Rise Of The Decepticon Empire
Part One of the S.P.A.R.C. Trilogy
Chapter One – Dig for Victory
He didn’t know how long they had all lain there. Stellar-cycles it seemed. He had awoken to find total darkness on all sides and an incredible weight pushing down on him. He had tried to move, but although he felt the servos in his limbs grinding the weight above him held him motionless.
At first he had thought himself alone, but then he had tried using his comm. system to call for help. This was strictly against his operating procedure but he could think of no other way. It was then that he discovered the others. They were nearby but it was impossible to tell whereabouts. They had exchanged data and discovered that no one had any idea where they were or what had happened to them.
Eventually they had lapsed into silence. No communication had been received from anyone on the ‘outside’ who could tell them what was happening or help them. So they had all resigned themselves to the idea that they would die here as their energon reserves gradually drained away.
It started as a distant rumble, very faint at first, but his keen audio receptors were still able to pick it up. He listened for a while and then switched on his comm. unit to find a babble of conversation from the others who had heard it too.
The noise grew gradually louder and louder until it was a deafening roar. Then suddenly a light, dazzling after so long in the darkness blazed forth above him, practically on top of him. His optics blanked out as they tried to adjust to the new dramatic lighting conditions. He felt the weight that had been holding him down for so long ease. He stifled a cry as he felt something hot dripping onto him.
His optics came back online, but the light was so close that he could still see very little. Then he felt himself being lifted. The light diminished and as his vision cleared he saw that he was being dragged up a rough tunnel by some sort of machinery. Then he was out and he saw one of Cybertron’s moons shining palely in the black sky.
The machine that had dragged him out of the tunnel let go its grip and disappeared back down the hole, presumably he thought to rescue the others.
He looked around and saw maybe a dozen figures surrounding him. He tried to work out whether they were friend or foe but the prolonged inactivity had dulled his reactions. Before he could regain his bearings one of the figures stepped forward and slapped a small box on his shoulder. His circuits were suddenly on fire and he fell to the ground and for the second time that day his optics dimmed.
* * * * *
Devil Spawn looked up as Turbulence entered the command centre. ‘Report,’ he ordered.
‘We have them your Excellency, just where he said they would be.’
‘Excellent. They will prove useful in the Solar-cycles to come.’
‘And it appears we have an excellent new contact.’
‘Indeed, he will be most useful to us. The last thing we need at this stage would be a war on two fronts. He seems to be ambitious, perfect Decepticon material.’
‘But can he be trusted, sire? After all he is an…’ Turbulence began.
‘Time will tell,’ Devil Spawn interrupted. ‘If he betrays us then he will join his fellows in oblivion. For now we will keep a close eye on him.’
Turbulence wasn’t convinced that Devil Spawn was doing the right thing trusting this informer but he had more sense than to say so out loud.
‘How are the other preparations going?’ Devil Spawn asked.
‘Very well, your Excellency,’ Turbulence replied. ‘Twelve Nemesis-class attack cruisers are currently in the final stages of production. In addition we also have sixty Straxus-class ground assault shuttles and two hundred and forty Screamer-class drone fighters rolling off the production lines as we speak.’
‘And what of the cryo-chambers?’ Devil Spawn asked, referring to the massive complex that housed the thousands of Decepticons deactivated by Megatron during Cybertron’s energy crisis, awaiting the time when Cybertron had enough energy to support them again. That time was now.
‘The final level has been cleared in the last solar-cycle,’ Turbulence replied. ‘The entire Decepticon army is at your disposal.’
‘Thirty-five thousand approximately,’
‘Excellent,’ Devil Spawn smiled. ‘Have Scorponok, Spinister and Quake begin the equipping and training programmes immediately. I want them ready for action within two Deca-Cycles.’
Turbulence nodded and said, ‘Will there be anything else?’
‘No,’ Devil Spawn replied. ‘You may go.’
Turbulence nodded again, turned and left the room. Devil Spawn picked up a control box on the desk and keyed in a code. At once the whole of the far wall lit up with countless points of light scattered across its surface. Next to each light was a small label. Most of the lights were a pale blue colour but one in the centre of the wall was shining bright red. The label next to it read ‘Cybertron’.
Devil Spawn approached the huge star chart and entered another code into the control box. The lights on the screen shifted and zoomed in so that the lights became circles. Inside each circle was more detailed information about the planets, including energy and mineral wealth.
Cybertron was still in the centre of the display but it was a planet in the lower right hand corner that was attracting Devil Spawn’s attention. It was the closest planet to Cybertron and was called Cyrilla. Devil Spawn smiled again. Cyrilla would soon become the first planet to become part of the Decepticon Empire
* * * * *
‘Nosecone, have you gone into stasis lock in there?’ Quickmix bellowed.
‘I’ve hit a hard spot, I’m going as fast as I can. If I’m not careful I’ll bring the roof down on me. If you think you can do better why don’t you come in here and let me carry all the debris away!’ Nosecone shouted back.
‘Hey come on guys,’ Landfill chipped in. ‘We’ve enough problems without you two getting at each other’s throats.’
Overdrive who was stood a few feet away muttered to himself, ‘The biggest problem we have right now is your stench.’
‘That was uncalled for,’ Brainstorm said in an undertone so that only Overdrive heard. He was stood next to Overdrive and had heard the muttered insult.
‘Was it?’ Overdrive asked in the same low voice. ‘This tunnel is uncomfortable enough without having to put up with his smell. He has heard of oil baths has he?’
‘If it bothers you so much then I suggest that you go and join Camshaft and Downshift on guard outside,’ Brainstorm snapped.
‘And miss out on all the ‘fun’ down here?’
‘In that case stop your complaining,’ Brainstorm said and then having grown tired of the argument he walked forwards to where Scoop, Landfil, Quickmix and Nosecone were busy trying to dig through the collapsed tunnel. It had taken them nearly a Deca-cycle to get this far, but their mission was too important to give up. He just hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be a wasted effort.
‘How’s it going?’ he asked Quickmix.
Quickmix was knelt down peering into the latest hole drilled by Nosecone. He looked up at Brainstorm and said with a hint of exhaustion in his voice, ‘We’re getting there, slowly. The trouble is the closer we get to the epicentre the harder and more uneven the rubble becomes.’
Brainstorm nodded and was about to speak when there came a rumble from inside the hole followed by a cloud of dust that billowed out into the main tunnel. The Autobots in the tunnel all ran forward to the hole in alarm
‘Nosecone! Are you ok? What’s happened?’ Quickmix called out.
There was silence for a few moments and then Nosecone’s voice came back to them, ‘I’m fine. The wall I was working on just simply collapsed and… Oh my, guys you need to see this.’
‘Come on,’ Landfill shouted and began to enlarge the hold with his bare hands, pulling away huge chunks and throwing them behind him. The other Autobots, except for Overdrive who hung back with a bored expression on his face, all began helping to enlarge the hole.
Soon it was large enough for them to enter without having to go on their hands and knees. Once inside the hole they found that Nosecone had been busy hollowing out the tunnel and shoring up the roof to prevent a cave in.
In front of them they saw that a large chunk of wall had collapsed to reveal a low cavern. Inside it they saw Nosecone, back in robot mode, examining what looked like a hole in the roof.
‘What’s happened here?’ Scoop asked.
‘We’re too late,’ Nosecone said quietly. ‘Someone has beaten us here. From what I can make out this hole was bored downwards. My guess is it comes straight from the surface. Some sort of excavator, small but efficient.’
He turned from the hole and looked around at the small cavern that had been excavated. Quickmix bent down and examined the ground. Still crouching he began making his way around the cavern, running his hand over the ground from time to time, using microscopic chemical sensors in his fingertips to ‘smell’ the ground. ‘There are traces of Decepticon and Autobot energon emissions and lubricant here,’ he said. ‘I can’t be certain but I think there were at least five Autobots and five Decepticons here. My guess is they were buried in the cave in.’
He stood up and came back over to the hole in the roof and ran his fingers around the edge. ‘Decepticons then buried their way in and presumably took the bodies away.’
‘So Nosecone is right,’ Scoop said. ‘We’re too late.’
‘Not necessarily,’ Overdrive put in. ‘We are seven Autobots missing plus the five Decepticon prisoners. If Quickmix is right then the five Decepticons that were here were the prisoners. The five Autobots were the medics who were bringing them out. They were all trapped here during the tunnel collapse when Dishender was destroyed. It’s my guess that Ultra Magnus and Nightbeat might still be further up the tunnel.’
‘He’s right,’ Scoop said. ‘It makes perfect sense.’
Brainstorm nodded and said, ‘Nosecone, continue digging.’
Nosecone nodded and turned towards the far wall. He transformed to his trill tank mode and began attacking the wall. The others fell back slightly to avoid the falling debris.
‘The question is,’ said Landfill. ‘How did the Decepticons know where to dig?’
‘A good question,’ Brainstorm replied.
‘Couldn’t they have detected their emergency transmission before it was cut off as we did?’ Overdrive asked.
‘Possibly,’ Brainstorm said. ‘But it seems unlikely. Those signals are transmitted on a very narrow directional frequency. For the Decepticons to detect it they would have to be listening on the right bandwidth and be stood more or less at the exit to the tunnel. Backstreet only barely detected it and he was the last out of the tunnel.’
‘Well what other…’ Overdrive began but he was interrupted by a shout from Nosecone.
‘I’ve found them!’
The other Autobots moved forward to where Nosecone, once again in robot mode, was crouched. He hadn’t had to go far into the wall before he uncovered a battered blue arm jutting out from under a chunk of collapsed tunnel.
‘Ultra Magnus!’ Brainstorm said. ‘Quickly get him out of there and be careful. Let’s hope to Primus that he’s still alive.’
Interlude 1 - Interference
The Entity stirred. The timeless nature of the void meant that it had remained motionless for both an eternity and for no time at all. It had been deep in thought. Ever since his ‘awakening’ he had been thinking.
Having finally worked out how it had come into being, mixed emotions rippled through his consciousness. On the one hand it revelled in his new found power. It realised that through its connections to the dimensional boundaries it had the ability to alter the nature of reality. It was now an unstoppable force of nature.
On the other hand It realised that it had been condemned to an existence forever removed from reality. This knowledge made it afraid and also angry. Angry with those who it blamed for its predicament; the Transformers. It would have its revenge. But it was in no hurry. It had an eternity to torment its victims. If it had to endure this existence then it might as well enjoy itself.
Having come to this conclusion the Entity directed its attention onto one of the many dimensional funnels that snaked through the void. Tendrils of dimensional energy were leaking from a hole in the dimensional boundary. It was this dimensional energy that gave the Entity its immense power, for the tendrils had enveloped the Entity, becoming a part of it. Still others had wound their way through the void to collide and merge with a second funnel.
The Entity focused all its attention onto one of the many tendrils that connected it to the target dimension. It hesitated, for this was the first time that it had attempted anything like this, then with a thought the tendril began to thrash. A ripple ran down the length of the tendril until it collided against the dimensional funnel. The funnel shuddered under the impact, puffs of dimensional energy blasted out into the void before dissipating into nothing.
Satisfied the Entity rested. The effort it had required to interfere with the reality even on such a small scale had been immense. It required rest now but it had made a start.
* * * * *
Earth. Oregon. West Coast United States. Several Weeks Ago.
It was Oregon’s suddenest and most violent storm on record. It happened on a cold winter’s night, a night like so many others. Hurricane strength winds had suddenly ripped through much of Portland causing millions of dollars worth of damage and leaving twenty-six dead and over two hundred people homeless. Violent lightning strikes caused numerous power cuts, ninety-three percent of the city spent the night without electricity.
The next day meteorologists were universally baffled as to how such a violent storm had managed to appear so quickly and totally undetected. They could not know what far reaching consequences this storm would ultimately have.
In one house that had been lucky enough to be spared the full onslaught of the storm, suffering only a power cut, a young couple awoke after their first night together. The storm had unbeknownst to them brought them together and now their fate and the fate of many others was sealed.
Chapter Two – A Mole and a Hole
Razorclaw awoke to find himself alone in a small bare room. His arms and legs were shackled with energon chains to the wall of the room. He pulled at them, testing their strength. They held fast.
Before he could decide on what to do next the door to the room slid open with a hum. A tall red and black Decepticon entered, a pair of bat like wings on his back, swept out behind him. An dark green seeker followed after him through the door.
‘I am Devil Spawn,’ he said.
‘I know who you are,’ Razorclaw growled. ‘Decepticon interrogator. Why am I here? I serve the Decepticons loyally.’
‘Your information is somewhat out of date,’ Devil Spawn said coolly. ‘I am now the supreme Decepticon commander. You are here because I want to be sure that you have no misguided loyalty to my predecessor Shockwave.’
‘I serve the Decepticon cause,’ Razorclaw said ‘What has happened to Shockwave?’
‘Dead,’ Devil Spawn replied simply.
Razorclaw nodded and then said, ‘As I said I am a loyal Decepticon, I serve my commander, whoever he may be.’
‘I’m glad to hear it,’ Devil Spawn said. ‘Because I have need of you and your Predacons.’ He turned to the seeker and said, ‘Turbulence, see that he and his fellows are released. I will be in with the prisoners.’
Turbulence nodded and stood aside as Devil Spawn left the room. Devil Spawn walked down the corridor towards the interrogation chamber. He had never really had any serious doubts about the Predacons. The only reason he had had them imprisoned in the first place was to give them a message, a display of his authority. He was sure they would serve him well.
He turned a corner, hearing as he did so distant screams. He smiled to himself at the sound. One thing he did miss now that he was leader was the atmosphere of the interrogation centre. In truth there was no reason for him to have come down here. His successor in the post of interrogator, Lockbyte was enthusiastic enough although he did come across as something of a buffoon at times. But somehow he wanted to be here, if only to watch the Autobot prisoners suffer.
The screams were getting louder now. Up ahead was a set of large double doors leading to the interrogation chamber. They slid open as he approached and he walked inside to find himself in a large dimly lit room. The interrogation centre had been designed to inspire despair in those unfortunate enough to find themselves here.
In addition to the dark and dingy appearance the room was vaulted leading to even darker areas where the light couldn’t penetrate. Instruments of torture were displayed around the walls.
In the far corner were a number of cell like structures. The glow of the energon bars adding to the eerie lighting of the room. Inside the cells four Autobots lay motionless, their optics dim, but still emitting a faint glow.
Not far away from the cages stood a Variable Voltage Harness. Another Autobot was strapped inside and it was his screams that were echoing down the corridors as the VVH wracked his body with high voltage electricity.
Beside the VVH stood an average height Decepticon with dark blue, sliver and gold livery. Sharp needle like teeth were displayed in a rictus grin. Lockbyte enjoyed his work in much the same way that Devil Spawn had. He turned as Devil Spawn entered and came over to his leader.
‘All hail mighty Devil Spawn,’ he fawned. ‘How may I be of service?’ His voice was pitched perhaps a tad too high and there seemed to be a faint quiver to his speech.
‘How is the interrogation coming along? Have they revealed the location of the Autobot base yet?’ Devil Spawn asked coming straight to the point.
‘No mighty one. They claim that they do not know where the Autobots were heading when they fled Dishender.’
‘As I already told you,’ came a cold voice from the shadows.
Although startled by the voice Devil Spawn retained his composure and turned towards the it as if he had known all along that its owner was there. ‘I don’t remember inviting you in here?’ he said.
The light blue glow of a pair of optics emerged from the shadows near the door, ‘I sometimes find it advantageous to enter places uninvited,’ said the voice. ‘I guessed you’d be somewhere near all the screaming.’
‘I will have to have a word with the guards,’ Devil Spawn said coolly. ‘I don’t expect them to allow Autobots to just walk in here.’
‘Don’t be too hard on them,’ the voice said. ‘I can be very inconspicuous when I try.’
‘What do you want?’ Devil Spawn asked.
‘I came to tell you that everything has gone as planned. The Autobots have discovered Ultra Magnus and Nightbeat. Once the Autobot leader has recovered he will reunite the now scattered resistance movement. And once he does I will provide you with the location of all the Autobots and you will be able to crush them with ease. Why you thought that torturing these five would get you anything I don’t know.’
‘You’ll forgive me,’ Devil Spawn said. ‘But given the insignia you bear I’m not exactly inclined to trust you…yet.’
‘I told you where the Predacons could be found didn’t I?’
‘A clever double-bluff perhaps? Or maybe not? Time will tell. But be wary. If I suspect you of treachery it will be you who finds himself in this room and I’m sure I can rely on Lockbyte to prepare something particularly unpleasant for you.’
Lockbyte gave a cackle of evil sounding laughter at this remark, but a look from Devil Spawn caused him to lapse back into silence.
‘Don’t worry,’ said the voice. ‘I will deliver on my side of the deal. The days of the Autobot resistance are numbered.’
* * * * *
The region of Cybertron known as the Dead End was home to an ever growing number of derelict transformers, forgotten refugees from millions of years of civil war. These derelicts, know colloquially as ‘empties’ scavenged an existence from the ruins that surrounded them. The empties were comprised of civilians, ex-Autobots and even a few ex-Decepticons.
Transformers came to the Dead End to be forgotten and it was here that the Autobot resistance had chosen to set up their new base. Deep inside the Dead End stood the ruins of what had once been a munitions factory. Long since destroyed by the ongoing war it seemed in places to be in danger of collapse.
Inside the building the Autobot scientist Brainstorm pressed a button on a large piece of medical equipment that was attached to his leader, Ultra Magnus. The machine gave out a humming noise as energon was fed through the complex machine into the inert body of the Autobot commander.
‘Commander? Can you hear me?’ Brainstorm said.
Ultra Magnus’ optics flickered back on and he found himself looking at a blackened ceiling. He turned his head in the direction of the voice, ‘Brainstorm?’ his voice was slow and slightly husky.
Brainstorm, who had been standing at the head of the table walked round so that he came into his leader’s view. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Like a herd of Regulan Metal-Monger’s just trampled all over me,’ Magnus replied. ‘What happened? Is Nightbeat okay? The last thing I remember we were in the escape tunnel and the roof began to fall in.’
Brainstorm nodded, ‘The Decepticons launched a neutroplasma bomb on Dishender. The city was totally destroyed. You were lucky; you were on the edge of the destruction. If you’d been further up the tunnel we’d never have gotton to you. Oh and Nightbeat is fine, I’m expecting him to fully recover in a few solar-cycles.’
‘A neutroplasma bomb!’ Magnus said, ‘Oh Primus! Did everyone get out of Dishender okay?’
‘Nearly,’ Brainstorm replied. ‘The Decepticon prisoners and the medics escorting them were trapped in the tunnel as well...’ Brainstrom trailed off.
‘And?’ Magnus asked. ‘Are they dead?’
‘We don’t know. When we got to where they were supposed to be we found that they had already been rescued by the Decepticons.’
‘What! How did they know they were there?’
‘I don’t know but I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps we might have had more than one traitor in our midst.’
‘I can’t believe that,’ Ultra Magnus said raising himself up into a sitting position.
‘I don’t want to believe it,’ Brainstorm said sadly, ‘but I don’t see how the Decepticons could have found out the location of the tunnel without one of us telling them. They found the exact location on their first attempt. I sent the Omnicons out to have a look around on the surface above the tunnel. They found the Decepticons entry point but report that there is no sign of other digging.’
‘But why haven’t they led the Decepticons straight here?’ Magnus asked. ‘We’re weakened now and since Cybertron’s revitalisation Shockwave has more than enough troops to wipe us out in a concerted attack.’
‘That’s the other thing,’ Brainstorm interrupted. ‘Shockwave is dead. Devil Spawn is the leader now.’
Brainstorm quickly explained how the Decepticon fortress had exploded leaving Shockwave dead and the spacebridge destroyed and how Devil Spawn and swiftly risen to be the position as undisputed leader after a short-lived challenge by Blacklight.
‘What about Prime, Chromedome and the Power Masters?’ Ultra Magnus asked fearing the worst.
‘We haven’t heard anything from them. We’ve been monitoring the salvage operation as closely as we can but we haven’t seen them pull any of them from the rubble. We’re hoping they all escaped through the spacebridge back to Earth.’
‘And the Lifespark?’ he asked dully.
‘There’s been no sign of that either,’ Brainstorm replied. ‘Either Prime and the others recovered it and took it back to Earth if they escaped…or it’s still in the hands of the Decpticons. At this stage we just don’t know.’
Ultra Magnus sat in silence for a moment his head bowed. Quite apart from the fact that the Autobots greatest leader and some of his closest friends could well be dead, the prospect that the Decepticons might be in possession of the Lifespark didn’t bear thinking about. They would be unstoppable. Finally he raised his head and said, ‘We need to find out what has happened to Prime and the Lifespark. We need to regroup as quickly as possible.’
Brainstorm nodded and said, ‘As per the plan we split off into separate cells once we emerged from the tunnel and have maintained a total communications blackout since then.’
‘Is the base fully operational?’
‘Mostly, there are a few areas that still need maintenance work but nothing major.’
‘I will issue the regroup signal in the next solar-cycle. I’ve a feeling we’re going to need all the Autobots we can find soon.’
* * * * *
Outside the medical centre Overdrive stood as close to the door as he could without looking too suspicious, straining his audio receptors to hear the conversation going on inside the closed room.
He liked to know exactly what was going on at all times, partly because he was a firm believer in the old phrase, knowledge is power, but also in case anyone said anything about him.
He had spent his early life as part of a highly trained special missions force in one of the many bands of Autobot resistance groups that had sprung up after the start of the war. Shortly after his creation it had been discovered that a design flaw had left him only able to operate at half his maximum power reserves.
The result of which was that his ability to fight, deflect damage and even move had been severely restricted. His commanders at the time had thought it best to hide this fact from his fellow Autobots to try and prevent him from being taunted for his flaw. Unfortunately this idea had backfired badly as Overdrive quickly gained a reputation as a coward and a slacker.
He had to endure many stellar-cycles of cruel bullying from his team mates before he was eventually able to escape to a different resistance unit. His new commanders had been more enlightened and had informed the other Autobots in the group of Overdrive’s weakness. Furthermore they sent him for a series of major systems upgrades that over time eventually resulted in him not only being cured of his design flaw but ironically of now excelling in physical and mental endurance.
Overdrive became the first Omnibot, a small group of Autobots each equipped with a speedy alt mode that could further transform into a heavily armed combat mode using state of the art weapons. Perhaps as a response to his previous existence Overdrive pushed himself to the limits and beyond until in time he was chosen to lead this elite group.
But in many ways despite the rise to his current position it was too late for Overdrive. The stellar-cycles of abuse had left an indelible mark on his psyche. He was immensely paranoid, totally convinced that he was hated by all those around him. This paranoia led to his constant eavesdropping and outright spying on his comrades.
As a means of protecting himself from the hurt that he had had to endure he had also hardened his lasercore to the extent that he appeared at times cruel and callous, able to make jokes or snide comments about death and destruction. He also made comments about his own superiority over his fellow Autobots.
In truth much of this was just a front to keep other bots at a safe distance, a defensive measure to prevent himself from being hurt. It worked very well though and as a result he had few, if any, real friends. Except when working as part of a team, which he tried to avoid wherever possible, he was a loner who kept himself isolated.
When the Omnibots had been seconded to the main Autobot resistance led by Ultra Magnus, the commander had been quick to pick up on Overdrive’s anti-social and self-destructive nature. He had ordered him to undergo a number of psychological programmes in an attempt to exorcise his demons. Overdrive had taken part in these programmes without complaint, but they had done him little good.
His analysts had reported that he appeared to enjoy their sessions together but that in some ways he seemed to view them as a game. Himself against those who were trying to help him, it was almost as if he saw it as a competition.
In time the programmes had been abandoned as unsuccessful. Ultra Magnus had spent a long time considering Overdrive’s future, but in the end he had come to the conclusion that despite his social failing he was very good at his job.
Overdrive was in no way grateful for this final assessment; it had in fact merely boosted his paranoia as now he was constantly of the opinion that everyone was just waiting for him to slip up so they could get rid of him. This is what had led him to the medical centre, he was anxious to hear what their newly rescued leader and Brainstorm where discussing.
As soon as he heard the conversation in the room cease he hurriedly moved on at a leisurely walking pace turning down the first corridor he came to, looking back as he did so, he saw Ultra Magnus and Brainstorm emerge from the medical centre and head off in the opposite direction.
Once he was out of sight Overdrive stopped and began to think about what he had heard. Ultra Magnus was going to regroup the scattered resistance. It almost sounded as though he planning a full scale war with the Decepticons.
Realising that he probably looked suspicious hanging around in a dark corridor, Overdrive began to walk. He wasn’t really heading anywhere; he just wanted time to think.
He had been walking for maybe half a breem when he found himself in one of the more run down areas of the base. Ahead of him was the back wall of the old munitions factory and in it was a small hole. The hole looked fairly new and it seemed as though it had been made cleanly with some sort of cutting device rather than as the result of natural decay.
Overdrive began to approach the hole but as he did so his sensitive audio receptors picked up a noise coming from outside. Quickly Overdrive darted off to one side almost vanishing into the shadows.
As he watched a figure crawled in through the hole, his white bodywork standing out sharply in the dull lighting. Overdrive recognised the figure as Downshift one of his fellow Omnicons.
Downshift was a security expert and had taken over from Nightbeat after he had been trapped in the escape tunnel. What was he up to Overdrive wondered to himself. As he watched Downshift carefully moved a pile of nearby rubble to cover the hole in the wall. Having done so he then took a quick look around and began to walk back down the corridor the Overdrive had come along not long before.
Overdrive waited for a short time and then began to follow Downshift back towards the main base. He kept well back, using the shadows for cover. A couple of times Downshift stopped and looked back, causing Overdrive to freeze. Luckily though he was well hidden in the dark corridor.
Before long Downshift arrived back at the main part of the base, where the corridors were well lit. Other Autobots were also going about their business. Once Downshift had turned the corner and was out of site Overdrive quickened his pace and rejoined the main corridor himself.
He could still see Downshift up ahead and he continued to follow him. The number of Autobots in the corridor increased as they drew nearer the living quarters and Overdrive made less effort to conceal himself.
Before long Downshift arrived at the door to his quarters and activating the door access panel he disappeared inside. Overdrive continued walking down the corridor heading for his own quarters now. He was once more deep in thought. What had Downshift been doing? Where could he have to go that required such a secretive exit and entrance? As he approach the door to his own quarters, Overdrive decided that Downshift would have to be watched closely from now on.
Interlude 2 - Parenthood
The Planet Cyrilla, Steptyra City. A Week Ago.
Melika began her slow trudge up the stairs to her apartment. She had had a long day at work and it might be expected that she was looking forward to getting home and relaxing. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth.
She arrived at her front door and reached slowly into her pocket for her key. She extracted the small black device and pressed the small button on the top. The door in front of her beeped and slid open.
A wall of noise hit her, as she knew it would. Two high-pitched voices were screaming at each other while a third deeper voice, trying desperately to come across as authoritarian (and failing) interjected from time to time.
‘You did Quen I saw you,’ screamed one voice.
‘You’re a bit fat ugly liar Sahb,’ came the screamed reply.
‘Now calm down the pair of you, Quen, Sahb sit down,’ said the third.
‘Quen broke my game,’ wailed Sahb’s voice again.
‘You broke it yourself so that mom will buy you a new one,’ came Quen’s voice.
‘I told you both to SIT DOWN,’ came the third voice raising in anger now.
‘Shan’t!’ Quen’s and Sahb’s voices both came together in unison this time.
Melika sighed and walked reluctantly into the room to find her two children and their babysitter eyeing each other from opposite ends of the sofa. As soon as they saw their mother enter the room Quen and Sahb both ran up to her both talking at the tops of their voices.
‘Mom, Quen broke…’
‘Sahb did it, it’s not fair…’
‘QUIET,’ Melika thundered. Quen and Sahb went quiet although every so often Sahb gave a sniffle. Melika turned to Behier the babysitter and asked dully ‘What happened?’
‘I don’t know madam. One moment they were both playing quietly on the floor, the next they were screaming at each other. I didn’t see who did what. I am very sorry.’
‘Quen broke it,’ Sahb said again. ‘She stamped on it.’
‘Liar!’ Quen shouted pushing her sister. Sahb began to push back and it quickly developed into a push fight.
‘Enough,’ Melika shouted. ‘I don’t care who broke what. Bed the pair of you. NOW!’
Sahb began to cry, ‘It’s not fair. Quen broke it.’
‘BED!’ Melika yelled.
The room erupted with noise again a both Quen and Sahb started protesting. Melika gritted her teeth. It was like this everyday. Ever since the twins’ father had left they had been uncontrollable. Melika was working very hard to support the three of them but that meant she couldn’t spend as much time with them as she should. She was sure they were feeling neglected and were acting like this to try and get attention. Still Melika didn’t need this sort of thing after a long day at work. She sighed to herself. For now all she could do was hope that better things were around the corner.
Chapter Three – Preparations and Revelations
Devil Spawn looked down from his command chair at the three Decepticons standing before him. ‘Report,’ he commanded.
The imposing form of Scorponok, the assault forces overall commander stepped forward, ‘We have three regiments fully equipped and undergoing final training sessions. Spinister?’
‘Aerial assault troop training is going ahead of schedule. We have achieved ninety-seven point six percent accuracy during practice runs. This figure continues to improve.’
Devil Spawn nodded and turned to look at Quake, who said, ‘We are hitting our targets a lot boss.’
‘Excellent,’ Devil Spawn said, choosing to ignore Quake’s less than eloquent delivery of his report. ‘I’m glad to see that the long hibernation has not dulled the skills of my troops. How soon before they can be deployed?’
Scorponok spoke again, ‘We are at full battle readiness now my Lord, we are fully armed and our supply level’s are above expectations. Cybertron’s weapons facilities are producing excellent results.’
Devil Spawn smiled. This was better than he could have hoped. So far every area was ahead of schedule. He would be able to bring forward his time scale considerably. ‘Very well,’ he said. ‘You are dismissed. Return to your troops and await further orders. Soon you go to war.’
At this Scorponok and Spinister said nothing but Quake gave a shuddering laugh, before they all turned and left the room. Once the three Decepticons had left the room Devil Spawn flicked a communication switch on his command chair and said, ‘Send them in.’
The door opposite the one that Scorponok, Spinister and Quake had left through slid open and the five Predacons, Razorclaw in the lead entered the room. They stopped in front of Devil Spawn’s command chair and then Razorclaw said, ‘You sent for us, commander.’
‘Indeed,’ Devil Spawn said. ‘I have a special mission for you. It is time that you learned what I have planned for Cybertron and the Decepticons. I wish Cybertron to be the centre of a galactic empire unlike any seen before. Now that we have revitalised Cybertron we now have the energy available to power an all out war effort.
‘I have activated the remaining Decepticons from the cryo facility, but for my plans it is not enough. To fully support an empire we need millions of troops, not thousands. This is where you come in. The only way to get the troops I need is to use Vector Sigma.’
‘But Vector Sigma is sealed beneath Cybertron’s surface and has been since the beginning of the war with the Autobots,’ Razorclaw objected. ‘It is guarded by hordes of powerful Guardian drones.’
‘Nearly true. During my predecessor’s rule, Megatron came to Cybertron and used Vector Sigma to give life to a new group of Decepticons. He was pursued of course by the Autobots who also used Vector Sigma to give life to their own breed.
‘As usual however Megatron was short sighted. Once he had made use of Vector Sigma he abandoned it rather than securing it for the long-term use of the Decepticons. As a result Vector Sigma was able to rebuild its defences. I have sent a number of sorties to the Vector Sigma chamber. None have yet returned.’
‘And now you want us to go in there?’ Razorclaw asked.
Devil Spawn nodded. ‘I have read your files and I have every confidence that you have both the skill and the strength to accomplish this mission.’
‘And what do you want us to do should we reach Vector Sigma?’ Razorclaw asked.
‘I want you to secure the area so that my scientific teams can approach Vector Sigma safely and find a way to reactivate it. I want you to utterly destroy Vector Sigma’s defences.’
* * * * *
Ultra Magnus entered the communications centre alone. The last solar-cycle had not seen the Autobots’ fortunes improve. There was still no news on the fate of Prime and the others. He had sent out a number of Autobots to try and gather as much information as they could but the Decepticon presence on Cybertron was now so huge that they had not been able to move as freely as they once had.
They had discovered one very disturbing thing though. A fleet of starships had been under construction and were now nearing completion. Training exercises for the Decepticons had also been observed. It was clear that the Decepticons were gearing up for a major offensive.
Ultra Magnus knew that the Autobots were going to have to stop them somehow. They had to regroup and begin to fight back in earnest, even if they all died in the attempt.
He moved over to the communications console and tapped in his authorisation code. The console hummed into life, lights blinked on around the room and several screens flickered to life.
Ultra Magnus pulled the operator’s chair over and sat down at the console. He began composing his message. It took him just under a breem to complete it and his finger hovered for a few nano-clicks over the send button. Should he do this? If Brainstorm was right and there was another spy amongst them wouldn’t it be playing into his hands to bring together all of the Autobot resistance into one place? But what choice did he have? Only together could they have even a small chance of beating the Decepticons.
Ultra Magnus pressed the button and the coded message was on its way. There was no going back now. All he could do was hope that they caught any spy before he could betray them.
* * * * *
Overdrive had spent the last two solar-cycles keeping a close optic on Downshift, becoming almost a second shadow to him. So far he had not done anything else suspicious. Overdrive was getting bored now. As much as he enjoyed spying on others he did at least like them to be doing something worth spying on them for.
Then at last, shortly after undergoing an energon recharge, Downshift began to make his way towards the medical centre. Overdrive who had been watching began to follow, keeping well back hoping the Downshift didn’t notice him.
There were a few Autobots going about their business but the corridors were for the most part empty. Overdrive kept to what little shadow was available, which in the brightly lit corridors was very little.
As Overdrive suspected Downshift turned down the corridor that led to the medical centre. Cautiously Overdrive edged up to the corridor and looked around the edge. In the distance he saw Downshift walking away from him. Overdrive was just about to follow him when Downshift slowed his pace and then came to halt outside the supplies room. Overdrive quickly pulled his head back around the corner as he saw Downshift turning to look along the corridor.
He waited a few nano-clicks and then popped his head back round the corner. He was just in time to see Downshift disappearing inside the supply room. What was he doing? Overdrive quickly made his way down the corridor until he was stood outside the supply room door. He strained his audio receptors to their limits. He could here movement from within the room but very little else.
He decided that the best thing he could do was find some cover and wait for Downshift to come out again. He looked around. Opposite was a small storeroom. He opened the door and ducked inside. The door slid closed after him and he found himself in the dark. He switched his optics onto infrared view and waited.
After a few cycles his optics picked up the heat signature of Downshift leaving the supply room. He paused for a few nano-clicks, presumably checking that the corridor was empty. Then he continued his journey heading towards the corridor that led to the disused area of the base.
Overdrive waited until he’d gone some way down the corridor and then switched back to normal vision, opened the door to the storeroom and continued his pursuit. Downshift was just visible at the far end of the corridor and Overdrive was gratified when he turned down the disused passageway.
As he turned Overdrive saw that in his arms he was carrying a collection of items. He was too far away to see clearly what he was carrying and before he had the chance to magnify his vision Downshift had disappeared around the corner.
Overdrive was now certain Downshift was heading for the hole in the wall. When he had known that Downshift was performing some duty or other and couldn’t go wandering off, Overdrive had thoroughly explored the maze of passageways around the hole. He had mapped out an alternative route to the hole and so he quickly made his way to the corridor and looked round the corner.
Downshift was already out of sight. Overdrive transformed to his speedy vehicle mode and zoomed down the passageways taking the alternate route that he had planned out. If he could do it quickly enough he would reach the hole ahead of Downshift.
He was going so fast that he had one or two narrow misses as the corridors twisted and turned. But he had amazing manoeuvrability and managed to get away with nothing worse than a few mild scratches.
As he approached his destination he slowed his pace, not wanting to alert Downshift by making too much noise. He came to a final corner that turned onto the corridor leading to the hole in the wall.
He stopped and transformed back to robot mode. He kept well into the shadows, listening for any sign of Downshift. He couldn’t hear anything and he was about to step out into the corridor when Downshift appeared, walking past the end of the passage along the main corridor. Overdrive froze but Downshift continued to look straight ahead and disappeared along the corridor.
Overdrive waited a few nano-clicks and edged up to the end of the passage and poked his head around. Downshift was busy clearing away the rubble covering the hole. He had placed the objects he was carrying on the ground. Overdrive ran his optics over them. They looked like a collection of spare parts and medical equipment.
Overdrive pulled his head back around the corner. He was puzzled. What was Downshift up too? Why was he stealing medical equipment? Overdrive put these questions aside and listened for noises from where Downshift was. He heard a scraping noise as Downshift picked up his stolen items from the floor followed by a clatter as he forced his way through the hole.
Being careful to make as little noise as possible, Overdrive crept around the corner and made his way to the hole. He bent down and clambered through it himself. He found himself in an alley way behind the munitions factory. Downshift’s white form could be clearly seen in distance. Overdrive turned and continued to follow him.
Downshift led him through the winding backstreets of the Dead End always keeping to the dark alleyways. Occasionally he would check behind him causing Overdrive to slink quickly into the shadows where he hoped he wouldn’t be seen.
Overdrive checked his chronometer to find that this had been going on for nearly two cycles and he began to wonder if Downshift had known he was there all along and was simply leading him on a long walk.
Then suddenly Downshift stopped next to a high-roofed building. Overdrive ducked into the shadows again but this time Downshift, after a quick glance around, disappeared into the building.
Overdrive hurriedly made his way over to the building. It was, like all the buildings in the Dead End, very dilapidated, filth and scorch marks covering the surface. Overdrive quickly discovered the door through which Downshift had disappeared.
Carefully he slid the door to one side. The inside of the building was dim but there was enough light to see by. Downshift was nowhere to be seen but there was only one way he could have gone; down a short passageway to another door at the far end. Overdrive made his way along the passage to the door. Beyond it he could hear a steady thrum of machinery.
He switched on his infra-red vision again. His optics were immediately flooded with heat signatures coming through the door. It was impossible to determine whether Downshift was anywhere near the door or not. He had to either risk it or wait out here.
He decided to risk it and so he switched back to his normal vision and slowly slid the door aside. A wave of heat and noise whooshed through the door as he did so. The room looked like a factory of some sort, full of large industrial style machinery. Pipes and cabling snaked across the ceiling and in some places the floor.
In the distance Downshift was making his way across the floor between the machinery. Overdrive quickly followed, using the bulky machinery to avoid being seen. It didn’t take long to cross the whole length of the floor. He was only a few feet away from Downshift now.
A small room with large windows was inset into the wall. There was no door just a small archway. The inside of the room was cluttered with all manner of objects from large storage boxes to small pieces of piping. At the far side of the room was yet another door.
Downshift made his way into the room walked to the centre and stopped. He stood totally motionless, there was no sign at all that he still functioned. Overdrive crept quietly into the room and hid behind one of the larger storage boxes and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long. The door at the far end suddenly slid open. It took a nano-click for him to see who had entered for most of the doorway was empty. It was only when he looked down towards the floor that he saw the figure standing there. Overdrive realised that the creature was no Cybertronian. It was clearly alien and at least partly carbon-based.
The figure stood approximately six feet tall. Its body was robotic but of a very primitive looking design. Draped over the body was what had once been a white garment of some kind. Covered in dark stains that looked as though they had been there years and riddled with holes and tears it had clearly seen better days.
The creature’s head was topped by a domed piece of metal and at each side sprouted a tuft of white fur. The face was skinny and drawn and like the creature’s garment covered in dirt.
The creature walked forward into the room without any of the ungainliness that Overdrive would have expected given its cobbled together appearance. It stopped in front of Downshift, barely coming up to the Autobot’s knees.
Downshift gently lowered the items he had been carrying onto the floor and the creature moved over and inspected them. Then it spoke.
‘Excellent. These will do nicely. Did you have any problems?’
‘No Doctor,’ Downshift replied in a stilted voice.
‘Excellent! I am a genius. You have served me well. Soon I will be ready to take control of this desolate little planet and have my revenge on you walking tin cans. Then once you are all my slaves I, Doctor Archeville, will return to Earth as its absolute ruler.’
Interlude 3 – Genius Unleashed
Cybertron. Polyhex. Nearly Two Years Ago.
Doctor Archevillle, had just experienced pain unlike anything he had ever felt before. Even the pain caused by the Decepticon Sentry Monitor, the security device that had left him a helpless cripple was nothing compared to the pain he had just undergone.
The last four weeks since Starscream had left to return to Earth had been a mental torment for him, trapped on an alien planet, unable to move without the help of his chair, surrounded by Decepticons who wouldn’t hesitate to kill him given the chance. He had eventually found his way into the maintenance ducts of the Decepticon base. Here he had been able to survive; he couldn’t bring himself to describe it as ‘living’. For he had no life. One day stretched endlessly into the next. He took to exploring the Decepticon base as best he could, just as a way of passing the time.
He was hungry and there was no chance of getting any food, at least, non suitable for a human. It was some days before he realised that although desperately hungry he showed no other sign of food deprivation. After two weeks of this he was forced to conclude that his life-support suit was somehow keeping him alive. Possibly, he supposed, by converting energon into nutrients. He was never free of the gnawing hunger but at least he wasn’t starving to death.
That day, or at least what he called day, for in reality he had long since lost track of time, something made even worse by a planet that had no day and night, had started just like all the others. The Doctor had spent the ‘morning’ traversing through a part of the base that he had hitherto not visited.
He had just come to a stop when a noise from above him drew his attention. As he watched a section of the wall was pulled away and an arm snaked through and before he could react had grabbed him in a vice like grip. He blacked out under the pressure and when he recovered he had found himself laying flat on his back. Then the pain began. Sharp, agonising pain that ran through his whole body. It was as though he was being carved up by hundreds of knives. In the end he had blacked out for a second time.
When he opened his eyes again he saw standing over him a transformer he didn’t recognise. He was dark green with a large black head and pale blue eyes. Surprisingly he also had an Autobot insignia on his shoulder.
‘You still function I see Doctor,’ the Autobot said.
‘Who are you? What have you done to me?’ Doctor Archeville asked weakly.
‘I have upgraded the life-support systems given to you by the medicroids. You now have the ability to move.’
The Doctor looked down at himself. The life-supporting body suit that Starscream had given him after he was injured by the Sentry Monitor was gone. It had been replaced by a new design that looked like something out of a bad science fiction series. It was skeletal and covered with hydraulics and pistons.
He tried to move, something he had been unable to do in his old life-support suit. This one though instantly responded to his mental commands and with a hiss and a whir he stood up again for the first time in weeks.
The Doctor looked up at the Autobot with a distrustful expression on his face and said, ‘Why have you helped me?’
‘That is my business,’ the Autobot replied. ‘Be grateful you are useful to me or you would still be sat helpless in your chair.’
The Autobot had left after that and the Doctor had been forced to face his situation. He had found himself to be in a large building full of machinery. It looked like a factory of some sort that had been deserted for years.
After thoroughly exploring the building he discovered that his mysterious benefactor had also left a huge supply of data discs and a device capable of reading them. He found that they contained what must be the accumulated scientific knowledge of the Transformers.
There was years – decades – worth of reading in them. Why had the mysterious Autobot given him back his mobility and why had he left him these data discs? What did he want? The Doctor couldn’t come up with the answers to any of these questions and so he had done the only thing he could do. He had sat down and begun to read.
Chapter Four – To Catch a Thief
The five Predacons stood at the entrance to the tunnel that Devil Spawn had directed them too. The tunnel leading to the Vector Sigma chamber. The tunnel itself had been closed off by a security locked door and two Decepticon sentry droids were standing guard beside it.
As the Predacons approached the two droids moved to cover the doorway raising their weapons threateningly. Razorclaw transmitted the coded signal that Devil Spawn had supplied and the two droids immediately stood down, moving away from the door.
‘Rampage, open the door,’ Razorclaw ordered.
Rampage moved forward and placed his hand over a sensor by the door. A pale light swiftly scanned up and down it and with a short beep a panel in the wall opened revealing a keypad. Rampage rapidly keyed in the entry code, each button becoming illuminated as he pressed it.
As soon as the last key was pressed there came a rumbling noise whose vibration could be felt through the ground. Then the huge door covering the entrance to the tunnel split down the middle, each half swinging backwards into the darkness. The Predacons raised their weapons not knowing what, if anything was inside. All that came out of the tunnel however was a rush of warm air.
‘Predacons transform,’ Razorclaw said. ‘And be on your guard.’
All the Predacons then transformed into their beast modes and moved forward into the darkness. As they crossed the threshold the door swung closed behind them, leaving the tunnel in total darkness.
* * * * *
Scorponok stood looking out of a large window on the observation deck overlooking the huge launch station. Five Nemesis-class attack cruisers stood to attention on their launching platforms as squads of Decepticons filed aboard carrying supplies and weaponry.
Although named in honour of the starship that Megatron had used to pursue the Autobots from Cybertron, the Nemesis-class ships were far advanced from that ancient craft in terms of speed, weapon systems and armour.
Scorponok smiled, at last the Decepticons were going to war. The vision that Megatron had sold to him all those Vorns ago was finally coming to fruition. Soon the galaxy would tremble at the name Decepticon.
Scorponok turned as the door behind him hissed open and Devil Spawn entered the room. Scorponok gave a small nod of respect to his leader, a gesture that looked a little odd considering that Scorponok towered over Devil Spawn.
Devil Spawn approached the window without acknowledging Scorponok and looked down at the troops below. Finally he looked up at his subordinate and said, ‘A superb sight Scorponok. Remember it well for this is the dawn of the new Decepticon Empire.’
‘It is indeed a great moment in our history,’ Scorponok agreed.
‘Is everything ready?’
‘Yes Excellency, we will be ready for departure by the end of the next solar-cycle.’
* * * * *
Overdrive looked on in astonishment. Did this little alien seriously believe that he could take control of Cybertron? The fact that he wanted to then return to Earth clearly marked him out as one of that planet’s human species. But how had he got here and what had happened to him and more importantly why was Downshift stealing supplies for him?
The human was speaking again now, ‘You may leave. Go back to the Autobots and await my next signal.’
‘Yes Doctor,’ Downshift said and immediately turned back the way he had come. Overdrive shrank back further behind his cover but Downshift didn’t notice him. Once he had passed Overdrive was in a quandary. Should he follow him back to base or stay here and try and find out more. If he stayed away from the base for too long his absence would surely be noticed and that was a problem he didn’t need right now. He decided to return to base, once there he could decide what to do next.
He looked back around the storage box again. The human was walking in a circle around the supplies rubbing his hands together with glee and talking to himself, ‘Excellent, excellent. These parts should allow me to put the final touches to my design and then my revenge can begin.’
He cackled with laughter to himself and then began to pick up some of the supplies. It was obvious that his metal body enhanced his strength for he picked up a contained that was almost as tall as himself without any visible effort. Then he walked back through the door he had entered by.
As soon as he was out of sight, Overdrive turned and hurriedly made his way back through the factory towards the entrance he had come in by. Downshift was nowhere to be seen but that didn’t matter, Overdrive was sure he could find his way back to the base. He just hoped no one had noticed that he wasn’t around.
* * * * *
Doctor Archeville carried the container of CR fluid out of the room and down a long corridor. Doors lined both walls but he ignored them and carried on until he reached the far end.
Here the corridor widened out in to a sort of chamber. Huge double-doors lined the three other walls. The Doctor walked straight up to the door on the left, which automatically swung open silently as he approached.
Bright light flooded the chamber from the room beyond and he walked inside and the doors swung shut behind him again without a sound. The room the Doctor was in was large with a number of work surfaces dotted around.
The Doctor walked over to what looked like a CR pod laying on the floor. The transparent surface was frosted over with cold. The Doctor placed the CR fluid he was carrying down by the side of the pod and then pulled open a panel.
Inside was another fluid container whose gauge showed that it was now empty. The Doctor knelt and began to disconnect the empty container from the pod. He then rolled it out on to the floor, pulled the new one in to place and began to attach it to the pod. Once the container was attached he closed the hatch and stood up.
‘Well flesh creature, will it be enough?’ said a deep measured voice from the other side of the room.
The Doctor turned and walked over to where the voice had spoken from. A huge shape came forward to meet him. It looked somewhat like a tank, moving on tracked wheels. At the front was a raised section with a pair of spindly arms attached to each side. The pincers on the end of the arms were snapping together in an agitated fashion.
In the centre of the raised section was what looked like another long segmented arm. On the end of it though rather than pincers there was a domed attachment. The arm moved the domed section down so that it was level with the Doctor. The top section of the dome was transparent and inside was a green liquid. Floating inside the liquid was a battered head; it’s single yellow eye glowing brightly.
‘Yes Shockwave, it will be sufficient,’ said the Doctor. ‘Soon with the help of my genius you will live once more and then we will have our revenge.’
‘Have a care flesh creature,’ said disembodied head. ‘You over estimate your own importance.’
‘I think not Shockwave. If I hadn’t found your broken body and brought you here you would be dead. You were fortunate that the explosion knocked you into the transit system or you would be nothing but molten metal. Your Decepticon allies follow a new leader now; a leader who I’m sure would hate to think you had survived.’
‘Devil Spawn will be dealt with in time,’ Shockwave said. ‘Once I am fully functional again it is Megatron who I will deal with first. For he has shown himself to be a faithless leader unworthy of the loyalty that I once showed him.’
Doctor Archeville cackled and said, ‘He certainly has, for he betrayed me much the same way as he betrayed you. I also wish Megatron’s downfall.’ He turned away from Shockwave and walked back to the pod on the floor. Wiping the frost away with his right hand he looked down at the contents.
The pod was filled with more of the green life sustaining CR fluid. Along with the fluid was something else, a grey homogenous mass with a vaguely humanoid appearance. It undulated slightly as the lightly bubbling fluid moved past it.
The Doctor looked back at Shockwave’s head and continued. ‘And once my protoform is complete you will have the power to defeat him. Him and any other Transformer that dares to stand in our way.’
* * * * *
Overdrive was relieved to find out that nobody seemed to have noticed Overdrive’s or Downshift’s absence. It soon became clear that he had made the right decision in returning to the base however for shortly after he got back to his quarters a general assembly was called by Ultra Magnus.
A general assembly could only mean that something big was going to happen, so big that every Autobot in the base had to be informed. He along with the others began to assemble in the central meeting hall at the appointed time. He wondered what was going on, could this be something to do with what he had overheard while listening outside the medical centre?
Ultra Magnus was standing on a raised platform at the front along with Brainstorm and Downshift. Nightbeat had not yet fully recovered, from his injuries and so Downshift was still in charge of security.
Overdrive wondered how Ultra Magnus and the others would react if they knew what he had been doing earlier, especially after the Doubledealer incident. The security section couldn’t really afford another scandal so soon after that debacle.
Once the hall was full Ultra Magnus strode forward, the buzz of conversation slowly died away and everyone’s attention was focused on their leader. Ultra Magnus paused for a moment and then began to speak. ‘My fellow Autobots, I have called this assembly because a grave situation has developed. A situation that we must face with bravery and conviction.
‘It is becoming clear that the Decepticons are planning to launch an off planet attack against an unknown victim. They have been massing troops and building starships for the past few peri-cycles. Polyhex now contains the largest assembled force of Decepticons Cybertron has seen since the beginning of the war.’
The room erupted with noise as everyone spoke hurriedly to their neighbour. Ultra Magnus held up his arms for silence and the room once again lapsed into silence. ‘It is our duty as Autobots, no, our duty as civilised beings, to do all in our power to prevent the Decepticons from enslaving or destroying any other race. It may mean that we are all destroyed but the time has come to rise up against the Decepticons and launch a final decisive blow to end the war once and for all.’
The noise in the room returned with a new urgency at this announcement. Then a voice called out, ‘We aren’t strong enough to beat the Decepticons in a full all out attack. We will all die.’ Murmurs of agreement rumbled round the room.
Ultra Magnus raised his arms for quiet once again and replied, ‘I understand your concerns, but consider this, if the Decepticons invade other planets, enslave their peoples and plunder their resources then they will become stronger. If we strike now we have a chance, a remote chance I will admit, but still a chance. If we wait we will have no chance at all, we will be hunted down and destroyed in the end.’
The room stayed silent this time as everyone considered his words. Ultra Magnus continued, ‘I have therefore decided on a pre-emptive strike. At this moment a small strike team is targeting the Decepticon energon refinery at Dresna. As I’m sure you know this refinery is the largest on Cybertron and its loss will be a major blow to any large scale invasion plans that the Decepticons may have.’
Ultra Magnus paused to wait for the chatter in the room to once again die away, ‘I have also issued a recall signal to the other resistance cells. I have received confirmation signals. We will be fully assembled by the end of this solar-cycle. Already a number of cells have rejoined us. Then we will launch an all out assault on Polyhex in an attempt to take out the Decepticon high command. It may be that many of us will die in this enterprise but if we succeed we will strike a huge blow against the Decepticons. One that will hopefully enable us to turn the tide of the war.’
Much of this last sentence was lost to Overdrive as the conversation in the room drowned it out. Surely Ultra Magnus didn’t really believe that a strike like this could be successful? And who were the strike team attacking the energon plant? He looked around the room, trying to see who was missing but without success.
Once the assembly was adjourned he left the room, so deeply in thought that he hardly noticing as the other Autobots flowed past him deep in conversation with each other.
* * * * *
The Predacons had so far met no resistance as they made their way down the network of tunnels leading to Vector Sigma. They had come across many rooms and antechambers filled with an assortment of junked vehicles, ships and droids but had seen no sign of anything hostile. They did not let their guard down however because Devil Spawn had briefed them well on the potential dangers that they might come across.
The corridor that they were following widened out in to a large cavern. The floor was scattered with the broken remains of several grey worker droids. One side of the cavern abruptly fell away into darkness. Rampage moved over to the edge of the drop and looked down. His keen optics pierced the darkness below to pick out a jumble of twisted metal belonging to even more of the grey droids mingled in with the remains of a bulkier green droid. Rampage looked round and said, ‘Nothing but junk.’
Razorclaw was about to reply when a clatter of noise from the far side of the chamber attracted the Predacons attention. They spread out making themselves less of a target. As they watched, rank upon rank of green, domed-headed battle droids emerged from the shadows. They walked in perfect step with each other in a relentless unhurried fashion, directly at the Predacons.
* * * * *
‘What is it Turbulence?’ Devil Spawn asked as his subordinate approached.
‘We are receiving a priority transmission on the emergency frequency, Excellency,’ Turbulence replied inclining his head slightly. ‘The sender is using your personal cipher identifier.’
Devil Spawn slowly rotated his command chair around to look down at Turbulence, ‘Oh?’ he said in mild surprise. ‘Very well, I will take care of it.’
Turbulence nodded, turned and left the room. Devil Spawn lazily stretched out a hand and flicked a switch on his command chair. The wall mounted monitor flickered into life.
‘What are you doing calling on this frequency?’ Devil Spawn snapped at the face of his informant.
‘This is an emergency,’ the informant replied. ‘Something serious has happened. The Autobots are planning to launch an attack on the energon refinery at Dresna at any moment.’
Devil Spawn leaned forward and said, ‘Really? Tell me more.’
* * * * *
‘Predacons attack!’ Razorclaw commanded. The order was unnecessary, as the other Predacons had already leapt forward towards the approaching battle droids.
Rampage brought his clawed front leg across the chest of one of the lead droids. The droid recoiled slightly under the blow but its green metal skin showed no sign of any marks. It swiftly regained its balance and continued its advance with its companions.
Rampage leapt backwards, retreating to a safe distance, narrowly avoiding the fists of the leading droids as he did so.
Tantrum and Headstrong meanwhile both charged at the approaching droids, heads lowered. Usually the sight of the great beasts charging was enough to terrify most opponents but the droids remained impassive. The first few files of droids fell like ninepins before the attack, but the charging Predacons momentum was swiftly lost. The two Predacons let out a yell as the droids that were still standing closed in about them.
Divebomb soaring high up near the cavern roof began to dive down, letting loose his two wing mounted rockets into the waves of approaching droids. The resulting explosion sent dozens flying through the air and yet more were knocked to the floor by the force of the blast.
The droids attacking Tantrum and Headstrong looked round, momentarily distracted by Divebomb’s attack. The two Predacons used the distraction to quickly get to their feet and charge back out of the droids towards where Rampage and Razorclaw stood waiting.
Razorclaw surveyed the approaching droids. The Predacon attacks had done little actual damage to them. Most of those who had fallen to the ground were casually getting back to their feet again and rejoining the relentless forward march. Razorclaw raised his head to look up at the ceiling trying to judge its height. It would be a tight fit but it should be possible, he thought and anyway it seemed their only chance.
‘Predacon’s merge into Predaking!’ he ordered.
With the clicking of complex mechanisms the five Predacons transformed themselves, combing into the super robot called Predaking. The giant robot was so tall that he had to stoop to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling.
The droids continued to advance, apparently unfazed by their victim’s transformation. Predaking swung a huge fist down into the centre of the droid ranks. Several of the droids were crushed; broken and detached limbs flew in all directions. The force of the blow caused several dozen others to fall to the floor.
‘Nobody stands against me,’ Predaking rumbled and swung a second fist the crushed even more of the droids. Then he lashed out with one of his enormous feet sending row upon row of droids tumbling.
The surviving droids continued to advance. Some even got as far as Predaking’s feet where they began to pound against the titan’s armour. They did little damage however and Predaking swiftly batted them away.
Soon it was all over, not a single battle droid was left standing, and body parts littered the ground. The giant robot, Predaking split apart into its five Predacon components. Razorclaw looked around the chamber at the remains of the droids.
‘Well done Predacons,’ he said.
‘Not as tough as they thought they were,’ put in Headstrong.
‘Do you suppose there are any other surprises guarding Vector Sigma?’ Divebomb asked.
‘Only one way to find out’ Razorclaw replied and began wading through the debris of battle droids towards the far end of the chamber. The other Predacons began to do the same.
* * * * *
Overdrive stood outside the door of Ultra Magnus’ office. Inside he knew were Ultra Magnus, Brainstorm, Downshift and Scattershot. Overdrive had come along about a cycle after the general assembly had finished. He had seen Ultra Magnus and Brainstorm talking in hushed tones outside of the office. He had stood well back, apparently accessing a nearby computer terminal, so that it didn’t look obvious that he was spying on his commanding officer.
As he watched he had seen Scattershot approach and begin to talk in an animated fashion to Ultra Magnus and Brainstorm. Ultra Magnus had activated his communicator and presently Downshift had appeared. The four of them had then adjourned inside the office.
Overdrive quickly approached the office door and tried his best to listen to what was being said inside the office.
‘You’re absolutely sure?’ the voice of Ultra Magnus was saying.
‘I’m positive,’ Scattershot’s voice replied. ‘They were trying to do it in a surreptitious way but you can’t increase the guards on a place the size of Dresna by two hundred percent without drawing attention.’
There was a pause and then Ultra Magnus said, ‘It looks as though our little trap worked. You were right Brainstorm there is another spy amongst us.’
‘I was rather afraid of that,’ Brainstorm replied. ‘Still at least we know for certain now and we’ve at least caused the Decepticons a major inconvenience with our little Dresna story.’
‘You mean there was no attack on Dresna?’ Downshift asked.
‘No. We used that as bait to see whether there was a spy or not,’ Ultra Magnus said.
Overdrive edged closer to the door, determined to hear everything. Ultra Magnus was speaking again, ‘The question we have to answer now is which one of us is the spy?’
Overdrive knew that he had to act quickly. He stepped up to the door and pressed the door chime. ‘Enter,’ Ultra Magnus called. Overdrive clicked the door open and entered the office as it slid aside.
‘Overdrive? What can we do you?’ Ultra Magnus asked.
Overdrive looked a little uneasy and then said, ‘Commander I was wondering if I could have a private word with you.’
‘I’m a little busy right now…’
‘It is important commander. I have information that I believe you need to know.’
Ultra Magnus looked at the other Autobots in the room and then said, ‘Very well. Could you wait outside,’ he said to them.
Brainstorm, Scattershot and Downshift left the room in single file, each giving Overdrive a brief appraising look. Downshift’s glance rested on him longest of all before he too left the room.
‘Now, Overdrive,’ Ultra Magnus said, ‘what can I do for you?’
‘I believe that I may have discovered a spy,’ Overdrive said and then plunged into the story of how he had seen Downshift returning to the base through the hole in the wall and of how he had later followed him to the factory where he had seen Downshift give the medical supplies to the human.
When he had finished his story Ultra Magnus said, ‘Why didn’t you come to me sooner and what has made you come to me now?’
‘I was hoping to gather more evidence about Downshift’s activities first. I hoped that there might be a reasonable explanation. After all Downshift is one of my Omnibots and it reflects badly on me if he is a spy. But after your announcement earlier regarding attacking the Decepticons I thought it best that you knew all the facts so that you can take precautions against treachery.’
‘What I don’t understand is what could this human have to do with the Decepticons and why is Downshift providing him with supplies?’
Overdrive shook his head and said, ‘I don’t know but I thought you ought to know.’
‘You have done well Overdrive although I wish you had told me all this sooner. Still at least now we can take some action,’ Ultra Magnus replied walking over to the door and opening it as he did so. The other Autobots were stood talking a short distance away and he beckoned them back inside the room. The all returned and stood giving Overdrive quizzical looks.
‘Downshift,’ Ultra Magnus said, ‘would you go and find Pointblank and Sureshot and have them meet me here in two breems time?’
Downshift looked puzzled but then nodded and left the room. As soon as he was gone Ultra Magnus got Overdrive to tell his story to Brainstorm and Scattershot. When it was done they looked both shocked and amazed.
‘I can’t believe that Downshift is the traitor,’ Scattershot said. ‘He’s too obsessive about the rules.’
‘And where does this human come into things?’ Brainstorm added.
‘I don’t know,’ Ultra Magnus said, ‘but we must investigate thoroughly and for now Downshift must be kept in the dark about all our operations.’
‘What are we going to do?’ Brainstorm asked.
Ultra Magnus turned to Overdrive, ‘Could you find your way back to that factory?’
Overdrive thought for a moment, ‘I think so.’
‘Good. Then we are going to go and find out exactly what is going on there.’
‘With respect commander I don’t feel that to be a wise move,’ Scattershot said at once. ‘You at least should stay here.’
Ultra Magnus shook his head, ‘There is nothing I can do here until the regrouping has been completed and that won’t be for several cycles yet. Once Pointblank and Sureshot join us Overdrive will lead us to the factory and we will discover the truth.’
‘What are we going to do about Downshift?’ Scattershot asked.
Ultra Magnus thought for a moment and then said, ‘We cannot leave him wandering free.’
At that moment the door slid open again and Downshift entered followed by Pointblank and Sureshot. Ultra Magnus turned to face Downshift and said, ‘Downshift information has reached me that means I have no choice but to place you under arrest.’
‘What?’ Downshift cried. ‘What information? Overdrive are you responsible for this? I haven’t done anything.’
‘I’m sorry Downshift but you are confined to quarters,’ Ultra Magnus said. ‘Scattershot I’m going to assign you to guard him until we return. Keep it as quiet as you can, I don’t want anyone to know about this until we know exactly what’s going on.’
‘Commander!’ Downshift said imploringly. ‘At least tell me what I’m supposed to have done.’
‘There is evidence that you have been stealing supplies and providing potentially hostile aliens with assistance. We further believe that there is a Decepticon spy in our midst.’
‘You think I’m a spy? That’s crazy,’ Downshift said.
‘I hope it is,’ Ultra Magnus responded. ‘Believe me I take no pleasure in this but I must take every precaution. Scattershot remove him. I will speak to you when we return.’
Scattershot nodded and taking Downshift by the arm said, ‘Come on,’ and led him from the room.
‘Can someone tell us what is going on?’ Pointblank asked.
Ultra Magnus was just about to speak when Overdrive interrupted and said, ‘While you fill them in commander may I be excused to return to my quarters and collect my weapons. I was in the middle of cleaning them when the general assembly was called.’
Ultra Magus nodded and said, ‘Very well Overdrive. We will meet you outside the medical centre.’
Overdrive left the room, hearing Ultra Magnus beginning to repeat the story that he himself had told earlier. As the door slid shut behind him he stood and thought hard. The die was cast. There was no going back now. He just had to do what he had to do. With this thought in mind he quickly set off in the direction of his quarters.
Interlude 4 - Computations
Cybertron. The Vector Sigma Chamber. Now.
The golden sphere hung bobbing gently in the air. Things were moving now. Big things. Things that would affect not only Cybertron but the fate of the entire galaxy. Vector Sigma, the super computer that had given all transformers life considered its options.
Vector Sigma was not just a computer, encoded into its circuits was the essence of the being known as Primus. It was Primus who was responsible for the existence of the planet Cybertron and ultimately the inhabitants.
The transformers had been created by Primus as a final defence against his nemesis, the dark force of chaos known as Unicron. But things had not gone as Primus had intended and civil war had divided his creations.
In the early days, through the computations of Vector Sigma, Primus had attempted to intervene in the war, hoping to bring it to a swift conclusion. This had also proved unsuccessful and so Primus had entered hibernation, leaving only the essence of himself in Vector Sigma to keep watch on his children.
The part of Vector Sigma that was Primus was able to sense its new foe. A being every bit as powerful, if not more so, as Unicron himself. This being, this Entity, was even now causing the unravelling of reality. Vector Sigma – Primus – could sense the changes that had already been made.
What was it to do? Should it intervene? But if it did what then? The war would continue and Primus and his creations would be vulnerable to the chaos bringer. On the other hand if he did nothing, causality could be irreparably destroyed.
But maybe there was a third route? To let the Entity do it’s worst. For even the most powerful being can make mistakes. And maybe those mistakes could work in Primus’ favour.
Vector Sigma throbbed with energy, golden light dancing across its surface again as it computation matrix analysed possible parameters. It knew what it had to do now. They were coming. They were not far away now. They had defeated its battle droids and were approaching its chamber. They would prove useful. They would bring salvation.
Chapter Five – Charles Darwin Eat Your Heart Out
Scattershot followed Downshift into his quarters and closed the door behind them. ‘I’m sorry about this,’ he said. ‘Please don’t make this harder than it needs to be. No tricks, okay? We’ll just sit down and wait until the commander returns.’
Downshift turned to face him and said, ‘So, do you think I’m a traitor?’
‘I don’t want to believe that, especially from someone who’s always preaching the rules the way that you do, but Overdrive seems very certain.’
‘Overdrive is a troublemaking sneak. I wouldn’t trust him as far as a minibot could throw him. He’s always creeping around and listening at doors. He has a serious attitude problem.’
‘He also happens to be a superior officer. I’ll admit that I don’t exactly like the slimy little Strikebat, but we have to investigate, because there is a traitor round here and we have to find him.’
‘But you don’t really think that it’s me, I can see it in your optics.’
‘No…not really,’ Scattershot agreed.
‘Then why are we sitting here wasting time. I don’t know what Overdrive is playing at but I have a feeling it’s nothing good.’
‘Don’t get any ideas Downshift, I’ve got my orders. We’re both staying right here until the commander returns.’
‘No buts, that’s the way it’s going to be,’ Scattershot interrupted.
Downshift turned away from Scattershot. His eyes suddenly blazed red and his fist clenched. Then he said, ‘Very well. I suppose I have no choice. Still there’s no reason this has to be unpleasant. How do you fancy a swig of energon?’
Scattershot relaxed, he had been worried that Downshift was going to be difficult but it looked like his respect for the rules was going to take precedence over his own desire to prove his innocence.
‘Sure,’ he said sitting down in one of the chairs that was scattered around the room. ‘Why not.’
‘Why not indeed,’ Downshift said moving over to a dispenser in the wall. When he turned round he held a glass of pink glowing energon. He walked over to where Scattershot was sitting and handed him the glass.
‘Thanks,’ Scattershot said holding the glass up and looking closely at the glowing liquid within. ‘Just how I like it, triple-distilled.’
But Downshift wasn’t listening; he was reaching behind Scattershot with his free hand. Before Scattershot knew what had happened Downshift had jabbed the back of his head with the neuraliser that he had picked up while preparing the energon.
Scattershot stiffened violently, his mouth opened as if to speak and then he slowly slumped backwards into the chair, his eyes dimmed but retained the faint glow of life. Downshift looked at the slumped form for a moment and then turned and walked out of the door. Once outside he turned, secured the door and then hurried off down the corridor.
* * * * *
‘So,’ Devil Spawn said to the communicator screen, ‘what can I do for you this time?’
‘It is time.’
‘Time to finish the Autobots for good. They are nearly all assembled and if you attack now the commander will be absent. By the time they have realised that he’s missing and sorted out the chain of command it will be too late.’
‘Just like that? You are presuming a lot.’
‘Do you want to destroy the Autobots or not? This is your chance and it could be your last one. They are getting close to blowing my cover. The attack on Dresna was a fake to route out the spy.’
Devil Spawn scowled, ‘The attack on Dresna is a fake? Do you realise how inconvenient it was to up the security there? And having given me one piece of defective intelligence you now expect me to accept your word on this?’
‘In all the time I have worked for you Dresna is the only time I’ve been wrong. It’s up to you whether you believe me or not, but if you let this opportunity pass you will have lost your chance. I guarantee it.
‘And what are you getting out of all of this?’ Devil Spawn asked. ‘After all we would be destroying your own species.’
‘Revenge,’ he said simply.
‘Ahhh, one of the best motivations of all,’ Devil Spawn smiled. ‘And what do you want from me?’
‘Once the Autobots have been destroyed I want power. I want to be a Decepticon city commander.’
‘Indeed? Is that all?’ Devil Spawn sneered. ‘What makes you think that you have earned that?’
‘I will have handed the Autobots to you. You will never have to worry about them again and you can get on with building your empire. I have no ambitions beyond what I have stated. A city in exchange for the Autobots is surely a small price to pay. But you must decide quickly.’
Devil Spawn considered for a moment and then came to a decision. ‘Very well, you will have your city.’
‘Your word on it?’
‘You have my word,’
There was a pause for a moment and then, ‘I am transmitting the co-ordinates of the Autobot base now.’
Devil Spawn flicked buttons on his control panel and the display on the wall-mounted monitor changed to show an overhead map of Cybertron. He fed the co-ordinates into the map which quickly zoomed and rotated until is hovered above a large building in the Dead End region.
‘You will find,’ the informant continued, ‘a secret entrance towards the rear of the building. It is only small hole but can be easily enlarged. It leads to a section of deserted rooms and corridors. If you take your troops in through this entrance you should be able to surprise the Autobots by attacking from inside the base.’
‘And where will Ultra Magnus be while this is going on?’
‘He’s off on a fool’s errand. You may be able to catch him on your way back if you set a guard on this entrance to the base.’
Devil Spawn looked the informant in the eye and said, ‘Since I become Decepticon commander I have missed my interrogation chamber. If you betray me, then I will hunt you down and we will both go there for a visit…to relive old times. Do you understand that?’
‘You make yourself perfectly clear.’
‘Good. I will make the arrangements. How many Autobots are there?’
‘Approximately twelve hundred.’
‘By the end of this solar-cycle there will be none,’ Devil Spawn smiled.
* * * * *
Overdrive checked his chronometer, he’d taken longer than he’d expected. He hoped the others were still waiting for him. He rounded the corner and was relieved to see Ultra Magnus, Brainstorm, Pointblank and Sureshot standing outside the medical centre.
‘You took your time,’ Brainstorm said as Overdrive approached.
‘Yeah, sorry, my blaster was still in pieces,’ Overdrive explained.
‘Never mind, you’re here now,’ Ultra Magnus said. ‘Now which way.’
‘I’ll take you the same way that I went when I followed Downshift. There’s less chance of getting lost that way,’ Overdrive said. ‘This way, follow me.
With this he set off down the corridor heading towards the deserted section of the base, the other Autobots following after him.
* * * * *
The Predacons emerged into the large circular chamber. They had met no further resistance along the way but they remained on their guard.
‘Is this it?’ Headstrong asked as they entered.
‘Yes,’ Razorclaw replied. ‘The Vector Sigma chamber.’
‘That’s Vector Sigma,’ Divebomb said looking incredulously at the glowing golden ball hovering several feet above the floor. ‘It doesn’t look powerful enough to run a smelter.’
‘What do we do now we’ve got here,’ Rampaged asked.
‘We…’ Razorclaw began, but he was interrupted by a deep sonorous voice.
‘I am Vector Sigma, before Cybertron was, I was. Who violates my chamber?’
‘We are the Predacons and you are now under the control of the Decepticon Empire,’ Razorclaw said pompously
‘Vector Sigma serves no being,’ Vector Sigma replied, it’s voice showing no sign of concern or anger and before any of the Predacons could respond there was a clatter and a bang as a door dropped to cover the entrance to the chamber.
The Predacons spun round at the noise their weapons appearing in their hands as if from nowhere. Then the light emanating from Vector Sigma became more intense and the Predacons turned again to face the super-computer.
With a crackle like lightning five beams of golden light shot out from Vector Sigma’s surface, each one hitting the head of a Predacon. The Predacons stiffened and there was a clatter as they each dropped their upraised weapons to the floor.
The five beams of light connected to the Predacons began to pulse, with a brighter light moving from the head towards Vector Sigma. Then as abruptly as they had appeared the pulses stopped and the beams of light vanished. The Predacons stood still for a few moments and then almost as one slowly toppled forward and fell lifeless on the floor.
Panels in the wall slid open and spindly mechanical arms emerged. They snaked across the chamber and grabbed the crumpled bodies and dragged them slowly back inside the walls. Then the panels closed with a soft swish.
Vector Sigma hung motionless for a few seconds and then slowly the golden glow began to fade.
* * * * *
‘There it is,’ Overdrive said as they approached the factory that he had visited only a few cycles ago.
‘I can’t see any guards,’ Pointblank said scanning the area with his powerful optics.
‘There aren’t any,’ Overdrive replied. ‘Leastways I didn’t get arrested the last time I was here.’
‘All this sounds too easy,’ Sureshot muttered to Pointblank.
‘I agree and I don’t trust this sleaze ball Overdrive. He has a bad reputation as a team player in my unit.’
‘Mine too,’ Sureshot said. ‘Highbrow swears he saw him listening at the commander’s door once. He couldn’t prove it though. He’s definitely one to watch.’
‘The entrance is just over here,’ Overdrive said leading the way.
‘Everyone be on their guard,’ Ultra Magnus said. ‘There’s no knowing what’s waiting for us in there.’
The four Autobots followed Overdrive to the building’s entrance and then slipped inside in single file. They made their way down the corridor that lead to the large factory floor. They went through this door too. The noise and the heat was as intense as it been on Overdrive’s previous visit.
Overdrive led the Autobots across the factory floor to the small room where he had seen Downshift speaking to the strange human. The room was empty this time but Overdrive walked up to the door where he had seen the human appear from and turned to the others.
‘This was where I saw Downshift and the human. He came in through this door.’
‘We will have to go through and see where it leads,’ Ultra Magnus said.
Pointblank switched to infrared vision and stared at the door. His sensitive optics slowly began to pick out the details of what was beyond it. ‘There is a corridor with many doors,’ he said. ‘At the far end of the corridor is what looks like a large chamber with at least one set of double-doors. There is nobody in the corridor that I can see.’
‘Move in, but be cautious,’ Ultra Magnus ordered.
Overdrive opened the door and then stood back slightly, ‘After you,’ he said gesturing to Pointblank with a slight smirk. ‘Sharpshooters and heroes first.’
Pointblank gave Overdrive a disgusted looked, raised his blaster and walked through the door. Sureshot followed him and then Brainstorm.
‘A lot of heroes and sharpshooters around these parts it seems,’ Overdrive said as he followed them into the unknown corridor. Ultra Magnus brought up the rear.
‘These rooms appear to be empty,’ Pointblank said, scanning the various doors the passed leading off the corridor with his infrared vision. There doesn’t appear to be any other exits from them either.
‘Keep going,’ Ultra Magnus said.
They came to the large chambered room with the double-doors. Pointblank stopped and slowly scanned the doors with his infrared vision. ‘This one,’ he said as he looked upon the left-hand doors. ‘There’s a small creature inside and something else. It looks like a large machine of some sort, but it’s moving, definitely not transformer shaped though.’
‘We have to find out what’s happening in there,’ Ultra Magnus said.
‘I may be able to help. I brought this little audio sensor with me,’ Brainstorm answered holding up a small circular device. ‘With any luck it should allow us to hear exactly what is going on in that room.’
‘Well done Brainstorm,’ Ultra Magnus said.
Brainstorm came forward and pressed the sensor against the door. Then he pressed a small red button on its surface. The Autobots crowded round to listen.
* * * * *
‘Are you ready yet Doctor?’ Shockwave asked impatiently.
‘Very nearly,’ the Doctor replied turning away from the workbench he had been bent over with a triumphant air. ‘Behold the latest example of my genius.’
He gestured to the workbench, a metal sphere slightly larger than a basketball stood on the worktop. Its surface covered in thousands of small holes.
‘What is it supposed to be?’ Shockwave asked.
‘The ultimate evolution of your kind,’ the Doctor said. ‘That is what will allow me to transfer you from your current state to your new body. This is a Spherical Personality And Recollection Container or S.P.A.R.C. As its name suggests it will take over from your brain module and store your personality and your memories.
‘The S.P.A.R.C. is self-contained and will allow you to move between suitable host bodies with ease. Which is where my new protoform design comes in. The protoform technology will allow a S.P.A.R.C. take control of it. The semi-organic nature of the protoform will allow the body shape to be moulded either according to the will of the occupier or by the stasis pod scanners.’
‘So I will be able to appear as whatever I wish?’ Shockwave asked eagerly.
‘Only the first time a S.P.A.R.C. enters the protoform. Once the protoform has taken on a form, the body shell will harden and become fixed. The body shell of the protoform will be harder and stronger than any current transformer body armour however. You will be the strongest transformer ever.’
‘Then begin the process Doctor, and make sure there are no mistakes if you value your life.’
‘Yes Shockwave, as you wish,’ the Doctor said fawningly, moving over to Shockwave’s life support unit. He reached up and grasped a large cable and pulled it free. On the end was a connection point. He pulled it over to the S.P.A.R.C. and flipped open a panel on the surface revealing a socket. With an effort he heaved the connector on the cable into position and clicked it into place.
‘This might be a bit painful,’ he said walking back to the life support unit and pressing a button on the side. The machine began to hum with power.
* * * * *
‘I think we’ve heard enough,’ Ultra Magnus said grimly and with a heave pushed the huge double door open. Inside the Autobots saw the human turn at their abrupt entrance.
‘Turn it off,’ Ultra Magnus commanded indicating the life support machine.
‘That’s not possible. Once the transfer has started it can’t be stopped.’
‘Oh yeah,’ Pointblank said stepping forward and raising his blaster. He levelled it at the life support unit and fired. The blast hit the side of the machine, ripping a huge hole in it. Fire belched out of the side.
‘NO! STOP IT!’ the Doctor cried leaping to one side to avoid the flames.
Pointblank fired a second shot at the machine causing a second explosion. Arcs of electricity danced around it. The hum of power that had been coming from the machine died away and all that could be heard was the flicker of flames.
‘You fools, what have you done,’ cried the Doctor getting back to his feet. ‘You have just destroyed months of careful preparation.’
‘Oh dear, clumsy me,’ Pointblank said. ‘Let’s hope I don’t have another such accident.’ He turned his gun towards Doctor Archeville.
Ultra Magnus put a hand on Pointblank’s shoulder and said, ‘Lower your weapon Pointblank, Autobots don’t kill unarmed opponents.
Pointblank slowly lowered his gun and took a step backwards allowing Ultra Magnus to turn and address the Doctor.
‘Who are you?’ he said. ‘And how did you get to Cybertron?’
‘I am Doctor Archeville, genius of science. I was abandoned here because of the treachery of Megatron and Starscream,’ the Doctor said in a voice that was almost a scream.
‘And yet you seem anxious to resurrect one of Megatron’s biggest supporters,’ Sureshot said.
‘You fool, Shockwave only needed resurrecting because he was betrayed by Megatron too. He would have gone to Earth and destroyed Megatron and Starscream. With my new protoform body he would have been invincible.’
‘What…?’ Ultra Magnus began but turned at a noise from his right. As everyone looked the S.P.A.R.C. began to emit a regular humming noise. Then with the suddenness of someone simultaneously lighting a thousand candles the sphere blossomed with swirling light. The light flickered all around and across the sphere making it appear more than twice the size. The metal core was no longer visible tough the swirling light.
Then the whole S.P.A.R.C. lifted gently into the air and began to float across the room. Pointblank stepped forward again his blaster raised. ‘STOP HIM,’ shouted Doctor Archeville.
Pointblank’s hand exploded as a shot rang out from the shadows of the room. His gun dropped to the floor in two tattered halves. Pointblank sank to his knees giving a cry of pain and anger. Brainstorm immediately bent down to assist him. The other Autobots turned to where the blast had come from to see Downshift emerging from the shadows, his eyes glowing a deep red.
‘Downshift!’ Ultra Magnus said. ‘So you are the traitor.’
Downshift said nothing; he just stood there with his gun levelled at his fellow Autobots.
‘Your Autobot friend works for me now,’ the Doctor said from behind them. ‘And he will have no compunction against shooting anyone who tries to interfere with the birth process.’
‘SHOCKWAVE!’ Ultra Magnus said and swung round. It was too late. The glowing sphere had reached the stasis pod and was hovering over it. The lid opened to reveal a grey vaguely humanoid shape among the mass of CR fluid. As the Autobots watched the S.P.A.R.C. sank downwards into the gooey mass.
The grey protoform swallowed the glowing sphere without a sound. The Doctor rubbed his hands together with glee and cried, ‘At last! The in built program in the pod will now give the protoform shape!’
As the Autobots and the Doctor looked on the grey mass began to solidify, Streaks of colour appeared as the body shape filled out. The chest expanded and then became vibrant red. The legs thickened and shone bright silver. The head grew and tapered to a blunt point a yellow circle of light, reminiscent of Shockwave’s single eye appeared on the forehead. Finally a pair of yellow optics burst into life.
With slosh of CR fluid, the newly born figure rose from the pod and stood facing the Autobots. The Decepticon that had been Shockwave looked down at himself in an appraising manner. Then he looked back up and his yellow optics looked at the Autobots with a pale malevolent glare.
‘Behold me!’ he said in a voice similar to Shockwave’s but huskier and with more expression to it. ‘Behold me! I am nemesis. I am vengeance incarnate. I am Omnis Validus!’
Interlude 5 - Passion
Planet Cyrilla. Steptyra City. Yesterday.
Melika awoke to find herself wrapped around the naked body of Stavos. She found it difficult to believe that last night had really happened. In the six months since the twins’ father had left she hadn’t been with anyone else. Hadn’t even considered it.
Until two days ago. The day when Stavos had walked into her office for the first time. From that first glance she had known, known he was everything she could have wished for. Then he had smiled at her for the first time and she had been afraid that she would lose the power of speech.
They had spent the day catching each other’s eye and flirting in a harmless sort of way. Melika hadn’t seriously thought that he would ever ask her out. When he had, just as they were finishing up for the day, Melika had stuttered an acceptance. It couldn’t be tonight though because she had to arrange for someone to look after the twins.
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she froze. Why had she mentioned the twins at this stage? Would it frighten him off? But he had taken it all in his stride and said maybe tomorrow? So it had been settled. When she got home that night she had spoken to Behier, the babysitter and arranged for her to stay later the following night and look after Quen and Sahb.
The following day Melika could hardly concentrate on her work. The fact that Stavos took every opportunity to brush past her wasn’t helping. Nor was her stomach, which was knotted with a mixture of anxiety and desire. She was afraid that it wouldn’t work out, that she would say something wrong and he would go off of her.
She also found that the previous six months of celibacy was beginning to affect her. She was considering breaking a lifelong rule about intimacy on a first date, and a part of her was angry with herself for her weakness. But every time Stavos flashed a smile in her directed her legs went weak at the knees and she felt her face go hot.
That night they had gone out for a meal straight from work at a very expensive restaurant. She hadn’t enjoyed herself so much in years. He told her all about himself. His wife had died three years earlier from an incurable illness and he had not seen anyone since. He had no children of his own but he and his wife had been trying for them before she was diagnosed.
They had stayed out very late, later than she had intended in fact. They had returned to her house in the early hours of the morning. Behier had been a little short with her when she left despite getting extra pay for the late hours. The twins had been very troublesome again that night which hadn’t helped her mood any.
The two of them had sat up chatting for a short while before going to bed. Their love making had been intense, almost animalistic at times. It had been a long time for both of them, Stavos especially. They collapsed into sleep just as the dawn was breaking.
Melika twisted to look at the clock and saw that it was very late, but as they weren’t at work today it didn’t matter too much. She could hear noise from the living room. The twins were up. She hoped they would like Stavos. She hated to think what she would do if they didn’t. Despite the short time they had known each other she knew deep down that she loved him. She couldn’t bear to have to give him up because of the twins.
It was another two hours before Stavos awoke. Melika had gotten out of bed and made the twins’ breakfast. Then she had sat them down and told them that she wanted them to meet someone.
When Stavos awoke Melika had introduced him to the twins. ‘But that’s not daddy,’ was the first words out of Sahb’s mouth.
‘No dear,’ Melika had said gently. ‘Your daddy doesn’t want to live here anymore.’
‘But we want daddy back,’ Sahb had said in a matter of fact way.
‘Well you’ll see your daddy again,’ Melika persisted.
‘I’ve an idea,’ Stavos broke in. ‘Why don’t we all go for a picnic together tomorrow?
‘Yay!’ the twins had cried out in unison. Melika gave Stavos’ hand a squeeze.
Chapter Six – Lock, Stock and Gun Barrel
‘Superb,’ Doctor Archeville cried. ‘Simply superb. You are better than I could have hoped for. I thought the Autobot meddlers had broken the transfer process too soon. But as I always knew, nothing can interfere with my plans. I am too much of a genius to fail.’
Omnis Validus looked down at the Doctor, and then extended an arm so that it was pointing directly at him. A sword blade suddenly extended from the top of Omnis Validus’ wrist, stopping mere inches from the Doctor’s face. It happened with such swiftness that the Doctor didn’t get a chance to react. He stood, with sweat pouring down his face, eyes bulging, looking at the sword tip that was ready to slit his throat.
‘I grow tired of your endless prattling flesh creature. You will remember your place or suffer the consequences. Omnis Validus rules here. You are but a servant, allowed to live thanks to my benevolence. Do you understand?’
‘Y-y-yes, Shockwave, err, I mean Omnis Validus.’
‘Be sure you do,’ Omnis Validus said and the sword blade slid back inside his wrist as quickly and as silently as it had emerged. The he turned his glare upon the Autobots.
Ultra Magnus spoke first, ‘We thought we’d seen the last of you Shockwave or Omnis Validus, whatever you want to call yourself. But your resurrection will be short lived. We cannot allow you to rejoin the Decepticons.’
Omnis Validus began to chuckle and then finally burst out into full laughter, ‘Firstly, what makes you think I want to rejoin the Decepticons? The treachery of Megatron almost killed me, and Devil Spawn will want no rivals for power. And secondly, what makes you think you can stop me. This flesh creature might be annoying but he has done what he claims. I feel power pulsing through my circuits the like of which I have never felt before. Doctor, tell the Autobot to stand down.’
The Doctor looked nervously over to Downshift and said, ‘Lower your weapon.’ Downshift obeyed without a word.
‘Come Ultra Magnus, try your best. Stop me if you can,’ Omnis Validus said.
‘Autobots! Fire!’ Ultra Magnus ordered raising his own weapon and letting loose a volley of laser fire at Omnis Validus. The other Autobots immediately joined in launching their own attacks. Omnis Validus didn’t move. He just stood there as the weapon fire bounced off of him.
‘Cease fire,’ Ultra Magnus called as he saw the ricochet shots hitting the building and causing damage that rained down debris on them. The firing stopped.
‘That was just a demonstration of my power,’ Omnis Validus said. ‘But luckily you will not need to fight me.’
‘Oh and why is that?’ Ultra Magnus asked warily.
‘Because for now at least we both want the same thing. You want Megatron dead, and so do I. You want Devil Spawn stopped, and so do I. I am going to Earth to defeat Megatron, but while I’m away I don’t want Devil Spawn becoming too powerful or too popular. Even I can’t fight all the Decepticons single-handedly. You let me go without a fight and not only do you get out of here in one piece but I will destroy the Decepticon that you hate the most. In return you just have to do what Autobots do best. Interfere! Now do we have a deal?’
‘And what happens if you succeed? You wouldn’t be any better than Devil Spawn,’ Ultra Magnus replied.
‘Maybe not. But you would still be alive and you would be no worse off than you are now. If on the other hand you fight me now, then you will die and your pathetic Autobot resistance will be reduced by four. So which is to be?’
Ultra Magnus thought for a moment. If Omnis Validus was as powerful as he seemed then it would be suicide to try and bring him down now. But what chance would they have if he ever got control of the Decepticons on Cybertron. Neither choice was very appealing. Still if he could take down Megatron and later Devil Spawn, that would be two Decepticons less to deal with in the future. ‘Lower your weapons. Very well Omnis Validus, you win. We will let you go without a fight.’
‘I knew you would reach the right decision. Oh and the good Doctor here also goes free. I have further use for him,’ Omnis Validus said gloatingly.
‘Very well, but we get Downshift so that he can face justice for his crimes.’
Omnis Validus smirked and said, ‘Much as I like the idea of one Autobot punishing another, I’m in such a good mood I’ll let you into a secret. Downshift is a perfectly loyal Autobot. He has been working for us because of one of the flesh creatures little inventions. Something he calls a hypno-chip. Quite a clever little device. It gives him complete control of anyone wearing it. Isn’t that right Doctor?’
‘Why have you told him that?’ Doctor Archeville wailed. ‘I have lost my slave now.’
Ultra Magnus turned to the Doctor and said, ‘Is this true? You have enslaved Downshift. Release him at once.’ The last sentence was said so harshly that the Doctor recoiled.
Turning to Downshift he said, ‘Remove the hypno-chip.’ Downshift reached up behind his head and with a small clink snapped off the small control chip that had been placed there. As soon as it had been removed, he staggered slightly almost as though he had been held up with strings that were now cut.
He looked up and fixed the Doctor with steely glare. His optics flashed and he cried out, ‘You! You did this to me. Just wait until I…’
‘Downshift stop!’ Ultra Magnus ordered harshly. ‘The human is not to be harmed.’
‘But commander, he made me…’
‘I know,’ Ultra Magnus said more gently this time. ‘But could you really kill a human Downshift, even one such as this?’
Downshift relaxed and said, ‘No, no I couldn’t.’
Ultra Magnus nodded and said, ‘We have our Downshift back again.’ Then he turned back to Omnis Validus. ‘So what happens now?’
‘You get to leave. Just turn around and go back where you came from. The next time we meet we will be enemies again.’
‘Again?’ Ultra Magnus said grimly. ‘When did we stop being enemies?’
Omnis Validus grinned and said, ‘I respect you, even though you are an Autobot. If things were different, then who knows?’
‘Autobots follow me,’ Ultra Magnus ordered and with Brainstorm helping the injured Pointblank, the Autobots turned and left.
Once they had left Doctor Archeville turned to Omnis Validus and said, ‘Why are you letting them go. You don’t need their help. You are powerful enough to defeat Devil Spawn on your own.’
‘Still you question me, flesh creature? Did my last warning not teach you a strong enough lesson? Would you like another?’
The Doctor swallowed and said, ‘No, no of course not. I meant no disrespect, I just don’t understand.’
‘You don’t need to understand anymore, just obey me. Is the new spacebridge ready?’
‘Yes, the activation codes should already be programmed into you.’
‘Then I think it is time to test it out, let’s go outside shall we?’
Omnis Validus walked to the double-doors leading out of the room, the Doctor scuttling to keep up with the Decepticon’s larger stride. Once through the double doors he turned left through another set of doors. These led outside the back of the building to a large storage compound.
‘This should be fine,’ Omnis Validus said, and then turning back to the Doctor he said. ‘Once I’m gone you know what to do. I shall return once Megatron is defeated.’
Then he walked to one end of the compound and with a clicking of gears, pistons and hydraulics he transformed into a Cybertronian heavy goods transporter. With a roar of his engine he began to speed towards the far side of the compound.
‘Interglobal space bridge, activate,’ he said. The ground in front of him began to move. It rose up on struts into a roadway leading into the sky. Omnis Validus zoomed up the road. The road suddenly end but Omnis Validus carried on. As he reached the end of the road he disappeared just as though he had driven into a tunnel. After he had gone the road lowered back to the ground and was swallowed up by it as though it had never been.
The Doctor rubbed his hands together and said, ‘Another example of my genius.’ Then he turned and walked back inside.
* * * * *
Scattershot flickered slowly back to consciousness. He looked round to find himself still in Downshift’s quarters. Downshift! Downshift had escaped. So he was the traitor after all. Scattershot got back to his feet, he had to find Downshift or at the very least warn Ultra Magnus.
He was still feeling the effects of the neuraliser as he staggered to the door and it swished open. He stepped out into the corridor and was about to head to the security centre when he heard the sound of laser fire.
What was going on? He moved in the direction of the sound, his movement becoming stronger and more confident as he began to shake off the effects of the neuraliser. He released his acid pellet gun and gripped it tightly. The noise was coming from the direction of the medical centre.
He increased his speed. He was joined by other Autobots who were also drawn to the noise of gun fire. ‘What’s going on?’ Scattershot asked Searchlight who happened to be next to him.
‘I don’t know I just heard the shots and came to investigate.’
There was now quite a crowd of Autobots charging down the corridors, all of them brandishing their weapons, Scattershot and Searchlight near the front of the crowd. They rounded the corner leading to the medical centre and stopped in horror. The corridor was littered with the blacked corpses of Autobots. Other Autobots, still living, were engaged in both long range and hand to hand combat with an ever growing swarm of Decepticons.
They didn’t get long to take all this in however as they were soon being pressed forward by the crowd of Autobots coming behind. ‘How did they get in?’ Searchlight cried as he began to run towards the battle.
‘Primus only knows,’ Scattershot said raising his gun and firing at the nearest Decepticon. The acid pellet hit the Decepticon in the shoulder and he screamed in pain and turned to face Scattershot and the approaching crowd. He called out a warning to his comrades and other Decepticons turned to face the oncoming attack.
Laser fire skittered down the corridor towards them, Scattershot saw Searchlight fall, a gaping hole in his chest. He looked behind him, other Autobots were falling to the lethal light rays and those not hit were falling over the bodies of those who were. The corridor was too narrow for this sort of attack. But there was nothing Scattershot could do.
He turned back to face the Decepticons, there seemed to be an ever growing number. Where were they all coming from? As he watched the last of the Autobots that had been defending the medical centre fell to a Decepticon wielding a vicious electro-sword.
Scattershot continued to run firing his own weapon at the massed Decepticons, he saw several of them fall to the floor as the acid pellets began to eat through their armour. Then he was hit in the chest by a laser blast. He fell sprawling across the floor.
He wasted no time in getting to his feet again despite the pain in his chest. He heard the cries of his fellow Autobots behind him as they were cut down by the blanket of weapons fire.
He was hit by five more blasts in quick succession. He staggered back under them and saw that they had all come from the same Decepticon. He recognised him; he was called Deathcap and his reputation for cruelty rivalled that of Devil Spawn. He was grinning at Scattershot now, even as he unleashed another volley of fire at him.
Scattershot staggered backwards again, his whole body was now racked with pain, smoke and lubricants venting from his many wounds. He gritted his teeth and with a roar of pain and anger he ran headlong at Deathcap.
The Decepticon’s grin widened and he raised his gun and let loose more laser fire at Scattershot. Several shots hit home but Scattershot braced himself against them and continued his charge.
The grin on Deathcap’s face slipped slightly and then disappeared completely as Scattershot came ever nearer. He fired again and again, each shot hitting Scattershot, causing more damage but still he kept advancing.
With a final roar Scattershot leapt at Deathcap and grabbed him by the shoulder, and bringing his acid pellet gun up under the Decepticon’s chin he pulled the trigger. Deathcap’s head exploded sending internal components and acid from the pellet flying across the corridor.
Scattershot’s own head was hit by splashes of acid adding to the pain that he was already experiencing. As Deathcap’s body fell backwards on to the floor he went with it. He rolled off the body and tried to stand but the pain was too intense and he fell back to the floor.
He heard a clunk in front of him and raised his head, now spotted with smouldering holes from the acid splash, to see a green seeker looking down at him. ‘Typical Autobot stupidity. Always having to make the noble sacrifices. Such heroic nonsense.’ He shifted his arm mounted cannon to aim directly at Scattershot’s head and let off a single blast.
* * * * *
The Autobots trudged back through the streets of the Dead End in silence. Ultra Magnus wasn’t sure that he had done the right thing. Still for the moment he couldn’t deal with that. There were other things to worry about.
Pointblank was in too much pain to speak and Brainstorm was too intent on looking after him. Sureshot constantly glanced around, his weapon at the ready as though expecting a Decepticon patrol to leap out on them at any minute. Overdrive was deep in thought. Whatever he’d thought Downshift was up to it certainly hadn’t entered his head that he was a mind controlled slave.
As for Downshift he walked slowly his face cast downwards. While under Doctor Archeville’s control he had no memories of his double life. But now that the chip had been removed it had all come flooding back to him. He remembered the routine patrol he had been on. His partner Camshaft had spotted what he thought was a Decepticon in the shadow of a nearby building and had gone to investigate.
While he was away Downshift had heard a noise behind him, but even as he turned he had felt the slight magnetic thunk of the hypno chip hitting the back of his head. That was when the voice had begun inside his head, the voice he could not ignore. The voice that ordered him to spy on and then to steal from his fellow Autobots. When Camshaft returned he hadn’t detected anything wrong with his friend and the two of them had continued their patrol.
Downshift hung his head in shame at the memories that came back to him. The stealing and the lying and the forging or stores reports to cover his tracks. But it was the memory of what he had done to Scattershot that shamed him the most. He hoped that he was okay and that he would get a chance to applogise.
The silence was broken by Sureshot saying, ‘What’s that?’
Everyone looked at where he was pointing. A billow of black smoke was rising into the air and below it a golden glow. ‘I would say that’s about where HQ is,’ Brainstorm said with a note of concern in his voice.
‘I think you’re right,’ Ultra Magnus agreed. ‘Come on lets move.’ He broke into a run. The others followed his lead, although Pointblank quickly lagged behind due to the pain he was in.
As they approached the alleyway leading to the hole in the rear of the base, they saw that it was indeed their headquarters. Flame and smoke poured from the roof and through the walls.
‘Oh no!’ Ultra Magnus cried out. ‘What has happened?’
‘We have to get everybody out and away from here. Every Decepticon for miles around will see this,’ Sureshot said. ‘They’ll descend on us in force.’
‘Oh I don’t think they will. They have better things to do than visit Autobot graves,’ said a spiteful voice behind them. They all spun round to see Devil Spawn standing on the roof of a low building nearby. He was flanked by six seekers, three on either side of him, their arm blasters raised and pointing directly at the Autobots.
‘Your little resistance movement is no more,’ Devil Spawn continued with a smile. ‘I thank you for giving my Decepticons some much needed real life battlefield training. Simulations can be so unreliable. Don’t you agree?’
Ultra Magnus stared up at Devil Spawn shaking his head slowly, ‘You monster,’ he said softly, almost to himself. Devil Spawn smiled again.
‘I try my best,’ he said. His smile vanished and he continued, ‘Now I think its time to put you out of your misery so that you can join your fellows in the great beyond.’
But as he spoke, Sureshot leapt to one side and rolled across the ground, coming to rest on his knees, his blaster aimed squarely at Devil Spawn. ‘Back down,’ he cried, ‘or I’ll blow your head off.’
Before Devil Spawn could answer however, Sureshot’s own head exploded in flame and his body fell limply to the ground. The Autobots spun round in shock to see Overdrive holding his still smoking blaster. He swivelled it to cover the startled Autobots.
‘Overdrive!’ Ultra Magnus said. ‘It’s you, you’re the traitor.’
‘A brilliant deduction commander. Did you work that out all by yourself or did Brainstorm here have to explain it to you?’ Overdrive spat.
‘Do you think I had forgotten all of those stellar cycles where I had to endure the taunts from the so called ‘companionate’ Autobots? They made my life a misery, and even now they plot and conspire behind my back. They hate me. Well I have beaten them this time. The Decepticons may be a lot of things but they are not hypocrites. They don’t preach compassion and then make life miserable for those who are different from them.
‘As for you my dear commander I haven’t forgotten all of the psychological evaluations you made me sit through. I want the last thing you see to be me looking down on you as you get blown from existence. I’ve been waiting for this moment a long time.’
Overdrive began to edge around the small group of Autobots, his gun still levelled at them, a gleeful grin on his face.
‘Why you…!’ Downshift began but Ultra Magnus put up a warning hand.
‘No Downshift, don’t provoke him. Listen to me Overdrive, I know that you suffered after your creation and I am sorry about that, but do you really think the Decepticons will treat you any better?’
‘Spare me the rhetoric Magnus, I’ve heard it all before.’ Overdrive came to a halt at the base of the building on which Devil Spawn and the Decepticons were standing. ‘Excellency, they’re all yours.’
‘Decepticons…’ Devil Spawn began, but he was cut off by an explosion on the roof next to him. One of the seekers disintegrated in flame. ‘We’re under artillery attack,’ Devil Spawn cried out. ‘But from who?’
Ultra Magnus didn’t stop to wonder who had come to their rescue he simply called out, ‘AUTOBOTS RUN!’
The four Autobots ran, for an alleyway opposite the building on which the Decepticons stood. The artillery fire had stopped and an eerie silence hung in the air. Ultra Magnus reached the alleyway last and before entering the alley he turned to see Overdrive hurriedly climbing up the side of the building to the Decepticons. Then the sight was gone and Ultra Magnus was charging down the alleyway. He slowed his pace however when he realised that he couldn’t see the other Autobots in front.
He slowed to a walk, looking round for any place they might be hiding, but he could see nothing. He turned and looked back up the alleyway. The Decepticons would be following them at any moment.
His audio sensors picked up a slight swish and he made to turn round but a slender, yet powerful arm grabbed him around the neck and dragged him backwards. He struggled but the hand gripped firmly. He found himself being pulled back inside the wall of the building. The hole that had appeared slid shut and he was in darkness.
‘Stop fighting me,’ came a whispered voice from behind him. The voice was soft and light. ‘Stop fighting me and I’ll let you go.’ Ultra Magnus stopped struggling and the pressure at his neck was relaxed.
He turned round to see a slender dark blue Autobot standing behind him. ‘You’re female!’ he said in surprise.
‘Well spotted. Was it my headlights that gave me away?’ the female Autobot asked sarcastically.
‘But I thought females were extinct,’ Ultra Magnus said, still amazed.
‘No we’re just like male cerebro circuits. Well hidden. Now if you’ve quite finished stating the obvious we need to get you out of here.’
‘But what about my friends?’
‘We’ve got them already, and none of them were as talkative as you. Get a move on. We’ve run out of ammunition and the Decepticons are going to start ripping this alley apart looking for you before long, so we need to get going.’
The mention of the Decepticons brought Ultra Magnus back to his sensors, ‘Sorry. Please, lead the way.’
The female Autobot turned and began to run quickly across the room. Ultra Magnus followed her as best he could but found it tough going as the floor was covered in debris which he had to climb over. The female, by contrast had leapt lightly over the bigger obstacles and was now stood waiting impatiently by a door at the far side of the room.
‘Why is it males never come quickly when you want them to?’ she said.
‘Sorry’, Ultra Magnus said. ‘I guess I’m not as young as I used to be.’
‘Now where have I heard that before?’
‘What’s your name anyway?’
‘Nightstar,’ she said, ‘and you are Ultra Magnus, leader of the Autobot resistance, or at least one of them.’
‘Where are you taking me? I need to find out if anybody survived the Decepticon attack on our base.’
‘There’s still Decepticons swarming all over your base. You’ll get blown apart before you get anywhere near the place. I’m taking you to my leader Elita-One. She will help you as best she can. Now come quickly, this way.’
As Ultra Magnus finally made it across the room she turned and went through the door. Ultra Magnus followed and found himself back outside again but this time the alleyway had a roof covering it. Nightstar turned and ran down the alley. Ultra Magnus took a final look behind him and then ran after her.
* * * * *
‘After them,’ Devil Spawn commanded as the Autobots vanished down the alleyway. The five remaining seekers leapt into the air and transformed to their pyramidal jet modes and rocketed back and forth over the alleyway.
Overdrive emerged on to the roof and Devil Spawn turned towards him. ‘They won’t get far,’ Devil Spawn said. The final end of the Autobots is at hand, and it’s all thanks to you. How does it feel to be responsible for such death and destruction?’
Overdrive smiled and looked down at the still body of Sureshot and then across at the still smoking ruins of the base. ‘It feels wonderful. Well worth the wait.’
‘I am impressed. I have dealt with Autobot defectors before and they usually have second thoughts as soon as they see the consequences of their actions. But you I sense are different. You have the makings of a true Decepticon.’
Overdrive turned back to Devil Spawn and said, ‘That is what I wish to be. If you will make me a Decepticon then I will pledge my loyalty to you.’ He stepped forward and knelt at Devil Spawn’s feet, his head bowed.
‘I am a Decepticon of my word. You have earned your reward. You will be a Decepticon and you will have your city. Arise Overdrive.’
Overdrive stood and said, ‘Thank-you, Excellency.’
They both turned and looked back out over the buildings. The seekers were now spreading out, covering the city in large circular flight paths. A dark green seeker broke off from the group and flew towards them. He transformed and landed on the building in front of them.
‘Turbulence?’ Devil Spawn asked.
‘I’m sorry Excellency but there is no sign of them.’
‘Idiots! How could they have escaped so quickly? Continue the search, level every building if you have to but I want them found. The rest of us will be returning to Polyhex. We have an invasion to launch. Keep me informed.’
‘Yes Excellency,’ Turbulence said and turning he transformed and flew out to join his fellow seekers in the search.
‘It doesn’t really matter,’ Devil Spawn said. ‘What can the four of them do? Come Overdrive, to Polyhex.’
* * * * *
Some time later Scorponok stood at the bottom of a boarding ramps for one of the Nemesis-class attack ships. Quake and Spinister emerged from the giant ship and walked down the ramp towards him.
‘Is everything prepared?’ Scorponok asked.
Spinister nodded, ‘All of the air assault teams are aboard and ready. There were no casualties from the attack on Autobot headquarters.’
Scorponok inclined his head towards Quake, ‘We’re all set. We lost three in the attack and had five hurt. They’re being sorted out now,’ he said.
‘Excellent,’ Scorponok said. ‘Return to your ships and await my signal.’
The two Decepticons nodded, Quake turned and walked back up the ramp, while Spinister continued on down the ramp and across the spaceport to a neighbouring ship.
Scorponok clicked on his communicator and said, ‘Excellency, this is Scorponok, we are fully set for departure.’
‘Very well Scorponok,’ Devil Spawn’s voice came back over the communicator. ‘Board you flagship and prepare for launch.’
‘Yes Excellency,’ Scorponok said and clicked off his communicator and walked over to his own Nemesis-class ship, the Encroachment. He boarded her and the ramp slid shut behind him.
* * * * *
Devil Spawn stood in the observation deck of the spaceport overlooking the launch pad. Soon the Decepticon Empire would be born. He clicked the comm. system on and said, ‘Scorponok you may launch when ready.’
‘Acknowledged Excellency,’ Scorponok responded.
* * * * *
Scorponok turned to the Encroachment’s pilot and said, ‘We have launch clearance, have all checks been carried out?’
‘Yes commander, we are fully operational.’
‘Then issue the launch command to all ships.’
* * * * *
Devil Spawn smiled as the rockets of first one ship, and then another fired. The observation deck shook as the huge ships began to lift off the ground, slowly at first but then increasing in speed until they disappeared into the dark sky. Ships from other launch sites could also be seen rising up to join the attack fleet.
‘So it begins,’ Devil Spawn said.
* * * * *
‘What is the ETA of Cyrilla?’ Scorponok asked.
‘Five point two three cycles, commander.’
Scorponok smiled, there was not long to wait now.’
* * * * *
Melika, Stavos and the twins had gone out to one of the many parks that surrounded Steptyra City. She was beginning to think that it hadn’t been such a good idea to come on this picnic after all.
The twins had had yet another fight on the journey here. This time it had been about whose hair was the longest. They had only quietened down when Melika had threatened to cancel the picnic. The twins had then spent the rest of the journey in sullen silence.
Stavos had smiled reassuringly at Melika and given her leg a sympathetic squeeze, but the anxiety had returned. Would he go off of her because of the twins? She hoped, prayed, that he wouldn’t.
The picnic itself went quite well. The twins had a small argument over one of the cakes. Sahb said that Quen had a bigger piece than she did. Since then though things had been quite calm.
Stavos looked up from where he was lying sun bathing and said, ‘Do you want to play a game of something?’
‘Yes,’ said Quen.
‘He was talking to me,’ Sahb said pushing Quen hard in the shoulder.
‘No he wasn’t he was talking to me,’ Quen said and leapt on her sister and began punching her. Sahb screamed and began to hit back.
‘Stop it, stop it the pair of you,’ Melika shouted, pulling Quen off of Sahb. Quen kicked out viciously and caught Sahb a glancing blow on her shoulder. She cried out in pain, got to her feet and ran forward to where Melika was still holding the struggling Quen. Sahb dodged Quen’s flailing feet and then hit her square in the chest. Stavos came running forward and pulled Sahb away.
‘I’m ashamed of the pair of you,’ Melika shouted, tears streaming down her face. ‘You’re both in very serious trouble. When we get home…What!’
Melika’s attention had been diverted by the sight of a huge starship descending through the clouds to hover over the park. The front of the ship extended to form a long cannon and a pair of bulky landing struts stuck out forty-five degree angles towards the rear of the ship and what looked like gun emplacements were dotted around the hull. Melika did not know it but she was looking at a Decepticon Straxus-class ground assault craft.
A second ship, then a third came zooming through the clouds and hovered over the park alongside the first. Then all three began to slowly lower themselves to the ground. Their landing struts gouging huge furrows in the soft ground as they touched down.
Stavos came over to Melika and whispered urgently to her, ‘Come on into the bushes, quickly.’
‘Why? What are they?’ Melika asked.
‘I don’t know but I think we should hide until we find out,’ he said, holding Sahb in one arm he grabbed Melika with his free hand and dragged her towards some nearby bushes.
Once undercover they turned to look at the sight unfolding in the park. People were running, from the ship screaming. As they watched one of the gun emplacements on the hull of the first ship rotated and sent a green laser blast at a group of running people. As the blast hit they screamed, were engulfed in green light and then they were gone.
‘What’s happening, what are those things?’ Melika cried.
‘I don’t know,’ Stavos replied.
They continued to watch in horror as more of the green laser blasts shot out vaporising whole groups of scared, panicking people. Then the sides of the three ships shuddered and a section began to lower out into a boarding ramp.
No sooner had the ramp touched the ground than giant heavily armed robots began to emerge. Some began taking pot shots at the scattering crowds with their hand held weapons. Melika watched in amazement and fear as some transformed into stylised attack jets and shot up into the sky.
‘Mummy look, robots. I want to play,’ Quen said with a shriek and before Melika could stop her, Quen had scrambled out of the bushes and was running towards the nearest of the giant robots. To her horror, she saw that Sahb had also wriggled free and was following her, ‘QUEN, SAHB, NO! COME BACK!’ Melika screamed and made to scramble up after them.
‘No, I’ll get them,’ Stavos said pushing her back down as he scrambled out of the bushes after the twins.
‘Be careful,’ Melika called.
The Decepticon, Triggerhappy was enjoying himself like he hadn’t done in eons. He whooped with joy as he another group of flesh creatures exploded under the power of his compressed air cannon. They were so fragile and popped so easily.
He was looking around for his next victims when he spotted two small flesh creatures running towards him from some nearby carbon-based flora. Another larger flesh creature was running after them. He turned to face them and raised his compressed air cannon.
‘Nice robot,’ Quen called up. ‘Will you play with me?’
Stavos redoubled his pace as the robot pointed his gun at her. He caught up with Sahb and caught her up under one arm. Then with a great effort he flung himself forward and caught Quen under the other arm. His momentum caused him to continue to move forward towards the robot. There was a thwump sound from behind him and he felt himself being thrown forwards through the air. He cried out as he landed, the breath knocked out of him.
Triggerhappy’s optics flashed as the large flesh creature managed to scoop the small one away just before the blast from his compressed air cannon hit the ground. The ground exploded under the enormous pressure and knocked the flesh creatures off their feet.
They were lying by his left foot. The two smaller ones were wriggling from the grip of the larger one, trying to get up. With a grin that was lost to sight behind his face plate Triggerhappy raised his enormous foot and brought it heavily downwards.
Stavos saw the giant foot being raised and knew he was dead. With the last of his strength he pushed Quen and Sahb away from him and shouted, ‘RUN!’
Melika screamed as Stavos disappeared under the robot’s foot. The robot then swivelled his foot as though he was putting out a cigarette. The twins were screaming now and running back towards Melika. She started to get up, meaning to go out and help them, but then she saw the robot raise its gun again and level it on her two running children.
He wouldn’t miss this time, Triggerhappy knew. He had lined them up perfectly and pulled the trigger. A blast of super compressed air shot from the end of his cannon. It crossed the distance between the gun barrel and the twins at the speed of sound.
Melika looked on in horror as the robot fired again. The blast hit the twins in the back. The super compressed air instantly blasted a hole through their fragile bodies. The sudden inrush of air caused a pressure imbalance and the two twins exploded. Blood and body parts flying in all directions.
The compressed air shot, hardly affected by the small targets continued on and hit the ground a few feet from the bushes where Melika was hiding. A huge hole was blasted into the soft ground and dirt and small rocks were blown into the air before beginning to rain down.
‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ Melika screamed as she saw the twins blown apart by the blast. She tried to get up but then the ground in front of her exploded, knocking her backwards into the bushes. Her back hit a root violently and she cried out in pain. Then she screamed as earth, rocks and stones dislodged by the blast thumped down around her. A small stone hit her on the head and she knew no more.
* * * * *
On the Encroachment, Scorponok was supervising the invasion. The planet had no space faring civilisations and so they had met no resistance on approach. Air and ground resistance had been slight.
The weaponry of this backwards world was insufficient to be a serious threat. Three cycles after the first assault craft entered the atmosphere the invasion was effectively over. All the major capital cities had been captured. The Decepticons had suffered no losses.
Scorponok moved over to the communications console and spoke to the operator, ‘Send a message to Cybertron. Inform his Excellency that the planet is now under Decepticon control.’
‘Yes commander,’ the operator responded and began to carry out the order.
* * * * *
Some time later Devil Spawn once again stood in front of his wall mounted star chart, only this time there were two reds dots, one marked Cybertron, the other marked Cyrilla. The Decepticon Empire had been born.
Epilogue - Anomalies
The Entity looked down into the reality and became intrigued. Events that it had not foreseen were taking place. How could this be? It had scanned the reality and seen the ultimate destinies of all those involved and while it planned to alter those destinies; the changes it had made to the reality so far should not have been so extreme at this stage.
Where had this Omnis Validus come from? He was not in any other reality that it had been observed. This could prove interesting. Maybe now was the time to observe the reality in motion. It would be wise to understand the reality before attempting any further changes. Besides, watching Megatron versus Omnis Validus might prove quite interesting in itself.
Satisfied with its decision it settled back to watch the events in the reality unfold.
To Be continued in...From the Ashes of One's Enemies