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Join Goodreads. Katherine Leigh. Sasscer Hill. Mirta Ines Trupp. Starr Zizza. Merri Melde Goodreads Author. Dark outside, and I hear some high pitched squealing of an animal in distress. I leap out the door, afraid it's one of the ninja kittens in trouble, but no, it's not a cat Combine Editions. Merri Melde Average rating: 4. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Upcoming Events. No scheduled events. Add an event. Merri is Currently Reading. Merri Melde is currently reading. May 11, AM. Merri Melde is now friends with Roslyn Vanek.

Merri Melde wants to read. I have experienced some of the same things in my life with horses and could not help but laugh out loud as well as tear up while reading of Merri's adventures. What a life she has had. Before reading this book I could onl I actually entered the giveaway so I could give this book to my sister who owns, shows, and trains horses. She recommends it to anyone who loves horses. Merri Melde rated a book really liked it. Merri Melde rated a book it was amazing. Spoiler alert: he not only survived the ordeal but was just fine! Jun 01, PM. Memoirs and Biographies We Love — members — last activity Mar 30, AM A place to share memoirs, biographies, autobiographies and maybe even fiction-based-in-reality that you have enjoyed!

It is divided by genres, and includes folders for writing resources, book websit This group is dedicated to connecting readers with Goodreads authors. Feel free to invite some friends to join our Round Table community! This is a place for Authors, Bloggers, Publishers, Reviewers, Book Tours, Giveaways, and Interviews to make connections, find followers, ask for help with Blog Tours, Interviews, or just need some help with your blog.

Around the World in 80 Books — members — last activity 37 minutes ago Reading takes you places. Where in the world will your next book take you? If you love world literature, translated works, travel writing, or explorin Reading takes you places. If you love world literature, translated works, travel writing, or exploring the world through books, you have come to the right place! The separate group was established in Anyone can join and participate in the challenges or readings at any time.

Challenge participation is not a requirement of joining. Anyone who loves reading books from around the world is welcome here. The main purpose of this group is to travel the world through books, experiencing new authors and cultures along the way. Want to read about the world? We have close to 50, books cataloged by setting and more are added each week. Eventually the two histories would re-unite, but eventually would take a very long time. This is their story. Two vessels fighting didn't even make up a significant event in most conflicts.

Wars have been fought since time immemorial. Civil wars, international wars, interplanetary wars, wars of conquest, wars of genocide, wars of retribution, wars of religion, Sontarens against Rutans, Klingons against Romulans, Centaurii against Narn, the Daleks against most everyone else at some point, Terrans against These two vessels seemed hardly likely to make that much of an impact on any history of the universe. But this skirmish would butterfly its way down the timelines, and its true effect wouldn't be felt for millions of years The two great vessels tumbled and twisted through each other in hyperspace.

There seemed to be no pattern, no meaning to the exchange, until you looked closer. The two vessels were by no means similar. One was smaller, faster, sleeker, more agile, blatantly a vessel of war. The other was larger and lumbering, less able to fend off its foe. Whatever its purpose, a warship it was not. That is not to say it was unarmed.

The two ships traded hammer blows. Energy beams flashed between the two. It was impossible to tell at any given moment who was firing at who. Whatever the nature of the battle, the big ship appeared to be losing. The hull was damaged, with compartments open to space, with flares of light coming from within. A flash of light and something critical on the larger ship gave.

An explosion flared briefly in the available atmosphere before chilling in the cold of vacuum. For suddenly it was vacuum as the larger ship lost main engine power and jerked abruptly into real space. The two vessels were separated as the smaller vessel continued on for several light seconds before dropping into realspace to re-orient and return to battle If we don't find shelter soon we may have to deal with a containment breach in the reactor vessel. I need to take the reactor offline to effect repairs," cried an amplified voice through the noise of vessel.

At least it would have been a cry if an organic race had produced it. But it was not organic. There was no inflection brought about by yelling that that an organic vocal chord has to, to achieve amplification. This voice was digital in origin. All it need was an alteration in resistance and the voice was louder. The digital voice belonged to a digital personality, the mechanical personality to a mechanical being.

Unusually for a mechanical species, it stood on two legs, had two arms and a head. It was unusual for a mechanical race to evolve a humanoid form, but humanoid or even android was perhaps being over generous. Sharp angles stuck out everywhere as if it looked like the parts of a great metal, ceramic and fibre jigsaw put together badly.

It was a slightly discordant effect and made the being look like it was trying to be something it wasn't. And that wasn't too far from the truth. His name was Wheeljack. He was the engineer for this exploration voyage. And he was far from happy with the situation he was being expected to deal with. The vessel, called The Ark, was in pain. The damage to the drive section of the ship had meant that propulsion through hyperspace was no longer possible and an emergency hyperspace egress had been hurriedly carved in the fabric of reality to allow the Ark to jump to 'realspace'.

It was a process that was more than merely a strain on components. A voice came back to Wheeljack. It didn't belong to any of the other beings in the room, for the voice was transmitted not just through the aural range, but also on higher frequencies that could pass through solid objects, like the decks and walls of the vessel. Wheeljack knew the speaker almost as well as he knew himself. We are close to a system right? From hope springs many things, among them re-assurance, and Wheeljack wanted that reassurance. On the bridge of the Ark things looked less frantic.

Everyone was seated and working over its allotted displays. Five metres standing, which he wasn't, in white and black compared to Wheeljacks white, green and red, Prowl was an altogether more aesthetic proposition. Prowl was shuffling through navigational charts searching for where they had emerged. Even with the assistance of Teletran One, the Ark's onboard mainframe, it was a tough assignment. There are far too many stars to make finding your location after an emergency hyperspace egress easy. Teletran found a match and shunted the display to Prowl who forwarded it to the larger figure seated in the command chair in the middle of the bridge.

Optimus Prime stood over seven meters tall, a mountain of red and blue metal. It is the only option. It is not a named world, a feral world. He had a question of his own, "We heading somewhere wild? Jetfire there is our course. We have power when you want it.

As Jetfire fired the main engines another voice appeared. A burst of energy had been picked up before the sensors were taken offline for the jump. A lot of the more sensitive sensors could easily be burned out by the mass of energy waves from a hyperspace entry. Those at weapons consoles started, but relaxed again as the distinctive but indescribable effect of hyperspace came from the viewscreen.

Jazz replayed the last moments of data and evaluated. Prowl, Bluestreak we need an ambush. Shall I toss a door magnet and rip open half the decks to save time? Have not had a chance, or the need to fire one. The Decepticons will follow our track, so if we microjump we won't be where they expect us to be.

We will salvo a broad spread, bring down their shields with the missiles fired closest abeam and damage them as those fired from further missile ports catch up. Optimus Prime stood back and let his strategist plan it out. Bluestreak and the other warriors were ready just as the unintelligible something of hyperspace snapped to the black to normal space. Only instead of a smooth transition, it juddered, as if reality didn't want to appear, as Jetfire performed the microjump.

It left a mass of energy residue in space and put them several kilometres from the position their jump would have suggested. As Jetfire reoriented the Ark at Prowls direction it became obvious they were more than merely in system. A blue and white world wheeled about through the viewports. Against the backstop of the planets gravity well, adding a wall to the trap.

If the Decepticons had miscalculated their guess at the jump their safety systems would snap them unexpectedly back into reality. It was a good plan, a hopeful plan. Tension built as the minutes passed. The Decepticons were overdue.

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The immaculate yellow figure of Sunstreaker impatiently tapped a finger against a console. The red figure of his brother Sideswipe glared at Sunstreaker momentarily and the tapping stopped. The direction was fed instantly into the missile seekers. Bluestreak didn't hesitate. In so far as any ruthless warrior could be happy with its crew, Megatron was happy with its crew. It was a scratch crew. Megatron had heard favourable words about Starscream and his command of an aerial unit and assigned his Seekers to the Nemesis crew.

However recent operations had thinned Starscream's Seekers operational strength and another unit had been nominated in their place. Starscream had fought to be reinstated, fought hard and the Seekers had been re-instated but only three of them would make the flight with Starscream promising more would show up until mere seconds before departure.

Skywarp and Thundercracker stood at gunnery stations, sole representatives of Starscream's squadron. Anticipating a shortfall of warriors Megatron had brought his force multiplier of choice, Soundwave. The communicator and his cadre of Cassetticons would be useful.

He still needed an experienced second in command that he trusted and neither Starscream nor Soundwave filled that role. For an experienced second, Megatron had chosen Shockwave. A small crew, but an effective one, doubts about Starscream aside. The damaged Autobot vessel had fled into Hyperspace the moment they appeared, but they departed down a path towards the only hospitable system within light minutes although records on the Decepticon gunship were sketchier than what the Ark would no doubt have on call.

The gunship leapt after the Autobots. The task awaited completion. Megatron's circuits burned with the desire of vengeance. Revenge for every defeat this Autobot crew had visited upon him. Today we finally rid the fleet of the scourge of Optimus Prime and his pitiful band. He wanted this ship and its crew decommissioned. As did every other warrior Megatron had assembled on the Gunship. It was a small crew, compared to the Autobots, but they were all warriors. The Autobot crew would be padded out with all manner of specialists. They would be able to hold guns, but shoot them?

Megatron doubted their effectiveness. Soundwave had a countdown feed into everyone's displays.

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To Megatron's right, Starscream was almost twitching in anticipation. He had cried with delight during the battle. Megatron's thought processes only briefly skirted a post-operation review. Starscream was starting to prove a disappointing choice as operations commander. They were coming up on Reality screamed into the viewports before it was supposed to. Megatron very briefly speculated and saw they had jumped to close to the world the Autobots had leapt towards. What if The long to mid range sensors had come up already and were feeding the data on the world below them, the short-range sensors were brought on selectively as it was determined what could be safely brought online.

What they reported, they reported too late. The ship shook with repeated impacts for just under a minute. Recommend; withdraw from battle. Megatron examined the tactical display and didn't like what he saw at all. Gunship Nemesis had its back to the gravity well of the now far from distant planet. The Autobot vessel had positioned itself that the Decepticons would have to fight their way past them. Starscream get out there and distract their gunners. As a tall purple grey figure characterised by a single glowing eye in its face altered the gunboats vector, three figures disengaged from gunnery stations and headed for the bridge deck airlock.

Megatron turned back to the figure in blue at the communication and sensor station. Where once a humanoid figure floated now drifted a free-space attack fighter. Behind Starscream moving into a vaguely triangular formation two identical shapes in blue and black duplicated the move. Thundercracker and Skywarp stood ready to assist their raid commander. A coward by inclination, Starscream was nonetheless a warrior born of generations of fighting Decepticons.

He knew small unit aerial tactics. Skywarp floated up on Starscream's left, a triangle of black metal, almost indistinguishable against the vista of space. Thundercracker, in a looser position moved up on the right. The trio accelerated, setting off main engines and flew from behind Nemesis and circled to streak in at the nose of the Autobot vessel. From this angle Starscream could force the forward Autobot guns to train away from the gunboat to meet the secondary threat while still minimising the number of guns available to fire at them.

At one kilometre the three loosed missiles towards the Ark, giving the gunners plenty of opportunity to focus too much of their available attention on the missiles. With lasers cannons twinkling, the three fighters strafed the length of the Ark. A discharge of energy somewhere behind Starscream indicated at least one of the missiles got through the defensive screen and struck the hull. Once past the aft of the Ark and away from the Ark's engines Starscream broke away from the battle. Megatron turned away from trajectories and drift calculations to inspect the assault group.

By his side was the tall solidly blue figure of Soundwave, gathered around him his progeny, the humanoid figures in black and blue of Rumble and Frenzy, the two avians in red and gold of Laserbeak and Buzzsaw and the feline figure of Ravage. Once a successful boarding had been forged Starscream and his companions could join them with Shockwave staying with the Gunboat. A small but tight group, more than enough to cope with the dilettante pretend soldiers aboard the Ark.

Manoeuvres to the gunboat are complete; you may launch your attack at your convenience. The force shield over the lock would protect the warriors from accidental bombardment but once the field was broached there would be long seconds of exposure to space before arriving at the Autobot hatch.

At that moment a blur of grey flashed across the shrinking gap between the two vessels. Starscream left a bomblet to drift by momentum into the centre of the Ark's lock. Megatron was briefly annoyed. It was a high-risk tactic, the bomblet could wreck the lock to make impassable as opposed to blowing it open, but the bomblet was low powered and satisfying blew a hole open in the lock.

Not big enough for Megatron or Soundwave to pass through, but Soundwaves team were not so bulky. Buzzsaw and Laserbeak leapt for the gap with Ravage, Rumble and Frenzy following. Laserbeak hung back and the golden figure of Buzzsaw was the first to enter the Ark. Prowl didn't like their chances. When the gunboat drew alongside, being boarded was always the plan. The Ark though was too big and too undermanned to make defending against boarders a realistic option. Prowl had set up a few barricades at the entry ports, but if the Decepticons decided to burn their way through the hull they would have to scramble.

The Decepticons though, had taken the easy option. As the lock door blew inwards Prowl put the other fortified positions on standby to retreat to his position if the Decepticons focused on only one entry. It was a risky judgment. Judging by the one brief camera footage of the strike team not all of the Decepticon strike team was committed to the entry. For the moment the fighters continued to strafe the Ark, and someone was still manning the gunboats main guns.

One final check of his team, Overdrive and Cliffjumper both clutched the guns with fierce determination. Windcharger had a kind of world-weary look about him, like he really shouldn't be there at all. Sunstreaker fidgeted, trying to find the best position to crouch that would minimise the possibility of a laser graze ruining his paintwork.

Mirage just looked plain bored. What did it take to get Mirage interested in anything? At that moment twinkles of hot light burst in the hole. With covering fire from outside, a very small Decepticon drifted in the hole. It didn't have a proper transformer shape. Prowl the tactician immediately recognised the aerial gun platform of either Buzzsaw or Laserbeak, probably Buzzsaw. This was both good and bad.

Good because the real threat was not yet ready and this would give Prowl additional time to reinforce this barricade as he called on Jazz and Wheeljacks teams to abandon their barricades and proceed to Prowls. But it was bad as it indicated Soundwave was here, along with his army of miniature Decepticons. Soundwave was a force multiplier; he could give a raiding party far more power than another single Decepticon could. The last observation was confirmed as Buzzsaw's covering fire emerged into the large docking bay as Laserbeak.

Ravage followed through but did not contribute to the battle. The feline figure immediately slunk away towards the back of the bay, looking for a way to get under Prowl's guard. Prowl directed his team to try and pin down the two avian Decepticons while he personally awaited developments. They weren't long in coming as the small hole shook to a set of mighty hammer blows.

The blows quickly repeated, and continued. That meant Rumble was working on the remains of the hatch. Prowl directed Sunstreaker, Windcharger and Cliffjumper to continue harrying the aviatrixes, and Overdrive to keep tabs on Ravage while he and Mirage set up sniping angles on the door. Mirage squinted down the sights of his rifle beside Prowl behind the makeshift barricades that had been hurriedly welded to the deck. Prowl glanced at Mirage briefly before sighting his own rifle towards the hole. There was a cry and somebody bumped Prowl. He thought it was Overdrive when Prowl caught a glimpse of red through the hole out into space.

Rumble's pounding of the door remnants changed with a small explosive charge. The small Decepticon clutched a jagged shoulder joint and was pushed away from smashing aside the doors, a job which thanks to Rumbles effort could now be fixed with a shove. Soundwave reached out and snagged the wounded Decepticon before he tumbled away into space. Telemetry from Laserbeak and Buzzsaw demonstrated the folly of shouldering slowly past broken metal into the bay.

The Autobots had fortified too well. Megatron needed another option. I need you to shut down an Autobot barricade. Megatron shouldered his way to the hatch and thrust his huge Fusion Cannon inside the hole.

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It was a madness that could be endured or ignored. Skywarp had found that shutting his eyes down did not always guarantee that they would come back on again once the 'jump' was completed. Teleportation jumping causes massive disruptions, against which Skywarp's essential systems had been hardened. So Skywarp took the risk to his sanity and lived through the brief moments of visual madness. Skywarp found the space he wanted to be and tore open a rent in reality and slipped back into an alcove in a darkly lit corridor. Several figures clanked slowly past him, moving toward the barricade.

Time dilation always affected Skywarp while teleporting. Slowly orienting he found himself in shadowed recessed hatchway behind the Autobot barricade. Reality snapped back into normal speed. The whole process had taken less than a second. He recognised Prowl and Mirage immediately at the front of the barricade, and Jazz and Bluestreak amongst two of the new comers.

Overdrive lay on the floor behind the barricade clutching his shoulder. There was danger that Overdrive might see him.


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The barricade was now fully manned and Prowl was re-deploying some of the new arrivals to other vantage points around the end of the cargo bay. This was a vital choke point. Once the Decepticons could break out of the airlock and antechamber they could break out into the ship at random. There were now seven Autobots in front of him. Skywarp prioritised his targets and shifted his extended arms towards Prowl and Bluestreak and sighted a cannon along each arm. Prowl moved to give Mirage a better firing angle when Mirage cried out and collapsed across the barricade, his back smoking.

Someone fell against his back and there was a thump from the right suggesting another Autobot had done the same thing. Prowl started to turn, belatedly noticing the chatter of heavy calibre projectile weapons, trying to shove the deadweight of what turned out to be Jazz, off himself, and taking in the collapsed Bluestreak as Sunstreaker was firing back behind him when fire exploded across the yellow warriors form. Jazz was trying vainly to raise his wounded gun arm from where Prowl had shoved him.

Prowl recognised Skywarp immediately but the Decepticon was bringing a cannon back to centre on Prowl. The most likely was that the Decepticons had broken out of the antechamber. If they could break out of the hold, then the battle was likely lost. With Frenzy, the wounded Rumble and the two avians laying ranging fire at Autobot strongpoints across and around the various obstacles in the hold Soundwave strode confidently forward down the centre passageway, his own concussion blaster firing in one hand while in the other he held the massive particle beam cannon of Megatron in his transformed mode.

Megatron was independently traversing and firing, using Soundwave's arm as a steadying platform while Soundwave focused on his own weapon. This was the sight presented to Optimus Prime and Jetfire upon reaching the hold at Ironhide's upper level gallery. Prime took in the initial barricade, now overrun, with collapsed figures strewn around it including the dark figure of Skywarp.

Most of the fire from below was headed towards Ironhide's position. Some Autobots were down in the hold proper; Prime thought he could detect Hound using his hologram to spoof the Decepticon gunners. There was a loud explosion from across the hold as another gallery shattered from a missile fired at point blank range. Spotting that Decepticon before it stuck a weapon where you didn't want was no small feat. As Ironhide stepped back from his station at the ledge Prime struck his cannon down a vantage point and hit Soundwave in the torso with his first shot, smashing the large blue 'Con backwards to the floor.

Megatron immediately transformed and found cover. Prime laid down a volley of shots, supported by Jetfire and Camshaft. With the two vessels locked together the Gunship Nemesis' automated piloting assistance systems were fighting with the Ark's own systems. The two vessels were now in a barely controlled descent. Soon all aboard both vessels would recognise the imminent danger, but already it was too late to avoid.

Shockwave was torn by indecision. He had to inform Megatron to evacuate the ship. But evacuate to where? Megatron wasn't answering his messages. He sent the information as a data link and left the bridge for the airlock. Sideswipe will need a new arm for that little act of stupidity, and Huffer has serious internal wounds. I've done all I can for him but I need this battle to end. Ironhide sat groggily next to Camshaft. The veteran Autobot had been dazed after taking a hit from a missile intended for Optimus. Jetfire was gone, moved to another position near the roof of the bay.

He had to move after Thundercracker and Starscream had entered the hold in a barrage of fire, which had put Hound down before Optimus optics and Gears wasn't reporting in either. Sideswipe had emerged from his shattered balcony with his jetpack thrusting, crash tackling Thundercracker out of the air. The manoeuvre had cost Sideswipe dear, as Ratchet had suggested but it had taken another invader down. Goldbug had reported retreating from Sideswipes former balcony dragging a wounded Downshift with him. A small dark figure with red highlights appeared around the corner of a silo and Prime blasted him down before really checking the figures identity and hoped it wasn't Gears.

It was Rumble though who cried and went down. The whole vessel started shaking. The shaking continued well after the vibrational Decepticon went down and stayed down. A thought rammed home with the surging chill of impending doom. Are we de-orbiting? It looks like the Decepticon gunship is dragging us out of orbit," said a worried sounding Wheeljack. Help was needed. The situation was suddenly beyond petty squabbles.

Stepping from cover Optimus stood in full view from the observation gallery. He had seen a flash of red and had been bringing his cannon around. There was something in the tone of voice though, something that required a reply, if only some playful repartee. We will soon have you and your ship, then we will be able to help ourselves. Megatron saw the black and red figure of Rumble lying prone behind him. Megatron then belatedly noticed a data message from Shockwave. He remembered ignoring several messages from Shockwave, but now opened the data mail message from Shockwave.

The contents were alarming. Where are you? I will lose contact with you shortly as both vessels are now entering the planets atmosphere. Probability stated the two vessels would tumble and break-up. Survival chances for any Cybertronians on board were a grim, but wide variable. He would be as dependent on their survival as everyone on board. While Megatron deliberated it was already too late. The forward sections of Gunship Nemesis were already glowing fiercely from heat friction. The buffeting increased beyond the capacity of any of the Cybertronians to successfully maintain balance.

Speed had picked up and gee forces added to the difficulties. Aboard the Ark, Teletran One fought to keep the vessels from tumbling. One by one it could sense the consciousness of the Cybertronians aboard failing. Teletran noticed this in the periphery, what runtime the descent commanded, Teletran gave it. The Decepticon gunship already appeared damaged beyond the ability to fly again, but was still stubbornly attached.

As suddenly as it had started the violence was gone. The atmosphere had been penetrated successfully but any of the Ark's atmospheric capabilities were thoroughly compromised by Gunship Nemesis. The Gunship had to go for anyone to survive the catastrophic descent towards the surface. But no one aboard the Ark was capable of assisting Teletran. Following as best as he was able, Shockwave chased hard down into the planets atmosphere. He took the atmospheric entry considerably slower than the ships, but had started earlier, anticipating the wild descent.

Shockwave was still far behind the two vessels but was catching now. Shockwave could tell someone was trying, and failing to control the descent. It took several more minutes, but Shockwave arrived at the same decision as Teletran One. Closing until within accurate firing range, Shockwave folded in upon himself, transforming into a large cannon. Shockwave spent several long minutes watching the two vessels, trying to anticipate which way the vessels rocked, then fired.

Teletran registered the thick purple beam coming in.

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It was in no position to mount a defence and could do nought but analyse where it would hit. The beam struck in the middle of the etheric gantry-way that stubbornly connected the two vessels, penetrating and ripping what the forces of the descent had not. The damage was not complete, but the still constant buffeting completed it, and Gunship Nemesis tore away from the Ark. Teletran was finally able to control the descent.

Arresting it would be impossible. There was too much damage to the gravitational floaters. At range Teletran detected a Cybertronian pursuing the tumbling Gunship Nemesis. There might be time to save both vessels. Teletran now focused on the inevitable landing attempt, or rather, how to control the crash. The Ark's large wing area helped to steady the great ship, but it was still going to be rough. The Ark was headed towards the smaller of the two main continental landmasses, on what was plainly a very wet world.

There was some plain flat country before a mountain range that seemed be the spot the Ark had chosen to crash into. Teletran took the auto-repair systems off line and placed them in reset for the eventual crash with some additional programming parameters to prioritise on the survivors.

The ground rushed up to meet them as Teletran fought vainly to steer the Ark away from a Mountain, then gave up to get the craft as level as possible for impact. An emergency defence mechanism was activated, as per Ironhide's orders for the defence of any Autobots from the Decepticons, but whether the sleepers could operate after the impact was open to question. Teletran's last acts were to secure the fuel systems against impact, disconnecting them, start the fire retardant systems before the crash and activate the sleepers and set the scanners to provide them with localised templates.

The Ark had been designed with the possibility of entering an atmosphere, thus was considerably sturdier than a space-faring vessel needed to be. This construction saved the lives of those on board. The vessel plastered in still carrying a lot of speed, digging a deep furrow in the ground. The nose stayed up so the craft did not flip over. The ships defensive armour plating was destroyed but it saved the ship allowing it to come to rest against the base of a mountain more or less intact.

The fire retardant continued to spray until there was none left. After a good long pause some of the auto repair robots came to life and began to buzz around the survivors, assessing those in greatest need. The robots concentrated on those whose spark was in jeopardy, and that took up all of the robots available. With Teletran down, there was no guidance for the small robots, nor any attempt to collate the data or to discriminate between friend and foe A faint film of condensation covered some surfaces. Wind whistled about the room, coming in through a huge rent in one wall.

Outside, it was pitch black, with just a vague hint of movement. A couple of clouds were starting the get vague highlights of colour as the local star started to cross the horizon somewhere out of view. Lights flickered and danced across the consoles revealing and displaying all kinds of information; minutiae about craft and environment, air speed, atmospheric conditions, metallurgical data. But for the single yellow unblinking eye in an impassive face, nothing impressed.

It was the metallurgical data the tall mauve-grey Cyclops was after.

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Shockwave stood at the controls of Gunship Nemesis, or rather what used to be Gunship Nemesis, as another grid square was completed. Shockwave had now been searching for 36 local days, flying Nemesis high enough to conserve fuel in such a thick atmosphere, but low enough for the more delicate sensors to do their work. Shockwave had started searching the eastern coast on the continental landmass the Ark crashed on and gradually moved west.

It had been local days since the initial battle. Shockwave was now only spending an hour each day conscious as he tried to conserve energon in this wild pre-industrialised place. It had taken 64 days to repair Gunship Nemesis sufficiently to make it airworthy again and another two to travel across a great plain of water from the largest to the second largest continental land mass.

Airworthy was a generous description. Space worthy could never happen without the services of a vacuum-dock, something plainly not in evidence on this world. The once graceful lines of the ship were shattered. In the moments after losing contact with the Ark, Shockwave had caught Gunship Nemesis in time and fought his way through a fresh hole, no doubt his own work from his rash technique of separating the two craft, straight onto the bridge.

There were enough active systems remaining to bring Nemesis under control, barely metres from impact. Which was just as well, as Nemesis would not have been able to survive a crash. Shockwave made a barely controlled landing on the coast of the largest continental land mass. Nemesis was no longer space worthy that much had been obvious. That characteristic had not changed but over a period of weeks, but Shockwave had made the vessel airworthy. In the initial week since landfall, Shockwave had speculated endlessly about the fate of those aboard the Ark.

There had not been a single probe in all that time, or since. There was no beacon. There had been no transmissions. This world was electronically dead and Shockwave held it in contempt. Of most concern though was there had been no telemetry from any Spark that had been aboard the Ark. No sign of Starscream or his seekers screaming across the skies.

No transmissions from Soundwave. Nor were there any sign of Jetfire or Sideswipe, the two flight capable Autobots thought to be on board the Ark. There was absolutely no indication that anything else was alive on this planet, apart from the indigenous life forms, which were extremely primitive. The search began anew in another grid square. Gunship Nemesis wasn't equipped for a metallurgical survey, or for search and rescue. Basic sensors should theoretically be able to pinpoint a large amount of processed metal though.

Gunship Nemesis was now approaching a Mountain range, which had some fresh volcanic activity. The quantities of molten rock would make a mess of sensor readings. Sure enough, large chunks of metal started appearing, but it was a very high density. Could it be? Shockwave reset the sensors to search out for the sparks of Megatron and the others, only to find the signal jammed. Under the circumstances, that was good enough.

Against a background of a hash of static and increasingly failing sensors something was detected flying at altitude with far too much precision for the local reptilian life. Weeks before, local templates had been grafted to the sleepers but they had not been awakened. Activating the five sleepers would require resources that had earlier been prioritised towards tending the casualties.

With the casualties stabilised and a threat now current, the command was given and the sleepers slowly began to awaken. With the process almost finished it failed, suddenly and completely. The sleepers would now have to awaken themselves, and the possibility of side effects was high. But the Ark knew no more, having used everything it had awakening the sleepers for defence it was now spent.

Temperatures dropped rapidly and the interior became not unlike a tomb. In an upper level, things were stirring A kilometre from the metallic anomaly, Shockwave parked Gunship Nemesis and continued in slowly and carefully on foot. If the Ark could detect him, it had undoubtedly seen Nemesis.

Shockwave advanced carefully, observing the ground for any prepared traps. Something solid in front. Who am I? Push away door. Where am I? Is this Ark? Why no light? Where friends? Is Slag there? I am Slag. You are Swoop. We go see Optimus. Ask why awake in place with no light. This wall does not smash like first wall. A landslide had covered most of its form.

Two sublight thrust vents were exposed. Some jutting wreckage had formed a tunnel beside the hull. The rock material looked stable on first glance. A hatchway was partially exposed, one sufficiently large that Shockwave could enter comfortably. The arched tunnel would also be a perfect ambush spot. Shockwave's sensors probed the gap, found nothing; then Shockwave raised his right arm, the arm with the cannon built into it replacing the more common hand.

At its mildest setting Shockwave fired, the sound of the broad-spectrum bolt echoing around the confined space. Shockwave reached the access hatch and studied the mechanism. Clearly there was no power. A pair of small leads emerged from Shockwave's gun arm and snaked towards a socket beside the hatchway.

The smallest amount of power necessary pulsed along one lead and the hatch retracted. The door stayed open as Shockwave moved through the first door, and then repeated the process on the other side of the airlock. There was no light beyond the door. Shockwave shifted around the light wave frequencies, trying to find the best method of sight before moving forward again, studying the last telemetry feed received from his fellows during the attack to get a layout of the Ark. Bodies had been strewn everywhere, almost all of them unfamiliar to Grimlock.

More of them should have been familiar but for some reason Grimlock couldn't tell why. Perhaps that was something wrong in itself, but Grimlock struggled to care. He was standing over the prone form of Optimus Prime who lay below what used to be one of the holds inspection galleries. Grimlock's fellows were moving around the hold looking for anyone familiar. Swoop moved in beside Grimlock and pointed towards a figure sticking out of the remains of the inspection gallery.

Ratchet make us better. Go bring Ratchet here. It was different from what it was supposed to be. After a couple of minutes Swoop looked over the edge down at Grimlock. Swoop think Ratchet not well. If there was one name that stuck in Grimlock's head more than Optimus Prime's it was Megatron. Finding Megatron here on a dead Autobot ship was a shock, even to Grimlock's dulled mind. Grimlock thumped his way over to where Snarl was, followed by Swoop, gliding over from his elevated position. Shockwave moved very slowly now. He could hear voices deep within the Ark.

They were strange voices. The inflections were almost familiar but there was something wrong with the voices. His battle files would not provide identification. Shockwave started shunting power to his laser gun arm, and the focus began to glow with a vaguely purple light. He arrived at the door to the hold where he knew the battle had taken place. The first body he came across was Skywarp's. He lay prone having fallen forward from an alcove. Before him lay an impressive collection of Autobots at a barricade.


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Skywarp had done outstandingly well; Prowl and Jazz were here, two of Optimus Primes most senior Lieutenants, along with Bluestreak and Sunstreaker two noted capable warriors. Shockwave knelt beside Skywarp and examined him briefly. He extended a cable from his left arm and plugged it into a socket on Skywarp's side and called up a diagnostic. Power levels were so low as to be in hibernation. Shockwave briefly surmised everyone here must be in a similar state. Or worse. Shockwave re-routed some of Skywarp's priorities towards self-repair.

With so much damage it would take a while without outside assistance. A long while. But it was all Shockwave could do for now. He ignored the Autobots and looked deeper into the hold. Finding Megatron must have priority for the moment. Shockwave gently pushed the body of Mirage aside and climbed over the barricade as stealthily as possible.

Two hundred metres away two glinting figures were arguing over something. Shockwave's two head mounted receivers twitched, trying to pick up the conversation. Incredulously Shockwave realised they were arguing over their identity! Selecting a hard phased plasma laser, Shockwave trained his gun arm outwards in case he was seen and moved across the aisle quietly. Grimlock looked down at the prone figure in front of Snarl. There was no mistaking Megatron. There was a niggling memory somewhere about Megatron. Something Ironhide has said. Who was Ironhide? Did it matter?

Grimlock shook his troubled head. Remembering was so hard. There was one thing he could do positively. Grimlock thumbed a button in the hilt of his Energo Sword. As far as could be told, Megatron was alive but unaware. Do Autobots great service," said Grimlock. Snarl said nothing but took a step back while Swoop hissed with glee, as the distant argument became the only conversation.

Grimlock's sword hummed into life, spreading cold white light around the immediate area, highlighting Megatron's grey torso and cranial armour. Shockwave stepped around a corner past the prostrate form of Rumble to see a figure he finally recognised as Grimlock holding a powered sword with the clear intention of decapitating Megatron. Shockwave trained his gun arm out at Grimlock and fired as the huge Autobot had the sword raised overhead. The purple-white beam smashed Grimlock to one side but instantly attracted the attention of the other two he didn't immediately recognise.

One looked like it would try to fly, stretching a pair of wings as it started to transform, instantly making him Shockwave's next target for blasting. The Autobot was caught mid-transformation and crashed to the deck hard. The third was firing now and Shockwave fled. He heard crashing somewhere off to his right and amplified voices. Presumably the argument was on hold. Shockwave focussed on the hatchway leading from the hold while in the background he called up files on Grimlock and the four brutish cronies that associated with him.

The second downed warrior was Swoop with Snarl behind him while Slag and Sludge would be moving to cut him off. None of the three still standing were towering intelligences. There was something in the snatches of conversation he had heard though that scaled the assessment down further. Shockwave turned a corner and leapt over the barricade with Skywarp and his attendant victims, firing boot thrusters and activating his gravity repulsers and shot down the access corridor like a bullet. He had a brief glimpse of Slag and Sludge arriving from a connecting corridor, too slow to intercept.

Shockwave crashed himself into the far wall and bounced into the hatchway and was on his way outside and clear. Several hours later Grimlock gathered his forces. Not a single Autobot could be raised from whatever form of slumber they were in. Teletran was down and Grimlock did not have the knowledge, or didn't think he had, to repair anything.

The live Decepticon had been a rude shock, but Soundwave, Grimlock has misidentified his assailant, had been unable to seriously harm the heavily armoured Grimlock. Swoop was another matter. One wing had been damaged, seriously compromising his ability to fly. The others were unharmed, but mad at letting the Decepticon escape, almost as mad as Grimlock was for being injured by one.

Where was Grimlock? Wounded Decepticon ship also leak energon. We can follow with this," Grimlock held up a deactivated scanner. Any Autobot see him? One by one his fellows confirmed. The beginnings of a nasty suspicion formed, but only the beginnings. Reasoning was not coming easily to Grimlock. Snarl took the scanner and was turning it over. We must find some. We find Autobot that will talk to us, or make Teletran talk. Shockwave needed a plan. He also needed options, and at least some vague perspective over what was going to happen to him long-term.

While considering options Shockwave completed repairs to long-range transmitter. It was not an easy task. Communicating via faster than light techniques was almost as difficult as navigating faster than light. It needed two open hyperspace egress conduits, and there was precious little out here capable of generating a conduit remotely. Shockwave had previously found an Autobot probe in orbit that indicated it could make an egress to allow it to report back to its mothership.

Its limited power supply though meant only a few conduits could be created. Maybe three at the most. Once Shockwave had a working hypercomm transmitter he overwhelmed the probes command structure to allow Decepticon signals access. The visage on screen was familiar. Report," replied the small but exaggerated head of Ratbat. Require medical evacuation to Cybertron. We'll send a vessel at once. Now, details.

Reading Log

How many wounded? This presents opportunities," said an increasingly thoughtful Ratbat.