Centuries have passed since the Great War between the Autobot Commonwealth and the Decepticon Empire, the two primary factions of the robotic Transformer race, rocked the planet Cybertron. Sentinel Prime and his Autobots were victorious, and the Decepticons were driven off of Cybertron. With the days of ceaseless war ended, Cybertron's High Council was restored and the work of rebuilding could begin. Reforms were put in place to make Cybertron a functioning peacetime society, restoring commerce between city-states but limiting their military power, as well as establishing colonies on other worlds in the Hadean System and beyond. Within decades of reconstruction, all was peaceful on Cybertron… for the wealthy, that is. While reducing the size of the individual city-state's armies did do well to prevent future civil wars on Cybertron, it also had the unfortunate side effect of leaving many warrior class Autobots unemployed. The new caste system put in place by Sentinel Prime's High Council did not help matters either, limiting what employment was available to each class. In these circumstances, a warrior's main alternatives to starving on the streets were either to serve as bodyguards to wealthy merchants and politicians… or to join the Decepticons. While the Decepticons had been exiled from Cybertron, they were by no means harmless to the rest of the Commonwealth. Those Decepticons that survived the Great War now roamed the galaxy, raiding Autobot mining colonies throughout inhabited space to fuel what remained of their empire. Those colonies fortunate enough to have the riches and strategic importance to be worth military support could fight off Decepticon attack without losing an ounce of the resources they had mined. The smaller of these colonies, however, lived in constant fear of Decepticon raiding parties, handing over their hard earned Energon just to stay alive. Without the importance to be worth Commonwealth military aid, these smaller colonies seemed destined to live under the Decepticons' thumb forever… which is where our story begins. Far above the surface of the colony world Budian, a Decepticon warship loomed, like a vast predatory bird. In contrast with the red stone and soil and green vegetation of the world below, the warship Ruination looked anything but welcoming. The ship appeared as cold as the starry sky it was looming under, coloured in dark blues and greys. The sharp, angular design common with most Decepticon vessels did little to make the ship any more inviting, its pointed prow evoking the head of a warrior’s spear. The few people that would desire to get a closer look of the ship would likely take notice of the cruel weapons arrays lining its deck and underside, before even more likely being blown from orbit by said arrays. Such was to be expected from the personal flagship of Onslaught, a Decepticon general known throughout the galaxy for his ruthless efficacy in both warfare and the subjugation of those unlucky enough to make their homes within his territory. A small exploratory vessel descended from the warship and upon landing in a forest clearing bordering the face of a mountain only a few miles from the nearest mining village, the craft's doors opened, and out walked Decepticon science officer Shockwave and spymaster Soundwave, followed by a small contingent of lesser Decepticon warriors. A few among this landing party looked uneasy setting foot on a world so teeming with organic plant life. Cybertronians in general historically distanced themselves from organic life forms. The sentiment tended to be mutual, as the rest of the galaxy’s denizens had not forgotten that Cybertron’s earliest colony worlds were made from cyberforming organic worlds at the expense of their existing ecosystems and denizens, and the recently concluded centuries-long galaxy-spanning civil war did little to help matters. And while the Autobots had since made strides to open diplomatic and trade relations with organic races, in no small part thanks to their alliance with the human race of Earth during the Great War, many Decepticons still harboured disgust for squishier forms of life. Not that Soundwave and Shockwave cared about such sentiments. Soundwave only cared about furthering the Decepticon cause, and would ensure that anything that benefitted that cause was to be exploited, and anything that hindered it eradicated. Anything that didn’t figure into either category could just be left alone forever as far as he was concerned. Shockwave was more invested in the subject, but only as an academic interest. Unfortunately for organics throughout the galaxy, anything Shockwave considered an “academic” interest often involved a dissection table. He saw organic species as valid a source for research and experimentation as any mechanoid race, and to wipe out such opportunities merely out of racial hatred would be petty and illogical. But such things were not on either Decepticon officer’s mind at the moment. Soundwave turned his visored face left to right, searching for any potential witnesses to their presence. Possessing the sharpest senses of any Decepticon in their empire, he would be able to hear the quietest whispers, or see the slightest movement, in the vicinity. He could not detect anyone other than his allies nearby, but looked suspiciously at the mining tunnels carved into the mountainside just fifty meters east of his group. It was the perfect place for would-be eavesdroppers to hide. He gestured a few of his troops towards the outcropping, and they knew what to do: kill any witnesses. Shockwave spoke up. Training the single eye on his otherwise featureless face towards Soundwave, the purple science officer said to the silent spymaster, "Soundwave, deploy Rumble. I require a soil sample for my analysis." Soundwave nodded, and his golden chestplate opened up, ejecting a small humanoid Mini-Con with piston-like arms. Transforming his hands into drills, Rumble drove his left arm into the dirt, and upon removing it reached into a compartment in his shoulder, which now contained a canister of this world's soil. Rumble handed the canister to Shockwave, who, transforming the electromagnetic cannon that replaced his left hand into a multi-purpose scanning tool, took in the data of the sample's mineral content. "As I suspected," Shockwave sighed. "It will take a further orbital cycle for the remaining Energon in this area to develop into a mineable state. We will have to postpone the raid until then." "You don't have to be a science officer to figure that out", scoffed the heavily built olive green Combaticon keeping watch for witnesses to their presence. "We just raided this colony less than a deca-cycle ago!" "A matter of necessity, Brawl", Shockwave explained to the Combaticon. "With the increases in Cybertron Elite Guard activity around the major mining sites in this sector, our selection of viable Energon sources has diminished greatly. And with our other successful raids of Commonwealth mining colonies over the course of this stellar cycle, most of the other potential targets in this quadrant that provide enough Energon to be worth our time will not yield sufficient resources for an even longer period of time. While it is not the ideal situation, waiting for this colony to resume mining operations is our most efficient course of action." "Efficiency, my aft!" a darkly armoured flying Combaticon sneered. "Why not just blast the whole village to scrap and take everything these miners have?!" "That would be an illogical course of action, Vortex. In order to fuel our empire sustainably, it is paramount to keep the miners within our domain under heel while still allowing them to continue mining operations." Seeing the Combaticons scoff at his explanation, Shockwave allowed himself a small moment of sarcasm and asked, "Or would you rather we follow your tactical advice; and for you to be the one to explain to the Emperor why we are burning fuel sources to the ground?" That shut the two up in a sparkbeat. While he would never admit to feeling such emotions, Shockwave was borderline enraged that he had to explain such basic tactics to these idiots. Had they not been gestalt compatible with Commander Onslaught, they would not even be in a position to address Shockwave in such a manner, much less question his tactics. But even as the science officer felt his circuitry burn with rage, he suppressed the all too tempting urge to arm his weapons systems and reminded himself that a fully operational combiner team was too valuable a combat asset to destroy in blind rage… until Shockwave could gather the resources to apply a combiner retrofit to another group of physiologically compatible soldiers, at which point all bets were off with these two. "Fine," Brawl sighed. "We'll leave the colony standing. But I swear to Primus, it's been orbital cycles since I've blown something up!" "You blew up an Elite Guard scout ship with our warship's assault batteries today," Vortex corrected him. "That doesn't count; we're always fighting those-" Before Brawl could even pronounce the next syllable, Soundwave heard the sound of stone grinding under a metallic heel within the tunnel he was observing and focused his optic sensors to discover four shapes in the mine entrance: a hulking orange and blue robot with a crane arm extending over his shoulder, and two more shapes too far into the tunnel to identify. Without any hesitation, Soundwave wordlessly alerted the troops, who armed their weapons systems and started firing. Brawl pleadingly looked to Shockwave, and the science officer sighed, “You have permission to engage.” Brawl immediately perked up from his bad mood. "WOOHOO, just what I was waiting for!" He eagerly armed his weapon systems; his fusion cannon extended from his right arm, as a pair of curved blades unsheathed themselves from his left. An array of missile launchers deployed from his shoulders as well, as a pair of shoulder-mounted cannons lowered into firing position. “No heavy explosives,” Shockwave specified. “The last thing we need is you drawing attention to this location.” “Fine,” Brawl sighed sadly as he retracted his rocket pods and raised the shoulder cannons to their idle position. The visible miner motioned his companions to flee, but did not follow them. Instead, he converted his right hand rivet gun, ducked behind a rocky outcropping on the tunnel floor as cover, and once he saw a gap between the volleys of laser and missile fire, stood himself upright and started firing, although his lack of combat training was evident in his accuracy. The Decepticon grunts, confident in their superiority to a mere dirt-digging labourer, rushed in towards the miner as what few rivets hit their mark bounced harmlessly off their armour, but occasionally he would get in a lucky shot on the Cons’ joints or optic sensors. “Careless,” Shockwave scoffed at his troops as he engaged his transformation cog, his components shifting into place, extremities disappearing into his chassis, his cannon arm swiveling to the front and stabilizing struts deploying from his lowered body until he had assumed the form of an artillery emplacement. “Please, Science Officer, allow me!” Brawl said gleefully as he fired his fusion cannon straight at the miner’s cover, disintegrating the rock to dust and scorching the chassis of the miner himself, who was knocked backwards by the blast. Still reeling from the blast, the miner strained to get up, just as a Decepticon grunt reached him and put a blaster to his head. “About time I got to blow some dirt-muncher’s head off,” the Decepticon sneered. “I left Cybertron to join this outfit a few orbital cycles ago, but the brass didn’t give me any field work until today, so I’ve been itching to kill something. But don’t worry, I’ll send your buddies to join you soon enough. And probably some more once we raid that pathetic scrap pile you call a-“ But just before the grunt could finish speaking, the miner suddenly leapt to his feet and practically throttled his assailant, using the Decepticon’s surprise to knock the weapon from his hands. He then deployed the hoist line from the crane arm over his shoulder and garrotted the Decepticon with it, lifting the struggling trooper and using him as a robot shield. “Lay down your weapons!” the miner bellowed. “I have a hostage!” “So you do,” Shockwave said plainly just before firing a violet bolt of plasma straight through the miner and his Decepticon hostage. “Any Decepticon foolish enough to be captured by a mere labourer is of no use to our cause,” Shockwave said to his compatriots dispassionately as his turret rotated to the direction of the rapidly disappearing shapes down the tunnel. “Now finish the others before they escape.” Visibly quivering from his barely maintained restraint, Brawl yelled, “That’s it! I’ve been waiting since we landed on this rock to blow something up, and I can’t take it anymore!” He lowered his shoulder cannons into firing position. “Hasta la vista, miners!” Brawl let loose a salvo of anti-ordnance shells into the tunnel, making an explosion sure to be visible for miles, not to mention completely caving in the tunnel entrance. "Yes," Brawl said with a pleasure that most species would associate with reproduction. "This is what I'm talking about!" Then he noticed the battered and scorched remains of the unfortunate Decepticon troops that had gotten too far into the tunnel. "Oh. Sorry, my bad! I didn't blow up anyone we needed, did I?" "I think most of them were raw recruits," Vortex informed him. "Well, that's a relief!" Brawl said happily. "So… do we go back to the ship, or what?" "We had better," Shockwave said as he converted back to his robot form, speaking with an audible indignation rarely seen from the science officer, "before more colonists come to this location to investigate that explosion! Need I remind you we kill witnesses to hide our presence, not advertise it further?" Brawl guiltily bowed his head like a hatchling caught with his hand in the Energon goodie jar and meekly said, "Sorry, Science Officer." "No matter," Shockwave sighed. "We should have no witnesses alive at any rate.” He turned to the rest of the surviving landing party. “Dispose of the bodies and clear away any loose rubble from Brawl’s attack. The collapsed tunnel is of lesser priority. Completely clearing the mine entrance will take time we do not have, and there are other plausible explanations for a cave-in that do not implicate our presence. As soon as the evidence of our presence has been removed, we shall depart.” He turned back to Brawl. “We shall discuss your heedless behaviour upon our return to the ship." The Decepticon scout party- at least, those whom had not been blown to smithereens- got to work on removing the rubble and bodies from the scene of the crime, and within less than an hour had only a collapsed tunnel implying they had ever been there. Returning to the jump ship, they ascended to the sky above the forest canopy made their way back to the hovering form of the Ruination. Within minutes of the jump ship's return, the warship itself began to ascend and escaped Budian's atmosphere into the inky blackness of space. Meanwhile, on the other side of the collapsed tunnel, the silence was broken by a spinning drill boring out of the ground and carving out a small hole out of the cavern floor, and two Cybertronians emerged: one in the form of a construction orange drill tank that had made the hole; and one of a similar colour currently in his robot form, with half of a pushing blade mounted on each shoulder indicating a bulldozer as his vehicle mode. Taking a moment to vent some exhaust as he climbed out of the hole, the one in humanoid form turned to the drill tank and said, "Thanks for the save, Drill Bit." "Don't thank me, Wedge," the drill tank sighed as he transformed into his robot form. "We were lucky I could dig that hole as fast as I did, or we'd be scrap right now. Just like Longarm back there." Wedge put his hand on Drill Bit’s shoulder. “There will be time to mourn Longarm later. Right now, we know there’s a Decepticon raid coming in an orbital cycle, and we have to warn to village ASAP.” One orbital cycle. One month, as the humans of Earth would count it. Fortunately, even with the entrance caved in; these two had been mining these tunnels for Energon for the better part of the last two centuries, and knew the way through the mines like the backs of their hands. Wedge clenched his fist as they both transformed and rolled out into the tunnels. After all he had lost, he was done with living in fear of the Decepticons, but he knew that some of his fellow miners would not agree with what he was going to propose… O-O-O The rest of the village took the news of the incoming raid pretty well, all things considered. "Has the Guiding Hand forsaken us?" a female villager howled in despair. "Commonwealth taxes, forced labour, war, fuel shortages… and now Decepticons! PRIMUS WANTS US MINERS DEAD!" "She's right!" another miner cried, slamming his fist into the rocky ground. "Primus may as well just smite us where we stand and end this torment!" "Crying about it won't change anything," Wedge said sadly. He'd tried to break the news as softly as possible, but diplomacy was never his strong suit. "Then why don't we call up the magistrate and get an Elite Guard squadron down here?" a large, yellow miner called Heavy Load suggested. "He owes us that much after all of the taxes he's collected from us!" "Did the magistrate I know die since last time I checked?" scoffed Grimlock, a lanky, green miner with a digger's shovel arm extending from his back. "Because if not, we all know the answer he'll give: 'The Elite Guard doesn't have the resources to spare.' In other words, us being robbed our livelihood isn't their problem! We'll be lucky if we so much as get a government check to cover the damage from the raid!" "We may as well hand the Decepticons the deed to the mines and all jump in a smelting pit!" cried the villager who had earlier said their gods had forsaken them. "Maybe then it will be the magistrate's problem!" As the other villagers resigned themselves to their fate, whether in silence or in tears, Wedge clenched his fists in anger and growled, "We'll kill them all." Grimlock turned his head to Wedge in surprise. "I'm sorry; my audio receptors must be malfunctioning. Because it sounded like you suggested we try to kill the hardened criminal remnants of the most dreaded military faction in Cybertron's history." "You heard me right!" Wedge screamed in rage. "No more bowing our heads while they rob us blind! No more living in fear of the Decepticons! I'M GOING TO KILL THEM ALL OR DIE TRYING!" "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! WE COULDN'T FIGHT THEM OFF IN A BILLION STELLAR CYCLES!" "He's right," Heavy Load reasoned as he held the two back from each other. "The Decepticons are trained killers and mercenaries. All of us combined aren't even a fraction of the warrior that just one of them is. We can't fight them. It's impossible." "And if we do fight, and we lose- no, when we lose, what then?" Grimlock asked cynically. "They'll just kill us all, down to the last unhatched protoform!" "I don't care!" Wedge growled, still struggling against Heavy Load's grip. "We can't keep living like this! Better to risk it all to be rid of them! Kill or be killed!" "We have no choice but to keep living like this," a red miner named Hightower said sadly. "Serfs like us are at the bottom of the food chain in Sentinel's caste system. Our only lot in life is to endure. We'll just meekly hand over our Energon, and beg on our hands and knees for them to leave us enough to survive." "You think they'll be content to leave us with that much?" Wedge asked bitterly. "Do you remember how low we had to stoop just to keep the Energon we're fuelling ourselves with now? What we had to sacrifice?" Wedge dropped to his knees and broke down into tears. The other miners looked to him in sorrow. He knew more than anyone what, or whom, the Decepticons were capable of taking from them. Heavy Load looked to the nondescript ore mill on the edge of the village and suggested, "We might as well ask the old bot. He might know what to do." O-O-O As the oldest, most experienced Cybertronian in the village, Kup held the unofficial position of village elder, the closest thing this backwater mining town had to a central authority figure, an informal village council notwithstanding. He was a relic of Cybertron's Golden Age, and had fought in dozens of wars millennia before anyone even heard the words "Autobot" or "Decepticon", and he looked every day of it. While even some of the next oldest miners in the village had kept their bodies relatively up to date with modern Cybertronian tech, Kup wore his staunch refusal to upgrade over the centuries on his servo, leaving him a smoke-belching, rust-blackened living artefact whom would not seem out of place among the first machines of a planet dabbling in steam power. But for all his cantankerous moaning of rust in unmentionable places, and how he endlessly lectured the younger models about how things were "back in my day," no one in the village had nearly as many years of wisdom and experience he did, and they could always count on him for advice… but none had asked for his wisdom for anything as dire as this. The modest guest quarters of Kup's mill house were packed with as many miners as could fit, and those who couldn't fit had gathered in front of the open windows to hear his input on the matter. Kup had insisted on hearing everyone's two credits on the issue before making his decision, but only a few arguments ended up being heard in full by anyone trying to listen as every miner in or around the building talked over one another. "Consider who we're dealing with here! ’Give the cyberwolf your arms, he'll ask for your legs.' Once the 'Cons have a taste, they'll be back for sure." "But if we lose, we'll be lucky if they leave just one of us alive!" "Without our Energon, we're as good as scrapped anyway!" Kup chose this moment to speak up. "We fight." Everyone dropped the debate and stared at the old bot in shock. Even Wedge could hardly believe Kup had chosen to accept his idea. "K-kup," Hightower stammered. "With all due respect, that's madness. We're miners. The only one in this village that's ever seen battle is you, and you haven't picked up a weapon since-" "I know how old I am, thank you!" Kup snapped back. "I'm well aware we can't fight the Decepticons ourselves, so we'll just have to hire those that can." "Are you saying we hire Autobots?" Heavy Load said aghast. "Who ever heard of peasants hiring the warrior class?" "I've seen it happen," Kup continued. "When our last village was burned to the ground and the oldest of us here fled here, I saw every village on the horizon burn… except one. Only one village could stand against the Decepticons: that village hired Autobots." "I remember," Drill Bit said. "That was Village C-114, right? Of course the industrial capital of this colony could afford to hire warriors, but we barely get by on raw Energon. How could we afford to hire any?" "We might have enough if we make do on oil for the time being," Wedge suggested. "Those in the warrior class haven't forgotten they used to run Cybertron!" Grimlock reminded Wedge. "You think their warrior's pride would allow them to accept fuel as payment?" "Then find hungry Autobots," Kup told them. "Even oxide sharks will swim to the shallows if they're hungry enough." Grimlock looked around, clearly trying to find someone else who would object to what he saw as an outrageous notion. Everyone knew what was coming. Once Grimlock had convinced himself that he’s the only sane bot in the room, he always had to have the last word. "I can't believe you bots are even humouring this idea!" he said. "You could probably count the number of warriors in the Commonwealth who will agree to help us on one hand! Even if we find enough Autobots to defend the village, and we do fight off the Decepticons, how do we know our new 'saviours' won't turn on us and take everything we have? 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.' I cannot in good conscience go along with this fool's errand!" Wedge sighed. Grimlock was nowhere near the warrior his more famous namesake was reputed to be, but he was every bit as stubborn. "No one said you had to come," Wedge told Grimlock. "But I, for one, am going to find someone who will help us." "I'll go too," Heavy Load volunteered. "You're going to need to bring a lot of Energon to convince any warriors to help us, so you'll need someone who can carry the weight." Hightower shrugged and said, "I guess if we're all going to risk our lives against the Decepticons in an orbital cycle, I might as well see the big city before we all die." Grimlock sighed in frustration. "Fine, waste your last moments hunting for your mythical saviours, see if I care! Just know I'm not going with you!" "Well, I'm going with them," a young, feminine voice spoke up. All optics went towards the villager who had said that. It was a young femme with reddish bronze armour- Grimlock's daughter, Arcee. Grimlock's visor went wide with shock. "What?! Absolutely not! I cannot allow you to run off to the big city to put yourself in harm's way for a fool's errand! It's too dangerous!" "With all due respect, Father, as it stands, we're all in danger." "We've weathered Decepticon raids before, Arcee. But you've never set foot outside our village! The big city can be a very dangerous place, especially if you've never been to one before!" "I'm sorry, Dad, but Wedge is right. For all the Energon we mine every stellar cycle, we've been nearly running on empty our whole lives. And with the 'Cons demanding more and more each time, it's only a matter of time before we all starve. So if we're all going to die anyway, I'm going to do all we can to give us a fighting chance to live." Suddenly, even bots younger than Arcee spoke up. "Well, if she can't go, I will!" "Me too!" "Take me! I can help!" As every parent in the building tried to get their hatchlings to pipe down while shooting angry looks at Grimlock, Kup afforded himself a small smile. For all his complaining of the younger generations, at this moment, he made no effort to hide his appreciation of that same generation’s courage and resolve. Grimlock sighed. "Looks like nothing short of a mode lock and tire clamps is going to keep you from accompanying Wedge's little quest. Not to mention that if I don't resolve the situation now, every other parent in the village would have my head on a pike before the Decepticons so much as plot a course back to this system. Seems my stubbornness must run in the family. Fine, but you're not going anywhere without me." "Really, now?" Wedge chuckled. "Whatever happened to 'not going along with this fool's errand?'?" "Put a block in it, Wedge, someone needs to keep you idiots grounded in reality, or you'll be out looking for the Knights of Cybertron for help." "Well," Kup began, "looks like we've got the search begun. I know a guy who can get you five a space bridge ticket to Iacon, so hop to it! Every cycle wasted is one more cycle closer to the Decepticons' arrival." O-O-O Sometimes I question my sanity. I doubt an ordinary mind would finish watching the magnum opus of one of history's most celebrated filmmakers and say, "You know what this movie needs more of? Giant transforming robots!" XD As those who have watched the original film can probably tell, I expanded the opening scene a bit, mostly to explain away one of the original's few plot holes: why don't the bandits just leave once they realise the samurai start kicking their asses and just find a less troublesome village to raid? The Magnificent Seven gave its own explanation that the bandits were starving as well, and just fought to the last man out of desperation, so I tried to give my own hopefully-not-bullshit reason. I might have ended up having too much fun writing Brawl's dialogue in the process, however. The backstory dump at the beginning is inspired by the beginning of Japan’s Tokugawa Era, with Sentinel Prime filling the role of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (with the main difference being that it results in Cybertronian expansion, rather than an isolationist period like Japan went through under the Tokugawa shogunate). I knew from the start that I wanted the Cybertronian history of my story to reflect the time period Seven Samurai is set in, so I tried to look up what period of Japanese history the movie took place in, but couldn't find any conclusive answers. I just guessed the Tokugawa Era because of the large number of unemployed ronin the movie's premise relies on. But then I got the movie on DVD and the special features said it took place during the Sengoku Era, but I decided to keep what I had already written for the backstory at that point. I decided to cast the Robots in Disguise Build Team as the main four farmers because I figured their alt modes would work for miners. I was originally going to cast a ROTF-styled Jetfire in Ginzo's role, but then I thought a jet mode would be out of place in a mining village, and besides, Kup is pretty much the iconic "grumpy old man" Autobot, so I went with him instead. Arcee fills the role of Shino, with a little bit of Kirara from the anime Samurai 7 (while I'm mostly adapting the plot of the original film, this story will contain more than a few elements of the anime). I had her join along on the main adventure to give the role more of a character arc… and to make the main story less of a sausage fest. XD And the random kids are the equivalent to Komachi from Samurai 7, which is why they're not coming with the other five. Feedback is appreciated. What am I doing right? What can I improve on? What would you like to see from this story in the future? In any case, enjoy reading.