Here's the fourth installment in my NASCAR series! Food City 500 By: Bumblebee765 Brad Keselowsky in the #2 car achieves victory! The Autobots luck has run out. There were no casualties, but the #24 and #14 cars sustained damage. The #5 suffered far more than the others… Optimus Prime stood beside the medical table in Ratchet’s workroom in the base. Jazz was lying on the table as Optimus gazed down on his old friend. Jazz has known Optimus longer than anybody else, and the Prime would trust him with his life. The crash he was in during the race didn’t kill him like it had killed Leadfoot, but it had left him seriously injured. He had been able to transform, thankfully. It would have much harder for Ratchet to operate on him if he were still in his vehicle form. Rev and Speedstrike, on the other hand, had come out of the race with just some minor damages. Rev was out and about walking around the base again, but Speedstrike was lying on a different table in another room attached to the one Optimus Prime and Jazz were in. Next to Speedstrike was Huntress on a similar table. Due to their split-Spark any damages inflicted upon one of them was felt by the other. Huntress looked perfectly normal physically, but she could feel Speedstrike’s pain. Although Speedstrike had been completely repaired shortly after Rev, Ratchet found it a good idea for the two Spark-siblings to rest their systems for a while, and no Autobot would refuse Ratchet’s medical advice. Prowl entered the room behind Prime and gestured for Optimus to follow him. He took one last look at his injured friend before following Prowl. Prowl led Optimus to the same room where Prowl had told his leader about the Autobots fight with Jetblast. Apparently the Decepticon was on the run again. “He’s in the human state known as Tennessee,” Optimus said. “I shall send a team to intercept him.” Optimus then left the room, leaving Prowl to continue studying the screen with Jetblast’s location. Optimus Prime strode to the main room of the base. Charger and Hardcore were talking to their respective drivers, Brad Keselowsky and Ryan Newman. Congratulations were being shared for Charger and Brad’s victory. Charger was never one to take praise well, so she simply stood next to Hardcore with her head slightly bowed. The two Autobots heard Optimus Prime enter the room behind them, so they turned around and saluted their leader. Optimus saluted back and they all let their arms fall to their sides once more. “Autobots, Jetblast has been spotted once more. I’ve decided to send you two to track him down.” “Alright, Prime,” Charger said with a nod of her head. Hardcore mimics her movement; the lights overhead shine off of his scratched-out Decepticon symbol on his right arm when he turns his arm slightly. The Autobot symbol on his left arm also gleams. Optimus dismissed them with a nod of his head and the two Autobots transformed and drove into their respective haulers in a different room. As the haulers drove off the drivers turned to Optimus in the main room. “So what do we do?” Newman asked a hint of excitement in his voice. “I am sorry, but currently we do not require your services. Thank you for the offer though; I am sure your assistance will be much appreciated in the future,” Optimus said. His last words caused the downtrodden drivers to perk up a bit, and they both smiled at Prime. *** The ride to Jetblast’s location was much shorter than the ride had been to the track to train the team’s combination skills. However on this mission only two of the combiner team Autobots were going to be present. When they arrived on the scene it was nighttime, as usual. Optimus always tried to send them on missions when it was dark. That way there was less of a chance that any human would discover their presence. Charger was the first one out of the hauler. She converted into her robot mode and activated her night vision. Everything turned from the natural colors of the night into different shades of green. When Hardcore exited his hauler she instructed him to do the same. During this mission she was in charge. The Autobot pair walked around the abandoned track before Hardcore finally broke the silence, “Don’t you think it’s convenient? The Decepticons are always found around the tracks we just raced at…” “I had wondered about that,” Charger replied. “Although Denier and the Wreckers had their mission high in a mountain range, and the only other time a Decepticon struck around one of the tracks was when Speedstrike led Prowl, Death Track, and Rev to find Jetblast. Maybe it’s more of a pattern of this particular Decepticon.” Hardcore smiled at her as she looked the opposite direction. Leave it to her to show him up. He hadn’t even realized this was only the second time a Decepticon had showed up around a track they were recently at. The Autobots walked on. They had both figured that Jetblast would have figured they were coming, or else there would be much more damage in the area. It was more than likely that Jetblast was just hiding, trying to repair his face that Speedstrike had damaged. It was doubtful that his left eye would ever function properly again, especially not after Speedstrike had cut it off. Walking around, they made their way around the parking lot. There were only a few cars around, one of which was a red pickup truck with a large attachment on the back. Jetblast’s disguise was getting worse. The two Autobots looked at each other and nodded. Charger reached into the plates on her back and drew out a small rod with identical sharp ornamental designs on both ends. The rod extended into the shaft of a two-handed pike. Hardcore activated his large under slung Gatling gun. “Jetblast, it seems we’ve found you again,” Charger said to the pickup truck. Before the last words left her mouth Jetblast started his transformation into robot mode. He activated a large serrated saber on his right arm, and said, “You damn Autobots just don’t know when to quit, do you? I’ll rip you all limb from limb! Look what your retched teammate did to me!” He pointed to the left side of his head. The optic was missing, and wires were sparking out of it. Some vile green liquid was leaking out. Overall it was a horrifying sight. Hardcore cocked his gun and Jetblast turned to him. Jetblast’s optic widened and he said, “Is that you, Hardcore? I didn’t know you had it in you to go traitor on our cause! I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to me; you never would kill any of the Autobots, even when we ordered you to. Do you remember how you had to make up for that?” Jetblast’s voice rang with malice at the end of his sentence. “Yeah, I do,” Hardcore said as he rubbed a scar on his abdomen. Charger had never noticed that before. She wondered how many other scars he had from their torture. Suddenly she found herself full of anger. This was one of the Decepticons that had tortured one of her friends when he still fought on the other side of the war. He took horrible punishments to save Autobot lives, and Jetblast had the nerve to taunt him! “I see you’re still wearing our symbol. Why might that be?” Jetblast said with a smirk, or at least as much of a smirk as he could accomplish with only the right side of his face. “I wear it to remind me of the wrongs I committed in my past. Wrongs I’ll never be able to right, but I can do one thing,” Hardcore flipped his visor down over his optics. “I can kill you and maybe help ease the pain!” Hardcore charged at Jetblast, yelling out a battle cry. He jumped up and slammed his feet into Jetblast’s chest, knocking him to the ground. Hardcore took advantage of the Decepticon’s surprise and grabbed the left side of his face. The Autobot pulled and Jetblast let out a cry of pain as a few more pieces of his head went loose. Charger saw the two Cybertronians fighting on the ground and intervened. She stabbed her pike into Jetblast’s side and pulled it out quickly. She didn’t want the Decepticon to have a chance to grad onto it. Jetblast hardly noticed the strike, and had finally gotten the chance to push Hardcore off of him. The Autobot landed hard on his back, and was momentarily surprised. Charger twirled her pike and ran at Jetblast for another attack. She leaped high into the air and brought the pike down in front of him as he dodged the strike. Jetblast lashed out at Charger, knocking her back next to Hardcore. Hardcore slammed his fist into the pavement in anger. Jetblast can hurt him all he wants, but nobody touches his friends and gets away with it. He ran at the Decepticon and body slammed him. Jetblast didn’t know what to think. He had served with the Autobot he was now fighting, but Hardcore had never pulled a move like this when he worked with the Decepticons. Hardcore’s gun was lying next to Charger, who was just watching the fight, not knowing what to think. Hardcore had never shown such skill while fighting alongside her, and he was one of her closest friends. He dodged all Jetblast’s attacks, and managed to make a few hits of the brutal Decepticon. Hardcore realized he needed a weapon, with his gun lying some distance away he had still had many options, but he went for one of his favorites; a sword he drew from the plates on his back. When he couldn’t use his gun, this was Hardcore’s preferred weapon. He slashed at Jetblast, causing a lot of damage to his internal systems. His outer armor was tough, so Hardcore didn’t even bother with that. Instead he struck at the joints, trying to cut off Jetblast’s ability to use his arms. Charger didn’t want to just sit around. She had been through much worse during her days as a data courier on Cybertron. She placed the pike back on her back and drew a small gun from her hip. She shot at Jetblast at any chance she got. She was a surprisingly good markswoman. She always hit her target. She managed to get a bullet to graze the left side of Jetblast’s head, which caused him to roar in pain. Taking the hint she shot there again and again. Eventually it was too much for him and he converted back into his alternate mode and drove off. Hardcore started to chase after him but Charger ran after her partner and wrapped her arms around his waist. Finally he calmed down. Hardcore turned around to look at Charger and said, “It seems every time we get close the Decepticons slip away…” “At least his head wound will be there for a while. Even if he makes it back to Megatron and their base in the Rockies, Denier and the Wreckers crippled their systems. It’ll be a long time before they do much of anything,” Charger said, in an attempt to lift his spirits. “I do suppose you’re right… Come on, we should start heading back. Jetblast still has the tracker, so we’re not going to lose him. At least we managed to make sure he didn’t cause any devastation here.” The two Autobots transformed and drove back to the area where the haulers had been parked. Then it was time for the journey back. They’d catch Jetblast eventually, Charger knew it. Data File: Autobot Data File Charger Technical Data: Strength: 8 Intelligence: 9 Speed: 10 Endurance: 8 Rank: 7 Courage: 8 Fireblast: 7 Skill: 9 Bio: Charger worked with Huntress, Speedstrike, and Death Track back on Cybertron before joining with another team, which included Rev. She was later reunited with them when Optimus Prime was gathering Autobots to leave with him to search the stars for planets to evacuate Cybertron to. She was a data courier during the war on Cybertron. On both of the teams she was on she carried information to other Autobot teams. She traversed Cybertron’s landscape through battlefields before reaching her destination, which was often behind enemy lines. Her signature weapon is a powerful dual-ended pike she uses acrobatically in close-combat situations.