Jetstream sat in the launch bay in vehicle mode. The alarms were going off, red lights flashing a warning that the bay doors were about to open. The alien crewmen hurried from the area and kept watch over the goings on on the main floor from their protected balconies. The doors hissed, churning out a puff of vapour at their lower corners, then the behemothic doors slid open. Empty space loomed on the other side, inviting yet hostile. Jetstream's engines powered up with a low rumble that quickly grew into a high pitched, almost unheard whistling hum. A few moments. Then Jetstream launched from the bay and fled into the cold vastness of space, stars, galaxies and nebulae painted on the black around the two alien vessels. It was beautiful sight, Jetstream had decided long ago, and still considered it to be as such. Calming, yet terrifying. Welcoming, yet hostile. A beautiful, cold danger. In the distance, Jetstream could just about pick up the menacing form of another ship. Heading swiftly in that ship's direction determined it. The new ship was of Cybertronian origin. It was the small Decepticon battle ship, Epitaph.
All was remarkably quiet on the Epitaph's bridge. The small crew that were built of Hookshot, Steele, Roadtrain and Krusher were working at their stations, doing as they were supposed to do.
''We got an incomming.'' Roadtrain suddenly announced, breaking the silence.
''What kind of incomming?'' Krusher rumbled from his chair of command.
''It appears to be Cybertronian.''
A few buttons were pressed and the foreport switched magnification. There was something there. Something pleasantly familiar. The small craft had forward swept wings, with an array of smaller wings dotted about its being. Krusher grinned.
''At last.'' He mumbled as they watched it get closer and closer.
''Boss?'' Hookshot promtped.
''Open the docking bay doors.'' Krusher ordered.
The hull of the looming Decepticon battle ship started to develope a rectangular hole in its fore. Small lights lined the insides, beckoning for a landing. Jetstream steadied the rate of propulsion and slowly closed the distance, each passing moment sending a surge of unease and excitement throughout every circuit.
''Permission to come aboard, sir.'' Jetstream broadcast.
''Permission granted.'' Was the reply by an unfamiliar voice.
Waiting patiently in the docking bay was Krusher, hands firmly at his back. He looked out into space and at the Cybertronian jet as it neared the gaping maw of the his ship. He grinned. What news would accompany the scout this time? He mused to himself. Breaking through the outer shielding of the Epitaph, Jetstream's engines were now audible, no longer swallowed by the vastness of space. He watched as his old friend landed, sliding to a graceful halt on flat landing gear.
''Welcome aboard, Jetstream. It's been a while.'' Krusher said cooly.
Panels shifted and flowed and arms and legs erupted from the body of the jet. Jetstream stood upright, stretching and flexing every available limb.
''Mmmmm, it feels good to be moving like this again.'' Jetstream purred happily.
''Come, I'll introduce you to my meager crew before we discuss business.'' Krusher said with a smile and led the new crewman through the bowels of the ship and up onto the bridge.
They navigated the vast corridoors, Jetstream keeping a short distance away from Krusher, trailing him, optics taking in the new surroundings. The ship was new. Or it could be the same one, just with an upgrade. Jetstream mused. Ahead stood a set of large metallic black doors. Krusher prodded a button and they slid open, revealing the daunting, terraced bridge and its three crewmen.
''So it's down to three now, is it?'' Jetstream asked.
Krusher merely nodded.
''It was a great loss.'' He said bleakly. ''Especially Turbulance and Wire Cutter. They were two fine Decepticons.'' He finished morosely, neatly side stepping and avoiding the fact that it was himself that had terminated the small electrician and outcasted one of the finest soldiers he'd ever known.
''I don't know of Wire Cutter, but it's quite hard to forget someone like Turbulance. His death was too early.'' Jetstream replied, then eyed up the three who'd turned around in their seats to get a better look at the new-commer.
''It's female.'' Hookshot said from the corner of his metal plated mouth.
''I had noticed.'' Roadtrain grumbled. ''And she's a flyer too.''
''Start complaining, Roadtrain, and you'll be floating through deep space before you know it.'' Krusher rumbled.
''I wouldn't consider it.'' Roadtrain replied, making a small, mock bow in his seat.
''This is Jetstream.'' He announced, fighting back his retort, ''She's our new intelligence officer. I expect you'll treat her with respect.''
''What, no techie?'' Steele asked expectantly.
''I do tech work too, so I ain't completely useless.'' Jetstream replied evenly with a slight smile.
The Constructicon seemed to relax a little. No more fiddling around with ridiculously tiny wires and chips anymore... He thought happily.
Jeststream spied one of the empty consoles and approached it purposefully.
''Well discuss things later. Right now, we have an Autobot ship to sort out.'' She said as she sat down at her newly acquired station.
With a twitch of an optic, Krusher re-took his own chair and started out with the orders. Hookshot leaned slightly toward Roadtrain and whispered;
''Think I'm gonna like this one.'' He grinned.
''Should give the ol' bolt a run for his Energon.'' Roadtrain conceded with an equally sly grin.
''Activate the weapons and bring the shields to full.'' Krusher ordered.
''I'm Hookshot.'' The Crane said. ''These guys are my buddies in crime, Roadtrain, head logistics and the sad looking guy on your otherside is Steele.''
''Jetstream. And thanks for introducing me. Krusher always throws me in at the deep end without so much as an introduction.'' She replied.
''The Epitaph's making a hard turn.'' Galaxy rumbled from her position on the upper terrace behind Raid.
Raid turned his head slightly, silently acknowledging the large female's observation.
''Weapons are hot, ready to fire.'' Gundog announced from the far side of the bridge, tucked away in his little cubbyhole, keeping an eye on the ship's secondary weapons systems.
''Only fire when you have an opening.'' Raid said calmly.
''That's if there's such thing.'' Deadmetal said bluntly, checking the read outs on his console again, just to be sure what he was seeing was correct.
From beside him, Speeder was doing the same.
''The Epitaph's shields have been upgraded big time. We'd be lucky if we can get a hit in and do any minor damage.''
''We'll just have to hit them with everything we've got, and do it as hard as we can.'' Blue Falcon replied.
''No.'' Flashpoint said abruptly. ''We must be very careful with what energy we use. We're running low on fuel as it is, and until we find an Energon source, we need to be wise with our manuevers.''
''And if the Decepticons get away?'' Blue Falcon prompted, a hint of anger edging his tone.
''What if they get away? We know where they're going, and I'd rather we get to that destination too in one piece.'' Flashpoint replied evenly.
''Calm down, the pair of you.'' Raid said. ''If they attack first, which no doubt they will, then we will merely test the water, so to speak. If their shields prove as effective as Deadmetal and Speeder say, then we will make a tactical retreat.''
''Tactical retreat my skid plate...'' Blue Falcon muttered.
Raid merely stared blankly in his general direction. Behind him, Galaxy bristled with the slightest hint of looming anger.
''If I were you kid, I'd watch your audio synth. Raid's got us through more scrapes than you could ever hope to imagine.'' She snapped.
''Galaxy...'' Raid warned softly.
''Sorry boss.'' She mumbled and re-directed her attention back to her station.
Speeder gave Blue Falcon a slight nudge and a questioning look. Blue Falcon just shrugged lightly.
''Sorry, dude. Can't help it. The Decepticons just get me so, so...'' He trailed off into a frustrated growl.
''Know that feeling. I owe several some severe beatings. But don't worry. These guys are going down, and they're gonna go down hard. Just obey orders with as little questions as possible, and you'll be just fine.'' Speeder said in a hushed tone.
As predicted, the Decepticons were the first to open fire. A single shot slammed into the Solstice and the shields glittered momentarily.
''Everything's holding, sir.'' Gundog announced.
''Galaxy, primary cannon on their aft.'' Raid ordered calmly.
Galaxy did as she was told, and the charged shot burned through the smaller laser fire that was bombarding their ship, and hit home, dead on the main exhaust of the Epitaph. The Decepticon ship didn't even shudder.
''Their shields are still at maximum strength. Ours; not so maximum...'' Speeder groaned as he took a quick glance out of the foreport and at the hideous black ship that loomed before them.
Raid grunted. All kinds of plans and ideas flew through his mind, all of which comprised of using an excessive amount of preciouse fuel.
''Adjust position, try and orbit them and use as much fire power as you can without completely depleting us.'' He rumbled.
Deadmetal manuevered the sleek vessel around the enemy in an irritating orbitital pattern whilst Galaxy and Gundog unleashed the Solstice's armament unto the Decepticon craft. The Epitaph's shield flared and rippled like water, but otherwise held steady. Their own shields were not doing so well.
''One more hit like that,'' Deadmetal grunted as the Solstice was violently shook by the Epitaph's main plasma cannons, ''and we'll be scrap floating through space.''
''Time for one of your infamous retreats, Deadmetal.'' Raid said.
Deadmetal nodded and shifted the ship's postions so abruptly, the masses of laser fire shot in the wrong direction. But the rear guns on the Epitaph didn't. One shot; the Solstice's shields failed. Another shot; struck the exhaust hard, the chain reaction causing an explosion within the bowels of the Autobot ship. Sirens screamed and the Solstice's systems shut down one by one, leaving them stranded in darkness. Flashpoint manually heaved the bridge's doors open and fled the area, running as fast as he could for the engine room, Galaxy and Speeder in hot persuit. The rest of the crew watched as the Epitaph left them stranded.
''Why're they leaving so soon?'' Blue Falcon snorted from the fore of the bridge.
''They either don't have the fuel we do, or they're feeling bold.'' Deadmetal replied.
''Flashpoint? Status.'' Raid commanded over the emergency in-ship com line.
The line crackled and buzzed, then Speeder's voice came through.
''The engine's are down. That last shot fried them good. We've just put the fire out.'' He said.
''Not too big. Nothing I couldn't handle. But when Flash gets down here, man he's gonna be angry...''