Transformers: Warhead

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Vaikyuko, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    So, I'm going to jump right into this. I've been tweaking and working on Warhead for a long time, and I wanted to post it somewhere it would really get appreciated. Please note that it will be a rather long piece of fiction as I am a writer outside of my fan interests as well, and as such it's separated into multiple books which will run consecutively. It will be a reimagining of the mythos, starting with the golden days of Cybertron.

    Hope you enjoy.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Transformers: Warhead
    Book I: Tyrannicon Rising
    Chapter I: Rise


    Fight. Struggle. Die. The watch words. The way of life, the key to survival, so long as one could avoid that final stage. D-16 repeated it like a mantra in his head, the servos in his hands struggling as he grasped at the rocky outcropping of the chasm wall. Only a few more steps to ascend to the top. A few more meters. An eternity of distance.

    D-16 made the mistake of looking down, watching the Energon pool leaking out of the side of the chasm wall drop off below, so deep the glow of the Energon was lost to the darkness. He suppressed a shudder, turning away. Even though he was a protoform, newly created, he was not sacred. He was under no one's protection. Death would come as unceasingly for him as any other Cybertronian.

    D-16 planted his foot onto a ledge, but tested it with his weight; it broke, and he dangled helpless for a moment before catching himself and ramming his foot into the wall, creating a hole of his own. His pain receptors throbbed in protest, but it meant little. The ascent was all that mattered. A piece of metal broke from the canyon wall, and he turned his eyes away; it bounced harmlessly off his helm.

    His hand grasped the top of the chasm wall, and he hefted himself over the top, scrabbling to get onto solid footing. He paid no mind to the deep gouges on his silver chassis, products of the climb. D-16 was more concerned with the vista in front of him: the Decepticon city of Kaon, or at least the underbelly thereof. A large emblem in the classic Decepticon purple glowed luminescent in the dark of Cybertron's nighttime; its sharp edges and sleek contours drew in D-16's attention. He touched his chest for a moment, the blank spot in the center still yearning to be aligned with a faction. A family. There was a drive in him, perhaps programmed, perhaps self-determined, something unfathomable. The need to belong but more than that: to be respected, to have the same kind of recognition and power as the others, if not more. A prime directive.

    And then he was on the ground, the rush of air from an Energon cannon's explosion taking the breath from his lips. He shook his head, looking around and seeing nothing, until he focused his optics on a spot darker than the remainder of the night, just behind him at the chasm. Something prowled there, quadrupedal and slinking. A turbofox, D-16 thought suddenly, though he'd never known these native creatures to have cannons strapped to them. That meant it was domesticated. And that someone had armed it, and programmed it to kill him. Another test, then. He stood up.

    The shape of the fox leaped out of the darkness, its teeth flashing, and D-16 tried catching it, only for it to bowl him over and snarl, trying to bite his neck servos. It was a sleek black, almost pure, with silvery limbs, and it did indeed have a cannon mounted to its back. D-16 held it away from him as best he could, and finally wound up for a punch which sent the beast reeling off to the side, stumbling. While agile, turbofoxes were not especially armored.

    “Come then. Fight. Struggle. Die,” D-16 said, rolling to his feet. He opened his arms wide, clawed the fingers. The more imposing he looked, the better. The catlike creature paced the ground in front of him, not attacking. He didn't move, remaining as a statue. The creature stared at him, cocked its head as if confused. It bounded off into the night, and D-16 heard the distinct noise of a conversion to vehicle mode, the lilting sound he yearned to acquire for himself. “So you weren't alone after all, little fox,” he murmured. He looked back to the giant symbol of the Decepticons, awaiting him in the gloom of Kaon's underground. He trudged forward, his servos in his feet grinding in protest.

    A few cycles later, he marveled at the industrial spires crossing the paths of Kaon. Each marked a shop, recharge station, and so forth, and the street was liberally dotted with them all, a profusion of spines like the innards of some colossal titan. A few of the other Cybertronians glanced at him, but little paid him any heed; while it had been some decacycles since protoforms commonly stepped from the bowels of Cybertron, it still occurred enough to be nothing special. The home of the Decepticons was dimly lit with little other than phosphorescent pole lights, sending a purplish wash over the area, and reflecting purple off the silver of D-16's body.

    It disappointed him. After wanting to be a Decepticon himself so badly, there seemed to be little here, distractions and fleeting moments of lucidity scattered in the gloom. It made him question if this was all there was to life. A dead end existence, no sound, no fury, no fight to any of it. Empty days.

    He passed an Energon bar, with a few Decepticons skulking outside of it. Three in particular seemed even less appealing than he did currently, with a multitude of scars covering their bodies and dull, scratched paint schemes. D-16 spared them only a glance, and kept moving, aiming to get to the groundbridge elevators in the center of Kaon. After a millicycle or two of walking, he noticed the trio following him. He lifted an arm, examining them in the reflection of his own body: two were four wheeled types, while one possessed only two, some kind of bicycle form.

    “Hey, proto!” one of them called out. “Stop.”

    Obediently, D-16 turned, and the center one, the bicycle, punched him in the face. A line of Energon dribbled out of D-16's mouth from the force of the blow as he was sent reeling backward, stumbling on his already weakened feet.

    The bicycle stepped forward, its black and poisonous green paint scheme showing nauseously clear in the purple light. “You're coming with us.”

    D-16 wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “And why is that?”

    The two four wheelers looked at each other and laughed. The bicycle glanced back at them. “Shut up. Damn Vehicon punks. You don't need to know why. But you need to get your skidplate in gear and come with us, or we're going to bring you in pieces.”

    D-16 looked at the trio: not openly armed, which suggested they were at least following Kaon's policy of concealed weapons only, if they were carrying at all. Compared to him, however, they could have any number of weapons: concealed weapons could also be onboard ones. He had none. “I refuse.” Fight. Struggle. D-16 didn't finish the mantra in his head this time.

    “You've got brass bearings, kid,” the bicycle said. “But they don't call me Lockdown for nothin'. Boys, rough him up a little.” The two Vehicons approached D-16, each brandishing no weapon, and D-16 lunged at one of them, ducking under the Vehicon's sucker punch and tackling him full on. The protoform began pounding the Vehicon's chest plate repeatedly, denting it inward until it snapped in two, and he reached in and yanked out the first Energon couplings he could find. The other Vehicon grabbed him and tossed him off his counterpart, while the first grabbed at the Energon spilling out of its chest, trying frantically to seal the leaks.

    Lockdown whistled. “Not bad. Brutal, but effective.” He nodded to the other Vehicon. “Your turn.” The Vehicon looked at Lockdown, the former's hands trembling and stained with Energon from his fallen comrade. He turned and faced D-16, who stood once more opposite them. Other Decepticons now had turned to watch: street brawls were always a source of good entertainment. D-16 found a measure of repulsion in the idea. Fight or murder for sport didn't make any sense. Cooperation fostered a mutual growth. Naturally, he realized a split second later, not everyone would share such a viewpoint.

    The other Vehicon converted into its four wheeler mode and barreled down the street at D-16, who jumped out of the way. The Vehicon converted back and grabbed his leg, slamming him into the pavement. He kicked at the Vehicon, who in turn yanked on the leg and spun D-16, nearly stress fracturing the knee joint. D-16 cried out in pain and went limp.

    Lockdown walked forward, kneeling down and grinning. D-16 stared at him, seeing the red of Lockdown's optics up close. Some kind of staining had occurred on his face, looking like a tattoo. “Here's the deal. You come with us now, we forget you roughed up that guy, or I just jab you with an Energon prod and bring you anyway. Pick one.”

    D-16 moved to grab Lockdown's face, and the latter instantly used the Energon prod, shocking D-16 into unconsciousness. “Nighty night, proto.”

    * * *​

    D-16 awoke in a repair chamber, his wounds mostly closed. He stretched his body out, noting many of the servos still ached, but internal diagnostics suggested he was back to his peak. The chamber itself seemed self-enclosed, a darkened room, with a single one-way glass panel for observation. He strode up to it, trying to peer out, but no matter what he set his vision mode to, he wasn't able to penetrate the glass.

    “You're wondering why you were abducted, aren't you?” an unfamiliar voice echoed. Deep. Striking. But playful, somehow. Not Lockdown. D-16 looked around, finding the source to be three speakers inset into the ceiling.

    “Yes,” he said simply. Best to play along and learn more.

    “It's quite simple. You showed promise. I watch all the protoforms when they escape The Pit. Those who escape in record times are challenged. If they succeed that challenge, then I aim to acquire them,” the voice said. Something smelled of sophistication in it, despite its harsh tone, and somehow this unsettled D-16 more: the idea that a refined Cybertronian would be capable of such things.

    “Lockdown can be a bit rough around the edges, but he provides good entertainment in the arena the same as many of my Decepticons. You, my unnamed friend, are one of those new entertainers.”

    “You intend me to be a gladiator, then?”

    “Precisely. The masses demand satiation. The miners demand an outlet. I am only too willing to provide. For a price, of course.” The voice chuckled.

    “Who are you?” D-16 asked.

    “I've many names, and more I've acquired through business, but call me Swindle. Given I always get the better end of the deal, it's an appropriate moniker.”

    “And if I say no?”

    “You don't have a choice, my unnamed friend. Either I simply scrap you here and use you for spare parts (and believe me, there's plenty of bots who would pay for your parts), or you fight. If you fight well enough, you become an enforcer instead of an gladiator. It's a good deal,” Swindle said, though D-16 heard a distinct chuckle waft from the speakers.

    “My designation is D-16. I'll kill whatever you want if you get me out of here.”

    “My, my, what enthusiasm! And without even an alternate mode. Speaking of which, we provide alternate modes to our gladiators if they don't have them,” he said sweetly. “It would cost another fight's worth of entertainment out of you, but I'm sure it's a small price to pay, right?”

    D-16 closed his eyes, recalling the iconic sound from when both the unseen Cybertronian and the Vehicon converted. He savored it, imagined what it would be like, to also have the extra durability stemming from being able to convert.

    “Done.”

    “Excellent. You seem to be just fine, so why not a test sparring run? We'll let you play with one of our other new acquisitions. Oh, but first, your alt mode.” There was a tapping sound over the speaker, and a holographic interface booted up in the center of the room, showcasing three different vehicles. One was a four wheeler, much akin to the Vehicons. D-16 passed over it, looking at the other two. One was a jet of some sort, but angular, not like the Cybertron Defense Force's Seeker Armada jets. The last was perhaps the most utilitarian: it had no frills, appeared to be hovering, and seemed heavily armored. A tank. D-16 pointed at the tank, and from wherever he watched, Swindle's chuckle echoed again in the chamber.

    “Excellent. We'll have you retrofitted in a snap. But for that to happen...Well, I'm afraid we'll have to knock you out again. So sorry!” he said sweetly, as an Energon pulse rocketed through the chamber, sending D-16 into unconsciousness once more.

    This time he drifted in a sea of stars. Each shone with brightness, spotlights in the eternal dark. Cybertron stretched out beneath him, an endless vista of glittering steel, Energon rivers running along it, the capital cities glowing beautiful. The vista brought him a great deal of peace, but something inside him felt betrayed by the image. He knew what it was, of course: the endless toil of some, but not all. The reaping of benefits by some, but not all. The endless Cybertronian struggle, a failure of equality. And then something changed, in a little corner. Fire. War. It writhed serpentine in the cities, twining them together inextricably, consuming it all. It erupted in a gout of flame from the planet, turning the surface black. A sense of foreboding filled D-16 as he watched with horror the planet fall deeper and deeper into destruction, and he saw something loom in the darkness behind Cybertron itself, a shape unknowable. It reached for the planet with an open hand, and he awoke.

    “Welcome back to the living, D-16. Hope you're ready for the show,” Swindle said, and the back end of the repair chamber opened up, revealing a circular arena with pillars littered throughout. Rusted dust scattered everywhere, testament to fallen soldiers by the score. The metal of the area had been pitted and scarred with countless weapon strikes and blast discharges. “Go on,” Swindle said. “Your first bout awaits!”

    D-16 entered the arena amidst cheers, looking around to see the stands full of Decepticons and Autobots alike, thousands of them. He let the praise wash over him, and ignored it. He needed to kill whatever it was they sent after him. Fight. Struggle. Survive.

    The door opposite his opened, revealing a newcomer not altogether unlike himself: it must have been another protoform, though doubtless with an alternate mode of its own now. It was emblazoned a deep red, with orange highlights in certain shell-like portions of its main armor. He couldn't make out its face quite from this distance, but something looked unusual about it.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a brand new spectacle! We have here two protoforms, newly minted, who have managed to not only escape The Pit, but survived the dangers of the Minicons and even Vehicons! Get ready for the fight scene of your life, featuring...!” The announcer trailed off as a large holographic display showed D-16's face. “D-16, the silver challenger! And in the opposing side of the arena, the red powerhouse, Rampage! Who will win in our newest battle?” The screen switched to show the other bot's face, with wide green eyes and a segmented mouthpiece. “And fight!”

    D-16 immediately converted to vehicle mode, relishing the classic sound as he moved forward hovering. He possessed no weapons, but based on his internal diagnostics he had enough armor to withstand a heavy Energon cannon without any issue. He sped toward Rampage, who transformed into a tracked vehicle carrying nothing. D-16 realized neither of them, even in their alternate modes, had been issued weapons. So we fight the old fashioned way.

    The two crashed into one another in the center of the arena, converting back to robot form. Each slid around the nearest pillars, with D-16 whirling into a kick which floored Rampage. The red bot went scrabbling on the ground like an organic insect, crawling right up one of the pillars and flipping to land heavily on D-16. He's heavy, and has reinforced servos; I won't win in a head to head fight.

    “What an opener: our duelists have already started duking it out blow by blow! But what say we even the odds a bit with some melee weapons?” The announcer's voice ended as a strange metallic clink was heard, and a number of swords, axes, and bludgeons fell from the ceiling to embed themselves heavily in the ground. D-16 shoved Rampage off him and rolled away, and a spear rammed into the ground where his head had been a moment prior.

    “Rampage! What did they promise you? Freedom?” D-16 asked. Test the waters. See if he's a brute or a thinker. And if he can be swayed.

    “Freedom is meaningless if you're weak! They offered me nothing. I demanded battle! I want to prove myself, to be the most powerful, and where better to begin than here?” Rampage said. His voice was guttural, angry, but tinged with pride. He looked around and grabbed an Energon sword, spinning it around in one hand. “And that means I'm going to carve your spark out of your chest and devour it if I have to!”

    Rampage lunged at him, trying to stab the sword through D-16's chest, and the latter dodged, picking up an axe and flinging Rampage's sword back, setting the larger bot off balance. D-16 shouldered through, ramming Rampage off his feet and sending him toppling down.

    “Upset! We have D-16 on top, despite lower specs! Could we have an underdog win? Rampage probably doesn't think so!” the announcer cried out, and the cheers intensified as the red bot climbed to his feet. He roared unintelligibly, bounding toward D-16, who sidestepped him and hammered him in the back with the flat of the axe, sending him facefirst into the metal.

    “Rampage, listen to me. We are little but slaves here. Throw the match. I have a plan, and we can continue onward, the both of us. We'll escape. You can prove you're the strongest in the process, and we both can get our freedom by our choice, not by Swindle's,” D-16 said, pressing a foot into Rampage's back to keep him pinned.

    “Let go of me! I will win by any means, I don't care!”

    D-16 pushed the axe's blade to Rampage's head. “You already have lost. But I'll give you a chance to surrender instead. No one will expect it. Cooperation between gladiators is unheard of.”

    Rampage stilled when he felt the axe. “What do you get out of this? What do you even want?”

    “Freedom. Freedom from all of this, from the castes, from war. Freedom for every Cybertronian,” D-16 hissed, his voice deepening. Why he wanted it was beyond him at the moment. It seemed appropriate. Something to reflect upon later.

    Rampage paused for a moment. “Done.”

    Satisfied, D-16 lifted the axe, and Rampage leaped at him, tackling him to the ground. “But I'll make it realistic!” Rampage said, pushing the smaller bot's shoulders down to prevent him from hefting the axe. D-16 narrowed his eyes, and rammed his head into Rampage's. Without a helm, D-16 knew he would have been knocked silly, but Rampage only seemed mildly affected. He shoved the red bot off him and hammered his face with the side of the axe, knocking him off his feet, and raised the axe above his head for the killing blow.

    “I forfeit!” Rampage cried suddenly, raising his hands above his head. D-16 lowered the axe, and offered him a hand, and the larger Cybertronian took it. The two stood together, looking into the crowd.

    “I don't believe it – this is a first, a match not ending with a decisive victor by attrition! Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed history!” the announcer said. The arena remained quiet for a few moments longer, and then cheering louder than any before drowned out every other sound. D-16 grinned, and looked at Rampage, who snorted and nodded. The two raised their arms, reveling in the adoration of the crowd. Rampage clapped D-16 on the back, and leaned in.

    “You'd better be worth the trouble.”

    D-16 smiled. “The world will know me soon enough. He scanned the crowd, seeing so many colors, shapes, and body types for Cybertronians. Seeing the multitude all enjoying something together brought a wellspring of emotion within him, and he smiled wider. Perhaps this is why I want equality. Perhaps this feeling, this emotional rise. And if these floodgates have opened, then maybe I am to learn who I really am in seeking this equality for all of Cybertron. “I will make them know me.”

    Through his mind flew a single worrying thought, despite the conviction in his voice. But where did all of this motivation come from? Why do I want freedom for anyone? All I want is to be free myself. But the words seemed to flow so easily. He glanced at Rampage, the red Cybertronian seemingly possessing none of his doubts. I will work to make the world mine, then. For the sake of freedom.

    Somehow, the thought seemed false.
     
  2. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    And so we continue on. Like I said, folks, it's going to be long. Apologies if you're more the instant gratification type, but this will have plenty of payoff. ;p

    If it's any consolation, I can say that D-16 is not an original character, and will become someone rather notable, for those who didn't immediately recognize him. The characters in this next chapter will probably be a little more apparent.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter II: Clerical
    Orion Pax stared at yet another billing spreadsheet, bored out of his mind. He tapped one of his tapered fingers on the table, his optics dangerously near to closing. It was now fifteen cycles straight of nothing but data tables. He leaned back in his seat, stretching his arm servos out, feeling the tightness of the jointing. The piped lighting illuminated his workstation dimly, just enough for it to feel frustrating.

    “Bit tired, Orion?” came the voice of Dion, one of his coworkers, from behind him, entering Orion's small, opaque cubicle.

    Orion started, and turned around sheepishly. The red bot scratched the back of his head. “Yeah. I've been at it for a long time.” He turned around and stood, the creaking in his joints audible.

    Dion, a primarily black and gray Autobot, smiled. “Yeah, when I can hear you're tired, it's time for a break. Who's the boss on this project anyway?”

    “The illustrious Rewind himself. He wants this done in another three cycles. I've done almost all of it but something isn't adding up in the final tabling, and I can barely read Cybertronix at this point,” Orion said.

    “Go on, get out of here. I'll finish up where you left off. In exchange, you'll do me a solid sometime and talk to Elita-1 for me?” Dion asked, nudging Orion. The casual reference to one of their office-mates, and a distinguished one at that, made Orion smile. The crush Dion had harbored on her for so many cycles was well known, though Elita-1 herself never let on whether or not she knew of it. Orion had to admit Elita-1 was quite interesting and an attractive type to boot, but he never had felt that personal connection. For him, she was but a friend.

    “Yes, yes, I'll try to get her interested in you. It's going to be a tall order, you're not exactly an Autotrooper.” Orion turned from Dion, patting the latter on the back, and left the cubicle. He walked the halls. There was something missing. The Autobots and Decepticons both felt too stagnant, too complacent. The networks didn't buzz with information like they used to and even the entertainment grids had steadily been losing originality. At times he felt like part of a grand scheme, but these times that feeling of togetherness, of almost hive-mindedness, came up less and less. Nowadays it felt more as if he was alone in a sea of complacency, all individuality abandoned. It's almost as if we've lost our sparks, he thought. Granted, he was tired. Thinking that sort of way led to troublemakers usually being silenced in the political arena.

    He passed several other cubicles on his way to the main server hub, which was linked to the exit of Rewind's data disc facility; each had names affixed to them but he paid little attention to any of those. After all, it didn't matter: if no one was unique anymore, did a name even matter? One Cybertronian would be interchangeable with another. The complete and total opposite of anarchy. Order to the extreme. He stared at the ground as he pondered, until he stumbled into Rewind himself, the smaller Autobot tapping his foot with his hands on his hips.

    “I take it your work simply isn't done, Orion Pax. You should know we have thirty seven clients who rely specifically on your data tracking and collation abilities and without you those clients would be most displeased at not having their tables computed,” Rewind said, his silver faceplate glinting in the dull fluorescent lighting of the office. Black, gold, red, the diminutive Autobot was known for being remarkably authoritative despite his small stature.

    “Dion's finishing up. I've been working my treads off on the tables for a stellar cycle now, I just want to power down for a while.”

    “No recharges, nothing but work till it's done. It's our job. That's the rules. Or do you want the Autotroopers to kick in our doors and 'relinquish' our license to run the tables? That's how a caste system works, you don't get a choice of what to do.”

    “And sometimes, Rewind, the system is broken. Deal with it!” Orion said, pushing past the smaller Autobot and striding through the main doors of the office. He emerged into the bustle of Iacon, capital city of the Autobots. It shone with a bluish tinge due to the decorative Energon lining each of the buildings, like runners of lightning streaking them. He breathed deep, enjoying the sweetness of the air, and changed into his small scale transport mode, trucking along to head home. Rebellion: something Orion rarely did, and something he knew he'd pay for later, but he didn't care. He wondered if Dion was getting into trouble too; the other bot had his own work, and doubtless Rewind would give him an earful over all of this.

    Overhead, a few Seekers from the Armada blazed by, and Orion sighed. If only. There would be a purpose, a job truly worth doing: protecting the whole of Cybertron. Even being one of the Autotroopers would be more worthwhile than sitting around running the tables, being little more than a glorified calculator. Destined for greatness was Orion's main assumption about himself, but with every passing cycle he grew more and more jaded with the idea. He stopped at an intersection in the street, and a deep black and purple Cybertronian pulled up next to him, followed by three others who pulled in around him.

    “Where you headed to so early, databug?” the first one asked.

    Vehicons. Where's an Autotrooper when you need one? “I'm going home.”

    “Aw, and you didn't invite us?” The Vehicons converted to robot mode, each wearing the same four wheeled body type. They surrounded Orion and boxed him in, and he converted to robot mode, looking at each in turn.

    “Is there a problem, guys? I don't want any trouble.” The four Vehicons had the same face, and something about it unnerved Orion. Faces were supposed to be unique. Even those with similar body types usually had different faces.

    “Funny, we don't want trouble either. Give us whatever you got and we'll burn rubber,” the lead Vehicon said, holding out its hand.

    Orion's gears whirred. If only one of those Seekers would look down! “I don't have anything on me – I'm just an accountant, I don't make anything.”

    “You came out of Rewind's shop. You've got to be loaded just like that bossbot himself. Cough it up, databug, or we'll get it ourselves,” the lead Vehicon said, blades sliding out of his forearms. Weapons were illegal in Iacon. Naturally, gangs like the Vehicons didn't mind the rules much.

    “Okay, okay, I'll give you whatever you want!” Orion said placatingly, but the Vehicon aimed a blow at him regardless. Orion ducked under it, converting to vehicle mode and going full throttle into the oncoming traffic; the Vehicons converted and followed him in hot pursuit. Orion juked between other Autobot cars and dodged a freightliner before blowing through another stop, saved only by the fact the area was deserted. The automated cameras, however, picked up every traffic violation. Seconds later, the telltale sirens of Autotroopers hit Orion's aural receptors. Oh, good. They come now, when I've broken a few traffic laws myself. I'm so dead.

    He turned off into a side alley, not realizing it was a dead end, and converted to robot mode, trying to find a handhold in the cyberbricks layering the buildings near him, but only tore parts of the masonry off in his fingers. The Vehicons turned after him, idling their engines for a moment before converting and strolling casually up to Orion. “You really shouldn't have done that.”

    “Please, don't hurt me. I'm not worth it,” Orion said. If I had any real power, any weapons, I'd wreck you four. If I live long enough to get some, I'll make sure I solve this Vehicon problem one way or another.

    “And you street scum need to get out of Iacon or get scrapped,” the authoritative voice of an Autotrooper echoed out from the start of the alley. Orion looked beyond the Vehicons to see one of the police officers standing tall, already in robot mode. His paint scheme, black and white with the golden Autotrooper badge emblazoned on his chest, stood out against the darker grays of the nearby structures. A squat but powerful body with a thick upper chest. He aimed dual cannons at the Vehicons, who put up their hands.

    “We give, bossbot. Just roll us out and we're good.”

    “Scram, or I'll let one of the Seekers know you're causing trouble. They aren't as lenient as we are,” the trooper said, motioning with his blaster. The Vehicons trudged away, the leader casting a last glance back at Orion before they ran off. Orion gave him a dark look.

    “Thanks, officer. I never thought I'd get through that,” Orion said, before the trooper pointed his cannons at Orion himself.

    “Quiet, you. I don't care if Vehicons or something worse was on your tail, you follow the rules.”

    “I understand, officer!” He can't be serious. They were going to scrap me. I just broke a speeding law! “Please don't shoot!” he added.

    “Eh, you're off the hook.” He lowered the cannons. The Autotrooper almost seemed forlorn. “For now. We're keeping an eye on you, databug. I don't want to see any more trouble out of you, y'hear?” The trooper turned and sighed.

    “Wait!”

    “What is it?”

    Orion hesitated. “If I get in trouble like that again, how do I contact one of you? You're all so elusive these days.”

    The Autotrooper seemed surprised. “Simple enough, I suppose. You'd patch through on a private link if you had one, we can relay the call. You've never been friends with an Auto, kid? You grow up in isolation or something?”

    Orion shook his head. He bit back the reply waiting on his lips: No, I only failed the entry test for the Seeker Academy, and couldn't even make it into the Defense Force. I'd be surprised if I ever managed to make anything of myself. “No, sir.”

    The trooper rubbed the back of his head, grimacing. As he did so, two large lights shone brightly on his back in the glare of the sunlight. Orion noticed for the first time the Autotrooper had a unique face, and wondered offhand if they didn't all have unique head molds; while they were required to wear the same body types, that didn't mean each was an automaton. It was the real difference between the Autotroopers and Vehicons, Orion realized: the troopers wore the same bodies but different faces, showcasing their allegiance to a cause without losing identity. By contrast, the Vehicons matched one another for the ultimate social blend, to become one singular whole, and worse, unaccountable.

    “My name's Ironhide. Look, I'll give you my personal code, but only use it if you're in real danger, I can't come running anytime you need a pickup or something,” he grumbled, tapping a code into the slotted computer on his arm.

    Orion opened his firewalls for a moment, accepting the code. “Thanks,” he said. Maybe this is my first step toward the limelight again. Friends with an Autotrooper! He nearly blundered into a wall as he walked, not watching. The few Cybertronians milling around snickered, and he shuffled past, embarrassed. To cover, he acted as if he were typing into his private communications link, then realized he did want to talk to someone: Dion.

    “Hey, Dion, you there?”

    “Of course. Your tables are done. You must have been really burnt, you left off at just the third line down,” the other bot said with a laugh.

    “Look, Dion, you're not going to believe this.”

    “Did Elita-1 say she wanted to ask me out?!”

    “Ugh.” Orion smacked his palm into his face. Sometimes a bot could be too thick for his own good.

    * * *​

    “Ironhide, report.”

    The Autotrooper sighed. “Everything is fine, Ultra Magnus, sir. The situation was handled.” Ironhide sat in vehicle mode at a trooper-only parking zone, running over his own paperwork.

    “Why were no arrests made?”

    “None were needed. The Vehicons dispersed, and the Autobot was being pursued by them when he broke the laws, so I let him go on good faith. I've got his info if I need to track him down, he's some clerk named Orion Pax.” Not that you care, Magnus. All you want is arrests, order, and at this rate, a city so locked down the Decepticons could start up the Great War again and they'd steamroll us this time.

    “While I would have preferred you arrest all involved, if only to get the Vehicons off the street, I suppose your actions are acceptable.” Magnus paused, Ironhide finding it ironic that the commander confirmed his subordinate's thoughts. “Vehicons. How do we stand when it comes to dealing with them? Is the infrastructure holding up appropriately?” Magnus's voice came through more authoritative on the comm channel than it did in person, but Ironhide wasn't about to inflate the bot's ego by making that fact apparent. Ultra Magnus had enough of an ego as is.

    “Their movement is growing, but it doesn't have any real leadership. They're mercs for hire, pretty much, but nobody seems to want them to do any major work. They're petty criminals at best. We could even pay them to keep them off the streets, probably,” he said, instantly realizing his blunder as the words left his mouth.

    “Trooper, I do not expect to hear such ridiculous talk out of one of my own. Pay a protection racket, clearly against Iacon law, to keep order that we're already working to keep? Absurd.”

    “That's not what I meant, Magnus,” Ironhide said, but a screech of static came over the line as Ultra Magnus cut it. Ironhide converted to robot mode, leaning against a wall. “For Primus's sake, he's a hard one.” He watched the Seekers overhead for a moment, wondering idly if any of them had dealt with Ultra Magnus. While the leader of the Autotroopers had no real military command, the Primes doubtless consulted him on civil matters, and Magnus was all too keen to remind others of his stature. But I'm not being fair, he doesn't do it on purpose. Ironhide nonetheless suspected Magnus would try to bluster even in the presence of the twin ruling Primes.

    Ironhide began pacing back and forth in the lot. There were a lot of reasons to like being an Autotrooper: the power, the authority, the sense of righteousness and the ability to do good. But with Magnus's ego and insistence on the city being crime-free, even of the smallest and most inoffensive crimes, his job was becoming harder and harder to accomplish. To some extent, he'd fibbed to Magnus, too: the Vehicons were gaining power, that much was obvious. A few stellar cycles ago, no Vehicon would have dared openly brandish a weapon in the middle of an Iacon street at night, let alone during the day. Now they actively threatened the citizenry, and the Autotroopers were too thinly spread to combat them all. As if we're losing people when they gain them, he thought, though he knew the notion was absurd and their movement simply gained more followers every day. He thought back to the young clerk, Orion Pax, and looked down to his comm unit. He was free for a few cycles. What harm could it do?

    * * *​

    “So there I am in the middle of Polyhex, knocking a new exhaust pipe into some Decepticon who thought it would be smart to try something in the middle of the meeting, and the bard actually starts playing fight music!” Ironhide said with a loud guffaw, and Orion laughed in spite of himself. “Ah, those were the days, kid. You clerks have it good, no war or anything.” Ironhide took a deep swig of the synthesized Energon he was drinking, and Orion waited politely for him to finish. “Anyway, about earlier today, those Vehicons. What did they want from you?” he asked.

    “Money. They seemed to think I was made of it, for some reason. But I'm just a clerk, accountant, whatever. Rewind, my boss? He might have some but I barely make enough to support myself. That's the deal with the whole caste system, you know? You obey or the bosses start working you harder and if you still don't fall in line you can't even afford enough Energon to keep going,” Orion said bitterly. He looked to Ironhide, who in turn looked down into his mug. “What am I supposed to do, give them the nothing I have? I was broke today, too.”

    “Kid, you'll learn soon enough they were itching less for the money and more for the fight. They wanted you to be broke and probably targeted you directly because of it. Some bots are bad to the spark,” Ironhide said, frowning.

    “I guess so.” Orion lapsed into silence, thinking about the day's events, and about Rewind. The boss didn't mean bad, and didn't mean to overwork Orion, but it was true: it was a caste system, which meant an Autotrooper, perhaps even Ironhide, could come and take away Rewind's license to operate as well as Orion's job, all because Orion opted to leave early. Guilt washed over him like a cresting wave, and he hung his head.

    “Hey.” Ironhide bumped a finger against Orion's head, and Orion looked up in surprise. “I know exactly what you're thinking. What you did today is not a bad thing. Look, the system isn't perfect, but it's also not rigid and inflexible. No self-respecting Autotrooper would shut you boys down. You do good work, and important work. Just because you aren't a soldier type doesn't mean you're not doing good. You scan me, Orion?” Ironhide put a hand on the smaller bot's shoulder.

    “Yeah, I understand.” But I wonder if there's some troopers who would do it. Not everyone has a good spark anymore. You said it yourself, Ironhide. And let's be honest: when so many bots are joining the Vehicons, when so many are forgetting what really makes them Autobots and Decepticons, what hope do the little people have anymore? Orion thought to himself. “Hey, uh, I should probably go, okay? I've got an free couple of cycles tomorrow, and I made plans with my friend Dion, so I need to get some things ready.”

    Ironhide smiled. “Sure thing. Just stay safe, and if you need help, you let me know. Ol' Ironhide'll be ready to give you a boost when you need it.”

    Orion left the Energon bar, heading home. The dusky evening air still held Seekers doing their rounds: a trio in particular was buzzing in the air now heading toward Kaon, each with red, purple, and blue paint schemes, respectively. He paused to watch their burn trails, wisps of Energon smoke discharge into the air. One day. One day I'll be a member of the Defense Force. He sped home, anxious to make preparations and meet Dion the following day.
     
  3. ARCTrooperAlpha

    ARCTrooperAlpha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Posts:
    1,418
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    pretty enjoyable : )

    Two Primes ruling Cybertron, Megatron a cunning son of a g***ch, Ultra Magnus hellbent on keeping order

    This is fun
     
  4. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Appreciated, ARC! It gets even more fanservicey as time goes on, as this chapter might illustrate.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter III: Wildlife
    “Brilliant plan, D-16. Swindle must have been so impressed with you,” Rampage grumbled, smashing his pickaxe into the Cybertronian rock in the mineshaft. “I'm surprised he didn't send Lockdown to beat the wheels out of us.”

    “Is it my fault he punishes dissension? We still made our point. We are no one's toys. No one's entertainment. It's just a minor setback anyway,” D-16 replied, his optics casting a faint purple glimmer into the darkness of the shaft. He hefted his sledgehammer, smashing apart another rock Rampage had cast aside. Hunting for heavy Energon strains, but with the danger of being near a Tox-En vein. Apparently Swindle thought it an appropriate punishment for two rebellious gladiators. D-16 thought for a moment about the best possible way to scrap Swindle. It would happen eventually, of course. He looked down at the sledgehammer he wielded, scanning and noticing it was actually a converted weapon from the arena. Of course: Swindle was even too cheap to buy original mining equipment.

    “Did you hear something?” Rampage asked, pausing. The sound of the larger bot's breathing echoed in the shaft.

    "Only if you mean your incessant wheezing."

    "No, there's something else in the shaft with us."

    D-16 paused and listened, and it hit him: there was a faint rumbling, somewhere far off in the shaft, but it was getting louder. "Well, I guess you aren't going crazy, Rampage. Whatever it is, it's getting closer."

    The two waited in the darkness, listening, and after a moment a small gathering of drillworms, tiny Cybertronian creatures writhing in the dark, began winding out of the ground past their feet, heading in the direction opposite the noise.

    "Oh good, whatever's coming has the locals spooked. Whatever, I've been itching to kill something all day," Rampage said, spinning the pickaxe and shaking his shoulders to loosen the joints. An unearthly roar echoed in the chamber, and the two bots shared a look. Rampage shifted on his feet. "On the other hand, we do have a small bit of Energon. We could bring it back."

    D-16 rolled his eyes. "If you want to be the strongest, face down your adversaries. We should hide and see what it is, though. That would be more prudent than meeting it out here, whatever it is." The two bots scrambled behind a boulder, and waited shoulder to shoulder.

    Something massive loomed in the tunnel, larger than either of the two Cybertronians, stumping forward on trunk-like legs. The dark obscured it, and D-16 dared not throw his illumination on it else it discover them before he was ready. He squinted at it, seeing the creature easily towered over most bots, wearing some kind of spiny backpack or engine compartment. It hissed in the quiet, and seemed to sniff the air.

    "It knows we're here! I'll kill it!" Rampage screamed out, yelling an unintelligible battle cry as he lunged out from behind the rock to get the beast's attention. It snapped to him, and in the dim gloom, D-16 saw what it was: an Insecticon, nothing but tooth and claw.

    "Rampage, don't be a fool!" It was too late, of course: the red bot was already in the thick of it with the Insecticon, whose four central eyes were focused on the pickaxe he wielded. Rampage swung a wide arc at it with the pick, and the Insecticon ducked, smacking him backward with a fist nearly the size of his head. He skidded backward with sparks, and roared at it, consumed by battle lust.

    Of all the idiotic things to do, he would have to pick a fight with an Insecticon, D-16 thought. He looked down to the sledgehammer. Might as well help him out. He's the first of many to follow me, after all. As the Insecticon watched Rampage warily, D-16 snuck up from behind the beast, and raised the hammer high, bludgeoning it in the head from the rear. The insect stumbled forward, and Rampage caught it on the rebound, lodging the pick in its mandibles; he kept the swing's arc going and yanked it free, pulling half the Insecticon's face with it.

    It screeched in pain, scrabbling around, and in its flailing its wings unfolded, smacking D-16 backward into the shaft wall as it pounced on Rampage, punching him in the face and knocking the bot silly. D-16 stood up to find the Insecticon facing him now, wings flared out. It roared at him and bounded forward. He took a gamble.

    "Heel, beast!" he commanded, and the Insecticon blinked at him in surprise, stopping mid-charge. "So it seems you do respond to reason," he said, watching its four eyes glow red in the gloom. The Insecticon hesitated a moment longer, then perked up as if listening to some unseen voice. It refocused its gaze on D-16 after a moment, pouncing on him and smacking him around. Daze. Confusion. It responded, so why is it still attacking?

    Rampage's telltale bellow sounded from behind, and he leaped upon the Insecticon's back, stabbing his pick into the rear of its head. He pulled back as hard as he could, yanking the beast off of D-16 even as it reared back, trying to smash Rampage into the cavern wall. D-16 grabbed his sledgehammer and gritted his teeth. No more playing around.

    D-16 wound up a strike and smashed the hammer into the Insecticon's face before Rampage could pull the pick out, and the resulting momentum split the thing's head in half, peeling most of it straight out of the neck servos. The body tumbled to the ground and collapsed, and Rampage grinned, the dank purple Energon from the corpse painting his face in a lurid glow.

    "Now that was a battle! Good kill, brother," he said, grinning at D-16.

    "Messy, unpredictable, and unplanned. We should have gone in together, or not at all, Rampage. We're not animals like this thing. We can think. That's our advantage." D-16 kicked over the corpse, kneeling down to look at it. The Insecticon bore a unique insignia, neither Autobot nor Decepticon; it looked akin to a two-eyed face with long spikes protruding from either side. "What do you make of this, Rampage?"

    "Eh?" The red bot leaned down to look at the emblem. "So what? It was tamed by someone."

    "Which means they are probably aware we killed it."

    "Your point being?"

    D-16 restrained his desire to smack Rampage upside the head. "Which means they will be sending more to investigate, probably. In force."

    Rampage shuddered. "So we need to get out of here. What do we do about the corpse?"

    Three Insecticons, identical to their brethren, fell from the ceiling unexpectedly, dropping around the duo and surrounding them. D-16 looked to each of them, which brandished their wings and hissed low and threatening. "I'd say we try and survive first."

    "And I would say that would be an excellent idea. At least, it would be if my Insecticons were aiming to kill you," a female voice echoed into the chamber. Both D-16 and Rampage whirled, looking for the source of the voice, before realizing it emanated from the vocal coders of each Insecticon simultaneously. "Really, being able to take down an Insecticon in and of itself is quite the feat. Swindle's either been training you all that much better, or you two are something special," the voice continued. There was too much the air of glee in it, and D-16 was reminded of Swindle himself.

    "Identify yourself," he commanded coldly.

    "My, my, so brusque! You'll meet me soon enough. My Insecticons will lead the way." One of the Insecticons turned while the others brought up the flank, shepherding the two Cybertronians forward. "Oh, and don't try and escape. After all, while you may have managed to kill one of my brood, you won't kill three. And even if you somehow did, you couldn't kill a thousand of them."

    Rampage looked to D-16, who nodded. Yes, Rampage, we'll wait. We'll see what happens. Whoever this woman is, she holds great power. And great power brings opportunity.

    A few moments later the pair began noticing rills of Energon lining the walls, a purer, darker color than the light blue commonly seen in veins closer to the surface. The Insecticons led them through a dizzying series of tunnels, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to navigation other than some sixth sense they must have possessed. After a moment longer, the shaft opened into a massive chamber, brightly illuminated but so large D-16 couldn't make out precisely where the other side ended. Thousands of Insecticons milled around, performing all manner of duties. A hive. The shaft opened into the middle of the hive, with the ground sloping away in a sharp drop at least a hundred meters.

    A central structure drew much of their attention: a cylinder with the middle tightened to a thin point, Insecticons swarmed it and constantly attended it.

    "By the Matrix," Rampage said, taking an involuntary step back. One of the Insecticons puffed its chest out, thrusting him forward again, and he growled at it before turning his attention back to the hive. D-16 eyed it coldly. Workers. Drones. Not all warriors, like the ones the voice had sent after them. There would be close to several thousand Insecticons here, but less than a quarter of them would be battle ready soldiers. He strode forward, ignoring the large Insecticon guard who had led them, and jumped down out of the shaft to land heavily on the hive's ground.

    "So. By whose invitation were we called here?" he said, sweeping his arm in the air to encompass the hive. Dozens of Insecticons near him skittered away as he walked toward the center. Pose as the fearless. To gain trust, to gain respect, show no fear, only strength and authority.

    "That would be my invitation," came the voice, and the cylinder opened at the center to reveal a small figure whose spindly, spidery legs, emerging from its back, carried it forward through the throng of beasts. D-16 watched it with great interest: it appeared to be a Cybertronian like himself, but insectoid: feminine shape and curves, with what seemed like little armor but doubtless would make a formidable protection when coupled with the razor sharp legs which carried her now. "You may call me Airachnid, gladiator," she said, crossing her arms.

    D-16 beckoned Rampage, who leaped out of the shaft and landed heavily beside him, looming almost twice Airachnid's size as he looked down on her. "I am D-16, and this is my ally Rampage," he said. Rampage simply glowered at her.

    "A pleasure, I'm sure," she said, smirking. "In any case, you boys are quite the talk of the town lately. Two measly protoforms who survive the attacks of Minicons after climbing out of The Pit, who refuse to kill one another as gladiators, and now who even have managed to destroy one of my Insecticons. Truly impressive."

    "Only due to little expectation of greatness, as the caste system goes. Protoforms are nothing but disposables until they are slotted for work, and even then they still can be considered such," D-16 said carefully.

    "I'm not Swindle. I'm not going to punish you because I'm capricious," Airachnid said lightly, turning around. D-16 eyed her rear chassis for a moment as she walked a few paces, but shook his head. Focused. Stay focused.

    "Then what is it you want from us?"

    Airachnid giggled. "Really, you boys are so suspicious. I want very little, in fact. You see, D-16...well, before we continue, I really hate the name D-16. It's just a designation, not a name proper. What say we nickname you something cute for now? How about Destron?"

    "I will name myself when the time is right, Airachnid," D-16 said, crossing his arms.

    She pouted. "Suit yourself. Anyway, Swindle and I have a little deal. If someone makes him angry, he sends them to me. In turn, I handle them. My Insecticons do need to play from time to time, after all. You're lucky I didn't send the elites after you," she said. D-16 didn't question what she meant, and she continued. "But every so often I'll find someone of rather unique use or power, and I enjoy finding out if they'd like to bargain with me. In exchange for sparing the Cybertronian's life, I often offer them up to someone else entirely," she said, strutting forward and scratching under D-16's chin with one clawed finger.

    He brushed her hand aside. "Go on."

    "You can't buy into this nonsense, can you?" Rampage said, his vehicle mode's doors twitching involuntarily. D-16 just shot him a look.

    "No, it's true, my dear Rampage. I've got a few little connections, namely to one particular good fellow named Straxus." She waited for the name to sink in, her smile getting wider.

    "The Lord High Governor of Polyhex?" D-16 said, having had to trawl the net for a moment to find out who he was. "What would a political official, not to mention someone close to the ear of the Primes, want with castoffs from an arena? Or you, for that matter?"

    She shrugged. "Yours is not to know. I'm not interested in telling you more. I can either scrap you and feed your pieces to my brood, or you can see Straxus. The choice is yours."

    D-16 analyzed the offer. One route offered survival, but submission. Still, submission would be preferable to death, given he'd broken out of it before. Not to mention Straxus had real political power. It was one step closer to what he wanted anyway. Notoriety. Authority. The right to shape Cybertron himself, and not merely be one of the commonplace bots.

    "You have a deal," D-16 said finally.

    Rampage smacked him on the shoulder. "Are you insane? You trust this she-spider? She'd sooner scrap us both than give us anything we want!"

    Airachnid giggled again. "Oh, you are too cute. If I wanted you dead, you'd be dead already. Kick Back! Bombshell! Shrapnel!" At her beck and call, three Insecticons in particular thundered onto the ground from somewhere in the upper section of the chamber. Each of these wore different colors, with a deep primary black and white flanked by deep purple stripes, and held unique body types even among their Insecticon brethren. "These are my elite. My true soldiers. They will take you to Straxus. Disobey them, and you will be swiftly torn limb from limb and be nothing more than fodder for the drillworms. But if you follow them to Straxus and hold up your end to meet him, then they will let you be and return here shortly after." Her smile grew obscenely wide.

    "Enough posturing, Airachnid. Bring me to Straxus," D-16 said, keeping just enough authority in his voice.

    "As you command," she mocked, bowing low. She snapped her fingers, and the elite Insecticons began combining into something far more horrifying to transport them.

    * * *​

    "I see Airachnid's pet has brought me fresh ones, mm?" Straxus remarked, sitting on a silver throne in the capital building of Darkmount. D-16's blindfold was removed and he shook his head, orienting himself. Long flowing red fabrics with Decepticon emblems proudly displayed on them. Thinly sheened floors with a light reflective nature. A throne room. And Straxus himself before them. He was large, close to an Insecticon in size, perhaps, and painted a deep navy-blue with yellow and red detailing. A fan-shaped grille formed his mouthpiece, over which dark eyes brooded.

    "Yes, Lord High Governor. Rampage and I are here to learn what you might wish of us," D-16 said. Rampage merely kept his head bowed, gritting his teeth. D-16 willed him to silence; it would do no better to annoy Straxus than it would Airachnid, given Straxus had carte blanche authority in Polyhex and could execute them for any reason he so chose. From one master to another, he thought bitterly.

    Straxus stood, picking up a customized battle mace with Energon detailing through it. The weapon was beautiful, flecks of the crystals detailing the spines of the body. "Rise, both of you. I want a good fight."

    Rampage and D-16 blinked at one another in surprise, then looked to Straxus, who charged them and smashed Rampage backward, with an upward swing of the mace, sending the bot reeling backward. D-16 dodged the first swing Straxus sent his way, but didn't expect a sudden reversal as Straxus swapped hands mid-swing and brought the mace back around. It smacked into his helm and sent him sprawling on the floor. Straxus kicked D-16 in the gut. "Get up. If this is all you have, you're pitiful."

    Rampage roared, converting to his truck mode and revving his engine before he launched himself into Straxus's chest; the governor caught him and flipped him upside down with one titanic heave, and Rampage's wheels flailed in the air helplessly as Straxus smashed a hand into his undercarriage. "Vehicle mode? In a fight? Only if you have something useful to fight with!" Straxus bellowed, tossing Rampage aside. The governor turned and raised the mace high to smash D-16's head.

    D-16 caught it this time, struggling with the larger bot's strength. Straxus's mouthpiece widened in what D-16 assumed to be a smile. "Good, good. If you can't fight me, you can't serve as bodyguards. You'd be too weak!" he said as he threw D-16 backward. The silver bot stumbled, but regained his footing and kicked Straxus in the stomach, and he dropped the mace. Rampage, recovered and in robot mode once more, grabbed it, and raised it high. "Enough!" Straxus said, catching the mace as Rampage swung it. Straxus wrenched it from his hands, and walked back to his throne, sitting down in it heavily.

    "You two have done admirably for first attempts. Rampage needs finesse, that much is obvious. D-16, you lack physical strength, but your instincts and tactical sense are excellent. Both of you will be equipped with weapons of your choice and given tasks befitting your new occupations: as members of my court. D-16, however...I will not have you nameless. You must choose a name or I will smelt you down here and now."

    "Why?" D-16 asked. What possible reason could he have for demanding a name of me?

    "I will not be represented by nameless bots too lazy to decide for themselves what they be called. As you will be among my legions, you will intimidate. You will make others fear you. You will emerge victorious, and the crowds must chant your name, not your designation."

    D-16 paused, mulling over the one name he had thought of to choose for himself. "Very well then."

    "And what shall you call yourself, D-16?"

    "The planet shall know me as Megatron."

    Straxus laughed. "What hubris! To take the name of a Prime, albeit shortened, as your own! The irony is too delicious, Megatron!"

    Irony, perhaps. But wait, Straxus. I will be no one's servant. You will learn this, in time. Rampage already plans to break free with me. You will either submit or perish, but I will have no master. Of that, you can be sure. The newly christened Megatron touched his chest, the blank spot where no symbol yet lay, and Straxus took note.

    "No emblem. Well, that's easily fixed." He snapped his fingers, and two cloaked Decepticons emerged. Each was a generic protoform type, likely without any alternate mode. Servants. One of them held a brand, and the other an Energon cube; they pressed them together, igniting the brand, and Rampage looked to Megatron as if unsure.

    "Do it," Megatron commanded, and the first cloaker pressed the brand to the blank spot in his chest, searing the symbol into it. Straxus looked pleased. Yes, while it may be I am a Decepticon, thus far this has been no family. We will see how long it takes before I have a true faction of my own, Lord High Governor. I expect this will be a short lived celebration for you.
     
  5. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Another Orion chapter. Magnus fans rejoice!

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter IV: Corruption
    Orion lazed waiting for Dion under the clear skies of Cybertron. Here in the open plains just outside Iacon, it was relaxing. One of the few places not yet developed on the surface of Cybertron, the plains were perhaps Orion's favorite place in the world. Today, there was nothing to worry about. No job, no Rewind, nothing. He'd invited Elita-1 along, but doubted she'd be interested in coming; she tended to be a little more aloof around him than Dion, but whether or not she liked Dion remained to be seen.

    If only every day could be like this. Peaceful. Orion sighed. But something was building, whether he understood it or not. The Primes, the Vehicons, even the Autobots and Decepticons as a whole. Something felt so disjointed, as if a plan were being formed over time and was only now coming together, but to what end, he couldn't understand. He stared at the sky, a beautiful sheen of reddish orange, and waited. There was a tranquil peace in relaxing he enjoyed greatly. It made him feel somehow more whole, more in tune with Cybertron, the community, and perhaps even the original Thirteen, if one could commune with any of them any longer. Only two remained, after all. He turned his thoughts to the Primes. Megatronus and Sentinel, the warrior and the vanguard, ever watchful and studious guardians of the peace.

    But not always, he thought darkly. The Great War had occurred because of those two, taking millions of sparks with it. The change from simply Cybertronians to Autobots and Decepticons stemmed from them. The would-be kings of Cybertron. Orion closed his eyes, sending a quiet thought to those who had fallen in the past, on both sides. It had been so long ago, and yet so many lives lost. Memorials dotted Cybertron all over. Orion knew no one who'd personally been in the wars, of course. Most were decrepit, scrapped, or reformatted into newer models. He hoped he might meet one sooner or later, though. Something about the war's history drew him to it.

    Dion showed up at last, his vehicle mode practically burning rubber as he rolled up and converted to robot mode. He breathed heavily, as if he'd rushed the whole way. "O-Orion! I have to...I have to tell you!" he said, doubling over and holding his knees, panting.

    Orion stood, putting his hands up. "Slow down, Dion. What's wrong?"

    He paused, catching his breath. "Something with Rewind. I think he's...well. Here." Dion handed Orion a data disc. "Just watch it. I didn't realize at first what was going on, I was going to pull a prank on him and film it, but I just watched."

    Orion gave Dion a look, but flipped the data disc into his player and broadcast it. A blurry image came into focus of Rewind on a conference call with someone, the door opened ajar. Obviously he hadn't realized he was being taped, as he was muttering to himself about Orion and Dion almost too quietly to be heard. Orion watched Rewind tap a sequence into a communications link, and on the other end came up a Cybertronian with whom he wasn't familiar. Ice-blue paint, cold eyes, a fully detailed face and some hefty bulk to him, though Orion couldn't tell what it was from the angle.

    "Cryotek, we have to talk," Rewind said, his voice modulating more than usual.

    "So talk. I don't have time specifically for wasting on you, no."

    "Your Vehicons attacked one of my clerks today. I pay you for a reason: to keep those hooligans away from my work!"

    Cryotek shifted on the screen, putting up a hand underneath his head. "And I can't control every single Vehicon. You do realize there's thousands of them, yes? They don't all obey my direct commands. I could compel them to, yes, but a few rebellious sparks would have to be snuffed out in the process. Are you asking me to do that?"

    "No, but you need to keep them in line or at least away from my sector. Orion Pax had a run-in with a few and not only did they nearly scrap him, but an Autotrooper showed up! What if they find out I've been funding some of your efforts? They'd send me to prison, or worse, take my licenses away!" Rewind cried. The tape showed him so agitated he was blurred; he must have been fidgeting at a high speed. His voice even seemed higher pitched. Cryotek seemed fine by contrast.

    "If you want me to handle it, pay me more. I don't exactly make much sitting on the Council, after all. If you can't, consider that the end of our transactions anyway."

    "Please, Cryotek! I can't afford more! I'm already barely making enough to pay my workers, I can't sacrifice any more!"

    "Goodbye, Rewind." Cryotek cut the call and the video sputtered to a stop as Dion must have crept away into the hall to avoid detection.

    Orion turned his eyes back to his friend. "What is this?"

    "I don't know. I really don't. Who in the name of Primus is Cryotek? And he controls the Vehicons? This is big, Orion, and this could get us in trouble." Dion paced back and forth, rubbing his hands together. "What if he sends Vehicons after us? What if Rewind sends us to him?"

    "Rewind wouldn't do that. You heard him argue for us, though he seemed concerned with his pocket book a lot more." Orion rubbed his faceplate, thinking. "We need to go to the authorities."

    "What?! But then Rewind will know, and I'll get blown to bits by a punch of souped up motorpunks!" Dion cried, holding his head.

    "Not someone who'll notify the higher ups. We need someone trustworthy. And I think Ironhide might be able to help me with exactly that," Orion said, connecting to Ironhide's frequency. Dion looked on, but with a frown. Something still bothered his friend, but Orion couldn't tell what.

    * * *​

    "Ironhide."

    "It's Orion, I need your help."

    Ironhide screeched to a halt in the middle of traffic, converting to robot mode and narrowly avoiding the oncoming traffic as he made his way to the pedestrian tracks. "Seriously? When I said you could call on me when you needed my help, I didn't mean you could call me the next day," he said, furrowing his brow.

    "It's important, and it involves my boss."

    "Go on." Ironhide leaned up against a building, watching a couple of female bots go by, admiring one. They were followed by a duo of Vehicons, and he grimaced as he continued to listen to Orion's explanation of events. "Wait, you don't know who Cryotek is?" he asked.

    "No."

    "Ugh, you kids don't scan the news at all. He's one of the Cybertronian High Councilors. And you say you have proof of all this?" he said, quieting when another Autotrooper passed in the intersection. He listened to the response. "Alright, we'll have to meet soon. Bring the disc with you, I'll need it." He cut the link and looked down to the emblem on his chest. To help the boys, or to do the legal thing. Which would be more apt and better for Cybertron? He paused and opened a new comm channel.

    "Ultra Magnus here."

    "It's Ironhide, sir. I need you to go to these coordinates. It's important."

    * * *​

    Ultra Magnus stood much taller than the other Autobots, towering over Orion and Dion. His shoulders alone comprised a good deal of his height, colossal smokestacks emanating from the top, despite his alternate mode being some form of combat vehicle, based on the cannon mounted to his back. With a cream white paint scheme tinted blue and red in certain spots, he looked every bit the commander of the Autotroopers. He frowned down at them as Dion finished relating the tale again. The quartet stood in the middle of an abandoned warehouse, a relative rarity in Cybertron; the industrial districts typically reused anything they could. Orion hated it: there was a stench of ozone and burnt rubber, as if the area had seen its fair share of net celebrity Velocitron's racing teams. He waved his hand in front of his olfactory sensor, but dropped it as Magnus spared him a glance before returning to Dion.

    "This sounds like hearsay, and you have openly admitted to eavesdropping on your employer and a Cybertronian High Councilor, should your story be true. Is there any particular reason I should let you slide and not arrest you here and now?" Magnus said, crossing his arms. Dion took a step back involuntarily.

    Ironhide laughed. "Relax, kid. He isn't going to hit you." Magnus shot Ironhide a look and the Autotrooper quieted, fidgeting in place. Only Orion wasn't cowed by the presence of the commander. He's an Autobot just like us. So what if he's an upper caste? So what if he could probably legally scrap us for whatever reason he makes up? Orion kept his gaze on Magnus, and eventually the bot turned to Orion himself.

    "But the question remains. Why would I not arrest you like I would any other common criminal?" Magnus said simply.

    "Because we're telling the truth," Orion said, staring Magnus down.

    "Truth is relative, and evidence is the only proof of that truth."

    "Well, they do have a disc of it, sir," Ironhide said. Orion noted something akin to annoyance in Magnus's faceplate. He took the disc Ironhide offered, inserting it into his carrying compartment.

    "Now then, regarding Cryotek...what is that noise?" Magnus said, turning around. Three Vehicons in signature black and purple rolled into the warehouse, and shortly thereafter a motorcycle with a sickly green color followed. The Vehicons transformed, each wielding a neutron assault rifle, and the motorcycle converted a moment later. Orion watched them with both fear and interest: they had tried to scrap him, but he'd never seen Vehicons with anyone but their own kind. The newcomer was strange, and bore some kind of tattoo or disfiguring black paint on his faceplate, as well.

    "Identify yourselves," Magnus said, flipping out his blaster from one arm. The Vehicons instead opened fire, and Ultra Magnus dived forward, converting to his Cybertronian tank mode, large bore barrel firing a charged shot at the first Vehicon. It blasted clear through the Vehicon's chestplate, leaving a burning hole of slag, and the bot fell over. The others concentrated fire on Magnus, whose armor plating shrugged everything off. The bicycle jumped out of Orion's field of view, and he began scanning the warehouse, trying to find the unique Cybertronian again.

    Ironhide began blasting alongside Magnus, and they soon took Orion's attention: like Dion, he was unarmed, and not trained in combat at all given his caste specialty. Ironhide was going toe to toe with one of the Vehicons, soaking up blows as if they were nothing while dishing out more severe punishment; the Vehicon he fought was literally being dented into a pile of scrap punch by punch. Magnus had converted back to vehicle mode, having torn off the other Vehicon's arm, rifle and all, leaving it leaking Energon while he stun cuffed it to itself and disabled its transformation cog. With a final punch, Ironhide smashed the last Vehicon to the floor.

    Orion realized he'd stopped looking for the final enemy, and began scanning again, only for a whistle to come from behind. He turned, seeing the motorbike with a blade at Dion's neck. "Let's play this nice and easy, boys. I don't want to hurt anybody. More than I can say for Ultra Magnus," the bike said, sneering at the commander. Dion appeared unconscious, though how he'd been knocked out, Orion couldn't tell.

    Magnus strode forward slowly. "You will not harm the hostage. If you do, I will rip you limb from limb and spare no expense in ensuring your spark is burning bright while I do it. And if you give up the hostage, I may be more amenable and simply arrest you. The choice is yours."

    The bike grinned. "Boss, you should know that's not how Lockdown plays things. The disc. Hand it over, and we'll call this a trade. I walk, he walks out," Lockdown said, nudging Dion's neck. Magnus stopped short.

    Orion stared at Lockdown in horror. That someone could be so cruel as to change hands a bot for a shred of data was beyond him. "How can you live with yourself?" he said, not intending to speak it aloud.

    Lockdown's eyes snapped to him, and the Decepticon cocked his head. "Eh? Live with myself? This is just a job like any other."

    Orion mimicked Magnus's slow walk unintentionally, coming closer to Lockdown. "No, I mean I can't understand how you became like this. A freakish thing in a Cybertronian's shell, preying on the weak. It doesn't make you strong. It makes you a carrion feeder, a bottom dweller."

    "Shut up," Lockdown said, grinding his teeth. Ironhide looked on in silence, but Orion ignored both him and Magnus.

    "It'll take a whole lot more than that to get me to shut up. You can't hurt Dion, or you lose the chance to get the disc. You lose the disc, and whoever employed you, probably Cryotek, will have to come out in public and acknowledge it. How long do you think it'll be before he comes after you for failing him? There's always more mercs to go after the disc, right?" Orion said, pressing closer, his face contorted in anger.

    "One more slaggin' step, and this bot is drillworm food!" Lockdown said, pressing the knife close enough to Dion's neck to nick the Energon cabling. Orion noticed Ironhide sneaking around behind Lockdown out of the corner of his optics, and returned his attentions to the Decepticon.

    Orion finally stopped moving forward, but smirked. "So you're not so calm or in control as you like to pretend. What did Cryotek offer you? Money? Power? Women? What's the point? It doesn't make you any better a bot. It doesn't mean anything."

    "You Autobots, so self-righteous and preaching all the time. You've never known what real life is. We've had to bust our gears from day one, then we lost the Great War. Now look at us!" Lockdown bellowed, his back wheel flaring up behind his shoulders in his anger.

    "Now look at you? What am I supposed to be seeing? Am I supposed to feel sorry for you? I do, Lockdown. You're pathetic," Orion spat, clenching his fists.

    Lockdown roared in anger and went to stab Dion, but Ironhide leaped on him from behind and dragged the knife away; Orion lunged forward and grabbed Dion, pulling him to safety. Get Dion out. Everything else is secondary. I won't lose him.

    Magnus strode forward as Ironhide struggled with the Decepticon bike, and paused, observing the combat. Orion stared at him, wondering what he was up to, and suddenly Magnus simply reached forward into the struggle and grabbed Lockdown by the head, yanking him up and slamming him into the floor with an audible crunch. The Decepticon groaned in pain, and Ultra Magnus rammed his foot into Lockdown's chest, pinning him.

    "Ironhide, please ensure our guest is properly tethered," Magnus said. Orion shivered. Dion is safe, but what is Magnus that he can do that? He's not a soldier, but he acts like one, he thought. Ironhide locked up the prisoner properly, stun cuffing him, and he linked the cuffs to the other Vehicon's.

    "And as for you," Ultra Magnus said, turning to Orion. Orion nearly dropped Dion. "I did not expect you to perform so admirably in the face of great danger. Nonetheless, you could have endangered your fellow Autobot were Ironhide and myself not here to protect the two of you. How the Vehicons found us, I do not care. I will not tolerate further attacks."

    "So you believe us?" Orion said.

    "I do. Regardless of whether Cryotek is a leader of the Vehicons, it is apparent either he or your employer Rewind are among the small group who knows the existence of the the data disc containing the evidence. Thus, the attempt to secure it," Magnus said.

    "Sir? Can we get medical attention for this one?" Ironhide asked, indicating Dion.

    "Uh...yes." Magnus seemed confused. This guy is so weird. One second he's business, the next he has no idea you're supposed to take care of wounded? Not that Dion has any real injuries. He probably fainted during the fight, the weak spark!

    "We must go to the Cybertronian High Council and the Primes. There is no other way to bring Cryotek under examination," Magnus said.

    "The Primes?" Orion breathed. To be in the presence of the most ancient of Transformers, and to possibly be esteemed in their presence! The opportunity made Orion's knee servos weak. "But how are you able to contact them? Do the Autotroopers have that much authority?"

    "No," Magnus admitted. "But as a veteran of the Great War, and as a member of the Cybertronian Elite Guard, I have special permissions to visit with the Primes." This time Orion truly was floored. To think Ultra Magnus, who was a high caste rank to begin with, was also a veteran of the Great War! Based on Ironhide's dropped jaw, he too had no idea about Magnus's history.

    Magnus coughed politely. "Shall we, er, roll out, as the saying goes?"

    Orion nodded. He looked down at Dion. Perhaps things were building to a head. And perhaps that head was a lot uglier than he previously imagined possible. He looked at Lockdown, who was glaring at all of them, a heavy scratch in his faceplate over one eye. If he was any indication, there was a lot more brewing beneath the surface of Cybertron the Autobots had yet to discover.
     
  6. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    An introduction to the Warhead version of some favorites. The plot thickens.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter V: Warrior
    Megatron waited in the silence of the bushes. He stalked his prey without hesitation. There were few locations on Cybertron with imported organic life, and they were strictly monitored; this jungle was inside one of the many floors of the capital building Darkmount. Focus. Block out everything but the hunt. Train your instincts. Straxus may be your enemy, but for now he trains you. Accept the lesson. Become the hunter, and defeat the teacher. Megatron winced as he moved his arm; he had chosen a fusion cannon as his primary weapon, but rather than strap a functional unit to him, Straxus had chosen to outfit him only with a mace and a nonfunctional cannon, the latter to get him used to the heft of the weapon. It slowed him down considerably, and given its condition, did little to aid him.

    The nearby leaves rustled, and he stiffened, tuning his audio receptors to maximum. Something rustled to the left, and he pounced, ramming the cannon into the ground. Ravage, the customized turbofox which had attacked him before, darted away, a black shadow with silver streaks disappearing into the darkness.

    "Good. Continue," came Straxus's voice from somewhere up above. Megatron gritted his teeth. I am not your plaything. He waited in the bushes, but this time crept stealthily. It would not do to remain still: Ravage would remember where he was. The turbofox was not as unintelligent as its brethren; in addition to weapon upgrades and custom detailing, the Minicon had also been outfitted with a near Cybertronian level of intelligence. He froze when another shape entered his view, larger than Ravage. He remained still, keeping his optics on whatever this new beast was. Reveal yourself to me. I am darkness, and I show myself only to those I may.

    A visor in the darkness lit up translucent blue-purple, the light piping of the owner cutting through the gloom. Megatron stared. The visor was triangular, and small details shone around it in the darkness; whatever the newcomer was, its face resembled the Decepticon sigil closely, with several communication spires and the same angular, sharp jaw. It shone its light directly on Megatron, who pounced it and raised the cannon high to smash in the glass of the faceplate. The bot tossed him off, standing up, and Megatron turned his photoreceptors on higher, knowing he would be given away to other hostiles, but not caring. The other bot came into focus: tall, spindly, even gangly. The Decepticon emblem for a face. A strange, oddly rectangular chest piece, with a Decepticon symbol tampographed onto the center of the translucent purple glass, a yellow rim running around it. He felt as if he'd seen this figure before somewhere, but couldn't place it.

    "Ravage: Operation Back Attack," the new figure said. Its voice was heavily modulated, and while Megatron assumed it male, its distortion was so thorough it could have been a female bot too. He fell flat as Ravage pounced him from behind, and he heard the sound of the Energon cannon on the Minicon's back power up directly next to his head.

    "Failure! You were told explicitly to expect the unexpected, Megatron! How are you to kill a foe when you cannot even protect yourself?" Straxus's voice came out from the speakers above. The lights gradually rose on the jungle arena, and Ravage stepped off of Megatron lightly, padding toward the new bot.

    "I didn't expect you'd send other Transformers to fight me," Megatron said, staring at the long, wing-like plates on the other bot's arms. In better lighting, he could see the whole bot had been painted a deep navy.

    "Expect the unexpected. Soundwave is our intelligence specialist, but also one of our stealthiest and most skilled fighters," Straxus continued. Soundwave bowed, and nodded at Ravage. The turbofox converted into a rectangular data disc form, flipping into the air, and Soundwave opened his front chest panel to catch it, storing the turbofox.

    Megatron stared. "What is the explanation for...that?"

    "Soundwave has a special affinity with Minicons. It makes him an excellent Spychanger, though you need not worry about my Spychangers," Straxus continued. Megatron stared at the silent Soundwave, who cocked his head at him. Oh, I need worry about your spies, Straxus. They are the ones who will be watching me most closely. But imagine if I could sway them to my side. That would be quite the victory indeed, Megatron thought.

    "Soundwave, introduce your other Minicons," Straxus said. Soundwave nodded, clicking a button on his shoulder with one spindly finger. Ejecting from his chest came two other discs, both of which unfolded into shapes Megatron didn't immediately recognize.

    Soundwave pointed at the first, a red winged creature with long silver pipe cannons on its back. "Laserbeak," he said in his strangely modulated voice. The other disc converted into what appeared to be a small generator of some kind. Megatron eyed it closely: whatever it was, it seemed to be utilitarian in design and incapable of combat, though painted to camouflage itself with desert or forest environs. "Bridgeback," Soundwave said, pointing at the other.

    "And what is Bridgeback's purpose?" Megatron said, in spite of himself.

    Soundwave did not reply, and a groundbridge suddenly appeared next to Bridgeback. Straxus stepped out of the groundbridge. "Bridgeback is not a combat Minicon, but a portable groundbridge generator. It is sentient, or so Soundwave tells me, but you understand its value nonetheless. Laserbeak exists for reconnaissance. Ravage is the primary combat specialist among his Minicons."

    Rampage blundered through the groundbridge after Straxus in a blind rage; the governor grabbed him by the head and slammed him to the ground, and the groundbridge closed shortly thereafter. Soundwave quirked his head at the newcomer.

    "Rampage, finesse is key. You would have been able to fire any manner of ordnance through that bridge at me, but you chose to run through yourself. Such is not becoming of a warrior, unless you have a spark so durable you could withstand a Prime's assault," Straxus said, snorting.

    "I see you've had no better luck," Megatron says.

    "Luck has nothing to do with it! I will tear him to scrap!" Rampage said, putting a hand up to reach for Straxus.

    Megatron grimaced, and stepped on Rampage's arm, pinning it. "Admit defeat! You don't have to win every fight. Take it as a learning opportunity."

    "Slag you! Keep getting in my way and you'll be next, Megatron!"

    Straxus eyed Megatron with something akin to respect. Yes, Governor, I am the politician, like you. But unlike you, I will do things myself and inspire loyalty through respect, not fear. Megatron stepped off Rampage's arm, and helped the other bot to his feet. Rampage stared at him, his rear vehicle wings twitching in agitation.

    "There is more than one way to skin a turbofox, you know," Megatron said. He nodded to Soundwave. "No offense intended." Soundwave graciously bowed as if to ward off the assumption.

    "Hah. You all are such good friends. It brings a sickening feeling to my spark," Straxus said, shaking his head. "I think it's time for a field test. Soundwave, equip these two with weapons proper. We will have them engage in field combat for the first time under your supervision."

    "Target?" Soundwave said.

    Straxus's mouthpiece fanned out in a wide grin. "The Seeker Academy. There is a Decepticon by the name of Starscream who has posed a security risk to Megatronus's plans." Megatronus? He's involved in this? Megatron kept quiet, but Straxus turned to him anyway. "I imagine you know Megatronus, but not his true aim. That shall be kept from you until you are trustworthy enough. For now, know I command you and that is enough," he finished.

    Rampage bristled, but Megatron merely nodded. "As you say. Lead us, Soundwave." The other bot nodded, and Bridgeback produced another groundbridge.

    * * *​

    "Seeker 101: Seek and destroy. We are the elite, the heavy hitters, the air support. Nothing survives the Seeker Armada," Starscream said, beaming at the mirror. "No, that's not quite right. Hm. How best to impress them while elevating my own status above that accursed Skywarp," he muttered. He paced in the small quarters afforded him, which was plastered with images of his jet alternate mode as well as furnished with a large armchair. A crown hung on the upper back of the chair, and he put it on, sitting down. With the crown on, his red, blue, and white scheme seemed somehow more striking, but he cared little for appearances now. The crown served as a kind of thinking cap for Starscream; while it was all placebo, he did seem to think more clearly with it on.

    There is, of course, the matter of the leak. Starscream drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. He'd already vetted Skywarp and Thundercracker, his two closest allies and confidants. That left only one other option: their teacher and the one who'd brought them into contact with Megatronus Prime directly, the Decepticon Air Commander Thunderwing. A formidable foe indeed. Information was disseminating bit by bit, just small things, but if anyone had been able to put it all together, they'd be able to read the signs clearly. A war was brewing, soon to erupt and engulf all of Cybertron once more, and all at the hands of one of the Primes. A literal repeat of the Great War. He looked out the window, staring into the open vista of the sky. He'd rather have been out there, leading his allies. Imagine, being an Air Commander myself. Then I'd have real power.

    He exited his quarters abruptly, leaving his crown behind, and proceeded down the hallway exterior, which led outside the Academy's corridors. A moment later he stretched in the sun, pausing only to roll his eyes at a statue of Thunderwing in the courtyard, hand extended, as if to offer a hand to the newest recruits to the Academy's ranks. He converted into his vehicle mode, scorching the pavement as he jetted into the sky, spinning in midair. A few cadets stared up in awe at him. Yes, I am fabulous. Worship me. He angled and converted back to robot mode when he'd reached the top of the spires of the Academy, landing heavily in his favored roost. The question foremost on his mind was how to deal with Thunderwing. The Air Commander answered directly to Megatronus, and led the Seekers as a whole. He was not someone Starscream could scrap without getting assistance.

    And assistance, he thought, is something I would hate to ask for, especially not from Skywarp. His ally Seekers, while as powerful as he was, shared the same body type, and thus appropriately led to many comparisons. The three had struggled for ages, but Starscream and Skywarp especially had a long running rivalry. The more mild mannered Thundercracker seemed to simply tag along and go with whomever won the current argument. He peered down at the courtyard, seeing a groundbridge open. That was unexpected. The Academy cadets flew back and forth, and hardly anyone else ever came to the Academy. Through the portal stepped a silver bot and a red bot he wasn't familiar with, but he cursed when he saw the third figure, the Spychanger Soundwave. The trio entered the Academy, and he grimaced.

    Why would Soundwave be here? Unless he aims to investigate the leak. With the help of Thundercracker and these new bots, I should be able to defeat Thunderwing. But Skywarp will wonder why I didn't call him too, Starscream thought. He sighed, and tapped some codes into his communicator. "Skywarp, Thundercracker, it's me. I need you both to help me. It's time to deal with our partner."

    * * *​

    Megatron scanned the cadets and Seeker graduates milling the corridors of the Academy. None of them were particularly reminiscent of Starscream; Soundwave had showcased several images of the target Seeker, as well as images of his steadfast allies.

    "I'm bored already. Can't we just slag them all and move on?" Rampage complained.

    Megatron rubbed the bridge of his nose. "No, you idiot. Even these cadets are in training to be some of Cybertron's elite warriors. The Seekers are nothing to scoff at, even if we've been training to be better than anyone else," he said.

    Rampage didn't reply, grabbing the nearest cadet by the wing and pulling him close. "You! Where is Starscream? We have urgent business."

    The cadet gave Rampage a look. "How should I know? He's a teacher and one of our superiors, but that doesn't mean he wears a tracking beacon or something."

    "Bah!" Rampage shoved the cadet away, and he walked off, looking at his wing and back to Rampage with annoyance.

    "Ever the master of subtlety, Rampage. Your skills in diplomacy are a stellar example of what we all aspire to," Megatron said dryly. Behind them, Soundwave covered the lower part of his visor with a hand, as if laughing at the comment.

    Megatron turned. "Soundwave, is there some way to track our target? We know where he resides in the building itself, but at peak hours he likely won't be in his quarters. Do you have a way to contact him?"

    "Affirmative, Megatron," Soundwave said in his usual lilting tone. He opened a comm channel, the visual of the channel's open line displayed on his visor.

    "This is Starscream of the Seeker Armada."

    "Starscream, we request your presence in the target range," Soundwave said, holding up a hand when Rampage moved to say something too. Rampage frowned.

    "Very well. I will be there in a millicycle."

    The comm cut, and Soundwave turned to Megatron. "The trap has been laid, Megatron. Pursuit and elimination of the target is at your discretion."

    Megatron smiled. "Decepticons, to the target range. We will have our little chat with Starscream."

    "Finally! I've been dying to smash a bot to pieces all day!" Rampage said, turning to walk to the range, his newly equipped missiles swaying on his backpack. Megatron eyed his erstwhile ally with a cold look. He is not as prudent as I had hoped, even after crystal clear illustration.

    A moment later, the trio stood in the target range, and another trio entirely, jetted into view, converting to robot mode and landing heavily. Each was the same body type, and Megatron recognized them from the images: Starscream in center, flanked by the purple and black Skywarp and teal blue Thundercracker.

    "You called, Soundwave?" Starscream said, putting his hands on his hips. Skywarp grinned at Megatron, cracking his knuckle servos with an audible crunching noise. Thundercracker crossed his arms, tapping his foot, as if impatient for the ordeal to be over.

    "My name is Megatron, and I asked Soundwave bring this meeting to order." Play it safe for now, find out as much as possible. Straxus told us to take care of Starscream, but not how, and there's no time limit. I want to know what Megatronus plans.

    "And why should I speak to some bot who doesn't even have paint wear from battle? You're carrying a big cannon but that doesn't mean anything," Starscream scoffed.

    "He's scrapped worse than you, Seeker," Rampage snarled. Starscream gave him a look of disdain.

    "While it may or may not be true, Rampage, be polite," Megatron chided. "I am here to learn more of the information leak. I won't play games with you: you and I both know that if I'm with Soundwave, I am aligned with Straxus." For the moment, and only so long as it suits me, of course.

    "You're here about the leak? Is this true, Soundwave?"

    The Spychanger didn't hesitate, and nodded.

    "Well, I can say it isn't any of us. Thundercracker is too honest, and Skywarp is too stupid," Starscream said.

    "Hey!" Skywarp whacked Starscream on the shoulder. "They don't know that! Don't tell them!"

    Starscream rolled his eyes. "Case in point. We have pinpointed the leak, though. Thundercracker?"

    The blue bot stepped forward. Megatron eyed them. They seem to be honest enough. Soundwave along accompanying us is perfect: they trust me implicitly. But if Starscream isn't the leak, Straxus is misinformed...? As Megatron kept thinking about them, he realized it. Straxus is making a power play! He wants these Seekers out of the picture for some reason.

    "Here's some comm chatter we picked up a while back in log form. We've got plenty more, but we'll deliver the bulk of it to Straxus, he's got clerks for that slag and I'm sure you don't need to hear it all. Point is, Thunderwing is the culprit," Thundercracker said.

    "Thunderwing? Soundwave, refresh me?" Megatron said.

    "Thunderwing is the leader of the Seekers, bright spark," Skywarp scoffed. "You mean you don't even know that? What kind of help are you going to be?"

    Megatron rolled forward combat style, kicking Skywarp's legs out from under him, and pinned him down with the fusion cannon aimed at his head. Starscream and Thundercracker did nothing. "Have I illustrated sufficiently what I can do, Skywarp?"

    The dark Seeker grumbled. "Yeah, get off me. I don't need more scuffs."

    "We'll bring Thunderwing to you, Megatron," Starscream said. "We can handle the problem after that. Anything else?"

    "Yes, actually. A moment privately, if you would," Megatron said amiably. Move the pieces into play, bit by bit. Starscream seemed skeptical, but moved away from his group in tandem with Megatron.

    "Yes?"

    "Straxus told us you were the leak and the target. Do not act surprised."

    Starscream bit back a sputter. "But why? I've done nothing wrong, everything has been working toward his plans," the Seeker whined.

    "I don't know. Perhaps you are too ambitious, a trait which Straxus seems to dislike," Megatron said, looking at his cannon. Doubtless that was one reason. "But my aim is something more grand too. I persuaded my Decepticons to play it by ear, and now look at where we are: with a potential alliance ready to bring down the real problem."

    Starscream rubbed his chin. "Yes, yes! I see you are more cunning than Straxus would give you credit for. Oh yes, this is too good. So you propose an alliance, then. Of what? My Seekers and your small band? What if Soundwave betrays you? And what do you gain from such an alliance anyway?"

    "Soundwave doesn't know my plans...yet. I intend to reveal them when the time is right. I sense the Spychanger can be swayed. As for the alliance? Consider it consolidating my forces. I will not be Straxus's proxy or errand boy for long," Megatron said with a smile.

    "You are devious indeed, Megatron. I think I would enjoy this alliance. Consider it yours," Starscream said, nodding to him.

    No doubt you've plans of your own. Straxus would not order the execution of one of his soldiers for no reason. And I still want to know what Megatronus plans. A Prime is many things, but a manipulator is unusual. Megatron put a hand on the Seeker's shoulder. But rest assured, my plans will supersede yours. Or incorporate them. He smiled, assured Starscream would be a valuable addition to his growing force. Nonetheless, he bore watching. He could be capable of greatness or great deceit. He turned back, walking to Rampage and Soundwave.

    The Spychanger seemed ill at ease with Megatron's private speech with Starscream. He kept flexing his fingers again and again, the only sign betraying his agitation.

    "Do you have a problem with something, Soundwave?" Megatron asked.

    He shook his head, and Megatron came closer. "Do not worry. I'm keeping a close eye on these three. I don't necessarily trust them yet, but we should investigate their claim. Straxus thought they were the leak, but if it's higher up, he's either misinformed, or misleading us. What do you think, Soundwave?"

    The Spychanger paused before speaking. "Misinformation is something a spy disseminates. To receive it from a handler is distressing."

    "Distressing? If he lied to you, you ought to tear him to pieces," Rampage said, slamming his fists together.

    Soundwave hesitated again.

    "I'll handle it, my friend. I owe you that much for being such a good teacher," Megatron said. And thus, the foundation is laid.
     
  7. ARCTrooperAlpha

    ARCTrooperAlpha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Posts:
    1,418
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    Way better than Megatron Origins, so much more personal.

    Orion's story arc is coool too, very conspiracy-ish
     
  8. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Thanks -- it's nice to get feedback. On a side note, after this, updates may become a little more sporadic, as I'll be having more schoolwork in addition to my full time gig, so yeah.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter VI: Trial
    "You will talk to me. It may take time, or scalpels, but you will," Ultra Magnus said, staring at Lockdown. The Decepticon glared back, imprisoned behind the energy bars of the interrogation room's cell. The room was flooded with harsh white light, and of a geometry difficult to describe, curving off into unusual shapes and avoiding the naturalistic sharp curves Cybertronians took for granted and by which they were comforted.

    "It'll take a whole lot more than words and guns to get me to talk, Autobot," Lockdown spat. Magnus didn't seem perturbed, and merely turned away.

    "Keep him in isolation. No one in or out for a full megacycle."

    Ironhide shifted on his feet. "And Energon?"

    "He's a war criminal as of this point. He is not to receive any. At all," Ultra Magnus said, looking to Ironhide with a severe expression.

    "And if he still doesn't talk?"

    "We'll request Red Alert operate on his cognitive circuits and loosen his tongue," Magnus said coldly. Though even I might not enjoy such an endeavor, Magnus thought.

    "Sir?"

    "Yes, Ironhide?"

    "Cryotek's still, you know, out there. What are we going to do about him?"

    Magnus sighed. "The only thing we can do. We appeal to the Primes. Bring the young Autobots."

    * * *​

    Orion fidgeted. He stood in the hallowed ground. The Cybertronian High Council's chambers: no place had been elevated higher than this for the political. The three Councilors sat in their respective places on the high counter. The room was bare and nondescript, excepting the beauteous ceiling, a dome with inset lights and paneled glass to give the effect of a mechanical sky tinged with natural star formations. It brought some measure of peace as he looked at the three council members. Jhiaxus on the left, in charge of the executive decisions. Shokaract, the legislative power, seated center. And of course, Cryotek on the right, whose judgmental wrath he feared most. His small band now sought to prosecute the highest judge the world currently knew, aside from the two Primes.

    Thinking of the twin Primes made him even more nervous. The group as a whole now waited for them, for no one dictated terms of a meeting to a Prime. No one dictated anything to a Prime. They were virtually infallible. To his side stood his own allies, including Ironhide, Dion, and Ultra Magnus. Orion nonetheless felt the odd man out. If not for his words to Lockdown, he doubted he would have been present at all.

    "This is a farce," Cryotek said suddenly, tapping a finger on the table. "I've more important things to do than listen to a plea by the Autotroopers. Besides, I should think this falls under Shokaract's jurisdiction, yes."

    Shokaract, a blue and bronze mass of serpentine and coiled metals, grimaced at Cryotek. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? Seeing me brought down to mere guardian of the peace instead of a councilor. Your arrogance is unbecoming, Cryotek," he said, in a voice with a hint of grinding, as if gears wound in his throat perpetually.

    "I mean no offense, my friend," Cryotek said. "You do handle the law, after all."

    Jhiaxus snorted. "And a Cybertronian such as yourself finds it opportune to shirk a meeting with the Primes without knowing the subject in advance? Shokaract is correct, Cryotek. Your hubris astounds even now."

    Orion focused on Jhiaxus. Unlike Cryotek, whom he now knew much about, and Shokaract, perhaps the most well known of the Council given his explosive and effusive nature, Jhiaxus had long kept out of the public eye. As with Cryotek, he only knew his name after another had told it to him, but little else was known about him. Where Cryotek chose an obviously partly organic alternate mode with wings, and Shokaract had chosen the alt mode of a gargantuan Cybertronian drillworm, Jhiaxus had no alt mode anyone knew of. He was rumored to be one of the Action Masters, the fighters lacking alt modes. Among all Cybertronians, it was a rarity. But then again, it was only a rumor. Still, looking at the silver, gold, and red Transformer, Orion wondered.

    Ultra Magnus cleared his throat. "Council members, there is a very good reason for calling this meeting, and without the Primes it cannot commence. Councilor Cryotek, your participation is of the utmost importance," Magnus said.

    Cryotek leaned forward, a smile tugging at his lips. "Really. And why is that?"

    "I am not at liberty to discuss the matter at the moment," Magnus said.

    That was a blunder. He just told Cryotek that he's the problem. Cryotek said it himself: this is a matter for Shokaract, so in telling Cryotek, Magnus gave away too much, Orion thought to himself.

    "Noted, yes." Cryotek leaned back, apparently satisfied.

    "And I take it you will need Shokaract and myself as well?" Jhiaxus asked. Ultra Magnus nodded in the affirmative. Orion looked over at his counterparts, seeing both Ironhide and Dion were uncomfortable. There was something understandable about Ironhide's mood: he wasn't dealing with his boss anymore, but the highest of the food chain, and when the Primes arrived, some of the progenitors of the entire Transformers species. Dion's discomfort was understandable too. After all, Orion felt much the same. The power the three councilors alone held served to allow them to govern the whole of Cybertron, at least when the Primes weren't directly involved. As some of the lowest ranking caste members, to be in the same room as them was not only humbling, but somewhat humiliating and gave the sensation of being inferior. But we aren't, Orion thought to himself. We're steel and gear, like them.

    The doors to the Council chambers opened at last, and the two Primes stepped forth.

    They were the living legends of whom so much was spoken: two of the members of the thirteen original Primes, and yet they seemed too modern, too updated to be something so ancient, so old. Sentinel Prime was the first in the room, his red and silver scheme flattering his design; he'd chosen an emergency vehicle of some sort as his current mode, it seemed, based on the lettering on his doors, flapped around him as a cape. Orion watched him with fascination. He strode into the room with authority, but it felt like an old friend coming into one's home, rather than the arrogance of a Cybertronian like Cryotek. His face held no expression, but betrayed his age better than anything else good. Lined with scars and deep lines and wrinkles, Sentinel over time had modified some of it to simulate an outgrowth of metal. As he walked past the other Autobots without a word, Orion realized the doors of his vehicle mode were only part of his cape, and the remainder was built out of a gargantuan shield.

    Slinking in after was Megatronus Prime. Oft called The Fallen for his role in instigating the Great War, no Cybertronian alive didn't know this Prime, especially given his role in forming the original Decepticon forces. He was the most infamous face ever, the former power hungry mad tyrant, professing to serve a darker power, and yet who now governed meekly, pleased with his life. He wore two prominent Decepticon emblems on either shoulder, and unlike Sentinel, whose body type was sleek and refined, Megatronus's had been forged of strange angles and a chaotic symmetry Orion couldn't quite understand or enjoy. There was a kind of tortured element to him, one which called Orion to sympathize with him and to some extent pity him. Such dreams of grandeur, of glory, stricken by the reality of war. He didn't seem to have an alternate mode, or if he did, Orion didn't recognize it.

    Sentinel and Megatronus reached the raised dais in the center of the room which served as the audience platform, and turned to the Autobots. Sentinel's eyes focused directly on Orion, and he suppressed the urge to lock his knees. After a moment, both Primes looked to Magnus.

    "You called us here. Speak," Sentinel said gruffly, his voice clogged with age. Megatronus said nothing, clasping his hands behind his back.

    Ultra Magnus stepped forward. "We have evidence of treason on the part of Councilor Cryotek and hereby move to have him discharged and impounded."

    Silence echoed through the room following these words. After a moment, soft laughter began emanating from the council table, from Cryotek himself. "That's all? This ought to be a quick meeting, then," he said.

    "Hold your tongue, fool!" hissed Shokaract.

    Cryotek only laughed harder until Megatronus turned his head toward him, putting a finger to his lips. "Quiet, if you would, Councilor. It has been a long day for us." Turning back to Magnus, he gestured. "Continue, please."

    "As I was saying, we have evidence of treason on his part. Evidence linking him to the Vehicons, and to illegal money laundering in several sectors of Cybertron as a related crime," Magnus continued.

    "Pfah! Evidence, you say. Produce it, or you waste my time," Sentinel grumbled.

    Ironhide stepped forward. "With your permissions?" Both Primes nodded. "These two Autobots recovered a conversation via vid link between their employer and Cryotek. Subsequently, they informed us and an attempt by a hostile force of Vehicons, led by a Decepticon mercenary, attacked us."

    "I take it the attack was dispelled, then?" Jhiaxus asked from behind the Primes.

    "That's correct, Councilor. Between the four of us, we managed to eliminate two Vehicons and take the remaining one and the Decepticon into custody. The Vehicon knew nothing, but the Decepticon linked Councilor Cryotek to the Vehicons with a number of illicit transfers, among other things."

    Cryotek did nothing, sitting still in his seat, but at this he stood. "I refuse to be slandered in front of our greatest ancestors. Lies, falsehoods, and accusations are nothing but hearsay. You claim to have evidence and yet do not produce it, no. Your Decepticon in custody is attempting to save his own skin, no doubt," Cryotek said, gesturing with one hand.

    Sentinel turned to face Cryotek, who sat back down. "If you interrupt again, I will pull your spark out of your chest and ram it down your throat. Though you have little in the way of duties, we are eternally busy, connected to Primus's will as we are. Know your place," the Prime said, turning back. Orion smirked, but when Sentinel noticed, he stopped, not wanting to offend the Prime.

    Dion showed the tape on a holographic projector to all present. "I took this when I was attempting to engage my employer in an activity," he said, loosely covering the truth to protect himself. "I stopped when I saw Cryotek on the screen, given at the time I didn't recognize him."

    Megatronus stopped the tape mid-reel with a long, spindly finger. "You eavesdropped on him? Are you not lower caste? Do you pretend to be higher, or are you merely prone to rulebreaking?"

    Dion quaked under the weight of the Prime's questioning, and Orion stepped forward. "With all due respect, the caste system isn't relevant to what we're discussing, Lord Megatronus," Orion said. Lord. Yeah, that's a good one. Butter him up by reminding he would have been a Lord and ruled over all of Cybertron if he'd won the Great War. "And further, Dion's discovered something pretty important, here." Based on the reactions of Ironhide and Ultra Magnus, Orion knew he'd done something wrong.

    Contrary to the rebuke he was expecting, Megatronus guffawed loudly, clapping Sentinel on the back. "This one has a bold spark! With all due respect, indeed!" Megatronus crept forward and leaned down, being almost a full length taller than Orion, and put his face close. "And you called me Lord. Mind your words, young one." He returned to his position. "Still, you have a valid point. The caste system, for better or worse, is not being discussed. Proceed."

    Dion continued, sketching out what had happened and interjecting with the video. Magnus took over shortly thereafter, detailing the duel with the Vehicons. Megatronus shrugged after all was said and done. "I see no reason to disagree with the evidence at hand," he said.

    "Nor I, for that matter," Sentinel said.

    Cryotek fumed. "So I have been reduced to this out of the words of what are barely more than protoforms. Very well then, yes. I do lead the Vehicons. Is that so much a problem? There is a law against their activities but they are young bots, and I am but one councilor. Am I to rein in an unruly populace? I cannot be held responsible for the actions of the many," he said.

    "Yes, you can," Orion replied, stepping up in line with Ultra Magnus, who shot him a look of respect. "You are no different than any other Cybertronian. The caste system is the only reason why a standard Autotrooper like Ironhide couldn't bring you in and try you publicly. Instead, we had to do this: involve the Primes, who no doubt have more important things to attend to than dealing with common criminals," he said.

    "My word, this one is bold, Megatronus! I rather like him!" Sentinel said, and the two Primes shared a laugh.

    Cryotek glared at Orion. "Tread carefully with your next words, or they will be your last."

    "Will they? You admitted only moments ago you were a traitor, but that you weren't responsible for the actions of others. What about your own? And you would do what to me, try and scrap me? In front of this audience?" Orion said, gesturing to the Primes and other council members. Shokaract barked out a laugh, but quickly stopped himself.

    "I will scrap you, Primes or no! I've not come this far only to be imprisoned now," Cryotek said, converting to his beast mode. A dragon sat in his stead, large and imposing, and it flared its wings. "Enter the dragon!" he roared, lunging for Orion.

    Another conversion noise echoed in the chamber as Shokaract changed to his alternate mode, using the length of his drillworm body to catch Cryotek by the neck in midair. "You fool, simmer down or you'll get a death sentence here and now!"

    "Let go of me, you fawning sycophant! I will have justice!"

    Sentinel reached up and grabbed Cryotek by the head, and as Shokaract slithered off him, Sentinel wrenched the dragon off his seat and smashed him into the central dais. "His sentence was already decided, Shokaract."

    "It's death, of course," Megatronus whispered to Cryotek, drumming his spindly fingers on the dragon's nose. "It's all right, we won't prolong it. Unless you'd prefer that?" Sentinel closed his hand around Cryotek's snout, preventing him from answering. "Hm, noted. I suppose we'll have to pick you apart, then," Megatronus said.

    Jhiaxus turned away as the two Primes began tearing Cryotek apart, beginning at the wings; Energon sprayed out in rills as connecting lines were severed, limbs detached, and essential systems mangled beyond repair. They needed no weapons. Each Prime simply crushed the councilor with their bare hands.

    Orion covered his mouth, turning away, and Dion, he saw, was nearly falling ill at the sight. Magnus watched, bearing the brunt of the visual assault. A few moments later, a bunch of teal blue scrap metal sat at the dais in front of the Primes, their hands dripping with the rich blue of intravenous system Energon. This is horrible. Is this what the Primes are really like? Hardened killers? Or is this what the Great War did to them?

    "Now then, while we are here, is there anything else you need handled, Ultra Magnus?" Megatronus said.

    "Quickly, too. I've little patience for this nonsense," Sentinel grumbled, brushing his hands together. The Energon ignited on them and he shook out the flame, grimacing.

    "Only the matter of the Decepticon prisoner, Megatronus Prime, sir."

    Sentinel shrugged when Megatronus looked to him. "Very well. You have everything you need from him?" Megatronus asked. Magnus nodded. "Then execute him or imprison him indefinitely. I'm not concerned. An attempt on the lives of any one of you is enough to justify it, as far as I'm concerned. Disproportionate punishment, perhaps, but then that's what you get when dealing with a Prime," Megatronus finished, a smile whisking across his face as he stared at Dion.

    "You're dismissed," Sentinel said, waving his hand at them. "Except you, Orion Pax."

    Oh, Primus, no. I'm next. "Yes, sir?"

    Sentinel leaned down. "Your employer will no longer exist. I will take care of you and Dion for the time being. Go to Autobot City tomorrow, and we shall make the arrangements." Without another word, both Primes stalked out of the room, leaving only the council members and the Autobots.

    "What a mess. Cryotek is a fool," Jhiaxus said.

    "One whom we'll have to clean up after, too," Shokaract said. Whether he understood the pun he'd made wasn't apparent, and Orion had no intention of bringing it up. The Autobots bowed and exited the hall.

    Outside, Dion and Orion spoke to one another. "Do you think we're in trouble?" Dion asked.

    "Maybe. I was pretty forward, and you were informal. But Sentinel seemed much more down to earth when he spoke to us."

    "Yeah, well, you sure sent a surge up Megatronus's power connectors. Were you nuts, calling him Lord like that?" Dion said.

    "Maybe." Orion looked into the stars in the sky. "I don't know what's coming, but I hope we'll survive."

    "Well, at least now I can impress Elita-1."

    "Seriously?"
     
  9. ARCTrooperAlpha

    ARCTrooperAlpha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Posts:
    1,418
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    You have school, and a full time gig ? Watch your health !

    Another good chapter !

    I didn't realize that it was the actual Megatronus of the 13 on the co-leadership chair, why him and not another similarly named descendent ? Kinda expecting him to betray Sentinel now, but that's just me : / Why is Megatronus there anyway, and what does it mean to be an Autobot or a Decepticon in this post-war society ?

    area of lacking, i suppose is why there are few autotroopers in an obviously crime-riddled city ? Did Cryotek forged fake reports so most autotroopers were transferred out to help out in other cities ?

    Also, I enjoyed the contrast between Orion, Magnus, Dion, and Ironhide.

    A bit sad that Rewind's gonna get executed, will this be addressed later ?
     
  10. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Haha, my health is fine, no worries. Appreciate the concern, though.

    It is indeed the actual Megatronus. The others of the Thirteen may be alluded to but won't be directly included, at least as of this time, simply given the direction of the plot. I will say that Sentinel isn't one of the Thirteen, though he is a Prime of the same era.

    The Autobot / Decepticon stuff will get played up a bit. With regard to the Autotroopers, it's not that they were transferred out or anything, but more that there's simply not enough to go around while the Vehicons were growing in strength.

    And will Rewind be executed? We'll see... :p 

    The next chapter is going to break from the pattern of Megatron / Orion, as well, so look forward to some change-ups and some revelations. This upcoming will probably answer several of these questions you've had.
     
  11. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Didn't expect I'd be able to finish this chapter so soon. More brutality...yay? Also a very subtle hint at the inclusion of someone who just got a toy recently...though in this story that character will be a little different.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter VII: Thirteen
    “I grow tired of the charade, Megatronus,” Sentinel said, his servos groaning as he hefted himself into the paired rest seats designed specifically for the twin Primes. They stood in the hallowed hall of Vector Sigma, the mammoth computer dwarfing both of them. Designed as a simple globe, it hid its true nature in dormancy now, though Sentinel expected it would activate during this meeting.

    “Whatever do you mean, Sentinel?” Megatronus asked quietly, standing and looking up to the starscape. Vector Sigma's chamber opened to the stars, but was one of the most fortified places on the planet, given the nature of the computer's sheer value and the storied history of Cybertron stored there.

    “Do not assume I am stupid.”

    “I would never, my friend. Are you speaking of Cryotek?”

    “You did not let him speak. He was the leader of the Vehicons, but who instructed him as such? No councilor is so brazen to disregard authority,” Sentinel said.

    “And you told him to quiet as well, no?” Megatronus said, glancing back at Sentinel in his seat. The dark Prime stretched the individual servos of his feet out on the ground, flexing the connections.

    “You know what I meant. He did not begin his machinations alone, and the data clerk Rewind is nothing, a racketeer at best and a social incompetent at worst.” Sentinel shifted, his frame creaking. I know what you are up to, Megatronus. You build your forces. You aim to overwhelm the Autotroopers, to have the councilors sympathetic. I am not blind to the signs. My forefathers fell to your aims, but I will not.

    “Yes, I led him to it and planted the seeds, Sentinel,” Megatronus said. “Primus longed for the conflict. For there to be growth, not stagnation. You know of his will. Am I to question divine providence?”

    “Know of his will? Yes, I do. Feel it as you do? No. I was never one of the Thirteen no matter what we tell the populace.” Sentinel gritted his teeth. Of course Megatronus would bring that up. The simplest reminder he was the elder brother, the more regal power, as if he had not spawned the Great War, created the darkest age of Cybertron. “And who else remains to corroborate your tale? No one, I imagine,” he said.

    “Alpha Trion is still active, though in stasis. I know not where the others are,” Megatronus said, pacing. “Solus I miss dearly. It is her flight which struck my spark deepest during the war.”

    “Sentiment, bah. Though I will say I would have liked to meet Solus, as I am now,” Sentinel said. He thought back to his own genesis, the few lingering memories of the Thirteen. They were dissatisfied with the empty Cybertron when they emerged, and he would never have blamed them for it. But Solus was the only one who could do anything about it, and she did. The first artificial Prime. Prime in name only. No connection to Primus, to Cybertron. To the Thirteen. The sentinel, the vanguard of the upcoming new age. The Sentinel Prime.

    “She was dear to me. But that is a story for another time.”

    “Another time indeed. Megatronus, what do you aim?”

    “Explain?”

    “The Vehicons. Cryotek.”

    “Ah,” Megatronus said. “I cannot say. Primus's will is bewildering here even to me. There is a newer age coming, and I do not have Alpha Trion's gift of future sight through the Covenant of Primus. Indeed, the Covenant may well be lost. Only he could say where his gift now lies.” Megatronus sat down in his own seat. “I have no real power anymore.”

    “No real power?” Sentinel scoffed. “You and I are among the strongest Cybertronians. We are the Primes. We govern. We control. We shape the future. How do you see yourself as powerless?”

    “The Autobots today. The way Orion Pax spoke to me. There was reverence, respect...but he spoke as if he was an intellectual, not a data clerk. There are stories, Sentinel. You do not hear them from your Autotroopers, but I have heard things from the Vehicons through Cryotek, and through the existence of the Vehicons themselves I know it to be the truth. The world is changing. The people want control. Not like we have. They want insight. They want to understand, and to choose their own course.”

    “The caste system, then?”

    “Perhaps.” Megatronus shifted. “I don't know. Is it ethical to continue the system? The Well of All Sparks has grown fickle with our meddling now. It produces fewer protoforms, and hardly any undertake the journey through The Pit. We are falling into decadence, Sentinel.”

    “Perhaps. Orion Pax impressed me. Dion less so. Nonetheless, they are true Autobots, and I intend to keep them well cared for.”

    “Well cared for? You sound as if you shepherd them. You should allow looser freedoms, as with my Decepticons.”

    “Your would-be warriors. They are too proud. Vehicons are almost all Decepticons, Megatronus. The whole of Kaon is nearly lawless. Have you no desire to make amends for the Great War?”

    Megatronus laughed. “Amends? Surely I have made enough. Decepticons as a whole do not deserve to endure their endless punishment.”

    “Now it's my turn to laugh. Endless punishment? Freedom from the law is hardly a punishment. Autobots chafe under rules.”

    “Would you change their positions?” Megatronus asked, his voice low.

    “Change them?”

    “To make the Autobots free, to burden Decepticons with rules, regulation, law. All you would do is spread discontent. Bring order to the Decepticons, leadership, and make the Autobots live as they please. Only in permitting freedom while instilling moral can we continue our current direction.”

    Sentinel did not reply. “Vector Sigma, heed the call of the twin Primes,” he said, waving a hand.

    The silvery globe swirled through the air gracefully from its resting place just behind the paired Primes, drifting in front of them and splintering in conversion into a gargantuan directory, computerized. “What do you aim to show me?” Megatronus asked.

    Sentinel did not reply immediately, sending his hand through the air in a series of gestures. His fingers creaked as he twitched them in small motions, manipulating the keystroke functions of Vector Sigma. It at last awoke and displayed a map of Cybertron, each large city highlighted, from Polyhex to Autobot City. Megatronus made a quizzical noise and Sentinel continued to manipulate Vector Sigma, and red and purple dots began cropping up all over the map, speckling Cybertron in a swath of color.

    “These are the Autotroopers and Vehicons known and operating.” He set another wave of his hand, green blossoming in small concentrated packs around key cities. “And these are the Cybertron Defense Force's bases. Do you see a problem with this, Megatronus?”

    Megatronus beckoned Vector Sigma's display zoom in, and he began scrolling through the map, his navy eyes flickering from city to city, base to base. “There is a disparity.”

    “Of?”

    “Force.” Megatronus shifted in his seat.

    “Precisely. There is a growing trinity of power, and I dislike it. Whoever courts the Defense Force and wins them over will have enough to control both sides through sheer attrition. It suggests something about your so-called connection to Primus,” Sentinel said, his voice deepened with a phlegmy tone.

    “You question Primus?”

    “Hardly. I know better. But you were The Fallen, once. No one can redeem themselves fully. You can fall again.”

    Megatronus stood, stomping through Vector Sigma, which realigned itself to avoid his wrathful gait. “Fall, oh yes, I could fall again, but you are so clueless, Sentinel! Anyone can fall, anyone can be driven to darkness. And I learned my lesson, and would not go to the darkest corner of the universe where he lurks ever again. He has been ended, and I do not relish the thought of him returning.”

    Sentinel smiled. “Then you should be happy to note we have a bigger problem than our quibbles.”

    “Oh? What is that?”

    “He is coming back.”

    Megatronus stopped his pacing, turning slowly to face Sentinel. “Do not jest with me about this, brother. I would murder you in cold blood if you took such serious matter in jest.”

    “I do not jest, nor do I lie. Thrust returned from colony Omicron with news.”

    “And?”

    “Omicron is gone.”

    Megatronus sank down into his seat again. “So he is just as powerful as ever.”

    “Perhaps not.” Sentinel waved his hand and Vector Sigma reconfigured, turning into a stellar map displaying Cybertron on the far left, with a lengthy gap before showing the former colony Omicron. A blue circle emanated outward. “The destruction of the colony sent out a quantum surge. Energy cannot be destroyed, after all, only transferred. I know not if this is a ploy or if he has truly returned in another form.”

    Megatronus zoomed in on Omicron's spot on the map, examining the quantum surge blooming outward into the virtually represented vista of space. “So we have a deadline, if we can monitor the surge?”

    “Yes. Agendas need be put aside to handle this. We need a way to cancel the surge. Or we need to perform an exodus, if temporary.” Sentinel ground two fingers together and spread them apart, and a counter appeared on the display, showing the wave was over a dozen stellar cycles away.

    “We have more time than I thought.”

    “Debatable,” Sentinel said. Both Primes sat staring at the screen, watching the wave move out. Both knew what to do. Both dreaded it. There was no alternative but exodus. Construction would begin. There would be no hope for a better future. Only survival.

    * * *​

    “Commander Thunderwing!” Skywarp called, the Seeker catching up to the commander outside the Academy steps.

    Thunderwing, a cream and teal jet with yellow decorative plating, turned and when he recognized Skywarp disdain colored his face. “What is it?”

    “Urgent business. Starscream's requested an audience with you, with regards to a classified operation. Straxus's orders,” Skywarp said conspiratorially.

    Thunderwing smacked him. “Are you an idiot? Don't say that name aloud here. Lead the way to Starscream.”

    The pair converted and blazed through the air, both silent. Skywarp kept his rear cameras trained on Thunderwing. The Seeker didn't care about anything but brutalizing Thunderwing. It was understandable, somehow: Skywarp was less concerned with anything not involving a scrapyard fight and breaking some bot servos. They flew through the sky for a few minutes, arriving in a dark, unlit field where Starscream stood, tapping his foot impatiently.

    Thunderwing converted and landed heavily. “What is it now?”

    “Straxus has found the information leak, Air Commander,” Starscream said, stepping forward. Skywarp converted to robot mode and skidded on the ground to a halt behind Thunderwing, who only spared him a glance. Starscream smiled. “Unfortunately, you are the leak.” He pointed both of his arm-mounted cannons, specialized weapons known as null rays, at the other Seeker.

    “You dare try and usurp an Air Commander?” Thunderwing reached a hand for Starscream only for it to be restrained and yanked behind his back by Skywarp, while Thundercracker came out of the shadows, grabbing onto the bot's other arm. The two pulled his arms open, keeping his chest and cockpit window exposed.

    “No, I succeed in usurping an Air Commander!” Starscream gloated. Thunderwing glowered at him. Starscream locked his null rays onto the chest piece of his former leader, but was knocked out of the way when Thunderwing leaped up and kicked Starscream full in the chest, his arms still held by both of the other Seekers. He flung Thundercracker into Skywarp, turning around to finish off Starscream.

    Thunderwing's face was met with Rampage's fist, who slammed him backward and sent him reeling. Rampage roared and converted to robot mode, his truck mode newly outfitted with heavy missiles. He began launching them one by one at Thunderwing, who converted and flew upward, dodging the missiles, each of which exploded into violent blossoms on the ground.

    Soundwave's vehicle mode emerged from behind a cloud, a prototype Cybertronian jet shaped like a missile, wings angled back, the sound of thunder echoing behind it. Soundwave converted, tackling Thunderwing in midair, and began punching and peeling at the Air Commander's undercarriage, ripping out his fuel line and some of his robot mode pieces. Thunderwing made a noise of pain and arrowed down to the ground, smashing into it a moment after Soundwave leaped off and skidded on the ground, sparks erupting from the Spychanger's feet.

    The three Seekers and Rampage surrounded Thunderwing, taking a limb apiece, and each held him in place, Rampage crushing Thunderwing's leg partly in his hand. Soundwave examined the Air Commander, who glared back. “Soundwave. So Straxus himself betrays me?” Soundwave said nothing, and stepped to the side, allowing Thunderwing to see the final Transformer who had yet to enter the fray.

    Megatron strode forward, his feet crunching on the ground some of Thunderwing's broken parts, and he looked to the Air Commander with a gloomy expression. “Six Cybertronians, and you cannot even damage one before you are taken down. Or should it be five, given I did not participate?”

    Thunderwing spat at him. “Filthy Decepticon! Straxus trains himself a new pet, but you'll regret all of this. Even if I am scrapped, more will follow in my wake. There will be no solace for someone like you, an opportunist.”

    “Opportunist? Hardly,” Megatron said.

    “He simply took advantage of the situation at hand, Commander,” Starscream said smugly. Skywarp laughed, and Thundercracker raised an eyebrow.

    “I'll scrap you all,” Thunderwing said, wincing as Rampage wrenched the bot's leg around harder.

    “Doubtful,” Megatron said. “I expect you should exist for only a short while longer. The more pressing issue is what to do about Straxus.”

    Soundwave turned to Megatron, flexing his hands. “We do not possess the firepower to storm Darkmount.”

    “So you have aligned yourself with me, then?” Megatron asked. Soundwave hesitated, then nodded. “Good. I should see to it you are well used. Trust is the foundation of every proper relationship,” Megatron said, putting a hand on Soundwave's shoulder. The Spychanger looked at Megatron's hand, and bowed his head for a moment. “Now, as for Thunderwing, what will we do with the corpse?”

    Thunderwing cursed at Megatron. “You'll not get away with this. Forget me. Straxus will crush you in seconds. You think you know pain? You've no idea what the word means,” he snarled.

    Megatron spared him a glance. “Tear him to pieces.” His troops began yanking on Thunderwing's parts as Soundwave approached him, clawed fingers extending into pincers. There was a screeching sound as Soundwave began peeling apart Thunderwing's cockpit shield. The Air Commander screamed as his arms were pulled from their sockets by the Seekers, and Megatron turned away. A smile formed on his face.

    Yes. This is how it should be. A foe is slain, not by my hand, but by my whim. Starscream will become an Air Commander, and the Seekers will be mine. Soundwave is mine, and with him, the Spychanger brings a first strike capability through that groundbridge Minicon. And of course, the brute, Rampage. With more training he could even be one of my lieutenants.
    Megatron looked down to his Decepticon insignia, a luminescent purple in his chest. This will need to be changed. I am no one's lackey. Not even my namesake's.

    * * *​

    “Lord High Governor Straxus here.”

    “It is Megatronus.”

    “My liege!” Straxus dropped to one knee even though Megatronus only presented himself in holographic form. The throne behind him in Darkmount's throne room lay forgotten, and Megatronus seemed amused.

    “Rise, Straxus. How goes my pet project?”

    “The protoform?”

    “Yes.”

    “He has done much. I am quite impressed, but running him hard to meet your expectation. After The Pit, he survived Soundwave, survived Swindle and Airachnid, and now reports he has ended Thunderwing. I imagine he cut a deal with Starscream and now leads them all.”

    “Subterfuge. Excellent. And what of the anomaly?”

    Straxus's mouthpiece vibrated. “It has claimed numerous Vehicons around Polyhex but I have yet to receive concrete reports. Each body is drained of Energon and left for scrap.”

    Megatronus smiled. “Send my namesake to deal with it.”
     
  12. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    And so the meeting begins...as well as the introduction of one of our big players. I guess I'm not going to make any assumptions as to when new chapters will come out, haha.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter VIII: Terror
    “The Sea of Rust, Orion. What do you see?” Sentinel asked, sweeping his hand across the orange red vista, the fallen old guard of Cybertron. Spires, skeletons of skyscrapers, rose from the ground in sinuous motion.

    Dion nudged him, and Orion nudged him back. “There's nothing here. It's dead.”

    Sentinel leaned in, pointing a finger to one spire. “Look closer.”

    Orion focused his optics on the spire, peering at the base of the platform. A Cybertronian corpse rested there, what must have been a veteran soldier of the original Great War, and something purple, contrasting, was blooming out of the chest of the corpse. “There's something on his chest, Sentinel.” Dion prodded him in the ribs. “I mean, Sentinel Prime.”

    Sentinel converted to vehicle mode, a thunderously huge version of an emergency fire truck, his cape-wings folding into it and his shield settling into the top end of the truck. “Get on.” Both Orion and Dion were dwarfed by his relative size and each grabbed a handhold, stepping up onto the bottom plating of Sentinel's armor. Sentinel barely waited for the pair, burning rubber and sending clouds of dust into the air, and seconds later the trio arrived at the corpse.

    Sentinel converted back to robot mode, the two smaller Autobots hopping off him as he did so. “Now. Can you see what is going on here?”

    Orion examined the corpse. It had been an Autobot, based on the sigil on its arm, but one of the original battles of the Great War must have claimed him based on the style and burnished gold color of the emblem. Battle damage was all over the body, pitting each single part of its structure, and the chest was broken open in what looked like a violent eruption. A fragmentary and unusual crystalline form of Energon rose from its chest in a look like a clawed hand. It shone a deep purple in the sunlight of the Rust Sea.

    “That's some form of Energon, but I've never seen it before,” Orion said.

    Dion leaned in. “Smells poisonous. Is this safe? Does it naturally occur?” The latter's somewhat scientifically curious side now came out. Orion didn't care. We should be out training or something. Apprentices to a Prime! Yet all we're going to do is look at fossils? He glanced at Sentinel. I suppose I should have more respect, though.

    “It is called Dark Energon,” Sentinel said, reaching into the shield on his back and pulling out an Energon containment field. He used some form of telekinetic power to yank the Dark Energon free of the corpse's body, the husk grotesquely stuck to it until Sentinel used another hand to push the two apart. He stored the Dark Energon offshoot in the containment field, and it hovered in his hand, twirling gently.

    “You brought us here for this Dark Energon, sir?” Dion asked, tapping the glass with a finger. He stared at it hard, even squinting, as if to pierce it with his gaze.

    “No, Dion.” Orion said. “There's something else going on here. A unique form of Energon, and spawning from a corpse? Something is very wrong here. A body emptied of Energon shouldn't have any self-sustaining activity, and this soldier is hundreds of years old. How is Dark Energon able to sprout from him?”

    Sentinel made a harrumph noise. “Cliffjumper was a good soldier, back during the war. I wanted you both to meet him, even in this state, if only once. He was one of my friends,” he said. “But no matter. This Dark Energon is something beyond you both. Orion has hit upon the problem. It is unnatural, unearthly, and spawning from a corpse means it must be made by a Cybertronian.”

    A groaning noise from behind them ensued, and as each turned, the body of Cliffjumper rose up, servos straining under the rust. The hole in his chest left by the Dark Energon seethed a dark, unearthly violet.

    “Now, Orion, Dion. Use your new weapons.” Sentinel paused. “Destroy it.”

    This is insane. Cliffjumper was dead. How is he moving? Did Dark Energon reanimate him? That's impossible. Nothing can bring back the dead! Orion stepped back as Cliffjumper's corpse ran forward, snarling and flailing with its arms, fingers extended like claws. Dion didn't hesitate, swapping his newly mounted arm cannons out to replace his hands, and began firing shot after shot at Cliffjumper's body, aiming for the chest and head. The shots glanced off the abomination, and it kept coming forward.

    Orion's adrenaline slowed the battle to a crawl and he watched and examined. Figure out how to defeat this thing. Find the weak point. The corpse's leg kept twitching every time it landed on the rusty ground, and it came to him. He flipped out his cannons and began shooting relentlessly at the knee jointing, and the leg came apart, Cliffjumper toppling to the ground and crawling forward with agonizing slowness.

    Dion whistled. “Not bad, Orion! You've learned a little bit,” he said.

    Sentinel stumped forward, pushing both out of the way, and he looked down with sorrow at Cliffjumper's body. “You were such a noble spirit once, and for that, I am sorry.” Sentinel raised his foot and crushed Cliffjumper's head, and the corpse flailed before finally shutting down. Purplish Energon began spilling out of the body as Sentinel pulled his foot back, and the paired students looked up to him.

    “They are called Terrorcons. The undead. Reanimated and brought to the fore. By what, I do not know. That is what you two will find out. There is something spawning more Terrorcons in this Sea of Rust, and I want to know what it is. More than that, I want it brought to heel or destroyed. You two will be able to survive or you will fall to rust like Cliffjumper, here in the emptiness.”

    Dion looked at Orion. “But, sir, how are we going to survive? We don't even have supplies of Energon,” he said.

    Sentinel knelt down to look at them. “The two of you are too ripe now to be reformatted into what you can truly become. You both must be seasoned further. Tested. Trials by rust are the only way to do this.” He paused, looking up at the spires, a forgotten city buried in the rusts. “You are not the only ones being tested these days,” he said.

    How strange. We're not the only ones being tested? But who else could it be? Not Ironhide or Ultra Magnus, obviously. Rewind? Maybe, but I'd think Magnus would handle him. Maybe Megatronus has an apprentice too. I wonder if I'll get to meet him.

    * * *​

    Megatron trudged through the wastes, resting a hand on one of the gargantuan pillars forming the bones of the Sea of Rust. He shifted his cannon on his arm, adjusting the tab and socket, the better to clean out some of the dust managing to sneak into the joint. He stared up at the sky, the corona of the sun. Straxus knows so little. He cannot see Darkmount is all but mine. He will be nothing but a puppet. I will reign.

    “Soundwave, have you found anything yet?” he said, speaking into his communications link.

    “Negative,” came the modulated reply. Megatron kept moving forward, seeing nothing but the same nondescript ruins. Where Soundwave scouted from the skies, Rampage strode beside him, confident and perhaps even arrogant. The red bot blended somewhat in the rust clouds, making him an ideal stealth fighter should Megatron need his brute force. The Seekers were, of course, arranging for Starscream's promotion.

    “This is a wild drillworm chase,” Rampage grumbled, kicking a support beam from some long-destroyed building out of the way.

    “Quiet. There is something out here, there has to be. Doubtless Straxus now attempts to kill us, perhaps even with Soundwave's help.”

    “So the Spychanger isn't on our side?”

    “No, I've no doubt Soundwave is one of us. It was a stroke of luck that Thunderwing happened to be the real problem.” Megatron paused. “Without that, we'd not have the Seekers or the Spychanger. It almost seems too convenient,” he said. And perhaps it is. Megatronus's plan cannot be so simple as Starscream and Soundwave had implied. Decepticons, transforming and rising up again, another Great War? No, there is more to it than that. There has to be. No Prime is so stupid as to repeat his own mistakes.

    “Count your blessings and move on. What are we even supposed to be looking for?” Rampage said, shifting his neck from side to side, the structural support therein cracking and popping.

    “A specific Terrorcon, or so Straxus said. Several intelligent ones have been exiled to some godforsaken planet out in the backwater end of the galaxy as it is, albeit in stasis pods. But this one is supposed to be the would-be leader, the father of them all.”

    “The father of the Terrorcons? What is a Terrorcon even supposed to be?” Rampage said.

    “I'm not sure. Straxus referenced them but as to what they are I don't know exactly. Something about reanimated dead. I doubt it could be so absurd. Even Straxus has his limits of the imagination,” Megatron said.

    “Megatron. Potential target located,” Soundwave's voice came over the communicator, scratchier than usual due to the wide band connection.

    “At last, I can kill something!” Rampage said, glee coloring his voice.

    “Relax, Rampage. It's supposed to be dead already, remember?” Megatron said.

    The two Decepticons moved forward to Soundwave's position, the Spychanger already converted to robot mode and waiting for them at the mouth of a large cavern, what once must have been the entrance to a mass transit area. Now it was nothing more than the maw of some colossal dead city, yearning to swallow them into the darkness.

    “Inviting,” Megatron said, eying it askance.

    “I'll go first, if you're scared,” Rampage mocked, moving forward anyway. His photoreceptors cast a dim greenish light into the gloom. Nothing lay inside but eons of dust, formed out of the empty wastes of the Sea of Rust. Soundwave went next, deploying Laserbeak and Ravage, the former hovering just above the Spychanger and keeping a solid beam of light funneled into the tunnel ahead, while the turbofox loped along next to the Cybertronians. Megatron came in last, examining the walls as he went.

    “Hm. This place is old, possibly older than the Great War,” he said, touching a hand to the walls to reveal a hieroglyphic symbol. “No matter. Find the Terrorcon.” The trio stopped as a rustling was heard deeper in the cavern, and tiny spider bots skittered around, emerging from the depths and zooming past to escape.

    “Not this again. You think Airachnid is here too?” Rampage said.

    “Doubtful. She operates in Kaon's underground, not here in the Sea. This is something new. Still, it would help to be prepared. No Insecticons should be here but we might as well be ready to fight them as well.”

    Speech echoed in the chamber from the other side and the Decepticons quickly hid, sliding into positions of cover on the wall. Megatron made eye contact with the other two. No movement, no speech. Quiet. If it's the target, we kill it.

    Orion Pax crossed into the tunnel, both blasters out, with Dion flanking him.

    “I don't like this, Orion. Somebody was here. I can practically smell them.”

    “Relax. If someone was here, it wasn't a Terrorcon. Look at the rust on the floor, it's not been disturbed. Cliffjumper was shuffling when he ran at us, it all would have been much messier here,” Orion replied, nonetheless keeping his high beams on, scanning the tunnel. “I can see light anyway on the other side. There's nothing in this one either.”

    Megatron paused for a moment. Autobots. Not what I expected. They might be useful, though. He stepped out from behind his cover, directly into Orion's line of sight, and held up both hands.

    Orion zeroed on him instantly. “Hold it, bot! Name and faction.”

    “I am Megatron of the Decepticons. We too are looking for the source of the Terrorcons.”

    “We?” Dion asked.

    Rampage and Soundwave emerged, and Laserbeak and Ravage converted to disc mode and planted themselves in the Spychanger's chest as the two walked forward to flank Megatron.

    “What are Decepticons doing looking for the Terrorcons?” Orion said.

    “Same as you, I imagine: our orders are to exterminate the problem,” Megatron said. I would prefer to bring it under my control, but you needn't know that. Not until I'm sure you're not going to shoot me in the back.

    Orion flipped his blasters into storage and moved to shake Megatron's hand. “In that case, glad to be working with you.”

    Megatron blinked in surprise, then shook the other bot's hand. “Likewise. Have you had any luck in that direction?” He nodded toward the way the Autobots had come. “We've had no luck trawling the Sea thus far.”

    “Two more pairs of eyes couldn't hurt,” Dion said amiably. He patted Soundwave on the arm, and the Spychanger said nothing and just turned his head slowly to look at the Autobot's hand, still resting on his shoulder. Dion laughed nervously and pulled away.

    “No, there's been nothing so far. There's one more sector to check on the map, though. It's got a single spot a base might be constructed.”

    “And you will never get there,” a cold, deep voice said from the entrance of the tunnel. All five bots turned in the direction of the voice, seeing a large purple Cybertronian with a broad chest and limbs to match, a central glass pane chest piece giving an imposing build. A single central eye stared at the group, glowing red with purple highlights pulsing into the center. Shadows obscured much of the detail of the figure and it took a moment before they realized it was hanging from the tunnel roof, its legs dangling above the ground. “Goodbye,” it continued, leaping up out of sight.

    “Wait!” Orion said, running forward to try and catch the figure. Megatron let him go. Let the Autobot take the first blow from the newcomer, should he be hostile. The tunnel rumbled ominously, and then the entrance the Decepticons had used began collapsing, thick girders and boulders smashing into one another, until the entire thing was blocked, consumed in darkness.

    The five bots sat in the dark for a moment before Soundwave deployed Laserbeak, who illuminated what was now a cavern. The Spychanger spoke first, uncharacteristically. “The one who sealed us here may be the Terrorcon target.”

    “I don't know,” Orion said. “The last one we fought was an undead zombie. It wouldn't stop attacking till it was destroyed. But I don't know if there are different types.”

    Megatron frowned. “I don't care. We need to escape.” He aimed his cannon at the entrance, and fired several salvos before Dion grabbed his arm and pulled the safety on his cannon.

    “What are you, nuts? You could cause a cave-in!”

    “Let go of me,” Megatron said. He looked down to the Autobot, who was perhaps a head shorter than he was, and Dion finally did.

    “Still, look. You didn't do anything.” Dion pointed to the entrance. Nothing had moved. At most, Megatron's fusion cannon had only scratched a few of the heavier boulders.

    “So then the only exit is from where you Autobots came. Lead the way,” Megatron said, raising a hand to Orion.

    Rampage seemed anxious, converting into vehicle mode, but he kept his rocket pods held low. “I don't like this. We should be out crushing that thing, not stuck in a box.”

    “Your fear of enclosed space is noted, Rampage,” Megatron said.

    “It isn't fear!”

    The others laughed, and they disappeared into the darkness, finding the remains of one of the Autobot rest stations Orion and Dion had set up. “There's not much residual Energon here, but we can refuel for now and keep going,” Orion said.

    “We'll stop. We need to talk,” Megatron said. The group sat down, huddling around the circular portable Energon refinery, flames licking out from the center, as if a funeral pyre had been miniaturized between them all.

    “Names have been scarce. This is Rampage, and this is Soundwave.”

    “Orion Pax and Dion.”

    “You two don't seem like soldier types,” Megatron said. Feel them out. See how sympathetic they are. Or if they aren't at all.

    “We aren't. Sort of. We're being trained by...someone,” Dion said, after Orion shot him a look. “So we're here on a survival assignment thing, sort of.”

    Someone? More like someone in a high rank. Perhaps the leader of the Autotroopers, Ultra Magnus? But why would someone so powerful take on these two? They're barely equipped and look so weak. Megatron nodded. “We're on something of the same. The Terrorcon source has been proving problematic for our leaders.”

    “Well, nice to see we've got some allies for the fight, at least. Whatever this thing is, obviously it's a little more intelligent than people gave it credit for,” Orion said.

    This one is sharp. He still doesn't trust me. “We'll find it and handle it. Rest assured,” he said, putting a hand on Orion's shoulder. And you would do well to align yourself to me. More troops mean more power. But you are intelligent, and strategists are few and far between these days.

    Orion looked at the hand and smiled at Megatron, but there was something in the smile which gave him a moment's hesitation. He wondered once more if Orion would prove to be a problem in the upcoming fights. Something to consider for the future.
     
  13. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    I apparently am just made of time...or my writing is just going much faster. This chapter will start setting us up for the true beginning of Warhead. Yes, thus far you've basically been reading the prologue. Chapter X will begin what is the next stage of the game. Enjoy.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter IX: Beast
    Shockwave Primal turned to the data readout, examining the reels of the incoming Cybertronians. His single eye scanned each of their builds and body types, noting their weaponry. It was only logical to know the strengths and weaknesses of one's enemies. There were, of course, two weaker ones. There are always weak ones in a given group, and this group was no exception. The red and blue Cybertronian whose database entry referenced his name as Orion Pax, and the second all-blue bot known as Dion. He flexed his clawed fingers as he looked at them.

    There is only the hunt. Only the kill. I need to save my laboratory. It's the only logical way to continue my existence. If these five are scrapped they will send more. I am fighting the proxies of the Primes. Shockwave looked around the lab, examining its tactical value. Computer banks lining both walls. Two gestation chambers, one empty and one full of organic gear. A small stack of Dark Energon cubes for his consumption. Hardly the ideal battleground. He stepped forward, his strangely top-heavy and bulky build looking more like some organic animal. He reached up to open the chamber.

    It drained and revealed his signature cannon, the hyperflux anomaly launcher. It was long, longer than most cannons, requiring his arm be lodged inside of it and the cannon itself to be linked to his Energon supply. He fit his arm into the cannon's handle opening, and it sealed itself hermetically, two bolts the size of his hands revolving until they locked the gun in place. He linked the power supply cabling to his spinal column, a purple light sliding its way all the way up through the cabling. Shockwave moved to the other items in the gestation chamber. Two small Dark Energon blades, which he put in weapon storage, and a small Minicon. That would be the linchpin. The only way he'd be able to take down five Cybertronians at once, even if he was on his home turf. Paralysis.

    It would have been easier if the others were present. But they'd been imprisoned, exiled. Banished to some empty, dark world in the corner of the universe, to sit in waiting for the eventual return of Cybertron to the planet. He looked to the Minicon, eight legs still dormant. It held no true sentience, like his allies had all those ages ago. It was nothing but what they thought Terrorcons were themselves: empty drones, shells. Food.

    Shockwave shifted his head to either side. The Minicon, a spider drone, still needed a name. Names gave power, though the idea was not logical. This was, of course, a holdover from when Shockwave Primal himself had not been a Terrorcon, before he himself had eaten the flesh of Cybertronians. He opened his jaw, the panels under his eye splitting open and revealing a long, prehensile tongue-like appendage, small pincers on the end opening and closing with mechanical gusto.

    “Rise, Blackarachnia,” he said, shooting his tongue into the spider Minicon. He shot a few runners of Dark Energon into the tiny creature, and it writhed for a few moments before becoming active. It skittered around and clambered onto Shockwave's glass chest pane, folding itself into a large spider emblem and tabbing into his chest. He turned, now equipped with his full arsenal, and trudged over to the monitors, watching the progress of the Cybertronians who came for him. Two Autobots, three Decepticons. One Terrorcon. He began analyzing his odds for the upcoming fight.

    “Outcome: Probable loss. Victory percentage: 43%. Highly illogical to pursue current trend,” he said to himself, looking down to the cannon. “Guerilla warfare may ensue.” His mind whirred for a moment, and he looked back to the Dark Energon cubes in the back of his lab, then to his hyperflux cannon once more. “New possibility formulating.”

    * * *​

    Megatron stalked forward through the wastes, clambering up a rust dune and staring off into the distance. They'd managed to emerge from the tunnels in short order thanks to the Autobots, so it had been nothing more than short diversion. Still, wasted time.

    Rampage scrabbled up next to him, leaning in. “You think we'll need to scrap these Autobots? I know you. You want whatever this thing is on our side. You collect allies like I collect battle scars and bad decisions,” he said.

    Megatron snickered. “My dear Rampage, you hit upon the crux of the problem. I'd rather walk out of this accursed red ocean with three allies, rather than one, but I will be walking out with a stronger army. It's what we set up that small temporary base for.”

    “What?”

    “You don't remember? I swear, Rampage. You can be thick sometimes. The holding cell we built to my specifications. Why did you think Soundwave needed to come along for this? We can't talk to the Terrorcon initially. It will be hostile.”

    Rampage snorted. “So we're not doing killshots from the start?”

    “No. We need to capture it.”

    “You think the Autobots will bite?”

    Megatron frowned. “No. Dion is too stupid, too weak, perhaps he'll join us, but only if Orion journeys with us as well. But Orion...he is dangerous. Intelligent. He reminds me of myself.”

    “So we'll scrap them both. I'll wipe them out without you lifting a finger,” Rampage scoffed.

    Megatron shot him a look. “Don't underestimate the Autobots. If we need something to scrap them, we'll use the Terrorcon. Use your head: what would look worse when their bodies are eventually found? Dark Energon infection, or damage from discharged weapons?”

    Orion and Dion came up shortly thereafter. “What are you two talking about?” Dion asked.

    “Nothing in particular. I was instructing Rampage with regards to what we'll be needing for the battle,” Megatron lied.

    “I see,” Orion chimed in. “And what role will he be playing?”

    Sharp indeed, but I am prepared. “Two primary roles. We will act as infantry and Rampage's alternate mode will serve as artillery. When we've weakened the Terrorcon, Rampage will use brute force to subdue it,” Megatron said.

    “And Soundwave?” Orion asked.

    “Aerial reconnaissance. He will target the enemy Terrorcon when we've ensured it will not destroy him or his Minicons, and the Minicons will support us. We are the primary force for this,” Megatron continued.

    “I have to say, I'm not sure we'll be enough. I'd be more comfortable if we were able to get some more reinforcements. That thing managed to seal us in a cave before,” Dion said, wringing his hands.

    “Have some backplate, Dion. We're going to bring this thing down, no matter the cost,” Orion said.

    Megatron shot him a look of respect. He is devoted. He is not the fanatic, but the loyal type. A dangerous one to attempt to sway. “Agreed,” he said.

    The infantry trio kept moving, Rampage lagging behind. A sudden movement off in the wastes drew their attentions, and Orion brought his weapons to bear on the scurrying object far out. None of them, even at maximum zoom of their optics, could see what the object was; it scrambled around in erratic circles a far way off.

    “Should we investigate?” Dion asked.

    “No. That's what we have Soundwave for,” Orion said. He tapped a sequence into his communicator, storing his blasters. “Soundwave, do you read us?”

    “Affirmative,” came the modulated reply.

    “There's something ahead of us, a few klicks ahead. Check it out.”

    “Acknowledged,” the Spychanger said. The quartet on the ground watched the Cybertronian prototype jet veer off to the side and hit afterburners, propelling itself forward at a far faster rate. His chest popped open and Laserbeak discharged from it, following Soundwave close behind.

    Orion and Megatron opened up portable video links to Laserbeak's visual feed, and Dion and Rampage followed suit. They watched as the jet and his Minicon approached the unknown figure in the Sea rapidly, and then they slowed as they neared the object. Laserbeak zoomed in on it, revealing it to be a strange, eight-legged Minicon, with no identifying information.

    “What do you think?” Megatron asked.

    “I'm not sure. This thing is unknown and we're in the middle of the Sea of Rust. If we weren't scavenging Energon from the natural growths, we'd be dead already. Do Minicons even naturally occur around here?” Orion asked.

    “Not that I know of,” Dion muttered.

    “Minicons have avoided this sector of Cybertron out of fear of scraplets,” Soundwave's voice replied over the link, scratchy and filled with static from the sheer distance.

    “Scraplets. Wonderful. If it isn't Insecticons or gladiator battles or Seekers it would be scraplets,” Rampage grumbled.

    “Seekers?” Orion said, turning to Megatron, his eyes darting between the silver and red Decepticons.

    “There was a problem with a small group of them causing dissent,” Megatron lied again, smoothly. No hesitation, or Orion will smell blood in the water. “We were just the backup for that mission,” he said.

    “Hm. Alright then.” Orion must not have believed him, but didn't say anything else. He looked to the others. “We might as well go investigate the Minicon. Let's roll!”

    Megatron bristled at being commanded by an Autobot, but the four of them transformed and ground through the heavy rust trying to clog their wheels. They poured on the Energon, reaching the spider Minicon in short order. Soundwave promptly landed beside them, Laserbeak returning to disc form and lodging in the Spychanger's chest.

    The black and yellow spider Minicon sat, purple Dark Energon running through its lights. It twitched feebly, evidently having run out of Energon. Dion nudged it with a foot, and it curled its legs inward.

    “Well, that's underwhelming. And obviously not the Terrorcon,” Dion said.

    “I don't think it's out here alone, though. There's nothing around, and why would a spider bot be out here anyway? There's no Energon, there's nothing,” Orion said.

    “Soundwave, do an Energon scan and tell us what the localized conditions are,” Megatron commanded.

    Soundwave's reflective face blinked as it sent out a pinging noise, detecting the local Energon deposits. “No localized Energon in this sector. There are two other zones with localized Energon caches but they are too far from this location for the Minicon to have come from them.”

    “So where did it come from?” Rampage said, exasperated.

    “I'd say it's the pet of our Terrorcon friend,” Megatron said. He reached down to touch it, and the spider jumped in the air unexpectedly. Oh no. We fell right into the trap. There was a thunderous discharge of Dark Energon, sending a power surge through each of the Cybertronians present, and it froze them in place. The spider fell to the ground and skittered off into the rust clouds which now picked up and obscured their surroundings. Megatron began scanning as best he could. The fight will come. The Terrorcon hunts us.

    Dion cried out as something leaped by him in a rust cloud, slashing at his back. He still was paralyzed, one of his Energon connection lines leaking bright teal onto the rusty ground. The figure darted in and out of the rust clouds, never giving them a solid look at it. Soundwave began pinging the surroundings again, trying to find the Terrorcon; Megatron silently was pleased at the Spychanger's ingenuity. Yes. The Terrorcon will show up on your readouts as an anomaly. There is no Dark Energon running through our veins, but it will paint him on a map.

    Soundwave's visor pinged and the group braced themselves as best they could, still immobile. A crunching noise came as Rampage's back was smashed by a heavy blow and he toppled onto the rust face-first, roaring incoherently.

    “Steady,” Megatron managed to say.

    Soundwave's visor pinged again, and a booming noise echoed out into the waste; a gargantuan energy beam, colored a deep fuschia, blew apart a rust cloud and shot its way toward Orion. Megatron watched the path of the projectile as if in slow motion. It would hit Orion. There was nothing he could do but jump in the path, but he still couldn't move. He willed his servos to move and they ground in place.

    The blast blew a hole through Orion's gut and blasted out the other side, a sound of rending metal warping the whisper of the wind. Orion groaned in pain and his photoreceptors went dark as he went into stasis lock, falling over. Energon bled out of the gaping hole, but Megatron noted the Terrorcon had missed Orion's spark chamber, though whether intentionally or not he couldn't tell.

    His circuits finally clicked into place and he lunged forward. Soundwave did as well, rolling into a combat pose instantly. His visor pinged and he ducked the next blast of the Terrorcon's cannon, deploying Ravage and Bridgeback. Bridgeback sat and wheeled around, looking for the next possible opportunity to be useful, while Ravage stalked off into the dust, aiming to bring the Terrorcon forward.

    Megatron lifted his cannon as he saw something emerge from the gloom, but it was Ravage tearing at the spider Minicon; the spider converted into a small Cybertronian and began fighting hand to hand with Ravage, occupying the turbofox.

    “Soundwave, prepare for groundbridging. I will ensure this thing is ours, no matter what,” Megatron said, ratcheting his fusion cannon's energy levels to drain his power supply more significantly per shot. Rampage, on the ground, groaned as he tried to stand up, and couldn't. He fell into unconsciousness, and Megatron grimaced. So much for the brute force. He turned to look at Dion, who was in a similar condition.

    “Megatron, another attack is imminent,” Soundwave said. Megatron whirled around, firing a charged fusion cannon blast into the rusty clouds. He was rewarded with a calamitous noise as the Terrorcon's cannon overloaded when its shot met with his, and the rust clouds finally dispersed thanks to the sheer force of the energy discharge.

    The purple bot which had sealed them in the tunnels before knelt a few meters away, his cannon shorted out temporarily from the back blast. Its single eye watched Megatron curiously, as if estimating his potential physical strength. Two bolts unscrewed and pressurized air hissed from the cannon as the bot dropped it, rolling into a leap at Megatron.

    It crashed into him full on, and Megatron pushed against the single-eyed Terrorcon. Its face opened at the bottom with two panels, and a sinuous appendage slinked out, four small pincers snapping at Megatron's face.

    “You cannot stop the Terrorcons. The Primes may attempt it but there is no safety from us. I will release my brothers. I will forge forward and breed a new age of darkness,” the bot's cold, matter-of-fact voice echoed.

    “Why would I want to stop you?” Megatron said, his gears nearly grinding from the effort of keeping the Terrorcon from snapping his face off.

    The Terrorcon reeled its facial pincers back in. “You...do not wish to exterminate me? Why would a Decepticon and Autobot alliance be hunting me?”

    “The surface goal is to kill you, yes. But I seek something more. I seek alliance,” Megatron hissed, willing the Terrorcon to understand the logic to his plans. “I build an army. You have proven your strength and ability in subterfuge. Joining me allows us more strength, and offers you the opportunity to exist freely, and to prey on whom you will,” he finished.

    The bot quirked its head. “You would keep one such as Shockwave Primal as a pet, then. I do not understand your position. I will not permit such.” The facial pincers emerged again, snapping at Megatron.

    “Soundwave! Get Bridgeback ready!” Megatron called, and finally he shoved Shockwave off of him into the air, the Terrorcon flailing. A groundbridge opened underneath the Terrorcon as it traveled through the air, and it went directly through the portal, Bridgeback closing it afterward.

    Megatron rose from the rust, his silver scheme's sheen blotted out. He creaked as he stood, brushing himself off. “Collect Rampage.” I was nearly bested by an animal. My tactical plans were nothing compared to that thing simply tricking me, all because of the spider. Megatron realized he hadn't checked on Ravage and turned to see the turbofox having pinned the spider Minicon under its paws, the Cybertronian mode's limbs flailing.

    He moved to crush the enemy Minicon's head under his foot, then stopped. It could be useful. You play a dangerous game with these pawns, Megatron, but imagine if it all comes together. You will hold the planet in your hands. You will finally have what you long for: respect. Admiration. Power.

    He removed some small scale power bonds from his storage bay and shackled the Minicon. Megatron manually activated a very small diameter groundbridge with Bridgeback, tossing the spider in with Shockwave, and shut it shortly thereafter.

    “Megatron.” Soundwave stood behind him, almost undamaged and having newly stored Ravage. “What do you desire for Orion Pax and Dion?”

    Megatron closed his eyes. “We cannot leave Dion, as he will reveal the truth of what happened. It is possible his offline recorders saw us capture Shockwave. Orion, on the other hand, is too dangerous for us to attempt to repair him. If it's even possible to do so.” He looked down at the red and blue bot's body, wincing at the vaporized portion of his abdomen.

    “We will leave Orion Pax. May he rust in peace.”
     
  14. ARCTrooperAlpha

    ARCTrooperAlpha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Posts:
    1,418
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    Jeez man, you're churning out chapters so quickly ! : )

    Chapter 7 was pretty interesting, so not all of the 13 were killed, Solus is Sentinel's mom (cool), a catacylsm is approaching Cybertron, Megatronus schemes (but so does Sentinel)

    Chapter 8's getting fun, Megatron and Optimus meet. An interesting view of how Transformers view the dead; a bit like how reptiles behave but with a dash of humanism.

    Chapter 9 - ............. F***ing Shockwave's a TERRORCON ??!! Holy sh*t dude ! Did he stick Dark Energon while he was alive or was he really dead before coming back ?
     
  15. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    The details of the Terrorcons get revealed in Chapter X, so I won't answer those questions here. That said, expect the unexpected: while there's plenty of fanservice and classic style stuff in Warhead, I pretty much thoroughly make this stuff my own. ;) 

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter X: Reformatting
    “What do you have to say for yourself, Shockwave Primal?” Megatron asked, standing in front of the cage. To protect his growing group of forces, Megatron had ensured the cage was well-equipped and capable of withstanding Maximus-level forces, rendering it near impregnable by any normal Cybertronian. The problem was that Shockwave was anything but a normal Cybertronian.

    “I am not obligated to say anything to you. Addendum: I am a Terrorcon,” Shockwave said. He stood behind the pinkish hued energy bars which restrained the single open portion of the cage. On his chest he wore Blackarachnia, the small Minicon storing itself there akin to Soundwave. Megatron, upon first seeing this, wondered if Soundwave and Shockwave were not somehow related. The names were similar enough, as if to add to the idea. The two bots were nothing alike otherwise, of course.

    Megatron frowned. “You still do not seriously consider my proposal.”

    “To work together? I do not see a logical purpose in such an action. As a Terrorcon, I have specific aims. None of these include the advancement of another Transformer's agenda,” Shockwave said, clambering onto the side of the cage. He stayed there, his feet and one arm planted on the wall, despite there being no handholds or surface to which he could stick easily. Megatron ignored this.

    “You will help me, however. In time, I will justify it to you. You speak of logic and probabilities as if they dictate your thinking,” Megatron said.

    “They do.”

    “Then you are easily manipulated.”

    Shockwave paused, seeming to process this. A whirring noise came from his eye piece. “Perhaps you are correct. If another is capable of producing a logical argument to which I will admit satisfaction, I am hypothetically easy to manipulate.”

    “I say we just send it back to The Pit and leave it be with the wrecks,” Rampage said. The red bot sat with his arms crossed in the corner, uncharacteristically quiet until this point.

    Megatron turned. “After going to so much effort to acquire this Terrorcon? I think not.” He returned his gaze to the Terrorcon. “If you will not help me, at least inform me of the nature of your being. Knowledge is power, as well, but does not require you helping me in an active role.”

    Shockwave Primal paused again. “Logical. You would alternatively deduce the origins of myself and my fellow Terrorcons through execution and autopsy and thus it is only appropriate I reveal such information to you. You have also not proven immediately hostile as all other Cybertronians before you.” He dropped from the side of the cage to all fours, pacing in the cell.

    “I was a Cybertronian researcher as part of an effort to create specialized drone units, similar to the Insecticons, or perhaps Unicron's control over his own drones.”

    “Unicron! Bah! A child's tale,” Rampage muttered. Megatron held up a hand. No, Unicron is no tale. He existed once. He was feared. One day my name will invoke the same legendary power.

    “This logically led into how the Insecticons governed themselves, given each is a self-sustaining unit with a centralized connection to the hive queen, in this case, Airachnid.”

    “You have met Airachnid?” Megatron rubbed his chin.

    “Airachnid was present for our experimentation of her own free will. Her Insecticons are not, strictly speaking, Cybertronian entities like ourselves and sentient, but differing organisms. Nonetheless, they are capable of transformation. The primary difference is their inability to refine Energon internally and thus their requirement to find raw deposits in their hive tunnels for the queen to convert, or to feast on living Cybertronians, hence their reputation.”

    “Yes, that does make some sense. Please, continue,” Megatron said. This fool is all too easy. Even if I cannot control him, he will be a wealth of information.

    “We dissected several Insecticon subjects offered to us by Airachnid in exchange for criminals who would be used to feed the colony.” Shockwave did not seem to be disturbed by this. “Subsequently, we discovered the Insecticons are not a separate species from us, but merely an offshoot which have mostly lost sentience. We were led closer to the secret of drone control until finally we created this Minicon,” Shockwave said, indicating Blackarachnia on his chest.

    “Blackarachnia was the first true test subject. It is slaved to my will but requires me to feed it Energon, the same way an Insecticon queen must provide refined Energon for her brood. This did not bode well for sustained warfare.”

    “Wait. You mean all of this was in service of the war effort? The Great War?” Megatron asked.

    “Of course. There would be no logical purpose otherwise.”

    Megatron pondered. Then Sentinel or Megatronus is, at the core, responsible for these acts. Producing the Terrorcons seems like something Megatronus would have done during his stint as The Fallen, but I cannot believe so. The Insecticons were happy to ally with him. So then the Autobots must have needed a counter, hence the research.

    “And this was research for the Autobot forces?”

    “An astute deduction. Correct.” Shockwave turned his head on an angle.

    “Something to consider for later. Please.” Megatron gestured for him to go on.

    Shockwave shifted on his feet. “I was not able to control Blackarachnia mentally. This was the one problem in our research for some time we could not solve. I began tampering with Energon in an attempt to produce a method by which one could maintain a mental link.”

    Here it is. Here is the key. “And what did you produce?”

    “Dark Energon.” Shockwave did not hesitate and continued. “I was deemed a madman for having produced such an unstable Energon formula synthetically. After taking the time to ensure it was stable, I began testing on five volunteers. They became disturbed following this. Blackarachnia would respond to their commands, and in terms of mental capacity each held some measure of communion with the others.”

    Megatron nodded. “So you felt it prudent to refine the formula further and test it on yourself?”

    “Precisely. After removing all logical barriers to self-testing, including several of my fellow researchers, I proceeded to infect myself with Dark Energon. At this point I learned of the primary issue with utilizing Dark Energon: to fully refine it in one's body, one must consume existing refined Energon. The easiest method to acquire refined Energon is, naturally, to cannibalize other Cybertronians.” Shockwave stared at Megatron, and he suppressed the urge to shiver.

    “Rampage, you are needed,” Megatron said.

    “What is it now? Ready to kill this thing?”

    “No. I think I've hit upon something truly ingenious. I would ask you to find Airachnid, and arrange a meeting.”

    * * *​

    There was a silence. A million sparks floated throughout the eternal Matrix, an embodied will of Primus. Orion's consciousness drifted in some unknown stasis, warm and familiar, but distant. Afraid. Faces drifted before his visual receptors. Megatron. Sentinel. Dion. Ironhide. An eternal whirlwind of white, the bluish tinge of sparks giving it color.

    He had been damaged. The specifics weren't clear. Whatever the cause, he was now offline. Perhaps permanently. Orion tried to move his limbs, and could not. A strange sensation pervaded his limbs, as if strapped down, or drained of Energon. Perhaps they were. Terrorcons could drain Energon from a body, could they not?

    And they had fought a Terrorcon. How insane he had been, to believe he and Dion were ready. He'd already decreed Sentinel a madman. There could be no other explanation for why he thought they could destroy the Terrorcon. And that was before they'd met Megatron.

    Megatron. The enigma. A silver knight playing at commander, at king. There could be a power in his leadership, and he was intelligent. Somewhat gruff, as if used to being obeyed, but there was merit. Tactical. Orion kept returning to the oddities of the Decepticons he'd encountered. Speaking of the Seekers as if they had fought some. Insecticons. The hunt for Terrorcons. Soundwave's strange affinity for the Minicons. Rampage, the barely controlled rage in the red bot, his lack of restraint suggesting something worse.

    The whiteness of the Matrix opened into a spherical display, Cybertron at its center. A blue ring came from the outskirts of the display, as if it would impact the planet itself, and Orion felt his spark drift toward it. A dark tone echoed into the silence, and the white of the Matrix turned a dead black, as if mimicking space, all the sparks surrounding him acting as the stars. The ring came into focus as a colossal quantum surge, and Orion stared.

    “Can you feel my spark, Orion?” The voice was disembodied, fearsome, but familiar. He ignored it. The surge grew larger, its arrival contrasted by the blooming of bright orange and red gouts of flame, erupting from Cybertron's pores. Each city evolved its way into a fireball, storming the surface of the planet and covering it. When the surge finally hit the planet, he suddenly felt an empty gap in his chest. Cold, icy even. As if he had been scrapped and his spark was missing.

    The quantum surge's blue tinge painted the planet's conflict. Each bloom of war faded into darkness, as Energon rivers, the chasms of the world, began falling deeper into darkness until the whole of Cybertron lay dead in space. No light. No life. Orion reached a hand out to Cybertron, his hand at last obeying his servomotors. An electrical surge thundered out from the planet and scalded his hand and he withdrew it.

    No. I won't back down. Megatron wouldn't. The Primes wouldn't. I'm tired of being stepped on. Tired of being weak. I will stand where others fall. Orion reached out again, and ignored the pain as the surge's energy lashed out at his hand, trying to push him away from Cybertron once more. He forced his hand closer, as the surge intensified; he reached his other hand out and the energy tried pushing the other hand back now as well.

    “Yes, Orion, fight! Feel my spark!” The voice, again. Unknown but more familiar now than before. One could almost know who it was. He ignored it again. A dark shadow loomed behind Cybertron now, as if watching his progress, watching his struggle to survive. Orion ignored the shadow too, his hands nearly wrapped around Cybertron itself. He could save it. He was so close. The shadow put its hands around Orion's, and began helping push his hands into the perfect circuit around it, and they finally met, and a pulse of energy flew through Orion's body. The planet disappeared and in its place was something unknown to him, a container for some strange object, like a spark but of strange hues and colors.

    The gap in his gut seemed to disappear. His spark glowed brighter until he had to look upward to shield his eyes from the glare. The shadow's details were thrown into relief and Orion saw something deeper in him, a bright red, a spark so strong it blinded him even more, and realized a moment later it was Sentinel Prime.

    “You have succeeded, Orion. You have become...reformatted. From this point forward, your name shall be Optimus.”

    * * *​

    Optimus awoke from the repair chamber, his abdomen repaired. He blinked and looked around. Sentinel stood over him, with an unknown face nearby. The other Cybertronian bore an orange and white scheme, a weathered look to his face.

    “It looks like the procedure was a success, sir,” the new Transformer said, his voice gruff. Sentinel nodded but did not reply.

    Optimus focused on the room around them. Nondescript and nonthreatening. A hospital style room, but with a stasis pod styled repair chamber, in which he sat. There was minimal color to the room outside of an image of himself in a mirrored, reflective wall. His eyes widened.

    “Looks like he figured it out, maybe?”

    “Perhaps, Ratchet. Your help has been invaluable in this repair work.”

    Optimus ignored them. He planted his hands, each of which was thicker and larger than he remembered, on the sides of the pod. He stepped out of it, stumbling for a moment as wires untethered themselves from his body. Optimus fell to his knees, and slowly rose to his feet, keeping his eyes on the reflection.

    Thick feet, with even larger calves, doubtless with added weapon storage bays. Thighs approximately the same, but a bulkier torso. His entire chest had been redesigned from the ground up, with a two paned windshield in lieu of his original wraparound windshield. He touched it, his fingers trailing down to the large, armored grille where he had been damaged previously. He looked up. Optimus's arms were so much bulkier, squared off on the edges as a replacement to Orion's more rounded limbs, with two smokestacks on the shoulders with paired Autobot logos emblazoned on the front.

    Optimus's face greatly differed from Orion Pax's: a single, angled faceplate, deep azure eyes above. A blue helm sat on his base skull, a centralized communications block on the fore of the helm, with two paired communications spikes rising from either side of the helmet.

    “What...am I?” His voice sounded different. Deeper. Older. More alien, perhaps. As if culled from experience.

    Sentinel trudged closer, resting a hand on Optimus's shoulder. “You have been reformatted into something new. Your damage in battle was extensive. Much of your chest and part of your spark chamber needed to be replaced entirely.”

    “Is that why my name is now Optimus?”

    “Precisely,” the other one, presumably Ratchet, chimed in. Optimus looked down to him, realizing he was even physically bigger and taller than he understood, given Ratchet had the same body type as his former self.

    “Why did you revive me? Dion required repairs as well.”

    “Regrettably, Dion was not found at the scene. You were alone, with the tracks of battle around you. We assumed multiple Terrorcons had been present,” Ratchet said, joining his hands together.

    “No. There was Dion and myself, and subsequently, we encountered some of the Decepticons. They offered to aid us, and after I sustained damage I fell into stasis lock. I do not know what happened to the others, and I fear they may have been destroyed.” Optimus lowered his head, and processed what had happened.

    Sentinel took his hand off Optimus's shoulder. “Decepticons. So Megatronus sent troops to kill the Terrorcon as well. But to what end? He knew I intended to handle it.”

    “I do not think the Decepticons were destroyed after all,” Optimus said, narrowing his eyes. “The one to whom I spoke most, Megatron, seemed altogether too intelligent and self-assured to be a mere lackey. He additionally kept in line a Spychanger as well as a heavy trooper.”

    Sentinel rubbed his chin but said nothing. Ratchet raised an eyebrow.

    “Megatron. Megatronus. He must be the apprentice of the other Prime. There are other apprentices than myself and Dion, are there not?” Optimus asked, turning to Sentinel.

    “I admit Megatronus may have taken a protege under his wing. I would not be surprised given I had taken both you and Dion,” Sentinel said.

    Ratchet started examining Optimus, but spoke as he did so. “But then how did they deal with the Terrorcon? They wouldn't have left the corpse sitting there, so they must have been destroyed and eaten,” he said.

    “Doubtful, Ratchet. Consider that I was left for scrap, and targeted by the Terrorcon. Why would my body be left behind? My spark was intact, and would have been fresh for consumption. By contrast, I cannot remember Dion and Rampage being as severely injured as myself, and they were targeted first.”

    Sentinel tapped his head. “Good thinking, Optimus. There is a contradiction. We will need to discern the truth.”

    “How?” Ratchet said. He crossed his arms. “There's no video feeds out there, there's no other bodies, there's not even a Terrorcon to examine or interrogate.”

    “There are other ways,” Sentinel said. “In the meantime, Optimus, you will be given a command of your own. There is no defined rank I can give you, but I will ensure you will be able to investigate on your own. This will be your assignment. You will track down the Terrorcon. You will learn the whereabouts of Dion.”

    Optimus nodded. “Who will work with me?”

    Sentinel grinned. “I have arranged for you to meet an old friend as well as a new one.” He gestured for Optimus to follow him, and trumped through the door. Optimus followed him, entering a cyclical hallway which unfolded before Sentinel's feet, outer space all around. Optimus blinked, unsure of where the station was. After a few moments of walking, they reached another room, squat and square, and entered it.

    Inside, Ironhide sat on one seat. He wore a new paint scheme, with more black to accent a new red base coat. His Autotrooper insignia still was emblazoned on his body. Next to him sat a Transformer who Optimus didn't recognize, whose primary white color was accented with bright red and blue stripes down his chest. He wore a silvery blue visor.

    “Your names, Autobots,” Optimus said.

    Ironhide coughed. “You know me already, Orion. I mean, Optimus.” He glanced away. “This one is Jazz,” he said, slight distaste coloring his voice.

    The Autobot with the visor made a gun with his fingers and aimed at Optimus. “Best sharpshooter this side of Cybertron, boss.”

    Optimus nodded. “Noted, Jazz.” He turned to Sentinel. “It's time, then.”

    “Take Ratchet with you as well. You may need a medic or a tune-up. Your body is new, after all,” Sentinel said, pushing the medic forward a bit. Ratchet tried skidding backward a little, but Optimus clapped a hand on his shoulder and pulled him into the group.

    “Autobots...transform and roll out!”
     
  16. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Bit of a proper delay on this one. Also introducing some new guys in this...it's more or less my take on the Stunticons. Enjoy.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter XI: Spider
    “So I see you've met my old friend, Destron.” Airachnid slinked toward Megatron, mocking him with the name.

    “It has been some time, but my name is Megatron now,” he said. “And yes, I have Shockwave Primal in my possession.”

    “Primal?” She looked at him, as if sensing the Dark Energon coursing through his body. “Yes, he does seem different. Rampage, that adorable dear, said you needed to speak to me.” She angled her body to jut out her hip to the side, as if to lure Megatron into her embrace. “Did you?” she asked coyly.

    Megatron turned, watching Shockwave. “Yes, I did. I require your assistance, and perhaps something you will find unappealing.”

    “Oh?”

    Megatron strode to Airachnid, reaching a hand up. She bristled at first, but then relaxed as he rested his fingers lightly on her neck. “I intend to overthrow Straxus. To win Darkmount.”

    Airachnid skittered backward, putting her body low while her spider legs suspended her. “You would dare to do such a thing? Your hubris is impressive, my prey.” She smacked her lips. “And to what end are you keeping Shockwave?”

    “Insurance,” Rampage said, standing behind her.

    She whirled to look at him. “Insurance? Don't speak out of turn. I could have my legion of Insecticons here to slaughter you all in a heartbeat if you tried anything,” she said.

    “Then work with me,” Megatron said. “I shall soon hold the Seekers as Starscream is promoted. I hold the fate of the Terrorcons. With the Insecticons at my side, more power will come with them. I could even take the Vehicons, over time, now that we all have seen the broadcasts.”

    “What broadcasts?”

    “Cryotek is dead. Killed by the Primes.” Megatron thought back to the moment he saw the broadcast, only a few cycles prior. He had recognized Dion and Orion Pax at the trial, wondered offhand if it wasn't a mistake to leave Orion Pax. His body would be found. He had had an audience with the Primes, after all. But without Dion's body, one could not logically extrapolate the truth. He mused in silence for a moment, wondering if he should have finished Dion off. Straxus had taken his body, and doubtless now it was either smelted down, or being used for some other more nefarious purpose.

    “Dead? The Vehicons are under the control of Swindle, then,” Airachnid said.

    “Oh? Swindle has that much power?”

    “I'd like to meet him again. Preferably fist-first,” Rampage snarled.

    “Easy, Rampage.” He is too easily excited. “What do you think, Airachnid? Doubtless Swindle will ally with us, though I sense he will be difficult to sway.”

    “Hardly. Swindle cares only for money. Ensure he will be well rewarded and you will have yourself a dutiful servant,” Airachnid scoffed.

    Megatron took a step forward, his eyes glinting. “And you?”

    “I will be no one's servant. But as a queen...” She paused, scuttling around Megatron, her legs clambering onto his larger frame and leaning in to whisper. “As a queen, I can be swayed. And as a queen, my mate shall lead my Insecticons,” she said, reaching a spindly finger to scratch under his chin.

    “I take it you aim to make me that king, then,” Megatron said. She is well built, and beautiful, but she is nothing more than a bug. Rampage retched in the background, and Megatron rolled his eyes.

    “Perhaps I do,” she said coyly.

    “I accept. To hold the Insecticons, it is a small price to pay.”

    Shockwave's eye whirred, watching the three of them. Megatron glanced at him. Yes, Shockwave. Adjust your probability. Understand I will storm Darkmount with enough strength to control the world. And you are the key to controlling Airachnid should she disobey me. He fancied the Terrorcon nodded at him, but he did not acknowledge it.

    Airachnid slunk off him. “So what is on our agenda, my lord?”

    “I do like the sound of that.” Megatron mulled the rank in his head. Lord of the Decepticons. Insecticons. Terrorcons. Not strong enough. There would need to be a unifying banner under which they all would be led. But he would need time to think about it. “The first thing is to court Swindle. Your Insecticons doubtless can acquire enough Energon to win him over, yes?”

    “I'm sure, but surely by now Straxus is at least a little suspicious?”

    “Doubtful. Soundwave!” Megatron called. The Spychanger dropped from the ceiling with a boom, dust settling around him.

    “You have won over the Spychanger? Straxus is in dire straits indeed,” Airachnid giggled. “So Swindle is next, then. I can arrange the meeting. Without Swindle's connections you may have difficulty in controlling the Vehicons, so I wouldn't recommend scrapping him,” she said.

    “Why would I scrap the one who gave me my alternate mode?” Megatron paced. “Yes, there is some rage there, of course. Rampage can attest to that.” He paused. “Still, he will be useful. Doubtless he has an armory, and your Insecticons can be trained to use weapons, I'm sure.”

    “Only the elites can. You've met three, the combiner.”

    “Hm.” Megatron looked back at Shockwave Primal. “We may be able to rectify that in the future. I will soon need to speak to Starscream, as well. Darkmount's fall shall come, and soon.”

    * * *​

    Drag Strip checked himself in the mirror, paying attention to his rear bumper in robot mode especially. The gold and yellow robot whistled. “Oh yeah, that upgrade went quite a ways. You've got some real heavy duty appeal now, baby,” he said to his reflection. The room was dominated by the reflector, allowing those within to examine themselves prior to entering combat; little else had detail in it, with plain silver walls. He squinted, and leaned in to look at one of his chest grille plates. He started picking at a fleck of darkness in the silver when he heard another bot enter the room.

    He turned to see one of his partners, Dead End. The other bot had a near identical body type and deco style, but was painted deep black with purple highlight and a red windshield. As Drag Strip raised his hand in greeting, Dead End smacked him upside the head.

    “Drag, you need to quit this vanity scrap. We have work to do.” Dead End crossed his arms.

    Drag Strip pouted. “But I have to be at my best for when we take on gladiators! You know how the audience loves my spinning rims.”

    “Dead End is right. Your vanity is not something we need right now,” Barricade said as he entered the room. The third of the group, he rolled with an Autotrooper style paint scheme, but lacked the Autotrooper emblems. Drag Strip had never asked if he had once been an Autotrooper. Barricade was the type who'd hit him for asking.

    “Oh, please, Barricade, spare me your griping. Dead End may have a point but I'm entitled given how I scrapped that Vehicon practically solo last time around.” Drag Strip put his hands on his hips, shaking his head briefly.

    “Doesn't matter. Inferno and Wheeljack are waiting. We don't have time for you to make nice with your reflection,” he said.

    Dead End snickered. “Inferno gets so mad. I'd love to see him go postal in the next match. Who are we even crushing today?”

    Drag Strip shrugged. “Some Constructicons, I think. Team of five, just like us.”

    Barricade grabbed them both by the arm and yanked them forward to the door, and the trio exited at his behest, opening into the arena.

    Drag Strip whistled. Whoa. Quite the attendance today. Swindle's rolling big for once. His gaze returned to the arena from the stands, and he saw Inferno and Wheeljack in front. The enemy Constructicons had yet to appear. The trio moved forward to join the others.

    “Wheeljack, Inferno,” Dead End said.

    Inferno turned. The red bot, his body a Cybertronian fire truck alt mode, had been altered lately by several body shops, shaving his type down into something more organic looking, spindly limbs covering his doors. “The royalty expected you here some time ago. Your lateness will cause you to burn later!”

    Barricade shook his head. “Still on that royalty thing? Freak. How are we doing, Wheels?”

    Wheeljack, a cream white Cybertronian, turned. He recently also had redecorated his body, a long green stripe centered on his body and flanked by two crimson stripes to match. Some time ago he had been a race car, the same body type as Drag Strip and Dead End, but now he'd changed, bulkier and beefier, into a heavy armored transport.

    “Eh. We'll be fine. Wreckers always are. We don't call for backup...” he trailed off.

    The other four chimed in. “We call for cleanup!”

    Drag Strip looked to the audience again. “They're getting restless. Where are the Constructicons?” I'm itching to show off how gorgeous I look in combat.

    “Comin' right now.” Barricade pointed at the other end of the arena, a quintet of five neon green and purple Cybertronian construction vehicles rolling into view.

    Drag Strip grimaced. “That green is so ugly. You'd think by now the construction crews would adopt a safety orange, or something. Safety green is just so blasé!”

    “Don't be stupid, orange is a weird color for safety markings,” Wheeljack said. The biggest of the Wreckers rotated his shoulder joints, a popping noise ensuing.

    “Something's happening, royalty,” Inferno said. He pointed at the Constructicons; the Wreckers stared, seeing other bots nearby the Constructicons, though sheer distance prevented them from seeing anything but that they were different types of bots, perhaps insectoid.

    There was a squeal of feedback as the arena audio came online. “Welcome to the arena, ladies and gentlemen!” A shuffling noise echoed out. “Hey, what are—” the voice cut off with a clanking noise, as if the announcer had been smashed in the face.

    “Welcome to the arena indeed.” The voice seemed sinister, but melodic; the kind of voice Drag Strip imagined the High Council sounded like. “I have one particular need, and that is the acquisition of Swindle. I will happily accept whoever wins the following arena fight, but I've stacked the odds a bit in favor of the Wreckers. One keeps the integrity of bets,” the voice said, laughing. Drag Strip raised an eyebrow, confused, until he looked to the betting window values, seeing the Wreckers initially had been slated as the probable winners.

    “I don't like this,” Wheeljack said.

    “Royalty, I will investigate the problem!” Inferno said, converting to his vehicle mode. Looking like an emergency transport with excess legs on the side, he rolled forward and zoomed in on the other end of the arena, and returned promptly less than a few seconds later.

    “Well, you helpless sycophant, what did you learn?” Drag Strip said, exasperated.

    “Do not presume to address me so negatively, Drag Strip. I will answer only to the royalty's command!”

    Barricade clapped a hand to his head. “Just say it, you ant.”

    “There are Insecticons in the arena. They've disabled the Constructicons, and two of them have been scrapped,” Inferno said matter-of-factly.

    “What?” Dead End took a step forward. “Insecticons, in the arena? But they haven't been seen above ground for megacycles!”

    “Doesn't matter. Looks like they're comin' for us,” Wheeljack said. He cracked his knuckles, bracing himself. Three Insecticons came forward, all unique types.

    “Those aren't like any Insecticons I've seen in the books.” Barricade leveled his rifle at them.

    “Ask me if I care, Barricade,” Dead End muttered. “They're gonna go down like anyone else.”

    Drag Strip shuddered. Such ugly brutes. They came into focus, and he analyzed the details of the differing Insecticons. Each wore a mechanical form of common organics seen on multiple planets. One was a grasshopper, one a praying mantis, and one a beetle with gargantuan mandibles.

    “My Insecticons will destroy everyone in this arena if no one produces Swindle. Let the Wreckers be your first example,” the arena loudspeakers echoed.

    “Wreckers, kill 'em,” Wheeljack commanded. The five Wreckers split apart as the Insecticons neared, mashing into one another in a heap. Dead End leaped into the fray and pulled out two blades, slashing at the grasshopper, which reared back and booted him in the head.

    “Kick Back isn't a slouch!” it vocalized, leaping backward and converting to a robot mode with two long pincers coming over the shoulder. It grabbed Dead End by the shoulders with both pincers, flipping him into the wall, and he crashed with a loud crunch.

    “These things can talk?!” Dead End cried, creaking as he tried to get up.

    The mantis and beetle transformed as well, and Drag Strip cringed. They were so vicious looking, with the mantis having elongated legs, apparently for leaping, with claws mounted on the underside. Its upper body seemed normal by Cybertronian standard, though spines covered much of its body. The beetle, by contrast, had its thick mandibles flip outward onto its arms as blades, its carapace opening to reveal stunted-looking legs. It roared and thundered toward him, and he dodged.

    Drag Strip pulled out his Energon spear, flipping it around in a spiral, and converted to his race car alternate mode, hitting the gas with the spear strapped to the hood. He crashed into the mantis, which hissed in anger at him.

    “Look, cutie, I've got no time to play!” He jabbed at the mantis with the Energon spear, and it bit it in half.

    “Time to play, time to play,” the mantis said, creeping forward. “Shrapnel's time to play!” it screeched, leaping on Drag Strip and punching his front engine block. Each blow felt like going ten rounds with Wheeljack, the Insecticon's force amplified by its beastly characteristics.

    “Get off!” Drag Strip kicked Shrapnel off him, and the mantis reared back when it recovered, only for Inferno to get smacked backward by the beetle Insecticon into Shrapnel. Well, that solved that problem. Sort of. Drag Strip looked at the beetle, whose arm blades slid up and down the length of its forearms, as if aching to bite into armor. It sounded an unnatural cry and readied itself for a pounce.

    Barricade rolled in front of Drag Strip in vehicle mode. “Get on!”

    Drag Strip obliged, leaping on top of Barricade and kicking out at the Insecticon as it lunged, the Wrecker he rode burning rubber to gain some distance from the beetle. It ignored them and ganged up on Inferno with its counterpart Shrapnel, and while Dead End and Wheeljack continued battling the grasshopper Kick Back.

    “Enough!” the disembodied voice echoed into the arena. “My Insecticons will retreat. Collect the two fallen Constructicons. You will feed on them. As for the Wreckers, Swindle has been found, and I will declare you victorious!” the voice continued.

    The Insecticons each sat low on their haunches, watching the Wreckers, who in turn stood ready in case the beasts wanted to go another round. After a few more agonizing millicycles of staring, the Insecticons moved off to the unconscious Constructicons, dragging two of the bodies with them, presumably to feed.

    Drag Strip lowered himself from atop Barricade, and shuddered. “Those ghastly brutes are all about draining precious fluids, aren't they?”

    Barricade converted, and patted Drag Strip on the shoulder. “Don't worry. Yours are too pretty for them. They'd get indigestion.”

    “Ha ha. Very funny,” Drag Strip muttered. The two walked forward to rejoin the other Wreckers. Dead End seemed mostly intact with only surface damage. Inferno, similarly, didn't have much damage. Wheeljack, on the other hand, stood holding his chest.

    “Let me see it.” Drag Strip pulled Wheeljack's hand away, examining the Autobot logo emblazoned on the chest, now with a large slash through it. “Hm. It didn't penetrate vital systems, but you're lucky. Your spark chamber was only a few layers below. Plus we might have to get you a new emblem now,” he remarked.

    “No.” Wheeljack looked up to the arena spectator box in which the announcers typically sat. “If that guy got Swindle, we've got to go find out who he is, and why he wants him. If nothing else, that's our paycheck,” he said.

    Dead End shrugged. “Or we could leave him to get scrapped.”

    Inferno shook his head. “The royalty instructed us to find out who he is! We must obey the royalty's command.”

    “You never tire of being brainless, do you?” Dead End said.

    “Says the fool who will burn for his careless remarks!”

    “Quiet, both of you!” Barricade rubbed his forehead. “It's like Wheels said. We need to figure out what's going on, take care of business. If nothing else, the voice said he might take us along with him. The guy's got Insecticons on his side, so he's a big mover and shaker. Could be an opportunity.”

    “To work alongside such ugly pets,” Drag Strip said. He made a noise of distaste.

    Wheeljack kept staring up at the box. “Let's go see how Swindle's doing."
     
  17. ARCTrooperAlpha

    ARCTrooperAlpha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Posts:
    1,418
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    Before, why is Shockwave blabbing so much ? Lulling Megatron into a false sense of security ?

    lol Awesome that you arranged a political marriage, though i think you could expand on how Megatron actually convinced Airchanid to switch over, like by joining him, the Insecticons will be able to walk on the surface as they once have by birthright etc etc.

    The odd man is Inferno. I could buy that BW Inferno might be an inversion of G1 Inferno, but his BW personality is kinda hard to swallow here.

    That aside, Wheeljack has a scratched out emblem..........interesting.
     
  18. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    It's funny, you keep bringing up things that will appear literally like...a chapter or two later. :lol  To address your critiques:

    -Shockwave has a reason for his talkative nature.
    -There's more to Airachnid than currently meets the eye.
    -Inferno isn't a normal Cybertronian, and his backstory explains his strange speech.

    Unfortunately, this chapter doesn't focus on any of those characters, so you'll have to wait a little bit before getting the meat of those answers!

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter XII: Politics
    Straxus drummed his fingers on his throne. Since the meeting with Megatronus Prime, there had been little to do. His role in the plot was, as always, on the periphery. One eventually could tire of such a role, but Megatronus ensured he was well rewarded for his efforts.

    He stood from the throne and began pacing. The Prime's newest machination was strange. The Decepticons had never intended to follow the Pax Cybertronia, a peace agreement created in tandem with the Autobots so long ago at the start of the Great War, but the Prime had been so adamant he had turned over a new leaf, redeemed himself after having become The Fallen, the rest of the Decepticons followed his lead. So to begin bolstering forces, creating conflict, something didn't mesh with the new ideals Megatronus supposedly espoused. It was what the Decepticons had been waiting for, but Megatronus still maintained there would always be peace. He either was deceptive, an appropriate trait, or he had plans within plans and lied to his own troops.

    And then there was Megatron. The prodigy. Straxus grimaced. The young bot thought too much of himself, of course. He doubtless chafed under Straxus's leadership, under any leadership, given his own arrogance. But what made little sense was Megatronus's leeway. He disallowed the kinds of punishments for Megatron which Straxus would have suggested, given the bot's impudence. Instead, it seemed as if he was being groomed for the same leadership he seemed to demand as birthright.

    It grated Straxus's gears. He long ago had given up any pretense of wanting more power. As a governor, only two higher ranks remained: that of the Council, which was notorious enough he would never want to aspire to it, and Primacy itself, which he would not dare to blaspheme by suggesting his inclusion. No bot had ever been included in the Primes who was not made by Primus himself, outside of Sentinel. Not that the general populace knows that, he mused. But here was a bot with impressive skill and leadership ability, and he was so brash and arrogant.

    The doors to his throne room opened wide. “Finally, the Seekers come.” He sat back down in his throne, leaning back.

    Starscream, Thundercracker, and Skywarp entered, the trio kneeling in front of Straxus. “Governor, it is a pleasure,” Starscream said.

    “Spare me your false humility, you gaseous sycophant.”

    Skywarp chuckled.

    “My lord, I meant no offense.” Starscream cleared his throat. “I come with the report I have now become the Air Commander of our local region,” he said.

    “And?”

    “Well, this ensures that with the death of the traitor Thunderwing, our plans may progress unimpeded.”

    “You have nothing else to say? Thundercracker, what is the status of your own project?” Straxus drummed his fingers, acting bored out of a perverse desire to annoy Starscream. It worked, as it always had, and the lead Seeker fumed while his partner moved up to speak.

    “It proceeds as planned, my liege. We've got full scale stockpiling of Energon cubes as backup in case the main grid power goes out during the first wave.”

    “And knowing the Autobots, they will doubtless kill the power to prevent us from taking advantage of it,” Starscream chimed in.

    Straxus ignored him. “And I take it you three have not been in contact with Megatron or Soundwave? I have yet to hear from either for some time. I do not worry about such matters, but it suggests them incapable of handling small endeavors,” he said. Of course they subdued the Terrorcon. But if Megatron is up to something, Soundwave would have reported. But even those reports have stopped.

    “We've not been in direct contact with them since the Thunderwing incident, sir,” Starscream said.

    Straxus watched the trio. He could see Starscream was lying, but Thundercracker's dedication was second to none. He said and did nothing, merely kneeling in the same spot. Skywarp, as always, would be too dumb to give himself away with any sort of visual cue, and even if he did, he'd enjoy betraying or scrapping someone close to him, so Straxus didn't expect his behavior to change.

    “Very well. When you do, ensure they report to me. I, and Megatronus Prime, are anxious to hear the outcome of the Terrorcon battle. Not to mention what he's been up to all this time,” he said.

    The Air Commander nodded. “We will do as you command,” he said, in a tone suggesting he would do the exact opposite. The trio moved to exit.

    “Thundercracker, a moment.”

    The teal blue Seeker stopped, looked to Starscream, and then moved back, walking close to Straxus. Straxus leaned in to whisper to him. “I am currently unable to contact Soundwave. I know full well Starscream is untrustworthy but his ambition and battle skill are useful. I turn to you, then: can I rely upon you to get me back in contact with my Spychanger?”

    Thundercracker's bland facial expression twisted into a smile. “Of course, Gov. You don't have to worry about a thing.”

    Straxus narrowed his eyes. “See that I don't.”

    Thundercracker nodded, and moved in line with the other Seekers. Straxus gazed at them, then had a sickening feeling in his gut. If Thundercracker had been swayed as well, there may be no alternatives but to call in Autobots to handle the problem. But if the Autobots knew of the potential infighting, of the plan to rise again, there would be even bigger repercussions. They might even rule the Pax Cybertronia had been violated. Any violation of the agreement could give the Autobots enough leeway to make the Decepticons little more than slaves.

    Contact me soon, Megatron, or I will take this matter to your namesake. He will not be so gentle as I am.

    * * *​

    Optimus stood in the center of the arena, examining the marks on the floor. Whatever battle had taken place here was long over, but it must have involved a great number of Cybertronians given how many tread and tire marks he saw. He processed for a moment. The alternative was that given it was an arena, its maintenance might not have been completed regularly and the damage might have been from multiple battles.

    “Have you found anything, Jazz?”

    The slick white bot, searching the ground a few meters away, spun around and shrugged. “Doesn't look like there's much here, boss. Bots came, scrapped, bailed.”

    “Over here!” Ironhide called. Optimus looked up, seeing the Autotrooper waving by a pile of rubble in the far corner of the arena. He turned to Jazz, and the two converted to vehicle mode, speeding forward to the rubble and Ironhide himself. Converting back, Optimus scanned the ground and the rubble.

    “What have you found? This arena has proven desolate so far.”

    “Except for them,” Ironhide said. He pointed inside the rubble at a corner where three broken chunks of concrete formed a triangle. Inside, buried in the dark, was a trio of Constructicons, in stasis lock from having been brutalized by something unknown.

    Optimus examined them. Their wounds appear unusual. As if inflicted by beast machines. Strange, though Megatron had once mentioned Insecticons. Perhaps they rove again. He paused, thinking. “They are our only link to finding what happened here. We'll need to collect and revive them,” Optimus said.

    “They're Constructicons. Can't see how they'd know much about anything but steel and cement,” Jazz said.

    “Your observation is noted, Jazz.” Optimus paused. “Nonetheless, unless you find anything else, I feel we have no other choice.”

    “But they're Decepticons. Sure, construction workers, but Decepticons nonetheless. You think they're trustworthy?” Ironhide said.

    “You're cold, Iron, real cold,” Jazz remarked.

    “No, I'm cautious. I've dealt with a lot more bad guys than you have.”

    Jazz didn't reply, but he smiled, his visor glinting in the dim light of the arena.

    Optimus pressed a finger to his helm's communication spike. “Ratchet, we require a groundbridge to our current coordinates. There are wounded Constructicons. Prepare a triage facility.”

    * * *​

    Inside Autotrooper headquarters, Ratchet finished soldering a connection in the last Constructicon's chest plate, and he groaned in pain. “Optimus, you may find them less than amiable. While I repaired their damage, I cannot deaden the pain without keeping them in stasis lock.”

    Optimus nodded. The three Constructicons lay in triage beds, the better for Ratchet to operate. The remainder of the room held small furniture and even some organic flowers, imported from some far off world and doubtless vetted to ensure no contamination of Cybertronian components would occur.

    “While unfortunate, I require them conscious for questioning. Given Sentinel Prime's mandate, time is of the essence, and I sense something greater may yet come from this.” Optimus looked to the first of the trio, a heavy arm excavator type, based on his scoop arm. “Your names, please.”

    The excavator grumbled. “Scrapper. I am what I do: you need somethin' mashed up, I'll take care of it. Thing is, I feel like I got sucker punched by a Prime,” he said. He turned to his comrades, a mixing truck and a bulldozer. “The mixer is Mixmaster. Simple name for the guy. The 'dozer is Bonecrusher. He used to be called something else, but he rolled over some organics by accident back on a job on Quintesson, and, well, the name stuck,” Scrapper finished.

    Ratchet raised an eyebrow. “Clearly, very experienced.”

    “Be polite, Ratchet. My name is Optimus, and I am the leader of this group of Autobots. We rescued you from a gladiatorial arena. What can you tell us about what happened?”

    Scrapper scratched at his scoop's shoulder. “Not much to say. We got sucker punched. Hard. Supposed to fight some big bad team, Wreckers, I think, and then, WHAM!” He crunched his fist into the scoop. “Something big and ugly mashed into us good. Hey, Mix, you saw it. Mix?” He pounded on Mixmaster's mixer.

    The other Constructicon swatted at him. “Leave me alone, Scrapper, I feel like a garbage scow.”

    “Just tell 'em what you saw.”

    Mixmaster shrugged. “I dunno, some kinda weird beast bots, big ugly things. Looked organic, maybe? Purple paint, that was the big thing. I never forget a color,” he said.

    “Sounds like Insecticons to me, boss,” Jazz said. He sat in one of the seats, his leg propped up, and spun one of his wheels using his hand.

    “Insecticons don't come above ground. They go for raw Energon, in the deep,” Ironhide said.

    The third Constructicon, Bonecrusher, laughed. “Man, you Autos don't get out much, do you? Or maybe it's just the trooper. Insecticons are everywhere in the deep, but nothin' keeps them there.” He looked to Optimus. “Nothin' and nobody. If they want out, they get out."

    "Hm." Optimus said nothing else, thinking.

    "Hm? That's it? A bunch of bugs try to kill us, and that's all you have to say? What kind of help are you?" Mixmaster said.

    Optimus turned. "Help?" He took a step forward toward the Constructicon, and Jazz stopped spinning his wheel, watching.

    "Mixmaster, my job is not to assist you. My job is to get to the bottom of this incident, and rein in a dangerous fugitive, a Terrorcon. That you were damaged and we saved you coincidence. I would appreciate it if you refrained from implying I am inept in the future," Optimus said darkly.

    "Oh, so you didn't care at all? How surprising. I bet you're fresh out of some academy, never had to do hard labor. You probably never even saw one of your friends scrapped!" Mixmaster scoffed.

    Optimus raised a fist.

    "No!" Ironhide cried, jumping up from where he was sitting.

    "I...I have lost friends as well. Namely, my closest friend Dion. I have also lost one known as Orion Pax," Optimus said, looking down and touching his chest.

    Mixmaster seemed cowed. "Look, sorry. I didn't mean to grind your gears. I'm just saying we're not exactly in fighting shape, not ready to deal with this, okay? We're workers."

    "No. You are justified. I am concerned mostly with the mission." Optimus turned away. And I still am. Ironhide put a hand on his shoulder, and Optimus glanced at him. After a moment, the Autotrooper let his hand fall.

    "Heh. Looks like the big bot has a temper," Bonecrusher said.

    "Bonecrusher. Take heed. I possess more power than you do at the moment, and I am trained by Sentinel Prime himself. You would be wise to hold your tongue."

    "Besides, I don't think any of you should be picking fights," Ratchet chided. "Your bodies are still damaged. Your internal systems will repair you now that I've handled most of the damage, but get into another scrap with someone like these three, and you risk going permanently offline."

    "We've got a lot of firepower, you know," Bonecrusher said. "Or did you think us 'Cons were all talk? Construction's the game, but devastatin' is fine by us."

    Optimus turned back. "You say you are capable of engaging in battle?"

    "You bet. What, you thought we were at the arena for charity or something?"

    Jazz laughed. "No, but you did get your skidplates handed to you."

    "Blindsided!" Scrapper said.

    This time, everyone present but Optimus laughed.

    "We may require your assistance sooner rather than later. I fear there may be a force gathering under the leadership of someone more deceptive than most." Optimus turned to the Constructicons. "If he gains the alliance of the Wreckers and the Insecticons, he could be unstoppable."

    "And? So he's got some bugs and some arena champs. Big deal," Mixmaster muttered.

    "No big deal, until he comes after you," Ironhide said.

    The Constructicons conferred among themselves, and Optimus was content to leave them. He exited the triage room, and used one of the groundbridge elevators to transport himself to the roof of the building. A rectangular skyscraper, the top of the building held a thin layer of frost due to its sheer elevation. Optimus shivered, but continued forward until he sat on the overlook, staring out over the entire Iaconian night.

    "They reminded me you are still out there somewhere, Dion. I will find you, my old friend. No matter the cost."

    "Optimus?" Ratchet stood behind him, looking away, as if embarrassed he'd caught the larger Autobot in a private moment.

    "Yes?"

    "Who is Dion? Sentinel told me little about him."

    "A friend from another time. Perhaps my best friend. He was...damaged in battle. I do not know where he is now."

    Ratchet cleared his throat. "Optimus, I don't know anything of Orion Pax. Your former self. But speaking as a doctor, you're exhibiting some behavior representative of shellshock. A post traumatic stress disorder, if you will. It's understandable, but you can't shoulder everything alone."

    "I harbor no such illusions about myself, doctor. I only want to find him as quickly as possible."

    Ironhide blundered through the groundbridge a moment later, raucous noise echoing from behind him. "Ratch, you have to pump these guys full of those sedatives, they're getting rowdy! Jazz won't stop telling them jokes!"

    Ratchet sighed. He followed Ironhide, sparing Optimus a momentary glance.

    Still facing Iacon, and the glittering vista below, Optimus smiled. They are young at heart, but older than me. Ratchet is right. I can't let this control me. Cannot let Dion's safety supersede that of the others I encounter. He kept watching the skyscrapers, and then something occurred to him.

    He dialed a frequency on his communicator, but received no response. He dialed another.

    "This is Ultra Magnus."

    "Optimus here. I require your help in tracking someone down. Of course, you may have them in the building."

    Magnus sounded muffed. "Well, that depends purely on whom you're speaking of."

    "My former employer, the Autobot Rewind."

    "What a coincidence. I have him here. Next to Lockdown."

    A few moments later in the interrogation room, Rewind quaked in his seat. Lockdown, restrained next to him, was barely active, his body nearly drained of Energon. Ultra Magnus sat across from him, while Orion paced behind. The only light was a single bright fixture over the bare table.

    "You have something we want," Magnus said politely.

    Rewind looked to Lockdown, whose head lolled. "I-I can't have anything of interest! I wasn't even a middleman for anything, I just paid him!"

    "Rewind." Optimus's voice seemed deeper than Magnus's in the chamber, more powerful. "We aren't interested in your crimes. We are interested in your redemption. Your potential redemption," Optimus emphasized.

    Rewind stopped quivering. "What do you mean?"

    "You have a choice," Ultra Magnus said. "Become a prisoner, a wreck, like this thing." He raised a hand, palm-up, to indicate Lockdown. "Or..."

    "Work with us. Help us track down Dion. Your analytical skills and prowess in traversing the networks were well known in sleuthing circles prior to your economic endeavors."

    "What happened to Dion? And how do you even know him?" Rewind asked, staring at Optimus.

    The red and blue Autobot leaned in, his smokestacks glinting in the harsh light. "My name was Orion Pax. Because of you, because of what you got us all involved in, I died. Welcome to the aftermath."
     
  19. Vaikyuko

    Vaikyuko Transmetal

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Likes:
    +1
    Bit of a delay, but we're returning with an update, Chapter XIII! Expect updates to be more sporadic based on my personal schedule.

    In this chapter, we come full circle back to the beginning. I'm thinking of putting in a "characters featured in this chapter" piece in this opening bit. Any thoughts on that?

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Chapter XIII: Legion
    Airachnid skittered along the ceiling of her lair, her claws pinching into the illuminated walls. She frowned, watching several of her drone Insecticons, who were busy being trained by Rampage in the art of heavy weaponry. It was meaningless, of course: they were incapable of higher level thought without her. She was the Insecticon force.

    Winning Megatron over had been too easy. She knew all too well most Cybertronians found the Insecticons disgusting when encountered, though it had been many ages since they openly walked the planet. They'd been hunted, after all. Sentinel's guardianship of the Autobots didn't permit wild, roving insects traversing the surface. Not that it mattered. She combined her eight spider legs into four, tabbing them together and pulling two out of the ceiling, pushing the other two deeper.

    It will be interesting to see how much he's figured out. He can't possibly think everything is falling into place of its own accord. No one could be that stupid if they're that shrewd. Of course, the smart ones are always the ones who can't see simple explanations. She ground her free claws against one another, watching Rampage pummel an Insecticon who had discharged a rifle into a fellow Insecticon, scrapping it. She bristled, tempted to go down and give him a piece of her mind. They were her children, after all.

    Kick Back, Bombshell, and Shrapnel had succeeded in their own mission, and Megatron was now meeting with those Wreckers. Or Swindle. She didn't care. Surprisingly, her Insecticons hadn't been damaged much, despite the reputation of the Wreckers as fierce gladiators. That had surprised her, but given the sudden entrance and attack of the elites, she wasn't going to think it impossible. Those three had more mind than her normal drones, but even then they possessed little independent will.

    Of course, independent will is the problem right now, she thought, watching Rampage struggle with his instruction. There still was the issue of Megatron to attend to, in the end: he would expect great results from her Insecticons, but had yet to ask what she desired in return, unless he was so arrogant as to assume he as a mate could be enough over which to potentially sacrifice an entire colony.

    Airachnid stared at the drones below, focusing her mind and devoting more of the cloud computing the hive shared to their individual bodies. Each Insecticon below seemed to straighten, then began firing with perfect accuracy at the targets Rampage had set up, perforating them in seconds. To his credit, Rampage didn't congratulate them, but began looking around until he turned his head upward, his optics focusing on her. She waved delicately, and he waved his arms in an X-shaped pattern. No help? Have fun teaching the blind to lead the blind, then.

    Something Rampage had said before still bothered her, as well. Insurance. He'd mentioned it when Shockwave Primal had been in captivity near her, but there wasn't a particular reasoning behind what he said. Megatron hadn't explained. Shockwave didn't seem to understand, but given he was a Terrorcon, anything could have been going through his mind. But what would kind of insurance could Shockwave offer in case she went rogue, or opted to simply withdraw her Insecticons? Megatron's forces would be significantly weakened. Perhaps it was a bluff.

    Or there was something else going on she didn't see yet. Meeting Shockwave again unnerved her. Long ago she'd assumed the scientist lost to the wastes, eaten by a turbofox, some sort of humiliating fate. To see him significantly more powerful, larger, and fearsome in the form of a Terrorcon had been unsettling, along with his appending "Primal" to the end of his name, suggesting a more bestial nature. The Cybertronian she'd known before had had an insatiable curiosity, yes, but not so much he would have killed others over it. Now he seemed a relentless murderer, content to feed on other sparks. An insatiable hunger to go along with his curiosity.

    Not that cannibalism bothered her. After all, her Insecticons needed to feed as well, and the scattered Cybertronians who stumbled into her tunnels found out how hungry Insecticons could be when it came to refined Energon. Still, to see someone so mild-mannered become a monster was unexpected, not to mention to see Megatron again and so much more powerful than the last time, when he had been little more than fresh protoform newly christened.

    Airachnid mused about her potential new mate. He'd agreed to it readily enough but that didn't mean anything till he actually interfaced with her. He was strong, evidently strong enough to have captured the Terrorcon, and she knew firsthand he'd been able to scrap an Insecticon drone in tandem with Rampage without anything but makeshift mining equipment. But to what end did he build his forces? Taking Darkmount meant nothing. He would not be content to be a governor, and even if he were, deposing Straxus would solve nothing. There was no rule of might making right when it came to Cybertronian government. It was all elections.

    She involuntarily hissed as she realized what he might be after. Total conquest. To what other end could someone build a force so large? With the Insecticon colony, and potentially the Vehicons and Wreckers, he'd possess enough sheer force to rival close to half the Cybertronian Defense Force. He could take Kaon's side of the planet relatively uncontested, and push out into the more Autobot-centric territories. He even had some of the Seekers in his possession, and he might even be able to unite the planet without so much as a shot fired, if he played his cards well enough.

    But the Primes! Airachnid skittered around the ceiling as she pondered. They wouldn't tolerate any such dissension. And while Megatronus has planned for some time to take over, I can't see him taking this lying down. Sentinel would become aggressive. She stopped in mid-skitter, and a smile stretched over her face. Of course. That's Megatronus's plan. It's not conquest at all. He's turned over a new leaf, but he's still ambitious. Set up a proxy protoform, guide him through the underworld, guide him to greatness. Or let him fail and try again with another. But when the protoform rises up and crushes Sentinel, Megatronus would take the center stage as the last living Prime. The ultimate power and the sole Lord of Cybertron.

    The thought of Megatron's "insurance" came to mind again and she quivered. He could be planning anything. It might seem like a consolidation of power, but to what end would Megatron take his army? To ally with Megatronus? To ally with, unexpectedly, Sentinel, in favor of a more egalitarian Cybertron? Doubtful, but possible. The acquisition of the Terrorcon threw any predictions in doubt. No one else would have tolerated its existence. Even she debated the value of keeping around such a monster, not because of some moral compass, but by virtue of consideration. The spread of Dark Energon through the population could be catastrophic, and could affect the supply of natural Energon for her Insecticons.

    Perhaps it would be a blitz. Total, out and out warfare. And if it didn't succeed, perhaps he intended to release the Terrorcon and let it go free. Airachnid bundled her legs up around herself, leaving one to tether to the ceiling. Such a plan would be reckless. Horrifying.

    It would be befitting a Decepticon Lord. It would behoove her to remain on his good side, for now. A strong mate would be more useful to her in creating her next swarm of Insecticons than would betraying him at this point. She mulled over the possibilities. Megatronus, given his history as The Fallen, might nonetheless work with her to create a newer breed. Might settle for Cybertron devoured by her Insecticons.

    Her smile grew wider. Betrayal might still be on the table. She opened an encrypted communications channel. Laserbeak, in the shadows, watched and recorded everything, digesting her strange, reclusive behavior for his master.

    * * *​

    Swindle kicked his feet up on the table, rolling a few Cybertronian coins in his hand. "So, I hear you're going to be one of my biggest customers."

    Megatron, sitting across from him at the auctioneer's table, shifted his bulk. The seat was too small. The table was too small. The room was too small, suggesting Swindle did nothing but purchase the cheapest possible venue in which to perform his buying and selling. Nothing decorated the walls. Bare and blackened, like a piece of coal. The sole piece of equipment was a computer terminal, through which he must have managed everything he bought and sold. And organized the Vehicons in Cryotek's wake.

    "A customer? Perhaps, Swindle. Or perhaps I could take you apart to get what I want," he said. Megatron gauged the Decepticon sitting in front of him. He lacked any particular paint decals, even lacked a Decepticon logo displayed on his robot mode. His sole coloring was burnished gold and purple accenting his base black coat. Based on his hardware, he appeared to convert into some sort of light attack vehicle or transport, but Megatron didn't particularly care. Swindle's value was not in combat.

    "Take me apart? Oh no!" Swindle rolled his eyes. "If you wanted to do that, I'd be dead already. You've worked with Airachnid, based on her elites showing up. You yourself killed poor Roller, and all he did was announce the games! It's like you wanted to get my attention," he said.

    "You control the Vehicons."

    "I'm guessing you want to control them."

    "More accurately, they would be ideal foot soldiers," Megatron said. He clasped his hands on the table, his fusion cannon pointed at Swindle's head as a result.

    The merchant glanced at the cannon, and stopped rolling the coin between his fingers. "For a price, I can organize quite a bit. The Vehicons are quite malleable, now that Cryotek isn't there to suggest and nudge and lead them without actually incriminating himself for the most part."

    "And if I scrap you and just take them?"

    "They won't listen to you. They're broken down tightly. Like military, which probably works for you. But without someone to run things, you're sitting with an empty hierarchy. But I know everybody." Swindle leaned in, pulling his feet off the table. He spun the coin on its side. "And for a price, I'm a free agent."

    "Why are you involved with the Vehicons, Swindle?"

    The question stopped the Decepticon merchant, his smile fading. "What do you mean, why? War is profitable."

    "But we're not in a war. Not yet," Megatron said. "You're acting as a lieutenant, but you hold no allegiances. I'll be frank: you're no soldier. You're the consummate salesman. You, working for a paycheck and little else? I am skeptical."

    Swindle fiddled with the coin. The room filled with silence, but Megatron was not perturbed. There were worse people to manipulate than Swindle. And indeed, I've manipulated worse than he numerous times.

    "Cryotek and I had an arrangement. He procured funding for me from some Autobot data office, who knows where. Probably Iacon. Thing is, it was pure profit. All I had to do was give a few orders here and there, and otherwise, do my usual thing." Swindle rolled the coin between his fingers. "But payments have dried up now that Cryotek is dead, and I don't know who was paying him, so my funding dried up too. Have to resort to pulling in Constructicons for my battles now, since I can't afford anything better."

    "Amusing. You relied on an Autobot."

    "I did not! The Autobots facilitated my needs, that's all."

    Megatron stood abruptly and Swindle flinched. "I'm not going to scrap you after all, Swindle. You will work for me. You will be paid adequately, that won't be an issue. It will be easy enough for me to convince the Vehicons to follow me, and to convince them to give me control of their internal treasury."

    Swindle's eyes glittered. "The treasury they have? More like stolen loot, but it's worth a fortune."

    "And they don't exactly need it, do they?" Megatron smirked. "Think about it, Swindle. Will you call them together for me?"

    "Of course. Always a pleasure doing business with Megatron."

    Yes, I imagine you're satisfied with more riches than you could possibly imagine, Swindle. Your turnaround means nothing. Your type works for profit and cares nothing for allegiance, but you are replaceable. And I will not have relics in my legion.

    A few moments later, Megatron stood in front of a group of Vehicons, the leaders of the various chapters with whom Swindle had direct contact. Each had some unique form of deco, but the predominant coloring was purple and black with a white stripe down the center of the chest. The group stood in the center of a hangar bay Swindle owned, tan and brown tarps covering all manner of strange looking silhouettes, metal catwalks crisscrossing the upper portion of the building. One Vehicon stepped forward, the most plain of them all.

    "I am D-17. I will represent the Vehicons. Who are you?"

    D-17. My successor? Interesting to meet him like this. "I was D-16, and am now Megatron." Mutters echoed through the crowd. Evidently the Vehicons didn't realize Megatron had been a protoform from their same era.

    "Swindle tells us this is a meeting. So talk." D-17 crossed his arms.

    "There's not much to say. I build an army. I would have you all follow me."

    The Vehicons began laughing. "You? Why would we ever do that?"

    "Because I will scrap you all where you stand otherwise, and let your organization run rampant. In only a few cycles your entire force will all be at the mercy of the Autotroopers." Megatron smiled. "Like headless drones."

    D-17 trudged forward and puffed himself up, raising a fist to bash in Megatron's face. The silver bot grabbed the fist, flipping D-17. "Is that all you have? Show me your best. Come. Try and destroy me."

    D-17 grimaced as he stood up. He stared at Megatron, as if analyzing him. A moment later he converted to vehicle mode, barreling down the hangar floor at Megatron, who sidestepped him. D-17 engaged his brakes, screeching and revving his engine as the Vehicons cheered him on. Come on, D-17. You can do better than this. At least do my old designation some honor.

    D-17 accelerated again, and this time he converted in midair and tackled Megatron, who fell backward with the Vehicon on top of him. D-17 pinned his left arm as he moved it to smack the Vehicon off. Aha! He noticed my right arm is heavier from the cannon! Megatron narrowed his eyes, booting D-17 off him with his feet. But as amusing as this has been, it's time to end it, while they all watch.

    Megatron stood, smacking D-17 away with his fusion cannon when the bot went to attack him again. D-17 stumbled backward, but didn't fall, and Megatron grabbed him by the throat, lifting him off the ground. D-17 flailed, kicking out at Megatron's torso plating, but he did nothing to the armor there.

    "As you all can see, I am not inclined to deal with weaklings for very long before my patience runs out. My targets, as such, must be bigger. But even the weaker must have their place, and I offer you a spot on the winning team." Megatron aimed his fusion cannon at D-17's chest and charged the shot. The room quieted as the other Vehicons watched. Megatron angled the cannon and fired into the ground, scoring it almost a meter deep, making the point he could have destroyed D-17. He dropped the Vehicon, who rubbed his throat.

    "We..." D-17 paused and looked to the others, who remained stationary and silent. "We will follow you. You've proven enough, I think." He looked down. "For now."

    "Don't worry, D-17. I am not a cruel tyrant. Your Vehicons will be well used." Megatron suppressed the urge to snicker. As expendables, more than likely. You're all nothing but chaff. A few of you might have potential, but as a group the Vehicons will be no match for even the weakest Autotrooper. Still, in force, they will easily be able to handle plenty of Autobots and Decepticons alike, and with their commanders leading them, I shouldn't have too much micromanaging to handle. I might have a few more demonstrations to perform, but physically cowing these wretches won't be too difficult.

    He looked up to Swindle, the merchant sitting up on one of the catwalks, who angled his hand in a wave. The last piece was now in place. Once the Insecticons were set, he would be ready to assault Darkmount. Then the fun would begin. Megatron began mentally reviewing his troops as he stood there, and caught himself as he realized D-17 was kneeling in front of him.

    "What is this?"

    "Whether or not the others choose to follow, I dedicate myself to your tutelage. I shall be as a student to you," D-17 said.

    Megatron extended a hand and helped the bot up. "Hardly necessary." His respect shot up for this bot. "You will learn much while in my company. I have many things to attend to, however, and cannot always be ready to teach. That said, I think Rampage would be more than equipped for the task."

    "Rampage?" D-17 asked.

    "Someone you'll meet. A lieutenant. Regardless, I now must meet with the Wreckers. With the Vehicons in tow, they are the only ones I need to acquire, and they are merely a bonus." He paused. "Would you like an assignment, D-17?"

    "I don't see why not, provided you aren't trying to exert control already. The Vehicons are about freedom, after all."

    "Freedom to a point. But no, it's merely to arrange a meeting. I seem to be having quite a number of those lately. I require you to go to the Seeker Academy and notify Starscream I require his presence and a status update."

    "The Seekers? I'm a Vehicon. You want me to go to one of the most dangerous places for outlaws?"

    "Precisely. Consider it the first phase of your training under me. Starscream will be more than adequate to vet you once you arrive, but you may also seek out Thundercracker or Skywarp, his own allies. I imagine other Seekers will be hostile on sight, so it ought to be excellent for your combat skills."

    "Assuming I don't get scrapped first."

    "No, I doubt that will happen." Megatron beckoned Swindle come down. "This Vehicon needs armament, and I'd like to ensure he gets it. We'll hold off on a new designation for now. You'll choose for yourself, as I did when I became Megatron. It is only fair," he said.

    D-17 bowed. Welcome, my new servant. Yes...I think this will do nicely. Straxus, I am coming home soon.
     
  20. Meta777

    Meta777 Dr Pepper Fan

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Posts:
    12,657
    Trophy Points:
    217
    Likes:
    +24
    I have to say, this is pretty damn awesome. I've quite liked your sense of description, characterisation and plotting, so rest assured, I'll be keeping up with this fic! :D 

    Very good work, Vaikyuko :D 
     

Share This Page