I can practically feel their breath upon me. Not that we actually breathe, of course, but you get the idea...
I have no place left to run. They’ve cornered me here. I could try to fight my way out, but that would be useless against this foe. All I can do is turn and face them, and hope for the best...logically, that is my only choice...
“Prowl! Cybertonain News Service. Is it true what they say, that you plan to openly recruit Cybertonains for your mission to Earth?” A being vaguely resembling Topspin shoves a microphone into my face. I push the fool thing back far enough so I can speak into it normally, and reply:
“Prime has selected a small team to go on this journey.” Presuming this would have been enough information for them was of course silly on my part. Those of the press seldom settle for a single answer. The fellow proceeded to ask, “Yes, but you don’t agree with him. It’s rumored that you plan to defy his orders and bring along additional members as you see fit.”
Oh, boy. I should have seen that coming. Well, perhaps an abbreviated answer will do. “That is not true. Those interviews were conducted before Prime gave the order for a smaller team. I have since discontinued my interviews.” Good. Now locially, that should wrap things up nicely enough to get them to leave me alone...
“Mr Prowl, this is Rav, from the Maximal Press. Rumor has it that you’ve already equipped these additional members with earthen forms, to better hide within the human society. Do you have a reply?”
Ugh. “No Comment. This is all I have to say right now, so if you will excuse me...” Prowl pushes his way thru the gaggle of reporters, and heads off around the corner, back to the Council Chamber for a meeting with Prime. “Which,” thought Prowl, “Those pesky reporters have made me late for.” Prowl strode briskly up to the door of the Council Chamber, and pushed. Upon entering, he found Optimus Prime sitting at his usual spot, going over various reports on the vid screens. Looking up, he motions to Prowl to come in. “Sorry to disturb you Prime,” said Prowl, “but I presumed you would want to know the status of our roster.”
“Indeed, Prowl” responded Prime, “how go the preparations for our ‘backup plan’?” “Not well,” said Prowl. “Somehow, word leaked to the press about the additional members we’re bringing along.” “Really? Any ideas who?” “Not yet,” said Prowl,” “but it’s a moot point. Even if we did find out where the leak came from, it wouldn’t matter. It’s already known. Should I cancel that part of the mission?”
“Negative,” said Prime, “We’ll simply sneak them aboard the ship in cargo containers. They’ll be shut down. We’ll reactivate them once we reach Earth.”
“A good plan,” said Prowl, “But why are we doing it? Didn’t you tell Galvatron that we were going with a smaller team, made up only of Council members?”
A visable smirk could be detected in the lines of his face, most notably in his eyes. “I lied,” said Prime. “just as he lied to me. If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s never to take a Decepticon at his word. Have you completed the datatrack additions to the team?” “All done,” said Prowl. “We’re waiting for a few earthen modes to be completed. Once that’s done, we can leave. I did have one question, though.” “And that is..?” replied Prime. “I was wondering,” said Prowl, “if you don’t trust Galvatron, why are you leaving him in charge of the Council while we’re gone? That move doesn’t make sense.”
“I’m afraid I didn’t have much of a choice,” said Prime. “As the next senior Cybertonain on the Council, the duty automatically falls to him. But don’t worry; we’re not leaving him the run of the place. I have a plan...” Prime pointed to one of the Vidscreens, showing a number of Omega-type Guardian robots hidden within what was once the Vector-Sigma chamber. “These robots,” said Prime, “have been programmed to ensure that Cybertron has adequate strength to quell any uprising in either Decepticon or Predacon ranks.”
“That’s all well and good,” said Prowl, “but who will be overseeing THEM? Other than Omega Supreme, most Guardian robots are better at taking orders than following them. Who will give them orders?”
“I will,” said a voice from within the shadows of the Council Chamber. Prowl immediately commanded his gun from subspace and took aim at the direction of the voice. “There’s no need for that,” said the newcomer as he stepped into plain view. “I’m on your side. Cybertron will be safe in your absense, have no fear.”
“Obsidion?” asked Prowl. “The same,” replied the helicopter vehicon. “I see you aren’t an organic any longer,” said Prime. “May I ask the reason for the change back to your helicopter form?”
“Call it...sentiment,” said Obsidion. “I may not have agreed with Megatron’s philosophy, but he DID make for a good designer. This form allows me the proper level of...shall we say, ‘fear’ to accomplish my goal of protecting Cybertron.”
“What of your consort?” asked Prime. “She chose to remain a reformatted techno-organic,” replied Obsidion, “as is her right. Have no worries. As long as we exist, Cybertron shall be safe from threat, both without...and within...the council.”
“Thank you,” said Prime. “I knew I could count on you.” Bowing once, the vehicon general floated out of the chamber. Prime then turned and faced Prowl “And before you ask,” said Prime, “I’ve already assigned Nightbeat to watch over HIM and report back to me as well.”
“You’re getting cautious in your old age, Prime.” Said Prowl. “There was a time when I would have forced you to make that last decision.” “We learn from our mistakes, old friend,” replied Prime. “I can ill-afford to take chances with all of Cybertron, especially in her current delicate condition. Prepare the shuttle for launch, Prowl. As soon as you are ready, contact me thru inter-Autobot radio. I want our leaving to be as quiet as we can possibly make it. With any luck, we’ll be to Earth and back before any of our ‘backup plans’ need to be set in motion.”
“And of the Destron threat to Earth?” asked Prowl. “We’ll stay behind, in that case,” said Prime, “and send a single member back to Cybertron with the Ark’s database. We’ll hide amongst the humans until the threat fully presents itself. Although frankly, I am not fully convinced that Galvatron wasn’t lying about that, as well.”
With that departing thought, Prowl leaves Prime to his preperations. Exiting the Chamber, he heads toward the medbay, to see if the final changes have been made to the new team members. He enters to find RatTrap busily scraping away at the legplate of one of them, and muttering to himself. “Eh, stupid thing, deburr, fer cryin’ out loud!”
“Ahem. Is this a bad time?” asked Prowl. “Yiii!” said RatTrap in reply, dropping his metal file. “Geez, youse coulda knocked. Whaddya tryin ta do, sneaking up on me like that?” “I was merely checking to see your progress,” replied Prowl. “We’ll be leaving soon.” “Eh, I’m done now, actually. All I gotta do is juice them up, and we’ll be ready to go.” “Belay that,” said Prowl. “Prime said to leave them deactivated for the journey. If you would, please simply crate them. Label the crates, ‘stem bolts’. Adjust the inventory and ship’s manifest accordingly.”
“Eh? Well allright, yer the boss. Consider it done.”
“Oh, and one more thing,” said Prowl. “Wazzat?” asked Rattrap. “If you leak news of what you are doing here to the press again, you’re fired. We’ll upload #######’s personality tracks into your body, and let him take over. This is confidental, understand? That means no word of it, not even to Botanica.”
“Oh, no, I had that personality deleted for a REASON. I’ll keep quiet. Yeesh, you sure know how to make a guy feel appreciated.”
“It’s necessary,” said Prowl. “We have to keep as much of this mission secret as possible. Your friends in the press mobbed me in the hallway today, with questions about things they shouldn’t have known.”
“Eep. Eh, sorry ‘bout that. You got it, boss. Not a word to anyone. My lips are sealed.” “Thank you,” said Prowl. “With any luck, we’ll be back before they even miss you.” “Miss ME?” said RatTrap, “Whaddya mean? Since when am *I* going on this mission?” “Since of right now,” replied Prowl. “In case we have to stay longer than planned, you will be responsible for bringing the shuttle back with the Ark’s database and installing it to the Cybertonian network. Plus, I figure it will keep you out of the bars and thus, out of trouble.” “Aw man,” said Rattrap. “You’re not gonna let a ‘bot have ANY fun. There’s this new waitress at the Planet-Brawn café that walks around without her...” “Enough, said Prowl, interrupting. “I don’t want to her any more about it. Have those crates loaded shortly, then meet me on the command deck.” With a purposeful stride, Prowl leaves medbay. “Yeesh” said Rattrap, “dat bot’s gotta loosen up. Ah well, back to work.” Rattrap takes another wack at the burred metal, swearing each time he drops the filing tool.
To Be Continued.
Meanwhile, in Galvatron’s quarters, plans of a different type are being made. Galvatron is leaning against the wall containing his recharge bay, while his visitor sits in a chair. The conversation continues...
Galvatron: “We have an understanding then?”
Megatron: “Yeesss, Mighty Galvatron. We do.”
Galvatron: “Good. I would hate to think that rescuing your spark from the Core was a complete waste of time.”
Galvatron begins to pace the room. Megatron sits quietly and merely watches, waiting for his commander to speak.
Galvatron: “You never did explain why you took my old name.”
Megatron: “It suited my purposes at the time. Something to strike the appropriate amout of fear and awe into the Maximals. And since you weren’t using it anymore...”
Galvatron: “Hmm. Indeed. If it weren’t for the fact that your deeds have earned you the right to keep it, I would have had it removed from your datatracks. But know this,” (as he grabs the sitting Megatron by the throat, and lifts him high into the air) “If you EVER again pull a stunt like you did with our sparks, I will tear you apart with my bare hands. Is that crystal clear?”
Megatron: (choking out his answer) “Ye-yes, Mighty Galvatron. Never again.”
Galvatron: “Then GO. Return to your ship, and your moon, and prepare to leave for earth. You have a mission to fufill. I must return to the Council Chambers to speak with Prime.”
Megatron: “Right away, Commander.” (Leaves the room)(Begins talking to himself) “Slag you to the burning pits, Galvatron, for having my datatracks altered. Oh yesss, I am sure you had this apprehension programmed into me. That’s the only explanation. I fear NO-ONE. Yet you have me cowering like that infernal Starscream.” (he continues his walk to the shuttlebay) “At least no one recognizes me in this new form. Quite a versatile one, yesss...”
Megatron arrives without incident at the shuttlebay. Once there, he presents the council credentials given to him by Galvatron, and boards his shuttle. He activates the autopilot, and sets it to take him to one of Cybertron’s organic moons. This frees him from the drudgework, and allows him time to think. About how long he plans to go along with Galvatron’s charade before it no longer suits his own purposes, mainly. But also on how to deal with this additional programming that is clouding his processers. It slows him down; doesn’t allow him to react properly to situations. Perhaps one of the techs can do something about it. He will have to check before leaving...
Back on Cybertron proper, all is in readiness on the Autobot shuttle headed for Earth. With Prime at the controls, the cloaking device is engauged, and the ship floats off the planet on anit-grav drives, giving not a hint as to its presense. For all Cybertron and the other Council members know, the ship has not left yet...
Galvatron enters the Council Chamber, expecting to speak with Prime again. Not finding him there, he muses: “Where would he be? He hardly EVER leaves this chamber. Odd. All the display terminals are still active.” Finding no reason to stay, he ponders this strange occurrence as he leaves the chamber. In the shadows, unseen to Galvatron, Obsidion once again hovers, having returned as soon as Prime left. Preparing for Galvatron’s eventual treachery, wondering exactly when it will show...and wondering exactly what side he will end up being on. It is Cybertron’s best interest he must keep in-mind. The actual rulers, be they Autobot, Decepticon, Predacon, or Maximal, matter not one iota to him. Only Cybertron herself was cause for his concern. As long as Galvatron didn’t endanger her with his machinations, all would be well. If he did...well then, all would NOT be well...for HIM. Sensing that he could do no more here at the moment, he left the Chamber as well. The doors close behind him. He wonders how long it will be before the Chamber is fully occupied again.
To Be Continued.