Transformers: Legacy, Chapter 11
Thundercracker stared blankly out into the morning light. He knew Oracle wouldn't meet him there; she was still in medbay, inactive from all the damage she had sustained. Skywarp also remained inactive, in another berth not far from hers, both of them strapped in, and attached to so many different cables that they almost seem swathed in them, like a body wrapped in bandages. He had visited the med bay, before he left for his usual meeting place and even still couldn't decide quite which of them he had gone to see. Instead, when he arrived, he looked over their still, silent forms and took in the slow, steady beep and strobe of the many indicator lights attached to their bodies, before he would simply turn and walk out.
He barely realized where his feet were taking him before he was feeling the steady wind of their passage brushing against his form. The slow, unrelenting passage of the Nemesis carried the Decepticons steadily over a range of ancient, massive mountains, beside whom even the Nemesis seemed young and insignificant, old and venerable as it was.
Despite their weakened state Megatron had wasted no time, sending out the active trines to continue the hunt for more fragments of the AllSpark. As usual, their leader was quiet and brooding, but seemed to possess a certain kind of smug arrogance, meanwhile Genesis, who was normally solid and unflagging, almost seemed distracted. Even he himself felt the passage of time more loosely, no longer entirely aware of one moment to the next. Genesis felt more and more often, his thoughts were straying to the two currently entombed within a labyrinth of medical equipment. Despite repeated diagnostics, he could find nothing to substantiate his concerns; No technical errors, unusual processes, viruses or glitches or even hardware damage to explain his inability to focus. He simply could not keep himself from clearing his recent cache, and attempting, once more, to discern a solution to the situation, and all the difficulties it entailed. Oracle.
With his Trine-mate currently out of commission, and his sparring partner similarly indisposed, Thundercracker found he had little to occupy himself with. Starscream, usually strident and angry, was oddly quiet and brooding and refused to leave the trine's berth-area; he seemed to be waiting for something, but whatever it was he would give no indication, save relentless pacing.
The ship had been quiet, empty of most of its' usual activity, with the other trines on long-ranged patrols, scouting far outward across the continent in search of more fragments.
Near twilight, the first Trine reported back with no useful results from their foray far to the North. Two of the other Trines and the Communication Officer, Soundwave returned within a few hours with the same results. The last scouting trine however had not yet reappeared, even on the Nemesis' long scans. As night fully fell, the deck became more and more crowded, as the various Seekers found one excuse or another to linger outside, waiting impatiently for the return of the last Trine.
Close to midnight, a distant, shadowy return appeared on the Nemesis' search radar, only making the barest of contact with the warship's powerful sensors. As it drew closer, third Trine leapt outward to greet the returning signature, their engines leaving hazy trails of condensation in the freezing night air, which was so thin they had to push their engines just to maintain normal speed. 'Target two hundred miles, and closing. Contact firming up,' Thundercracker heard, almost like a murmur, into his audios. The wind hissed and howled, nearly drowning out the measured words. "… One contact. He's alone, confirm, alone. Damage probable. Bring her about?" "Permission granted. Coming about." The reply was sharp, immediate, as the Nemesis slowly swung to bear, moving toward the limping flight of Seekers. Distantly, he could hear the echoes of their attempts to signal one another, the Trine cycling through means of contact, to try and get an early response from the weakened Seeker.
Just as the excitement began to dull however, there was a flash of muffled light, and the sounds of confusion. Distantly, the blue flickers of engines began to dance and spin like witch lights in the darkness, almost indiscernible in the snow and haze. Communications failed to reach them as the winds picked up until, abruptly, they swept past the peak of a mountain and into a lengthy rift between them. The rift valley channelled the wind, picking up to such a great force that the Nemesis actually tilted over sharply, the nose rising upward, toward the snow-filled sky, exposing its' vulnerable underside toward the confusing blur of lights ahead.
Megatron's voice rang sharply, through their comms and audios, as the Seekers fought for balance on the deck, "We are under attack! Seekers, take flight. Defend the Nemesis against attackers!" The ship shuddered violently, as a series of crimson flashes, muted in the snow-filled darkness lit up the great rift. Metal groaned, and a giant shiver passed through the ship as a secondary explosion rumbled within the hull. With a massive heave, the Nemesis pushed back downward, turning by accident into the wind. The warship was slowed nearly to a halt, as it struck the full force of the wind nose-on. Seekers scrambled to launch, fighting the massive winds which howled and sucked at the exposed deck. Snow was turning into a wet slurry against the warm metal, before freezing over in a matter of moments to a thick, uneven sheen of ice, with snow banks arising like elementals in a matter of moments, freezing and thawing as plasma-hot engines clawed for control. Another volley of missiles struck the Nemesis, which heaved and sighed, the hull ringing with impacts, one after another, each blending into the last, like an endless rolling drum. One of Third Trine launched upward, attempting to charge toward the fray, when a sudden and sharp gust of wind caught him and slammed him backwards along the deck, his right wing was torn into shreds by the impact, before the seeker simply dropped over the edge. Third Trine's Lead gave a metallic shriek, and leapt after him, with the other wingmate launching forward in close pursuit. A wall of white swept over the deck, and all three were suddenly and simply gone, vanished below the heaving edge of the Nemesis' deck. Six massive lances of violet light, star-bright in the darkness, leapt outward in paired bursts, scathing the bulk of the mountain beside them, briefly etching shadows, hard and brittle as obsidian, into the great rift beneath. Seekers whirled and leapt in a storm of confused movement, fighting desperately for whatever pieces of shelter stood against the violent winds. The broken form of a bot was briefly visible against the side of a mountain, its identity unknown; the only betraying sign of its presence was the regularity of his shape, against the broken light-and-shadow darkness of the mountainside.
Thundercracker abruptly realized he'd barely moved, save to grab onto some cover nearby and hold himself against the winds. Finally, the Nemesis turned completely around, its' back to the wind and the deck became eerily still, despite the rumbling of continuing impacts. In a matter of seconds, the brief stillness was filled with movement, Vehicons rushed out of the blast-proof doors which sheltered the Nemesis' internal bays, and leapt out into the darkness to push a counterattack against their ambushers in the darkness. This activity, however, was not to go unnoticed; the Nemesis' bulk carved a black absence in the overwhelming white of the rushing winds, out of which came four indistinct forms; the boxy bulk of an Autobot's armored body, caked here and there with irregular lumps of snow and ice. Finally fastening on a distinct, approachable target, Thundercracker leapt forward and shoulder-slammed one of the Autobots backwards, who slid on a slick of ice and vanished once more over the side. He was fast as lightning, crunching a vicious punch into another Autobot on uncertain footing. The force of the punch caused the 'Bot to lose ground and knock into a third comrade, who simply absorbed the impact and pushed the second back onto his feet, before lunging forwards. The Autobot made a sweep of his oddly short right arm and an instant later, a massive, ice-sheathed shape loomed out of the darkness in an arc, catching Thundercracker violently across his left arm. The seeker's arm crumpled like a tin can being stomped on, sending sparks flying from his crushed arm. He staggered backwards and watched, in confusion as the icy shape reeled back into the darkness, joining to the oddly short right arm of the Autobot before him, the mech stepped into the floodlights to reveal his distinctive green color. Bulkhead charged forward, and gave another sweep of his heavy arm, but now alert Thundercracker dodged the swing, the heavy ball crunching into an ice-bank behind him, before reeling back in. Warily, the seeker stepped back, out of the full light of the floodlights and into the shadowy half-darkness, near a light that had been completely frozen over. Just as expected, the wrecking ball swept back around and he neatly avoided it, watching the ball crunch into the floodlight, shutting it completely off. He surged his jets, in a taunting gesture, and Bulkhead lurched forward, striking low across the deck, the chain rattling out to full extension. Thundercracker leapt aside over the chain, and let the ball rip a second floodlight from the deck, casting another portion of it into shadow.
Words, with the sound of taunts muffled by the darkness and wind, reached out to Thundercracker, trying to coax him from the protection of the darkness. The Decepticon moved aside and stepped in front of a floodlight, before he fired a stream of energy bolts into Bulkhead, who roared, more in anger than pain and then lunged for another strike, this time top-down. Thundercracker threw himself backward, assisted by a pulse of his jets and watched another light go out, casting more of the vast deck into darkness. Taking advantage of this, Thundercracker slipped from one area of shadow to another, moving to the opposite side of the deck where he braced himself, and waited, calling up a topographical map of the area. When the moment came, the deck heaved, and Thundercracker threw himself forward, shifting up into jet form and sweeping across the deck in a rush of violent wind and force, slamming into Bulkhead at an angle, and throwing them both backward off the deck. Bulkhead slammed into the mountainside, a black figure cloaked in a torrent of white as Thundercracker launched upward, calling back on information he'd absently learned from Oracle months before.
"I've always been curious," she said, speaking of the mountains, "what'd happen if someone really blew through there. I've never seen a big avalanche like that, but I think it'd be interesting."
"What's an avalanche?" He had asked her, puzzled. Oracle laughed, and he canted his head.
"It's where a ton of snow and rock fall off, because of a loud noise, and snowball into a huge... Er," she stopped, laughing again. "Well. Many, many, many tons, really, and... Combine with other snow and rock, I suppose, into one huge wall of ice. It's violent, and destructive, but... Pretty, I guess."
He had shaken his head, and shaken off her words. They hadn't seemed relevant, at the time.
Now, however, he thought back on that as he sucked a massive amount of air in through his intakes, storing them up inside and pre-mixing with fuel like a furnace of cold welling up inside of him, as the mountain's peak resolved in front of him. With a feeling like a cough erupting through his chest, the rich fuel-and-oxygen mix blasted into his engines, exploding with a sound like a crack of thunder, a sonic wall of force strong enough to actually shake him and briefly still the gale-force winds around him.
The stillness however, only reigned for an instant before the mountain echoed the massive crack, but from a much deeper throat than Thundercracker's engines, the shockwave from the sound making a physical impact that felt like a bomb had exploded beside him.
Far beneath, a group of Autobots with their heavy weapons pointed upwards, poured a steady hail of fire into the Nemesis' underside, guns and missiles tearing into weakened metal and gouts of flame erupted like hungry tongues where they hit, lapping out at the snow and wind, leaving massive, billowing waves of fog and condensation. Bulkhead, far up the mountainside above them yelled loudly, through every open channel, though the fury of the winds masked his words. "Run! Autobots, retreat now! Get off the mountain! It's coming do-" His words and his body though were swept away by the descent of a solid, white-blue wall of destruction. It cascaded down the mountainside like a titan of fury, clawing out with ice-white fingers and more destructive power than all the guns the Nemesis boasted. The Autobots, warned too late, were swept beneath the tide of ice and rock, vanishing beneath a perfectly smooth, white blanket. The Nemesis itself, finally free of their waves of fire, pushed its' way between the peaks of two mountains, and pulled out of the overwhelming winds of the ambush site, and back into the relative calm in the lee of the gigantic mountain. The remaining Autobots, disheartened by the sudden, rampant destruction fled, using the mountains as cover for their retreat, while the Nemesis, too wounded to continue the fight, rapidly disengaged, speeding Eastwards toward the ocean. The Seekers, damaged and ragged, limped back to the ship; Both sides left their fallen in the snow of that great rift, the avalanche was so great, it had entirely wiped out any trace of the battle that had taken place.
Thundercracker looked down at the valley floor, as the last of the avalanche's force finally dissipated, running up against a mountainside and leaving a smooth plain where only moments before there had been a ragged and uneven valley. He landed unsteadily, as ice had frozen over the tips of his wings and part of his leg, as he surveyed the remaining Decepticons standing on the deck. Fourth Trine was gone entirely; of Third, only one remained; Having dove over last, the third seeker saw the jagged series of cliffs, lit by the explosions stitching along the bottom of the Nemesis and managed to get himself far enough out of the way not to be torn asunder. Of his Trinemates, there was no sign. Starscream, frenzied, and battle-scarred, bore the marks of his duel with the two remaining Autobots who had tried to come aboard. One of them, lifeless and limp, lay nearby, his coloration indistinct in the near-total darkness of the foredeck.
Megatron approached finally, as the Nemesis came clear of the mountain range entirely, his displeasure expressed plainly on his features. He seemed about to speak, his posture aloof and condescending by his bearing alone; whatever he was about to say however, was interrupted by the almost dainty crunch of boots landing on a snowdrift. Soundwave perched there, angular and jagged, as if he had simply been placed there, in perfect balance, so still and silent, that he seemed a statue, carved out of ice and darkness. He canted his head slightly and lifted a palm, projecting a graphic of a region almost directly South, where a slowly pulsing beacon marked the probable location of a new fragment of the Spark. Megatron seemed to swallow his rage and gestured imperiously. "Take new course, toward the targeted location. Vehicons!" He bellowed, turning to face the half-dozen Vehicons who remained on deck, each with various levels of damage from the battle. "You will have your chance to prove yourselves to me. There are many openings within our ranks, for those with the ferocity to take them. We will arrive near the objective location in eighteen hours. Make what repairs you can, and prepare yourselves." He then simply turned his back and strode into the ship with Soundwave, silent as a ghost, behind him.
Thundercracker almost stumbled, as he realized his body was in worse shape than he had expected. "You heard him," Starscream hissed at them, "Move! Fix your little dents and scratches, sparklings; there's work to be done."