Disclaimer: The Transformers and all related material belong to Hasbro, concept originally created and licensed through Takara Co. LTD. All original characters (c) C.R. Majors.

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Author Note: This story is the sequel to my previous Transformer gen1 multichapter fan fiction, "Second Chances," which ressurected six of the Autobots brutally slain in the 1986 Transformers: The Movie. If you have not read SC, I strongly suggest you go back and read through it before trying to read this one, as while bits and pieces of this story will recap major parts of SC, no in-depth, fully detailed explanations will be given as to why dead 'bots are walking. And much like SC, the sequel will also contain several OCs who are necessary to the tale, as well as make use of a mix of Transformers mythos from both the cartoon and comics. That said... Welcome back and strap in. The road home will be a long and difficult one.

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Running the Gauntlet

Prologue

"Veras, get behind me!"

The female Occan barely registered the order as she instinctively scrambled back from the door in the storage room, her robes tattered, torn and stained with greenish blood. Standing between his only daughter and the fiendish creature that was now throwing itself bodily against the other side of the solid metal door in front of him, Toth ejected the spent clip from his laser pistol and hurriedly pulled another from his utility belt. As the hinges on the heavy barrier began to give, he fumbled with the firearm, shaking, six fingered hands barely able to get the weapon loaded.

Two more furious blows and the door toppled inward, barely missing the elder Occan, who stumbled back, golden, owlish eyes wide over the fringe of white hair that began at the corners of his thin lips and trailed down along his neck and chest. As the dust kicked up by the violent intrusion swirled about the room, four, pupiless glowing eyes met those of the ship's captain, narrowing in the dim light. The creature advanced over the fallen door, moving with all the confidence and slick cunning of a natural predator. It was like nothing Toth had ever seen; an amalgamation of mechanical parts, armor and knotted muscles beneath black scaled hide. While the head appeared almost reptilian in shape, a white and silver helmet concealed everything but the eyes. In its crouched position, the beast's pair of foremost limbs glinted metallic in the light, ending not in hands or even paws, but in two sickle shaped pieces of razor sharp steel mounted on thrice jointed limbs. Another two pairs of limbs moved along behind those, ending in three digits each, all tipped with black claws. Hissing coldly through its mask, the invader fixed Toth with what he swore was a hateful glare.

"Get back! I'm warning you!" Toth shouted out of pure desperation, bringing his weapon to bear. "I'll kill you if I have to!"

All four of the creature's eyes narrowed dangerously, its limbs gathering beneath its body. Toth barely had time to cry out, Veras' screams echoing in his ears as the invader leapt upon him, one steely forelimb impaling him, pinning him to the floor. All his shots either went wild or merely bounced harmlessly off the armor of his attacker. Greenish blood pooling beneath him, the light beginning to leave his eyes, the captain stared in abject horror at the alien over him. Almost twice his size, it was already covered in coagulating green fluids. The crew...

As Toth gasped, falling limp, his murderer glanced in Veras' direction, a low hiss escaping the helm. Scampering back into the nearest corner, the female wept bitterly at the sight of her dead parent, cradling her last and most precious belonging to her chest. She possessed no real weapons, natural or otherwise. Tail lashing, the blood covered killer began to slither towards her, claws and sickles ticking over the metal flooring.

"Zivven... Fall back."

The grating, low command caused the six limbed alien to halt completely, although it did not take its gaze from its target. Veras trembled, hardly daring to breathe as a second invader entered the room, barely able to fit through the doorway. Covered in shaggy black fur and chain mail armor, the bipedal newcomer appraised the situation through a pair of slitted, yellow eyes. As he stepped over the door, his subordinate backed away a few steps.

"Captain Toth's offspring, I presume?" the large alien inquired in gruff Occan, lips drawing back to reveal two sets of white fangs. For a brief moment, his gaze shifted to the corpse on the floor, mouth curling slightly in a pleased smirk. "And the good captain himself, I see. Poor fool. He should have agreed to my generous terms while he had the opportunity. Now, my dear Veras... Where is the cargo? Answer quickly enough and I may be able to keep Zivven here from using you as a new toy."

"I...I don't know what you're talking about!" the female Occan shot back, voice wavering, her entire body shaking.

"Oh, I think you do, you stubborn little-" the hairy alien snarled, but before he could finish, the communicator on the side of his metal helmet blipped. Reaching up, he tapped the side of it with one clawed hand in irritation. "Tashk here. Report."

"Tashk, it's Silth. The cargo... We can't find it! The drones found the containment unit, but it's been torn open. And one of the emergency airlocks...it's been used!"

Glaring down at Veras, Tashk ran his blue tongue over the pointed teeth on his upper jaw before replying to his comrade. "Then it either escaped on its own or one of these little, purple scaled idiots let it out! Finish your search and have the drones pull back with whatever goods they can acquire. We'll get what we came for, eventually." Shutting off the communicator, Tashk loomed over the cornered Occan, fingers flexing. "You ought to know, little one, that you are probably the last of your people left alive, here. And so it shall remain. You know what we want and you probably know more about it than anyone else could have, so we will keep you alive and you will work for us. Refuse, and Zivven will gut you as he gutted your father."

Veras curled in on herself further, tone cold with rage and hatred. "Never! And you'll never find our cargo! I'll die before I help you, you hear me?"

A deep, unsettling chuckle rumbled up out of Tashk's throat as he moved towards her, massive body casting her in shadow. "Oh, we'll find it. And you WILL help us... Even if your life is worth nothing, I think I see something else that might be worth more..."

Zivven blinked in indifference as the wailing screams began; it was all business as usual.

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Next chapter: Every journey begins with a single step.