Title: The Weapon Of Our Time
Location: The Citadel, Iacon
Date: 20 April 2015
NPCs: Tarantulas, Crosscut, Bulkhead, Senators
Summary: Zeta Prime isn't the hero that Iacon needs. He's the hero that Iacon deserves.
"Gentlemechs, Cybertron is poised on the brink. As if the energon crisis wasn't enough, Megatron and his Decepticons have spread terror and dissent across six polities."
Zeta stands before the New Senate on the floor of the council chambers, a holographic map of the planet near him, larger than him, with certain cities highlighted in red. "It's unfortunate that my predecessor, Sentinel, couldn't contain this upstart rebellion -- but I, Zeta Prime, will break this Megatron -- and restore order to this world. At any cost."
In a war between Decepticons and Autobots, of freedom fighters who just won't take it anymore and those who hold out hope of lawful change, in a war of ideals and weapons and energon spilled on the ground- there is one thing that any winning side MUST have. Information. This is where Soundwave comes in. Plans are useless and massive firepower meaningless if an army doesn't know what its enemy is doing or where best to strike. The carrier and his very own army of deployers are skilled at just that: obtaining the information that can win a battle- or a war.
Soundwave is here, but many might not recognize the outlier anymore. He's had an upgrade in order to faciliate spywork. Good thing, too- he was partly responsible for the slaughter of the last Senate. This Senate wouldn't take too kindly to knowing he is here among them again. As it is, right now no one suspects a thing. There is simply a boxy blue recording device up on the Senate floor, capturing video of the goings-on below. Part and parcel of standard operating procedure in the Senate. Nothing to see here, move along.
Having been assigned to only one duty, Orion Pax escorts in Swindle. Once he is handed over to the chamber guard, the mech's duty is done for the moment and he leaves the Citadel antechambers and waits outside to be informed that he will be escorting Swindle back to the Autobase. As the large mech waits outside...
Inside, a Senator from Iacon, Convictus, wrings his hands and looks out over the Senate floor towards the empty chairs of Nyon and Stanix and calls out, "And where is the represenatives from the known terror states?!" he yells, "Kaon has openly gone to war with us, but Nyon and now Stanix cower from facing the Senate while the Decepticons incorporate them from within! What are you going to do to protect us from the enemy rigt outside of our gates, Zeta Prime?"
"Zeta's officers can't even -find- the enemy," another Senator grouses. "The local populace hides their terror cells."
"Then we'll root them out," Zeta Prime firmly, blithely states. "The populace is either with us... "... or against us."
Senator Crosscut rises from his chair. "You were chosen as prime to serve the people of Cybertron - not oppress them! It's not leadership we speak of here but dominance!"
Zeta's helm-shadowed optics fall on Crosscut. "Come now Senator. The time for naivete has passed. The common Cybertronian despises all of you and your effete affluence." He gestures to the map of Cybertron. "Especially here: Nyon. The Decepticons recruit freely from its population, and at long last we have prepared a weapon that can eradicate them once and for all."
Zeta's right arm raises and the plates along its armored surface shift and reconfigure, gaining mass as it transforms into a massive, brutal looking cannon. "The Vamparc Ribbon. Designed long again by our old friend, Jhiaxus, is primary drawback is that it requires a tremendous among of power."
"And where are we going to find this power?" Guildleader Bulkhead asks.
"It lies within us." He gestures with his left hand for Swindle to be brought forward and magnetically locked into a chair on the floor opposite the holographic map.
Swindle has no strength to struggle as he's brought forth and strapped into the chair. Inwardly, though, he's trembling. He knows what that weapon is, and what it can do. All he can think of now is how this is ALL STARSCREAM'S FAULT.
Innocentia, a femme made mostly of crystal from Harmonex speaks out, her voice rhythmic and harmonous, "We were all supposed to work together, but even now we are fracturing further, how will this power from within supposed to help us all? It is not the Matrix you speak of, but a weapon." She gasps audibly at the sight of the cannon. "You cannot assure peace at the end of a gun barrel, Zeta Prime, it is not the way to harmony!" her tone sounds distraught and desolate.
Convictus pounds his fist on the table. "We all agreed that the Decepticons are a threat, Innocentia! Let us here the Prime out, and then we can judge for ourselves the worth of his plans." As Swindle is brought out, he looks towards the mech and frowns. "I know that mech - he is a privateer, no more than black market trash, what will we learn from him? How much his wretched hide is worth?" This causes a few senators to chuckle nervously.
Soundwave records the proceedings, records Swindle's arrival... and does nothing. For one, what can he do? He is completely outnumbered here. Any attack, any reveal of his true identity would accomplish nothing and only get the both of them injured or killed. Two, his duty is to record what the Autobots have planned and the power of this weapon. That footage is of vital importance- more vital than any one Decepticon, including Swindle. Including himself. This is the information to inform not only Megatron but perhaps the people of Cybertron as well. And so, the spy simply continues to...spy.
At the entrance of the council chambers, an elderly looking Arachnicon in a red Functionary's robe walks in, tapping his walking stick LOUDLY against the floor as he moves. This catches Zeta's attention, and Tarantulas cackles merrily. "I'm sorry - I'm not interrupting, am I?"
"High Functionary Tarantulas. What an honor." Zeta's words are gushing with raw sarcasm. The old spider seems quite pleased to be needling him.
"Oh it is, isn't it? Quite an honor for even a Prime, but please, don't let me interrupt. I enjoy it when you monologue. You're following so well in your predecessor's footsteps."
Zeta Prime's optics narrow. "You will watch your tone with me, Functionary. While the Council requires that your presence is tolerated by Senators, I am under no such restraint."
Tarnatulus takes a space in a special boxed seat near the floor. "I am only here to observe, Prime, on behalf of the Council. They are keenly interested in how you intend to restore order, and in these times, reliable information is of the highest value."
"Agreed. That is why I've chosen to demonstrate the Vamparc's effectiveness... on our new Decepticon informant." He strides over to Swindle, leaning over him. "You've given me useless intel on your fellow Decepticons. Now are you prepared to serve the Autobot cause?"
"Hey, hey, wait," Swindle says, "Can't we come to some sort of mutual compromise here?"
Innocentia catches her breath at the sight of the Functionary arriving. It's like seeing a ghost - or a fossil in this case. The femme, one of the youngest on the staff, sets her hands firmly against her podium to looking down towards where Zeta is leaning over Swindle. "Maybe he didn't really know anything.." she offers, a hint of fear in her voice, the type that usually comes when someone is on the verge of being executed - or at least being forced to watch an execution. "Shouldn't he have a trial or something first, beforehand?" she worries.
Convictus frowns mightily. "Enough grandstanding, Prime. You want to show off your new toy, do it already, we have other things to attend to than this worthless piece of scrap, like how to stop Nyon from falling fully into Con hands!"
Interesting. Soundwave takes note as Tarantulas enters the chamber. Now there are three Decepticons or Decepticon sympathizers present- or are there? Taratulas ostentatiously works in synch with the Decepticons, but the truth seems to be that he works for himself first and foremost. The outlier sends a mental sweep of the Arachnicon's mind, but he already knows that it is nearly futile to truly understand what goes on there. When he's tried in the past... well, whatever it was he encountered he's not sure he wanted to go further.
The news on the Vamparc Ribbon- and what Zeta intends to do to Swindle- is duly recorded. This only fuels the fire of Soundwave's righteous conviction against the evils of the Senate and the Autobots.
Soundwave also sends a scan towards Zeta Prime himself. He expects that that mind may be far easier to catch hold of, to grasp, but what he finds there may well be just as slimy as anything Tarantulas might produce. Still- these are suppositions: actual experience is far more telling.
"I'm afraid that time has passed," Zeta Prime assures Swindle. He brings up the cannon and the end of it glows a balefully bloody red. "As I explained, the vamparc units require a great deal of power. Luckily, they draw that power from the nearest available power source."
The end of the cannon erupts in arcs of light-red lightning that shoot into Swindle's body. The pain is excrutiating as tiny holes burn into the Combaticon's body and his very life's fuel streams out, gathered into the energon net, siphoned into the cannon, leaving him half drained.
"You see? The weapon is primed, but it's energy is somewhat volatile..." Zeta points the weapon to the ceiling.
The ceiling of the council chamber explodes from the massive beam of fiery light, sending fragments of smoking debris raining down in tiny bits to the floor, and into the council sealts. "... The ribbon must be released or the unit could overload!"
Swindle utters a howl as the Vamparc Ribbon is unleashed and stabbing pain shoots through his circuits. His cry subsides as the energy drain takes hold, and he starts slumping as much as the maglocked table allows.
"Draining combatants in this way, in the addition to the ribbon's devastating effects, creates the perfect circuit of death. Senators, THIS is the weapon of our time," Zeta Prime announces.
"Unfortunately, the larger industrial units - like those we've recently outfitted on the Omega Destructors - require far GREATER reserves of power."
Convictus dives for cover underneath his bench as Zeta unleashes the rather impressive display of firepower, "Primus' interface." he hisses between ragged exhausts. His optics are bright with fear. Not only of the weapon, but of the mech that possesses it as well.
Leaping from her seat, Innocentia runs from the floor, trying to nimbly get around all of the debris that is raining down on the Senate floor. "Please, Prime, no more! No Cybertronian deserves this fate!" she cries out as she tries to get between Swindle and Zeta before he can fire the horrific weapon again. "This is /wrong/!" she cries out plaintively to her fellow Senators, many of them in shock or cowering in fear, "...we cannot do this! This is not the world you promised, Zeta! Please, I beg of you, enough!"
This mission carried a lot of risk. Coming back here, in the petro-lion's den, right here in the spark of the enemy's stronghold was not something Soundwave does lightly. But when word got to his audio sensors of this weapon, he knew the risk was worth the potential reward. And indeed, as the weapon is demonstarted with terrible precision before him- he knows it was indeed worth the possible costs to be here. The outlier continues his recordings. This is exactly the footage he came here for.
The scans, meanwhile, pick up Zeta Prime's frustation- his anger- and his renewed zealousness. He is becoming an increased liability not only to the Decepticons but to all the people of Cybertron... not that you needed Soundwave's special gifts to know that. Not after seeing *that* just now.
"Omega Des-- What -- What of the energon shortage?!" Crosscut demands. "Where will be find the extra energy?! You have to be joking Zeta, some of the civilian sectors are barely operational!"
"I thought I might borrow it from our erstwhile citizens," Zeta casually remarks.
Tarantulas speaks up. "I'm also curious as to how you'll convince the populace to volunteer their precious energon," he questions.
"Volunteer?" Zeta Prime mocks. "I fear you misunderstand me. I prpose to simply reach out and take it -- after we've burned their wretched dissident enclaves to the ground."
"Unthinkable!" Bulkhead protests. "The populace would turn on us all the moment you tried it!"
"Ah, but it's already begun. The sector-wide siphoning began six cycles ago -- right under the dissidents' noses, and the test area we chose... was Nyon."
Swindle feels the drain halt, and luckily he's only half-tanked. He manages to wriggle his wrist a bit so that a key to undo the maglocks shakes loose and he can unlock himself, quietly and without being noticed. He just hopes he has enough juice to escape somehow...
This just gets better (worse). Soundwave scans Swindle as best he can, still detecting neural patterns. The Combaticon is still alive. Good. Now that he's obtained footage of the weapon and what it can do, the carrier begins to debate his next steps- whatever they may be.
"This is an outrage!" Crosscut shouts. "A Prime's authority cannot overstep--"
"This Council has lost the will to do what must be done!" Zeta Prime thunders ominously. "That is why I was chosen to be Prime... because I am the monster that the people need."
"You're no different than Megatron!" Crosscut snaps.
Tarantulas leans over Crosscut's shoulder. "Easy Senator. What is the loss of a few dissident sectors compared to defeating those vile Decepticons?"
Zeta's optics scan to Tarantulas and he marches right over to the Functionary's seat, completely ignorant of Swindle's efforts to free himself. All eyes are on the white and gold tyrant. "I have to admit I'm surprised you agree, Tarantulas," he questions warily.
"Oh please, my dear Zeta. You and I both know that you have done far worse."
"What was that?" Zeta Prime hisses threateningly at the old spider.
Tarantulas doesn't bat one of his nine optics. He simply points to Swindle. "I think you're missing something."
The carrier notes Swindle's efforts to free himself. That will not go unnoticed for long. No. If Soundwave is going to do something- the time would be now. He sends some signals to the deployers he carries and runs some scans. Zeta and his weapon of insane destruction are good for at least one thing right now: a distraction. While everyone's attention is focused there (and how could it not be?) it gives the carrier an opportunity for escape- and a daring rescue. All are equal- but some are more equal than others, and Soundwave aims to get Swindle safely out of here along with himself and his precious data. Time to get them all home. Time to show them what being a Decepticon is all about.
He waits one moment, for a particular guard to move off to the side up near the entranceway. Zeta and Tarantulas appear to be noticing Swindle's scheme, and time is running out. It happens quickly. Where the recording device was seconds ago, there is that classic transforming sound- and now Soundwave stands among the new Senate, among the same governing body whose bodies he snuffed out of this mortal coil 20,000 years ago. His monotone, oddly harmonic voice rings out. "Infiltration compromised. Recalculated operation: Rescue and Escape!"
Even as he speaks, he is leaping down towards Swindle, ejecting Laserbeak from his chest. The condor flies to the Combaticon in order to help free him of any further bonds before Soundwave even arrives. Then the larger mech reaches down and *scoops the Combaticon up*! He starts running up towards that entrance- they have to get out quickly.
Swindle is relieved as Soundwave scoops him up and Laserbeak helps him wriggle out of his remaining bonds. He's too exhausted to do much more than cough out a whispered, "thanks".
Zeta Prime reacts instantly and brings the Vamparc Ribbon to bear on Soundwave!
"It's overheated!" Zeta snarls. "Stop him you fools! Seal all access points and contain him within the citadel! Raise the ion shields, they're headed for the terrace!"
Soundwave replies to Swindle with a quick "You are welcome," but his mind by neccessity is focused on escape. Large feet pound the walkway towards that exit, the sounds of empty *clicks* echoing behind him telling him he will remain on one piece for now. A guard rushes in but the bulky Decepticon knocks him aside with his shoulder. He must get out- there's no time to dally. A bigger mech appears, and shifting Swindle a bit, Soundwave frees an arm so that he can send a punch and knock that mech. He's getting out and NO ONE's going to stop him!
"NO! STOP HIM! STOP HIM!" Zeta Prime howls. It's too late: the Decepticons have made a clean getaway.
Swindle is a limp ragdoll in Soundwave's grasp as the getaway is made. If he had the strength he'd be blowing the Senate raspberries with his glossa.
The cannonfire from inside the antechamber is what first grabs Pax's attention. By the time that he makes his way through the security checkpoint and to the Senate chambers, it is already too late. The field commander blinks in confusion, surprise showing on his face. Judging by the general chaos and what he sees fleeing, he can only assume one thing..
The Decepticons broke into the Senate chambers and grabbed Swindle. "Zeta?!" he asks his friend in confusion as he grabs his rifle. "Is everyone alright here? What happened?" he quickly asks, though he looks like he's ready to bolt after the fleeing Decepticons.
"If the secrets that Decepticon just stole wind up in the public's hands... " Zeta glares out of the terrace entrance. "Orion, you're my best officer.
Retreieve that data! Let nothing stand in your way!"
"Understood!" Pax offers quickly as he leaps over the barrier seperating the floor from the stands. When one of the Senators tries to stop him, the large mech ignores the cry for now as he has a much larger issue to deal with. Protoforming into his hauler mode for a moment, he races up the stairs and out onto the terrace in a desperate attempt to catch up to Soundwave and Swindle.