DISCLAIMER: I do not own Transformers, or any of the song/movie quotes used in this story. However, the idea for this story does, indeed, belong to me.
HERE'S YOUR TRADITIONAL, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD REMINDER THIS IS NOT A SLASH FIC.
NOTE: DO NOT READ THIS FIC UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN DARK OF THE MOON!!! MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND!
Transformers: Day of the Black Sun
Chapter Two-Chain of Command
THE SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAIN RANGE WAS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE, AND it attracted the attention of hikers frequently. One such hiker was making his way along a trail alone. He had been going to go with friends, having visited the country specifically for such a thing, but something or other had come up and he was the only one who had be able to go. He wasn't about to let the absence of his friends spoil the hike he had planned, however.
A shadow falling on him from overhead made him look up in surprise; there hadn't been any clouds in the sky a few minutes earlier. However, it wasn't a cloud that was causing the shadow; it was some sort of strangely-shaped aircraft. He recognized what it was from pictures he had seen before, but it didn't make any sense. He barely had time to wonder, 'What is a Stealth Bomber doing all the way out here?', before a noise that was both familiar and loud caused him to turn around.
A bright red motorcycle was zooming up the trail towards him. This wasn't all that odd…people often came up these trails to ride, even though it technically wasn't really safe or approved of by the local authorities to do so. However, the hiker was getting an odd vibe from the approaching motorcycle, and as it got closer, he paled as he saw the reason why.
No one was riding the motorcycle. It was moving on its own.
The motorcycle suddenly began to twist and alter its shape, and he realized that he had better run, but then remembered that there wasn't any possible way for him to outrun it.
As the robot that used to be the motorcycle launched itself at him with a vicious snarl, his last thought was, 'Maybe I shouldn't have come here by myself.'
The Stealth Bomber changed direction abruptly, and shot back the way it had come, towards the location of motorcycle robot, and, in turn, the former location of the human hiker. As it neared, it pulled into a nosedive straight towards the ground. Before it crashed, however, it too began to alter its shape just as the motorcycle had done. When it hit the ground, it was no longer a Stealth Bomber, but a robot that towered over the former motorcycle.
"Bullseye, what the frag did you do that for?" the Stealth Bomber hissed in a low, angry voice. "That was completely unnecessary! "
The one-time motorcycle glared back and shook blood off of the claws on one hand. "Don't you tell me what I can and can't do, Salvo. I don't have to take any slag from you! "
Salvo was not about to let it go. "Yes, you do have to take slag from me. I'm Second-in-Command now, or have you forgotten that? Don't think for one moment that I won't report this when we return to base! That human was not going to interfere with our scouting patrol. There was no reason to kill him. We don't want to attract any attention to ourselves-we're bad off enough as it is. If humans start disappearing in the mountains, rescue parties will come, and then we'll be discovered. How long do you think it will take for the Autobots to be informed of our presence here if the human authorities start finding mutilated bodies with Energon tracings on them?"
Bullseye kicked the remains of the human angrily, and then turned to face Salvo again. "He could have blabbed about seeing you. How many military aircraft just happen to fly around here?"
"The human military does field tests all the time. A regular human-which this one is, or was, judging by what's left of the clothing- wouldn't have known the difference. But, never mind. What's done is done. We need to get on with our mission." Salvo gestured to the human remains. "Get rid of that."
"Use your imagination. Bury it, disintegrate it, whatever. Just don't leave any trace this time," Salvo commented dryly. "I'll meet you at the rendezvous point." With that last comment, Salvo jumped up, transforming back into his Stealth Bomber shape, and shot off back in the direction he had been going previously.
With a wicked grin, Bullseye shifted his left arm into a plasma cannon and aimed at the human remains.
"Not a trace."
The problem with being a Decepticon, Salvo mused, is you really get no proper respect at all unless you are firmly in the position of a leader. And, if you aren't in charge, you have to take whatever you can get.
Salvo wasn't the leader, at least, not anymore. After the battle of Chicago he had quickly taken temporary command of the Decepticon survivors, getting them away from the accursed Autobots and their human allies. His leadership was intended to be only temporary, and it was; six months after the battle, two new Decepticons had arrived on the planet, and one of them was very highly ranked and therefore had taken over the leadership role. Salvo had willingly handed the title over, but the new leader, mech called Cyclonus-the Decepticon Air Commander from the days of the war on Cybertron-had been so impressed with how he had managed to hold what few Decepticons remained on Earth together he had given him the title of Second-in-Command. The only one who didn't really respect him in his new rank was Bullseye, but that was nothing new. The two of them had always been at odds with each other, even before his promotion-they had been rivals ever since they had first become Decepticons. Bullseye was always extremely aggressive and impulsive in his arguments, but Salvo simply viewed them with a mixture of amusement and bored detachment, though, thanks to the current situation the Decepticon faction found itself in, his patience with the arrogant red mech was finally starting to wear thin, and wear thin quickly.
Bullseye aside, he was given a certain degree of respect from the others and while he enjoyed that, Salvo had no plans of staying in his current position of power in what remained of the once-mighty Decepticon army. Command wasn't his thing-he wasn't power-hungry like most Decepticons, and the only reason he had taken charge after the battle in Chicago was because he knew that there was safety in numbers and the survivors would have a better chance of remaining online if they stayed together and as far away from the Autobots as possible. To tell the truth, he preferred recon missions and spying more. He looked forward to a day when some new Decepticon would arrive that he could throw the title of Second-in-Command at. Right now, there wasn't anyone competent enough in the normal ranks to take the job.
Had he been in robot mode, he would have shaken his head to clear his processors. Stop reminiscing, glitch head, he scolded himself. Focus on the job. If this patrol is successful and we find what we hope to find, our troubles will be less and we will hopefully have the strength to fulfill our new leader's plan.
The plan. Cyclonus was always talking about some "plan", that, once executed, would mean the end of the Decepticons' troubles and the destruction of the Autobots for good. He never mentioned the details of the plan. Not even Salvo knew about it. Only Cyclonus and the Decepticon who had arrived with him, Scourge-who seemed to have the role of a bodyguard or just an all-around thug (more so than any normal Decepticon)-knew exactly what the plan was. Everyone else was simply kept in the dark.
I don't care, Salvo thought fiercely. Anything has to be better than just sitting around, cowering in the mountains waiting for the Energon deprivation to rust our systems. His comlink pinged and he accepted the transmission when he recognized Bullseye's frequency.
There was no human on the trail back there, Bullseye transmitted. Even through the comlink, Salvo could practically hear the smugness of his annoying companion. Well, nothing left of a human, anyway.
Good, Salvo sent back. Keep on the trail. I'm almost there. That sent, he broke off communications, spying the destination of the patrol he was on.
A currently abandoned mining site.
Salvo quickly headed for the ground, initiating his Transform sequence as he did so. Upon landing, he briefly took in his surroundings. All in all, it looked like a typical abandoned mining or excavation site-pits half dug, a mine shaft that was rusting and badly in need of repair, and several broken-down construction machines. He scanned some of the rocks nearby, and his optics widened at what he got from the readings.
"Amazing. These humans have hit an unrefined Energon vein big-time and they haven't even realized it," Salvo mused in fascination. He reached down and picked up a hefty chunk of rock, scanning it. He smiled in grim satisfaction at the results, and began to gather any of the rocks that had readings matching or close to that of the first.
They currently had no way to refine the raw Energon they found. Unrefined Energon was not as useful as refined Energon; they would need to ingest more into their systems to keep themselves functioning properly than they would with refined Energon. It would keep them alive, however, and that was the important thing.
He had been gathering the unrefined substance for about twenty minutes and had accumulated a fairly large pile of rocks already when Bullseye came roaring up into the abandoned mining site in motorcycle form. Seeing what Salvo was doing, he too changed into robot mode and came over to see what had been found. He spoke only one word.
Salvo nodded. "Energon."
Any thoughts of continuing their earlier argument were pushed aside, and Bullseye began to gather rocks with the same readings as well.
Even the most argument-loving of the Decepticons knew that gathering the means for survival was more important than arguing about whether or not the killing of a worthless human insect was necessary.
There was an old saying among the humans. "Cut off the head and the body dies."
Cyclonus often found himself musing about how such a simple, primitive, and disgusting race could be so morbid in their philosophies and so clever in them at the same time.
In this case, the saying was true-to an extent. Without Megatron to lead them, to give them a purpose, and with their numbers severely reduced after the battle in Chicago, the existence the surviving Deceptions now lived was pathetic. Huddling out of sight in the mountains, they were forced to scrounge around for whatever unrefined Energon they could find, but most days, they couldn't find any at all. They were weak, their numbers were low, they were starving. The Autobots had done this to them, and every single one of the surviving Decepticons fervently wished they were able to exact revenge. But they weren't. At one time, the Decepticons had overwhelmed the Autobots. But now, they were too few, compared to their earlier numbers, and far too weak. And the Autobots had the humans on their side-something that the Decepticons had once scoffed at, but the last battle had shown them that the humans could be every bit as dangerous as the Autobots when it came to a fight. If they attacked now, they would be completely wiped out.
But the one thing that human saying did not mention was that, in rare cases, the body can grow a new head.
When Cyclonus had arrived on Earth with Scourge six months previous, he had been absolutely disgusted with what the Autobots had forced the Decepticons to become. He had been expecting to find Megatron leading his army to victory against the Autobots. This broken, pathetic gathering was not even worthy of the title "army" any more. What was worse, there was in-fighting, which, to be honest, had occurred before now, but it was never this bad. Seeing all of the other Decepticons fighting and squandering their little remaining strength over who got what recharge spot, who had to keep the base secure, who got which bit of unrefined Energon…it was sickening.
But soon, it would all change.
Cyclonus had not been idle in his journey through space. He had learned things, taking the time to analyze the old, forgotten Cybertronian legends. One legend in particular had caught his attention, one that mentioned a being who was powerful enough to assist the Decepticons in rising to strength once again and return to them the power to take their rightful place as rulers of the known universe. It would be risky, incredibly so, and if not carried out exactly right it could mean the destruction of all the Decepticons, but they had nothing to lose, really. Fortunately, Cyclonus had a plan, a carefully thought-out plan, that would hopefully eliminate the risks. And once the plan was executed in its entirety, nothing would stand in the Decepticons' way ever again. Not even the mighty Optimus Prime and his legion of human insects.
When he spoke of the plan-never mind the details, he would say when the others asked him what the plan was, you will learn of them later-he always painted a wonderful picture of the glorious Decepticon rise back into power. Perhaps it was because they had nothing to lose. Perhaps it was because they knew that any plan had to be better than the miserable life they were all leading now. Whatever the case, the Decepticons had rallied to him. Cyclonus had, in a sense, given the Decepticons hope. Sick, twisted, with a promise of future violence and slaughter-but hope nonetheless.
His thoughts were interrupted by a shout from the entrance to the valet that served as the Decepticon's makeshift base.
"They're back! Salvo and Bullseye are back!"
Cyclonus stood up, and he could see the black-armored form of Salvo and the smaller, red-armored mech that was Bullseye standing next to him. The two of them had several containers with them, and Cyclonus didn't need time to figure out what was in them.
"Ah, so they did find Energon at that abandoned mine," Cyclonus mused. "And quite a lot of it too. No wonder it took them so long to get back."
Like Cyclonus, the bulk of the surviving Decepticons had quickly figured out what was in the containers Salvo and Bullseye had brought back. They crowded forward, each one jostling and fighting for the better position as they all strove to get at the contents of the containers.
"ENOUGH! " Salvo bellowed. The Decepticons immediately ceased their pushing and shoving. Even when he was angry, Salvo rarely yelled, so when he raised his voice, the others would listen. "We're going to do this civilized. Everyone form a line. Single file. You take what you are given and NO MORE. Anyone who complains or tries to take another's share will not get any at all. Now, FALL IN! "
The Decepticons obeyed, filing into a line and taking Energon from either Salvo or Bullseye, one at a time. Cyclonus watched for a moment, then began to walk over to claim his share. Scourge followed closely behind.
To Cyclonus, Salvo was the good out of the bad. He was a strong leader, was respected, was obeyed, and a fierce fighter. What was more, he was loyal. When Cyclonus had arrived, he had taken the position of leader from Salvo. Most Decepticons acting as leader would have tried to take the title back from him, but Salvo had willingly handed it over. Despite the sad state of things, Salvo had managed to hold the surviving Decepticons together relatively well, and that had impressed Cyclonus enough to grant him the position of Second-in-Command. And he was competent in the role, as well. Cyclonus had no doubt that Salvo's skill would be essential to the success of the plan.
Bullseye…well, Bullseye was difficult. He was stubborn, aggressive, and not very concerned with following the orders that he was given, far more so than any normal Decepticon. His only assets were his strength in battle, and the fact that his attacks had never been known to miss their target-hence his name. If it weren't for those two abilities, he would be useless, and Cyclonus would not hesitate in killing him, for more than one reason. Bullseye had come close several times to revealing their position and location to outsiders-humans-and he didn't seem to care. He was always challenging both the authority of Cyclonus AND Salvo. Cyclonus fully intended to put a stop to it. But not yet-Bullseye's strength was still needed, and until he served his part in the plan, he would be allowed to live. And, Cyclonus knew that the Energon they had found today, combined with what he had finally decided to reveal to the others, would be enough to buy Bullseye's cooperation for a little bit longer.
Cyclonus approached the head of the line, and the Decepticons still waiting for their share of Energon backed off. Salvo handed him a chunk of the unrefined substance, and said to him, "We're in luck. There is Energon to spare at the mining site. We brought back as much as we could, but this doesn't even amount to half of what we saw there. And it's pretty high grade, for unrefined Energon."
"Excellent. That is just the news I needed to hear." Now they had Energon, and as much as they needed to regain their strength. That meant only one thing.
It was time to reveal part of the plan to the other Decepticons.
He turned to face the others in the camp-both those who had taken their share and those who had yet to do so-and after calmly regarding them for a moment, he finally announced, "Finish your Energon and then gather at the Pinnacle. I have a very important announcement to make." He then turned, taking his Energon with him as he headed towards the Pinnacle.
The Decepticons looked at each other, at once both apprehensive and curious.
Could this finally be the announcement of the plan they were constantly being refused the details of? Those who had Energon hurried to finish it, and those who were still waiting forced themselves to be patient.
It had to be important. Cyclonus rarely called meetings together like this.
The Pinnacle was the name Cyclonus had given to the broken, jagged spire of rock that jutted out above the rest of the valley floor. It was slightly flattened at the top and more than wide enough for the three highest-ranking Decepticons at the moment-Cyclonus, the new leader, Salvo, the Second-in-Command, and Scourge, the bodyguard who carried out Cyclonus's dirty work when necessary-to stand side-by-side on the surface. The clear space in front of the Pinnacle made it the ideal place to hold meetings, but meetings did not happen often as there usually wasn't anything to meet about. Cyclonus stood in the middle on the top of the Pinnacle, with Salvo on his right and Scourge on his left. He surveyed the Decepticons gathered below. They were squabbling again, this time over who got to stand where.
Salvo raised his voice again. "Will you lot kindly sit down and SHUT UP? "
The others fell quiet. Cyclonus stepped forward. He surveyed them all again before he began the speech that he had been going over in his head, saving it for the right time and place. Now, the time had finally come for him to give it.
"Decepticons! Look at where you stand now. Look at the life you lead. Look at how few of us there are. We have sustained losses. Our numbers have been cut devastatingly, and by whom? Who is the cause for all our suffering? I'll tell you, though I am sure you already know who it is. The Autobots and their cursed human pets are responsible for this pathetic excuse for living we know find ourselves in."
There was a growl of assent from the Decepticons gathered below. One or two of them even muttered darkly about just how they thought their enemies should pay for doing this to them.
"I hear you muttering down there," Cyclonus said, pointing to one of the Decepticons who had done so. The Decepticon looked frightened at being caught, but the look of fright changed to surprise when Cyclonus continued. "You are right. The Autobots deserve to pay. The humans deserve to pay. They both deserve to suffer. And they will, I can assure you."
"How?" A Decepticon asked. "There aren't very many of us. And the only time we even seemed to stand a chance against them was when Megatron was leading us."
"While we do still outnumber them, you are right about there being too few of us to meet the Autobots head on in order to overwhelm them like we used to do," Cyclonus agreed. "But that, my friends, is where the plan comes into play."
There was a moment of silence, and then the same Decepticon from before spoke up again. "But what is the plan?"
"Before I came to Earth, I had quite a lengthy journey through the stars. I learned things, made discoveries. There is someone out there, an extremely powerful being, that we can ally ourselves with and, by doing so, our victory over the Autobots and their human pets is assured. My discoveries allowed me to come up with this plan. It will be a challenge, but now that we have enough Energon, we will be able to do all parts of the plan successfully. One of the necessary parts will be ours soon enough. But the vital part, the part we need before we even think of gathering the others, is the one that may provide the most challenge." He paused and looked over the Decepticons.
There was an uneasy silence.
Finally, just as the silence was beginning to drag on a little too long, Salvo spoke up, turning to face Cyclonus. "What is this vital part of the plan that we need to perform?"
Cyclonus looked evenly at his Second-in-Command. "Without this part, the entire plan will fall apart. It is crucial that we perform it successfully." He looked over the assembled Decepticons once more. "But that will be revealed to you in time. You are dismissed."
There was a great deal of uneasy muttering as the Decepticons slowly dispersed, making it perfectly clear that they weren't satisfied with the scant information they had finally been given. But it was also obvious that the other Decepticons were too afraid of Cyclonus-and Scourge-to complain directly to the leader triad about it.
Once the rest of the Decepticons had left audio range and the three commanders were more or less alone, Salvo turned to face Cyclonus once more.
"That's not much to go by. It won't keep them under control much longer."
"I don't trust any of them enough to let them know the exact details at the moment," Cyclonus said calmly. "But you, I know for a fact to be loyal."
Salvo frowned. "Then what is it you plan for us to do?"
Cyclonus was quiet for a moment, watching the few Decepticons closest to the pinnacle arguing with each other. Even though they were out of audio range, he took no risks, keeping his voice low enough so that only Salvo and Scourge could hear him when he spoke again.
"We need to locate and secure Lord Megatron's remains."