The interior of Fortress Praxis is no less impressive than the outside. A huge sweeping staircase awaits visitors, leading to gleaming corridors full of works of art. The hive of activity though is the centre of the dome, which is a gigantic room filled with computers and Cybertronians of all factions working together on projects, with labs dotted everywhere. Gigantic viewscreens are fixed to every available surface, monitoring what remains of the planet. Walkways and gantries fill the ceiling with at the very top, Praxis's podium and throne, overlooking his kingdom.
<Earth> In the year 2107 A.D. Grimlock broadcasts, "It is I, King Grimlock of New America, broadcasting on all open frequencies. To those who will hear me, listen: There is grave peril facing us all. Praxis, in his madness, has created a device that is unraveling the fabric of space and time itself even as I speak. Look to the north, and see the beam of light shining from his fortress into the sky; this is his /chronal boring/ device. He claims it provides limitless, free energy But there is no such thing as 'free' energy. He is shredding the fabric of time, and harnessing the resulting energy to fuel his ambitions here. We all /must/ band together to stop him. I cannot reveal the details of my plan in the open, but I encourage all those who wish to help us to contact any member of the New American forces. Any and all help is needed All of our collective existence is threatened by his hubris. For those who require proof of his treachery, riding on this signal is a datapacket carrying the blueprint of his device and a spectrum analysis of its effects, along with a projection of the resulting cataclysm that will occur if he is not stopped immediately. We must act soon. This message will repeat every five minutes until either Praxis' machine is destroyed or we all are. Grimlock out."
<Earth> New Soundwave, in that same time frame, broadcasts his reply: "Attention denizens of Earth. Grimlock's message is a lie. Praxis' machine is beyond Grimlock's primitive understanding and will provide free energy for all, but only if you join us in time. We are the ones that will survive extinction, not they. Choose wisely, and while you can."
<Earth> Fulcrum's words are preceded by a distorted blast of choral chanting, music that continues in the background of the preacher's words. "Children of Primus. The moment we have prayed for has arrived, a chance to open your hearts to the Flame of your Creator, to draw strength from your faith and to smite those godless fools that would deny Him and tear apart His creation for their own selfish gain. Know that those that fall in this battle will become one with Primus, should they only accept him as their lord. Children of Primus! Rise and take up your weapons! Today, we do His will!"
<Earth> Geo transmits from 2107, in her ghetto-slang voice, "There is no such thing as free energy, though you Guzzlers should just give up the ghost on those big, energy-suckin' forms and see the light. You've seen us, small Transformers with no Brand that can outfight and outfly you big'uns. We're the Micromasters, and we're gonna outlive alla youse." From behind here there are cheers. "So who needs some energy machine, when you can live a hundred years on a single energon cube, m'friends? No, it's just stupid Guzzler logic -- bigger is better. And 'King' Grimlock's no exception to such stupid ideas, y'all." More cheers follow.
<Earth> Scrapper says, "You're an idiot, Grimlock! The energy source is sound. I should know."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "The day we start following YOU as a scientist is the day Brawn comes back from vacation!"
<Earth> Astrotrain says, "Izzat scrapper? Yeah. We're f#@(*ed."
<Earth> In the year 2107 A.D. Grimlock doesn't appear to be responding, only repeating the recording of the earlier message.
<Earth> New Soundwave says, "Geo. You have one last chance to rejoin me. You remember what I did to Glitter, don't you? You don't want to die like her. But you only have a limited amount of time to decide. There is nothing you can do to stop us now."
Soundwave's fist BANGS against Crosscheck's door rather urgently.
<Earth> Praxis's harsh, powerful tones echo over the channel, overriding any and all communication. All must hear his proclamation. "Fools. Abase yourselves before me, you are nothing but pitiful insects to be crushed beneath my feet. Your science is pathetic compared to my mighty intellect. You dare to even compare yourself to me? Before this night is over, I will annihilate you and your pathetic band of New Americans. And you Geo and your so called Micromasters. The Church of Primus will crumble, and it will be the logic and might of my will that will rule all. Citizens of Earth, those who side with me, I call you to my side. A dark night of chaos and uncreation comes, and Praxis is its name."
<Earth> Mishap says, "Um.. is there an option B?"
Crosscheck's voice come out of the intercom, "What is it? I asked to not be distrubed, I'm running a very delicate experimentation right now."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "Easy Lord Praxis. Remember your medication. It's not the insects' fault that they don't recognize the virtues of mad science."
<Earth> Astrotrain says, "Yeah, shoot him in the face."
<Earth> Geo says, "I don' wanna stop you, guzzler. I want YOU to join ME. You might be the master of matter-shrinking, with that altmode, still eat up so much fuel. c'mon, shrink down permanently like we did. Right Big Daddy, Road Handler, Barricade?" There's a chorus of 'Yeah!' and 'Slag the guzzlers, we don't need 'em!' from behind her. "However, if we're threatened, we'll take action against your rust-bucket skidplates. Countdown, Skystalker, get security for our 'trump cards' online!"
<Earth> Scrapper says, "But the energy crisis is over, Geo."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "The Inquisitors have seen to that!"
<Earth> New Soundwave response to Geo is to play back a recording of Glitter's last moments. Seems to involve a lot of power drills. And screaming.
<Earth> Geo says, "Scraps, the energy crisis was over for us Micros thirty years ago, when we got small. You guzzlers... *cough* Wow, Sound, that's harsh. I ain't even a cassette no more, 'remember?"
Soundwave taps the intercom button. "Make time, Crosscheck. Blast Off has advised me of a serious situation that involves YOU."
<Earth> Mishap says, "I'd just like to make it known that Im pre-emptively surrendering to everyone. As such I am a prisoner of war, so no-one is allowed to shoot at me."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "Typical of the micromasters to think so small. Why be puny and weak when you can be big and have all the energon in the universe?"
<Earth> Geo says, "'Cause we don't need to be big to punk your non-gestaltin' skidplate."
<Earth> Zek Briar says, "Remaining people of earth. My name is Zek Briar, great great grandson of General Michael Briar. I...I don't really know what to say to these events. But tyranny in all its forms is still tyranny. I have the Glaive Unity and I intend to use it to fight Praxis. My great great grandfather built within the Unity a way to wipe out all life, but I choose not to use it in favor of trying to stop this. His kind must be defeated if peace is ever to be reclaimed by the earth. I implore all who is within the sound of my transmission, do not be fooled by those who wish to offer you what Praxis is offering. I hate fighting, I'm not a warrior, but I am joining King Grimlock if he's against Praxis. Please, join us or stay out of our way."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "Hmph. Empasis on the non-gestaltin'. Frankly that just proves that being small is worse than being big."
<Earth> Scavenger says, "Shrinking. Delaying the inevitable while making a mockery of your former selves. Like midget wrestling."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "Not to say there's no benefits to midget wrestling... it /is/ pretty hilarious."
<Earth> Hook says, "You've become a mockery of your former selves."
Crosscheck grunts, "Oh yeah... I forgot to talk to Praxis about that Oxymoron... I swear I'll smelt him in the melting pits of Charr for screwing my carefully planet plot. But come in since you wish to speak about your puppet's actions." Silently, the door slide open, revealing Crosscheck's lab. The former autobot scientist is standing near a table full of flask. He's apparently working on something contained ina forcefield above that table.
<Earth> Geo says, "Hardly, Hook. You challengin' us? 'cause all of L.I. has been spoilin' for a fight, and I'm sure that the parts I recovered from Mixmaster and built into Mixing would, y'know, enjoy the fight. As Sixbuild, anywya."
At the top of the fortress, amidst the mechanical pistons and screens and humming cogs, resides Praxis, motionless on his throne, the hands of his battlesuit gripping the arms tightly. Suddenly, without warning he stands, slowly raising one arm up. "My children!" he intones in rich brown tones. "Soon is the culmination of my work. But do not fear, I will see you safe in this terrible new world we will create. My fist shall sweep through the galaxy in a mighty arc. We will crush all those before us. There will be no turning back!" Behind him, large monitor screens declare the words "FUTURE" and "TRUTH". Praxis's blank visage stares on in a glassy manner, but there is definite anger in his voice. "I grow tired of the worms and their pathetic threats. They too shall die."
<Earth> Astrotrain says, "Can they still merge? Cause Devastator missin a part or two would look kinda hilarious."
<Earth> Scrapper snorts. "Anyone who dares oppose Lord Praxis will find out."
Soundwave steps in purposefully--with his concussion rifle leveled at Crosscheck. "I have been informed that you are a traitor and--" He turns around as Praxis appears to awaken from his throne, then glances back to Crosscheck. "How fortunate for you. But rest assured that I will deal with your treachery once we have dealt with your friends." The tape commander stomps out of the lab irritably, and soon joins Praxis in his throne room, bowing before him.
<Earth> Praxis says, "Scrapper, bring your forces and come to the Fortress for orders. We may need to carry out some... pest control on these irritants."
Crosscheck simply grins at Soundwave, "You don't even know what you're..." Then he is interrupted by Praxis's voice. Still holding a small box, surrounded by a low level forcefield, in his hand, he joins Soundwave into Praxis's throne room.
<Earth> New Soundwave says, "Humans of Earth, many of you need energy as much as we do. That is why you must not be misled by the lies of this so-called "Briar." Michael Briar abandoned you, and his exo-suit was destroyed. The "Unity" is now nothing more than a fairy tale. Again, your only hope for survival is to join us."
<Earth> Scrapper says, "By your command."
<Earth> Scavenger says, "I obey."
From the heavens of the highest point of the inner dome, Praxis descends, still sitting on his throne as mechanical arms lift it towards New Soundwave and Crosscheck. "Crosscheck" he booms, leaning back in his chair, gazing down at this so-called traitor. "I have given you a new life, a new purpose. I have given your pitiful existance meaning. Do NOT tell me that you have squandered your gift. Prostrate yourself before me."
New Soundwave glances at Crosscheck, then steps away from him, making sure that if Praxis nukes the guy he won't get caught in the blast. Honestly, New Soundwave never trusted the guy and always expected him to betray Praxis.
Scrapper (and possibly his Constructicons) drive into the fortress as per Praxis's command. Scrapper has been a little wary of their leader of late, but has never had any reason to distrust him. Nevertheless, the Constructicon Supervillain Escape Pod is fueled and ready in the event that things turn sour. Transforming into robot mode, Scrapper salutes to the descending Inquisitor leader. "Hail Praxis. Constructicons reporting as requested!" He watches to see just what is happening to Crosscheck.
Crosscheck drops on his knees before Praxis, "I didn't my Lord. Do not believe the words of an inferior mind over the word of your faithful servant. I want to Tulsa to destroy the New Americans in your name...as a gift for you. I hide a powerful gamma bomb inside my hovercraft and convinced Grimlock that I wanted to betray you and that I brought Energon to him. However I was followed from orbit by Blast Off who destroyed my hovercraft..and the bomb... right after I managed to convince Grimlock...then he came back running here spreading his lies." Crosscheck lowers his head, "I'm sure he didn't mean to lie my lord but he doesn't have to capacities to understand someone of my intelligence."
Arriving behind Scrapper comes the Hook, who has at some point in the past replaced his left hand with an actual hook. He glances about warily, and sticks fairly close to Scrapper, who has the keys for the aformentioned escape pod.
Soundwave waves a hand dismissively. "Utter nonsense. If this was in fact an operation against Grimlock he would've notified one of us before he executed it! He is a liar and a traitor, Lord!"
Constructibro Six, aka the Steam Shovel named Scavenger rolls in with Scrapper & co. Following suit, he transforms and remains slightly behind Scrapper, saluting as well but not speaking. As an idiot savant, he has learned not to make himself too vocal in this group of brainiacs. He's good technically, but not bright. So his position in The Inquisitors is petlike at best. He's here cause he's a Constructicon. If he wasn't one of the greenies he'd have a much lesser position. But still be impressed with him! Scavenger rocks!
Praxus rages as if the fires of hell itself, glowering down at Crosscheck as the armoured behemoth rises from his chair. "Fool!" he snarls. "I took you in, I gave you shelter and energon, I gave you the gift of purpose itself, and you SQUANDERED IT!" Huge mechanical gears grind, and he seems to stand exactly still for a moment, the only noise being the hiss of pistons. And then his voice booms out again. "For what it is worth Crosscheck, I do believe you. You are not intelligent enough to defy me, and yet too intelligent to know to try. Your mistake was to think yourself capable of such an act, and so you foiled yourself." Praxis steps forward, his huge booted feet slamming against the ground, hand outstretched. "I will give you one chance to redeem your miserable act. Kill Grimlock for me. Bring me his head, or I will CRUSH yours." With that, the fist closes. Hard.
Scrapper shies away to the safety of his brothers as Praxis yells at Crosscheck. "Primus," he mutters to them in an aside, which is therefore impossible to overhear, "Praxis is getting crazier and crazier as time goes by. Kill Grimlock? Does he think Crosscheck stands a chance?" The Constructicon fidgets slightly, torn between wanting the Constructicons to be the ones calling the shots, wanting to advance science, and not wanting to have Praxis be the death of them all.
Crosscheck doesn't move, showing no sign of fear, however he keeps holding the smallbox, tightly in his right hand. He knows very well that save Praxis, no one here can match intellect, "As you command my lord. I worked all day to prepare the new American's defeat. I designed a new weapon that will take the dinobot down. I need only a few minutes to complete the prototypes."
Hook seems to look quite dissapointed that Crosscheck was not destroyed for his failure. Hook does not tolerate imperfections very well. "His plan was flawed." He replies to Scrapper in a hushed voice. "I'm surprised Praxis has bothered to give him another chance, however slim. Crosscheck will, at the least, be a distraction to the Dinobot."
New Soundwave stomps slowly towards Crosscheck, his voice whispering, "I will detect your first sign of defiance, Crosscheck. If you disobey Praxis, you will wish that Grimlock had killed you instead. I will see to it personally." Then, New Soundwave tilts his head, and looks up at his new master. "Lord, your enemies are gathering around the fortress. I can hear them easily. They are many."
Praxis stares down at Crosscheck impassionately. "No" he intones. "New Soundwave shall complete your device. You fools shall work together rather than bicker like pathetic protoforms. Hand him the device Crosscheck, that is not an option." Then the beast raises his head, sitting back on his throne, that rises slightly, sitting in judgement of all about him. "Scrapper!" he booms. "We must control the infestation that plagues our lands. I cannot stand the constant blathering that pollutes the radio streams." More hisses as his servos hum with power that builds and builds. "I know, New Soundwave. We will march out to meet them, and crush them underfoot. Such is the way. My way."
Scrapper nods back to Hook. "I suppose." Anything involving Grimlock has always served to frighten Scrapper. The Dinobot Commander has been a thorn in the Constructicons' side ever since the accursed Wheeljack whipped him up. "If Praxis keeps on this way then we may be for-" just then, Praxis yells at them. Scrapper winces. "Yes, Lord Praxis. We are ready to kill anyone who opposes our scientific achievements."
Scavenger glances between his brothers in their counsel over to Crosschec and New Soundwave before Praxus. He feels the unidentified energy building... could it be after all this time he has finally started developing some common sense? He stands straight at Praxus' vocal attention thrown towards his party. His shovel twitches randomly.
"We will not allow them to defile the most perfect energy source, Praxis." Hook replies, raising his hooked hand into the air. "They will suffer for thier opposition."
Crosscheck bows before Praxis, "As you wish my lord." He turns towards NewSoundwave, "In my lab, you will find a rifle on a table near the wall. It's nearly completed. The schematic are on the datapad next to it. You should be able to understand it and complete the weapon. It's energy inefficient but it doesn't matter now and it will surely disable the Dinobot."
New Soundwave stares at Crosscheck for a looong time, as if trying to peer into his thoughts. In fact, that is what he is doing. Unfortunately, his telepathic abilities aren't as great as he often leads others to believe they are, and he can't get much out of that noggin, besides some obvious contempt for himself. "Very well, Crosscheck. I will use the weapon myself--so that you will not tempted to turn it on your own Lord." He marches off, disappearing into the corridors of the complex.
Praxis sits in his thone, contemplating the situation. Around him, monitors start to flare up with warnings of danger, of an assault force moving forward, klaxons blaring. "Fools" he ruminates. "Poor pathetic fools. They wish their end to come now? They wish to become one with the void? Well, I shall deliver their wish. Scrapper! Crosscheck! New Soundwave! Join me and wipe this infection from the face of their planet. None shall dare try to stop me, not at the APEX of my glory. This, I command!" With that, he pumps a fist down, and his throne starts to grow, huge legs sprouting from it, walking him forwards slowly as if a mighty emperor carried by his slaves.
"Yes, Praxis," Scrapper replies, giving a sharp elbow to Hook and Scavenger. It's his way of telling them to remain alert. If things go bad, which they often do, the Constructicons' priorities will quickly shift to their own survival. The Constructicon engineer follows after Praxis and the others, hoping that their ancient Gestalt technology is still capable of some of that old magic.
<Earth> Praxis says, "Forces of the Inquisition. Reapers. To Detroit. Tonight we crush the vermin that stains my world and sweep them away."
Crosscheck rises to his feet, "We shall defeat them my Lord. They will fall before your might." The scientist looks a bit nervous now but everyone knows that combat isn't his speciality so it may just be that...or that fact that Praxis wants him to kill the most fearsome warrior alive...
<Earth> Glittery Magic Fusillade says, "I am closer than you think, Praxis..."
Through his boots, Hook can feel the reverberations of the explosions outside. He turns towards the exit, and briefly wishes he had a tacky walking throne of his own. Hook pulls out his plasma pistol with his good hand, aising it high, and nods to Scrapper. "Yes, Praxis!"
New Soundwave reemerges some time later, a huge gun in his arms that vaguely resembles Optimus Prime's rifle. He appraises it for a moment, then bows his head to Praxis, replying, "As you command, Praxis. We will destroy your enemies." He follows behind the throne, pondering who he should blast with the gun first. Crosscheck, maybe. Heheheh, how ironic would that be?
However, unbeknownst to him, something is happening to the fortress's computer systems....
<Earth> Praxis says, "I am glad to hear it. See Crosscheck, hear the words of one who does NOT fail me"
<Earth> Crosscheck says, "Yes my lord."
<Earth> Quickswitch says, "It will be done, Praxis."