519/The Beginning of the End

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The Beginning of the End
Date of Scene: 21 April 2018
Location: Toraxxis Plains
Synopsis: The world is on fire, and Phantom had everything to do with it.
Cast of Characters: Quantum, Blast Off, Phantom, Prowl, Sky Lynx, Hot Rod, Hammerstrike, Eclipse


Quantum has posed:
    The gears of the great machine have been churning for the past several megacycles without much trouble, with fresh geothermal energy from another empty world creating new fuel supply lines throughout the planet. Simanzi Fields, a section of the Toraxxis Plains near where the old refinery used to be, is now occupied by the new facility at the heart of it all. All that poison...it had to go somewhere to be disposed of. Specifically, burned into is less toxic combustion byproducts. Hence, perhaps the most distinctive structure at the central control hub is a massive vat full of burning psychosonorum, the heat being funneled upward into the atomsphere where it hopefully won't set anything on fire. It has come to be known colloquially as The Crucible.

    It seems almost surreal, Autobots and Decepticons working alongside each other for the good of the planet...the facility is bustling with activity as usual. In the main surveillance room, a little blip comes up on some of the equipment, catching the attention of one of the portal technicians. "Huh. Well's that funny, it looks like another portal just opened over there, but it isn't ours." Frowning pensively, he peers studies the readings further. "Hey Phantom, you know more than anyone else about these things right?" he calls out. "Looks like this new hole doesn't even lead here...but where else would it go?"

Phantom has posed:
Phantom actually happens to be just outside the main surveillance room, his demeanor quiet and brooding - which is definitely unusual for him, but he won't speak about what's on his mind. But as soon as the technician asks him about the new hole, he immediately rushes to the technician's side, pushing him away from the readings so that he can study it closer. His brow ridges furrow in sudden concern and desperation, and the technician may notice he's starting to look rather frantic.

Oddly enough, a moment later, the new hole disappears from the readings.

However, before the technician can ask Phantom any further questions, the seeker transforms and rushes from the premises...

Quantum has posed:
    "Um...hey." The mech just gets shoved aside as Phantom stares at the readings. "You gonna tell me what this is or what? I mean--" Then the readings disappear. "Oh, it's gone. Well that was--hey!" he gets cut off as the seeker just rushes off again. "Where are you going?!" he shouts. "What was--Primus, never mind." he mutters, returning to his work. "I mean, he was always kind of eccentric, right?" he asides to no one in particular.

Phantom has posed:
And so the foreign seeker proceeded to go AWOL for the next several cycles. All attempts to contact him would end in a bounce back error message saying that the receiver was in an area without signal.

But eventually, he does return - and when he does, he heads straight for main control tower for the entire network. And he doesn't even bother to go into the complex in a traditional sense, instead he just phases through a wall and makes a beeline for the the central control room.

Quantum has posed:
    Some people probably tried to contact him...but honestly, with his track record, it wasn't all that abnormal for him to get himself lost for a while. And they've got plenty to attend to keeping optics on the network. They figure, he'll come back on his own eventually. And if not, then there wasn't much anyone could do about it.

    By the time Phantom returns, the minimal staff cycles have already begun. Just a few of the critial people are around, like security, while the rest are off on break. And as fate would have it, Quantum is the one duty in the control room when Phantom suddenly arrives.

    Turning, he arches a brow at his friend, not expecting him to show up like this. "Phantom...some of us were wondering where you'd gotten off to. The slag is going on?" he asks.

Phantom has posed:
Phantom doesn't respond. And Quantum will definitely notice there's something wrong with Phantom. For one, psychosonorum is pouring out of his ventilation shafts. There are severe burn marks on his armor, and his optics are glazed over, and his expression is full of fear and desperation. Pushing past Quantum, he pulls the main power source for the control room, which cuts surveillance. The room goes dark, but the back-up generators kick in, and keep the portal machinery functions running.

There's a brief moment of hesitation before he suddenly darts over to the main dashboard, and starts attempting to disengage all of the functions for the portal network.

Quantum has posed:
    "No...Phantom! What are you doing?!" Quantum tries to grab his arm and pull him away. "You're not yourself, where have you been?" he demands. Great, the surveillance...that'll make the Bots suspicious for sure. "The frag! Are you trying to get us all killed?!" As the seeker starts pulling hapazardly at things, red warnings begin to flash all over various HUDs, but the system does not stop. With the amount of raw power that is being drawn in every nanoklik, it hs become self-sustaining. "Phantom! Stop it!" he cries even more desperately. "You're gonna kill us all!"

Phantom has posed:
But Phantom just loses his density, and Quantum won't be able to grab his arm. He then moves away, trying to avoid the other Decepticon flier. He's muttering in his native language, and Quantum may not be able to understand him.

The blaring alarms seem to make him panic even more, however, he doesn't stop. He just continues to try to shut down the entire operation, though his guesses probably only land about 50/50.

Quantum has posed:
    As it turns out, Phantom has managed to shut -some- things down...like the coolant system in the Crucible vent tower's outer structure. Of course, this only causes more alarms to go off as the sturcture starts to superheat and lose its integrity.

    To make matters worse, they are no longer alone. As expected, the Autobots have sent a unit to investigate the disturbance. An army of ten suddenly appears from the elevator. "Halt!" the one in the front commands, as all of them train their weapons on the two Decepticons. "Stand down, and stop whatever it is you're doing -immediately-, or we -will- shoot."

    "Ugh, I told you!" Quantum hisses before turning to face them, his hands up placatingly. "Look, he's not himself, I don't know what happened, but I can talk him down, I--"
    But the squadron leader interrupts him. "Isn't that what you've been trying to do? We don't have -time- for this. Both of you stand down -now-, I'm only going to ask once!"

Phantom has posed:
Phantom glares at the Autobots when they arrive and takes out his weapon, though he doesn't shoot. At least not yet. He continues trying to shut down the network, but without much success. He rushes over to an LED screen, and starts trying to initiate a system wide shut down, though that only takes out the rest of the lights in the complex...

Quantum has posed:
    When Phantom takes out his weapon, that's all the reason they need to open fire. But then the lights go out...and that's when the wall of the vent tower on the far side of the room from the elevator springs a leak, sending superheated gases spewing into a room that has just erupted with gunfire...

    The results are instant and devastating, and there are no more controls to manipulate--just fire. Fire everywhere. It's a good thing the odd seeker has a defense mechanism against such extreme physical trauma, but the same can't be said of everyone else here. The wall that separated the control room from the steep drop into the boiling Crucible is now gone, and with the lights out only the amber glow of the massive combustion reaction below serves to illuminate the area. Several of those who had come to investigate were instantly sent over to the edge to their deaths, while the rest are either too severely injured to get back up or still in the process of struggling to their feet. And it would seem...Quantum is in the latter category, his body teetering dangerously over the edge.

Phantom has posed:
The explosion knocks Phantom backwards initial, causing him heavy trauma to his chassis. Losing consciousness for a brief moment causes his body to lose density and phase through several walls before he's knocked into a shelf full of lab equipment. When he awakens, there's liquid leaking from his body leaking all over the floor and fire everywhere.

Dazed and confused, he looks around, and suddenly realizes that Quantum must be in danger. This brings him to his senses, somewhat.

He scrambles to his feet and stumbles towards the only source of light in the now burning complex.

"Quantum! W-we must leave the planet... we.. else we will all die..." Then he notices his friend teetering close to the edge of the crucible which is now giant, blazing furnace. "G-Get up.." He tries to boost his friend up so that he can stand.

Quantum has posed:
    That colossal furnace seems to be burning at an increasing intensity now...with every passing second, the air in here seems to be get hotter and hotter, and the light gets brighter and brighter as the molten gases start to rise. With nothing to keep it in check, the system is accelerating out of control, pulling geothermal energy out of the other dimension at an ever-quickening pace. A power surge causes the lights to to flare suddenly, then go out again as fixtures burst and shatter.

    Quantum stares weakly up at Phantom, but resists his friend's attempts to get him on his feet. "Yeah...and all thanks to you." he murmurs, in regard to the part about everyone dying. "I....I never should have....b-brought..." Abruptly, he coughs and fuel spews out of his mouth. "...doesn't matter. Go...j-just go...th-they'll k-kill y-you..."

    And then the light fades from his optics, his body relaxing as it goes limp on the ground. There is certainly an air of...finality about it. He's gone.

Phantom has posed:
"No no no get up... you can do it," he urges his friend, "we can still leave. There's time, I know a ship, we can.." He lifts Quantum up, still trying to make his friend stand, though he clearly doesn't have any strength left in him. ".. we can.. l-leave...you can .. you can get up! We can leave all this behind. Just you .. and me... like we said before..." He rambles uselessly, still in denial despite the fact that the light has left his friend's optics.

He's completely unaware of everything else going on, and if the Autobots wanted to seize the their opportunity to arrest him, the moment certainly /seems/ golden..

Quantum has posed:
    Quantum remains motionless, his spark extinguished. As much as Phantom refuses to believe it, there's nothing that can bring him back right now. His body just kind of...flops limply as the seeker tries in vain to make him get up.

    Meanwhile, four of the Autobots had managed to survive the blast and struggle to their feet. And yes, it does seem that Phantom has forgotten about them. And he's standing so close to the edge of oblivion, too. Easy catch right? One of them pulls out a sidearm and fires at him, if not to take him down then to knock him into the Crucible.

Phantom has posed:
Phantom is too absorbed in mourning over his dead friend to notice the Autobot aiming to knock him into the Crucible. But lucky for him, he's so damaged, his density is flickering constantly between being solid and insubstantial, and the shot fired manages to catch him in moment where he's not solid.

Unfortunately for the Autobot, this draws Phantom's attention to him, and the remaining Autobots who are still alive.

"You!!" he rages, "/you/ did this!!" He transforms with some difficulty, and flies straight at the remaining Autobots while opening fire full force with a strafing run at them, not stopping until his ammo is completely exhausted.

Quantum has posed:
    Chaos erupts again as Phantom flies at the remaining Autobots and fires everything he's got, and they fire everything -they've- got at him. In the end, once all ammo has been exhausted, Phantom will find himself the only one still standing--if only barely. Whether they're dead or have somehow escaped remains to be seen. In either case, now it's just Phantom, a bunch of dead people, and the Crucible as it growns hotter and hotter. The air inside the facility is starting to burn everything it touches...and even Phantom won't last long in -this-.

Phantom has posed:
Looking around at the massive devastation, he scoops up Quantum's dead body and flies very crookedly out of the facility, barely alive himself. Where he's going, not even he's sure of, all he knows is he can't stay anywhere near the Crucible...

Prowl has posed:
    The Crucible facility at Simanzi Fields is burning up from the inside out. By now the flames are reaching for the sky, and the entire Toraxxis Plains is already several degrees warmer than a few cycles ago as the superheated gases continue to expand and expand in every direction possible. Even the ground is getting hotter with every passing moment. As Phantom finally manages to escape the inferno with Quantum's body in tow, he will find himself confronted by Prowl himself, along with an entire brigade of Autobots. For all they and everyone else know...Phantom was seen on the surveillance in the control center briefly before the feed cut out suddenly, and when the Autobots sent a unit to investigate, they did not return and were either missing or found dead inside the burning Simanzi facility.

    Naturally, many of the Autobots including Prowl have assumed Phantom was the saboteur. Whether he was acting alone or under orders from Megatron or other higher officer is a question that remains to be answered. And Prowl intends to -get- those answers, in one way or another. His expression hard and his weapon primed along with all the others with him, he glares at the eccentric seeker. "Answers. -Now-." he demands.

Eclipse has posed:
The confusion over comms at the cut in the feed had caught Eclipse's attention. After all she was monitoring signals for any weird hijinks in the area. It was a boring job usually, people making sure they didn't fly into one another or talking about the crink in their gyros. Today the chatter she heard, the words 'explosion' have surges going through her systems.

Quickly she shifted to shuttle-form. The speed which she had in that form, as well as firepower, was greater. Hopefully she wouldn't need the later, but knowing the paranoia of the autobots she had little to hope for. Up into the atmosphere she rocketted, burning fuel for speed, and coming up on something she really didn't want to see.

Phantom has posed:
Phantom's expression is blank and glazed over momentarily before turning savage. "Stay out of my way, Autobot. I am leaving the planet." He's still carrying Quantum's battered and dead chassis as he tries to avoid the Autobot brigade.

At this point, fighting the isn't an option - he's clean out of ammo and leaking fluid everywhere.

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off was nearby when he heard something going on over the radio. It sounds like some sort of emergency, so the shuttle makes his way towards the scene post haste. He catches sight of...is that the new shuttle he met, what was her name... Ah yes. "<< Eclipse, report. What's going on? >>" As the Combaticon draws closer, he scans the scene and... there seem to be a lot more people down there than functioning life signs. That's... not good. He radios on a Decepticon frequency to whoever is functioning below, repeating himself to them as well. "<< Report. What is going on down there? >>"

Hammerstrike has posed:
    It didn't take much convincing for Hammerstrike to be on board with the idea that Phantom was to blame. Actually, all it took was for a superior officer to be convinced. And a small part of him was relieved that the inevitable betrayal finally happened. Hammerstrike looms with the other Autobots in the brigade, weapon out and focus on Phantom, even as he tries to maneuver away from the Autobots. Hammerstrike gets out his gun, but waits on an order to fire, trying to ignore encroaching heat.

Prowl has posed:
    "Oh, of course -you're- leaving, now that you've doomed the entire -planet-." Prowl replies accusingly. The neutrality is gone from his face--he's -furious-. Even though he figured this sort of situation was at least 80% likely to happen...it was still...just...everything had been going so well... He nods toward Hammerstrike and the rest of them. "Kill him. We're not going to be getting any answers from him any time soon anyway." And if the Decepticons defend him? Well that's just more evidence that they were all part of his plan, too.

Eclipse has posed:
<< I just got here, but it looks like Phantom did the dumb. >> Is Eclipse's reply as she begins to do circles high above, watching below. << Phantom has someone's chassis and looks like a bit of scrap would knock him down. Aaaaaand everyone just pointed weapons. Orders? >> Cause she is -not- in command here. She will leave that to someone else. But the cannon turns and she begins to prepare for cover fire.

Phantom has posed:
At this point, Phantom notices Blast Off and Eclipse have arrived. But just as he sees them arrive, he gets gunned down by Prowl. Too weak to even get up, he sinks to his knees, even more fluid leaking from his chassis. "<Blast Off.. I know.. I have been.. no ally to you. And I don't think... that I deserve to be forgiven, or that .. you should do anything for me. But I am deep...ly sorry. And I regret everything I have done.. and said. The Autobots... are responsible for everything. They killed... him. And I used everything left in me.. to resist them. Please... even if you hate me to death... at least avenge .. the wrong that has been done...>"

It may become evident to Blast Off, and perhaps Eclipse as well, that Phantom has very little left in him as well, and may be joining the chassis that was once Quantum in death sooner rather than later.

Blast Off has posed:
Frag. "<< ....Seriously? >>" The Combaticon's patience with Phantom , already threadbare, is ready to snap. He feels his fuel tanks flipping, thoughts turning to his encounter with Swivel not even that long ago... frag fraggity frag it all. Blast Off has to think a moment, scanning the situation more and... is that Quantum down there? He was assigned to duty today, yes so... but there's no life signs. The shuttle shoves that thought aside to refocus on the here and now, answering Eclipse. "<< ....Hold fire, for now, until we understand what's going on. Assume defensive manuevers as needed. >>"

Then he gets that radio message from Phantom. The shuttle's engines rumble in response, though whether from what Phantom says or from frustration in even trying to understand the crazy mech. "<< ...What happened? Quantum's *dead*? You specifically saw the Autobots kill him? Was it unprovoked? Tell me *exactly* what happened...>>" Then he switches to a more general frequency, one directed at the Autobots and onlookers in general. "<< What is going on? Are the Autobots reneging on the ceasefire already? Stand down and stop firing on that Decepticon and talk to me. Continue firing on the Decepticon and we shall be forced to take action. >>"

Eclipse has posed:
The nacells along Eclipse's wings flare slightly as she watches Phantom be hit by Prowl. Though she spins the currently empty wheel of her cannons in silent frustration. << They just shot him! If they kill him we won't get any answers at all. >> She points out to Blast Off even as she holds off.

Hammerstrike has posed:
    Orders received, Hammerstrike does not hesitate to fire on the presently damaged and helpless Phantom. He can revisit his conscience on this act later. But now isn't the time for reflection, it's the time for obedience. He had reacted immediately - before he heard Blast Off's transmission. However, the transmission does cause Hammerstrike to lift his weapon skywards, aiming at no one in particular, but ready to engage again if ordered to continue.

Prowl has posed:
    "-We- reneged the ceasefire?" Prowl asks incredulously in response to Blast Off, even as he and the rest of the Bots continue to fire on a defenseless Phantom. "Look at this place! Our people are -already- dead. You saw the surveillance and you think one of -us- did this?"

    Some of the other Decepticons who had been on site are getting antsy. << Commander, don't tell me you're thinking about just believing him...I mean this is Prowl we're talking about. >> one of them is brave enough to say.

Phantom has posed:
Phantom, defenseless, is getting pounded into pulp. He collapses onto the ground, optics flickering. Blast Off probably isn't going to get the answer he wants, as Phantom is teetering on the edge of life and death. But he tries at least. Switching to the general Decepticon frequency, his final words are, "<.Yes...they... drew fire... first. Quantum... tried.. but... damn them all. Damn them to the inferno>"

Then he falls into stasis lock, his chassis bleeding and broken.

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off hufffs at Prowl, "<< I haven't seen *anything* yet. I just got here and I see you firing on a nearly dead Decepticon who is carrying a completely dead Decepticon. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one, Prowl? What happened to logically approaching an unknown situation... unless this was a planned attack? I'm giving you a chance to keep the peace, if that's something you actually *want*.... otherwise we go to war again. is that what the Autobots want? >>"

To the other Decepticons, he states tersely, "<< I see that they just shot him. I want to know what's going on before I have to explain to MY Superior Officers why I helped start a war again. >>" He also hates to lose Swivel before they even had a chance at peacetime, but he'll leave that out. "<< And yes I don't trust Prowl any more than I can throw him, but I'm going to lead by head, not whims of emotion. >>" Still, as Phantom falls, the shuttle's lasers are powering up. "<< This is your last warning, Autobots. Back away from those two. Now. >>"

Eclipse has posed:
Flares her fins and her engines rev in anger as she sees Quantum -and- Phantom begin to fall. The cannon begins to glow as it warms up and her focus and sensors shift. << Frag it. >> For a second she dives and then banks sharply to circle about the Autobots below. It seemed almost like she was going to dive after the falling Decepticons, but her carrying them -and- dodging Autobot fire? She wasn't stupid, but it made her grind gyros and vent furiously.

Hot Rod has posed:
Well, what better time for someone who usually causes a plot twist than now? The red and orange former rebel races onto the scene, swerving in front of Phantom and the already dead Quantum. He then protoforms, holding his arms up. "Dammit, stop, all of you! We've worked so slagging hard for this peace, are you ready to just give it up, just like that??"

He glares at Prowl, before turning and kneeling over Phantom's prostrate chassis. He examines Phantom's weapon, and notices that the chamber is empty. His optics widen, but before he can further investigate, Phantom's chassis flickers, then suddenly disappears. "N-no.." he whispers, blue optics turning sad. Then he stands up.

"Prowl! He was unarmed. This is absolute nonsense, call it off!"

Hammerstrike has posed:
    While not trigger hay, seeing c+xterm241Eclipse dive towards them puts Hammerstrike on edge. Enough that Hammerstrike quickly switches his target from the unconscious Phantom to her. But he has enough presence of mind to not pull the trigger. WHen Hot Rod reveals that Phantom was unable to defend himself, there are murmurs rippling among some of the Autobots close to him. Hammerstrike's arm wavers just a little, but he keeps his weapon trained on Eclipse circling ahead. But, again, he's waiting for orders.

Prowl has posed:
    "He's a danger to himself and to everyone around him...including you." Prowl answers Blast Off. Still, surprisingly enough, when Phantom falls motionless and Hot Rod shows up, demanding that the firing squad stop, he actually does comply, putting up a hand to signal the others to hold their fire. Turning away, he glances momentarily back at Hot Rod. "I eliminated a threat to everything we've built here." Then to Hammerstrike. "Make sure he's dead." Then he transforms and starts to leave, and the rest of the brigade begins to follow suit.

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse's circling took her among the jets, and the one who had spoken earlier, and she turned in place, ready to wait. But that did it. Ordering to make sure the already downed bot was dead just cinched her bolts one times too many. She let her aiming do its work on Prowl's back when he was most exposded. Grim satisfaction coursed through her circuits as she stayed where she was, already retargetting.

Hammerstrike has posed:
    There is just the subtle flutter of relief in Hammerstrike's blue optics when the firing squad is ordered to stop. Although he keeps looking up at Eclipse he lowers his weapon. But then Prowl orders him to finish off Phantom. For a moment, Hammerstrike seems to balk. He looks at Hot Rod, and then at Phantom and the dead body Phantom had been holing on to. "...Yes sir." Hammerstrike intones. Hammerstrike puts away his gun, taking out his large hammer. He approaches to where Phantom was, eyeing Hot Rod warily in case the mech, true to his reputation, gets up in his face. Hammerstrike nudges Quantum's dead body with a foot, trying to make sense of the absence on Phantom. Looking for a trail.

Blast Off has posed:
Hot Rod coming on the scene and yelling at Prowl stays the Combaticon's hand, as it were. Maybe some sense can still be made in this situation. "<< Finally *someone* makes sense over there... >>" Blast Off arcs in a steady circle above the group below, and as much as he hates Prowl, at least the mech and his army are leaving. Now they can just go down there and retrieve Phantom and...*BAM*

Eclipse shoots Prowl in the back... for no reason he can tell. Blast Off snarls into his radio, "<< What the *frag* are you doing? You disobeyed my /direct order/. >>" No, the Combaticon is not a happy shuttle right now. Then Hammerstrike seems to be searching for Phantom to deliver the coup de gras. His lasers lock onto the Autobot. "<< I said STAND DOWN, Autobot. Everyone stand DOWN. Are we going to keep this peace or is everyone losing their head? >>"

Prowl has posed:
    And suddenly, a sniper shot slams into Prowl's back, sending him forward onto his face, energon and other body fluids immediately flowing from his body onto the ground. He's not dead, but that did a number. Well at least -Prowl- is standing down for now. Literally down on the ground. But the rest of the brigade springs to their second-in-command's defense. Not knowing for sure who had fired that shot, they just turn around the charge in, opening fire on -all- Decepticons in the area. The already hot air around the burning wreck heats up even more with all that gunfire. It's really starting to sting and burn, after such prolonged exposure--even for those with special shielding.

Hot Rod has posed:
Hot Rod stares at Prowl in pure horror and shock, which quickly morphs into rage. "Frag /you/!" He curses loudly, "and I thought you couldn't get any worse! A kill order on a /defenseless/ mech?? What the hell!? Damn you!" He quickly turns on his heel to face Hammerstrike. "I swear to Primus, if you--"

And then Prowl is shot in the back by a Decepticon sniper.

Without hesitation or second thought, he pulls out his blaster and moves it from left to right, looking for whoever it was that shot Prowl. "Slag! Doesn't /anyone/ have any Primus damned sense??" He cries.

And then the whole brigade is attacking the Decepticons. "No! Primus! Stop! All of you! This isn't helping /anything/!!" He tries to reach out and grab some of the Autobots by the arm, in attempt to hold them back.

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse flips a fin at Blast Off and then he realizes just why she shot at him. And now her sight is focusing in on the bot ordered to do the deed. That is till Prowl's blast hit her undercarriage and send her veering off to the side. It puts other bots between her and those on the ground. Which is just dandy by her standargs. << He ordered a kill on a defenseless bot! He is trying to hide something. >> She snarls over Decepticon channels. Then she takes another shot.

Hammerstrike has posed:
    Well. Hammerstrike can at least confirm that Quantum is dead. But that's not who he was ordered to finish off. Hammerstrike looks up when Blast Off orders him, an Autobot, to stand down. Hammerstrike just shakes his head. He has his orders. But then the fighting starts. There will be no finding a vanished mech in this chaos. There is no making sense of any of this. The battle. The heat. The end of a tenuous peace. He glances as Hot Rod tries to stop some of his own. "There's no saving this." Hammerstrike says gruffly. He does not charge into battle like the other Autobots, but does stand his ground, ready to defend himself. Or haul Hot Rod off if the mech does more than try to hold his ow back.

Blast Off has posed:
So then it all goes to the smelting pit, despite Blast Off's attempts at keeping the peace and keeping his head while it seems everyone else is losing theirs. "<< Prowl did? So it's an attack by the Autobots, or just Prowl's work, or...? >>" Well, at least Hot Rod tried to stop it, too. The Combaticon radios down to him, "<< ...Hot Rod, isn't it? You're actually thinking before shooting, then? You- AIIIIGH!!! >>" That's when Blast Off gets hit hard by an Autobot soldier's shot. It does some nasty work on his fuselage, clipping a wing and sending the shuttle kareening down, smoke trailing after him. It also means his heat shields are shattered in spots, so now he feels that burn in the air extra bad....

There are days Blast Off wants to just take off for space and never return, and this is one of them. "<< FRAG IT. >>" Right now, he just tries to keep airborne, scanning his own systems and attempting self-repairs as well as he can, shutting down superflous systems to channel energy to critical ones.

Sky Lynx has posed:
There's a very loud rumble of very big (and perhaps horribly efficient) engines, the white contrail plumes easily seen in the sky as the autobot-marked shuttle they belong to thunders into the area. It circles once, then twice...and suddenly there's the unmistakeable sound of a transformation cog and the loud 'THWOOOM' of a very large mech droping to the ground.

Very large and very irate.

For a moment, he just looks at the Autobots, then the Decepticons, and then back to the Autobots before just slamming his tail down on the ground with a loud crash as his vocal emitters are turned up to a level that is probably far too loud to be deemed...civilized, but still, it is what it is.

"What in Primus is going on here? He issues an uncharacteristic growl and his optical visor turns to zero in on... Prowl. "Order a stand-down..." He then looks at Blast Off, "You as well, if you're the ranking one here, and so help me I will personally detain any mech, Autobot or Decepticon, that continues this tomfoolery any further than it's gone on already." He growls again, "and I dare anyone to challenge me on that."

Prowl has posed:
    Prowl groans, finally pushing himself up off of the ground. He curses as he looks up to see that the fighting has now been reignited in full. Seriously, he didn't want this any more than Blast Off or Hot Rod did...but it seems this was inevitable. Opening a commlink to a group from Operations who had gone inside to attempt to shut the system down, he tries to check on their status.

    << Prowl to delta operations 1, what's your status? Have you found a way to shut the system down? >>
    << Negative, sir! We built this thing to be self-sustaining, but the emergency failsafes are wrecked. There's no way to--kk--hot as the inferno in here--suggest you--kk--out-->> Static.
    << Delta? DELTA?! >> "Damn it!"

    The heat coming from the overpowered Crucible has intensified at least tenfold since the beginning of this confrontation...even ground sears the feet of those who step on it, and parts of it are actually starting to turn soft and molten, setting anything flammable and touching it afire. But those in the air are far from safe, as the air is even hotter. As the battle rages, many an airborne soldier is shot down--and falls straight into the massive vat known as the Crucible. As another Autobot is smelted to dust inside the giant pool of burning gases, Prowl curses once more. << We need to get out of here. Autobots, retreat! >>

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse takes a dive as she spots Blast Off falling. << FRAG! Try and level off and if you can transform I can try and catch you, >> She comms direct to the Combaticon. Oh sure she took a hit too, but nothing like the other shuttle. Privately to herself she cursed the Autobots even as her eyes took in Sky Lynx. To her eyes it looked like when he arrived they began to flee. It only cemented for her that they were doing no good here. But her goal right now? Keeping Blast Off from falling into the Crucible and get them out of there.

Blast Off has posed:
Alas, it's too late. Blast Off only has enough control to keep himself from landing right into the hot mess below them. "Negative... not going to... make it... >>" Getting closer to the ground, wing wobbling, finally the Combaticon just transforms and lands with a heavy thud onto his hands and knees. He hears Hot Rod's message but just as he thinks to answer.... Sky Lynx shows up, thrashing and angry. The *slam* of the giant space dragon's tail nearly knocks the injured Combaticon off his purple rocket feet even as he tries to get up, and he winds up on one knee, clutching the hole in his side. But when he looks at Lynx, at first he seems to freeze, optics wide and pale, the fear hitting him again.... and then, already pushed as is, he is pushed beyond that into anger.

"I'd like to know that MYSELF!!!" He snarls right back at Lynx, armor plates rising in a bristle. "I came here to two dead or dying Decepticons and trigger-happy Autobots, and no one except your HOT ROD seemed willing to calm down and listen! I *have* ordered my troops to stand down...", he pauses to shoot a glare at Eclipse, "...But everyone seems intent on losing their head instead, it seems!" He snaps his head around at Lynx and glares at him, too, armor fully fluffed out, the look of a cornered owl with nothing left to lose. If he dies here, so be it, but he's gonna be TICKED about it, so there.

Hot Rod has posed:
"<But I'm the only damn one...>" Hot Rod tight beams back to Blast Off, still trying to wrestle back the Autobots who have joined the melee.

However, it doesn't take long for him to notice the Crucible starting to turn everything into molten lava. When Sky Lynx arrives, he transforms and hurries towards the shuttle. "Sky Lynx, thank Primus! This situation has escalated into one giant hell hole. And if we don't get everyone out of here, we're all going to get sucked into the even bigger one over /there/."

"Everyone stop! We have to get the hell out of here before that /thing/ turns us into literal slag!" he yells at anyone who will listen.

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse turns in an arc and comes to hover over Blast Off. As the comms explode with information she can be heard to growl over Decepticon channels. Though she shoots upwards into the sky it is only so she can circle above Sky Lynx. He can carry the injured, but she isn't going to trust him. So she isn't leaving except pacing the much larger mech.

Sky Lynx has posed:
Sky Lynx is getting frustrated with his comms. Or, well, something at least, and just stomps his foot. Watching Blast Off's...well, rescue, he just waits a bit to see if things are going well before transforming again into that distinctive dual-form mode. The Lynx remains grounded, dropping down to open the cargo doors as his dino-half takes flight and he broadcasts over open frequencies.

It's about as simple a message as he can manage to give as the Lynx looks down at Hot Rod. "Please, get everyone on board you can before boarding as well. Try to not leave anyone behind but...don't lose yourself as a result, yes?"

As for the dinobird half, it's flying towards Blast Off to make sure that rescue operation is underway. "I would wager, Blast Off, there are adverse effects of the fog at play. We've seen it impair judgement before and I cannot begin to imagine that this is simply...idiocy at play. Please, help order the evacuation and see to it as many as can mange get out. If anyone shoots, I'll handle them myself. That goes for both sides."

Hot Rod has posed:
Hot Rod nods in agreement to Sky Lynx, realizing there's not much time for chit chat. He transforms and drives around the perimeter, in attempt to guide panicking mechs towards Sky Lynx. "Forget fighting!" he yells, "Shuttle's over that way, get on, end of story. And hurry the hell up! The crucible is going to melt everything into slag."

Hammerstrike has posed:
    The bickering on the radios causes Hammerstrike to exvent heavily as he approaches Sky Lynx' Lynx half. Along the way he'd plucked up a smaller mech that couldn't take the heat and thrown him over his broad shoulders. The large mech steps aside, allowing other faster evacuees to get past him to those inviting cargo bay doors, before heading in himself. He has no desire to stand around fighting or arguing. And he also knows that he would make a terrible addition to any party rounding people up. He's slow. And at the moment, feeling useless as he boards Sky Lynx.

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off glances up as Eclipse hovers overhead and... suddenly he's not all that irked to see her. He radios her specifically, << Eclipse, is it possible I could uh.... >> He blinks and looks to Sky Lynx, hesitating a moment, but accepting a ride from the Autobot just... is not what he wants to do, for *several* reasons. He just can't. He will answer the other shuttle, however, as the dinobird draws near. He braces, armor finally settling down but not completely relaxed. He's tense but trying to remain calm as possible. When he speaks, his voice is carefully nuetral. "I would... say so. I've sent the order and now I, too, will go." Now he's looking back at Eclipse, tightbeaming, << I... uh, don't suppose you could give me a lift? At least to a safer location? >> Now he's tensing again.

Prowl has posed:
    Hot Rod's efforts to get the rest of the brigade to stop doesn't avail him much. Prowl curses at the comms as his soldiers seem to be rebelling against him. Frustrated, he just transforms and drives off, leaving Hot Rod and Sky Lynx to do things however they deemed fit. Hmph, if they got everyone killed, then it would be on -them-, at least. He steps onto a transport shuttle a few kils away and books it north, as far away from Simanzi as possible.

    Meanwhile, Sky Lynx and Hot Rod find it rather difficult to get just anyone to board Lynx. While most of everyone has already recognized that it's no longer safe to stay, a majority of the Decepticons, like Eclipse, don't trust him enough to get on. "Hmph, frag you. I'd rather burn up here than die getting double crossed by an -Autobot- who just got done gunning down a defenseless 'Con." is among one of the replies Hot Rod gets.

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse does not outright laugh at Blast Off's request, so that is something. But there is no hiding the incredulouness in her tightbeam back at him, << Really? Really. Wow. Just...wow. Yeah, incoming, >> Despite her gripe she banks and comes in to land next to him. The moment he has a grip on her wing-fin she blasts off again. << You -so- are not going to live this down. Not by me, but you better believe everyone else is gonna notice. >> She decides to warn him as she burns thrusters for the portal.

Sky Lynx has posed:
Sky Lynx can't help but frown a bit inwardly at the outright rejection of things, and for a moment he's hesitant...since, well, the stubborn ones who /can't/ get out are probably doomed... <<Very well. To all who decline, your fate is your own to command.>>

With that done, he circles back around and both forms once more join as he holds off departure just yet. True to his word, he will hold out for as long as his systems inform him there's still a departure to be made. <<Hot Rod, get everyone on board strapped in. When we do leave, it will be sudden, abrupt, and undoubtedly less than comfortable insofar as flight is concerned.>>

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off watches Lynx turn back, frowning under his faceplate, fists clenching, then unclenching with some inner turmoil. Then he's focused back on Eclipse, grabbing onto her and, for once, being the one shuttled out... in a sense. Though her last comment nearly makes him want to let go. "<< Just GO. This is embarrassing enough as it is. I think that perhaps if you get high enough I can drop off and transform... without the strain of takeoff I should be able to fly now, I think... >> He glances to the scene below. "This is a disaster..." He radios out one last time to the Decepticons, << Get out, NOW. >>

Hot Rod has posed:
"I'm.. not all the Autobots are agreeing with that dumb ... order..." But they won't listen to him.

And so Hot Rod stares in disbelief and distress as the crucible continues to swallow people up. "...."

"Please, just listen to me, you can't die over this, it's so... stupid..." He tries to grab the arm of a passing Decepticon and drag him onto Sky Lynx, but the soldier yanks his arm away. "Dammit..."

Looks like Hot Rod is going to need some urging to board...

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse burns fuel and thrusters and heads high to give Blast Off the drop her wants. If the mech wants to take a leap off her back, may his jets engage. << Yeah yeah, I'm getting, >> She quips before giving a sudden jerk forward. It is probably intended to catch Blast Off a bit off guard.

Prowl has posed:
    Sadly enough, most of the Decepticons are hell-bent on either finding their own way out of this situation, or staying and fighting with their all until they are literally burned up alive, despite Sky Lynx and Hot Rod's urgings.

    As the dinobird calls out and comms, even he can't stand the heat very much longer. In fact, some of his paint is starting to peel and singe on the edges. If he stays for much longer, even the slightest movement through the air will generate friction enough on top of the ambient temperature and set him completely aflame.

Sky Lynx has posed:
Sky Lynx does indeed wait until the sensors are blaring in his head it's time to leave...and with a roar of engines, he finally shuts the door and thunders off in a streak of black smoke and steam from the heat hitting his hull. Sure, there's probably a few small fires as well, but speed will put those out quickly enough. He just hopes everyone's strapped in... and, of course, he broadcasts one last time.

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off nearly gets knocked off right then as Eclipse jets it up more. The Combaticon scrambles to keep hold, but his fingers start slipping... slipping.... and suddenly he's free falling off. Down, down.... it looks like he could get swallowed up by the flames. However, with a transforming sound, the Combaticon re emerges as a shuttle- one that barely stays airborne, but he does stay airborne. With a *huff*, he maintains a wobbly but horizontal altitude, aimed for a nearby township. He can hear Sky Lynx broadcasting to the Cons left behind. Despite his mixed feelings right now about the other shuttle, he does feel a twinge of regret there... and he knows Lynx is, at least, still honorable. Shame those other Decepticons could not believe it. But they don't know of shuttle pride, after all. "<< Eclipse... I can maintain course for a short while, going to land once we're clear but can keep steady. I... think I have it... >>" Indeed, the shuttle stays airborne, though he continues to wobble dangerously at times, still trailing smoke.

Hot Rod has posed:
Hot Rod probably would have stayed, but since he was standing in the entryway to Sky Lynx's interior, when the dinobird takes off, he goes with him.

His expression becomes pained and grieved as he watches more and more mechs succumbing to the blazing hot crucible.

"D-Dammit!" he cries, sitting down and putting his helm in his hands. "Dammit..."

Eclipse has posed:
Eclipse is quiet for a space of a few seconds before she alters her altitude and paces below and slightly to the right of the other shuttle. If he does fall as least this time she'll be able to catch him. << Understood. I'll keep pace. >> There may just be amusement hinting her voice of the comms.

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off is already having some weird sort of sinking sensation beyond the sinking sensation of seeing so much havoc, chaos, and death, and beyond the sinking sensation of his flight frame as it struggles to stay in the air. No, it's something else, something gnawing at him. The shuttle's engine rumbles weakly and nearly falters mid-air, ducking down several hundred feet before he catches himself again, but the wobbling is getting worse. "<< Eclipse, I... should have... >>" Whatever he's about to say gets drowned in a loud blast as things begin to combust, Decepticons still down on the ground getting swallowed by flames. "<< ... >>"

Hot Rod has posed:
And higher up, inside of Sky Lynx, Hot Rod feels the same. He's still staring at down through a window at all the devastation.

But a thought occurs to him.

"<Blast Off>" He tight beams, "<drinks on me at Maccadams once this all settles. I wanna know if Phantom or that other guy with him had any last words...>"

Blast Off has posed:
Blast Off wrestles with a growing sense of... regret? ...just as he recieves Hot Rod's message. The Combaticon hesiates, not entirely sure what to make of that, then radios back, "<< ...Alright. >>"