Part 6: Discord
Conflict and skirmishes might not have been new to Solar Wind Planet, but all-out destructive war had never truly been present until the Transformer race graced the subterraneous tunnels which housed the Tektronian civilization. Death from such violence was relatively new to the Tektronians, and so it was this guilt that nearly cost Strike his spark. He was kneeling down to closely examine one of nearly a thousand similar red stone statues of the Phoenix in order to try to tell if it might be the Cyber Planet Key the Autobots sought. The stone looked like it had been molded rather than carved, which he theorized might be a sign that it was older than the others.
Strike detected the fast moving feet of the Shrike on the stone floor well before they emerged into the chamber he currently knelt in. He was well aware, that should they find him tampering with the statue, relations with the Tektronians might break down altogether. He carefully put the statue back down exactly where it had been before he disturbed it when he was fairly certain that the object was not the Cyber Planet Key. He did not notice over the noise of the approaching Shrike footsteps the slight buzz which entered the chamber and lit upon the cavern wall just a few feet above his head. Strike turned to face the Shrikes that entered the chamber.
The Decepticon Sting reveled in the knowledge that the Omnicon was entirely at his mercy. Sting’s fellow Decepticons would have to treat him with more respect if he killed the Omnicon leader. He would make Strike’s head into a badge of courage others would immediately give him respect for. He aimed his stinger missile carefully at Strike’s head and waited for the Omnicon to look up. Sting was so intent on his target that he had ignored the Shrike until they threatened his victim.
“Strike, for your crimes against the Tektronian people you have been sentenced to execution,” the lead Shrike bellowed angrily while the other Shrike filed into the chamber to surround Strike. “We’re your execution squad,” the Shrike added before the group began to advance on the Omnicon.
Sting’s pride would not allow that he give the kill to the Tektronian mercenaries. No, they could not have his prize. He transformed into robot mode, changed size and startled everyone in the chamber. Sting was never the brightest of the Decepticon forces captured and imprisoned on Solar Wind Planet, in fact quite the opposite. His right foot came down directly upon the red stone Phoenix statue, which shattered into tiny fragments like glass. “You go find your own kill, this one is mine,” Sting bellowed angrily toward the Shrike. He was now pointing his weapon toward them.
The Shrike were already in a frenzied state of anger toward all Transformers, this sacrilege was something they would not take lightly. They turned their full attention toward Sting since he was now a greater threat than Strike. There was an exchange of challenging grunts before the Shrike struck. Sting let loose one of his missiles into the nearest Shrike and the loud explosion knocked Strike back against the opposite chamber wall.
Strike’s audio receptors were not working correctly and the events that were now passing before his optics seemed like they were being recorded in slow motion. He felt pain in his left side and noticed a shard of obsidian black type rock had pierced his armor. He carefully pulled it out after he was able to quench the sickening feeling that arose when he realized it had been a piece of a Shrike only moments before. If he had been human, he thought, he probably would have emptied his stomach on the floor. Strike tried to ensure his self-repair systems were kicked into full operation before he turned his attention to the battle around him. The surviving Shrike were ignoring him for the moment, they were trying to figure out how to attack Sting without being killed by the missile launcher. Strike took the opportunity and worked through his pain to transform into his drill tank mode. One of the Shrike noticed this and let out a warning to the others, but Sting used the opportunity to blow another of the Tektronians to pieces. Strike used the confusion to drill through the stone wall of the chamber with such heat that the stone melted to seal up the tunnel behind him.
Strike heard the angry comments uttered by the Shrike and more explosions caused by Sting’s weapon. Strike emerged into a smaller branch tunnel which would lead back to the main colony. He kept rolling along in his drill tank mode until he found the other Autobots. He was leaking Energon from the small wound still and he painfully transformed back to robot mode. “Something is seriously wrong sir! The Shrike just tried to execute me. I think we may need to evacuate the caves,” Strike reported. He showed the group his wound. Fixiana quickly came over to begin to administer the care she could provide while she ordered Shieldcore to fetch some Energon.
Pierrimus looked sadly upon the injured Omnicon before he shook his head. “No, we cannot leave the Tektronians to the will of the Decepticons. They would kill all of them just to seize a twisted sense of revenge.” Pierrimus looked toward the others, “You have your orders, get to them. We must avoid or incapacitate any hostile Tektronians. At the same time we need to locate the Cyber Planet Key and stop the Decepticons. It may be a tough order, but we’re the only ones that can do it. Rhettro and ‘Sliver returned from their search for Relay recently. They were able to follow his exhaust trail to the fifth planet in this solar system before they lost it. The good news is they did not find any debris, but that does not mean he was not taken elsewhere to be destroyed by our enemies. We have to assume that his message never was sent and we are on our own here,” Pierrimus explained.
Sounds of footsteps came from one of the tunnels nearby and all the Autobots within the chamber pulled their weapons to be ready should it be the Decepticons. “No, you are not entirely on your own,” Saphire stated when she rushed into to the chamber with several of her Shrikes following closely behind. She saw that Strike was injured and rushed over to him, “I am sorry.” She then gave him a hug, which drew disapproving glances from both Tektronian and Autobot alike. Fixiana seemed the most upset because she was still in the middle of her work. “Is he going to be alright,” Saphire asked with concern.
Fixiana nodded, “Yes, if you can peel yourself off him so I can continue my work.”
Saphire quickly drew away and let Strike get back to Fixiana’s ministrations. “I’m glad. The deep-dweller Shrike have turned against my rule and have decided that all Transformers are our enemies,” she explained. Many more Tektronians had begun to file into the chamber and their faces showed a range of emotion at the sight of their Matriarch embracing the Omnicon. Some were outright shocked while others had already guessed that there was something going on between the two of them. Saphire ignored them, the rules had been broken and now it would be up to all of them to decide what the future should be. For now, she would do as she thought and felt was right.
“Yes, they tried to kill me. If it had not been for the Decepticon Sting’s interference I probably would not have made it out of there in one piece,” Strike began to chuckle. When asked what was so funny he replied, “They were both so willing to fight over whose victim I’d become that had they worked together I’d be rejoining the All-Spark about now.” He then glanced over to Pierrimus, “By the way, the statue I was examining was destroyed by Sting. I doubt it could have been if it had been the Cyber Planet Key.” He politely tried to get a bit more distance between himself and Saphire since they were in public view. “Ouch, that hurt,” Strike commented toward Fixiana.
“Well, if you’d quit moving about I might be able to get this patched up,” Fixiana stated firmly. There seemed to be a bit of jealousy in the tone and it caused Saphire to give Strike a questioning glance. If Strike could have blushed, he would have probably been a few shades rouge at the moment.
“Good to have you and your Shrikes at our side. I assume the rest will either help or protect the other Tektronians as best they can while we continue our mission? I expect another attack from the Decepticons as soon as they are able. If Primus and the Phoenix smile upon us, we may be fortunate and your rouge Shrikes will delay the Decepticons long enough for us to fortify a defensive position,” Pierrimus explained. Everyone in the room murmured their agreement to this plan. “Excellent, let’s get to work,” Pierrimus ordered and for the first time since he arrived on Solar Wind Planet he felt like he could lead them.
Feonax sat quietly in a darkened tunnel listening to the rhythm of the air currents that passed throughout the underground maze which the Tektronians called home. She tried to get a feeling for her new enemy. It was a difficult task while her underlings were so impatient to get on with the slaughter ahead. Anger, boredom and frustration were quick to rise in them should they be forced to sit still for any prolonged time. Perhaps their long imprisonment here on Solar Wind Planet had shortened their patience even further. Feonax had once been just like them in what she would consider her youth. It had taken many years to change enough to understand the value of control of both mind and body. It was too easy for her to sympathize with how her underlings’ drive to destroy and kill masked their unwillingness to face their own fears or to question their own actions.
Feonax’s time on Jungle Planet had reminded her of what it was like to do honorable battle. What good is being able to destroy anyone who opposes you just because they are weak? Scourge was perhaps one of her favorite teachers in that time. He had led his people to order through a rule of the strongest, and yet he seemed unfulfilled and unhappy for a very long time because he had conquered all that dared to oppose him. He longed for new challenges, but none arose until the Decepticons and Autobots came to his world. She had been one of the Decepticons, but she was no longer enamored with Megatron as their leader. She looked to Scourge and hoped that perhaps this would be the one to replace the insane Decepticon ruler.
Feonax’s wild side was still too much in control, even back then. She let it guide her actions, believing that if one thought too much on a thing that the course of action would never be completed. She fell right into a trap that she now knew she should have seen coming. It was too easy, that night when she was stalking an injured Grotesque through the dense jungle forest. The sky was slightly overcast with the moonlight peeking through between slits in the cloud cover. There were sounds of owls and wolves that occasionally broke over the chirps of the night insects and the wind rustled through the foliage. She was easily able to separate out the scent of leaking Energon over the stench of decaying plant debris which filled the air. She could have flown through the sky where it would have been safer, but she wanted to get close and feel his fear before she ripped Grotesque’s Energon pump out with her sharp metal teeth.
So intent was she on her prey she ignored some of the first signs that she might be falling for a trap. She should have been able to smell Leobreaker’s presence, should have been able to sense Snarl’s intention, she should have known better. Jungle Planet was widely known as one of the most untamed worlds in the universe and there are plenty of natural obstacles that can render an unwary Transformer inoperable. She saw Groutesque stumble over a tree root and one of his legs was stuck. She decided to emerge from the brush to his left and dart across for the kill. At the last moment she decided that this was too easy and instead torched the root so he could at least face his death with honor. It was only then that she noticed that she was sinking into the ground. Leaves had been carefully arranged over a quicksand pit. She began to flap her wings to try to get free and that’s when she noticed the two new Autobots step out from behind their hiding places amongst the trees. Snarl triggered some device and an Energon net fell over her. She tried to flame them all, but the net began to drain her energy. She fought on until she became unconscious. When she next woke she was sitting in her prison cell here on Solar Wind Planet.
Her current situation required some amount of contemplation so that she would not allow herself to be goaded into any similar trap possibly set by the Autobots. The fact that Pierrimus had been able to defeat Silencia was a testament to his skill. Perhaps here she would find her most formidable foe, or just another notch in her victim list. Either way, she needed more information. She felt more than heard the presence of her newly appointed second, “Yes?”
“Mistress Feonax, I bear bad news. The Tektronians have destroyed Sting. There was evidence of a battle and I believe he valiantly fought them to his end as there was evidence of several Shrike bodies. What do you wish for us to do now?” Jetison asked. He stood with a nearly regal stance that oozed his confidence while still giving a sense of neutrality.
“We find these Tektronians that slaughtered Sting and see if we can adjust their beliefs. We need to know more about the Autobots that arrived before our escape. Then we use the Shrike to further disorient the Autobots before we make them pay. Decepticons, it is time for action,” Feonax ordered. They quickly began to move about. She almost felt sorry for the Shrike, they were too ignorant to understand that they had little chance against the Decepticon might. She let a small smile cross her face, soon she would know what she needed. Pierrimus would fall at her feet and beg to be given the release of his spark.