Across the starry void the hunter and the hunted coursed. Two ships. One perused one fled, but which was which who could tell?
The ship currently in the lead was in better shape. Its engines purred easily, great gears turning smoothly. The crew was calm, each moving about their assigned task efficiently, and armor chinking softly where two friends brushed shoulders for reassurance. There was no fear evident here. They sought essential fuel for their craft, for themselves. If they couldn't find it their deaths were certain, either in battle or by starvation.
The following ship was in chaos. The engines choked and coughed. Smoke seeped into every corridor from a hundred cracks in the plating. Low on energon and desperate the crew was only kept from open brawling by fear of the Captain. In the dark corners of the ship the larger preyed on the smaller; inflicting torture in a thousand small ways to vent their own fear and rage. When the ship they chased stopped to fuel they would strike. Until then fear and darkness reigned.
But to every rule there is usually an exception. Down in the bowels of the ship eleven forms waited in a cargo hold. They were a motley looking bunch, mid ranged in size for Cybertronians for the most part. Hides scored by long exposure to the harshest of elements gave little indication of color in the dim light. The largest one held the two smallest tenderly to its chest plates. Ten had their optics fixed on one. The one lifted his head and gave a tired smile. Like a wave the smile spread across the circle.
Both ships drew nearer a nondescript solar system; one primary star, four gas giants, four marginally habitable worlds, a few stellar bodies on the outskirts of the system that the astrologs couldn't give a precise designation for, and a large asteroid belt. The third planet was marked in the databases. Others of their kind had been here before, had left their ped-prints in the organic soil of the world. On the hope of those old records the lead ship had pointed its prow towards the blue orb.
The commander of the leading vessel stood resolutely in the center of the bridge as the crew moved silently around him. His green armor glowed dully under the dim lighting. Every scrap of energon that could be conserved was. His blue optics gleamed out from under his domed helm. In one hand he loosely held a staff. Broad shoulders and a powerful chassis were held up by two pillar-like legs. The crew we all of the same protoform mold. Created to be warriors, they were brothers forged by battle. On the shoulder of each a stylized red face stared out stoically.
The comm. officer strode forward and presented him with a sensor readout. He flicked his optics over the results of the system scan. A small smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. The hope had been rewarded.
"Navigation, plot a course for the third planet; tertiary continent, north western quadrant, within a three klick burn of the primary ocean." The commander ordered calmly.
"Did we find an energon source?" the youngest member of the crew asked eagerly.
The commander handed the warrior the readout and watched with satisfaction as hope and determination spread across his faceplates. Danger stalked them, but now they had a plan, they had a line on more than enough resources to get them home, and they had the advantage in numbers and firepower.
In the cargo hold of the perusing ship a door cycled open. Before it had fully cycled one of the Cybertronians had placed himself in front of it, effectively blocking the view of the others with his broad shoulder plates. The light from the corridor shone in on his battered white hide. On the other side of the door a sinuous black form examined him closely.
"We have an assignment for your crew," a silky voice purred. "One especially suited to your, particular skill set."
The white mech in front of her nodded. She smiled coyly at him and reached out a long limb to stroke his faceplate gently.
"Whatever could be the matter? You don't seem especially happy to see me dearest. Did I do something?"
The sturdy mech remained motionless, but his silver optics brightened to burn like twin stars at her touch.
"Don't you even want to know what your task will be?" the femme asked.
The mech continued to stare at her, face plates expressionless. The jet black Decpticon stretched out her many limbs and wrapped her arms around the mech's neck strut. She gently stroked his faceplate and whispered into his comm. unit.
"Come by my quarters when you receive the planetary approach signal. You'll get the details then, and maybe something else." She backed up and the door cycled shut.
For a moment the mech simply stood there, optics burning. Suddenly his forearm shifted, five servos fused into a massive drill. With a snarl of fury he plunged the drill into the bulkhead. The metal of the wall shrieked in protest. He stormed over to his seat on a cargo container and sat fuming. Another mech got up quietly and went to the wall. It pulled out a welding torch and began to meticulously repair the damage. The white Decpticon felt a tentative ping against his CPU. He glanced up at the smallest two members of his crew. They were staring at him with fear in their optics. With a tremendous effort he cleared his seething emotions enough to give them a weak smile.
"We have work," he said. Once he felt he was calm enough he let his defenses drop and reached out to his brothers over their bond. They responded and he felt the reassurance of knowing they were there, alive. He tried not to think about the femme, tried not to think about what that sadistic smile meant and what kind of work awaited them.