Transformers: Built For War pt 1 CYBERTRON, APPROXIMATELY 20,000 YEARS AGO. His engines shining like a star in the skies over Cybertron, Firestar surveyed the scene below. Far from weapons range, the Decepticon scout monitored the Autobot defence of Iacon. He had to admit they were putting up a fight as they fired a ceaseless barrage of heavy artillery fire into Decepticon positions around the city. “Firestar, report.” Suppressing an urge to groan, he responded to the sound of Shockwave’s voice over the radio. “Firestar reporting in, sir.” It galled him to even think of that walking computer as his superior. Nonetheless, Megatron had installed Shockwave as interim leader of Cybertron’s Decepticons, so he had to be obeyed. Granted, Firestar hadn’t even been constructed when Megatron disappeared, but he had his place in the Decepticon ranks. “Autobots are shoring up defences on the southern route into Iacon. Looks like they’re moving more heavy artillery into place. Unable to identify specific Autobots, the smoke is obscuring long-range visuals. Should I go in closer?” “Negative, Firestar. Remain out of Autobot range. Continue circling Iacon for now. Shockwave out.” As the line went dead, Firestar went back to monitoring. Despite being built with excellent long-range sensors, dense palls of smoke obscured even his vision. With countless fires raging far below, infra-red was virtually useless, and at this range his Spark sensor only told him that there were a lot of Transformers down there. With a vehicle form loosely based on the long-lost Starscream, Skywarp and Thundercracker, he could have been utilised as a fast attack craft but most of the missions handed to him were relatively mundane. While he boasted an impressive array of weapons ranging from short-range rockets to plasma pulse cannons, seldom was he given the opportunity to use them. Bored with his mission, he began to look farther afield. His allies had the domed city surrounded from the south and the east, and had slowly been advancing toward the Autobot stronghold in recent days. In the south, Scorponok led his band of close-knit warriors in a direct assault on the city’s main gates, while Lord Straxus led the secondary front from the east. Looking to the relatively quiet north, Firestar detected a Spark moving rapidly toward the city. Focusing all sensors on it, he noticed something travelling along the only surviving monorail track leading into Iacon. The Autobots had been quick to repair the extensively-damaged monorail network after Decepticon attacks, but the bombings had been persistent and now something was using the only surviving line. Firestar saw his chance – could he at last see some action, rather than surveying the scene from his lofty position? There was only one way to find out. “Shockwave, this is Firestar. Monorail train approaching from the north. Should I intercept?” After a brief pause, in which time Shockwave was no doubt calculating probabilities and projections, Firestar got a reply. “Affirmative Firestar, you are to investigate. Defend yourself but do not waste valuable energon on an attack.” Forcing back a sigh, Firestar resigned himself to his mission and dived down toward the monorail line. He made a quick close-up scan of Iacon’s domed roof and transmitted the data to Shockwave for further analysis – hopefully a weak spot could be found. Following the meandering monorail line, he could see the headlight of something approaching up ahead – concentrating all sensors on it he recognised the Autobot Heavyhaul. Able to transform into a monorail locomotive, he appeared to be bringing a long train of wagons into Iacon. Firestar could only guess at the nature of his cargo but he knew it had to be stopped. He got on the radio. “This is Firestar, I’m about to intercept a trainload of supplies heading into Iacon. Am I free to engage?” For a change, Shockwave didn’t dash Firestar’s hopes. “Affirmative, Firestar.” His voice as flat as ever, he told the scout what he wanted to hear. “Use any means available to stop it.” “Thank you, Firestar out.” Up ahead, the train suddenly slammed its brakes on, screeching along the track. Firestar slowed, hovering before the train as it came to a stop. The boxy, angular, yellow locomotive was only too familiar to him. Leaving the wagons on the track, it began to transform, standing up on its rear end as limbs and a head unfolded. Firestar transformed where he hovered, landing on the monorail track with a metallic clang that reverberated through to where Heavyhaul stood. The line was flat with a raised track in the middle. Two low barriers on either side of the track prevented any derailed trains from going over the edge – a wartime addition by the Autobots to limit sabotage. The Autobot was first to speak. “You again. I should have known you’d be around here.” Firestar had spent recent weeks surveying what remained of the Autobot-controlled monorail network. He had frequently encountered Heavyhaul moving ammunition, energon and other supplies around the dwindling Autobot territories. The two had clashed on more than one occasion when Firestar’s thirst for action got the better of him and he provoked the Autobot. Distant explosions echoed from Iacon as Firestar took a step forward. “What are you moving today?” “Nothing you need concern yourself with.” Heavyhaul shook his head. “Energon?” Heavyhaul was becoming visibly irritated, and it began to show as his synthesised voice took on an edge. “None of your business, Decepticon.” Firestar laughed. “Come now, Heavyhaul, is that any way to talk to me?” Larger than the yellow and grey Autobot, he took another step closer. He considered his size to be one of his better physical attributes, standing head and shoulders above the majority of his fellow Decepticons. “The dead have no need for energon; maybe you should donate it to the living?” “By Primus, you Decepticons are evil, twisted creations.” Firestar imagined a mouth curling into a snarl behind Heavyhaul’s faceplate. “Evil? Twisted? Ha! Who are you to judge us? By your ideals, we may be ‘twisted’ but by ours you are weak.” Heavyhaul interrupted before Firestar could begin another sentence. “I don’t have time for an ideological discussion. Get out of my way, Decepticon scum.” The ferocity displayed by the otherwise docile Autobot took Firestar by surprise. “Scum? I was just going to take that energon and let you go.” He raised his right arm, pointing a mounted plasma pulse cannon at Heavyhaul. “Now I’m going to kill you, then take the energon.” The Autobot was suddenly poised, but to the best of Firestar’s knowledge he lacked any inbuilt weaponry, and there was no way he could physically overpower the much larger Decepticon. “Going to dive if I shoot, eh?” Firestar knew exactly what Heavyhaul had in mind. He would dive from the overhead track, avoiding the shot which would hit the cargo of precious energon. The resulting explosion would kill Firestar and devastate the track for a kilometre in either direction. “You won’t do it. This is the only monorail line into Iacon, that exploding energon would destroy it. Heck, you’d be putting yourself out of a job. I might as well just do it for you. Oh, and thanks for confirming that you’re actually carrying energon.” Firestar smirked in a manner that reminded some older Decepticons of Starscream, so he had been told. “You haven’t got it in you.” Firestar merely raised an eyebrow at the voice behind him. However, he knew things weren’t going well when he felt the clink of a firearm touching the side of his head. “Now lower the weapon Decepticon.” “Inferno. Always wanting a piece of the action.” Inside, Firestar berated himself for not noticing the Autobot sooner – his Spark sensor should have warned him of Inferno’s approach, but he was so caught up with Heavyhaul that he failed to notice he his new adversary. “I suppose somebody has to look after Heavyhaul here.” “Let him pass, and I won’t have to kill you.” Firestar had to find a way out of the stand-off. He could have taken Inferno out but the Autobot was as large as he was, and he didn’t know enough about Inferno in terms of strength to want to take him on in a straightforward fist-fight. Time to use my vehicle to my advantage. “So, tell me Inferno, would your vehicle form be airborne?” “What?” Firestar turned his head to see that Inferno was now standing next to him, having walked around the Decepticon’s right wing. Looking up and down, Firestar saw no evidence of wings or thrusters on the bulky, red Autobot, confirming that he was land-based. “Never mind. Isn’t there a fire you should be putting out?” Smirking again, Firestar leapt into the air and transformed. Staggering back to avoid being hit by Firestar’s wing, Inferno tripped over the edge of the track and fell from sight. Shocked, Heavyhaul took a step backward and watched Firestar climb into the smoke-filled sky. Looping around, Firestar targeted the track in front of Heavyhaul, keeping the track ahead in his sights. He quickly fired off four plasma pulses which tore into the track. He raked shots up the track toward the train as Heavyhaul jumped off the side into the depths below. All he needed to destroy the train was a single shot – one pulse tore into a container on the foremost wagon and ignited the energon cubes within. Setting off a chain reaction, the entire train exploded, devastating the track. “Firestar, this is Shockwave.” Hearing the military operations commander’s voice, the Decepticon anticipated a call to the front at Iacon’s southern gate, to finally play an important part – destroying the monorail line and energon cargo was something, but he would be much happier if Shockwave would only let him play the part he wanted, rather than be constrained by the limits of his design.