Desperate Measures

By Matt TALON Kirkby

    "General Edwards, can you guarantee the eventual defeat of the Decepticon forces currently attacking Earth?"
    General Doug Edwards, one of the highest ranking military officers on the planet, faced the assembled Councilors with a grim expression. Standing even straighter than was usual, his uniform impeccable, he cleared his throat. "I— I am afraid that I cannot give you that guarantee, Councilor."
    The assembled Councilors exchanged worried looks as they sat in their chairs ...several of their number were missing from the meeting—either killed or else simply trapped somewhere by the world-wide fighting.
    "Mister Blackrock," one dark-skinned woman said, "your highly vaunted—and extremely expensive—Project: Excalibur has proven less than successful in its results against the Decepticons."
    "A partially true statement, Councilor," the elderly businessman agreed unhappily, "but one that is not entirely accurate. We have obtained numerous successes in this campaign and we are far from being completely defeated." He glanced over at Buster who sat next to him—gleaming in his binary armor—for moral support. "The Autobots supplied us with access to their data on binary bonding. We selected the most suitable volunteers, used the best technology we have available—"
    "And yet your success rate in battle has been dismal," one male Councilor announced.
    "We have managed to score several local victories—like that of the First Sword in Japan—and..."
    "But they have proved insufficient to win this war," the male Councilor interrupted again. The dark-haired man stroked his moustache as several other Councilors nodded agreement. "In fact, Mister Blackrock, is it not true that the Decepticons have just completely destroyed the Camelot facility itself?" He paused while surprised muttering ran through the room. "Is true, or is it not?" he pressed.
    "I admit that is the case, Councilor Stone, but the majority of my research staff escaped before Camelot fell and they saved a large amount of data—"
    "You've lost the site and the best chance at producing enough of those mechs to defeat the Decepticons," Edwards interrupted.
    "Major Fairbourne—" Buster began, but Blackrock's voice overrode him.
    "There are plenty of other facilities capable of producing HeadMasters, General. We can rebuild and start over."
    "But they will take time to convert and bring up to full capacity," Stone countered. "We do not have the time available to do such conversions. Not with the current pace of Decepticon conquests."
    "What about further integrating our regular military forces with the Head-Master teams we do have? Combined units might prove more effective against the Decepticons. At least we could slow them down. If we also step our guerrilla efforts in the territory they already control, we can slow down their conquests even more."
    "General Edwards," the mustached Councilors asked, "even with this desperate —though innovative ploy—can we assume that our chances of ultimate victory—to say nothing of Humanity's very survival—remain negligible?"
    "Yes, Councilor." The military officer nodded unhappily.
    The Councilor smiled, and again stroked his moustache.
    "The situation is deteriorating rapidly." One of the oldest Councilors gestured to the map on the far wall...dozens of purple dots marked Decepticon victories. "Not only are these machines sweeping across the planet, but now a second group of them have invaded us!"
    The Asian delegation murmured agreement.
    "But that's hardly our fault!" Blackrock protested. "We had no way of—"
    "And the head of Project: Excalibur—this Matthew Kirkby—has mysteriously disappeared, has he not?" Stone pressed.
    "Well..." Blackrock shrugged uncomfortably. The Decepticons had destroyed Excalibur's facilities less than half a day ago...but Kirkby must have had time enough to escape. Most of the staff had managed to flee, even if many of the Project's records and prototypes there had been lost or destroyed despite Major Fairbourne's stalling for time. Things were just so hectic right now....
    "Gentlemen, we have no time for recriminations." The Council President kept his voice soft. "You have some valid point to offer us, Councilor Stone?"
    The man smiled back at his associate. "Yes, William, I do." He tapped a switch on the tabletop in front of him. "One of my family's numerous research facilities has been studying TransFormer neural circuitry for some time now." He ignored a glare from Blackrock—the other was no longer a worthy rival for him, even if he had been in the past—and continued in a calm, measured voice. "They have just recently developed this device." Schematics scrolled across a monitor.
    "What is it?" General Edwards demanded.
    "An electromagnetic pulse bomb." Seeing the Councilors' puzzled faces, Stone smiled and explained. "It generates a subspace pulse of theta-band radiation," he told them, "which disrupts the bioelectric impulses of TransFormer cerebro a permanent fashion."
    "You're going to kill them?" Buster gasped. "Murder isn't the answer!"
    "It's just a threat to the Decepticons...and these other machines." Stone shrugged, clearly unconcerned with any moral dilemmas. "There is very little chance that any of your Autobot friends will be caught in the blast, Mister Witwicky." He kept his voice free of mockery, though his mouth twisted. "After all, there haven't been any reports of Autobot activity since the Decepticons leveled Autobot City." And good riddance to them!
    "It might work," Edwards observed before Buster could reply. "But what about the sheer number of sites the enemy currently controls? One bomb per site will be extremely difficult for us to deliver...especially after the first blast goes off. It'll become a massacre of any of our jets long before they can drop—"
    "That's the beauty of this bomb," Stone explained calmly. "The EMP explodes once, but it will reflect off of the Earth's own magnetic field...thus, one bomb will render a global effect!" Stone leaned back in his chair with a satisfied smile. "It will be the salvation of our world."
    "It will be the damnation of our souls!" Buster protested as he struggled to his feet, ignoring Blackrock's whispered words of restraint. "You're talking about murdering hundreds of living beings!"
    "Machines, Mister Witwicky, machines who have invaded our world and brutally slaughtered millions of innocent men, women, and children so far," Stone replied coldly. "And you yourself stand there in the binary armor you donned so that you could take up arms and fight against them. How many Decepticons have you personally killed in this war?" He paused, but Buster made no reply. "Mister Witwicky," he continued in a much calmer tone, "do you think that I want to kill any living beings?" He kept his true feelings hidden—he certainly wouldn't miss any of those machines. "Or would you rather see still more innocent Human beings murdered by them?"
    Buster made no reply.
    "What's the fallout radius?" Edwards asked, his mind focused on military issues. He didn't feel any moral qualms about killing the enemy—that was his job after all. "You say the effect is global, but will it also affect the ships in orbit?"
    "The fallout radius is theorized at twenty thousand kilometers, though it's dependent on the current magnetic fields...a single detonation anywhere on Earth will affect the entire planet and extend well into space as well, General, thus eliminating most of the hostile fleet before they could attempt any retaliatory strikes. With the BMP bomb, Earth will be TransFormer-free...forever!"
    The assembled Councilors conferred softly.
    "Forever?" Buster echoed.
    "Well, yes," Stone replied. "After all, the Decepticons—any who survive— will not dare return for fear that we'll detonate another bomb."
    Blackrock looked at Buster. They both frowned.
    "We shall vote on this," the President announced.
    Stone smiled as the Councilors voted, each person tapping their vote into their computer. His smile grew wider as the results of that vote were quickly tallied and announced. "I'll arrange for the bomb to be detonated immediately," he said with a pleased smile. "Our world will be freed from this threat within the hour."
    Buster opened his mouth—
    "What about the pulse effect on binary-bonded Humans?" Blackrock asked, before Buster could speak. "How will this pulse of yours affect them?"
    Stone paused, and the glare he directed at Blackrock was nearly lethal. "My scientists have not had much time to make comprehensive tests you understand, though we worked with what tech we had available." And more than Blackrock or the rest of the Council, suspected. "The bomb has only just been developed— after priority research efforts—and we have had no chance or opportunity to test it."
    "Answer the question."
    "I'm trying to, Mister Witwicky!" Stone calmed himself with a deep breath. "My research teams' reports indicate that binary-bonded Humans will experience some mild discomfort from the effect which will last only until the binary armor is removed." He smiled at Buster. "After all, how else could we treat our heroes? Your bravery is not diminished by the fact that you and your comrades have failed to win decisively against such overwhelming odds."
    Buster didn't look mollified by the Councilor's words.
    "Councilor Stone, please issue the order to detonate the EMP immediately." The Council President nodded once. "By executive order of the United Nations World Council."
    "Yes, Mister President, I'll alert my Tokyo facility at once." Rising to his feet, Stone hurried out of the Chamber, but not before sending a satisfied grin towards Blackrock.
            *            *            *
    Aboard the Dark Glory, Megatron stepped into the main strategic planning center. "Well?" he demanded. "I trust the matter is still in hand." He had hated to leave the bridge at the current time—the Disciple fleet was adjusting its formations, and he feared it was a prelude to an attack—but Soundwave had pressured him into having MedTechs repair the minor damage he'd taken during the recent battles on Earth. Having reminded Megatron that a good commander didn't show weakness in front of his troops—and the lull in overall outright battle had provided a safe opportunity. "Besides," he muttered, "if the Disciples do launch attack, I can get back to the bridge in time to stop them."
    "The Disciples are continuing to attack Earth," Soundwave told him calmly, ignoring his commander's soft muttering. "They are still concentrating their forces in the Asian region. Local Human military forces are resisting, but with limited success. Our own units are sustaining heavy casualties from both Humans and Disciples, but inflicting the same. Overall, it is a stalemate situation."
    Stepping away from a tactical station, Terrorwlng frowned as he digested the report. "That is serious news indeed." He shared a look with Megatron...pleased at how quickly he had once again become one of Megatron’s trusted aides. "I believe that our troops require firm on-site leadership. A three-sided war is never an easy one to fight." He also desired additional firsthand experience on this world...a planet which had proven so important to the TransFormer race must have some unique features, aside from the bland terrain and annoying natives that he had so far seen.
    "Perhaps." Megatron frowned. "We were on the brink of victory here...the Humans unable to stop us." Even with their HeadMaster armies. "But then they came. Twice now, these Interlopers have interfered with my plans and threatened us with disaster!" He clenched a fist. "And why did my spies find no evidence of them before they attacked us?" he asked loudly. "That fact alone worries me more than any other."
    "Perhaps a purge of your spies is required."
    "I'll take the suggestion under advisement, Terrorwing."
    Soundwave accepted a datapad from an aide. "New reports from the surface, Mighty One."
    "What now? New Human tricks? More Disciples?" Thus far, those mysterious opponents were lurking around the far side of the planet, unwilling to lose more ships in direct battle against the Dark Glory...though their reluctance would probably disappear with the arrival of reinforcements. Of course Megatron could always summon additional warships from his empire and then overwhelm Disciples and Humans alike.
    Soundwave looked mildly concerned. "It is a transmission from the Human government. Sent uncoded, priority signal."
    "Offering terms of their surrender?"
    "No, Mighty One." Soundwave paused, studying the text of the message. "They claim to have a new type of weapon which can kill all of our troops on Earth. We are ordered to withdraw immediately, or they will use it,"
    Megatron chuckled. "Another new weapon? Can it be more effective than their precious HeadMastsrs?"
    "I do not know...the weapon is not described."
    "Surely you do not plan to flee from the these primitives!"
    "No, Terrorwing, I do not." Megatron paused. "Nor do I wish to act hastily nor without due thought. The Humans have already surprised us once with their ingenuity and resourcefulness. They could have developed some new weapon capable of destroying Decepticons…with Autobot assistance anything is possible." It would be like Prime to give the Humans advanced technology to protect themselves and that trusting Autobot would never dream that the Humans might someday turn that technology against the Autobots…no Decepticons would ever share weaponry with a potential foe.
    "We would some take losses, but, they would be localized...we'd adapt before the Humans could use their weapon everywhere." Terrorwing gestured to the ship around them. "At the first report of this weapon being used, unleash an orbital bombardment from the Dark Glory and you can obliterate the weapon and the Humans using it. A few such displays—blew for blow--will surely result in immediate surrender." The commander of the Grey Legion shrugged. "These primitives can't stand up to such power, and I doubt they desire to see their world destroyed around them. They will yield."
    "I am inclined to agree with Terrorwing," Soundwave announced. "The Humans are rash and often irrational, but they will not wish their planet destroyed."
    Megatron nodded. "Very well. Soundwave, open a channel to the Humans' governing Council. I am going to give them their terms of surrender."

    In a hardened bunker, buried deep under a research facility near Washington, D.C., Maximillian Stone calmly listened to the voice of Megatron scoffing at their 'puny threats' and then ordering the Council to surrender and cease all resistance. "The Deceptions respect you for your valiant efforts at defending your world, but such resistance will only result in the destruction of your civilization," Megatron announced from the com-screen. "I give you one of your hours to formally announce your surrender...and then I will begin to obliterate your cities from orbit. One city will die every eight minutes until you yield…or until you have no cities left." He smiled, an expression of arrogant superiority. "The clock is ticking."
    His image vanished.
    The bunker was quiet, despite the number of people present.
    "That went out on every frequency...the entire planet heard it," one tech finally said. "There has bean no response from the Council as yet."
    "Nor will there be." Stone looked up from his personal vidscreen and nodded. "Well, not a verbal one anyway." He smiled. "It's time." He brushed a finger over one control—a thick, red button—on his corn-system, "For Earth!" His finger stabbed the button.

    Megatron was telling Terrorwing how to best deploy his troops for securing the Earth capitol for the official planetary surrender—pointing out appropriate sites on a holoinap—when Soundwave stepped up to his side. "Yes, Soundwave?" Megatron asked in a distracted tone.
    "The Humans have detonated a bomb."
    "And?" Megatron. scoffed, not taking his attention from the map. "Their weapons have thus far proven woefully ineffective. One bomb is hardly a serious threat to us." He knew the Humans had nuclear capabilities, knew they had even used nuclear warheads during one of their own intertribal conflicts—a tactic he could admire—but he doubted they'd start using them now. They'd not willingly destroy their own planet, would they? "They grow desperate as time towards the first bombardment ticks away."
    "Have you selected a site?" Terrorwing asked.
    "I was thinking Tokyo...but Vindicator did make a promise so I am now eyeing Los Angeles."
    Terrorwing glanced at the map. "It hardly seems like a vital target."
    "You have to start somewhere," Megatron told him. "I just pointed to the map at random and that was the target I chose."
    "Such a strategy works for me."
    "Megatron, this bomb of the Humans is different to any known type. It's a form of radiation pulse." Soundwave returned to the com-station and linked into the circuitry directly. "Reports from the impact site are garbled." He paused. "Decepticons within fifty kilometers of the blast have ceased transmitting."
    "Pinpoint the site." Megatron glanced at a map as a bright, blotch appeared over one large island. "Prepare additional forces for a strike against Japan at once," No, he couldn't send more Decepticons because of that cursed agreement Vindicator had made—but the Humans had their hands full with the Disciples who didn't heed any agreements made by the Decepticons or Humans. "Gunners, stand by to target the Disciples' battlecruisers and—"
    "Megatron, the effect is spreading," There was mild alarm in Soundwave's voice. "Contact with forces up to one hundred kilometers from the initial site has now been lost."
    Megatron paused in issuing orders, his optics widening in puzzlement. "Let me hear the reports." He listened to the sound of crisp orders and updates giving way to panicked shouts and cries as warriors became inactive, demands for order and calm analysis, pleas for assistance, agonized screams and wails...then dead silence. "Recall our ground troops!" he ordered suddenly.
    "Commander?" Manta Ray asked.
    "Racall all our ground forces at once! Priority one command! I do not like this turn of events," he added in a calmer tone. "Snipe, can you detect the pulse effect with the sensors?"
    "Yes, Commander. The radiation pulse is detectable...and it is spreading rapidly." Snipe paused to tap a control, "I'll transfer the data onto the holomap." Another tap. "Blast radius now reaching one thousand kilometers."
    "The whole planet will be affected!" Terrorwing observed in a stunned tone as the holomap shimmered with a spreading ring to represent the radiation pulse. "They—"
    "The Humans are proving more difficult than I had assumed," Megatron mused. "When they are conquered, they will make excellent additions to my Empire!"
    "New reports...preliminary med-computer analysis indicates that the pulse is affecting our neural circuitry." Soundwave sounded puzzled as he rapidly scanned the report. "Repair possibilities are unknown, though not considered good." He paused before continuing, "The data is being obtained merely from sensor scans and communication signals so the analysis is, of course, extremely limited."
    Megatron nodded his understanding, "How goes the recall?" The blast radius had now reached fifteen hundred kilometers according to the map.
    "Teleportation rooms are working at optimum capacity." Manta Ray sounded worried now. "We're pulling troops off in priority, trying to keep ahead of the pulse effect."
    "I want every Deception on Earth teleported up at once! Launch all of the grounded shuttles too...priority one evacuation signal to all commanders!" Even if the pulse effect stopped expanding, the panic the Decepticons had been thrown into would significantly slow their attempts to conquer Earth. "What about the Disciples?"
    "Their communications have ceased..."
    "Radiation surge!" Snipe announced, "It's spreading into space as well. Incoming fast! I'm getting some very odd readings here."
    "Activate all shields!" Megatron ordered. An. instant later, a wave of nausea surged through him and he swayed on his feet before regaining his balance. He heard moans and muffled curses from his bridge crew, a few clatters as some of his officers collapsed, "Status report!" he snapped, shaking his head to try and clear it.
    "Cloaking shield is malfunctioning."
    "Sensor, it's clearing. Adjusting to compensate for the pulse's after-effects."
    "Medbay reports numerous casualties all over the fatalities, but almost twenty percent of the crew are currently incapacitated."
    "That's a lot of warriors," Terrorwing muttered. The Dark Glory carried over seven hundred and fifty thousand warriors after all. This could be the prelude to some counter-offensive!" he exclaimed. "To strike when our warriors are disabled would be a cowardly ploy…it's out-of-character considering their earlier actions and combat styles."
    "Now is not the time, Commander." Megatron turned his head slightly. "Is this ship combat-ready?"
    "All systems seam to be functioning normally. Emergency diagnostics are being run now." Manta Ray shrugged. "The pulse affected our systems, but I think our shields blocked the worst of it."
    "Good." Megatron noted that most of the bridge crew had recovered and regained their posts, virtually every face looked distracted—and even Megatron himself still felt slightly odd.
    Terrorwing was looking furious. "This widespread attack was utterly without honor," he boomed. "The deliberate slaughter of every combatant on an entire planet is—"
    "Secondary pulse detected!" Snipe warned, interrupting Terrorwingfs angry tirade.
    "What?" Megatron gasped.
    "Another pulse...but it's different." Snipe paused while he examined the readouts on his displays. "The readings are slightly off when compared to the first pulse; the new waves have shifted to a slightly different frequency. I'm attempting to triangulate it! It's coming from Earth's magnetic field!"
    "What?" Megatron repeated. "How?"
    Terrorving stared at a display. "He's right. The effect is coming from the magnetic fields at two hundred and ninety-six kilometers and sixteen thousand kilometers...the Van Allan Belts." He was glad he had taken the time to study the records about Earth obtained from Renaissance Colony, not to mention the files Megatron's aides had supplied from the G]ory’s a extensive computer banks.
    "Underway. Priority computer access is being granted to research teams,"
    Megatron laughed as he guessed at the answer to his question. "They've triggered an echo from the magnetic fields," he explained to the others, "The effect of the initial pulse could be amplified...and its duration lengthened."
    "All of Earth will be rendered deadly to us."
    Megatron nodded. "Very much so, Terrorwing. And for some time to come I fear."
    "Over one-quarter of our deployed troops are still down there," Soundwave informed them in a grim tone. "I've lost all contacts with our remaining battle groups on the surface. I cannot contact any Decepticons, nor do I detect any Disciple transmissions."
    Megatron grimaced. "Status of shields?"
    "Holding." Lead Foot frowned, "Uh-oh."
    "Uh-oh?" Megatron repeated dangerously.
    "Radiation levels are increasing with each new pulse...our shields will be rendered useless in less than nineteen minutes."
    Megatron nodded acknowledgement. "What of the Disciples?"
    "Several of their battleships retreated into hyperspace," Snipe reported. "Almost thirty percent of them are apparently disabled, and simply drifting over Earth. Minimal power readings, no lifesigns."
    "No communications from the surface on observed Disciple frequencies, nor from the ships...I would guess that they are as dead as our forces."
    "As would I, Soundwave. Helm, take us into firing range. Gunners, destroy them before they can recover."
    WI don't think that will be much of a concern anytime soon," Soundwave said as Nightracer started firing. "The last transmissions I intercepted from their ships were quite garbled, but clear enough in one regard: their shields were not activated in time."
    Megatron barely supressed a shiver as he thought of the last moments those crews must have experienced—the mere nausea he'd felt even with the shields had been bad enough! "No big loss," he said in a calm voice.
    "What about salvaging them for technology?"
    Megatron shook his head. "Everything will be contaminated by the pulses and corrupted. We might be able to repair or decrypt salvaged material, but we'd risk contamination ourselves." Hs frowned. "And our boarding parties would be disabled before they could restore their shields. No, we will find other ships elsewhere. The secrets of the Disciples can keep for a while longer."
    "Entering firing range of the main fleet."
    "Fire at will." He smiled tolerantly, enjoying Nightracer's cool behavior at the tactical controls. Explosions flared through the bridge viewports as metal alloys sundered under the barrage of lasers and particle beams. "Then we shall make our withdraw as well...Earth is useless to us now." He frowned. "I didn't expect this ploy from the Humans," he added softly.

    General Doug Edwards made a triumphant report to the assembled Councilors as they sat in their chairs in their newly reopened Washington D.C. headquarters. "The pulse bomb worked perfectly, Councilors! Reports are still coming in—we have a lot of interference with radio transmissions right now, and the various telecommunications networks are in a shambles from the invasion, but it should clear when we get the satellites checked out and back into their proper orbits— but they seem to have good news. Heavy casualties are reported among all the invaders...some of the Decepticons were recovered by their ship before the pulse affected them, but many were killed while still on the ground. The entire second group of Invaders was killed. Very few of their ships survived to flee into hyperspace. The Decepticons blasted the remaining ships before withdrawing into hyperspace themselves.
    "Victory is ours!"
    "This is excellent news," the President said. "Make sure that it is broadcast on all stations. Let the citizens of Earth rejoice at this victory! Their home is once again safe."
    Stone smiled happily as his fellow Councilors offered him their warm thanks. "I am pleased to have been of some small service to my world," he told, them with false modesty. "And I am certain that my researchers will uncover countless new scientific advances from analyzing the deactivated Transformers." The lights flickered. "And then we will use those advances to lead the people of Earth to a new ago of prosperity—"
    The main doors hissed open as G.B. Blackrock stormed into the Chamber. "I hope you're happy with yourself, Stone!" he snarled, ignoring the two startled guards as they half-drew their side-arms. "Buster is in intensive care right now...he's not expected to live long enough to have his binary armor removed."
    Stone looked pale. "I never meant for any Humans to be hurt," he protested. "I only—"
    "Well they are. All of our binary bonded volunteers are experiencing severe seizures, and almost a quarter of then have already died!" Blackrock's voice was harsh. "The price of your 'victory' is being paid for with the blood of hundreds of men and women!"
    General Edwards looked shocked by that accusation. He gestured to an aide who quickly fled from the Chamber, "We heard nothing of this—" he protested. "The military...."
    Stone stroked his moustache. "I never wanted it..." he said softly, then he glared at Blackrock and his voice firmed. "But if they must die then so be it! Are the lives of a few hundred men and woman, who volunteered to take the risk of bonding and fight the Decepticons, really such a terrible price to pay for salvation of over five billion?"
    Blackrock and General Edwards both looked at hire in disgust as the ceiling lights flickered again. "Tell that to Buster's wife," Blackrock replied coldly, "And to his children."
            *            *            *
    As the Dark Glory hurtled through the interstellar shortcut reality of hyperspace, Soundwave entered Megatron's office with a datapad. "The preliminary analysis you requested, Mighty One."
    "Thank you, Soundwave." Seated behind his desk, Megatron accepted the pad. "Those foolish Humans," he chuckled. "Just as I thought...their bomb has indeed set up a self-replicating pulse echo within their planet's magnetic fields, just I predicted." His laughter echoed off the bulkheads.
    Terrorwing studied the report. "The pulse is diminishing in output," he noted with a nod, "We can return to claim Earth for ourselves in approximately six thousand, seven hundred and twenty-nine solar rotations."
    "By then the planet will be of no importance," Megatron said dismissively. "I desired control of Earth for many reasons, but I will not miss its presence in my Empire. I have many other, far more important, concerns at present." His expression sobered. "I do feel sorry for these Humans."
    "Oh?" Soundwave asked.
    "Yes, they acted with boldness—boldness born of desperation certainly—to save their world from us." He chuckled. "And to save themselves, they've had to blast their civilization back to the stone age!"
    All three Decepticons laughed.

    "We're getting reports of additional power failures. Most of the Eastern seaboard is in the dark. Civil defense measures are being enacted, but—" the already blurry pictured vanished into static.
    Turning from the vid-phone, G.B. Blackrock looked at a pale Councilor Stone with undisguised loathing. "Another unexpected development, Councilor?"
    "I warned you that we had neither time nor opportunity to test the pulse bomb," Stone stroked his moustache, trying to keep his voice calm. "I find your continued sniping at me to be most distasteful."
    "I find your lack of concern and responsibility to be appalling!" Blackrock shook off the hands of his secretary. "Your bomb has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men and women. Now its fallout is affecting power and communication services all around the planet!"
    "I didn't hear anyone complaining when the pulse drove off the Decepticons," Stone countered. Another one of the wall mounted monitors vent black, "I'm sure these are minor glitches." Like anyone would miss watching WGN…he still owed Bonnie Carrier back for that expose she had made about one of his family's South American companies.
    An aide stepped up to the two businessmen. "All the satellites are now confirmed off-line."
    "All of them?" Stone repeated in shock.
    "Yes, sir," the aide nodded. "Military and civilian, telecommunications, surveillance, space-defense..."
    "Just a minor glitch, you said?" Blackrock sneered as all the wall monitors went dark.
    "Now there could be several reasons for—" Stone fell silent as the lights failed. "Impossible," he snapped. "This facility has it's own back-up electric generator. Three of them in fact. You, go find out where the lights are!"
    "Yes, sir." The aide hurried away.
    "I hope your companies are diversified," Blackrock announced coldly.
    "Why?" Stone stored at him in the dim light coning through the windows. "What do you mean?"
    "Isn't it obvious to you?" Blackrock was smiling now, his expression bitter. "Your pulse bomb is not just affecting's disrupting anything electronic." He placed a hand on Stone's shoulder in fake comradeship. "You’ve just knocked Humanity back to the middle ages...if not further."
    Stone stared at him, mouth moving in silent protests. Impossible...that was impossible!
    Wasn't it?