By Matt Kirkby

    Avatar Prime, stood on his private balcony and stared out across the gardens of the Heartland, his bright green eyes gazing towards the horizon. Overhead, the cloudless sky was alight with the soft glow from the Creator's Cloak, the swirling nebula which shrouded the planet of Eden and hid it from the outside universe. His green eyes sought solace in the ever-shifting glow from the gases which formed the nebula, and kept the planet's surface forever lit by endless twilight, but the peace he sought eluded him. The soft breeze-rich with the scent of growth and blooming plants-rustled through his silvery hair and tugged gently at his pale yellow cloak. The balcony's warm railing pulsed slightly under his fingers as he gripped it.
    Turning away from the view, he stepped towards the apparently featureless wall of the tower itself. A thought, and part of the wall irised open into a doorway. Stepping through it, and after sparing another thought to make the wall grow solid behind him, he paced through a corridor, his bare feet making no sound on the lush grass which covered the floor in a living carpet. The translucent aides of the corridor pulsed slowly, glowing from within with a comforting yellowish light. He paused for a brief moment, to listen to the building's rhythm...the air throbbed softly in a gentle pulse. Nodding to himself, he continued down the corridor. Eventually he stopped before one section of wall- seemingly no different from any other he had passed-and thought open another door, stepping through it into a circular chamber.
    "Ah, Avatar, you have arrived. Finally."
    "Thou have called the Circle together, Militant Prime, for a valid reason, I trust?" Avatar stared at the military commander with a cold gaze. "Only I may call together the Primes...unless the matter is of the most vital importance to the Children."
    "The Law is well-known," Militant replied, bowing his head and giving Avatar an ironic grin. The smile did not touch his almond-shaped eyes which remained twin pools of green ice. "But matters pertaining to fulfilling the will of our Lord Primus are always a matter of vital importance to all of the Children, not just we Primes, I know and honor our traditions in all their forms, Avatar Prime, I am within my rights to summon together the Circle Of Primes."
    Avatar noted the agreeing nods from many of the other Primes who had assembled in the chamber prior to his arrival, and he allowed Militant his small triumph, "You may proceed then, Militant Prime," he said graciously. "Enlighten us with your current wisdom." A thought caused part of the floor to extrude itself into a chair behind him and he sat down, adjusting his cloak around him.
    The other Primes also summoned chairs for themselves-some from the floor, others from the walls, and one called down a swing from the ceiling.
    "The Jihad has begun," Militant announced, a gleam in his green eyes. He alone had declined to summon a chair, choosing to remain standing, and now he turned around slowly, so that he could look at each Prime as he spoke, "The righteous and just campaign against the Blasphemers has progressed beyond our most optimistic expectations."
    "The will of Primus be obeyed," several of the assembled Primes murmured, bowing their silver-haired heads.
    Now Militant chose to pace across the floor as he continued. "The Disciples have struck at many worlds infested by the Mechs," his scale-like body armor glimmered as he moved, "and all those who would profane the glory of our Lord Primus have been struck down." Militant paused, while the others digested his words. "The most holy resting world of our Lord Primus himself is now within our grasp!"
    Even Avatar felt a surge of emotion within his breast at that statement.
    "The Creator's world will again be ours," Militant promised confidently, his proud voice ringing through the chamber. "Once cleansed of the Mechs, it will become a garden world of beauty, lush with growing things. We will reshape it...bring true life to that cold sphere, and the Creator's resting place will become a monument to His greater glory." His eyes gleamed, "The will of Primus shall be done!" he proclaimed.
    "The will of Primus be obeyed," the Primes murmured.
    Avatar allowed the silence to stretch out for many minutes, giving the assembled Primes time to meditate upon the momentous news. "And what of our ancient birthworld?" he asked at last. "What news do thee have of it?"
    The Primes paused, every sound stilled, as each one once again reflected upon the recent news that one of their farthest ranging scoutships had stumbled across the divine birthworld itself. What joy had filled the Primes when they learned that their long-lost birthworld had recovered from the ancient Biocaust, and was once again lush with organic life, populated by billions of sentients...and how they had all sorrowed to see the presence of the accursed Mechs upon its surface, along with grim evidence of the Mechs’ long civil war which once again threatened it's fragile ecosystems.
    "The soulless Mechs are once again staining the birthworld's sacred surface with their unholy presence and their endless war," Militant informed them grimly, "The Autobots have been all but annihilated by their Decepticon enemies in a recent campaign, one which weakened them both and aided us in our early success." His voice turned sorrowful. "Our fellow Children, as always, suffer greatly. The birthworld itself is threatened no less than those who now inhabit it."
    "They will be saved."
    Avatar lifted an eyebrow. "Thou has an offering, Observer?"
    That Prime nodded, silvery hair falling across his face and almost hiding his expression. Despite his advanced age-well into his second century-his green eyes were still bright. "With the location of the birthworld now known to us, we can direct our
servants to drive the Blasphemers from its sacred surface. Our brethren can then be forever freed from their tormentors. The Children will become One."
    "Yes," Tutor Prime agreed. "And then we can return to our birthworld openly, in triumph. We can teach the lost Children of our skills-as befits their proud heritage-and induct them into the glory that comes from joyfully serving the will of our Lord Primus, We can free them, forever, from the slavery of the soulless machines,"
    "A most noble goal, Prime, as we have long agreed," Avatar paused, "Every Prime, since the Mechs drove us from its surface during the Biocaust, has sworn to locate our lost birthworld and restore it to its former glory…and now, fellow Primes, that most sacred of duties has fallen upon our shoulders." He bowed his head and sighed, "Despite years beyond count, all of the Children have dreamed of one day returning home," Avatar paused, studying the others with a long and searching stare. "However, the question must be asked: can our servants spare the strength to achieve this goal?"
    Observer Prime nodded his agreement. "I would not rush to reclaim the birthworld if such a division of our strength would leave the Mechs in a position elsewhere to regather their own forces for a counterattack and once again exile us."
    "Nor I," Healer Prime broke her long silence. She was the youngest of the Circle, barely past her first century, "To heal and restore our birthworld into it's former beauty is a worthy task, a duty all of the Children are prepared to undertake, I would not see our efforts be made and then erased by the Mechs in another Biocaust."
    Avatar nodded, "The Circle is in rash actions will be undertaken in this matter," He paused, gathering his thoughts. "We have been exiled from the birthworld for millions of years…a few months-or even years-more will not harm us,"
    "We must inquire of the Will." Militant rejoined the debate after a period of watchful silence. "Such a decision cannot be undertaken lightly."
    "Despite its inherent difficulty, I must agree," Instructor Prime announced, "The Will must be consulted in this matter. The Circle cannot render its final decision without access to all of the facts."
    Militant smiled as most of the others nodded agreement with his request, then he turned to a section of wall and thought a series of specific commands.
    The wall's surface rippled, lightened, and finally became a viewscreen which slowly lit up with the image of a sour-faced woman. "Yes? What do you want?" she snapped, glaring into her video pick-up, "Forgive me, Primes," she said contritely, an instant later, though the anger in her green eyes did not fade. "I have been too long amid the soulless machines and too long separated from our world of life. I humbly offer myself for penance," She lowered her head further.
    "There is no need, Guidous," Avatar told her with a polite smile. "We all admire thy self-sacrifice…to be exiled among the Mechs-even those which currently serve us-cannot be an easy thing. We admire thee for it."
    Guidous drew herself up straighter, shaking her silvery hair out of her face. "It is a necessary evil, Avatar Prime, and a sacrifice which one must make...lest all of the Children suffer instead." She paused, considering her next words. "The soulless Blasphemers must be dealt with and this is the most expedient method. Our Lord Primus understands the sacrifice I now make and will surely honor me for it in the next cycle. I know that my time here is temporary, less than an eyeblink to the Primal Gods, and my life is but a tool to be shaped in service of His divine will."
    Soft chuckles greeted that comment, Guidous was not commonly known for such gentle talk nor for easily accepting her fate. This meekness was an illusion…and many Primes waited for her to revert to her normal temperament, glad that she was so distant, for when her temper snapped, the results could be deadly.
    "The Circle would have answers," Militant told her; he had not chuckled at her comment, nor did he fear her temper. "Can our servants muster strength enough to cleanse our birthworld of the Mechs’ foul presence?"
    Guidous was silent for a moment-she was distant enough from Eden that the con-transmission lag alone imposed several seconds delay on their conversation-but at last she nodded, "Given the new converts recently taken from Syrra IV, I am confident that our long-lost birthworld can be reclaimed…with minimal losses for our allies too I would think," Guidous nodded slowly, a smile on her lips. "I will lead them there myself!"
    "Nay," Avatar told her, "The presence of the Will is still required on Cybertron, The Soul of Cybertron must be found and restored to our care. Cleansing the birthworld of its eons-long infestation can be easily accomplished by proxy."
    Militant nodded, "Indeed, Cybertron currently remains a more important objective for our forces. The task of eliminating the remnants of resistance and converting the Mechs still present must be completed before all else,"
    "The success of the Jihad requires it," Avatar added, "The glory of our Lord Primus demands it."
    "The will of Primus be obeyed," Guidous said, bowing her head. Again, she chuckled. "My will be obeyed," she said softly.
    Disapproving glares tinged many of the Primes' expressions.
    "Thy attempts at humor are not suitable," Instructor Prime told her coldly, "Our Lord Primus will surely punish those who would mock His divine power."
    "Forgive me, Primes," Guidous replied humbly, her head bowed to her breast. "I meant no disrespect to our Lord. It was but ill-chosen choice of words."
    "Thou art forgiven," Avatar glanced at his fellow Primes, but none challenged his quick acceptance. "Now, by order of the Prime Circle, who guide the Children of Primus, thou are now commanded to cleanse the Earth of the Blasphemers."
    "The Mechs shall be destroyed." Guidoua grinned, her tone mingling arrogance and pride. "The Will of Primus be obeyed."
    "The will of Primus be obeyed," the Primes agreed.
    Guidous continued smiling. "May Primus preserve us." The viewscreen went dark and once again became a normal wall.
    "I look forward to setting foot on Cybertron," Observer Prime announced after a long silence. "Almost as much as I now look forward to visiting our ancient birthworld." His voice grew reverent. "To walk upon its ancient soil, to commune with the world created by our Lord Himself…"
    The others nodded and muttered agreements.
    "I long for Cybertron," Healer Prime said. "We shall be the Children who plant the first gardens and turn the resting place of our Lord lush with life. Such a mission will be a task of honor."
    Instructor nodded, "True words." His green eyes were moist with unshed tears, "But think on this, fellow Primes, for we know that somewhere the Last Guardian sleeps...and he guards the last remnants of our Lord's sacred lifeforce." Awed murmurs sounded at that reminder. "We roust find and recover it...for only we can truly do it the proper honor,"
    "To commune directly with the essence of our Lord," Observer said wistfully. "A dream...surely."
    "To make use of it for healing," Healer sighed. "We can now truly return our people to their former greatness. With such power-"
    "With such power," Militant said, "our greatness is assured!" His voice was cold. "Yet the sacred Spark is still lost to us. The Mechs have used it once before, we must not allow them a chance to awaken the Guardian. They pollute all that they touch, I will not let them sully the Divine Spark."
    Avatar felt a shiver pass through him at Militant's words. "There is a shadow in your soul," he mused aloud.
    "Shadows are defined by the strength of the light," Militant scoffed. "At present, we are all shadows." His muscles rippled under his bio-armor. "Perhaps you are content to remain among them, but I seek to step forward...for perhaps it is destined that one among our number should declare himself a Master of the Shadows."
    Silence stretched out after that comment. Several of the Primes looked disapproving,
    "If there are no other matters of import? Then I call this session of the Circle to an end," Avatar announced, rising to his feet and adjusting his cloak. "May Primus preserve us all."
    The others echoed his words.