Beginning Again . . .
First looked at his companion. "They have desecrated the Project."
Second sighed, glaring down at the blue and green world. "So they have. What do you suggest?"
Second made a negative sound. "Our vows state that we may not advertently cause death. Therefore, we may not kill them. We will change them, so that they will be less suited to the beauty around them . . . the environment."
"Wouldn't that be causing their death?"
"They may die, but that would be at the cause of the dangers already present upon the Project. We will not cause their deaths."
First pondered over the situation for a moment, then said in a slightly harsh voice, "The Safety; it can be reprogrammed, can it not?"
"That is within our parameters."
"Then that is how we will change them. They are different than any other race that I have seen before."
"So be it."
"So be it."
"It's gonna explode!"
"Calm down, Cheetor! We don't know that for sure!"
"Would 'ya just look at it?!"
"Rattrap, you're not helping."
Dinobot watched the chaos unfolding around him. Primal and Rhinox were doing their best to try to keep Cheetor and Rattrap from spazzing out. Their distress didn't affect the bot. Rather, it was doing the exact opposite for him. Dinobot was calming himself down, knowing that he had to. Tigatron and Airazor were also calm, but both were also watching him, seeing what he was going to do. Finally, when he was ready, the ex-Predacon roughly sat Cheetor into a seat and held him there. "Furball, if you do not wish to be put into Stasis Lock, shut up."
Cheetor looked up at Dinobot, seeing the angry scowl mixed with a bit of contempt. Swallowing, Cheetor let his head hang, and he felt himself start to relax. Rhinox was succeeding with Rattrap, it seemed, so Dinobot released Cheetor's shoulders, then looked at their leader. "Well?"
Optimus shrugged, shaking his head. "Everything that can be done has been done. Shields are at maximum. Sentinel is operating on low power so that we can boost the shield if necessary. Frankly, Dinobot, I don't know what else can be done at the moment."
The tall bot nodded, then took up a station at the table in the middle of the room. Cheetor stood next to him after a short moment. "Hey. Thanks."
"You were letting panic take control. Do not allow that to happen again."
"I . . . I'll try, Dinobot."
Dinobot released a neutral growl, then hissed in alarm. "It's starting, Primal!"
"Slag it all! Stations!" the leader bawled out, taking a spot opposite Dinobot. That's when he saw the energy readings. "By the holy Matrix . . . is this correct, Dinobot?"
Turning, Optimus roared at Airazor, "Boost those shields now!"
Whiteness enveloped the base not a second after the words left Optimus Primal's mouth.
Dinobot awoke half under the table he had been standing by. Groaning, he rubbed at his forehead, trying to relieve some of the pressure there.
Swallowing, he looked down at himself. And promptly felt his face heat up. Not caring who was watching, if any were indeed awake, he scrambled out of the control room and down to his quarters.
Rattrap was the next to regain consciousness, and he looked at his hands, completely unaware of the state he was in until a willowy, female winged form ran past him in a mad dash down the halls. "Woah. Who was dat?"
"Airazor, I suppose," Rhinox said, tossing a blanket to Rattrap. "Do us all a favor and cover yourself up."
Rattrap stood, tucking the blanket around his waist, seeing that all the others had woken up with the exception of Cheetor. Running his hand through his hair, Rattrap encountered two large, soft rat's ears. Optimus was running though the computer files. He pulled up something, then relayed it to project upon the holographic projector. Once that was through, he looked at the entering figure of Dinobot. "So you areawake."
"Slag off," the lithe and tall once-bot snapped. "I do not appreciate these aliens' pranks."
Rattrap snickered. "A little tiny down there, I take it?"
Lifting his upper lip in a sneer, Dinobot hissed through gritted teeth, "At least I'll never have the trouble you'll have, eunuch!"
Rattrap would have launched himself at Dinobot, but Rhinox reached over and held him still by the blanket looped around his waist. The short Maximal stopped moving the moment he felt the blanket shift. Dinobot leered towards Rattrap. "What's the matter? Afraid that you won't even compare? Tch."
"Dinobot, knock it off," Optimus said wearily. "And I'd like to ask you where you were?"
"Unlike the Vermin, I do not enjoy walking around without . . . cover, if you will."
"Believe me," a female voice said, "I completely understand." Airazor had found a second blanket, and had one around her waist, the other around her upper torso. She sighed. "So what are we?"
Optimus indicated the screen. "Something between a human and our beast modes. As you can tell, the percentage of how much human you are versus how much animal you are differs between individuals."
Cheetor awoke with a groan. "Man . . . woah! What's this?!"
Rattrap snickered and was about to reply when Rhinox covered his mouth. "Not one more comment, Rattrap."
Dinobot, at least, was relieved. "I believe it matters how much you had been in contact with your beast mode. That's how it looks, anyway. Rather, how much you identified with it."
Tigatron looked just like a snow tiger standing upon his hind legs, yet with a more human torso and face. With a sigh, he nodded. "So it would seem."
Optimus looked at his completely-human body, then shrugged. "I guess that could explain it." He looked back at the pictures of humans flitting over the screen. "We have a lot to learn, then."
Sitting in his quarters, Dinobot finished the garment after two days. With a sigh that was something more than just weariness, he stood and walked over to the mirror. A temporary loincloth had been fashioned out of a deerskin and it was held up with a strip of the same skin. His legs were his beast mode's . . . rather, they hadbeen from his beast mode. They were long and seemed to be pure muscle, unlike the out-of-shape legs he had sported not three days ago. His tail was strong as well, and the same tan and brown-striped skin as before, only . . . the scales were softer, less there, if you will.
Dinobot's eyes passed upwards, watching where skin went from a rich tan to the royal blue that had been his main coloring before the Wars. His torso was built in a lean sense, as well as his arms. No excessive muscles there, just . . . just enough to get him by.
His face was long, with high cheekbones and a straight nose. At least his optics . . . eyes, he corrected himself, had stayed roughly the same color: crimson. His rich brown hair had to be tied back, but two strands of pitch black refused to reach the nape of his neck. The full length nearly reached his waist.
With another sigh, he turned away from the mirror and pulled on the legged garment, carefully putting the tip of his tail through the hole supplied for it before putting his feet down through the legs, not wanting to rip the material with the talons he sported. As soon as it was fully in place, he tucked the edge under the loincloth's top edge after tying the strip slightly tighter. Blinking at the rough greyish fabric and how it reacted with the color of his skin, he turned and left the room.
Rattrap had also just finished his pants, it appeared, as Dinobot entered the command center. The black garment was slightly longer than it probably should be, but then again, if Rattrap wanted to trip over an edge, that was up to him. The shorter humanoid looked up at Dinobot. "How come you took da same time as I did, an' you've got longer legs?"
"I know how to do this."
"Oh, a seamstress. I see."
Snarling, Dinobot sat at another console, careful not to sit upon any vital body parts as he did so. "I have my reasons for knowing how to make cloth things, Vermin."
"Really. Tell me why I don't believe you."
Dinobot sighed and looked away, rubbing his hands over his knees nervously. The action didn't go unnoticed by Rattrap. "Choppuhface? You okay?"
"Slaggit, I don't know why I'm talking to you."
"Because I'm da only one up dis early, an' you look like you got a load on 'ya shoulders."
With another sigh, Dinobot pulled his hair free and itched at his scalp. He'd have to bathe soon, what with all the lifting he had been doing with Rhinox. He could smell himself, and that wasn't something exactly pretty.
The shorter once-bot walked over to Dinobot and stood before him. The once-raptor looked up at him, taking in his appearance in a glance. Grey ears sat upon a head of brown-grey hair with silver highlights. Dark brown eyes that usually laughed in a grinning, boyish face were solemn in a concerned face. His skin was the color of a light-skinned human, and he had the legs of a human, but his tail was that of a rat's. And he was built for a short guy.
"Vermin, if I told you, you'd never let me hear the end of it."
"Try me. I do shut up once in a while."
Dinobot locked his eyes upon Rattrap's, then said quietly, "Fine. I was raised upon Earth by a human family. You want explanations about why I behave the way I do? That's it. You want to know why I wanted to find Earth again? That's why. I would have disappeared from Megatron as soon as we had landed upon the planet. That was my plan."
Rattrap blinked, then smiled partially. "Dat wasn't so hard, now was it, Choppuhface?"
Dinobot felt his sharp canines nearly bite his tongue again, and he replied, "Nobody else ever knew, Rat. Not on Cybertron, not here."
Rattrap's smile didn't fade. "Where were you raised?"
"Massachusetts in the United States until I was seventeen, then in Kyoto, Japan until I was twenty- five." Dinobot sunk back into himself again. "Why would you care?"
"Ever visit New York City?"
Dinobot nodded slightly. "At least fifteen times. Multitudes of bots live there. They held arena fights."
"I was raised dere. In Brooklyn." Rattrap's smile turned into a grin. "You were a lanky kid, weren't you? You visited dat famous underground arena once with an adopted sibling to watch what became a famous brawl?"
"How do you know of that?" Dinobot whispered.
Rattrap kept grinning. "I was da kid dat sat right next to you, rooting for da same bot you were."
Dinobot looked at Rattrap in shock. "Echelon?!"
"Yep. Never knew dat it was me, didja?"
"Slag, no! You changed your appearance!"
"Slightly, but yeah. And you changed a bit, too. Put on weight."
Standing to tower over his old friend, Dinobot readied himself for a fight. At that moment, however, Optimus walked in and immediately stepped between the two. Dinobot held his hands up, taking a step back. "Small argument, Primal, nothing serious."
"Yeah, ol' blue-butt was just . . . demonstrating his undying love for me."
Dinobot made a face of disgust. "Wrong. On both accounts."
Laughing, Rattrap got back to his post while Dinobot went out for some fresh air. Airazor and Tigatron were out as well, and both turned to look at Dinobot. While he didn't approve of trying to find romance in a war, he understood how one might need someone to rely upon for strength every now and again. He nodded to each of them before taking off in a run towards a pillar of rock that he had been able to scale when in beast mode. Bouncing off of a rock, he ricocheted up to a level where he had handholds. And Dinobot found out that he could climb easier as he was now, than he had been before. With a sigh, he settled himself upon the top of the monolith and watched as the sun rose over the mountains.
Life was taking interesting new turns.
Rhinox yawned, sitting up as best as he could and stretching. Was it already noon? Why and how did he sleep that late?! Looking at the strange way he had been reconstructed, he sighed. The door opened, admitting Optimus. "How are you doing?"
"Still can't find a reason for all of this . . ."
"You mean how you look? Here. Dinobot found this."
Activating the small holo-pad, Rhinox saw something that only vaguely resembled what he now looked like. "What is this?"
"A creature from Greek myth, Dinobot said. Called a centaur. Half-man, half-horse. Or rhinoceros in your case."
"By the Matrix."
"You caught onto his thinking right away, huh."
"We're being used to influence . . ."
Rhinox looked at Optimus. "Do you think Megatron has figured this out yet?"
"Dinobot and Rattrap actually agree upon the fact that they would still be slightly disorganized still. But that doesn't mean that their minds aren't working while they find things to do."
"Oh, ewww . . ."
Rattrap looked over Cheetor's shoulder, trying not to step on the younger's tail as he did so. "What 'eww'? Oh . . . oh, gross."
Dinobot and Tigatron joined them. Dinobot snickered. "I daresay that Tarantulus is not happy."
"Jeesh, kid. If you puke, you're cleaning it up."
Tigatron sighed. "How many eyes?"
"I'm counting four, possibly? Ah, slag. Six," Dinobot replied.
"The she-spider looks as if she fared better. She looks completely human."
"Looks are deceiving, furball. 'More than meets the eye?' Megatron, however, is not happy in the least."
"He looks almost like you do."
"Meh. His tail isn't as good as mine. And he's stockier. Not suited at all for battle or scouting."
Rattrap laughed, then caught sight of Waspinator, a frail-looking, almost-too-light-skinned wisp of a humanoid with faceted pupils and gossamer wings. "Oh, slag. I can't shoot that."
Tigatron shook his head. "How do you think negotiations are going?"
"Well enough, judging by the look of disdain upon Megatron's face," Airazor replied. She had managed to make a tunic and breeches out of deerskins that fit around her well. The tunic managed to cover her back enough so that she was still modest, and yet, it gave her enough movement so flying wasn't a problem.
Dinobot returned his attention to the remaining Predacons. Inferno was built almost the same as Rhinox, what with the lower body of an ant and the upper body of a human. It wasn't the most flattering of configurations. But the human part of him had been built well, being of a rich tan and black glossy hair. His eyes were a light orange, calm and purposeful. There was something different about this once-bot, Dinobot decided. His eyes said that there was.
"Anyone else see Inferno's eyes?"
Dinobot looked at Tigatron. "Mn."
"Then I am not the only one."
Looking back at the screen, Dinobot singled out another Predacon. This time, it was Terrorsaur. Only that kind of person would have that pale of a complexion and hair that red. Not to mention the good- sized leathery blood-red wings also gave him away.
Dinobot hissed in through his teeth, spinning to step onto the lift. As soon as it touched down, causing all to turn and stare at him, he indicated Primal with a nod. The leader walked over. His voice was near silent. "Something up?"
"There were many stasis pods that fell in that region . . ."
"I remember. But we now have an agreement between the Predacons. If a scout goes out of either faction, a scout of the opposing faction also goes."
"Very well. Anything else I should know of?"
"The first bot . . . er . . . you know, chooses he or she who will accompany them. That, and that you might have to share quarters with one of the other Maximals."
"Slag. Not enough space?"
"Blast it all . . . Fine. I have a comm with me."
"Who's your choice?"
"I am not certain . . . slag. Nevermind." Dinobot left his leader behind in long strides, stopping before Megatron for a moment, letting his eyes slide over the bulky mass indifferently. "Terrorsaur."
Turning, Dinobot left the group at a run, knowing that he would not tire for a long time. His comm crackled to life. "Optimus to Dinobot."
"Megatron and I are following on one of those old hover-boards."
"Do not . . . over-heat the engine . . . if it is the one with the red stripe," the humanoid panted out.
Grinning, Dinobot clicked the comm-link off and continued running. Terrorsaur came closer to his old comrade. "Why me?"
The half-raptor looked up at Terrorsaur once, then held his hand up. Once they were by the pods, he would speak. Terrorsaur nodded, then rose up to a higher altitude again. They reached the pods as the two occupants started fighting. Dinobot stood twenty feet away, panting lightly. But the run had felt good.
With a thump, Terrorsaur landed beside Dinobot, wincing and groaning near-silently with pain. Standing, rubbing at his rump, he asked, "So what now? And why me?"
"Why you? Peh. You'd be able to keep up, old comrade. And as for what now, I suggest that we not enter this brawl these two have started. Let them tire themselves out."
Terrorsaur nodded, and soon the two were done, with the smaller one as the victor. He looked completely human, until Dinobot saw his teeth. They consisted of one fused line of bone on the upper and lower jaws with both sets of canines longer and sharper than his own. His skin also looked more shell-like than human, what with that strange gleam reflecting upon it. His hair was light brown and wild, albeit straight. His eyes were red-tinged, but with a strange look around them that didn't speak either as good or evil.
The other was more like the Maximals, what with clear golden eyes, ruffled, fur-like medium-length grey-black hair, and a strange build. He had massive feathered wings perched on the back of either shoulder, and his fingers were taloned, but graceful at the same time. His legs were almost like Dinobot's, in a sense. They were long and lithe, but also were that of a beast's: a wolf's. He had golden-tanned skin which went into fur from the waist down.
Thus, as it had been for the previously existing Maximals and Predacons, so it was with the two newcomers: they were stark naked.
Terrorsaur blinked, flushed, and turned away, while Dinobot shook his head and called out, "Are you slagging done fighting?"
The duo blinked in surprise at Dinobot. The wolf-bird-human one called back, "Are you friend or foe?"
"Depends upon your viewpoint."
At that moment, the hover-board touched down with Megatron grumbling fiercely.Dinobot looked at Primal. "You slagging stalled it."
"Rattrap didn't tell me that this one was the faulty one!" the Maximal leader griped in return. "He was the one who suggested it!"
Growling deep in the back of his throat, Megatron walked over to the two newcomers, watching each of them. "Well? What are you? Maximal or Predacon?"
"I think the answer's gonna be obvious, Megs," Terrorsaur said, aiming his voice over his shoulder. "Considering they're from stasis pods."
Shooting the smaller Predacon a glare, Megatron snorted. Optimus took this as an opportunity to introduce himself.
And so, Silverbolt and Quickstrike entered the Beast Wars.