Episode 1: Renewed Aggressions Author comments: After watching He-Man do a ‘do-over’ I started thinking how a ‘do-over’ Transformers series might go. So, while bored at work I started writing and, well, came up with this. A few things to note: Megatron is a tank. While I decided he should keep his original coloration (for the most part) I realize that there is no way to have him be a realistic handgun. Prime is a cab-over-engine semi truck again, but this time he had a large sleeper section overhead. Reflector is still a camera, but is only one robot, not three. Soundwave is a Bose Wave radio (still his blue coloration though). Laserbeak and Buzzsaw are camcorders (like with Armada), Ravage is a full sized television camera, Rumble is a portable CD player and Frenzy is a portable MP3 player. The Seekers have been upgraded to F-22 Raptors. Beyond that, everyone is pretty much the same, at least for this episode. * * * The footsteps could be heard all the way down the hall, indicating that the newcomer that would soon be turning the corner and coming into view was very large. They were also coming at a brisk pace, letting the two Autobot guards standing outside the control room know that whoever it was that was approaching was on more than just a leisurely stroll. The guards readied themselves for potential hostilities, even though the chances of that were extremely unlikely. They were deep within the Iacon Command Center, and had the Decepticons attacked they probably would have known about it long before. But despite the improbability that it was a Decepticon approaching them, the guards prepared for the worst nonetheless. Much to the relief, and surprise, of the guards, Optimus Prime turned the corner and continued his march toward them. His frame was riddled with scorches, dents, lacerations and missing chunks of armor, but if he were in any pain he showed no sign of it. In unison the guards saluted, to which Prime simply nodded. "At ease." At his approach the door that was flanked by the guards hissed open, allowing the battle weary commander to enter the room. Sitting at a round table in the center of the room were Ultra Magnus, Prowl, Perceptor and Jazz, all of whom were startled to see their returning leader. Magnus quickly stood and addressed Prime. "Sir, we didn't expect you to be returning so soon. The preliminary reports from the southern walls of Iacon indicated that it would probably take you another few weeks to ward off Shockwave's invasion force." Prime nodded as he made his way to the head of the table and took his seat. "Our defense held better than we could have hoped for, and Shockwave saw the futility of his efforts sooner than most Decepticon warlords would have. Megatron may have no problem wasting energon on a hopeless cause, but his second in command seems to be more frugal." Prowl leaned forward. "It's funny that you should mention energon." Prowl slid a data pad that was laying in front of him across the table to Prime. "This pad has all of the details, but the long and the short of it is that roughly one hundred fifty vorns ago Sentinel Prime sent out high-speed, long range space probes in an attempt to locate a new supply of energy. The hopes of finding an alternative source of energy on Cybertron had been all but exhausted, and the remaining supply would only be able to sustain the planet for a few thousand more vorns. That estimate was made before the war with the Decepticons. Needless to say, the amount of energon we have left will be exhausted much sooner than previously expected." Prime lifted the data pad and punched a few keys. "Not quite soon enough to be considered proactive, but a very wise move by Sentinel Prime nonetheless." Prowl continued. "It seems your predecessor’s wisdom has paid off. We received a signal from one of the probes nearly two weeks ago." Prime put the datapad back on the table. "Another planet with energon?" "Not exactly." Perceptor had never addressed Optimus Prime before, but despite his intimidation he continued. "Like most life-bearing planets, this one is made up exclusively by carbon-based life forms. So while it has no energon, it is loaded with fossil-fuels that can be refined and converted to energon." Prime shook his head. "I will not bring our war to another world for it to wipe out other civilizations." Prowl quickly responded. "That's what makes this planet perfect. While it's teaming with life, there is no civilization. No cities, no organized societies, in fact, the probe could not find any indication of a species capable of higher level thought. No sentient beings. For all intents and purposes it's uninhabited." Prime nodded. "Where is this planet located?" Magnus replied. "The outer rim of the galaxy. Fortunately Perceptor has been working on artificial worm-hole generation technology for some time now and has built a prototype generator into one of our cargo freighters…” Magnus touched some buttons on a data pad in front of him. “…The Ark." Prime thought silently for a few moments, before finally addressing his companions. "Alright then. I will select a small crew to accompany me to this planet. We will need to procure enough energon to fuel the trip and the return trip. Energon, which we do not have." Jazz grinned and spoke up. "We should have that problem covered in time for the launch." Unseen by the Autobots, a small, winged shaped hid in the shadows. *********************** Kup, Blurr, Gearstripper, Skidmark and Antilock sped through the catacombs toward subterranean Polyhex, leaving miles and miles of siphoning cable behind them. The plan, though nearly suicidal, was simple enough. Megatron kept millions of tons of energon beneath Darkmount. The idea was to break into the fuel reserves from underneath and siphon the energon directly into the Ark's fuel cells. While the Decepticons considered an attack from beneath to be extremely unlikely, they still posted surveillance cameras in the tunnels leading to Darkmount. That was where Blurr came in. An Autobot created with an abnormal and seemingly unstable spark, Blurr was capable of moving faster than many Cybertronians could see. Rushing past each camera, Blurr would then re-wire the cameras to play looped footage of empty tunnels while the other Autobots carried the siphoning cable ever closer to Darkmount. "Finally." Gearstripper looked at the hand-held energy reader. "We've got to be underneath, this thing's going haywire." Antilock and Skidmark lifted a pair of energy-saws out from the back of Kup and turned them on. Taking one last look at each other they then set to cutting through the ceiling. After nearly two hours Skidmark finally broke through. With extreme caution Antilock helped him cut a hole through the ceiling/floor, and silently lower the cut metal down to the ground. All optics then turned to Blurr. Blurr lifted the intake valve of the siphoning cable out from the back of Kup and vanished into the bowels of Polyhex. The energon reserve chamber was thankfully devoid of Decepticons, and Blurr quickly attached the siphoning cable to one of the immense energon tanks. Some twists and a few punched buttons later energon was flowing freely through the cable. Blurr turned to leave, only to be confronted by a tall, orange Seeker. "Prepare to die Autobot." The cone headed warrior lifted his arm-mounted rifles toward the sleek Autobot. " Trustme,youdon'twanttodischargethatweapondownherewithallthisenergon. Imaginetheexplosion." "See that ceiling overhead. It's forty feet of solid Cybertronium. Even this blast wouldn't do more than lightly rattle Darkmount." "Butyouwouldbeincinerated!" "All Decepticons would gladly die for Megatron.” The Seeker’s optics shifted toward the energon tanks. “But then again, the loss of so much energon would greatly hurt the Decepticon cause. And I have little doubt that I could kill you with my bare hands without any trouble." The Seeker smiled, lowered his rifles and started walking away. "Just let me sound the alarm first." In a flash he was tackled to the floor. He whirled around and swung where the blue Autobot was, but he only hit emptiness. Blurr was standing several feet away. "Ican'tletyouhitthatalarmonthewall." The orange Decepticon simply smiled and raised his wrist to his face. "Alright, I won't hit the alarm on the wall." His cheerful demeanor changed as he spoke into his wrist. "Autobot intruder in the subterranean energon chamber!" Blurr gasped in terror. The grumpy old voice of Kup came from behind him. "I never thought that I'd be telling you to hurry uuuuhhhhh slag! We've been discovered." Gearstripper, Antilock and Skidmark quickly followed Kup into the chamber. The Seeker scrambled to his feet and took a defensive posture. "Which Autobot dies first?" Kup raised his gun, but Antilock, standing to Kup's left, pushed the gun down with his left hand. "We can't fire in here, but...." Antilock quickly spun his body around, and using the energy-saw that he had in his right hand sliced through the Seeker's shoulder-crests and head. The lifeless orange form fell to the ground just as footsteps could be heard coming down a stairwell from across the room. Skidmark looked at Kup. "How long do we need to hold them off for?" Kup shook his head. "At least another fifteen minutes. That Ark's a big ship. But there's only one way for them to come in, so we might be able to do this." With that Kup charged toward the door that led to the stairwell the Decepticon reinforcements were coming down. "As long as they're not in this room we should be able to shoot at them without detonating the energon." At which point all five Autobots began firing up the stairwell, hope welling up in them that they might just complete their task and maybe make it out of there alive. Kup, however, couldn't help but wonder why there would only be one guard for the Decepticon energon cache, and why the reinforcements wouldn't be using the elevator to descend en mass. Those thoughts were pushed aside as the Decepticons began firing back. ******************** Prime looked over the crew that he had chosen to make this journey with him. With the exception of Ironhide, Prowl, Brawn and Ratchet it was a very young crew. But all had proven themselves in some way or another. "Prime, the energon is loading into the Ark's fuel cells. Kup did it!" Prime nodded at Red Alert and tried to look happy. Kup seemed to have succeeded, but it was virtually impossible that he and his team would make it out of Darkmount alive. Prime only hoped that this journey would be worth their sacrifice. Prime looked back at his crew. "Autobots, load up. We're taking off once the fuel cells are loaded." The Autobots quickly loaded up the ark with the necessary supplies and then strapped themselves in for the trip. Ultra Magnus walked over to Prime. "The cells will be full in a few minutes. You should probably board yourself." Prime nodded. "You're in charge while I'm gone Magnus. Fight well, fight bravely, but most importantly, stay alive. Once we return with the energy reserves we should then be able to take the war to the Decepticons, and eventually win. So just hold out until then." "I'll do my best Prime." Wheelie came running up to the two leaders. "Sirs, I've got Kup on the radio! He's in trouble!" Prime and Magnus ran to the communications station. "Kup, this is Magnus, can you read me?" "Loud and clear Magnus. You should be receiving the energon now." "We are, Kup. Well done." "Sir, we were discovered and some fighting broke out. Antilock, Gearstripper and Skidmark were all destroyed. I sent Blurr ahead to get word to you, as my earlier attempts to reach you were jammed. Hopefully you'll be seeing him shortly." "Good thinking Kup, we'll keep an eye out for him. No lets concentrate on getting you home." "That's not going to happen, at least not today. Blurr might be able to outrun the Con's, but I can't. I'm going deeper into the catacombs and hide out there until this blows over. It's my only option." Magnus looked at Prime, who nodded in return. Magnus turned back to the speaker. "That's a good idea Kup. Just get here when you can. Over and out." Prime walked toward the ship, Magnus jogging behind him to catch up. "I sent them on a suicide mission. I'm no better than Megatron." "Sir, you're a military leader. There's no way to fight a war without losing some of your soldiers." "No Magnus, it was a suicide mission. The fact that they succeeded and two Autobots made it out alive means that I guessed right and Megatron knew they were coming." Magnus was confused. "Sir, I don't understand." Prime turned to his second. "After our initial discussion concerning this expedition there was a small 'blip' detected on the radar traveling away from the base." Magnus nodded. "I remember. So?" "While defending the southern wall of Iacon I noted the Decepticons using small flying robots primarily for espionage. When I saw the 'blip' I had a hunch that it could be one of these small Decepticons. Our security isn't as tight as it should be." Magnus, still confused, nodded. "So you think that Megatron is aware of this mission?" "Yes. Megatron allowed Kup's team to siphon the energon and fill our ship." "But why?" Prime turned to Magnus. "He may have enough energon to conquer Cybertron, but his ambition is greater than that. He has aspirations of a galactic empire, and he needs more fuel to achieve that than his vault contains. He wants us to find this fossil-rich planet." Prime stepped onto the boarding ramp of the Ark. "He will either wait until we return and try to steal our bounty, or he'll follow us there. Either way he needs us to launch." Magnus was stunned. "But if he's on to us, why are you still going?" Prime looked up at the Ark. "This trip has to be made Magnus. Without this energon we have little hope of defeating the Decepticons, and this planet-wide famine will only get worse and worse until Cybertron can no longer support life." Prime then turned back to Magnus and put his hand on his shoulder. "Besides, the Ark is more heavily armed than any transport vessel should be. We may just catch Megatron off guard." Prime started walking up the ramp. "But none of that changes the fact that I sent Skidmark, Gearstripper, Antilock and probably Kup to their deaths." Magnus nodded, but realizing more so than Prime that not only was the sacrifice necessary, it was gladly accepted by those that had made it. Red Alert called out to Magnus. "Sir, the energy cells are full. We can take off whenever you're ready." Magnus nodded. "Clear the area and begin ignition sequence." * * * "Clearing Cyberton's atmosphere now sir." Jazz called out to Prime. The launch was uneventful. No Decepticon attack, no equipment malfunctions, nothing but smooth sailing. This of course worried the Autobot leader to no end. They would be far enough away from Cybertron to generate a wormhole within a few minutes. Hopefully Wheeljack had managed to figure out how to use Perceptor’s latest masterpiece by now. Prime looked over to the resident tinkerer. "Wheeljack, is that thing ready." "Yes sir, just give the word." Megatron had several space-faring attack cruisers capable of making short work of the Ark, but Prime knew that the Decepticons would refrain from attacking at least until the worm hole was created. Once that happened all bets were off. Prime hesitantly called out to Jazz. "How much longer until we reach a safe distance?" "Riiiiigggggghhhhhttttt.............now. We've cleared the required distance. Go ahead and use that worm-hole digger." Prime nodded to Wheeljack. Wheeljack hit some buttons and pulled some levers. Suddenly three blue beams shot out from the front of the ship and connected several miles in front of it. The three beams then separated again, leaving a 'hole' in their wake. It was now or never. "Punch it Jazz." The gold colored craft shot into the 'hole' and disappeared. Seconds later a larger, black craft streaked into the now collapsing 'hole' and disappeared as well. * * * "I don't know about you Prahme, but that thing don't appear to be teaming with life to me." Prime smiled beneath his mask. "No Ironhide, this is the planet's solitary moon. The planet is behind it." "And it looks like we've got something behind us, Prime." Prime quickly looked over to Sideswipe at the radar screen. He turned and met Prime's gaze. "It's a ship, definitely Cybertronian in origin. Permission to man the weapons consol?" Prime nodded. Sideswipe leapt from the radar station and sprinted to the weapons consol, tossing Bumblebee, who was sitting there aside. Bumblebee started to protest, but realized that even he preferred to have Sideswipe there instead of him. The firefight commenced as the two ships cleared the moon and headed toward their large blue destination. Despite Sideswipe's skill, the never-ending Decepticon volleys soon overwhelmed the Ark. Prime, knowing that they could neither out-run nor out-fight the Decepticon ship stood and prepared his Autobots as best he could. "Autobots, prepared for close range combat. The Decepticons are going to be boarding momentarily." With that an enormous metal tube burst into the Autobot vessel. Prime took one last look at the view screen before charging against the Decepticon onslaught that would be coming through that tube any second now. The view screen showed him that they were entering the planet's atmosphere at an alarming rate. The tube door opened, unleashing a torrent of Decepticons. Thundercracker and Mixmaster charged in, batting aside Bluestreak and Prowl. They looked up to see who was next, and unfortunately for them saw Sideswipe and Sunstreaker charging at them. The two Decepticons found themselves face down and getting pummeled almost instantly. The other Decepticons were having and easier go of it. Starscream blasted away at Jazz, Hound and Brawn as they took cover behind the navigation consol. Soundwave was confronted by Trailbreaker, Hoist, Cliffjumper and Mirage, but a mental command later and Rumble, Frenzy, Lazerbeak and Buzzsaw were attacking the Autobots. Ravage ejected as well, but charged the front and leapt onto Ironhide. Sideswipe and Sunstreaker tossed aside the limp frames of Thundercracker and Mixmaster and turned back to the control room to see whom to attack next. Unfortunately for them, a hulking chrome frame walked up behind them, grabbed them, and proceeded to smash them together until they were unconscious. Megatron had joined the fray. Prime charged through the chaos, throwing aside a couple of Constructicons to get to the Decepticon leader. Megatron caught sight of his opposite number and hurled Sideswipe's inert form at him. Prime dodged the red projectile and continued his charge. Sideswipe's body slammed hard into the navigation panel, causing the Ark to lurch upward and alter its vertical descent to the planet to a nearly horizontal trajectory. The tube connecting the two ships was unable to withstand the strain and the Decepticon warship tore free and careened off into the distance. The combatants onboard the Ark were all thrown off balance momentarily as the Ark's computer, Teletran 1, attempted to make the necessary adjustments to the ship's interior gravity to account for the sudden change in direction. Megatron and Prime, both having been thrown to the ground, rose to their feet and prepared to tear each other to pieces. The moment didn't arrive, as the Ark slammed head first into the side of a mountain. * * * The new planet has circled the star that it is bound to four million times, and though the world around them has changed significantly, for the occupants of the Ark time has stopped. Until now. The mountain rumbled. Then louder. Suddenly the peak exploded, sending rock, ash and other debris in every direction for miles. The violent shaking caused a rockslide, revealing the aft portion of the immense spacecraft. Inside the Ark, bodies, debris and equipment were thrown about the control room. The infirmary was in a similar state, but only two bodies bounced against the medical equipment. Those of Ratchet and Skywarp, who four million years ago had found themselves in this room after the latter had teleported into the infirmary to attack the Autobots from another direction, and to his sadistic delight found the Autobot physician. The tremors subsided, allowing the formerly dynamic bodies to settle into place. In Skywarp’s case he settled in a repair chamber. The control panel for the chamber buzzed to life. Screens popped on displaying Skywarp’s inner physiology, and assessing how best to repair it. Though not self aware, Teletran 1 did comprehend the alien environment and amount of time that had passed and came to the conclusion that the patient would more than likely require an alternate form that was better suited for the current situation. A probe was dispatched to discover an appropriate alternative mode for the injured Cybertronian. Within a few minutes the probe came upon and scanned a F-22 Raptor flying overhead. The data was instantly transmitted back to Teletran 1 and the repairs to Skywarp commenced. Within a few minutes Skywarp was repaired, altered, and conscious. Disoriented, he stumbled out of the repair chamber, threw Ratchet's inert body aside and slowly made his way to the control room. Even under ideal conditions Skywarp was not very bright. So in his confused stupor he completely failed to realize that he had tossed Ratchet's body in such a way that the Autobot Medic's legs and waist were laying in the repair chamber. As Skywarp left the room metal probes emerged from the repair chamber and hoisted the rest of Ratchet's frame into it. * * * Skywarp needed to sit down a couple of times before finally reaching the control room of the Ark. There he found Megatron, and proceeded to drag his unconscious leader back to the infirmary. Skywarp watched as the repair chamber reconfigured the mighty Megatron into a robotic form that would be compatible with his new Terran form, an M1 Abrams Tank. Though still retaining his primarily chrome coloration, Megatron now had darkly colored camouflage markings over much of his body. His fusion cannon, which was formerly forearm-mounted, now rested on his shoulder. Though different, he was still Megatron. It took nearly two hours for all of the Decepticons to be rebuilt and revived. Megatron addressed them in the Ark's control room. "Fate has decided to bring us back from death's clutches, while allowing our hated enemies to continue rusting into oblivion. If there were any doubts of our destiny to rule the universe, they are gone now." The Decepticons let out a cheer. Megatron smiled and nodded. "While many of you were being repaired I took the opportunity to study up on this planet. All of the life is carbon based," snickers could be heard. "Yes, that means nothing but squishy flesh-bags. There is only one life form that has any level of intelligence. In the language most common in this region of the planet they are called human beings, or humans for short. These humans inhabit virtually every section of this planet, having divided it into different regional sections called countries. The most powerful and influential of these countries is the one that we reside in currently, The United States of America. Though considered the planets one great super-power, it's military might would fall within a matter of weeks to a significant Decepticon onslaught." Megatron paused and smiled again. "In short, this world is ours for the taking." The other Decepticons cheered again. Megatron raised his hand to silence them. "I almost forgot the most important part. These humans are not completely without value. When we first followed the Autobots to this planet, before these humans even existed, we expected there to be vast amounts of unrefined fossil fuels, where there was and still is. But these humans have come and refined much of this raw fuel for their own needs. It's not to the level of energon, but they've saved us a few steps. One of these 'refineries' is only a few miles away." Megatron's smile took and evil curl. "Now lets refuel ourselves, return and grind the Autobots to powder, and then renew our conquest of the universe." More cheers were elicited from the Decepticons as Megatron led them out of the wrecked spacecraft. Once they had left a boxy white form quietly made it's way into the control room. "This isn't good." Ratchet took Prime by the wrists and dragged him toward the infirmary. * * * Spike Witwicky jogged along side the stretcher that was carrying his father. "You're gonna be O.K., Pop. Just stay strong." Having finished school for the summer just a few weeks before, Spike was now finding himself more and more bored with each passing day. So much so that this morning he had decided to accompany his father to work at the oil refinery and try to help out. Today had been anything but boring. Sparkplug Witwicky had had enough of his son’s dramatics. "I know Spike. Leave me alone and see to some of the others. I've just got some broken ribs is all." Though not life threatening, the injuries were very painful. "Now get outta here!" Many of the other rig workers hadn't fared nearly as well. Sparkplug had heard a comment from one of the Paramedics that the Morticians would be putting a heck of a lot more overtime in than the Doctors. Though a thoughtless statement, it was accurate. The attack was savage, and dozens of men were killed in the first few seconds alone. Initially it seemed like a terrorist attack, then a military assault from a foreign invader. Then Sparkplug saw the impossible. A fighter jet speeding toward them, decelerating to an impossibly slow speed, changing shape to a nearly thirty-foot robot, and then landing gracefully on the platform. The other vehicles transformed to giant robots as well, including a silver tank that introduced itself as the new leader of Earth. That was when the floor under Sparkplugs feet shook enough to send him flying and slamming into a ladder, breaking some ribs and knocking him out. Fortunately his son Spike had managed to get out of the fray with only bumps and bruises. Spike watched, as his father was loaded into the ambulance. He had seen the day's events unfold, but he still had no idea of what had happened. * * * The new form was growing on Megatron. The design was archaic, but that mattered little in term of his overall power and performance. And it was a breath of fresh air, as he had been in his previous form since his inception eons ago. He led his freshly charged Decepticons up the mountainside to the Ark, where they would eliminate Optimus Prime and his lackeys once and for all. Starscream and the other Seekers streaked overhead, rounded the still-smoking mountain, transformed and landed a few feet ahead. One of the many benefits to Prime's upcoming demise would be that Megatron would no longer have any use for Starscream. A treacherous back stabber, the only thing that had kept him alive thus far was his effectiveness in battle. But without the great Autobot leader to stand in the Decepticon's way, Starscream was no longer essential. Megatron transformed as he reached the Seekers, and all other Decepticons followed suit with the exception of Long Haul, who was carrying a heaping load of energon cubes in his bed. Starscream strutted over to Megatron. "I suppose you're going to call dibs on killing Prime." "I think I've earned the right, Starscream." Megatron replied tersely. He was already imagining the incineration of Prime's head with his first shot, and then turning on Starscream and incinerating his conniving head with the second shot. "Of course you have Megatron. I only wish to watch you as you do it." A voice boomed from above them. "Sorry to disappoint you Starscream, but that's one show that you're going to miss." The Decepticons turned to see Prime and the Autobots exiting the Ark. Megatron snarled, but slowly the snarl worked its way into a wicked grin. "I see you've managed to pull yourself out of the slumber, eh Prime? Well no matter. You and your troops are pitifully low on energon, while my Decepticons are fully charged and loaded to bear." Prime nodded. "Perhaps, Megatron. But I'm pretty sure I have enough power for one shot." With that Prime leveled his rifle at Megatron, then shifted his aim to Long Haul. The shot burst forth and buried itself in the large pile of energon cubes, creating a massive explosion a moment later. Long Haul was reduced to an unrecognizable pile of metal, barely clinging to life. The other Decepticons had also been caught in the blast, a half dozen of which appeared to be injured to the point of incapacitation. Megatron growled. "Well played Prime, but it won't be enough to save you!" With that he began marching toward the Autobots with his remaining Decepticons following closely behind. Prime, still holding his rifle, simply crossed his arms. "I guess not, but THIS might be enough to stop you." With that the Ark's aft cannons lowered into view and began spitting forth a deadly barrage of laser fire. All of the Decepticons except Megatron scattered to avoid the blasts. Fearlessly, Megatron continued marching toward his ancient enemy, but was sent flying backward as a laser caught him in the chest. Only slightly damaged, but realizing the futility of his advance, Megatron growled again and dusted himself off. "This is far from over Prime! I will be back to finish this!" Megatron turned and barked at his troops. "Decepticons, retreat!" The remaining Constructicons scraped up what was left of Long Haul and various healthy Decepticons aided the other injured in the retreat. Prime watched them as they left. "Well Prahme, that worked out about as well as we coulda hoped." Prime looked at the old warrior Ironhide. "Yes, but they'll be back. And unless we can find a fuel source I doubt that we'll be able to repel them again." Jazz walked out and joined them. "Well, there was a fossil fuel refinery not far from here, but the Decepticons raided it and now the local populace is swarming around it with emergency and military vehicles." Jazz scratched his head. "Prime, just so you know, I was sure that there were no intelligent species on this planet. The probe must have malfunctioned." Prime shook his head. "No Jazz, organic life often undergoes a process of evolution. It involves genetic mutation and natural selection. The four million of this planet's years was more than enough time to give rise to this species." He turned to Jazz. "The probe didn't malfunction, we just slept through some major changes." * * * General Allen Peterson looked over the destroyed oil refinery. The eyewitness reports seemed so absurd, but the degree and type of damage would corroborate them were they not impossible. Vehicles turning into robots were briefly considered in the eighties for space and deep-sea exploration purposes. The technology was way too far off for even minor consideration for practical military applications. And if the U.S. Armed Forces couldn't effectively create such mechanisms, there was no way some other piss-ant nation could do it. Lieutenant James Ambrose came trotting over to the General. "Sir, there's a report coming in that you may be interested in." "What is it Lieutenant?" "Sir, some geologists monitoring the Mt. Saint Hillary eruption reported..." "What! You pull me away from investigating a probable invasion do discuss some hippies studying an extremely minor eruption!?!" "No, sir. They've reported seeing military and construction vehicles advancing on the mountain, and then shifting shape to what appeared to them to be humanoid robots, sir. There was also a series of explosions according to their reports, sir." The Lieutenant hesitated. "Oh, and sir, they also claim to have seen what appeared to them to be a large craft embedded in the mountain." General Peterson was stunned. He hadn't even considered the extraterrestrial possibility. "I want surveillance photos now! And get everything we have ready to attack that mountain!"