By Matt TALON Kirkby

    Terrorwing sat in the midst of the large lounge his Legion had appropriated and he surveyed his troops with contentment. Behind him, the viewports which formed most of one wall, were providing a view of the rippling, ever-changing colors of hyperspace as the Dark Glory left the Terran system far behind. But as spectacular as the view was, all of his attention was on his troops.
    Scores of Legionnaires has gathered in that lounge-even some, he was sure, who should have still been in MedBay having their injuries looked after. They were drinking Energon and celebrating their recent victory in the traditional Decepticon manner: with considerable boasting and displays of physical prowess. He approved of such behavior-at least until someone got killed, an occurrence which did happen on particularly boisterous evenings-it bonded the troops into a tighter unit. A number of unknown faces caught his optics-officers and new soldiers interested in joining the Legion-and he motioned to his aide.
    Cryon stepped closer to Terrorwing’s chair. "I have finished my preliminary study of the various applications, my Lord."
    Sighing inwardly, Terrorwing accepted the pad, noting that Cryon-unlike pretty much everyone else present-was still fully in position of his mental facilities, "And?" he asked as he picked up his goblet of liquid Energon and took a long swallow. One good thing about Earth-it's Energon was quits tasty.
    "Many Decepticons are lured by the Legion's long history of combat and its high reputation."
    "Of course they are."
    "However, of the numerous applicants, over eighty percent fail to meet your minimum acceptable criteria."
    "I see." He took another swallow.
    "Some of the others, as indicated there, have potential. With additional training and drills, ten per cent of these unit's might prove themselves to be valuable Legionnaires."
    "I would hope so. The Empire would be in a sorry state if it cannot field units even approaching the Legion's caliber."
    Cryon nodded. "Most assuredly, my Lord."
    Terrorwing sighed again-this time aloud. "Cryon, have you consumed any of this Energon?" He held, his goblet to emphasize his question.
    "No, my Lord."
    "That is the problem. Cryon, I have no interest in dealing with, or either listening to you describe routine bureaucratic details tonight! Go away...over-energize yourself, challenge someone six times your mass to arm-wrestle, or at least leave me alone!"
    "Yes, yes my Lord!" Cryon winced at the dangerous rumble in his commander's voice and backed away. "As you wish."
    "Terrorwing, SubCommander StormCrow had arrived," Commo reported from near the door.
    Terrorwing slumped backwards into his chair. "Send her in, Commo," ho said. "Send her in."
    "But, the application?"
    "Yes, yes, Cryon!" Terrorwing appreciated persistence in his officers, but Cryon was starting to grate on him. He drained his goblet and gestured for a refill. "I know how many valiant warriors the Legion has lost in our recent conflicts, to say nothing of those- lost during our long campaigns." During the long exile from Cybertron. "Megatron has encouraged me to rebuild the Legion by picking from amongst his armies. But," Terrorwing’s voice hardened, "I will not expand our ranks by merely snatching up whatever rabble is close at hand! I trust you to pick through Megatron's offerings and select only the best and most suitable candidates for my own evaluation." He took a long swallow of his new Energon-noting the -different flavor this variety possessed-and his optics narrowed. "Now do not mention business again this cycle or else you will regret it!" As Cryon stammered his understanding, he focused his attention on a slowly approaching Decepticon.
    "Lord Terrorwing." She saluted.
    "SubCommander StormCrow."
    All conversation in the room froze at the chill in Terrorwing 's voice.
    "You summoned me, my Lord, and I obey," She looked around the lounge, her mouth twisting slightly as she took in the carousing Decepticons.
    "What were your orders in Operation: Camlann Field?"
    "To act as reserve forces for the Legion, to warn of and intercept enemy reinforcements, and to prevent any Humans from escaping the Camelot facility during our assault."
    "How did you go about that task?"
    "I deployed my available squads to key positions-as selected from the tactical map provided by yourself-encircling the facility. We were placed roughly ten kilometers from the outer perimeter, with squads stationed precisely ten kilometers from each other. Each squad established a base-camp and then maintained aerial patrols and surveillance of each assigned sector. My squads remained clear of the various fire fights, as previously ordered, and-"
    "Time index five twenty-five fourteen," Terrorwing interrupted. "Sector four by six."
    StormCrow paused.
    "What happened then?"
    StcomCrow finished mentally reviewing that data, "A convoy of seven trucks, two jeeps, and one armored personnel carrier was observed leaving Camelot, with three tanks as escorts. They proceeded along roadway four-bee at an average speed of fifty kilometers per hour-"
    "Spare us all the in depth numbers and be concise!" Terrorwing snapped.
    Cryon flinched.
    "The convoy was leaving," she said, off-balance by the rapid questions. "I led my own squad to intercept them-"
    "While on route," Terrorwing broke in, reading from a ‘pad in his hand, "your squad encountered the lead elements of a Human military force-the Twenty-Second Mechanized, according to Intelligence's observations-and then engaged them in battle. After sustaining twenty percent losses to your squad, you broke off and withdrew." He lowered the 'pad. "You withdrew!"
    As the shout died into a tense silence-the lounge had fallen completely silent now, with every optic focused on StormCrow and Terrorwing-StormCrow then opened her mouth. "We were out-gunned, my Lord. Severely out-gunned and we withdrew after inflicting nearly fifty per cent casualties upon them, before their reinforcements arrived."
    "Are you a coward?" Terrorizing asked coldly, "Or else merely incompetent?"
    "My Lord!"
    "A moment." Cryon removed a ‘pad from a compartment in his torso and then hastily reviewed it-he hadn't expected this particular discussion to take place for several days yet. "After examining your report, SubCommander StormCrow, other officers determined that the deployment of your squads was wrong for that terrain. You should have based yourself on the road. You should have called for more troops when the Twenty-Second was first observed." He looked directly at her. "By assuming a proper tactical deployment, you could have fought on without taking such casualties."
    "I see."
    Terrorwing shook his head. "Your unnecessary retreat from battle shames your unit, SubCommander, but your utter failure to capture or destroy the convoy has dishonored the Legion."
    "It’s only one convoy, a few Humans. Big deal."
    "Arrest her!" Terrorwing bellowed and Legionnares hurried forward to take hold of her arms. "Escort ex-SubCommander StormCrow to the nearest brig then arrange for her execution."
    "My Lord! She wrenched her arm free from the guard holding it. "I demand a trial!" she shouted as the guard seized her arm again.
    "Trial by combat?" Cryon asked into the sudden silence.
    "Yes," she replied defiantly. She pulled her arms free and stood straight and proud. "Trial by combat."
    "That is her right," Terrorwing agreed calmly from his chair. "As is our law. Decepticon law. She may fight to clear her name and her stained honor." He drained his Energon and then stood up. "I am ready."
    "You, my Lord?"
    Terrorwing looked at Cryon. "Her dishonor to the Legion must be cleansed. That is my right."
    Cryon nodded reluctantly. "Clear a circle!" he shouted, gesturing with his hands. "Give them both room!"
    Terrorwing stepped forward. "Fight well, StormCrow…at least gain yourself an honorable death."
    "And may you have the same, Terrorwing." With that, StormCrow launched all of her shoulder-mounted missiles and then lunged to the left as they wreathed her commander in explosions.
    "A valiant effort," Terrorwing told her as he stepped forward, smoke still wreathing his head and shoulders. "Though futile."
    StormCrow fired her pistol, but the lasers barely scratched Terrorwing’s thick armor.
    "Fight!" a legionnaire shouted.
    "Honor!" That cry was echoed by a hundred voices.
    Lunging forward, Terrorwing punched her, his fist denting the armor of her torso. Another blow knocked her reeling. Then he hit her with another powerful blow sending her into the wall hard enough to dent the plating. "Bah, you just dishonor us both with this pathetic display," he sneered.
    "Sorry to disappoint you!" She triggered another missile volley-at a suicidally close range-and explosions wreathed both combatants.
    Terrorwing stumbled out of the smoke, shaking his head.
    StormCrow fired her pistol again, but with little effect.
    Terrorwing swung around in a roundhouse kick and sent the other Decepticon slamming into the wall again.
    She shook her head once, then threw herself forward, punching him back with all of her remaining strength.
    He caught her arm in one massive fist and squeezed, grinning as she screamed in pain. "How disappointing," he said. He kicked her and she fell to her knees.
    "Mercy," she begged as his hands tightened around her throat.
    "Very well," Terrorwing agreed with a nod. "A swift death." He wrenched her head-module loose from her neck and held it aloft. "Honor is satisfied!" he shouted as fuel dripped down his arm.
    "Honor!" the Legionnaires shouted, raising their fists high.
    The would-be Legionnaires eyed Terrorwing in silence. Several of them also eyed the door and began edging towards it.
    "Honor is satisfied," Terrorwing shouted, "StormCrow has joined the Heroes in the realm beyond life!"
    The lounge doors hissed open and Frostwing raced into the room, followed by a dozen heavily-armed troopers. "What's going on here?" she demanded, slowing to a stop and looking around at the crowd.
    "Merely tidying sons of the Legion's affairs," Terrorwing replied., tossing StormCrow's head onto her battered corpse. "Nothing which need concern you."