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K'Tor Wheeling, Dealing, and Flat-Out Stealing

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K'Tor Wheeling, Dealing, and Flat-Out Stealing

Who: Fusillade, Jetfire, Kup, Red Alert, Soundwave, NPC Handler: Scrapper
IC Year: 2029
Location: K'Tor Binary Star System, Rainbow Climbs Space
TP: Nova

None


Summary: Decepticons make some dirty deals with space pirates to maximize their energon hauls after the K'Tor chain nova.

In today's news:

============================ Reports =============================

Message: 9/19 Posted Author Energon Found In Rainbow Climbs Tue Feb 12 Scrapper

==================================================================

NOVA LEAVES BEHIND MOTHER LODE OF ENERGON

The expected destruction of a binary star system within the Rainbow Climbs has unexpectedly produced an abundance of energon on the gutted remains of planetoids and other stellar debris. The energon is in liquid form, mostly buried within asteroids or free floating. Exactly how the nova's shockwave produced this change has left scientists both on Earth and from other races stumped.

"This definitely should not have happened the way it is. While we weren't sure what the final results were going to be, I don't think there's any way that this was a natural result to the nova," lead astrophysicist on the panel monitoring the event, Reeddan said.

Other scientists are less sure, and several theories about how this could have happened have been presented, mostly stemming from the unique properties of the Rainbow Climbs.

Already numerous claims have filed for ownership of the destroyed system, initially started by the Monacus Administration under a first come, first serve basis.

These claims are likely to become moot, experts say, as transports and warships throughout the region are already en route. It is more likely that scavengers and miners will rapidly deplete the system in the race to acquire as much as possible.

Earth Defence Command officials declined guessing exactly how much energon is present in the system, but an unofficial source indicated that all of it together could power all the planet's needs for an entire year, though this is not taking into account the astronomical transportation and infrastructure alterations that would be required.

Energon, usually associated with the Cybertronian Civil War, is a highly refined form of energy that can be created from most other forms of energy. It can be adapted to serve as power for many different applications. Given its range of uses, energon is a widely accepted throughout the galaxy as a form of currency.

==================================================================

Binary Star System

This binary star system is in the K'Tor cluster within the Rainbow Climbs. It has numerous planetoids orbiting around it. Due to its binary nature, the orbits are unusual. Both stars are white dwarfs, though one is much larger.

Swinging between two asteroids off the flight paths of two mining ships, Fusillade seems to be frustrating a set of burgundy, six legged monkey spiders. Not spider monkeys. Monkey spiders. The suited mechs are attempting to gather globules of free-floating energon, but the Lancer is cutting them off, aiming to splatter their centers on her nosecone-mounted refueling port. They begin howling and flinging handtools and webbing at her.

The gates of Metroplex open, a lone craft bolting through them into the hard vacuum with a purpose, blue corona surrounding the mammoth starfighter as it hurtles directly inwards, towards the bulk of the energon readings. The Gates grind shut behind Jetfire as he spears through the cold emptiness, his sensor grid already fully online - full spectrum analysis being fed back to the central computers of the Cityformer. For the moment, at least, he is unaware of the Monkey Spiders and the meddling Lancer... how long that blissful ignorance lasts however is difficult to judge.

This sleepy system within the Climbs has gotten a lot more interesting every since its larger star went nova. The age-old saying that explosions make everything better has rung true here. Transports and mining vessels from numerous different races, most of them escorted by a variety of warships or fighters.

Reports of pirate activity has gone way up, as additional ships both affiliated with and not affiliated with Gycony have been circulating amongst the friendly, peaceful regions of the system. Numerous planetoids have been claimed by various Empires, and their claim is solidified with mining teams on the surfaces. Mining teams with guns. The disposition of the miners towards outsiders differs from group to group.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup turns over his shoulder, "You want I should stop for anything before we land? High Grade, Energon Goodies, that sorta thing?" he smiles a bit, making a joke.

As a monkey spider wrench CLONGS against Fusillade's hull, the aircraft whips around with a stacatto burst of maneuvering rockets. Previously a nuisance, she is an outright danger to them now, argon disruptor light snapping toward the offending harvesters. The shots go wide, the Decepticon not too interested in doing more than scattering them. But with the amount of volatile liquid droplets floating around, the immediate area ignites, energon flare bursting into life, jumping from droplet to droplet in a sizzling firecracker trail that spooks the monkey spiders into retreating. As the hatch ratchets shut, Fusillade bwahahas on radio, <<Yeah that's right! Run inside your stupid turtle-looking ship!>>

It's at about this time that the streak passes to her left and below, although there's little hope of catching THOSE kind of high-speeds. At this point, she slowly cruises back toward Trypticon, rattling off a few reports of troop activity and the progress on collection so far. Cusping the horizon of the asteroid that is home to Trypticon, she slips between the two still-intact heavy barges of Gycony's flotilla, surveying their surfaces and perhaps, just perhaps, looking to rattle their cages a bit.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert looks up from where he's glued to the sensor station. He doesn't smile, but that's because he's a paranoid bore who probably didn't get the joke. And not because the joke wasn't funny. "No, nothing for me...although if I'm reading these sensors correctly, we may want to stop for a few extra torpedoes!"

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup nods, checking out the sensor array from his pilot seat. "You want me to turn towards the fire, Red?"

The Guardian Starfighter's trajectory sails through several smaller planetoids, moving at speeds that could almost be considered ridiculous by most standards. His maneuvers are carefully calculated for minimum expense and maximum effect. The weapons fire does register however, and of course the ignited energon goes off like a flair across a half dozen of his sensors, "Smeggit." he mutters to himself, breaking off his path and burning back towards the firecracker that the Lancer so kindly set off, intending to investigate the occurrence and make sure no particular threat remains to the greater region.

An alien freighter, flanked by fighter support on all sides, slowly maneuvers past the Ol' Rusty, briefly transmitting a standard do-not-disturb message. From the slow acceleration and maneuverings of the ship while it heads towards the edge of what's left of the solar system, it's clear its holds are full.

Gycony's remaining two functional battle barges, meanwhile, remain on standby while other, smaller ships venture out to capture energon and return with it. The third battle barge had been forced to FTL out for extensive repairs, cutting the mercenary fleet down. Beyond Gycony's forces, there's also heavy pirate activity from other unaffiliated groups. On board, they've taken note of Jetfire hovering about, investigating. They watch the Autobot carefully. Even if it weren't for the agreement they made with the Decepticons, everyone on board would love another crack at the Guardian.

The sleek bomber rears up, wings collapsing onto hips even as the rear fuselage splits to form arms. The horizontal stabilizer slides up, the forward fuselage folds up accordian style, and Fusillade hops up on thrustered feet.

Setting down with a magnetic lock of treaded feet on the hull plate, Fusillade drapes arms bedhind her back as she paces past several turrets bristling with hyperthreaded ion accelerators. They do not activate as she moves past to settle by the seams of the large bulkhead doors, and with an overly smug smile and rap of knuckles on the triple reinforced metal, she radios them for entry. Internal mechanisms thunk cogs against each other, as they lurch open to admit her in. <<Huh, wow. Thick. No wonder the wings didn't get through last night.>> The raging sparkle inferno eventually dies out, reflected on Fusillade's visor as she slips inside, to get a better look at the crew. <<He's back on his way here, I think you've noticed by now.>>

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert watches the freighter go by. "Kup...there's more than just Decepticons and mercenary forces from Monacus out here. It's a complete free-for-all out here! We've got to start harvesting some of this energon ourselves, before it's all gone!" He looks at the scanning reports on the battle barges. "And while we don't have to worry so much about civilian safety here, that just means we have to be on our guard against everyone we encounter!" Red looks around at the grungy, low-tech, paint-peeling internal surfaces of the Ol' Rusty. Then he looks at the scanning reports of the battle barges again.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup nods, pushing the controls and sending the shuttle into a tight curve. "I hear ya loud and clear read. Moving to harvest us some of this energon." he pauses, "This reminds me of the Energon Rush of 20949." he says. Pauses. "Everyone an' their great-great-mechma turned out for that. Same thing, too. Some cosmic quandary, got everyone hackles up and the scientists start whoopin' and hollerin like a Dinobot that found an insecticon that there was some vast amount of Energon just waiting to be harvested...people were double dealing and drillin' each other in the aft-end over the smallest amount of the stuff.."

The battle barge Fusillade has landed on opens up its outer doors, lets her walk in, closes the outer doors, and then opens the inner doors. Some people have to worry about breathing. The pirate group is as colourful as one would imagine them to be, and the captain is no less so. Roughly humanoid save for tentacles instead of limbs and a face so ugly only a squid's mother could love him, the captain has all the trappings of a pirate: Big hat, laser cutless attached at the hip, long overcoat, scruffy bear... one leg is even a shiny metallic peg. They even have the accents down. "If he be wanting another go with us, we'll be happy to give him a taste of what for. I assume ye also be ready to fight him if need be. Now... what brings ya here?"

The freighter passes by the Ol' Rusty on its way to the edge of the solar system, but not before running a few scans on the Autobot ship to see if it's carrying anything of value.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert's face twists into a tight frown. "That freighter just scanned us! I've had our countermeasures activated (since the moment I came onboard, actually). But there's not telling how sophisticated their scanning equipment could be. Perhaps it's for the best that we're in such an outdated shuttle." He points out a nearby asteroid practically glowing due to a large pool of energon. "Let's start there, Kup. It looks untouched, probably for the simple reason that there's so many other equally easy targets in the area that nobody has gotten to this one yet."

"We already had a go at it, I ran Jetfire off of the other still-intact barge." Gaze slipping down to the blade appreciatively, before she continues. "Oh, had a few fond memories of the weapons black market back on Monacus during the Olympics. Had a few deals that didn't get finalized before I tore up the spaceport. Maybe you were there that day? Didn't have to pay for port that night, I bet." She hunkers down forward to get a wee bit closer. "Wondering if you might have a few mementos in the armory for your smaller corsairs. They look about my size." She flashes a million-credit smile.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup nods, and plots the short-range course for the asteroid Red wants to harvest. "I wouldn't worry about getting scanned in this thing. The whole reason why I tool around in Ol' Rusty here is because no one would ever think of raiding her. Not a damn thing worth taking anywhere." he chuckles, "But don't worry lad, she can still pack a punch when she needs to." he gets the ol' girl moving in the right direction, "There's alot of pirates out - reminds me of when the East Chibian Trading Company started granting privateer status to anyone who hold a ship registry. Couldn't swing a dead Lithonian over your head with meeting some shlub who called himself a Captain." he mutters, "Back in my day, Captaincy was a thing of pride. You didn't take it, lad, ya earned it!"

The Captain eases back down into a chair with a slippery, slimey sound. His crew either stand about to protect him, or are rushing around to make sure the ship keeps working the way the ship is supposed to work. The barge looks about as run-down on the inside as it does on the outside. Dozens of different technologies from different regions of space have been combined to form a mostly-functional space vessel. What it doesn't have in class and efficiency, it has in brute force and awesomisity.

The Captains laughs in a wheezing tone and reaches over the side of his chair with a tentacle for a bottle of rum (space rum, naturally. Like normal rum, but spacey). "We've guns for sale if you've money or services to offer," he replies, pulling out the bottle's cork with his teeth and spitting it on the ground.

Elsewhere in the region, a very faint Decepticon distress beacon sounds out. It's too far away for Fusillade or the other Decepticons to pick up, but a scavenger ship, a shuttle-sized and rather beaten-up looking vessel, does intercept it, and drifts in close to the source. Activating their exterior lights and focusing them on the object, they are surprised to find Soundwave of all people, frozen up in apparent stasis lock, slowly tumbling through space.

Delighted at the potential opportunities, they activate a tractor beam and proceed to haul him into their cargo hold.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert keeps an optic on the main viewscreen, where the asteroid he and Kup have selected gets larger and larger as their shuttle gets closer. Red Alert keeps the other optic firmly on the sensors, trying to keep track of the battle barges and any other nearby space traffic. Following Autobot protocols, he adds information on each new contact meticulously into the shuttle's onboard computers for transmission back to Metroplex. He's probably making a little list in his head, as well.

"Well," Fusillade cants her head to the side, as she furls out wingblades and sets them behind her as she settles on the cargo bay floor, frowning deeply as she sweeps fingers over the grimy coating, holding them up. "You're going to have to look elsewhere for housekeeping. Not exactly my bag. Money, hmm. Maybe some. But I somehow expect that we could expand on the mutually beneficial agreement our larger organizations have. I suppose the extent of the killing and destroying will depend on what kind of weapons I'm looking for. Hnn. Ranged, dealing moderate levels of damage to equally sized craft." She glances at the prismatic expanse of the newly recharged nebulae on viewscreen. "Definitely something that can travel through space. Lethality a bonus!"

Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty] comes in for a landing on the energon-rich asteroid. The shuttle's front landing gear settles onto the surface just at the edge of the pool, and the entire ship emits pings, groans and shudders as it sets down. There's a brief venting of atmosphere as doors prepare to open.

The Captain flicks a tentacle at one of his crewmembers while taking a swig from the bottle with the other. The large, burly crewmember rushes out of the room. Setting the now half-empty bottle down on the chair's arm rest, his features twist into a sort of grin. "Weapons we have. If yer wishing to pay by services rendered then that'd be no problem. Tell y'what, we're moving out in fifteen astrominutes. Got a lead on a pair o' light freighters finishing their run. Help us with the raid, you'll get your weapon and a share of the loot." From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup finishes post-landing checklists and looks over at Red with a smirk, "You think they got any idea of what toys we brought with us?" he says looking over at his long-time friend.

The scavengers, some sort of bipedal insectoids, chatter happily as they bring Soundwave into the cargo hold. Suspended in a tractor beam, he floats listlessly in their ship as the insectoids cluster near his body and ponder out loud what to do with him. Dissect for him parts? Sell him off to slavers? Or... ooh! They can sell him for ransom the Decepticons!

Soundwave is amused by their presumption.

Suddenly, a loud crack reverberates throughout the ship, and the insectoids are shocked to find that their tractor beam has exploded! And yet, Soundwave is still hovering in mid-air! The Decepticon's optic band lights up with malevolence. "You will all be TERMINATED!"

He propels himself up towards the ceiling, grabbing on to some overhead hull framework. Then he points his missile launcher at the open airlock, and fires off a full volley of rockets. The airlock had been sealed with a light forcefield, intended to maintain pressure in the cargo hold while still allowing the scavengers to drag in objects from outside. But under Soundwave's assault, the shield immediately collapses as the rockets--carefully timed just so--explode in its vicinity, disrupting it and ripping apart the field projectors hidden within the airlock. Without the pressure seal, and with a huge quantity of air suddenly exposed to a hard vacuum, everything--cargo, random junk, the screeching crew--is dragged towards the gaping hole and from there, the darkness of space...

Considering the timetable, Fusillade hmms. "Could work. So. Not sure if I want to get CAUGHT with these per se, maybe something that could augment already existing weapons, like... an existing candy coating layer of explosive super-heated awesomeness." Fusillade's creative train of thought is quickly derailed, and she hmms. "Two light freighters? Sounds like easy pickings. Why would you need help? Guess it'd draw fire away from your own ships, and nothing's quite so handy as a corsair that can heal itself -- up to a point -- eh?" She's currently pleasant, perhaps a tad too saccharine. "I can crack them open though, sure. Probably on'

"Probably won't meet my quota set by high command, but there's plenty of reasons THAT could happen." She hmms at bit. "Hey, what does THAT stuff taste like anyway?" she gestures toward the Cap'n's stein.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert allows himself a brief half-smile back to Kup. "They won't know unless they've hacked into our computer systems!" The smile disappears suddenly. "Again." Now that smile has turned completely upside down. "Hmm...remind me to run a systems integrity check as soon as we return to base. It's been over three days since we performed the last." Then Red shakes his head and gets back to the issue at hand. He spins to face a newer looking console and hits a control.

Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty]'s bottom cargo hatch slides open, lowering a machine that looks like a cross between cement mixer and artillery piece into view. The cannon-tube rotates to face the energon pool and then telescopes out until it's over the energon lake. The last few segments somehow angle themselves down to disappear into the center of pool. The 'energon level' in the pool starts to go down rapidly...within a few seconds the pool is drained dry, all with the Autobots sitting comfortably inside of their shuttle.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup nods, face turning to its usual frown. "Yeah, we'll run that as soon as we get back. Don't let me forget to run a security paremeter check, either. I don't want them to be able to do anything within three-thousand k.m's of Autobot City even if Metroplex as early warning systems tuned sensitive."

The burly pirate returns to the room hauling a gigantic crate in his massive arms. He drops it on the deck, and the noise can be heard throughout the ship. Casually ripping off the top of the crate and tossing it aside, he grunts and gestures to Fusillade.

The Captain waves a tentacle and says, "Take a gander." Inside the crate are all manner of guns, ammunition, missiles, and close combat weapons. "There're more ships than we can plunder, lass," the Captain explains. "Ain't a matter of which ones we can beat. It's a matter of how many we can snare in the time we have." At the question of how the rum tastes, the Captain merely tosses it to her to catch. He doesn't bother putting the cork back in, so part of it spills out onto the floor.

The suriving insectoids huddle together in fear within the bridge, aiming their weapons at the bulkhead even though they all know they have no hope of repelling the intruder. Those feelings are confirmed when Soundwave's hand bursts through the bulkhead, snatching them all. Ripping them back out of the bridge, Soundwave chucks them over his shoulder--where they flop onto the cargo hold floor, gasping for air that just exited into space--then he backs up from the hatchway. He realizes that the space is too small for him to enter in robot mode, but he's prepared to deal with that. Flinging himself forward, he transforms and uses his momentum to land on the bridge console, and plugs himself into it via an extending fiber optic cable. Within seconds he has completely hacked the ship's computer, leaving it under his total control.

With a flaring of its maneuvering thrusters, the ship turns about, then activates its sublight engines to send it forward on a course for... The Ol' Rusty!

Soundwave undergoes an incredible reduction in size as he folds up into an antique tape deck!

Snatching up the tossed, sloshed amber colored container, Fusillade hrns as she holds it up to the stark overhead lighting of the bay. "Well, scale aside, should give me at least a taste!" She proceeds to upend the entire container, finishing with a zestful smack of lips. "Ah yes, organic alcohols. They tend to make the fuel run a bit thinner. Smoother, hnn. Can get a few more RPMs off of THAT. Urgh, the other parts, spices and all, tend to caramelize..." She doesn't make any other hint at how unsettling the contents are to Cybertronian internal chemistry. "Pretty container. Here, you can have it back!" she chirps out as she peruses the selection. "Hmm. The ABI Deathalyzer, the BomboFAST 7500, hnn. Oh, here we go, Plasma Sheathing..." She scoops up an oblong lozenge shape, admiring it. No apparent muzzle, although there are numerous leads for energy input, capacitors, batteries, and magnetic applicator nozzles once the matter-chewing material is applied to already existing weaponry. "I think this'll do nicely! Where do you usually mount these things on your ships? And you want those frieghters sliced, diced, cracked open, or just dead in water and still in their wrapping. Wanna make this easier for YOU," she coos out.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert is sitting in comfort on the 'Ol Rusty, hitting a control to retract their super-efficient energon mining equipment back into the ship. He turns to look at Kup, "I'd say that went better than..." his attention is suddenly drawn to the sensors. "Kup! Unidentified ship designate - " he glances at the contact log on another monitor, "Alpha-Four-One-One has altered course. It's headed straight for us!"

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup narrows his optics, "What in the oil pump swillin'..." he mutters, getting a fix. "Gimme a sec to get that harvesting system seated.." a few nanoseconds later. "Okay, dusting off now." he hits the switches and pulls hard on the yoke, trying to push Ol' Rusty off the asteroid so they're in a better position to face..whatever it is.

<Decepticon> Mother Goose Fusillade says, "Hey, where is everyone in this cluster? I'm about to do some gatherin', didn't wanna step on anyone's pretty 'lil robo-toes."

<Decepticon> Soundwave has encrypted this channel.

The Captain sits and patiently fiddles with an old coin while Fusillade gushes over the space rum and the weapons. He doesn't comment on any of her reviews on either the alcohol or the weapons. "Gun deck, side cannon wells, external power unit" he answers the first question. At the second he grins and stands up, "Dead n' the water and their crews removed from th'quation," he says in a louder voice. He gestures at the gun Fusillade has picked out. "Consider that a down payment. You'll get th'e energon once we have the frighters."

He turns to one of his crewmembers. "Now that the business is over, it's time to start the fun! Set us on course for the freighters' flight paths, on the double!"

The two battle barges awkwardly begin maneuvering about. They're slow to acellerate but once they get going they reach a fair clip. This will overall draw them closer to the Ol' Rusty and ship Soundwave has stolen.

<Decepticon> Scrapper says, "Repairing Trypticon in case the Autobots come knocking."

<Decepticon> Commander Soundwave says, "I am in the process of destroying the Autobot shuttle, The Ol' Rusty. I will update you if assistance is required."

<Decepticon> Mother Goose Fusillade says, "Oh, I think they'll be busy still for the next while yet, Scrapper."

<Decepticon> Mother Goose Fusillade says, "Oh hey, I think that's on our way. I'll give 'em a little hello on my way over to these freighters."

The scavenger ship tracks the Ol' Rusty, and its hold opens up more fully, expelling the scavengers' hard-won scraps into the void. This has the effect of reducing the ship's mass, allowing it accelerate more rapidly as it doggedly continues in its pursuit. Worse yet, the ship tries to activate its tractor beam to help slow the Autobot ship!

Soundwave, in tape deck mode, cackles to himself as he acts as a one-mech crew. "There is no escape, Autobots!" You paged Soundwave and Scrapper with 'All RP'd? I was going to count coup with her on the Rusty. Zoom by, swat, take one round of return fire, and then moving on to the frieghters.'

"Crews. Hmm. That might be a little hard, I left my tweezers in my other armor," Fusillade sasses, but she's already on her way to the forcefield that keeps the atmosphere intact against the cold vacuum of space. "Just need to figure out where to stick this thing," she muses, rolling the plasma generator around in her palms, before stowing it through a series of stomach-unsettling, yet fascinating, contortions. CHUNK-ckt.

Once outside the ship, she kicks herself free, and transforms, considerably more nimble than the two Monacan barges. Her bomber mode lances out ahead. As the trio begin to soar past Soundwave and the Ol' Rusty, and like a wolf pup overly excited at being on the hunt, lashses out with weaponry. She squeezes off a few ballistic rounds. Cheap shot!! She zoooooooooooms past, possibly still in range of the Autobot shuttle, she advises, <<Let them collect stuff first BEFORE you disable them!>> And then she blasts past the targetted frieghters, their matte, pale grey exteriors presenting a cornucopoeia of opportunities. She goes for the external propulsion drives first, sending out a guided cruise missile. <<Bye bye, Muffin! Go for the silvery row of fins! They look like a row of refrigerator condensor coils! Yeah, that's a good girl, thassa GOOD GI -- >>

  • KRK-THOOM!*

<<Aww. I miss her already.>>

Fusillade leans forward, wingblades whipping out to their full span, even as her arms lock backward in place as the rear fuselage. Her torso folds out to the become the cockpit of a space capable B-1R Lancer, ready for flight!

You strike Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty] with Flechettes.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert peers at a smaller viewscreen that shows the view to the rear of the shuttle. "It's still after us, Kup...let's head for Metroplex! If we just shoot it down it might set off an incident, but if it violates the Autobot security zone, surely no one will blame us for taking defensive actions?"

The pair of freighters are not much bigger than Astrotrain in shuttle mode. They are not terribly fast or maneuverable, but they do have high powered weaponry at their disposal. With practiced precision, one of the battle barges slides into the path of the pair, forcing them to break formation in an attempt to go around and flee. The freighter closest to Fusillade receives a missile to the rear quarter. Muffin explodes in the silence of space against the armoured engines, and the freighter slows. Heavy ballistic cannons on both sides cut loose - one targets the barge in the way, and the other tracks the Decepticon bomber.

The other flees away from both Fusillade and the first battle barge, only to come under fire from the second. The freighter's heavy armour withstands the broadside alpha strike, but before it can slip past the pirate vessel, two grappling lines shoot out at it. With magnetic claws on one end, a heavy metal chain, and the harpoon launchers themselves on the barge, they're a vicious way of grabing another ship. One grapple misses, but the other hits, snagging the freighter.

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Red Alert studies the instruments, processing furiously. He looks up in brief annoyance as Fusillade takes a potshot at them, but then goes back to the instruments. "Kup, we've been caught by a tractor beam! But according to our sensors, Un-ID'd ship A411 is less than one-tenth the mass of ours, and our engines appear much more powerful...of course! I have an idea!" Red starts hitting controls. "Rerouting full power to the engines...instead of them reeling us in, maybe WE can pull THEIR ship behind us!" He grins evilly. "Change course - send us directly at the ship that that Decepticon launched from!"

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup mutters obscenities in a few different languages as the shuttle shakes and shudders under the grasp of the tractor beam from unknown ship. "I see where yer goin' with this, Red..." Kup smiles, as the old timer's fingers start punching controls. Soon, the afterburners of the old shuttle burn even brighter as the thrust increases. "This reminds me on the battle of Halen 5150." Kup mutters, "The Decepticons thought they'd bring an energy axe to a pulse cannon fight." he says, piloting the shuttle down and around, dragging the unknown ship in its wake, dead-locked by the tractor beam. "They thought they could bash us together with some fancy tractor beam tricks." he keeps eyes his steady on the viewscreen, the old rustbucket headed for the pirate ship. When the collision detection warning starts to sound, he yanks back on the yoke as hard as he can with hand, while punching a couple of controls with the other causing the ship to crackle with an energy charge and the lights to flicker as the tractor beam dissipates allowing the shuttle to float up and out of the way of the pirate vessel with just a scant couple thousand meters to spare , "It wasn't the first time reversing polarities saved our skin!" he says with a relieved sigh, looking at the field of stars across the viewscreen.

Antique Tape Deck <Soundwave> detects the change of course, but hasn't quite caught on to their plan just yet. Instead, he continues to pour on the throttle, the ship's engines blasting out white-hot emissions. "Soon, I will collide this ship with the Autobot shuttle, smashing them together. And just after the collision, the ship's core will self-destruct, destroying the Autobots forever. And I will earn great favor with Galvatron!" Soundwave muses as his altmode rests on the bridge console. "In fact, I will begin the countdown now, based on estimated time of impact..." Red lights illuminate the ship's interior. Klaxons would be blaring, too, but don't have any sound to conduct the noise.

Then the tractor beam is broken. "What!? Attempting to reestablish!"

Pitching wildly to the left, Fusillade squeaks in her radio as the space around her explodes into a wild firestorm of slugs. One splinters her horizontal stabilizer -- if she had been in the atmosphere, she'd be royally boned. Such as it is, she emits an <<OWWWWWWW!>> but keeps on the first freighter, this time setting an enfilade along the gun emplacement batteries, even going so far as to punch a small missile down the rifle-bore of the main cannon. However, a looming menace on the periphery of her vision proves to be an asset in cramped quarters when it came to space combat. <<Cap'n K! You've got a fastball special headed your way!>> How was she going to take care of the CREW inside?

The cannon closest to Fusillade is first damaged by the initial fire, and then blown clear off by Fusillade's missile being stuffed down the barrel. The resulting damage seems to have caused the freighter to drift. Although unable to propel itself forward, it is able to spin, which it does to bring the other side's cannon to bear on the Decepticon space bomber.

The second freighter meanwhile is snared by the second battle barge. Like a fish caught on a line, the ship is slowly pulled in towards the much larger Monacus vessel. Inside crews are readying to board her and kill the crew.

The first battle barge receives Fusillade's warning but hardly needs it. It hasn't the maneuverability to evade the near collision by the Ol' Rusty. On board, the Captain shouts orders to prepare for impact. The battle barge is larger than the Rusty but not by much. Both would surely be incinerated by such a high speed crash! But it isn't to be. Kup pulls the shuttle out of the way just in the nick of time, and a disaster is averted. But then... is that another ship now heading towards them?

Antique Tape Deck <Soundwave> grumbles something to himself. He almost had those blasted Autobots. "Talonrazor, eject," he exclaims, opening his tape slot and allowing a mauve colored tape with yellow stripes to launch. "Operation: Extraction." Talonrazor transforms into a condor, which turns around, scoops up Soundwave in his claws, and flies out of the bridge and, eventually, into space. Once outside, Soundwave transforms, looking back at the scavenger ship as it hurtles towards his pirate allies. "Unacceptable. The pirates may still be of some use." Aiming his concussion rifle carefully, he fires a shot directly into the ship's exhuast. The bolt pierces the ship's engine, and the entire thing goes up in huge ball of flame.

So it seems that Soundwave avoided a collision, but the pirates might still get rocked by the blast.

The antique tape deck suddenly explodes into life, greatly increasing in size as arms, legs, and a head unfold from the body, until you see the imposing form of Soundwave standing before you!

From Autobot Shuttle [Ol' Rusty], Kup pulls the shuttle in a wide circle, keeping a wary old eye on Soundwave, Fusillade, and those pirates. "I think that's about enough harvesting for one day, Red." he says, putting in a course for Autobot City.

The wreck of the scavenger ship smolders in space as it slams into the port side of the initial pirate ship, rocking it off course and stopping its attempts to fire on the freighter Fusillade is harassing. A deep gouge can be seen in the ship, and the guns ports in that section have been wiped out, leaving the ship with almost no firepower to the right.

Battle barges. Despite the alliteration, Fusillade can't help but snicker as she watches the labels on her HUD system whiz around on her display. As she neatly dispatches one side, the laws of bilateral symmetry come into play, and as the ship implacably rolls, Fusillade sees the tips of the next set of gun emplacements coming to bear. And she runs, sort of. She keeps her position over the sparking and smoking emplacement, spinning with the craft, laying down more damaging fire before she darts after the gun emplacements. <<Whoa!!! Ain't gonna do any harvesting like THAT!>> She aims for the bases of the phalanx of weapons, a load of work ahead of her to properly neutralize this frieghter. She has no idea what Soundwave's disposition is...

Soundwave decides he'll wait for hostilities to end before calling for retrieval (for real). So, he folds himself up into his tape deck mode and lets inertia carry him along...

The first battle barge continues to rotate in space while burning from one side. Inside the Captain is shouting orders and kicking ass until his panicking crew fall back in line. Twin grappling hooks shoot out at the freighter just as it loses its second cannon and most of its mobility. Trapped and no-where to go as they're hauled in by the Monacus pirate ships, the crew on both freighters begin abandoning their ships. Small escape pods shoot out in all directions, which the pirates seem inclined to ignore. Judging by the number and size of the pods, each freighter had a crew of perhaps a dozen. Insdie the first barge, the tentacled captain grabs the ship's radio and shouts, "The day's ours, Fusillade! We're reelin' 'em in."

<<Kinda weird the Autobots bugged out, they're usually here swarming and screaming about freedom and crap like that. They're usually pretty dependable when it comes to RUINING PARTIES. Well, let's get to it!>> She transforms, and half-screams (silently) as a popped-cork escape pod nearly collides with her. Dodging to the left, she pulls out wingblades, and obligingly stabs them down into the nearest seam in order to make boarding easier for the pirates. Hopefully a non-pressurized area!

The Captain roars with laughter. "They won't scream 'bout freedom when they can't do nothing about it!" he shouts back. Both of the freighters have been hauled in close to the battle barge. With their prizes won, the pirate ships slowly begin cruising away from the scene of the crime despite the damage dealt to the lead battle barge. "You've earned yer energon, lass. Arrangin' a cargo crate with it now."

A gaggle of greedy pirates accomplish in 10 minutes what it takes aircrews at Heathrow Aerospaceport all DAY to do. The light freighters are stripped bare, and Fusillade nearly doubletakes at the efficiency of it. "WOW." She bobs up along the main hull of the lead pirate barge. "Just how much of a haul did you guys get? Gonna stay for a bit longer? And don't let Gycony see any pics of me, if you don't want him getting ticked off." She chuckles a bit. "That was... kinda fun, too." She flexes her upper arms a bit as she feels out the mostly-empty weapons bays stored therein.

The barges are dragging the ships along as they go. The rest of the scavenging can be done later. The cannons on that second freighter is going to help replenish the ones destroyed by Kup and Red Alert's psychotic little gambit. The Captain remains by the mic to chat it up with the Decepticon. "We're going to assess our damage. Might 'ave to pull out of the system for repairs. But we'll be back! Plenty more plundering to be done, missy." He has no problem with not mentioning this to Gycony.

<<And I am going to have to assess just how this thing is going to get stuck in me! My stuff's gonna GLOW! And make stuff blow up BETTER!>> Fusillade exults, not terribly mindful of how bad her first statement came off. Fusillade transforms back to bomber mode, flying in a very wide, loose formation with the two remaining Monacan battle barges. After running a few diagnostics, she peels off, and heads toward Trypticon.

The damaged barge has deposited the crate of energon for Fusillade, true to the word of the pirates. There's no point in doublecrossing anyone this early in the game, after all. The Pirate Captain hangs up the mic and starts shouting at his crew to work on fixing the mess that was made of the port gun deck.

--End--

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