was killed. Assassinated yesterday by a lone Master.”

            The revelation sent a shock through his system and Arthuralyas felt himself having trouble remaining standing.

            “No...” he whispered. “It can’t... that can’t be...”

            Mlitant looked sympathetic, an expression he was unaccustomed to displaying. “Sadly, though, it has come to pass.” He gestured and a seat coalesced from the organic floor of the chamber behind Arthuralayas. “Seat thyself and listen to our tale. It is long yet of extreme import...”


            Tempest was once again situated in her small cavern adjacent the Masters main docking facility. They had intended to reveal her presence the previous day at the gathering the Circle of Primes had initiated when Avatar Prime had been struck down by one of his own kind. Sunfire and Tempest alike had decided she should revert to her spacecraft form and remain silent for the time being. It seemed that there was more dissent among the Masters then she’d initially realized and she felt the presence of one of their dreaded enemy would merely make matters worse.

            “How are you holding up?” Sunfire asked.

            “Same old, same old,” Tempest replied, trying to keep her tone cheerful. “I see you brought some company.”

            Rapture nodded. “Hello, Tempest,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I only wish the circumstances could’ve been better.”

            “I’m sorry to hear about Avatar Prime’s death,” Tempest said. “Sunfire has told me you two were close.”

            She nodded, trying to keep her composure. Her expression betraying her thoughts. “Thank you. I wasn’t here that long but in that time... Avatar welcomed me to his family. He showed me I could be more then I ever thought. He loved me... treated me like a f-father...” She sobbed.

            Sunfire clasped her shoulder, trying to reassure her. “I know the feeling. He was a hardened leader but also a gentle man. He didn’t deserve what happened to him...” She was silent a moment. “That’s why we need to do whatever we can to make sure his wishes are honored.”

             Rapture nodded silently, producing a piece of cloth from a pouch on her belt. “Here,” she muttered.

            Sunfire took the cloth and held it up in the air. It was grey, dull and seemingly unimportant. Except for one minor detail–a pool of red staining its dead center. “Scan this, Tempest, and see what you can come up with. I want to see if the killer really was a Master–or something else.”

            She heard a gentle hum as she held the cloth out but there seemed to be no other trace that the item was being analyzed by Tempest’s advanced Cybertronian sensor systems.

            As Tempest went to work, she found her thoughts drifting to the elder Prime and his gentle green-brown eyes. Avatar Prime had shown her as much respect and love as he had shown Rapture yet she’d spent far less time grieving. He’d believed in her plan and helped convince the others that it was in their best interests to join her coalition against the Armada. Now, he’d paid the ultimate price for his defiance against their enemy.

            She was directly responsible for Avatar’s fate. How many more would die before she could assemble the various powers in unison against their emerging threat. How many more loved ones would suffer because of her pride? Was the mission really worth anyone’s life?

            She found her gaze drifting to Tempest’s fighter form... when push came to shove, would she even have to sacrifice Tempest to succeed? She prayed she’d never be forced to make such a decision...

            “I’m done,” Tempest announced. “Processing the data...” She paused a moment. “Interesting.”

            Rapture glanced up beside Sunfire. “What is it?” she said softly.

            “I’ve scanned the blood’s genetic sequence,” Tempest replied. “It’s as Sunfire suspected. This was not the work of one of Avatar’s people but a clone of some sort.”

            “What’s different about it?” Sunfire chimed in.

            “Well, as we know, the Masters are nearly identical to ordinary humans from Earth,” the Transformer explained. “The difference being that they’ve been genetically engineered for centuries and are able to tap much more of their brain’s potential then Earth born humans. However, this blood sample is like a very good copy of the Master’s DNA. It has most of the same markers but there’s a very slight molecular variance–it’s barely even noticeable. A casual scan would miss it, but it’s definitely there if someone’s looking.”

            “I knew it!” Sunfire exclaimed. “This was the work of the Armada!”

            “You think they killed Avatar Prime so publicly to stir up dissent among the Children?” Rapture asked.

            Sunfire nodded. “It makes sense. This way it looks like it was a legitimate political quibble with one of their own. The act itself is reprehensible but the sentiment it stirs up will help polarize the Masters that have misgivings about setting aside the Jihad against the Transformers.”

            “Avatar Prime becomes the martyr for his side while this simple nameless Master that died assassinating him becomes a symbol of his own,” Tempest commented. “With a few minor nudges here and there, the Armada could easily steer the Masters to civil war.”

            “End of one potential threat against them,” Rapture finished. “It’s complicated but I can see it as clear as day.” She gazed at Sunfire. “We have to stop this before it gets started.”

            “Agreed,” she replied. “And until we can, we’re all in danger here...”

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            The battle was in full gear as Face re-emerged from hyperspace and he was quick to realize what was going on.

            As he’d feared, Starscream had repaired the damage to the Conquest and made his way to Cybertron, unleashing whatever dire plan he’d devised in the process.

            He noted the visible damage to the Dark Glory in the background. Still, the battle ship continued firing off it’s weaponry at their attacker so it seemed to be in fighting shape. A testimony to Megatron’s long planning in the intervening years he’d been away and assembling his celestial Empire.

            Affixing his sensors to detect Decepticon transponders, he immediately picked up a group of friendly fighters and moved to join them in the fight.

            A trio of enemy fighters moved to intercept them. Swiftly, he arced up and unleashed a salvo of missiles their way. Two were caught unexpectedly, erupting in plumes of flame briefly before being snuffed out by the vacuum around them.

            “Good shooting!” came one of his comrades’ reply. The rest of them broke formation and took on the lone fighter, destroying it in a cross-fire.

            “That wasn’t me!” A pause. “Hey, it’s Face! Where’d you come from?”

            “I was late leaving the ship,” he lied. “And noticed your group being attacked. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to make them aware of my presence.”

            “Nick of time, like always,” he recognized one of the voices as Windrazor. “Let’s get ‘em! Make Starscream pay for this attack!”

            “Maybe this time they’ll put him down once and for all,” another of their group replied. “If this isn’t the final straw for the Commander then I don’t know what will be.”

            “Heads up! Here come more!” Windrazor snapped.

            “Stay alert! This fight is far from over,” Face replied. He broke off and shot toward their attackers with his wing mates in pursuit.


            The first thing he noticed was the darkness as he awoke. The second thing was the pressure upon his frame.

            He was buried. Immobile.

            Gathering up all his strength, Megatron rose, throwing off the debris that covered his battered body. He was vaguely aware of the rubble as it struck the remainder of the pile around where he’d been.

            He gazed around, realizing that the brig section was totally gone, destroyed in the blast along with the facsimile Starscream he’d been questioning. Much of the area of the ship he was in was either dark from the loss of power or entirely destroyed from the explosion.

            It was clear to him that the Starscream facsimile–that was it had to have been. He knew his traitorous former lieutenant too well to know that he’d never sacrifice himself for something so petty as mere revenge. At any rate, the facsimile had contained some sort elaborate explosive set-up inside it. Somehow it had been designed so that the ship’s sensor systems had missed it... but the effect had been roughly equivalent to a quantum warhead.

            As he stumbled forward, he was surprised to find himself still alive and mostly functional after the detonation. He knew his former masters had upgraded him greatly with this new body but he didn’t realize the full extent of his power until now. Certainly he hadn’t been eager in the past to subject himself to a quantum warhead to see how durable he was made.

            Time and again, the abyss had called to him... beckoning him to join it in the dark silence as so many others had. Yet, he had resisted–refusing to yield at all cost! He was Megatron! He had a destiny that would not be denied by anything, even death...

            That fool Starscream had failed even to eliminate him... typical of the former Air Commander’s incompetence, he mused.

            An distant explosion rocked the deck where he was and then another. He realized immediately that they were under attack. Starscream was in the midst of making his play...whatever his plan ultimately was.

            He had to get to the bridge and find out what was going on!

            “STARSCREAM!” he howled. “I will see you dead this day!”


            The airlock exploded fiercely, tearing a permanent hole in the side of Megatron’s vast battle ship.

Satisfied with his handiwork, Starscream lead his boarding party aboard his enemy’s sanctuary.

            He had lead the force across with little problem. Skyquake and his forces were occupied with the bulk of his attack force and what resistance he had personally encountered had been eliminated swiftly by himself and the group of his best warriors he’d brought along with him.

            His facsimile had been with Megatron, speaking in the brig when he’d detonated it. He was all but certain the Decepticon Supreme Commander had met with a fiery end when the quantum warhead concealed within the impostor Starscream had gone off.

            It had been over swiftly for Megatron. Far quicker then he’d deserved but there was little to be done about that now. A small part of him felt sorry for the Decepticon–he’d waited for years to eliminate Megatron and in the back of his mind, he’d always seen himself being the one to do it personally not rely on some contraption to do his dirty work for him.

            Still, it was done now and there was little point in reflecting on the past. It was time to concentrate on the future... to make his dream of becoming Emperor of the universe come to fruition.

            “Fan out and destroy anyone you find!” he hissed. “Show our enemies no mercy!”

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            The doors to the control center exploded open. Not waiting for the debris to finish settling, Sonimus Prime lead the charge through the crude opening, firing off her weapons as she went. By the time the others had come through behind her, she’d taken out three quarters of the Decepticon staff opposing them.

            After their recent encounter with Hot Rod and his rogues, Sonimus had set her sights on striking a Decepticon mining facility on Obeli. It was the chance to unwind and eliminate a small but important energy resource for their enemy. There was no difficulty in this task, no hard decisions to be made–it was a straight-forward assault on a clear enemy. And for that, she was grateful.

            “Good job, Prime,” Bumblebee said behind her as her warriors finished off their enemy. “But next time, how about saving some of them for us?”

            “Sorry, I guess I just got carried away,” Sonimus shrugged.

            “Command center secured,” Jazz said nearby.

            She turned to Rad. “Get in the system and see what you can find out,” she ordered.

            He nodded, moving toward a nearby terminal and seating himself.

            Bumblebee finished speaking to one of his warriors before moving to join Sonimus at the front of the room.

            “Is everything okay?”

            “Everything’s fine.” She glanced at a wall panel for a moment, studying its read-outs. Sensing that he was still present, she turned back. “No, that’s not true,” she added.

            He nodded. “It’s Hot Rod, isn’t it?”

            She turned and met his gaze. “I just can’t believe he dismissed our overtures so easily. He sees us as weak, obsolete. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s on a path to disaster.”

            “I agree, Prime. I do. But I don’t know what else we can do to try and convince him of that fact.”

            She shook her head. “Neither do I to be honest. He always was too headstrong for his own good.”

            “You can’t let it get to you,” Bumblebee offered. “We are doing good here, whether or not they realize it. You’re honoring Optimus’ memory–you haven’t lost sight of what we’re fighting for. Hot Rod has.”

            “I know, it’s just–“ she started.

            ”He’ll come around,” he interrupted. “They all will. We just need to give them time and they’ll realize we’re doing the right thing. Believe me.”

            She wanted to believe that but the evidence up to this point indicated otherwise. She wondered if even Bumblebee truly believed it anymore–or if he was trying to convince himself. After all, his own brother Cliffjumper was among the rogues. What would he do if faced with an armed conflict between the Autobots and rogues?

            “Prime, I think I have something,” Rad announced nearby.

            She moved beside him. Behind her, Bumblebee followed.

            “What is it?” she asked.

            Rad tapped two buttons on the keypad before him. “This,” he announced.

            Before them, a stellar map flashed on screen. “According to the system, this is a map of the entire Decepticon empire as it exists currently.”

            She nodded. “This is useful. We have a better idea of what we’re up against now.”

            She scanned the map further. “Hmm.”

            “What is it?” Bumblebee asked.

            She pointed to a section of the map. “These are all the targets Hot Rod and the rogues have struck so far.”

            “So?” Rad asked, not comprehending.

            “This.” She pointed. “This world, Tangar IVX. It’s the next likely target on their path. And it’s heavily populated by an indigenous species the Decepticons have enslaved.”

            Bumblebee bent forward, studying the information for himself. “You’re right,” he concluded. “But there are two other places they could hit instead.” He pointed out the two worlds.

            “But look closer,” she retorted. “Hann’gar and Taklosia are also targets with slave populations. There’s nothing else in that immediate vicinity for them to strike at. All the core worlds appear to be even more heavily guarded then these. If they avoid any of these, they’ll likely have far more resistance then even they can handle–plus the Decepticons can call in reinforcements from those worlds they missed.”

            Rad nodded. “From a tactical viewpoint, they have to take on Tangar and the others first or be crushed by multi-pronged attack.”

            Bumblebee met Sonimus’ gaze, his brilliant blue optics boring into her own. “What does this mean, then?”

            She sighed, resigned. “It means we have to get to Hot Rod first and stop this madness. Either save him from himself or take him down with force. We can no longer let him continue on unabated–the risks just became too high.”

            As loath as she was to admit it, she knew Hot Rod wouldn’t come quietly or easily. He had committed himself to a path from which he could no longer simply deviate. She hoped he would see reason and understand what he was about to do–but in her core she knew this wouldn’t end without violence.

            Autobot versus Autobot in a battle that would devastate both sides, leaving the Decepticons unscathed and victorious.

            ‘I’m sorry, Optimus,’ she thought. ‘I’ve failed you... ‘

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            An explosion rocked the bridge and Skyquake winced slightly. The Dark Glory had been able to hold it’s own despite the earlier damage caused by Starscream’s bomb.

            Megatron still hadn’t reported in and he feared the worst for their Commander. But he’d hardly had time to dwell on Megatron’s ultimate fate–there would be time for that later. Right now, the battle consumed all his time and energy, forcing him to use his tactical prowess to the fullest to keep their enemy in check.

            Thanks to his own tactics and support from the Warlord Terrorwing, they’d been able to keep Starscream’s forces at bay–as far as he knew, none of their warriors had infiltrated the ship. But then, several of the ship’s sensor systems were blind so he couldn’t be certain of that. Still, keeping the enemy at bay was only a holding tactic, at best. Sooner or later, they needed to gain ground or else the enemy vessel would–and he wouldn’t allow that to happen on his watch. Not after all that they’d sacrificed and fought for.

            “Incoming transmission from Terrorwing,” Soundwave announced.

            “Put it through to my console,” he ordered. Skyquake tapped a couple of buttons on the panel before him and a holo of Terrorwing appeared in the air before him.

            “Report,” he ordered.

            “Still no Megatron?” the other asked. His face plates conveyed his concern that their leader wasn’t present.

            Skyquake shook his head. “I’m a bit busy here. Is this important?”

            “We need to break through the Conquest’s defenses if we want to end this,” Terrorwing said. “I propose that you use the Dark Glory itself to thrust forward, force them to concentrate the bulk of their attack on you.”

            “We’re already damaged, Terrorwing. Vulnerable. I hardly think exposing ourselves further is the smart move.”

            “There is an element of risk,” the other agreed. “But battles are won and lost by the one who is able to master his fear and take the necessary steps to ensure victory. I’ve analyzed their defenses and forces–they want you more then us and they only have the resources to go all out on one or the other.”

            “And while we risk ourselves, you will rush to our defense?” he asked.

            He took all the risk while Terrorwing received all the glory. Typical...

            “No,” Terrorwing replied. “While they concentrate on you, we shall cut through their remaining defenses and take them out. With no command ship, their forces will either surrender or die. Victory will be assured.”

            Skyquake regarded his comrade a moment. “Fine,” he said finally. “I lack a better strategy so I will bow to your own, Warlord. This had better not fail!”

            “I do not conceive plans that fail,” Terrorwing replied. “Once you’ve been around a little bit longer, you’ll realize that.”

            Skyquake made an amused noise at that and cut the comm channel. He sighed then tapped another button on the console before him.

            “All hands,” he announced. “Move us in. Target the Conquest with everything we’ve got!”


            Starscream unleashed a blast from his arm cannon, tearing apart the unfortunate Decepticon that had gotten in his line of sight. With little more effort, he swung his sword and severed the head module from another enemy.

            Around him, his warriors combated the security force they’d encountered, making short work of their enemy.

            “This is almost too easy,” he exclaimed. “Not a true challenge for warriors of our might!”

            “Perhaps Megatron’s forces are not so mighty as we’d believed,” Strikelight hissed nearby.

            He nodded. “Perhaps,” he agreed. “But don’t get cocky. There are at least some of my former comrades that are not so easily killable.”

            “Surrender or die!”

            Starscream looked up in time to see Frostwing, the Dark Glory’s security chief and several more of her warriors charging down an adjacent corridor.

            “I think not, dear Frostwing,” he replied. With that, he loosed another shot from his arm cannon, forcing their opponents to dodge for cover.

            “Take them!” he growled.

            He started forward when a sound caught his attention. He started to turn when a energy blast emerged out of side corridor and struck him.

            “Starscream!” Megatron yelled. “Your day has come!”

            He rose from the deck as the other charged forward. Two of his warriors moved to stop Megatron but he tossed one out of the way and slammed his fist through the other’s head module.

            “Megatron,” Starscream said. “This day has been long in coming. I’m glad my little toy didn’t finish you–I welcome the opportunity for myself!”

            With that, he fired off his cannon, the energy blast lancing out of it and striking Megatron dead on. The strike clearly caught the Decepticon Commander off guard–he was flung to the deck hard.

            Starscream turned to Frostwing and her security detail. “Witness your unstoppable leader and his power!” he snapped. “Nothing can stop me–not even Megatron! Surrender now and I might be lenient toward you.”

            Before Frostwing could respond, Megatron slammed into him, taking both of them to the deck.

            “Your power makes no difference, Starscream,” he yelled, slamming his fist into the other’s head. “Decepticons don’t surrender! Not to anyone!”

            Starscream caught his second strike and chopped his shoulder in retaliation.

            “Take them out!” Frostwing exclaimed as the two fought beyond. “Megatron is right–we capitulate to no one!”

            Megatron fired his shoulder cannon, striking Starscream dead-on and dropping him to the deck. He glanced in time to see his security force engage the boarding party. Already, Frostwing’s fighting prowess was giving them the upper hand against Starscream’s warriors.

            He turned back in time to see the other rise and charge at him once again.

            “Prepare for oblivion!” Starscream hissed.

            “Do your worst,” Megatron spat, throwing himself at the other.      

                                    *                                    *                                    *                       

            Militant Prime gazed out at the fields beyond his balcony, surveying the white leaved trees as they swayed gently in the breeze. Nothing else stirred in his point of view and he felt at peace for the first time in a long while.

            He felt another approach and sensed it was his long time sister in arms Healer Prime come to join him. She remained silent, leaning along the rail and gazing out longingly at the landscape beyond.

            Several of the Circle had come to his personal quarters to discuss the funeral arrangements for their beloved comrade Avatar Prime. They had decided the most appropriate thing to do to honor their fallen was to cremate him, as was the Children’s custom. Additionally, Tutor Prime had suggested a memorial session in his honor–a chance for them all to reflect on the loss of their comrade publicly and to remember all he had done for their people.

            All the talk had made him want to get some air and consider their loss privately. He had known Avatar for many years–indeed, he was the only member of the Circle whom had served longer then he himself had. They’d had their disagreements, of course, but he had respected their erstwhile leader greatly and wondered now what the future would hold without their greatest light to help guide them in their path.

            If nothing else good came of this, at least Avatar Prime knew eternal peace in the Allspark now. The place they had all come from and would eventually return to upon the completion of their mortal lives. A small comfort, but at least he would no longer know the pain and suffering one could experience in life.

            A siren sound sang gently in the adjacent room and he instantly recognized the organic sound that passed as a doorbell among the Masters. Turning, he walked back into the suite and toward the wall/door.

            “Enter,” he commanded.

            The wall twisted and warped, forming an entrance for Sunfire and Rapture beyond.

            “Militant Prime, we must speak with you,” Sunfire spoke first.

            “What doth thou want?” he demanded. “Hasn’t thy presence caused us enough grief as it is?”

            She cast a glance around the room, taking note of the assembled Masters. “I am sorry about what happened to Avatar Prime,” she spoke up, loud enough for everyone to hear. “He was a great man and a great leader among your people. There can be no denying this...”

            No one responded to her comments but Militant knew they were all in agreement on that one fact. He had to give it to Sunfire–she was well versed in knowing just the right thing to say to placate someone.

            “And so none of us deny it,” Militant countered. “Thou art the worse off without his presence among us. Why doth thou come to us now? Can thy message not wait for another time–a better time?”

            She shook her head, not ready to give up. “It cannot wait,” she replied. “Even now, your people are being polarized by what happened. Some will accede to the Circle’s pronouncement in honor of Avatar’s memory. But others will rally around the assassin–see his actions as the protest of the true Children. The ones that would never put aside the jihad and join up with their greatest enemies. Your people will fall to civil war if you do not act quickly.”

            “Ridiculous.” Even as he said it, though, he wondered if he’d been rash in speaking. The more he considered the matter, the less impossible it seemed. He knew better then anyone that people rallied around symbols and as loathe as he was to consider it, people could use this lone assassin of his friend as their symbol of outrage. 

            “Is it?” Sunfire demanded. “This was not the work of some begrudged Master–this was orchestrated by the Enemy.”

            “Our kind would never ally themselves with an outside force,” Healer Prime spoke behind him. Militant found himself agreeing with that sentiment even though Sunfire’s argument did seem to make sense in a way.

            “I don’t doubt that,” Sunfire answered. “But this was not the work of a Master. We scanned the assassin’s blood and found out he was some kind of elaborate clone. The Enemy orchestrated this event–they want your people at each other’s throats. It eliminates one of the threats against them in one easy stroke.”

            The words hit him hard, bringing a new awareness to the situation. “Thou hath proof of this?” he asked.

            “We do,” Rapture chimed in.

            So the dark enemy had managed to slip one of their own creations on to Eden despite all his elaborate security precautions. It was not a welcoming thought and yet, there it was, laid out plain enough for him to see.

            “Militant,” Sunfire spoke, breaking him out of his reverie. “I know you disapproved of a pact with the Mechs but Avatar is dead now and since you’re the next most senior Prime, the decision falls to you. The others will respect any decision you make–you know that. The Armada believe your people are a threat enough for them to have taken this step–if you don’t join the fight now, they’ll conquer us and then come after you themselves. Please, we need you to join us–now, more then ever.”

            “She’s right,” Healer Prime agreed beside him. “Thy must do this or risk annihilation of everything.”

            “Don’t be a fool,” Tutor interjected. “Thou art the Children of Primus! Thou art strong in ourselves–no enemy can hope to stand against thee! Thou doth need the Mechs in this struggle!”

            “Enough!” he said. “All of thee, leave thyself with thy thoughts.”

            “There isn’t time for more consideration,” Sunfire snapped. “We’ve wasted far too much time here already! You must decide!”

            “Thou shalt have thy answer in one hour,” Militant retorted. “Thy need to ponder recent events in solitude...”

            Sunfire looked as if she was going to say something further but decided against it. She turned and left with Rapture swiftly in tow. Militant Prime watched as his fellow Primes filed out of the chamber as well, allowing him his privacy. Healer made eye contact with him as she departed, her jade eyes conveying her fears and hopes in one glance.

            The door sealed shut behind them, leaving a blank wall in its stead. He watched the gentle pulsation of the wall for a moment before turning and heading for the balcony once more. He had many things to consider and precious little time in which to come to a decision.

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            At first, things hadn’t started off so well for Skyquake in his bid to execute Terrorwing’s plan. Starscream’s battleship was well armed and the Dark Glory took it’s share of damage moving in to strike it directly. Additionally, the Conquest’s forces seemed intent on causing as much damage as possible to the ship.

            Fortunately his officers were more then competent and they were swiftly able to repel the enemy’s forces before they hit anything critical. Once the Grey Legion moved in, Starscream’s forces were immediately split between two points–just as Terrorwing had predicted.

            Before they could reach the Legion, Terrorwing’s forces had dealt some serious damage to the Conquest’s drive section, slowing it considerably. It was hardly out of the fight but the damage made it easier to avoid and a better target.

            “Incoming transmission from Terrorwing,” Soundwave announced.

            Skyquake reached out and switched on his monitor. “Report.”

            “The Conquest has suffered serious damage to it’s rear stabilizers and minor damage to the main drive jets,” the other replied, wasting no time getting to the point. “My Legionnaires are punching holes in their defense grid even now. This battle will be finished shortly.”

            “Let us hope you are right,” Skyquake replied. “The sooner we can stand down and lick our wounds, the better.”

            Terrowing shifted slightly in his seat at that. “Just keep up the frontal assault–their defenses are faltering from our strategy.”

            “We’ll do our part... just breach their defenses and take them out,” Skyquake added. “Dark Glory out.”


            Starscream slammed his fist into Megatron’s face, forcing him backward and off balance. He struck again and again, until the other stumbled and dropped to the deck. Wasting no time, he summoned his sword from sub-space and charged the Decepticon Emperor, determined to strike a fatal blow.

            “I have waited so long for this moment,” he growled. “My ascension to the throne. To play the role I was born for!”

            He stabbed his blade down swiftly but Megatron was faster, turning out of the strike at the last moment. Instead of his head, the blade pierced his right shoulder, exposing circuitry and a geyser of internal fluid.

            To his credit, Megatron did not cry out in pain at the damage, merely winced. He twisted away from him and leapt to his feet before Starscream could stop him.

            “You will have to do better then that,” he hissed. “Many have challenged me over the years, Starscream. All of them have ultimately shared the same fate–you will be no different.”

            “You should talk less and fight more, oh mighty Megatron!” He loosed several missiles as he finished, hoping to catch him off guard.

            Megatron reacted just as quickly, firing off two blasts from his shoulder cannon. The first shot struck most of his missiles, detonating them prematurely while the second struck him dead-on, dropping him.

            “Who was going on about fighting more, hmm?” Megatron strolled toward him, a sinister glare on his face.

            Starscream said nothing, choosing instead to strike out with his feet, toppling the other in a swift floor sweep.

            He grabbed his sword and leapt atop him. “Prepare for death, Megatron!” he growled.


            “Commander, the enemy is moving forward!” Leadfoot exclaimed.

            Skyquake gazed at the screen before him, noting the Conquest suddenly seemed to have picked up speed.

            “What are they doing?” Ransack exclaimed nearby.

            “Trying to ram us!” Skyquake exclaimed with dawning realisation. “Back off! Z axis plus 500 degrees!”

            He‘d had to hand it to Terrorwing–the battle had been going very well since he’d taken the other’s advice and laid the Dark Glory out as bait. In these last few minutes, the Grey Legion had destroyed the Conquest’s rear defenses as well as eliminating a sizeable amount of it’s defense force while they had tried futilely to repel Terrorwing’s ambitions.

            Now though, they’d picked up an energy surge from the drive section and then the ship had lurched forward somehow, trying to take the Decepticon battle ship along with it in it’s death throes.

            He mentally crossed his fingers, hoping that they could move the massive vessel out of the way of their enemy before their commander succeeded in his mad gambit. It seemed that in defeat, Starscream would not allow them the prize of continued survival.

            But perhaps they could cheat him of his final victory... Skyquake watched as they moved up and slowly out of the path of the ship-missile coming their way. He hoped they would clear the Conquest fast enough to avoid it completely.

            “They’re moving into our position,” Leadfoot announced. “Brace for impact!”

            The ship shuddered violently as somewhere near the aft section, the Conquest collided with it. He felt himself tumble out of his command chair and to the deck below. He cursed himself for not realizing what was happening sooner... now, they would be finished off and Megatron’s dreams of galactic conquest would come to an end.

            Skyquake braced himself for the inevitable explosion...

            And waited.

            After a moment he looked up to Leadfoot. “Status?” he asked.

            The other regarded his console. “T-The enemy vessel hit part of our drive section but it looks like our momentum kept them from a full-on collision and they sailed on past us.”

            A screen displaying the Conquest popped up on Skyquake’s console and he took note of the vessel’s aft section, which was badly damaged. Several small fires burned throughout the ship’s hull and several areas sparked erratically where cabling had been disrupted.

            And then, just as abruptly as they’d started their earlier charge, the Conquest erupted in a large explosion, tearing the entire structure apart in a spectacular display.

            “Shields!” he ordered.

            “Operational, but only at five percent power.”

            The Dark Glory rocked abruptly from the energy waves the enemy vessel unleashed. Skyquake clutched at his command chair valiantly trying to keep from being thrown out of it a second time. Somehow, he succeeded at his task while several other bridge crew were not so fortunate.

            “Order our forces to pursue any remaining enemy ships and destroy them,” he said after a moment, giving the others time to recover. “The rest of you can stand down. Get the repair teams to the worst hit areas of the ship and see what they can find out. The ship’s going to need a lot of work after this...”

            It was over. Finished. They had faced their worst enemy to date and emerged mostly unscathed from the ordeal. Still, he couldn’t get over a certain feeling of dread... if Starscream had commanded this much power, where had he obtained it from? And would there be more such opponents on their way in due time, he wondered.

            He supposed they’d cross that bridge when they got to it. For now, he set himself back to seeing to the ship and her crew’s condition. He had a job to do–and in Megatron’s name, he would see it done.


            Starscream charged at him once more, his sword held out in front of him in an attempt to impale Megatron with it.

            He side stepped the attack at the last moment, allowing Starscream to slam into the wall beyond. Before he could react, Megatron seized his sword away from him and snapped it across his leg.

            “It looks like you’ll have to do your dirty work with your bare hands now,” he taunted, dropping the broken sword pieces to the deck.

            “Then your death will be all the sweeter!” Starscream charged him, tackling him to the deck as he did.

            “Die, you relic!” he hissed, slamming his fists into Megatron’s head and chest. The blows causing stress marks where he struck the other’s chest.

            Megatron pushed him off and started to rise but Starscream took aim and unleashed three blasts from his arm cannon, striking the Decepticon Emperor time and again, causing more damage then the rest of his strikes until now had.

            “How’s it feel, mighty Megatron?” he quipped, slamming his foot into Megatron’s side as the other sparked slightly. His opponent’s chest was torn open from the damage he’d taken now and part of Megatron’s face had also been damaged, exposing the circuitry beneath.

            “With this final strike, you die and I ascend to your position,” Starscream growled. “Farewell, Megatron!” He aimed his arm cannon at the other.

            Even as the other spoke, Megatron had been summoning up all the power he could muster and channeling it into his body. As Starscream took aim he struck out, unleashing all the ion energy he could gather in one colossal blast.

            Starscream had been completed unprepared for this ability and was struck dead-on, with no chance for defense. His body was thrown upward and through another deck before crashing into a wall.

            Wasting no time, Megatron threw his wrecked form up and after his opponent, determined to either finish the job or be finished in the process.

            Starscream tried to move his head module but it collapsed back against the wall weakly as Megatron approached.

            “Let this end,” he spoke quietly. He seized Starscream’s head in his hands and channeled all the ion energy he could summon through them. The other’s head module exploded from the contact, killing him instantly as it did.

            Megatron turned as he heard footfalls behind him. Frostwing and several of her security personnel rushed through the door of the room they’d ended up in.

            “Commander...?” she asked, coming to a stop before him.

            “It is over,” Megatron gasped. “Starscream is dead and his legacy of treachery is put to an end. It is time we–” he stopped mid-sentence and collapsed.

            Frostwing grabbed him as he fell. “Someone, contact med bay and get a medical team down here!” she ordered. “Now!”

                                    *                                    *                                    *

            An explosion rocked the Sky’arx shipyards, obliterating a quintet of battle cruisers that had been in various stages of construction.

            “That got their attention,” Cliffjumper muttered from his station.

            Hot Rod tapped a button on his comm. “All units, wait until the bulk of the sentries have gone to investigate then move in.”

            He tapped another button. “Shadow two, you have a go.”

            “Acknowledged,” came the reply.

            The rogues watched as the Decepticon sentries moved toward the debris that remained from the explosion. What the sentries didn’t realize was that even now Roadbuster was stationed on the opposite end of the shipyard in his cloaked vessel, initiating a second detonation. It had been Hot Rod’s strategy to cause so much havoc and confusion in the shipyard that the Decepticons would be kept busy while his main strike force embarked on the real prize.

            “The sentries have cleared off,” Cliffjumper announced.

            “We won’t have much time,” Hot Rod remarked. “After the initial confusion, they’ll realize this is an attack and go on the alert.”

            “Then we’ll just have to make sure to get things done fast,” Topspin replied.

            Hot Rod suppressed a smile. He had found Topspin’s enthusiasm infectious–and that was good. His warriors needed morale as much as any soldiers in any war did. Add to that, their high success rate thus far hadn’t hurt either. After all, they’d yet to have lost a battle they’d initiated in their brutal war against the Decepticons.

            The ship moved farther in, clearing through the framework around the vast structure within. The sentries had momentarily moved away–although Hot Rod knew they wouldn’t have quickly detected the vessel through its stealth systems that cloaked it physically and electronically.

            “That’s it,” Cliffjumper gasped at the helm. “Proxima! It’s enormous!”

            “Incredible,” Topspin agreed.

            Hot Rod felt the very same feelings racing through his circuits. The vessel was far bigger then he ever could have imagined. He’d never seen anything as large as this in all his years functioning.

            The vessel beyond them was the next in-line in a series of super ships that had been commenced with Megatron’s own command ship, the Dark Glory. This one was christened the Dark Storm in the Decepticon’s files and had all its primary systems in place. All of the secondary redundant systems were yet to be installed thus it had not been pressed into service as of yet.

            The files hadn’t detailed it but Hot Rod suspected Megatron intended to have several such super ships built in order to aid his Empire in conquering and dominating the galaxy at large. It was a good plan–but unfortunately for Megatron, he had other ideas...

            “The Decepticons won’t stand a chance against us in this thing,” Cliffjumper said.

            “Exactly,” Hot Rod replied. “We’ve done good against the Empire up this point. But now... this changes things completely.”

            Before, they were strong. Now, they were invincible...