The Sword is Mightier than the Pen

By: Blazemane   


              “Arctosteel wanted to know what ships had transwarp technology because he wanted to join the rest of the Predacons.” Wirecat said.


              “What do you mean?” Quickrim asked.


              “A ship, you said, took off earlier. It was them. It was the Predacons. Of course. Nothing they could possibly do on Cybertron could have been successfully carried out indefinitely. They had to know that if they were going to use the Golden Disk to commit a string of crimes here, they would eventually get caught. We know who they are, what they look like, their histories and their very names. They were frozen on this planet. But the Golden Disk does not only hold information about Cybertron. It speaks of planets important to our past, most importantly Earth, the home of humanity.”


              “They want to go to Earth? What could they want there?” Quickrim asked.


              “Energon. 300 years ago, that was the Decepticon Megatron’s plan. If he could only get energon, he could reinforce the meager supply available to the Decepticons on Cybertron and in one decisive swoop, crush the Autobots once and for all. It may be, that history has started to repeat itself.”


              “But… but there isn’t any war.” Quickrim blurted.


              “They can start one. 300 years has been an amazing period for even descendants of Autobots and Decepticons to have remained at peace with each other. But many Predacons have not wanted it so. Even some Maximals are getting agitated.”


              “I know that.” Quickrim admitted.


              “Then this shouldn’t be too shocking.” Wirecat said.


              Quickrim took another longing, desperate glance around the battle torn room.


              “But it should be shocking!” he gasped. “How did it get this bad?”


              A nurse lifted a ‘bot with a large bleeding hole in his chest onto a stretcher. And Quickrim, as he gazed on it, wished that the time it took for that ‘bot to be lifted those few feet would go far quicker. He wished for him to be in medical treatment already, with nothing to worry about.


              “Isn’t peace what we’ve been fighting for? 300 years shouldn’t just fall down like a stack of cards! I… I can’t believe it. I won’t. How could a band of six start another war?”


              “Quickrim, listen to me.” Wirecat said. “Believe what you will. Whether or not the Predacons are headed towards Earth, we know that at least Arctosteel is headed for that Docking Bay. You have to get there as fast as you can and notify them to lock the place down. He can’t be fought, but he can’t exactly get through blast doors either. He has a head start, so you have to go now. Another thing. These walls weren’t meant to repel weapons fire, so the fight with Arctosteel damaged most of the energon lines in this building. Our communications have no power. We’ll be trying to get it back up, and then we’re going to send in an official command to any transwarp ships to be ready for potential re-routing.”


              “But there’s no confirmation the Predacons escaped.” Quickrim interjected.


              “I know. I need you to check surveillance footage once you get there. If you see the Preds, there’s your answer. And we’ll need to know of course.”


              “Understood sir.”


              Without a backward glance, Quickrim walked out, became his alternate grey vehicle and sped away.


* * *


              Primal sat down behind his desk in front of the docking bay. Cybertronian ships had long hired explorers as a sort of secondary crew- those who were not needed for the whole journey, and did not want to be part of the whole journey either. These ‘bots could sign up to be placed on the ship as stasis pods. Those members had long since signed up, and tonight they were arriving. In the morning, the Axalon would be taking off.


              The first one arrived just as the sun was nearly down in the sky.


              “Ah, hello there.” Primal said as the ‘bot came to the front desk. He checked through some papers. “Alright, Quickstrike, you can get into the docking bay though that door right there.” he said turning around and pointing to the mentioned object.


              “Well now. Ain’t that impressive?” Quickstrike said. He could see the Axalon behind the energy door that separated it from the main lobby of the bay. “Y’know there, I’ve never actually been on one of these exploration missions before.”


              “That’s what your paper says. So what makes you want to come here?”


              “Uh, well, when I read the advertisement for accepting stasis ‘bots, one thing it said was that y’all wanted a few with battle experience in case we ran into hostile life forms.”


              “You say battle experience?”


              “Yep. Quickstrike, of the 3rd Division Maximal Infantry.”


              “Well then, I’m glad we will have your good services if we need them.” Primal said.


              “Heh heh,” Quickstrike chuckled as he began walking past the desk, “good’s got nothin’ to do with it.”


              Primal kept smiling, but he raised a quizzical eyebrow.


              “Aw, I’m just kiddin’ boss.” Quickstrike explained.


              Outside the main lobby doors, a silver ‘bot with missile tipped plane wings stood with a bronze and black femme ‘bot.


              “Well Jojo, I guess this is the last time we’ll see each other for a while.”


              “I only wish I could make it all the more memorable.”


              “Well, I’m sure we could Silver.”


              “But dear, this is a public street. There are plenty of watchers all around.”


              “Oh, but that just makes it better.” she said before leaning in and giving him a final kiss. They held each other for a fleeting moment. And when the moment was gone, it was time.


              “Are you ready beloved?”


              “Of course. Are you?” she asked.


              “As long as I know you’ll be with me, I can be ready for anything. And I do know that no matter what happens, wherever we go, we will be together. Always. Not even distance can truly separate us. But if it comes between us, then I promise you that I will find you again. Just so long as you wish to be found.”


              She smiled again.


              “I’m counting on that.”


* * *


              Quickrim was speeding along the road, and had been doing so for quite some time, but he was far more concentrated on his own thoughts. He wanted everything to be over- to go back to the way it was.


              He was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice a car trying to pass him in the lane to his left until he was about halfway there. Being startled, Quickrim swerved right, ramming his side against the guard rail of the highway. The car continued on its way, but for a little while, Quickrim hovered close to the rail. Out of curiosity, he was able to get a look over the edge and see the road below him. 


              He saw a merging ramp, which was soon to intersect with his highway, and he saw a car on it. It was a brown, slightly large vehicle, but nothing overly huge. In his pensive and desperate state, it took a while for reality to hit him. He was looking at Arctosteel.


              He was quite suddenly, alert. He remembered Wirecat’s words.


              He can’t be fought, he can’t be fought, he can’t be fought.


              He realized his best chance was to cruise ahead on the highway and try to remain ahead of Arctosteel, unseen. But he was already going close to top speed, and Arctosteel was accelerating rapidly to get up the ramp. Quickrim realized if he kept at his current speed, they would collide. Of course, he could turn away into another lane, but then he’d still be right next to Arctosteel, who would certainly recognize him. And if Quickrim were to slow down, he would not be able to pass ‘Steel without being noticed, and if he didn’t pass him, ‘Steel would reach the Docking Bay first.


              He had one desperate option remaining. Pushing himself to accelerate the rest of the way to top speed, he drove until he was just a little ahead of Arctosteel. In mid-drive, he transformed, sending sparks as metal grated on metal road, and then jumped.


              Right over the guard rail.


              And down he went, falling through the sky until he landed on top of ‘Steel,


              The force of the fall sent both of them careening off of the ramp, and onto the lowest level of the Cybertronian streets, where there was firm, even ground.


              ‘Steel, who was tilted slightly on his side, transformed in the blink of an eye and stood up. Quickrim, though already transformed, struggled to push himself to his feet. Arctosteel stood and waited.


              “The Predacons are gone Quickrim. I don’t have to protect them from witnesses anymore. Just keep on going your way.  You don’t want to fight me.”


              “I have, friend, very little choice. Quickrim noted as he deployed his cannons.


              “Look, I know you’re sad we missed our rendezvous at the hospital, but getting yourself kicked around really isn’t as fun as you might fancy. I had needed to kill you then, but it is no longer necessary.”


              “Why didn’t you kill me earlier then? You thought fighting a group of agents at HQ would be better?”


              Arctosteel chuckled.


              “Right, right, very funny. I have to admit, I didn’t expect you to be the type to change records of your location. Hacking a Maximal database to protect your hide just doesn’t seem befitting of you. You should have seen me too. I came into that room with a minigun. It was funny- breaking down the door and seeing what lay behind it was totally empty. You really pulled a fast one on me.”


              Hacking? And did he attack a hospital before going to HQ after all? But then, who hid my location? Quickrim thought to himself. He quickly realized that it would be advantageous to not let his foe know of some un-named party’s involvement, and decided to say nothing to contradict him. So he moved on to the next thing.


              “So then, why won’t you fight me now?”


              “I already told you.”


              “I don’t believe you.”


              “Then how about I personally escort you to the docking bay and show you the surveillance tapes myself? Doubtless, that’s where you’re going anyways right? How about it? One last, friendly peaceful drive together. Hm?”


              “You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t know what you really want, but if the Predacons had left, you wouldn’t admit it so blithely.”


              “Oh? They’re gone so you can’t do anything about them. You don’t believe me anyways, so you wouldn’t do anything about them. And maybe, after all the events of the past days, I think I owe, at least for the sake of a friend I once had, some peace of mind to him.”


              “Keep your peace of mind. I’m considering giving you a piece of my mind too.”


              “How about I help you?” Arctosteel said. And with that, he slowly, so as not to startle Quickrim, grabbed his pump action gauss rifle, cocked it, and aimed directly at his chest, where his spark chamber lay concealed between mere inches of plating. Then he pulled the trigger.


              Quickrim stood aghast as ‘Steel lightly tossed the rifle onto the ground. He had not even fallen over. And where a massive whole needed to be was instead a barely noticeable dent. Quickrim looked at the gun, and saw that its barrel was shredded. The gun had definitely been loaded then, and ‘Steel’s structure had actually caused it to backfire.


              “How?” Quickrim asked.


              “I don’t know Q. I’m not a biologist, or a mechanic for that matter.” Quickrim stared and pondered. “So are you going to come along, or go away?”


              Quickrim continued staring. Then he swallowed and seemed to take a labored breath.


              “Look at you. We grew up together, you and me. I thought I knew you inside and out. You were the last one I would have ever expected to be a traitor. Come along or go away? Either choice abandons you. And now, now you’re wearing that Maximal signet on your shoulder like it belongs there.”


              “I am cursed with it!” Arctosteel shouted. “I made so many decisions when I was too young. When you join Special Forces, you know your programming gets solidified. I thought that was alright. Actually, I thought it was perfect. Too many ‘evil Preds’, running around and reprogramming our good fighters, right?”


              “Apparently they didn’t need too.” Quickrim snapped.


              “Indeed.” Arctosteel became more tense. “And now I am forced to wear the face of my enemy. But perhaps, I will just give a new face to the Maximals. I can stand up for the Predacons, and against all the oppression I’ve seen.”


              “Oppression?” Quickrim asked. A nearly involuntary gauss blast whisked out of his cannon and smashed into Arctosteel’s chest.


              “Your group attacked an innocent guard!” he stated, punctuating with another shot directly to ‘Steel’s faceplate. Then he was upon him. Two hands collided into ‘Steel’s stomach, and he doubled over.


              “In one night, you terrorized an entire planet by stealing the Golden Disk!” A knee dealt another blow to ‘Steel’s face, and he reeled back into a nearly standing position.


              “What about all the workers inside the Dome? There weren’t just guards. There were librarians, scientists, all manner of Civilian workers! Who were they oppressing!?” Quickrim gave ‘Steel an upper cut, and sent his back against a wall.


              “You care about innocents? Work innocently!” Another fist came down on Arctosteel.


              “Alright, that’s enough.” Arctosteel said calmly as he backhanded Quickrim with devastating force, sending him flying onto the road to land on his back.


              “You know Quickrim, I helped one of the Predacons insure that minimal casualties were inflicted. Megatron- oh I know you already know his name- wanted to use a lethal toxin to kill all inside the dome. I changed that.”


              “The sleeping gas? So that was meant to be lethal?”


              “I’m telling you, I had a hand in changing that.”


              “And when Megatron comes back, with an unstoppable energy supply at his command, and begins his war on Cybertron- when he inspires the support of both Predacons and Decepticons, the very fear and anger of the Maximals and Autobots- when war starts, and people die uselessly like in the Great War you spent so many years insuring would not be repeated, will you have a hand in changing that too?”


              Arctosteel merely stared back angrily in response.


              “And what of the guards in the Dome- those who defended the Disk? Did you try to save them?” Quickrim asked.


              “Those guards were far from-”


              “Shut up!” Quickrim interjected. He was up in a flash, and tackled Arctosteel to the ground. Arctosteel delivered a fist to Quickrim’s face plate, and made him stagger backwards. Arctosteel got on his feet, grabbed Quickrim’s chest and pulled him to a standing position. Quickrim moved both of his arms inside Arctosteel’s and swept the offending hands away. He then brought both of his hands to either side of Arctosteel’s head in a crushing blow.


              Wheeling around to gain momentum, he sent his left foot into his opponent’s stomach, and finished his own spin by wheeling his right hand around to bring it across Arctosteel’s face. After following through with his swing, Quickrim stood straight, aimed his quasar cannons, and shot Arctosteel with a blast from each arm. The ammunition sent Arctosteel careening into the wall behind him, and bits of concrete flew off with the impact.


              Quickrim turned his arms where his wheel guns resided, and the wheels touched each other’s hub caps. Both of the hub caps split in the middle and opened to reveal the inner machinations of the guns. The pipes rolled out and quickly connected with each other to form one consistent barrel. A white light began to grow in intensity at the back of the new rifle.


              By this time, Arctosteel had just stood up. Quickrim fired a fast, bright and powerful gauss blast straight into Arctosteel’s chest.


              Arctosteel spun a bit, flew through the wall, and into the building which it was a part of.


              Quickrim took a few breaths as the gun disconnected, and its two halves replaced themselves into his wheels.


              Then he heard the sound of a motor starting. A metallic whirring followed, and Arctosteel walked through the hole in the wall with a chainsaw he apparently found in the building. Wielding it menacingly, he ran towards Quickrim.


              Quickrim waited where he stood. Arctosteel swung viciously, but Quickrim ducked under the swing and rolled behind his back. He then kicked the underside of Arctosteel’s knee joint, and the combatant crumpled into a kneeling position. But as he did so, he swung the chainsaw behind him and caught Quickrim’s left leg. Blue fluid sprayed out of the otherwise minor but painful cut. Arctosteel quickly stood back up and turned clockwise to face his opponent. The saw followed in an arc slightly behind the motion of the rest of his body, gaining momentum from Arctosteel’s turn. And when Arctosteel was finally facing Quickrim, who was still sitting on the ground, the saw finished it swing and found Quickrim’s chest.


              A huge diagonal gash was left in its wake, and Quickrim spun from the force of it.


              Quickrim was on his back in the street, and saw his opponent come for him. Arctosteel raised the saw into the air, and prepared to strike down. But then he hesitated. The chainsaw lingered dangerously in air above ‘Steel’s head, still whirring. Quickrim, too, hesitated, but then he spoke.


              “Who are you fooling! If you are devoted to Megatron’s cause, why must you select which of your threats face termination? I am no different than those guards! Why can’t you kill me?”


              Arctosteel stood still with the chainsaw.


              “You’re a Maximal! You can’t kill me, and it’s because you know it’s wrong! Stop this madness!”


              Arctosteel made no change in emotion. And Quickrim finally broke down. Tears rolled down his faceplate as pain, fear, pity, and frustration all conspired within him.


              “You’re my friend! We trained together, shared everything we could! Where did I abandon you so terribly that you slipped to this state?” Quickrim was, by this point blinded. “Listen to your spark! Don’t you even have one anymore?”


              “The world isn’t as simple as you think it is Q!” Arctosteel shouted back. “The Maximals aren’t perfect. They never were. But do you think I fight for the Predacons because I find them guiltless? They are the victims, or I would not fight. But I don’t wish for their domination. I want even ground. I want their vindication. They aren’t the Decepticons, and certainly none of them fought in the Great War. The Decepticons aren’t even who they use to be. What would you have me do? Politics? It has failed for 300 years. It is time for Civil War. An end to Predacon slavery!”


              “Who put this nonsense into your head? And does that not make me a slave master? Why do I not deserve justice?”


              “I can show mercy. I am not a villain.”


              “Those ‘bots at the Dome, the ones who were outside, who you sniped- you didn’t miss them, just so you know. They’re dead. Saving me doesn’t change what you are.”


              Arctosteel became notably more angry.


              “What am I then?”


              “A murderer!” Quickrim shouted. “A murderer you are, and if you leave me alive, I’m going to do everything I can to stand in your way.”


              “I guess that’s it then.” Arctosteel said as he raised the chainsaw once again.


              The saw began descending, and Quickrim felt powerless to do anything but observe. A million thoughts rushed through his head. He even began to work through Arctosteel’s argument. Had the Maximals been slave masters? It couldn’t have gotten that bad, could it have?  But his thoughts were interrupted when he saw something peculiar mid-swing. Two red dots materialized on Arctosteel- one on his left arm, and another on his chest. He heard some sort of munitions related sound, and a few moments later, two fires erupted where the dots had been pointing. Arctosteel’s face changed from anger to shock, and his body jerked back. The saw fell out of his grasp as he fell backwards.


              Quickrim quickly jolted up from his sitting position and began running for the road. He didn’t know if he was a target, but either way he had a job he still needed to attend to. He transformed and drove for the ramp again. As he did so he realized he remembered those two targeting lasers and the ‘bot who fired them. Then some more pieces began to fall into place.


* * *


              Arctosteel stood up and looked around him. There was nothing ahead of him, where the shots had come from. He looked around, in every imaginable angle, until he was facing the wall he had previously been shot through.


              Two laser pulses smashed into his left side. He staggered, but stayed on his feet after a few awkward steps. He whipped his head to the left, but there was nothing there. Then he laughed.


              “Alright, very funny. Show yourself and come fight like a real Maximal.” He declared to his unseen adversary. Behind him, the chainsaw raised itself from the ground ominously, and came crashing down on the back of his head. Sparks flashed as the saw grated on the metal of Arctosteel’s head. He fell over in surprise and the saw dropped back onto the ground as spontaneously as it had come into the air. It bounced a few times while the spikes continued whirring around, and eventually it laid in its spot on the ground- still sawing at the air, wishing for metal.


              Arctosteel pointed his right arm at the saw and a PPC raised itself near his wrist. A white energy like lightning shot out and smashed the saw into pieces. Arctosteel once again pushed himself up from the ground while the PPC sunk back into his arm.


              Arctosteel closed his eyes and listened for a noise. He heard shuffling to his right, near the road, and grabbed a grenade from a compartment on his shoulder. He then threw it where he heard the noise. A large explosion resulted, and Arctosteel himself was thrown back from the force of it. But he had fallen over enough to let it go. Mingled with the sound of the explosion, he thought he could detect a labored shout.


              When he looked back at the burnt section of the road where the explosion had occurred, he noticed some mech fluid glowing in various pools. He listened again, but he heard nothing. Then he saw, somewhere between the highway and his own road, that small drops of blue were materializing rhythmically out of thin air, and splashing the road below. He pulled out a second gauss rifle, which had been magnetically attached to his back, with lightning speed. Wasting no time, he pumped it, and fired his rifle at the source of the drops. As a mini fireball made itself known, a ‘bot shaped structure radiated with black lines and grey fuzz before disappearing again. Arctosteel shot again and again and again. The structure made an outline once more, and seemed to thrash around, before falling to the ground, and disappearing mid-fall. With no definable reason, the concrete road below erupted into fragments and dust. Arctosteel aimed at the center of the crater, and another fireball erupted in mid-air.


              “So?” Arctosteel said. “You’re invisible. I’m invincible.”


              “Perhaps.” A voice announced behind him. Arctosteel wheeled around, and saw a black cat. The cat thrust his fist across Arctosteel’s face. “But you’re still not too bright.” Arctosteel looked at the crater again, and finally saw that he had been shooting at a cloaking system programmed into a compartment that also housed jump jets. Looking back at the cat, he saw two indentations on his side where the connectors for the jump jets were normally attached.


              By this point, the cat had pulled out his laser hand guns again. He took aim and fired a red laser. It hit Arctosteel right between the optics. Arctosteel fell onto his back and lay motionless as his optics flickered out for a moment. The cat stared with his hand gun still pointed in his direction. Then the optics flickered back, and Arctosteel stood up. He stared at the cat, and noticed, on the side of his arm, was a purple symbol- that of the Decepticons.


              “I can’t believe it.” Arctosteel muttered.


              “You should talk.” said the cat. He then opened up with both of his guns. Arctosteel held up his hands in protest as red pulses, and their resulting sparks and explosions engulfed him to a point where he was almost unrecognizable. Yet somehow, another grenade flew from the walking target. The cat acted quickly and shot the grenade in air as it was coming to him. He crouched on the ground as shrapnel flew his way, and for the most part, bounced harmlessly off of him.


              “I know who you are!” Arctosteel shouted to him. “A jaguar, wearing a Decepticon symbol? Still working on a major event on Cybertron? You’re Ravage. You don’t know how long I’ve wondered about all the rumors. Were you really reprogrammed to be a Predacon?”


              “Are you still functional?” Ravage replied.


              “Oh yeah…” Arctosteel said with a slight chuckle. “I forgot- I need to kill you.”


              He pumped his gauss rifle, which had remained in his grasp the whole time, and Ravage dashed for cover. Arctosteel managed to shoot him in the right leg, but he still jumped around the corner of the building. Another gauss blast whipped into the corner harmlessly and tore off bricks.


              “You want to play hide and seek then?” Arctosteel challenged. He ran for the whole in the wall, and dashed through. Immediately, his rifle was pushed right up into his head. Ravage then chopped the gun out of his grasp, before returning to hit Arctosteel’s neck. Ravage’s opponent grabbed his shoulders, but Ravage moved his right arm outside and smashed the grasp away. Finishing the follow through, he reared again with his right arm to backhand Arctosteel in the face. He then grabbed his opponent by the shoulders. Acting quickly, Ravage spun him in an arc and forced him into a glass case. The glass shattered all over the floor as Ravage reversed the arc and smashed ‘Steel’s back into a metal railway which guarded a set of stairs.


              The “clang” from the impact resounded throughout the dark room as the whole rail vibrated in protest. Ravage reared his right fist into the air, and came down.


              But the fist was caught.


              “You’re a bit too brave for you own good.” Arctosteel said. He clenched the hand that held Ravage’s fist, and a deep sound, as of iron in a press which does not wish to be crushed, quietly voiced itself while Ravage’s hand became distorted. With his free hand, Arctosteel pushed the back of Ravage’s right arm, and Ravage went head first into the rail. Arctosteel pulled him backwards, grabbed his shoulder and threw him straight over the rail and out through the hole in the wall. Ravage made impact with the ground and uncontrollably rolled a few times before coming to a stop.


              Arctosteel walked out, having reacquired his rifle from off the ground, and looked at Ravage. His face was bent and leaking fluid from the smash into the rail. His hand was crushed, and the rifle wound was evident on his left leg, which was bleeding quite profusely. Still, he smashed his left hand into the ground. His right leg came up and pounded dust into the air. And up he stood.


              Arctosteel slowly pumped his shotgun, and with one hand, pointed it at Ravage’s head.


              “It’s over.” Arctosteel said.


              By this time the sun had gone down, and it was appropriately dark. As Ravage and Arctosteel stared at each other, a large amount of light flooded in from the south. Arctosteel looked in its direction, and the sound of an engine became more and more prevalent.


              Arctosteel tried to run, but the semi truck was already on his tail. The front bumper hit him as he ran, and he stumbled. Then he was pushed by the front of the semi- right into the building. The wall broke down easily, as it had a habit of doing, and the semi continued driving and went through some stairs that led up another level, taking the whole thing down. It was stopped quite suddenly when its front smashed into a large factory machine. Glass flew out of the windshield, and the entire front end curled up like tinfoil.


              “It certainly is.” Ravage acknowledged.


              The driver’s door opened, and out stepped Torcher. As he walked through the torn building, some sparks flew off the front of the truck, and after flinching he turned around to see that all was still as normal as it could be.


              “I must thank you for your rescue, Maximal,” Ravage said as Torcher walked onto the road, “but I must admit that is a sad day to see my spark saved by a semi truck.”


              Torcher glanced at Ravage quizzically. He whipped his head around to look at the semi, then back to look at Ravage. He looked at the truck again, and began smiling, and then when he looked at Ravage again, he was laughing.


              “Your sense of humor eludes me.”


              “Hey, you brought it up. On that note, what the heck is Ravage the reprogrammed doing fighting Arctosteel the traitor? You do know he’s a traitor right? We’re not enemies are we?”


              “Not precisely. Granted, few have ever seen me and been allowed to continue living. Right now, however, our goals are concurrent.”


              “Really? What’s your story?” Torcher asked.


              “I would explain, but you need to meet back up with your agent. We do not know what other dangers he may be in.” Ravage said.


              “No, I need to know where you’ve come from. The last thing I want is some Predacon special forces coming down on our heads. If my leaving to help Quickrim is important enough for you to suggest that I go with him, then by refusing to leave, I will be interrupting your plans. So I won’t leave until I hear this out.”


              Ravage sighed.


              “Very well, but you must understand I will be as brief as possible, and there are things I know that I absolutely must refuse to say.”


              “I’ll hear what you’ll tell.”


              “When the Cybertronian Database guard had his codes stolen, my group suspected an impending hack. Thievery of C.D. codes is uncommon enough for us to deem it investigable. So I went and checked what information had been looked into with exclusive clearance. That is when I met your partner. Due to a lack of information, and the gravity that I already knew was surrounding the situation of the database hack, I assessed him as a nuisance and attempted his termination. You know this failed.


At this point, we had suspected the theft of the Golden Disk was imminent, but an agent of our own group had been implanted into the thieves’ band, and therefore, we considered direct action to be unnecessary. For reasons we still are trying to deduce, our mole either was unable or elected not to stop the theft. A simple analysis of the street in front of the Dome the day after the theft indicated that the same agent I had fought at the C.D. had attempted to stop the theft.


We then deemed him an asset, and when you two checked into a hospital that night, we hacked the Maximal location systems and established a decoy location. We have been informed that Maximal agent Arctosteel broke into the fake location, and obviously was unable to destroy either of you. Since Maximal government force files are at least well enough encrypted to prevent our hacking them, I monitored Quickrim’s stay at the hospital on general private records, looking for when he would officially check out. And when he did, I set off to the next logical place he would go- Maximal government forces headquarters.


              When I finally arrived, the place was in shambles, as I predict you have also, by this point, seen for yourself. Quickrim was setting off, so I simply followed him through the streets. He confronted Arctosteel, and I established an optimal support position. I did not, however, anticipate that he was impenetrable to my attacks. And now, you have arrived. When you came to the Maximal Headquarters, did you ask them who damaged them that badly?”


              “It was Arctosteel.” Torcher admitted.


              “Really? By himself? I do not choose targets well.” Ravage said.


              “I want to know though-” Torcher said, “why is your group opposed so vehemently to the theft of the Golden Disk? Do you wish peace as well?”


              “It would be a lie to say that we do. Megatron has done something that we would have wanted eventually. But he came too early. We have been biding our time. He jumped the gun.”


              “Then… do no Predacons truly want peace?”


              “That is also not true.”


              “Does it not frustrate you, though, an agent of Predacon support, to work with me, to protect me and my partner?”


              “The theft of the Golden Disk means Civil War. War is quite inefficient. We learned that 300 years ago.”


              “Then, if we stop the theft… if we capture Megatron and this nightmare ends, we will be enemies again?”


              “I do not work with you for idealism. I work for your resourcefulness. You would, I wager, prove a worthy adversary.”


              “But then, if I help stop this, I have still accomplished nothing. We will still be after each other.”


              “That fact, at least as pertains to my efforts, will never change Maximal. But there is not time to speak of this. Right now, you do need to continue your mission.” Ravage said.


              “Will you be helping?” Torcher asked.


              “The best chance we have now is for the Maximal government to redirect ships to intercept the thieves. I am not of the Maximal government, and therefore my services would not only be of no help- they would interfere with our mission.”


              “Then I will be on my way.” Torcher transformed into an orange motorcycle and revved his engine. “But marks my words, my goal is to change all of this. I will fight to end the necessity for Maximal and Predacon feud. I want peace.” And with that he drove off.


              As Ravage watched Torcher recede into the distance, he spoke to himself.


              “How fortunate, then, that my feud is not with Maximals and Predacons.”


* * *

Quickrim pulled up to the hangar he had dreaded for so long. Transforming at the door, he went inside the main hallway. He took a deep breath before going to the front desk.

“Hello there, is there anything I can do for you?” a manager asked him. Quickrim produced a badge from a compartment on his left arm and showed it to the manager.

“My name is Quickrim. I'm a member of Maximal government forces.” he said. The manager had seen the badge, but no he was looking at the large gash across Quickrim’s chest. It had been getting self-repairs while he was driving, but it still was dripping a little.

“Is something wrong? What's going on?” the manager asked.

“Nothing I can confirm as of yet. Actually, that's why I'm here. I need to ask you to lock this place down. Then I need to access some video surveillance from one of your hangars.”

“Lock down? Right now? One of our transwarp ships is accepting its stasis passengers right now, and its journey is protected by other government orders. I don’t know what for.”

“O.k.” Quickrim said, looking around and tapping his fingers on the desk. “Can I look at the surveillance footage?”

“Um, sure.” the manager said. “You mean,” Quickrim started walking to the other side of the desk “just, like…” Quickrim moved to the computer while the manager stood up and got out of the way. “Oh, alright.”

Quickrim looked at his own internal virtual memory to look at the records on the previously destroyed computer at Maximal headquarters. He found the number of the docking bay where the transwarp ship had been logged as having left. Docking bay 851B.

Quickrim looked again at the real world around him and searched the surveillance directory on the computer. He typed in 851B and was given a folder of day-long videos. Clicking on the current day’s video, he typed in a specific search for a time 5 cycles before his memory told him the ship had left.

The video showed a standard interstellar cruiser. It didn't look all that impressive. And the video didn't show any movement of 'bots outside. He went to half a megacycle before. It would be very likely that a ship about to take off in 5 cycles would already have its crew aboard, after all. But half a megacycle before, there was nothing. He pressed a fast forward option, and watched as the computer went through about 10 cycles time of footage in about 30 nanoclicks. Still no movement outside was visible. So he went to 5 cycles after the time the ship had, according to his records taken off. In the video, the cruiser was still there. He grew hopeful for one moment- perhaps nobody had departed after all. But then, he reasoned, official government records and the surveillance footage were in direct contradiction of each other. Perhaps the government was mistaken, but there was only way to find out.

“Sir, I'm going to check out one of your docking bays.” Quickrim announced.

“O.k.” the manager acknowledged. He had very little intention of getting in Quickrim’s way.

* * *

“Sir, you really ought to be getting medical attention.” Agent B told Wirecat.

“Yeah, that's what they always say.” Wirecat said as he continued walking up the stairs. The agent looked tentatively at the drops of mech fluid which were falling onto the steps from various wounds on Wirecat's frame. Then they were at the door they were looking for. It read “Energon Maintenance- I dare you to come in.” The third head of Special forces had put that reading on the door, and everyone since had found it so refreshingly non-bureaucratic that nobody had wished to take it down.

Wirecat pushed the handle down and hit the door with his shoulder to open it. And in they went.

“What's the problem?” Wirecat inquired of one of the official electrical workers.

“We've re-routed all the power to the few lines in the building that weren't shot up. But since we're making a completely new system with the circuitry, we still need to construct something to make everything connect at the top here.” he responded.

“We don't have time to move the lines and create insulators. We have a crisis on our hands. You're talking about a long term fix. We just need a short one right now. Besides, if you went through all that trouble, and this whole situation settled down, wouldn't you be concerned that this power system is inefficient or something like that? I mean, the lines were arranged the way they were for a reason.” Wirecat said.

“Then, sir, what do you suggest?” the worker asked. Wirecat looked around him at the floor. It was pulsating with different shades of blue, and general lighting, as the lines in the wall were for the most part exposed. Then he found something.

Picking up a metal wrench from off the ground, he put it above the lines which were in the process of being connected and simply dropped it. The wires sparked for a while, and then the whole building began to give off a strange hum as the power was reactivated. Some lights at the top of the room flickered on.

“But sir, that's not gonna’-” Wirecat interrupted the worker by slamming the panel in the wall, where the wires were exposed, shut. His words were cut off by the loud *bang* that resounded from the impact.

Wirecat walked out of the room with the agent and spoke into his comlink.

“Sellfaw, get me in touch with the Northern Sector Space Hangar.”

* * *

Quickrim looked at the door to the docking bay. He had been granted access to it, so he opened it without worry of a lock. And there, inside, stood his answer: nothing. He took a long stroll to the center of the bay. He jumped up in the air and clapped his hands above his head.

“Hmm...” he pondered. Then he got on his comlink.

“Sir?” he addressed the hangar's manager.


“Can you look at the live video feed for docking bay 851B?”

“Sure.” After a few seconds, he continued. “Alright, I've got it.”

“What do you see?” Quickrim asked.

“A space cruiser of some kind.”

“Really? Do you see me?”

“No.” the manager responded. Quickrim did some jumping jacks.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, you aren't there.” the manager said.

“O.k. Thanks for the help.” Quickrim said. Then he deactivated the communication. He opened another one.

“Wirecat, this is Agent E. Are you there?”

“Agent E, this is Wirecat. What's going on over there?”

“The Predacons definitely left. They set up a decoy surveillance loop at the hangar and got away undetected. I guess they couldn't hack the Government spacecraft files, but apparently, they didn't need to. We knew a ship had left, but we didn't know its significance soon enough. Have you been able to contact the hangar?”

“Yeah, we have power up temporarily, and we've told the hangar to go on lockdown.” Quickrim's panicked for a moment as he considered he might have been locked in his current bay. “But they haven't complied yet. One of the transwarp ships is accepting stasis passengers right now for an exploration mission protected under other government orders.”

“Don't ours take top priority?”

“Essentially. But they need authentication from the director of the mission and from ourselves. I need you to provide ours. But it might be a little bit before we can get the other mission’s director to.”

“Have you informed them there might be an entire re-routed of the transwarp ship?


“Needs the same authentication?”

“Yup. Oh wow, that is dark. Agent B, tell the power maintenance workers that we got our message through and they can get back on that long term solution. Boy, that wrench didn't last very long. Poor guy.”

“Well, sir, I'm going to get to the desk and provide our credentials.” Quickrim told Wirecat.

“Acknowledged.” Then the link was terminated. Quickrim took another glance at the docking bay and saw an empty bucket. He looked to the stars beyond the glass near the top of the large bay door at the other end. In frustration, he kicked the bucket across the room.

* * *


              “Oh, there you are again.” the manager said as Quickrim walked up to him.


              “Yeah- my boss told you about the lock down himself, didn’t he?” Quickrim asked.


              “Well, not personally. I was told by the system operator that an official notification had been sent in from your agency, but I didn’t specifically hear from your boss.”


              “O.k. Can I talk to the system operator?” Quickrim asked. The manager typed something in his computer, and a calm tone echoed to Quickrim as a door behind him was unlocked.


              “Sure,” the manager said, “right through that door.”


              Quickrim walked south to the mentioned door, and stepped inside.


              “Are you a member of the Maximal Government?” The operator asked.




              “Boy, you got here fast. Who are you here for? The lockdown group, or the group that organized the Axalon mission?”


              “I’m from the team that’s asking for the lockdown. I was here already.” Quickrim told him.


              “Alright, well, the other team was on its way before it heard about the lock down, so they won’t take long.”


              As if on cue, a more professional looking government agent walked into the small room. But then, it was easy to look more professional than anyone with an outstanding saw wound.


              “Alright, I want to know who thinks they have the right to impede on our task?” the agent asked. Quickrim turned to fully face him.


              “That’s me.” he announced. The agent looked at his wound, and realized he was not talking to someone who would be in any mood for demeaning speech. He did, however, have a job to do.


              “O.k., look, I know you guys are concerned about something. And we can lock down soon enough. But we have got to get something solved ourselves right now.”


              “What exactly?” Quickrim asked. The agent looked ready to speak, but then he looked back at the system operator.


              “I’m sorry, but I have a classified matter to discuss, so…”


              “Yeah, I get it. I’m going.” With that, he got up, walked out, and waited near the door.


              “I want you to be aware,” the agent began, “that whatever I say here stays between you and me.”


“I’m a member of government forces. I can keep things classified.” Quickrim said.


“Alright. The Axalon, the ship that is taking passengers right now is meant for exploration. We are concerned that a lock down would prevent the crew and stasis members from boarding, and departing on time, but we have a special reason to insure its scheduled departure.”


              “What is it?” Quickrim asked.


              “We are placing on board, as one of the stasis members, a mass murderer.” The agent said. Quickrim considered this for a moment, and then voiced an objection.


              “I understand the gravity of what being a mass murderer means, but we’ve put murderers in maximum security facilities before.”


              “Not this one.” the agent said.


              “What do you mean?”


              “Have you ever heard of the X project?” the agent asked.


              “I… vaguely… remember seeing a file for it in the science division. I never opened it though. It wasn’t my place to do so.” Quickrim admitted.


              “One of the Decepticons of the Great War, Starscream, had an indestructible spark. A group of scientists wondered if they could replicate such a phenomenon, and under government approval, they proceeded. As far as we know, it worked. But in the end, they could only control the make up of the spark- not the machinations of it. Its bearer chose an evil path, and destroyed an entire colony of Cybertronians, but for one survivor. In some feat of daring, that survivor managed to capture the ‘bot we now call “X”, and brought him to the Maximal Elders. They decided he would be exiled to a lifeless, distant planet. He is currently being brought aboard the Axalon.”


              “Override, we might need some assistance over here.” An unknown voice spoke on the agent’s comlink.


              “On my way.” He responded back.


              “Can I come?” Quickrim asked. “I may be of help. And time is essential right now. I have an X of my own to lock out of this hangar.”


              “I don’t see why not.”


* * *


              Grinding in the darkness, the front end of a semi-truck seemed to have a life of its own as it rocked back and forth. Finally, a hand pushed its way above the crumpled mass of metal that was the truck and the dented machine. It put its hand on a flat surface of the machine, and pushed down. The truck moved just a little more as the trapped ‘bot became less and less so. A second hand came to rest near the first, and then the ‘bot pushed his torso out of the mess. Pulling a knee up to the ledge, he pushed off to free his last leg, before relaxing, and allowing himself to fall off the ledge and onto the ground. Dust rose with the impact, and he stayed down for a little while, breathing. Finally, he sat up. And then he stood.


              He limped off, away from the truck, slowly, as the damaged machine continued shooting sparks to the floor. When he reached the road, he found his gauss rifle. Magnetically linking it to his back, he opened his right shoulder compartment and sought another grenade. Setting it for a timed explosion, he threw it spitefully back into the building and transformed before driving away.


              On the highway, some ‘bots were driving home in the night. In an unknown darkness, a grenade reached its 0:00 marker, and set off the true prize as the semi truck’s gas tank caught on fire. The resulting explosion sent glass and dirt billowing into the air. And its shockwave pushed many north-bound transformers westward to the side of the highway in one massive collision.


              In front of the mass, a car went up the entry ramp, and continued on its way unaffected.


* * *


              “So, this is your grand plan is it? Ship me off to some distant place? I promise if I stayed we would all have such wonderful times together.” X stated as some government workers struggled to lead him down the hallway to the docking bay of the Axalon. He pulled on one of the ropes connected to his arm and managed to knock one of his carriers into a wall.


              “Hello, manager.” Override said in his comlink.




              “Can we have an empty bay unlocked for temporary use?”


              “Sure. The nearest one is two doors down from your position.”


              “Alright, thanks. I see it.” And with that, he walked to the proper door, pushed it open and walked inside. The workers had gone inside and were pulling X towards the door, but he proved a tad bit too strong. Quickrim, rather frustrated with the delay in lock down, noticed that X had no one in front of him, and since he was outside of the door, he had an opportunity to help. He jumped into the air, and sent his right foot crashing into X’s chest. X fell through the door.


              Once Quickrim walked inside the door himself, he closed it behind him.


              “Don’t any of you have tranquilizers or something?” he asked.


              “We’ve tried that, but he has an advanced self repair system. His circuits simply reject anything inhibitory.” Override explained.


              “Self repair? But he can sustain damage at least for a short time, can’t he?”


              “Well, yes.”


              “We just need him in a stasis pod right?” Quickrim asked.


              “That’s the idea.” Override responded. Quickrim deployed his cannons.


              “Hey wait!” Override shouted. “A little decency, please?”


              “This is decency.” Quickrim replied. Then he opened fire. X fell back and reeled forward, then crumpled a bit, before falling on the ground. The door opened behind Quickrim and in walked Torcher.


              “Hey, do you know this place still isn’t locked down?” he asked.


              “Yeah, I’m working on it.” Quickrim said.


* * *


              The door of the main entrance to the hangar opened, and a brown, slightly battle torn ‘bot walked in, before going to the front desk.


              “Are you alright?” the manager asked.


              “Yeah. Say, I’m here to ensure the safety of the Axalon mission.”


              The manager looked at him quizzically.


              “Like that? Can I see identification?”


              “Oh, right!” he exclaimed. “Slugger, Maximal special forces.” he said, producing a badge. The manager looked at it and nodded approval before handing it back to him. “Look, I was sent here as a precautionary measure, but my superiors figured you’d all be locked down by now. What’s going on?”


              “I guess your group hasn’t approved of the lockdown yet.”


              “Oh, o.k. Well, I’m going to Axalon’s bay. Have a nice day.”


              “You too.”


* * *


              “Have you lost your mind, agent?” Override demanded of Quickrim.


              “You say this thing wiped out an entire colony? And you’re concerned that I use some force to keep him in custody?” Quickrim replied in frustration.


              “You shouldn’t be concerned about his actions- they were wonderfully treacherous.” X chimed in as he was being dragged back to his feet.


              “Besides,” Torcher noted as he saw the holes in X shrink and heal, “I’m sure he’ll forgive you soon. Cycles even.” But Quickrim’s mind was elsewhere.


              “Treacherous? What gives you the right to speak of treachery?” he asked X. Then he wheeled around to face Override. “Look, think whatever you want to about me, but let’s get this guy to the stasis pod where he belongs already.” Override looked on sternly before signaling to his ‘bots to continue bringing X to the Axalon. Then his comlink was activated.


              “Override, this is Optimus Primal. We have all of our recruits in here. Were you able to get X in?”


              “We’re bringing him down the hall to you right now.”


              “Alright. Primal out.”


              Quickrim immediately spoke up.


              “See? Everyone’s inside already, so can’t we lock the hangar down? Besides, I’ m sure it would provide extra protection against X escaping.”


              “Alright, fine. We’ll lock down the front doors. Nobody gets in or out. But the Axalon must launch on schedule and we still need the corridors unlocked.” Override said.


              “Alright, sure, lock the front doors. That’s where the guy we’re trying to stop would be coming through anyways.”


              Override got on his comlink.


              “System Operator, could you lock down the front entrance?”


              “No problem.”


* * *


              The brown ‘bot walked into the Axalon’s docking bay. Optimus Primal caught sight of him.


              “Oh, you guys are here. How far away is X?” Primal asked. The ‘bot thought for one moment.


              “X? What do you mean X?” he asked.


              “You are here to help make sure he gets in right?” Primal questioned. The ‘bot opened the door behind him and looked down the hall. Two government workers were trying to drag a wounded but powerful Cybertronian down the hall. Behind X’s large frame, the brown ‘bot could just make out Override, Quickrim and Torcher. Then he was able to make some sense of the situation.


              “Well, I suppose I am. But I was only told to go aboard the Axalon and make sure that some cargo was delivered safely inside. I suppose this “X” is the cargo?”


              Primal nodded.


              “Look, I can get you on the ship then, but I need to sign you in as a member of the stasis crew. Of course, so long as you get off the ship before we launch, it won’t be any problem.”


              The ‘bot heard shuffling outside the door.


              “Sure, sign me up.” he said. He produced his government i.d. Primal looked at it, and quickly signed something on a virtual screen. Just as he finished, the first guards opened the door, dragging X. The ‘bot quickly looked behind himself.


              “Alright Slugger, just go to that platform, and one of my crew members will lift you inside.” Primal noted.


              The ‘bot shuffled rather quickly to the elevator’s platform and stood on it, before turning to look at the door at the other end of the room. X was finally pulled inside, and Override was right behind him in the doorway. The elevator hissed suddenly and began pulling the ‘bot up. Override walked into the docking bay, and Torcher followed him, before looking to Primal who was acknowledging their entrance. The ‘bot stared nervously at the doorway, and saw Quickrim walk in, even as the ground grew more distant. Torcher turned around to talk to Quickrim a moment.


              “Look, Quickrim, we got the doors locked. It’s going to turn out fine.”


              “I know. I’m just trying to calm down now. I haven’t really had a moment to rest. And this still isn’t over. If we locked Arctosteel out of here, then he’s still out there.”


              “We’ll get him yet.”


              The elevator had by this point raised the ‘bot’s head to the level of the Axalon’s ground, and therefore, more and more of the room was disappearing from his view. By the time his torso was at Axalon level, he looked at the ship’s bridge and saw Chromax operating the elevator. His knees were now at ship’s level.


              Outside, Quickrim looked up at the ascending elevator, and just saw the ‘bot’s shins. He went up to Primal.


              “Sir, who just went up that elevator?” he asked.


              “Slugger.” Primal responded. Quickrim certainly didn’t know any Slugger’s and decided to leave it at that. “Chromax,” Primal spoke into his comlink, “I think we need you and Norvel out here.”


* * *


              “We’re on our way.” stated Chromax. He looked to the ‘bot who had just come up the elevator. The ‘bot pulled out his i.d.


              “Slugger, Maximal Government Special Forces.” he said. “I’m here to make sure X gets in the Axalon securely.” Chromax pointed to the back of the bridge, where a corridor lead to the rest of the ship.


              “The loading room is back there. You should be able to find it. I would help you, but I have to go.” Chromax said.


              “I understand.” The ‘bot said.


              “Jubatix, watch the bridge while Norvel and I go down to the docking bay.”


              “No problem big C.” Jubatix said. The other ‘bot made his way to the corridor. As he walked down, he made it past some munitions storage rooms, and then some private quarters designated for crew members. Then he was in a large round room. In the very center, he saw a strange shape, morphing down into a stasis pod as liquid metal. Very shortly, the door of the stasis pod closed over it. So this was the stasis room. Along the wall, he could see pods lying horizontally in grooves in the wall.


              A mechanical claw extended down and grabbed the pod in the center before lifting it and placing it into an empty slot. Glass slid over the small rectangular opening, and a blue light emitted.


              “Protoform Silverbolt in secure stasis.” The Axalon’s computer announced.


              The ‘bot continued on and saw the loading room past another small stretch in the corridor. In between the stasis room and the loading room, there was a ladder to the right which led directly down. The ‘bot turned and climbed down it.


              And there on the next level was the engine room. Some red lights flickered on and off between a mass of piping.


* * *


              In the Docking Bay, X was still managing to make a nuisance of himself. Chromax voiced a suggestion to the government workers.


              “You guys stand watch with your weapons if he doesn’t cooperate. We can get him into the stasis pod. After all, we know how.”


              The workers didn’t have too much of a problem with the idea and handed the ropes to Norvel and Chromax.


              At last, outside, the sun was rising, casting a uniform grew glow to the sky. Some ships could be seen outside the windows of the exit door in the bay, floating around. And shafts of light flowed into the otherwise unlit room, shining on the back of X’s huge frame, and casting the rest in shadow.


              X pulled on both ropes, shouting the whole time. Now to the left, now to the right. But the Maximals would not relent. Primal watched on, and as he saw the ‘bot pulling against his sentence, reeling in the light of a new day, the absolute filth of the whole situation set upon him. He had no further desire to take it in, and looked away.


              Finally, X ceased pulling the ropes. Then he, of his own accord, walked towards the stasis pod that awaited him in the docking bay. He put one foot on it.


              And then pulled both ropes with all his might. Caught off guard, Chromax and Norvel were both thrown to the ground, and the rope fell out of Norvel’s hand. Chromax held on, and X pulled the last thing holding on to him. Some gauss blasts were shot off, and X fell over once more. Chromax stood up, rushed to him, and lifted him above his own shoulders before slamming him down into the stasis pod. Then he closed the lid himself.


              A green light flashed in a path along the exterior of the pod.


* * *


              The claw reached down and lifted the large stasis pod off of the center table. It turned to the side, and put it in a slot designated for the bigger pods. The glass slid over.             


“Protoform X in secure stasis.” The ship’s computer announced. Override visibly sighed the weight of his assignment off of himself before turning to Optimus.


“If you could just sign here, recognizing that X has safely been transported to the Axalon, we’ll be good to go.”


Primal put a data signature on the pad which Override extended to him, and then the government workers filed out of the loading room. All save Quickrim and Torcher.


              “Were you two not here for the delivery of X?” Primal asked. Quickrim stepped forward to talk to him.


              “No we weren’t. Sir, we have something to discuss with you.



To be continued