The Ark, Washington
September 28, 2014, 2351 hours
Mission time left: 16 hours and 13 minutes
"Dammit! Get that door open!" Roy commanded.
O'Neil shouted back as he was attempting to cut open the blast door with his HF blade. "I'm trying! This thing ain't a lightsaber!"
'How I wish we had one.' Roy thought.
The giant centipede-like Terrorcon thrust it's pincer at Roy, forcing the RDF pilot to maneuver his mech out of the weapon's path. They've been playing, what essentially is a game of keep away, trying to keep the Terrorcon busy while O'Neil made a way out. They've made attempts at doing damage it, but so far, nothing they've shot seems to scratch the damn thing. Roy doesn't want to try using one of Bulkhead's grenades, no matter how tempting it may be. Tossing one of those things could go wrong in at least ten different ways, and none of them sound appealing. They needed that exit now!
"We can't keep it back for long!" Roy stated. To emphasize his point, Bumblebee slammed into the wall beside O'Neil. "How much time!? "
"Should be just… about… there!" A loud metallic thud was heard as the part of the blast door, cut out by O'Neil, hit the floor. "Exit's cleared, Lieu-"
The claw of a Terrorcon reached from the freshly made hole and grabbed O'Neil's Battloid by the head, interrupting him and pulling him into the darkness that lay beyond the opening. The myriad of Terrorcon roars drowned out the Airman's defiant shouts as several pairs of glowing gold eyes descended on the mech.
"O'Neil!" Roy called out as he and the now standing Bumblebee fired their shotguns into the black.
The Lieutenant heard the sound of tearing metal signaling that the Terrorcons were tearing apart the mech.
O'Neil demanded. "Get everyone out of this hell hole and don't worry about me. I'll be waiting for you on the other side."
The subordinate activated the self-destruct and the resulting explosion destroyed on the Terrorcons on the other side.
Roy grimaced at the thought of the fourth pilot dying within the first half hour, but it wasn't the time to mourn. "Exit's cleared! Retreat and fire!"
The team slowly filed out through the opening, while firing at the massive centipede. Naturally, this is when the centipede decides to get bold and shift from it's passive-aggressive state to full-on aggressive and charge. Moving faster than something that size really should, it headed straight for the last person in the room. Roy. The RDF ace cursed as he hit the boosters on his mech and flew backward through the hole. Just in time too, as the Terrorcon opened its maw and clamped them shut where Roy used to be. It charged forward again and attempted to get at the team on the other side. Only for it to get stuck in the hole that was smaller than it's head. The group stayed clear of it as it attempted to reach them with its mouth and pincers.
Once through, Roy stopped and ordered. "Bulk. Clear the hole. We're heading to the bridge. It's only got the one entrance while the connecting hallway has the two outlets. It's easy to fort up and defend. Johnson, radio the other teams. Let them know."
Bulkhead grabbed one of the many grenades on his waist and primed it. "Fire in the hole."
He tossed the grenade, and it bounced several times before it gave one last bounce into the centipede-like Terrorcon's mouth. It choked on it for a short bit before the grenade exploded and obliterated the torso/head of the Terrorcon, killing it.
"Wish 'Jackie could've seen that." Bulkhead thought out loud before joining the others in their run for the bridge.
Jason also did as told and contacted the others. "This is Skull Seven; orders are to regroup at the bridge. Move out, now!"
"Oh, great. Now he tells us." Rick complained. "After we've already left. Great ti-WHOA!"
He exclaimed in surprised as he leapt back to avoid a Terrorcon claw before blowing its chest out with the shotgun. They've already discovered that destroying the Spark is the easiest way to kill them. Easiest being a relative term.
Unlike Roy and his team, they had already cut through their door and had gotten well past it. Unfortunately, though, a group of Terrorcons had cut in front of them catching them in a pincer movement. Rick personally feels that without Optimus' presence, the team would've stood little chance against the mutations. He understands now why the Autobots respect the Primes as leaders and warriors.
Optimus had his Gatling gun pointed one at one horde, firing an endless hail of Energon bolts, while his internal blaster on his other hand, was shooting at the other group. Both weapons along with the RDF pilots' assisting fire, were able to hold off both hordes. Until on the side of the gat', a massive, heavily armored, ape-like Terrorcon charged in on all fours, while tanking the light and fast damage from the gat'. Meanwhile, on the other side, a group of four lithe, wolf-like Terrorcons dashed towards them, easily avoiding the slow and heavy bolts from the internal blaster. It was an obviously planned action from the way the Terrorcons countered the armaments.
Optimus hardened his eyes in determination, any further expression hidden beneath his mask. The Autobot Leader crossed his arms over his chest and thus inverting the lines of fire of the two weapons. Optimus fired a single blast at the ape Terrorcon, boring a hole in its chest. It fell and hit the floor, scraping to a halt. A swarm of Gatling fire met the wolves, and three of them fell to the endless hail. The fourth wolf pounced at Optimus, only to meet the floor when Optimus raised his blaster at brought it down, hard, on the mutation's head. He fired several bolts into the T-con's back, completely bisecting the upper torso from the lower body.
On Rick's end, he ducked underneath a swipe for his Battloid's head, while jamming the barrel into assaulting Terrorcon's chest and blew out it's Spark chamber. Another one charged in behind Vermilion Leader, he quickly spun around while extending his HF blade, and thrust with it. Using the total inertia to completely impale the aberration with the sword, to the hilt. He shifted the weapon o one side before going the other direction until it slid out, cutting it in half. As he recovered from killing that one, a third Terrorcon bum-rushed him, and body slammed the mech, sending them both rolling on the floor. When they stopped, the Terrorcon was on top, ready to end Rick's life. Rick winced as the claw descended towards his cockpit.
"LIEUTENANT!" Mikayla shouted as she gunned down the aberration.
The first round hit the claw, deflecting the killing blow, and saving Rick before blasting hole after hole into the Terrorcon. It howled its pain and rage before it finally fell back, meeting its quick death. Rick, no longer pinned by the monstrous Cybertronian, attempted to stand his mech back up. Mikayla ran over and helped her commanding officer up. Suddenly, her Battloid got shoved to the side by Rick, and he emptied the last few slugs of in the mag of his auto-shotgun, slaying the Terrorcon that was attempting to backstab Mikayla. The magazine popped out automatically on the newer armament.
Realizing, just how close to death she was, she turned to the second top gun of the RDF. "Thank you, sir," Mikayla said meekly.
"No problem," Rich replied as he slammed a fresh mag in the shotgun. "However, things keep going the way they are, the last thing we'll be worried about is saving each other. Damn, we could use some backup right about now."
As soon as Rick had finished his statement, somehow among all the gunfire and howls of the Terrorcons, the faint sound of several small metal objects – small in the scale of fifteen-meter robots – bouncing on the ground. Every Terrorcon on one side of the hallway – coincidentally, the side that leads to the bridge – was caught in a series of explosions that killed them. From within the resulting smoke, a glowing, green visor materialized. The shadowy form of a still living Terrorcon s begun to stir. Quick muzzle flashes with the report of gunshots, ended its life with a few slugs.
Phoenix stepped out of the smoke and shouted out. "Come on, you apes! You wanna live forever?!" The words came from a recording, instead of his voice.
Arcee drove past him, charging towards the remaining Terrorcon ranks. She transformed before diving into a roll then jumped clear of the Bridge Team's heads. She drew the auto-shotgun from her back and fired a burst at the Terrorcons with a battle cry. Two fell to the burst as she landed. She rolled once more, switching out the shotgun for the massive SI – 387 sniper rifle. When she came up, the unfortunate Terrorcon that happened to be in front of her was the first to feel the weapon's firepower. The bolt tore through that aberration and the next three behind it. Using the recoil, the femme rolled back to avoid a swipe from another Terrorcon. Finishing the roll, she fired the high powered rifle again, completely bisecting the Terrorcon in half at the chest.
Seeing that not only had Phoenix cleared the path, Arcee also had diverted the attention of the Terrorcons to her. Thus, giving the Bridge team a way out of their predicament. Optimus commanded. "Bridge team, transform and roll out!"
The Autobots instantly shifted to their vehicle forms and peeled out of there and past Phoenix, followed by the RDF pilots with their veritechs in guardian mode. Phoenix almost turned to leave, but he had noticed that Arcee was still fighting the Terrorcons, another half dozen had already fallen to her massive rifle.
He called out to her using another recording. "Drake, we are leaving!"
Arcee, finally realizing that it was time to go, fired one last round before turning to leave. A Terrorcon came up behind her and attempted to attack her, only for Phoenix to shoot a slug at its head, throwing it back. Phoenix gave her covering fire with the auto-shotgun until she passed him and away from the horde. He hit the boosters and flew backward after the rest of the team while continuing to give cover fire. The Terrorcons didn't hesitate to chase down their prey. Seeing the massing horde, Arcee tossed Phoenix the 387 then transformed to her motorcycle mode. Phoenix caught the rifle while holstering the shotgun with practiced ease.
"Go on ahead!" The RDF mech suggested, finally using his voice. "Get to the bridge! I'll catch up!"
Arcee slammed on the brakes. "What the hell are you doing?!" She asked, worried for him.
Phoenix looked at her, and once again he nodded. "Trust me."
Arcee hesitated, before revving her engine and tearing off after the rest of the Bridge team. She heard several insults from Phoenix followed by reports of the anti-tank rifle.
'Good luck, Jack.'
Engine room team
Ultra Magnus transformed into his biped mode and swung his internal blaster around, aiming at the surging hoard of Terrorcons behind him and his team. The mass of twisted and mutated metal clambering over each seeking to satisfy the raging hunger given to them with a demonic need. He fired a short burst from his weapon, the sound partially being drowned by the creatures' howls. The bolts flew into the swarm, doing practically nothing. They struck torsos and limbs but managed not to kill a single one. However, one of the monsters lost a leg in a lucky shot, and it fell.
Magnus watched as several others turned and in a shocking move converged on the wounded and started tearing into it. The prey was squealing and screeching in pain and terror before one of the feeding savages ripped into its throat enough that the head was torn off. Sickened, he transformed back into his truck form and rejoined his team.
"Holy shit!" Ben cried as he pushed his mech to his limit as much as he could without leaving everyone behind. "Did they just eat their wounded?!"
"It does appear so." The Autobot second in command commented. "It must've been some time since Megatron sent his forces to take care of the situation. With only each other to slake their thirst these Terrorcons are starving, they'll attack anything at this point, regardless of their own safety."
"Is that so?" Wheeljack mumbled. "Hey, librarian!"
"I'm not a librarian. I'm one of the Elite Guard!" Smokescreen shouted.
The cocky wrecker dismissed. "Yeah, yeah. Listen, where's the nearest elevator shaft?"
"Uhhh. Not too far from here, 'bout a mile ahead and a few hundred meters left." The supposed elite guard answered after quickly checking his map.
"What are you thinking?" Skull four aka David asked.
"They're so hungry that they'll follow their prey anywhere, right. So, we get to the elevator shaft. Clear the way and let them enjoy their long fall and a sudden stop." The explosive expert explained.
"That plan is reckless." Magnus countered. "It's hinging on the possibility that we'll make to the shaft in time, get the doors open and hope the elevator isn't there that we would have to drop so your plan could work. All in the few seconds space between them and us."
"That's when we let the most technologically advanced human jet that can move at five times our speed go on ahead."
After a moments thought, the Autobot lieutenant ordered. "Airman Dixon, go on ahead, get that shaft cleared."
"Yes, sir!" Ben gunned his veritech for the elevator, pushing the guardian form to its top speed. Pretty close to mach 1.
He sped ahead of the group leaving them in the dust, using the mapping system to measure the distance to the elevator from where he was. After a mile, he tried hanging a left, but he forgot to slow down and nearly overshot the turn. He had to backtrack some, but he made it to the turn and headed down it. After reaching the correct distance, the Smokescreen specified he didn't see an elevator.
After coming to a stop, he looked around confusedly. "Where are the elevators?"
Ben looked at the map and the reference point he had made; he realized that he had overshot the turn. Then the Airman also realized he didn't need the reference point in the first place. He could've used the map in the first place. The pilot pivoted his veritech towards the elevator and shot towards it. It wasn't too long before he made it to the elevator.
"Now that's a big door." The vermillion squadron pilot commented. The door was massive. The width was easily that was twice the length of the monster class destroid, and the height was as tall as the massive mech and opened upwards. "Must be some kind of cargo elevator."
"Vermillion Three! We've made it to the turn! Have that shaft ready!" Magnus called out.
"Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!" Ben panicked as he shifted his mech over to battloid mode and extended his blade.
He stabbed the blade towards the seam between the door and the floor trying to find leverage, but it bounced off. He tried again and got the same result. He kept trying and trying and got absolutely nowhere. Frustrated he growled and stabbed once again. This time managing to get underneath the blast door. Using his free arm as a fulcrum point, he began pushing down on the blade with his mech's weight. Hoping to lift the door some to get a hand under it to raise the door.
He forgot that the door was not only heaver than a monster class destroid it was also being held door by hydraulics. The blade was starting to bend beyond what was it's limit before it just shattered. Shards flew everywhere. A long and thin shard about the length of a spear pierced the cockpit and into Ben's left shoulder. He cried out in pain as his mech slammed its faceplate into the floor. He clutched the wound with his uninjured hand as blood soaked his flight uniform.
"Fuck." The sound of engines both car and jet echoed from the hall directly across from the elevator as well as the cacophony of terrorcon howls. He tried moving his left arm but found himself unable to. He couldn't even feel it.
He had his mech pan its head around searching for a way to get the door open. He noticed the control panel to the side and cursed himself for not seeing it before he impaled himself. He manipulated his mech's right arm to drag him close enough to the control panel for his shotgun to be useful. He unhooked the weapon from its holster under his left forearm and aimed it at the control panel. Its thudding report followed his trigger pull, and the shell tore the panel apart. The remains of the electronic fizzled and sparked for a few seconds, and then nothing happened.
A loud humming filled the area accompanied by heavy, metallic clunks that sounded like the steps of a destroid and the door started to rise.
"Yes!" Ben cheered as he saw that the shaft was clear. The remainder of his team came into view at that moment with the terrorcons right on their tailpipes.
"Ben!" Shouted David in concern having seen the shard from the HF Blade sticking out of the cockpit.
David leaned his veritech to the side as he held its hand out. Ben reached out and caught it and was dragged by David into the shaft as he started to ascend up the shaft. Ultra Magnus transformed and grabbed onto David's mech. Smokescreen and Wheeljack latched onto Skull five, Amanda and they rose. A few seconds later The horde of terrorcons swarmed into the shaft and fell into the building high shaft.
Wheeljack laughed boastfully. "Can you fly, you suckers? Can you fly?"
Everyone waited for that moment of irony when the mutated cybertronians actually did start flying, but it never happened. Like a herd of stampeding cows, they went right over the edge. Not one of them even considered stopping. Some did attempt to leap at them, but they joined the others in the long fall. After several minutes the last of the terrrcons, which was just a freaking head running on crab legs that lagged behind went down the shaft.
"Holy Primus, I thought it'd never end." Commented Smokescreen.
"Ben, you alright?" Asked David as he lowered the injured pilot and Magnus to the floor.
"Not really," Ben answered. "This thing is in my shoulder, and I can't move my arm."
Amanda landed nearby dropping off the other Autobots. "We can't check him here. That shard is keeping the cockpit from opening. If we try to force it open, it could tear off his arm. Is there a maintenance bay? A medical bay would be perfect."
"Yeah. There's a medical bay not too far from here. That way." Smokescreen pointed to a hallway on the team's left.
"Can he even pilot that thing impaled like that?" Wheeljack asked.
"Not even. But Dr. Lang planned for this." Amanda placed a hand around the cockpit of the plane. "Ben, can you pop the emergency release?"
"Yeah, give me a second." Ben groaned as he reached down to a lever that was beside the seat pulled it hard.
The entire cockpit detached from the mech and into Amanda's waiting hands, who said. "Alright. We're clear."
"Let's move out," Magnus ordered.
Arcee poked an eye around the corner and studied the Bridge. Once she was sure that some horrible monster wasn't going to jump out of a crevice and say wubba wubba, she motioned to the rest of the team that it was clear. Rick moved in, gunpod raised as he stepped down a walkway at the end of the three rows of command consoles checking down each one. The Femme moved in also and past the captain's position that was, surprisingly, without a seat and checked the other side of the consoles.
"Clear right," Arcee called.
Rick mimed. "Clear left."
Mikayla and Skull four aka Lennox positioned themselves on the inside of the doorway keeping an eye on the hallway. Optimus stepped through and to one of the command consoles. "Lieutenant Hunter, are you still unable to contact the other teams?"
"I've trying but no luck," Rick reported walking to the prime
"What about home base?"
"No good either."
"Arachnid's gotta be using a jammer," Arcee stated. "We had no issues with the radios till after the trap."
"That was my consensus as well." The Autobot commander booted up the console. "Arachnid counted on us activating the engines. However, she is unaware that she has put herself at a disadvantage."
"How so?" The Vermillion leader asked as he looked at the console.
"The Ark was designed, built and upgraded at Iacon." He explained at typed command after command into the console at a fast pace. The kind of pace hackers have. "The Ark always was state of the art. Software and hardware. As part of the cover to keep the Ark hidden whatever software went into the Ark's systems went into Iacon's systems. When I was Orion Pax, I had access to these systems."
"So you know the UI of the ship." Lennox summed up.
"Partially." The once data clerk corrected. "I'm familiar with the systems, but I'm not fully aware of the ship's capabilities as I never had the chance to be fully briefed about the ship. The Elite Guard would know more. However…"
"Wait. The Elite Guard. That means Smokescreen." Rick noted. "Why wasn't he with us if he knows the ship?"
"Lieutenant Fokker told me his intentions to destroy the ark if the mission failed. Smokescreen would know best where to place the charges." The Prime stated. "Before we deployed, Smokescreen told me some of the details about how the ship was designed. This ship is not an ark, as the name suggests, or a cargo ship. In fact, it is a warship."
"A warship? You're serious?" Arcee exclaimed.
"If you want the proper class designation, it is a super dimensional fortress." The RDF pilots looked at each other in shock over the revelation but said nothing as Optimus continued. "The Ark was designed to last as long as possible under constant assault with its heavy outer defenses and internal defenses. Part of the internal defense was three bridge system, which means that the ship has three bridges. The main one that we're standing in and two auxiliary bridges. One in the Engine Room and the Protoculture factory. The purpose is that if the enemy captured the main bridge, then all functions could be transferred so that the enemy couldn't use the ship against us."
"Is it possible that Arachnid is using one of the auxiliary bridges?" The femme asked.
The commander nodded. "It was a possibility we considered. Hence why we split up, which Arachnid counted on. However, that's where she loses the advantage. Megatron is the only one who is aware that I was a data clerk at Iacon. Thus, Arachnid is unaware that I know the system. To access the auxiliary bridge, she would have used the clearance of one of the elite guard members who left with the Ark. Since I am a Prime, I have higher clearance."
Arachnid sat in the captains with a pleased and satisfied look on her face as she watched the giant screen in front of her display the movements of her terrorcons and the task force. The map vanished, and cybertronian lettering started raining down the screen matrix style.
Arachnid sat up sharply demanding angrily. "What happening? Tell me!" Kicking the back of the Autobot who was on his knees before her.
The Autobot who sprawled out on the floor from the blow was masculine. He was lightweight and agile looking. A wing-like spoiler on his back with the wingtips pointed upwards. On his forearms, he had sets of three exhaust pipes leading down the arm. His paint scheme was an Iron Man style hot rod red with orange and yellow, and a flame decal on his chest. On the flame decal was the symbol of the elite guard.
Hot Rod looked at the Terrorcon Queen with disdain and spat. "I don't know. I'm a warrior, not a tech expert."
Arachnid appeared in front of him and held him in the air by the throat in the time it took him to blink. "Then tell me which one of you is the tech expert."
"You killed him. Used him to satisfy your sick addiction." The speedster said with snarl gesturing to the mutilated corpse on the far side of the room. It was a green 'bot with vague jet like parts. That was all one could tell from Jetfire's mutilated body. His chest had been clawed open, and most of his internal workings were ripped out, and his faceplate had been completely ripped off.
The femme Terrorcon looked at the corpse than back to Hot Rod. "Then I suggest you get a crash course or your teammates will suffer the same fate one by one."
The racer's eyes flickered to the ten sleep cycle pods on the far side of the room; only five still held members of the Elite Guard assigned to the Ark. "Fine."
Arachnid dropped him before walking away out of the Auxilary Bridge. Hot Rod began working reluctantly meanwhile planning vengeance. He smirked when he heard the pressure door close which left him alone.
"I have control." Optimus declared.
All the consoles in the bridge started lighting up, and the giant screen at the head of the bridge began displaying the same information that Arachnid had. Rick cheered. "Alright!"
Arcee looked frantically on the screen for Phoenix. She noticed a large grouping of yellow dots chasing after a lone green dot moving away from the bridge. "Phoenix needs help!" She exclaimed
The Prime didn't respond as he quickly found the same dot and put a few more commands into the console.
Phoenix flew backward in Battloid mode, firing round after round from the SI 387 into the seemingly unending hoard of terrorcons, having long since run out of ammo from his shotgun and gun pod. A deep echoing whirring came from behind him. He looked and saw a blast door closing far down the hallway. Far enough he could be trapped if he didn't get moving. He turned and transformed into jet form instantly hitting the afterburners. The cannon of a rifle settling where the gunpod usually sits.
Despite giving it all, the opening he had to get through was getting smaller by the second. He let out a half challenging half terrified battle cry as he pushed himself to his bare limit. He shot through the opening with just barely enough room to fit.
^DARE! Dare to believe you can survive!^
^The power is there at your command!^
Phoenix laughed in manic delight at the fact he made it through before the door shut. Caught up in his celebration he didn't see the t-junction until the last second. In a knee-jerk reaction, he started to transform to battloid mode which had saved his life. At those speeds, the cockpit would've caved in, and thus the Cranium would be crushed in also. He slammed into the wall at a half transformed state denting the cratering the wall and falling to the floor in a half-transformed heap.
"Phoenix! Are you all right?" Arcee called out over the radio.
The RDF mech finished his transformation way before getting to his feet. "Define all right."
"There's a wall there." She quipped.
"Ya think." He shot back as he realized that his right arm wasn't working so he detached it. Then he realized the radio worked. "Hey, how'd you get communications working."
Optimus chimed up. "I have taken control of the ship from Arachnid, and I'm using the ship's frequencies to carry ours. Return to the bridge, and we'll plan our next actions."
"Could use a little direction." As soon as he said it, arrows lit up on the wall pointing in the direction of the bridge. "Oh. That's convenient."
Engine Room Team
The med bay was one of the smaller ones of the many that was on the city-sized Cybertronion vessel. It had only five medbeds of the highest level of technology Cybertron could offer. On the walls were places were advanced medical tech would sit but most of them were scattered all over the ground. Most likely caused by the Ark's initial crash. Nearly every surface had a thick layer of dirt and dust from the millennia it sat unused.
The dust was disturbed and kicked into the air, and some of the medical equipment got crushed as the team rushed in, carrying the cockpit that held their injured friend and brought him to the closest table and placed the cockpit there. Amanda lowered her veritech's cockpit close to the table. She hopped out before her cockpit was wholly open and rushed over to Ben's, medkit in hand. Meanwhile, Wheeljack and Smokescreen took positions at the door.
Amanda climbed onto Ben's fighter and tapped the cockpit cover. She couldn't see in as the combat cover that slid over the glass when the plane was in battloid mode was jammed thanks to the shard. "Hey, Ben. How ya doing in there?"
"No der." She quipped. "Alright. Describe the wound."
"Well…" The sarcasm in the wounded pilot's voice was thick enough; one could drink it. "I have a six foot long, three-inch thick steel spike in my shoulder. My arm is barely being held on by a few strands of muscle. I can't move it. Hell, I can barely feel anything past my shoulder."
"Okay." She mumbled, thinking out loud. "Alright massive trauma to the shoulder, the spike is blocking the vessels keeping the patient from bleeding out. Arm and shoulder bones completely disconnected. Amputation needed. But nothing can be done, Sammy, till you get you get this cockpit open."
"Is there anything we can do?" Ultra Magnus offered.
"Yeah, is there an energy saw or anything we can use to cut this spike without causing it to vibrate too much?" She asked.
Magnus looked around quickly and found precisely what she was looking for. He picked it up a small, by his standards, blade-less, knife handle. The 'bot flicked a switch on the hilt and a short energy blade colored blue extended from the end. If he remembered correctly, this was an energy scalpel. It should work ideally for what Senior Airman Amanda need. He turned to the human with the surgical and held it out to her. "Here."
Amanda looked up at the scalpel that was almost the size of the spike, then towards Magnus with a sarcastic questioning look. She then pointed to where the spike and cockpit met. "Cut as close as you can without cutting into the cockpit."
The Autobot lieutenant did as told. Getting within an inch of the cockpit allowing several feet of the spike fell off and clattered to the table. "Alright, now we've lessened the weight, we need to get this cockpit open. Magnus held the cockpit cover and cut at the top, then slowly lift it away. Repeat with the glass."
Magnus didn't respond, waiting for Amanda to step to the side before reaching down with his free hand to gently pinch the cockpit without crushing it. He then cut where she told him to, keeping it shallow so that he didn't accidentally melt Ben's head off. After he finished cutting, the improv surgeon lifted the combat cover and set it beside the cockpit. He found himself genuinely surprised that he managed to not only cut into the glass perfectly but also managed to grab it through the cover without shattering the glass. Amanda didn't even question it and clambered into the cockpit.
It was a mess. Blood soaked half of Ben's flight suit. There was blood spatters all over the controls and the side of his helmet. She imagined that there was more on the inside of the cockpit glass. She reached down and disengaged the air seal on the suit, accessible on the helmet which she pulled off. The blood loss gave him a deathly pale complexion. She almost thought he was if he hadn't been looking at her with an unfocused gaze.
"So…" He said tiredly. "Should I audition to be a Walking Dead extra?"
"They wouldn't take you. You're too ugly." She answered with a smirk, taking off her helmet so she could focus better on his wounds.
Amanda adjusted the bun her long blonde hair was in before getting a closer look at Ben's injury. The shard from the HF blade punctured his shoulder right where the deltoid muscles met the pectoral, and it went clean though. She figured it obliterated the shoulder blade, the clavicle, some of the rib cage. She highly doubted that his humerus was attached to his body anymore. Just like Ben said, his arm was being held on by the remains of his shoulder muscles, which meant that he would lose his arm and end his career as a pilot. That wasn't the worst though.
"Ben, are you having any issues breathing?" She asked opening the med kit, trying to figure how she was going to MacGyver this.
"Actually, yeah. Feels like I can't get enough air, and every time I try to breathe deeply, it hurts like hell." Ben answered with a punctuated deep breath and pained exhale.
"Shit," She swore. "That means your lung is punctured and it's collapsing."
"Oh, is that all?" He commented.
"What does that mean?" Magnus asked being the least experienced Autobot when it came to humans.
"That despite my two years in Medical College I can barely handle this. I can patch him up and make sure he doesn't get hypoxia but if he's going to have any chance of living. He's got to get back to base." She explained with urgency.
"Do what you can now, however getting Airman Dixon back to base will not be easy."
"Well, in that case. We need to get this spike out of him. I can't even begin to help him till it's out." Stated the med student.
"But isn't it stopping the bleeding?" David questioned.
"To a degree but we can't leave it in him. The chance of infection increases the longer we do, especially in this place."
"Then what should we do?" The Autobot asked.
"The only thing we can," Ben interjected weakly. He seemed to be growing worse.
Ben didn't answer but stared at the laser scalpel in the cybertronian's hand.
Arcee was waiting outside the bridge when the sound of clanking footsteps drew her attention to the returning Phoenix. The first thing she noticed was his missing arm, which caused her annoyed frown to deepen to an angry one. "Welcome back."
"Good to be back." Phoenix answered confidently.
"Looks like you had fun." Stated the Femme, giving the open shoulder joint a pointed glance.
"Eh. Hitting a wall at Mach one does that to you." He answered casually with a shrug.
His casualness hit a nerve. "Don't do that."
"Be so casual." She glared dead into his eyes even though she couldn't see them behind his visor. "You were reckless drawing off the hoard like that. No plan, no backup, and very little chance of survival. If it hadn't been for Optimus, you would still be running, or they would've caught you."
"Sorry doesn't cut it." She interjected crossing her arms sternly. "That was something I would've expected from Wheeljack. Actually, I would expect that from Miko. It was stupid, Jack."
A moment passed in silence before he sighed. "You're right. It was stupid. Those things were on our ass, and they weren't gonna stop. I thought it was better if they followed me than you. I should've known better than to do that to you."
"You should've." She retorted.
"I just…" He hesitated before telling her. "…wanted to protect the one thing I remembered."
She blinked in surprise as she lost her animosity responding quietly. "What?"
"When I first booted on, I didn't know that I was once human or anything else than what I am now. I as far as I was concerned I was just an advanced AI. Except for one thing. A scrap of memory. A voice saying, 'Partners.'"
Arcee realized that the voice was her, she even knew when exactly she said it to him. "It was me wasn't it?"
"I had no clue till that day in Darkmount, but yeah, it was. It was also all I had to assure me that I wasn't a Jarvis knockoff. I held onto your voice hoping I was more than a supped-up program. It was all I had."
"I get what you're saying." She said softly. "I do, but I don't need protection. I'm not only older than you, but I have more experience than the entire skull squadron combined. So, next time you go running off I'm coming with, alright?"
"Yes, Ma'am." He replied while giving an exaggerated two-fingered salute. He then unhooked a flat metal box just a bit longer than his arm; it transformed into the massive 387. And he handed to her. "This is yours; I believe."
She took it and nodded. "Thanks."
"Get in here you two," Rick called out from the bridge. "We've made contact with the other teams."
Arcee and Phoenix stepped onto the bridge. The display still showed the map of the ship showing the positions of the ship's occupants. Now, it also showed the headcount of Terrorcons. Unfortunately, it was listed in ancient cybertronian so only a few could read which was the idea.
"Welcome back, Phoenix." Optimus greeted as he typed into the console
Phoenix replied. "Good to be back. Thanks for the save."
"Is the path clear, Optimus?" Roy asked over the radio.
"There are no Terrorcons within proximity of you. I've also cleared the area around the elevator on this deck. However, I do recommend that you move quickly. I will not be able to distract the Terrorcons for long." The Prime warned.
"We're on our way."
"This is Ultra Magnus. We are nearing the cargo elevator. Expecting to rendezvous in three minutes. Airman Dixon is wounded and needs to an immediate evacuation."
"Understood." The Prime responded to both as he worked to coordinate the two teams until they reached the elevator. "We will create an evacuation plan when you reach the bridge."
"Welcome back." Rick greeted as he came up to the pair. "Hey, we've got a full map of this place. We need to start setting up fortifications as well as hunting down where the hell Arachnid is in this metropolis of a ship."
"Let's get started, then," Phoenix announced.
Cargo hold near Auxiliary Bridge
Arachnid looked at the hundreds upon hundreds of protoforms that lined the walls and ceiling. "The design behind these tubes is something interesting." She said to the empty room. "The protoform is really just a basic until it transforms based on the cybertronian's personality and what it experiences in it's life. It take dozens of dozens of cycles for a protoform to become a true cybertronian. The Factory and the tubes accelerate the process to just a few weeks even al-"
"My Queen." Interjected a half mutated Terrorcon with a growling voice.
"What is it?!" She snarled turning to her servant. Her face contorted and became partially mutating her beautiful features, demonizing them. She closed her now slitted eyes for a second calming down, and her face reverted. "I mean, report."
"The humans and Autobots are trying to regroup in the bridge." It snarled.
"Then force Hot Rod to quicken his pace. Kill one of the others if you have to." She commanded.
As the Terrorcon turned to leave, Arachnid added on as a side note. "Actually, could you bring Hot Rod here? Talking by myself like this is starting to make me feel insane."
The abomination left and a few minutes later returned with Hot Rod throwing him in the middle of the room. The Elite Guard member looked at the Terrorcon with disdain before looking towards Arachnid. "What'd you want?"
"Someone to talk to." She answered sweetly. "Besides if you take a break, then maybe you might work faster."
"If that comforts you." He scoffed.
"It kinda does." She then walked and plopped down childishly cross-legged in front of him. "So, what do you know about the protoform incubation tubes."
"Not much." He admitted, rolling with the conversation as it kept him online for a little longer. "Just that a protoform and a spark went in and a cybertronian comes out."
She giggled. "Just like a warrior. All the brawn, not a lot of brains."
"Most ladies seem to like it."
The mutant cybertronian leaned forward and said with a smirk her golden eyes glowing. "I'm not most ladies."
He froze as the eyes of a predator locked to him. "G-guess not."
She backed up and said nonchalantly. "Well, I guess I can give you the full run through."
The bridge team turned as both the engine room team and the protoform factory team joined them. There was a long series of greetings of welcomes. As well as more than a few sorrows.
"Casey?" Mikaela called out.
Roy stepped up to her and stated solemnly. "I'm sorry, Mikaela. O'niell got swarmed by a group of terrorcons, and he was pinned down. We couldn't get past them, so he set the self-destruct on his fighter. Taking them out and clearing the path. He went out fighting the good fight."
"Just like he always wanted to." Was the somber answer. "Thanks for telling me, sir."
Her mech stepped off to the side where Roy assumed she had turned off her mic so that she could grieve quietly. He stepped away to the other side of the bridge gathering the leaders of the other two teams so they could share situations reports and strategies.
Amanda's mech hovered onto the bridge in guardian mode, moving straight to the front of the bridge far from the entrance where the combat would take place. Rick followed closely knowing that she was technically Skull Squadron's medic and would have Ben with her. Her cockpit opened and revealed both her and the injured Ben. Bandages wrapped around his chest and the place where his arm used to be. It had been entirely severed right where the shard had pierced his shoulder. Surprisingly enough, despite the size of the amputation, the bandages were practically clean. He was leaning to the side in the rear seat of the cockpit
"Holy crap!" Rick exclaimed. "What happened?"
"His HF blade broke, and a shard the size of a lance went through his shoulder," Amanda explained. "It was holding back most of the bleeding but if I didn't do something…"
He nodded. "I get it. Just wish his career didn't end on his first mission."
"He had potential, too. He may have gotten shot down a crap ton in the simulator, but he kept coming back and coming back eventually getting a 71 as his final score on his test day." She looked back at the peaceful pilot. "I'll get him back to base, get him some serious help. They have all kinds of advanced technology around the globe. Especially at Macross, we might be able to save his career."
"Sounds good, just don't get his hopes up."
"Alright, huddle up!" As soon as they heard Roy's voice, the group turned to see the Lieutenant step towards them with Magnus and Optimus flanking him on both sides.
The task force gathered around the double ace, including Mikaela. He smiled proudly before declaring. "I'm gonna be honest; we've taken a serious hit. Half of Skull Squadron's gone, Ben's out of the game, for good most likely. We've only got a fourth of the ammo we started with – if that. Plus, we're no closer to finding Arachnid than we were what at the beginning of this mayhem. With only…"
"Fourteen hours and thirty-seven minutes." Phoenix supplied from his mission clock
"…To search this city-sized spacecraft." The task force commander finished, recalling the fun time he had when he went in with the first group to investigate the SDF-1. So much fun.
Optimus stepped forward continuing the announcement. "This will not be easy, but with the Bridge up and running we have an advantage. We can still get this mission done before Arachnid invades L.A. Unfortunately, this ship is capable of space bridge travel, but the crash has limited its range to Earth's orbit. Unfortunately, it will be more than sufficient to open a bridge to Los Angeles. However, she needed Bridge access and the controls to operate it which in turn needed a Prime to unlock."
"Which means the Terrorcons are gonna be assaulting this place with everything they got and then some." Roy interpreted. "We're gonna have to hole up and defend the bridge with more than that."
"That means acquiring new armaments, setting up defense points, and making guard shifts. The ship's design will be well tested today, and it will earn its designation as a fortress." Magnus stated.
"However, before we can do any of that we need to get Ben out of here. Otherwise, we're gonna suffer another casualty." The double ace proclaimed. "So I need to hear ideas. How are we gonna get Ben outside and past Arachnid's jammer so we can call in a Groundbridge?"
"I can more than guarantee that cave will be guarded," Wheeljack stated crossing his arms. "It's the only way in or out; she probably figures we would end up making a break for it eventually."
"She also probably has the cargo hold guarded too," Bulkhead added.
"Is there any way we can use the space bridge just to bypass the guards?" Optimus asked.
Smokescreen shook his head. "No. The space bridge only opens on the outside of the ship and there is a ground bridge jammer of sorts to prevent bridges going in or out of the ship. Safety precaution to keep the Decepticons from just jumping in and taking all three bridges at once. However, I can open a bridge outside the ship, and that'll take you to base."
"We could blow past the first set of guards, and avoid the second entirely. Now for getting down there." Lieutenant Fokker segued.
"Getting to that deck would be no issue." David supplied. "We can use the elevator shafts and I few need to drop the elevator to clear a path. Getting to and from the shaft is another issue entirely."
"I have been distracting the Terrorcons using the PA system throughout the ship, leading them on a 'wild goose chase.' Though I imagine it won't be long till they catch onto the ruse." Notified the Autobot leader.
Roy nodded. "Then we'll use every minute till they do. This is going be a run and gun mission. Distract the Terrorcons, get past them, then blow past the guards and into the groundbridge. Smokescreen and Wheeljack will accompany Amanda, as they are our fastest cybertronians. Drop her off and get back. Don't pass go and don't collect $200." Wheeljack and Smokescreen looked at him oddly. He waved his mech's hand dismissively. "Nevermind. Just a saying that means to hurry."
"We will," Wheeljack confirmed with a smirk. "We'll get the two of them to safety."
"We need hurry. Every minute that we waste puts Ben in more and more danger." Amanda warned.
"Then get going now," Roy commanded.
"Yes, sir!" The assigned task force responded before transforming and rolling out.
Hot Rod stood over the console, tapping the keys of the console furiously, trying to find a workaround to the Tri-bridge protocol. The protocol essential kept him from accessing the systems of the currently active bridge. However, he was getting absolutely nowhere. He hadn't studied programming during his Elite Guard training; he focused on combat. Now, he was getting a crash course in Advanced Computer Code. A crash course he wouldn't be having if it wasn't for the psychopathic, mutated, monster-femme that was still in the adjacent cargo hold fawning over her protoforms.
"Primus, this blows exhaust." He muttered typing in a command he believed was right.
The small screen he was working on blinked and popped up with the map that featured the positions of everyone on the ship. He blinked in shock as he realized that he somehow tapped into the sensor feed in the main bridge, which is weird because he had been trying to access the Cargo Bay doors. Oops. He noticed that the group that invaded the Ark were in the bridge. A wise decision. Then he saw three signatures moving down one of the elevator shafts.
"Why are these guys leaving the bridge?"
He turned to a console on his right and started typing into it. He may not know the deep level stuff; he was perfectly aware of the ships basic systems especially some of the combat systems. One of the systems was a Life Signal Scanner which identified all life signals on the vessel. Its partial activation was how Arachnid had been tracking everyone in the first. By activating the rest of the functions, he can get names, vitals, and all kinds of stuff, as long as the target's signal is in the database.
Some of the signals turned blue, and some stayed green. Each of the blue dots had a number on it that corresponded with a list that had the names of the Autobots that came with the task force. Except for one dot which went unnamed, but it did label it as a prime.
"A new prime? When did that happen?" He asked as he commanded the scanner to analyze the green signatures. He read the result. "Not cybertronian but faint Energon signatures. Must be drones, or the locals piloting machines."
He looked at the group moving down the shaft. The display said it was Wheeljack and Smokescreen escorting one of the unknowns.
"What's going on?"
Wheeljack and Smokescreen flipped through the opening of the elevator shaft and onto the floor, blasters armed. Once they were sure that it was clear, the Wrecker waved to Amanda still hovering inside the shaft just above the door out of sight. She flew down and landed on behind them.
"Alright. How does it look up there?" Wheeljack asked.
Optimus answered. "It seems they have caught on to our ruse. We're going to have to proceed carefully. I'll guide you to the cargo bay. The path ahead is clear for three junctions. Move quietly, there is a group of Terrorcons nearby."
The three of them moved at a brisk jogging pace. Keeping it quiet but speedy Amanda looked back at Ben. He was awake now, but he seemed closer to death now than when he was unconscious. "How ya doing?"
"Fine." He answered. His voice frail. "Just thinking about painting my fighter black and carrying around a giant sword."
"At least you can still be a wise ass." She chuckled returning her focus to piloting.
"At least I didn't ask for a h-" He started coughing violently.
"Just hang in there. We'll getcha to the base, Get some real help."
"Stop!" Optimus' command brought the group to a quiet screeching halt just in front of the third junction. "A Terrorcon is moving your way. Hide in the storeroom to your right."
Smokescreen saw the small door first and slid it open quickly as he could. Amanda shifted her veritech to battloid and stepped in with Wheeljack behind her. The rookie Elite guard member slipped in and shut the door. The storage room was small but had enough room for them to fit somewhat comfy. It had a few shelves with various cybertronian cleaning chemicals. There was what appeared to be a cybertronian version of a mop laying haphazardly on a shelf near the door. Feeling somewhat cramped they waited quietly for the Terrorcon to pass.
Just faintly they heard the metallic clicking of a quadruped. Wheeljack pressed the side of his helm against the door and listened carefully. The footsteps were light, lighter than theirs. He guessed that it was only shin high. He conveyed this to the others through simple hand gestures. The clicking started to increase in volume but slowly, which suggested that it was cautious for a trap or searching for them. The Wrecker's bet was the latter.
The footsteps got terrifyingly close, and the group froze trying not to make any noise. Amanda's breath hitched as she suddenly wished she had a locker. They heard subtle growling as the clanking stopped just outside the door, then a few seconds later so did the growling. As Wheeljack listened for movement, he realized that it's listening too. There was aggravated huff, and the clicking resumed, moving away.
Instead of waiting for the creature to pass like anyone else, Wheeljack held a hand up and counted down from five on it. Smokescreen shook his head no but when the Wrecker got to one he slowly slid open the door and looked towards the origin of the sound. It was a canine-like Terrorcon, little taller than he estimated, strolling towards the elevator. He quietly drew one of his katanas and started stalking it. Due to his more massive gait, he was still able to close on it despite his quiet approach.
When he was practically on top of it with his sword raised and posed to strike is when the Terrorcon became aware of the presence behind it. However, it realized too late. As it turned its head to look, it was cleaved in two. The two halves slumped down and rolled outward, exposing the inner mechanics and the bisected spark. He flourished his sword, flicking off the Terror-En that coated it.
"Blast, I'm good." Boasted the wrecker, while he grinned, looking back towards the others. Smokescreen had stepped out of the storeroom and was looking at him with disbelief. "What?"
Harsh growling brought their attention to behind the Elite Guard member. They slowly turned their heads to the pair of Terrorcons that was at the next junction. They were canine too. Almost identical to the bisected one on the floor, except in paint scheme. Despite having a featureless snout. The explosive expert could tell they were looking at him
He slumped his shoulders in annoyance. "Scrap."
As though his curse was an invitation, the Terrorcons roared. Their snouts opening like flowers, revealing rows and rows of teeth, then they charged. One going for Smokescreen, and the other gunning for Wheeljack. The Wrecker tossed the sword in his hand to the rookie then drew his other sword. The Ex-Iacon guardian caught the blade and slammed the door shut in Samantha's face keeping her safe. However, that cost him the initiative and the hound pounced on him, knocking him to the ground.
The second Terror-dog leaped at Wheeljack also. While it was in mid-flight, it's thin tail flicked towards him throwing a set of small spikes at him. He jumped back and lashed out with his blade, expertly deflecting most of them. One got through and hit him in the shoulder. He jerked to the side from the blow allowing the creature to close the distance without being cleaved in two like it's brethren. The Wrecker managed to throw out his arm, catching the mutation on it and throw it to the side and into the wall.
Smokescreen slammed onto the ground with the hound on top of him. It opened its flower-maw mouth and tried to wrap it his helm. He slammed his hand around its throat and pushed it back. The petals clamping shut a foot from his faceplate. He looked around for the sword as the beast still tries to tear open his helm. It was laying just out of his reach.
"You're kidding me!" He exclaimed, and he activated his internal blaster.
"No!" Wheeljack called out. "You'll alert the rest!"
"Like we haven't already!"
Deactivating his blaster, he slugged the Terror-dog in the face. It screeched in pain as it had its clock cleaned. The creature's strength lessened as it lost its focus. With a heave, he threw off the beast, sending it tumbling down the corridor. He scrambled for the sword, picking it up, and got to his feet. The monster was on its feet too, and it pounced again. This time he was ready as he sidestepped and slashed diagonally with the sword, taking its head. It fell to the floor, its legs thrashing wildly as it tried to get to its feet. Smokescreen stepped towards and slammed down his foot on its chest, crushing the sparkchamber.
The other Terror-dog scaled the wall and started jumping from wall to wall. Bouncing randomly around Wheeljack, making it hard to track. The Wrecker just closed his eyes and focused. He entered a wide stance with his left foot forward and right foot back. He held his sword above his head the tip pointed back and the edge forwards. The hound ignored his stance and kept jumping from wall to wall. Then it leaped one last time aiming at his exposed back spinning like a drill.
In a movement near imperceptible, only visible by the streak of light reflecting off the blade, Wheel cut into the Terrorcon. Crouching after he delivered the blow to let it pass over his head. It fell apart into two pieces , showing the cleaved cybertronian heart. The Terrorcon scraps slammed into the wall, splashing the terror-en all over it.
Wheeljack stood up and observed his work with pride. "Damn, I'm good."
Smokescreen jogged over and looked at the wrecker in surprise. "Nicely done."
Another bestial roar reverberated through the hallways, similar sounding to the hounds from before. However, this was deeper. Bigger.
"Looks like we pissed off mama." Wheeljack noted helpfully.
"I think we should run," Smokescreen suggested.
Wheeljack opened the door right as Amanda was trying to figure it out herself. She glared at him through the monitor in the cockpit and growled. "Don't slam doors in my fa-"
The Wrecker cut her off. "Time to go." Then he pulled her mech out of the closet by the shoulder.
She caught onto the urgency and went back to guardian mode while her escort transformed. As they continued down their previous heading, a Terrorcon turned the corner behind them in a sliding stop. It was like the dogs, but it had a stronger humanoid aesthetic and much larger, close to Optimus' height, but it was much lankier. Practically skin and bones if such terminology applied. It moved on it's digitgrade hind legs. Its hands had fingers that stretched out unnaturally and morphed into talons.
It howled a warbling cry; it's featureless face opening into toothy petals like the hounds. Then it began chasing them, followed by three more of its ilk and several dozen hounds. The larger ones ran as unnaturally as they looked, leaning forward to the point where their back was as flat as tables. Their arms are lunging forward with every stride as though they were trying to claw through the air and pull themselves closer to their prey. It seems like it was working.
The pack of Terrorcons was closing in on the Escort Team despite their speed of 150 miles per hour. Wheeljack and the others couldn't risk going faster without increasing the chance of losing control on the turns and crashing. Then, subsequently getting torn to shreds.
"Where to next, Optimus?" Wheeljack radioed.
"Continue for two junctions. Then take a right at the second. Travel for two more junctions, turn left at the third. That corridor ends in a T-section where you will take a left then an immediate right. It's a straight line to the Cargo Bay."
By this moment the first turn had come up. Wheeljack shifted gears, engaged the E-brake, and drifted into the corner. Smokescreen slowed down a miniscule amount and turned on a dime, formula one style. Amanda got creative, shifting into battloid mode, using the engine on the feet like ice skates and leaning into the turn. She never thought that used her ice staking lessons on the air force.
The aberrations also made the turn with little effort. One slid into the turn, and the other jumped onto the walls. The last one ran up the adjacent wall and onto the ceiling. The accompanying pack of hounds weren't as graceful. They stumbled and tripped over one another. Skidding across the floor and washing into the wall. The distance between the two groups closed.
The anthropomorphic Terrorcon on the ceiling jumped off and twisted around like a lithe cat, aiming to land on top of smokescreen. Seeing the incoming threat, the Elite Guard member started transforming. He used his partially transformed arms to launch himself into the air, finishing the change midair. Spinning he kicked the mutation in the face. It fell back into it's buddy on the ground and subsequently falling into the pack of hounds that just got refocused into the chase.
Smokescreen shifted back to his car form and caught up to his team just in time for the next turn. That's when they realized the t-junction Optimus spoke off was ten intersections away and the Terrorcon on the wall was still in pursuit and it was determined to get it's meal.
The Anthropo sensed something off about the winged one, so it chose to go for that one first. It jumped off the wall landing between the Autobot escort, and before they could do anything it jumped onto the opposite wall, then onto Amanda's battloid. It wrapped one arm around the chest and the other grabbed onto the head. The hind legs dug into the mech's back. The sudden weight of the beast threw them forward and onto the ground at 200 miles per hour.
"Hang on!" Amanda shouted to Ben.
The Terrorcon began it's assault before they had the chance to stop sliding. It tore the VF-1J's head off and tossed it to the side, expecting a fountain of Energon to feast on. All it got was a ton of sparks and wires, plus a string of curses from the pilot as she went blind. The creature tilted it's head in confusion as they came to a stop. Then it raised a set of talons to begin tearing the machine to pieces until it got what it wanted.
"EAT THIS!" Wheeljack shouted, as he used his partially transformed arms to launch himself as Smokescreen had but stayed in vehicle form, over the pinned RDF fighter and smack into the mutation.
It went careening with a pained cry while Wheeljack kept going before landing back onto the ground. The beast regained it feet his growled menacing at the retreating Wrecker, ready for a fight. Only Smokescreen to come drifting around Amanda, and slam broadside into its legs tripping it. The white autobot had come back around and drove into it's midsection, shoving it into the wall and pinning it. His tires started spinning out as he use the entire strength of his vehicle form's engine. The Elite Guard gained some distance before gunning it. He had built up a fair amount of speed before he rammed the Anthro's legs crushing them. It howled in agony, earning an angry response from the rest of the pack that just turned the previous corner.
"Transform and roll out, Amanda!" Smokescreen urgently yelled as he and Wheeljack distanced himself from the injured and flailing Terrorcon. "Before they get too close!"
She pulled the Guardian switch, transforming the battered mech. "I won't be able to turn as fast!"
"Just go!" The Wrecker commanded, seeing what the younger Autobot had done.
The team didn't delay any more before giving their all to get to the cargo bay in time. The injured began dragging it's disabled body towards the direction of the fleeing trio, driven by it's addict-like hunger. The sound of hissing growls behind the beast, stopped it's slow advance. It turned to see the rest of the pack had caught up and were watching their wounded brother with intent. The Anthros were standing hunched over slight like raptors, while the hounds started to flank the immobile one. It started growling in warning but they weren't deterred.
Now it was totally surrounded, and the predators slowly started closing in on their prey. One terror-dog attempted to bite at the crushed legs only to get batted aside. The rest of the hounds started barking in anticipation. The weak one tried barking, hoping to scare them off but it couldn't appear fierce enough. One of the anthro let out a sharp call and the starving hunters fell upon their own kin. It's dying cries of pain could be heard hundred and hundreds of meters away and terror-en sprayed onto the walls.
Wheeljack heard the commotion and commented. "That's brutal."
"At least we not getting chased anymore." Smokescreen noted.
"Then let's hurry up. Ben isn't gonna last much longer." Samantha said, increasing her thrust, prompting her escort to accelerate.
Roy walked across the console Optimus worked at and stopped in front of him to ask. "How's our escort team is doing?"
"They are approaching the Cargo Bay now." Optimus informed. "I'm inputting the coordinates into the Space Bridge. We'll be able bridge out Amanda and Ben at a moment's notice."
"What about the report?'
"Condensed and ready for upload. It'll send an ID signal to make sure the base's defenses don't accidentally shoot her down."
"Great." Roy turned to Ultra Magnus. "Put a team together to get those supplies. Meanwhile Rick and Lennox will head down to fetch a replacement arm from Ben's mech."
"Understood." Magnus affirmed. "Bulkhead, Bumblebee, with me."
"Let's head out." Rick suggested, powering up his fighter.
With his orders distributed, Roy turned to the screen that showed the escort team just arriving at the Cargo Bay doors, and the hoard of Terrorcons that roamed the it. You can get through, I know it.
In the doorway of the only exit out of the Ark, a snake cam peaked out. It saw the hoard in all of it's multitude of flavors. There were more Hounds and Anthros. A few dozen small impish looking Terrocons were hopping about on the cages. A squad's worth of lizard-men with frills and barbed tails also patrolled the area. Five or so skeletal creatures roamed about with what looked like cannons on their backs.
The camera creeped back and slid into it's storage area in Wheeljack's arm. He rarely used the thing but he would rather show uncharacteristic caution, then get eaten alive. "The place is crawling. I count at least fifty of them and that's what I could see.
"Scrap." Smokescreen swore. "Got any grenades?"
"Nope. Used the last of them getting to the bridge."
"What about sneaking past them?" Amanda suggested.
The Wrecker shook his head. "Not enough cover. The storage containers are see through."
The ex-Iacon guard perked up. "Can't you… um…blend into the background? Hide in the shadows?"
"I'm special forces, not a ninja!"
"But what about your training?"
"Not how it works!"
"Quiet!" The RDF pilot whisper shouting to interject in their conversation. "Not the time."
"Sorry, ma'am" They both mumbled.
Directing the conversation back on track, she said. "We need a plan. If sneaking won't work, then what?"
"How about something more direct?" Wheezed an unexpected voice.
"You should be resting, Ben!" The medic chastised turning to look at him.
"Just hear me out." He demanded, leaning forward in his seat. He looked like a corpse and it wouldn't be long till he was one. "I'm tired of just sitting here, helpless. Let me at least help in my escape."'
After a moments thought, she nodded. "Alright, what do you have?"
In the Cargo Bay the Terrorcons shuffled about aimlessly. Some bumped into each other starting a fight. The echoes of roaring engines drew the attention of every Terrorcon to the entryway to the rest of the ship. Smokescreen and Wheeljack come blazing out of it in vehicle form screaming and howling. Gunning straight for the outside entrance of the Bay.
A dozen of the hounds and imps jumped into their pathway, ready to stop the rushing autobots. The Elite Guard pulled back to let his fellow cybertronian take the lead, when the Wrecker's Katana's slid out over the front of his bumper forming a bladed brush guard. Masterfully forged and honed swords met the twisted steel of the Terrorcons. In this battle of rock vs scissors. Scissors win.
The self designated ram of this convoy cut through ankles and shins, sending them tumbling over him and to the ground. That's where they met the front bumper of the following 'bot who sent them careening every which direction. One of the Skeletons attempted to jump down onto of Wheeljack only to get hit by a rogue flying hound, throwing it off course and into one of the cages. It adjusted it's tumble with an apparent jet pack to land on it's feet. It grabbed the wounded hound the caused it's failure and two it in half before screaming in rage.
The pair made it through the bay to the outside where the sudden drop of the ramp sent them airborne into the cave. Climbing on the outside of the city-ship were additional Terrorcon forces that doubled their numbers. The group within the cargo came rushing out, ready to tear the bots apart, with the group outside the ship jumping down to join them.
The autobots drove straight for the cliff shooting way out ahead of the horde. They power slid into j-turns stooping at the foot of the cliff.
"Scrap, I hate it when I'm right." Wheeljack swore. "They had an ambush waiting."
"What are we gonna do?" Smokescreeen asked worried about the slanted odds.
"Stick to the plan! It'll work!"
Wheeljack surged forward with smokescreen hot on his heels. Matching each other's speed they drove parallel as they faced the incoming horde with bellowing war cries. The Autobots cries were by the of the more numerous Terrorcons who drew closer, but both were drowned by something even louder. The roar of jet engines traveling at mach 3. Amanda's veritech in fighter form shot out of the ship like a bat out of hell into the space bridge opened just in time before closing behind her.
"Yes!" Smokescreen shouted in joy.
"Let's get out of here." Wheeljack suggested.
The pair separated putting distance between each other but still traveling in the same general direction of the cargo bay. As expected the horde split into two groups to try to intercept the divided autobots. They continued to drive in a predictable path letting the hordes get closer. Then in the last possible moment the 'bots turned towards each other, the Terrorcons pursuing blindly. As Smokescreen and Wheeljack crossed each other's paths the groups crashed in a violent mess of distorted limbs. The mutations begin tearing into each in starved and territorial rage.
As the two Autobots drove into the cargo bay before transforming, Smokescreen exclaimed, "Can't believe that worked."
"Let's see if we can't add insult and shut the door in their face. Wheeljack stated as they ran through the entrance to the ship.
He turned to see the fangs of a terrorcon behind him and he knew he was dead to rights. The Cargo Bay door slammed down on the Terrorcon crushing it, the head popping off. As it slid on the floor, Wheeljack realized it was one of hounds that almost offlined him and there would've been nothing he could do. Sobering thought.
"Scrap that was close." Smokescreen muttered. "Let's get going before we have another close call."
They transformed again and a mad dash for the bridge. Mission success. Now, they could focus on taking down Arachnid and ending this nightmare.