Author's Note: Since I have a little time on my hands right now I decided to get started with this. This fic is the second in this series, taking place between "Transformation" and "A New Life". Quite a few events mentioned later on in the series will be explained here, but this is mainly to explain the events surrounding Ultra Rodimus's first berserk outburst, first mentioned in "Burning Skies". I doubt this fic will mention where and how Ultra Rodimus got his signature snakeskins (that comes later in the series, between "Of Lightsabers and Autobots" and "Unexpected Encounters") but I will very likely be writing an interlude fic about that at some point in the future.

Right now this fic will have a mild rating, but it will be upped in later chapters; something tells me that the chapters dealing with the actual eruption will be very close to "Burning Skies" chapter 11 (the infamous death scene) in terms of nastiness and description. Please bear with me.

Disclaimer: Ultra Rodimus is a character of my own creation. That means he's mine. Everyone else (unless I specifically mention them as being my own creations) belongs to people with a hell of a lot more money than me.

Boiling Point

Chapter 1: Asserting Authority

Since the death of Rodimus Prime and his miraculous rebirth as the powerful Ultra Rodimus, things had not slowed down for the Autobots. The Decepticons were laying low, licking their wounds and trying to recover from the loss of one of their most effective warriors. Sixshot had fallen to Ultra Rodimus in single combat, and the Decepticons had slunk off to try and take stock of their resources for future attacks while working on ways to try and neutralize the Autobots' new leader. So far all of the suggested ideas had been both ridiculous and impossible.

The lack of combat had not meant that the Autobots were idle, however. In fact, they were busier than ever, evaluating and testing their reborn Prime. A small, lifeless planetoid with a minimal atmosphere, fairly close to Cybertron, had been outfitted as a training center, where Ultra Rodimus tested the abilities of his new body and his various alternate modes. A dozen or more assorted medics, scientists, and engineers were always in attendance, taking measurements, readings, and scans and combining them all in an attempt to figure out exactly how Ultra Rodimus functioned. He had systems that none of them had ever seen before, and they were eager to puzzle out their function.

One of the first things they'd discovered was the massive amounts of energon it took to fuel a bot of Ultra Rodimus's size. He used more energon in one day than four others did in a week. At the rate he burned energon their stockpiles would run out within a few months. Perceptor was already looking for a way to cut down his energon consumption without sacrificing his overall strength and firepower.

The new Autobot leader leaned on his massive battleaxe, his armor coated in a fine layer of dust that fell off whenever he moved, creating a constant dust cloud around him. His emerald eyes scanned over the shattered remains of what had once been a large, solid rock formation. Less than a half dozen blows had caused the base of the formation to crumble, which had in turn brought the whole thing down. Despite having been used to break boulders, there wasn't so much as a scratch on the weapon's razor-sharp blades.

Finally he turned toward the science crew. "Well?"

"I wouldn't want to be your enemy," someone quipped, tapping a key. "These readings are off the charts. Of course, that's probably because this system is at least as old as Kup is, but you're at least twice as strong as the average Transformer. I'd bet that you're a lot stronger than that, but this old system can only read so much."

"Then I'd say that it's time to get a new system," Ultra Rodimus replied with a laugh, resting his axe against his shoulder. "I think the prototype for Teletran 2 is still in the lab." His long silver braid slapped against his thigh as he turned and walked over to them, pausing to shake off the load of dust clinging to his armor. "So, what's next?"

"I'd suggest that we have you test-fire your distance weapons and take readings on them, but they drain too much power." Perceptor's fingers danced over his keyboard as he added more data to the model he was building.

"If I use them continually they drain my energy reserves," Ultra Rodimus corrected, subspacing his axe. "For quick, short bursts it shouldn't be too bad. Just make sure you get your readings the first time; I don't want to have to fire them more than once per weapon."

The team exchanged glances, then agreed. Ultra Rodimus stood back and waited patiently while they adjusted and recalibrated their scanning equipment, then walked back out onto the test range and began to cycle through his alternate modes, test-firing all of his long-distance weaponry using short, low-power bursts instead of firing at full power.

"We got it!" First Aid called to him. Ultra Rodimus transformed and trotted over to them, looking over their shoulders at the monitors as Perceptor entered the data into the simulation program. The machine whirred softly as it accepted the data and used the readings to extrapolate what the results of a full-power test would be.

Someone let out a low whistle as the final results came back.

I really wouldn't want to be in your way," one of the younger engineers muttered. "One shot can flatten a city and a mass broadside could take a serious chunk out of a moon!"

Ultra Rodimus frowned slightly. "Let's hope I never have to do that kind of damage."

The others nodded in agreement.

A moment later, Ultra Rodimus's comlink chirped for attention. He took a step back, letting the brainiacs get back to work, and answered. "Prime."

"Are you just about finished up there?" Ultra Magnus, his second-in-command, asked.

"As far as I know, we're done for the time being. What's up?"

"A group of underground fighters have resurfaced and are demanding to talk to the current Autobot commander. I think you should get back here."

"I'm on my way." Ultra Rodimus closed the connection and tapped First Aid on the shoulder. "I'm needed back on Cybertron. Do you guys need me for anything else?"

"We have already obtained all the data we require to assemble a model," Perceptor cut in.

First Aid sighed, shaking his head at the scientist, then turned back to his leader. "No, we've collected all the data we need for the moment. You can go."

"Excellent." Ultra Rodimus grinned at the medic and trotted out onto the makeshift runway, transforming to his jet mode. His engines began to hum with power, then ignited with a roar and a blast of flame. He taxied down the runway, gaining speed, until he launched himself into the thin air. Once he'd reached the upper atmosphere he transformed from jet to starfighter, wingtips leaving thin contrails as he broke atmosphere and hurtled out into space. Setting course for Cybertron, he opened up the throttle.

The flight from the training center to the Transformer homeworld was a short one, only taking a few minutes. As he descended through Cybertron's dark skies, he broadcast his identification code and was rewarded when the transparent dome protecting Iacon from aerial assaults opened just enough to let him slip through. He transformed in mid-air, touching down neatly and descending to the courtyard, where Magnus was waiting.

The red and blue Autobot turned toward him as he exited the city, walking toward them. A large hand waved at the group standing in the middle of the entrance plaza.

"These 'Bots just came up from one of the underground bases," Magnus explained by way of greeting. "Came in and demanded to talk to the bot in charge. They were very impatient."

"Did you get any names?"

"Yes. Topspin, Twin Twist, Warpath, Whirl, Sureshot, Camshaft, Overdrive, Downshift, and that's all I got so far."

"That will do for now." Ultra Rodimus walked forward to confront the new arrivals, unconsciously drawing an aura of authority around himself. "I am Ultra Rodimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. You came here to see me?"

The bot identified as Twin Twist looked him over and snorted his contempt. "A Prime? You? Ha!"

Ultra Rodimus's eyes narrowed. "Problem?"

Twin Twist sneered at him. "You're no warrior. One good hit and you're history. So why don't you scurry off somewhere and let real warriors take over?"

"I remember Twin Twist as being a bot not even Optimus Prime could control," Kup commented softly.

The young Prime grunted in response, looking Twin Twist over. Then a chill smile crossed his face. "You think I'm weak, do you? Then why don't you come and see if that's true?" His voice carried a distinctly mocking tone.

The older bot's face twisted into a snarl as the taunt hit home. Letting out a growl, he lunged.

Ultra Rodimus didn't move. Then his cold smile widened and he sprang at his opponent. The speed with which he moved drew awed murmurs from the watching Autobots.

Twin Twist threw himself forward, intending to body-slam the other Autobot and send him sprawling. But he misjudged his opponent. When they collided, it was Twin Twist who bounced back, his armor striking sparks where it impacted the larger bot's. Twisting in mid-air, the Jumpstarter landed on his side instead of flat on his back, scrambling to hisfeet and launching himself back at Ultra Rodimus, this time bringing his brute strength, which was usually more than enough to flatten any opponent, to bear. Ultra Rodimus mirrored him. Hands locked, they grappled, and to his surprise Twin Twist found himself being shoved back.

A red haze began to creep across Twin Twist's optics, the berserk rage that made him such a fearsome warrior rising to the fore. Baring his teeth in a soundless snarl, the Jumpstarter broke the hold and went for the taller bot's throat.

As fast as lightning, Ultra Rodimus caught his arm and used his grip to redirect Twin Twist's momentum, flipping him over and slamming him face-first into the ground. The blue and white bot hit hard, kicking out at Ultra Rodimus, hoping to strike his knee and damage the joint. Ultra Rodimus saw it coming and jumped to avoid it, landing hard with bot feet on Twin Twist's back. The impact caused Twin Twist's arms to buckle under him, smashing him back down hard enough to leave a bot-shaped imprint in the metal. Ultra Rodimus bent his legs to absorb the impact, then pushed off, shoving Twin Twist's shoulders and chest deeper into the ground. Landing neatly a few meters away, he looked back at the other bot.

Snarling, Twin Twist shoved himself out of the dent he'd left in the ground and lunged again, almost completely lost to the raging fury that filled his spark. Ultra Rodimus grinned coldly and pounced.

The newcomers watched in shock as Twin Twist, the most vicious of their number, the bot who had never been bested in battle, was beaten almost literally into the ground by the tall, fragile-looking bot introduced as the new Prime.. Twin Twist was fighting his hardest, but the bot called Ultra Rodimus was winning. There wasn't a mark on him while Twin Twist's armor was swiftly being bent seriously out of shape. Despite the punishment he was taking, he wasn't giving up.

Finally, Twin Twist's energy began to run low. He was tiring, something that had never happened to him before. He was able to fight a great deal longer than any of his comrades, and had never before been exhausted in a fight. The red haze cleared from his vision just in time for him to see Ultra Rodimus pull off a move that should have been impossible for a being whose skin was made of hard steel. Twin Twist took the full force of the hit and was thrown into the air, pinwheeling through four complete rotations before coming down hard on his back with enough force to temporarily scramble his systems. He was just starting to push himself back up when Ultra Rodimus's foot came down on his chest, the end on his jaw, slamming him back down and holding him pinned. Unable to turn his head, Twin Twist could only see the larger bot from the corner of his optic. He grabbed hold of Ultra Rodimus's leg, trying to push him off.

It was like trying to move a building. No matter how hard he shoved that limb remained immobile, holding him down with just enough pressure to pin him without causing any real damage. Yet from what he could see Ultra Rodimus was resting all his weight on his other leg, using only minimal force to subdue him. That gave him a sudden insight into how much power that deceptively slender body shape hid. He suddenly realized that if he had chosen, Ultra Rodimus could have terminated him with one blow. If Ultra Rodimus pressed down any harder he could crush the Jumpstarter's torso like an insect.

The young Prime looked down at him, hands on his hips. "Would you care to revise your opinion?" he purred.

Twin Twist let out an unintelligible noise, not letting go of the smoke-colored, striped limb keeping him firmly in place.

"What was that? I couldn't quite make it out."

Furious blue optics flashed. Twin Twist snarled out a phrase that made everyone in hearing distance suck in a shocked breath.

All traces of humor left Ultra Rodimus's expression, replaced by anger that anyone would dare say such a thing to him. His eyes narrowed, blazing with internal fire. The faint smile lurking on his lips became a snarl. Shifting his weight onto the pinned Autobot, he began to press down.

Metal creaked loudly as it began to compress, making the watchers flinch back. A groan of pain escaped Twin Twist. Stars began to explode behind his optics as the pressure increased. Circuits clawed out tortured messages, screaming through his pain receptors.

"I yield!" he gasped out.

The pressure eased somewhat. Ultra Rodimus eyed him, the finally lifted his foot from Twin Twist's chest. Magnus came forward to drag the barely-conscious Jumpstarter over to First Aid. The young Prime turned back to the group of newcomers.

"Anyone else care to test my abilities?" he challenged.

Most of them backed down cautiously, obviously recognizing exactly who was the alpha male of this pack. But three of the, just as clearly a well-coordinated team, pounced as one.

Even in three-on-one combat Ultra Rodimus was almost impossible to bring down. The fight was a whirling ball of metal, flying limbs, and the sounds of metal striking metal. As a group the trio were formidable.

The watchers rubbed their optics, finding it hard to concentrate on any one robot. They were moving too quickly. Resigning themselves to not being able to see the action, the watchers settled back to wait for it to end.

It was over fairly quickly.

The three Autobots ended up piled atop one another, stacked almost neatly with Ultra Rodimus sitting cross-legged atop the heap. The young Prime settled himself comfortably, resting his arms on his thighs. He didn't have so much as a hair out of place.

One of the bots he was seated upon groaned. Ultra Rodimus looked down at Downshift, the black and white bot. Downshift's limbs began to twitch as he began to regain consciousness.

"Ow..." was the pitiful whimper.

"Serves you right," Ultra Rodimus calmly informed him, poking Downshift in the back of the neck.

At the bottom of the pile, Camshaft stirred, trying to pull himself out from under the other two. His pushing and shoving and weak kicking woke Overdrive. A chorus of groans advertised their return to consciousness as fresh bruises, dents, and open wounds introduced themselves. Ultra Rodimus waited until they were awake enough to register exactly what was going on and begin to voice cries of indignation before rising to his feet and casually hopping off of the heap. A glance at the rest of the newcomers revealed no new challengers. He turned to face them.

"As I mentioned, I am the current Prime. That does mean that I am in command of this army. Understood?"

There was a subdued chorus of agreement.

"Good. Kup will assign you quarters, and you'll be expected to report to Repair Bay for status checks. After First Aid is finished with you, come to my office and state your business."

They nodded. He eyed them for a moment, then turned and headed back into the city. Magnus and Kup fell into step beside him.

"What did you do that for?" Kup asked. "Optimus would never..."

Ultra Rodimus stopped abruptly, catching the other two by surprise. He turned to face Kup, eyes glowing with anger. "I am not Optimus," he snapped. "His policies aren't my policies. I lead the way I see fit. Stop bringing Optimus's leadership style into the topic. I do not appreciate the comparison."

"Sorry." Kup ducked his head slightly.

"To answer your question, because I've seen Twin Twist's type before. They only respect those who are stronger than they are. I don't need a renegade in the ranks."

"So you established physical dominance over him." Magnus nodded. "Thus proving that you are the top authority around here and earning his obedience. You also demonstrated that you do not take slag from anyone and that you will not tolerate insubordination. It remains to be seen whether or not you've earned his respect."

"Right now obedience is all I require. I'll work on respect later. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

The pair dropped back, watching their leader enter the city. They exchanged glances, then walked back out to the entrance plaza and over to the new arrivals.

Tbc...

And there is chapter 1. I know there was a long delay, but the disk ate the original and I had to retype the whole chapter. At least this time I had a copy to work from. I know the big guy is a bit cold in this chapter, but remember, this fic is early in the series and he's still settling into his new role as leader of the Autobots. He'll thaw out as the story (and the series) progresses. Now send me reviews and tell me what you think of this so far. There won't be any more chapters until I get some reviews.