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Transformers: Warhead

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Old 06-01-2013, 06:30 PM   #1
Transmetal
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Join Date: May 2013
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Transformers: Warhead

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.
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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.
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Old 06-04-2013, 09:53 AM   #2
Transmetal
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Join Date: May 2013
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Collection Count: 128 - Latest: Wheeljack (Masterpiece)
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.

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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.
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Old 06-04-2013, 11:27 AM   #3
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pretty enjoyable : )

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

This is fun
Quote:
Originally Posted by pitt55 View Post
You don't see Optimus sitting in a corner, sharpening his blades, fantasizing about ripping Decepticons' guts out when not in battle for instance.
No More......CYBERTRON FALLS !
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:56 AM   #4
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Appreciated, ARC! It gets even more fanservicey as time goes on, as this chapter might illustrate.

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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.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:50 PM   #5
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Another Orion chapter. Magnus fans rejoice!

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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.
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:34 PM   #6
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An introduction to the Warhead version of some favorites. The plot thickens.

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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.
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Old 06-09-2013, 04:08 PM   #7
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Way better than Megatron Origins, so much more personal.

Orion's story arc is coool too, very conspiracy-ish
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You don't see Optimus sitting in a corner, sharpening his blades, fantasizing about ripping Decepticons' guts out when not in battle for instance.
No More......CYBERTRON FALLS !
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:18 PM   #8
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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?"
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:39 PM   #9
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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 ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by pitt55 View Post
You don't see Optimus sitting in a corner, sharpening his blades, fantasizing about ripping Decepticons' guts out when not in battle for instance.
No More......CYBERTRON FALLS !
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARCTrooperAlpha View Post
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 ?
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...

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.
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