Kross failed in his attack on the Autobot city known as Metroplex. Realizing that the Maximals somehow had made contact with some surviving Autobots, Kross retreated back to his hideout in the Pacific Ocean where he broods over his recent failure.
The Neo-Tokyo mobilized battle mech known as Gogyratron has been brought into the custody of the United States government, due in large part to the pilot, Hiro Takonoki defecting from the corrupt government.
However, lost in all of the confusion was the slight possibility that a longtime Predacon agent has recently resurfaced on Earth. Believed to be lost for little over one Earth year, the Predacon Tarantulas has finally awaken.
Ghosts From The Past
Five Years Into The Second Beast War
Circa 70,000 years B.C.
The walls to the complex began to crumble around the two Maximal agents as they desperately made their attempt to escape from the mountain base. The gray and white Maximal leader wedged his large body against the thick door as he held it open for his female companion. She hurried through the room and dodged heavy chunks of rock that dropped from the collapsing ceiling as the mountain began to fall apart.
"Come on, Liberty!" the large Maximal shouted over the thunder of rock hitting the floor. He stood there in a majestic form as he used every ounce of his strength to keep the automated door from sealing her inside the room. "Those damn Predacons were right about this one!"
The red female Maximal finally stepped past the larger Maximal in a delicate fashion and got out of his way. She watched as he slid from behind the thick door to let it slam shut with authority. "Hard to believe the Predacons would tip us off on this one, huh Gray Wolf?"
The door closed with a loud thud and magnetically locked itself shut. Gray Wolf sighed and shook his head as he looked at the door. "Usually the truth doesn't seem to be a strong suit for the Predacons, but they nailed this one right to the wall!" He turned around and looked at the smaller Maximal. "Was there any sign of Ravage back there?"
Liberty shook her head and paused for a moment, realizing that they left behind the only Predacon that they actually trusted. "No," she said softly. A feeling of compassion overcame her neural network as she thought for a moment. "He shoved me past the wall as it fell, and then I lost sight of him."
Gray Wolf clenched his fists and began walking down the hall. "Damn it to hell!" he yelled in an aggravated tone. He looked up at the ceiling and understood that the entire mountain was ready to collapse. "I suppose that he's somehow made his peace with Primus by now."
"And that's all he really wanted," Liberty added. She grabbed Gray Wolf by his forearm and looked deeply into his optics. "From the onset of this mission, he really knew that this was a one way trip for himself."
Grey Wolf held her hand inside of his palm. He then turned around and began running down the hall. "Let's get the hell out of here before we end up squashed like those damn hybrid-clones of Tarantulas!"
Several hundred yards down the hallway, deeper inside of the mountain, the black Predacon, and former Decepticon, named Ravage laid on the floor of the hallway with a large portion of the ceiling on his legs. He stopped trying to lift the chuck of rock off of his frame after he realized that he no longer had feeling below his waist; he finally came to understand that there was no saving himself this time.
Perhaps it is for the best, he thought to himself. For a Transformer who lived as long as he has, he became tired of the faction-driven propaganda that devastated his home world over and over again. Ravage no longer had the desire to continue with the same action that claimed the sparks of almost every mech that he knew before he became a Predacon agent.
For Ravage, it had taken him a painstakingly long time, but he realized his mistakes, and that is why he led the Maximals straight to Tarantulas. He uncovered the dirty secrets of the Tripredacus through his tenure as Tarantulas partner, as well as the treachery and deception that plagued the Maximal High Command. However, all of that failed in comparison to what actually woke him from the depths of ignorance that he shrouded himself in since the orn that he was reactivated by Tripredacus Agent Tarantulas.
"Tarantulas," Ravage said as another smaller chunk of ceiling hit him in the head. He took his hand and wiped the dust from off of his optics. He glanced to his left and saw the end of the hallway where his adversary was locked. "I hope you rot in hell."
Then there was a loud cracking sound above the ancient Decepticon. Ravage looked upward and saw the entire ceiling structure collapse on top of himself. Ton upon ton of rock and metal slammed into the Predacon's chest and he grunted as each fragment slammed against his body. Finally, the weight became too much for the Transformer's chassis to take, and the world went black for Ravage for the last time.
Ravage's optics went from red to black as he entered terminal stasis lock, and his head slammed off of the floor. A large rock slid off of his chest and wedged itself between his neck and head. The weight of the rocks ripped Ravage's head off slowly, and then it was crushed underneath the weight of the massive boulder.
On the opposite side of the mountain was the breeding lab where Tarantulas tried to save himself. He watched as the large stasis tubes bubbled with life as they were being prepared to hatch the beings inside of them. He watched as segments of the ceiling slammed against the tubes, causing them to rupture before they were fully ready. Green gel spilled onto the floor, and the creature inside was crushed beneath the massive rock.
One by one his creations were slowly beings destroyed, and there was nothing that he could possibly do to stop it. He stood there in horror and watched as everything that he had worked on since being awakened was being torn asunder.
Tarantulas grabbed the railing and propped himself up as he made his way up the steps to the next level. He felt a small rock hit off of his back and he quickly turned around. Paranoid that there were more Maximals, or that Ravage had returned to finish the job, he reached for his sidearm and scanned the room for signs of anyone, be it Maximal or Predacon.
Disgusted with his lack of self-discipline, he threw his weapon down as he realized that he was alone in the large room. He looked at the top of the steps and continued to limp to the next level.
"Damn self-righteous throwback!" he shouted as he reached the last step. "Had you left well enough alone everything would be set!" The Predacon grabbed onto the railing and watched as the last of his hybrid clones was smashed by ceiling fragments that were falling. He took his right hand and rubbed his head as his optics widened at the horrific sight in front of him.
There was nothing left for the Predacon now. He looked around the laboratory and became nauseous at the sight of what had happened to his work. He watched as the floor to the breeding chamber opened up and swallowed the remains of his hybrid clones that he hoped to unleash upon the world, and then to Cybertron.
Revolted at the sight of his work being torn apart, there was only one phrase that he could utter. He placed his hands on his knees and looked down at the floor as if he was ashamed. "Father," he said softly, "I have failed you."
Realizing that this room was now his tomb, he did the only thing that he could do in order to preserve himself. Tarantulas hobbled over to the last stasis tube that he had left. He pried it opened and sealed it shut from the inside. He looked outside of the viewing glass and watched as the entire lab became consumed with destruction. He reached down and began to load the nourishing fluid into the tube.
As Tarantulas began to shut himself down he became more and more ashamed of himself. He had the Maximals in his grasp, and he failed. The Predacons were fighting amongst themselves, and he could have easily wiped them out with one stroke, but he hesitated too long. Cybertron, currently deep into the Great Shutdown, was ripe for the taking, and he squandered the moment. This was his opportunity summon his father and his Armada, but he had failed. Betrayed by the only Predacon he thought that he could trust, a sin amongst Predacons, he became embarrassed at his actions, and they were the thoughts that would haunt him throughout his entire time in stasis lock.
Outside of the mountain complex, Grey Wolf and Liberty approached their Maximal comrades who were watching the mountain collapse upon itself. The entire mountain was now reduced to rubble, burying all evidence that there was ever a Predacon breeding headquarters within it.
Liberty placed her hand over her mouth and gasped at the sight of the destruction. She turned her head and looked at Grey Wolf. "Any chance that Tarantulas survived that?" she asked.
Grey Wolf stood there for a moment and said nothing. He wondered if it was finally over. His band of Maximals were plagued by Tarantulas and his apocalyptic disposition since he was reactivated. He turned to her and smiled at her. "I hope not, Liberty."
On the opposite end of the mountain stood three figures who watched the mountain crumble. The center figure stood there with his arms crossed and sneered at the sight of miles of rubble. He tilted his head to his left to work out the stiffness in it, and then he looked at the figure standing next to him.
"Both Ravage and the traitor are dead," he said in a deep voice that matched the thunderous roar of the mountain collapsing. "Contact Slit Throat and have him inform the rest of the Predacons that this territory is off limits."
The smaller Predacon glanced up at his leader and gave him a puzzled look with his optics. "Does that mean that we're abiding by the treaty with the Maximals?"
The larger Predacon continued to look off into the rubble covered horizon. "It means, my dear Leach, that I do not desire to have another fiasco like this occur as long as we are here." He then smiled to himself and looked at the two Predacons standing next to him. "Which, I might add, is something that is about to change."
Fifteen Years Ago
Dust began to fly everywhere as the anti-gravitational units began creating a landing for the transport. Several members of the archeological dig began scrambling to cover their spots of the site where they have been stationed for the past two years. Others covered machinery with plastic blankets to avoid having them clogged up even more that they already were.
As the transport landed, two scientists dressed in tan pants and vests made their way out from the white trailer and over to the transport.
"I'll tell you one thing, Phil," the one scientist said to the other as they started walking down the path to the transport. "I have no intention of lettin' them come in here and sealin' off years of work just because we found something that they can use for fuck's sake!"
The other scientist nodded in agreement with his friend. "I know what you're saying, Jenks," he replied. "But we had no choice in this situation. Regulations state. . ."
"Regulations my arse," the scientist known as Jenks, interrupted. His Irish accent was thick with criticism. He despised the government interfering with his affairs, and he disliked them even more for taking portions of his findings for their own benefit. "It's just like these bastards to waltz in and seal off the site for their own damned agenda."
The two scientists came to the landing pad and waited for the transport to open up. They watched as the rear of the shuttle lowered to the ground, creating a ramp where several men and women dressed in white suits ran out and over to the two scientists. Each of them had full body suits and masks that had a breathing apparatus attached to it. Several of them ran down to the archeological dig and started scrambling across the premises.
One woman walked over to the two scientists, paused for a moment, and inquisitively looked at the two men through her thin-framed glasses. Her red hair reflected the sunlight and her fair skin seemed to glisten as well. She was not dressed like the rest of teh team. Instead, she wore a white shirt that showed her flat stomach, a short pair of shorts, and a delicate pair of black snadals with a strap around the top of her feet. "Are you two Phil Jacobson and Jenkins O'Donnall?" she asked.
Phil Jacobson looked back at the woman and nodded. "What's it to you?" he heplied.
The woman looked at the two scientists and smiled back at them. "Personally, I don't give a shit," she snapped. "Just tell me where the damn artifact is."
Jenkins smiled at the woman and placed his hand on her left shoulder. "I've got an artifact for you, love." he said. He looked at the womand from her red hair to her kitten-heeled sandals and licked his lips. "I'd like to put it up your. . ."
"Over the ridge," Jacobson said as he cut off O'Donnall's remark. "The whole thing is there."
The woman smiled kindly at O'Donnall and then took his hand, twisted his arm around causing him to lean forward in hopes of easing the pain, and flung it off of her shoulder. She then began making her way to the location where Jacobson implied that the artifact was. O'Donnall gathered what remained of his pride and gently crossed his arms. He smiled as he watched the woman walk away. He turned his head and looked at his friend. "Nice arse, eh Phil?"
"She'd dislocate your shoulder if she had the time," a voice from behind the two scientists called. "I'd watch yourself next time, Jenks."
Both scientists turned around and saw a tall man in tan military garb walk toward them. Jacobson sighed as he and O'Donnall both recognized the man. "Captain Militan," Jacobson said with a smile that was noticeably forced. "What an honor it is for you to. . ."
"Spare me the pleasantries, Phil," he said. "How long have you had the thing in possession?"
O'Donnall rolled his eyes and turned around to make his way to the location of the artifact in question. "One of our interns managed to uncover the casing to the damn thing late last night," he began. "It took us all night to uncover the who blasted pod."
Militan looked over at O'Donnall as he stopped speaking. "So it is a pod?" he asked.
Jacobson shook his head at Militan's question. "How the hell do we know?" he said. "That's why we had to call you in here, not like we wanted to have you set us back a week or so by being here."
The three men stopped walking as they came to the edge of the site. They all peered down the ten foot ridge and into the location of the dig. The hole was round and was fifty feet across to the other ridge where several other archeologists were standing watching the activity below. Both Jacobson and O'Donnall waived to their colleagues who were just as intrigued as they were. They watched as several men and woman in the white suits examined what could only be described as a pod.
The metal pod stood up straight. A good portion of the pod was still buried below the ground, but that did not stop the swarm of military personnel from examining the object. The men and women could be seen attaching multiple devices to the pod, and some were attempting to climb on top of it.
Militan looked over at O'Donnall and smiled. "Do you realize what this means if this is what we think it is?"
O'Donnall smiled and laughed. "No, and I bloody don't give a rat's arse either."
Militan kneeled down as a man in a white suit walked over to him. "Well," Militan said. "What do we have here?"
The man in the suit nodded back at Militan. "It is what we hoped for, sir," he replied. "I suggest immediate evac from the location and get it under the knife."
"Wait a God damned minute!" O'Donnall yelled. "Who give you the right to. . . "
"Don't jerk me off, Jenks," Militan replied. "You know damn well that something of this magnitude belongs to us! If you want me to pull the plug on your program, then you keep screwing with me!"
O'Donnall shook his head and turned around. "Take the fuckin' thing, then!" he snapped. "But I hope some day that it comes back to bite you in the damn arse."
Neural Network: Reactivated
Rerouting Primary Energon Flow
Onboard Diagnostic Sensor Array: Re-booted
Internal Neurological Programming: Rerouted
Purging. . . . Purging. . . . Purging. . . .
System Clean - Virus Nullified
Neural Network: Online
"What!" the mech said to itself as it began to reactivate. The optics flickered as the entire internal system network began to come online once again. It laid there on the ground and waited for his optics to become fully functional. The world was a blur for a moment, and then there was the constant throbbing. The mech held its head as it tried to ease the pain from the relentless pounding that its neural network was taking for some reason. It clutched its head tighter and hoped that the pain would end.
The robot rolled over onto its side and laid there ofr a moment as the pain that ravaged its bodya began to subside. It mustered what strength remained and then pushed itself upward. It kneeled there on the ground and looked around at the surroundings for a moment. The mech squinted its optics as itattempted to focus on the scenery that surrounded the orange and black robot, and then it realized that it was somewhere totally different than where it expected to be.
"Where the hell am I," it said through its mouthplate.
my dear friend, you're still on the mud-ball planet that your tried to cleanse all those Earth years ago.
The mech quickly turned its head and looked all around for the location of the voice. "Who said that?" it said. He continued to gaze off atthe trees as he desperately wanted to find the source of the voice.
I'm hurt that you don't seem to remember me. I know I haven't forgotten you.
Frustrated, the mech clenched its fists as it realized that he could not locate the exact position of the voice. "Don't be a coward! Come out and show yourself!"
Trust me, the voice started. That's something I want to solve.
The orange and black mech slowly crawled over to the quiet river that was next to him. He began to try and recall where he had heard the voice before, but everything was still nothing more than a blur. His name, his past, and teh events that lead to his current state were still vague to him. The last thing he remembered was watching rocks fall down around him while he went running for shelter. He continued to force his memory to recall how or why those events too place, but there was nothing. Nothing, that is, except more pain and that hauntingly familiar voice.
Believe me, you're a long way away from those days, the voice said to him.
As he reached the edge of the water, the mech looked down into the tranquil water to see his reflection, hoping to resolve some of the confusion that had clouded his memory. Unfortunately, what he saw confused the robot even further.
"Starscream?" he said loudly as he gazed at the image in the water. He was amazed that he knew the mech in the reflection, and then everything begn to flood his memory banks. "I'm not Starscream! I'm. . ."
Tarantulas, the shrill voice said with glee. I know, I know. Everything's so confusing for you right now, eh old pal?
The mech looked down and saw the reflection of Starscream's face in the water. He became more and more confused as he glanced down at the reflection. How could he be Starscream? The Decepticon seeker's body was destroyed and he was forced from Waspinator's body during teh original Beast War. Tarantulas kept searching for answers but came up with nothing. He took his hand and touched his head, but what he saw was Starscream's hand touch the face of the ancient Decepticon. He then looked at his hands and recognized his hands as his own. Frustrated by the mass of confusion and lackof logic behind his state, he took his hand, slapped the water, and stood up.
"What the hell is this about?" he shouted. "This is my body, not yours!"
Why, that's easy Tarantulas. You were reactivated on a limited level by those fleshlings several Earth years ago. Unfortunately for you, they were able to bypass your neural network grid alignment, making you nothing more than a puppet.
"Then how did I end up here?" Tarantulas asked. "And what does this slag have to do with you?"
Those flesh-bags used you on a mission to encounter the Maximal dogs here on Earth, but it got botched, like it always does. I simply saw you here, all helpless and alone, and I decided to "help" you with your situation.
"By taking over my body?" Tarantulas yelled. "So you took over my body and think that's helping me?"
Most certainly, Starscream's voice said sarcastically. If it wasn't for me, you'd still be deactivated down here waiting for the Earthlings to locate you. You'd be working for those germs yet again if it wasn't for me. By "possessing" you, as you so eloquently put it, I was able to jar you neural network alignment back into its proper functioning state. Therefore, you have me to thank for being woken from that stupor.
"And what's in it for you?" Tarantulas asked. "I know you, Starscream. You wouldn't pass up an opportunity like this for nothing, am I right?"
Starscream paused for a moment as he collected his thoughts. Actually, there is something that you can do that would benefit the both of us.
Tarantulas stood up and rubbed the top of what he hoped was his head. "And what is that?" he asked
I suppose that we would do better if we were both fashioned with new bodies.
Tarantulas laughed for a moment. "And just where do you expect me to gather enough material for two bodies?" he asked. "It's not like that material is readily available to me."
My dear Tarantulas, Starscream began. I think the time in stasis lock and under the control of the humans has severely damaged your logic circuits.
Kross sat there in his office and looked at the holographic map of the Earth that was projected from the table. He continued to wallow over and over again about his current situation and the defeat that he had taken at the hands of both the Maximals and the Autobots. He watched as the map rotated and glanced at several other key locations where he thought he should turn to get an advantage over Prowl and his team.
Where did it go wrong? he thought to himself. So far his endeavor to regain a tactical advantage over the Maximals had failed on so many levels that he began to question his methods. He continued to glare at the map of Earth and never noticed that the door to the room had opened.
Malpractice stood at the entrance for a brief moment and watched as Kross brooded over the map; he knew exactly what he was thinking about. Then, the Predacon engineer approached his leader.
"Predacons like us are not fit for Cybertron anymore, so we do what we can to survive," Malpractice said to Kross. Realizing that his leader was not phased by his words, the continued. "You, me, Cryotec, Magmatron, and even that narcissistic bastard Megatron all understand that Cybertron is no longer a place where we can live."
Kross looked up at Malpractice and shook his head. "All of that was supposed to change with this mission," he said softly. "But somehow everything went to slag!"
Malpractice sat down next to Kross and looked at the image of Earth. "What happened was that you never took into account that the Maximals would actually send a team to Earth, and that they would reach Mextroplex first, or that they would discover several Autobots in storage."
Kross stood up and walked over to the thick glass window of the room. He gazed out of it and saw several fish swim away from the window. "And how are things to change?" he asked. "We're stuck here with no reinforcements from the weak Predacon command."
"Even the best leaders know when they've been outdone," Malpractice said. "But I wouldn't call it quits yet." He stood up and walked over to Kross who now turned around to see his friend. "What you need is an advantage."
"And the Combatacons were supposed to provide us with that advantage," Kross said.
"Bruticus and the Combatacons are one advantage, but they're rusty and clearly need time to get back on track," Malpractice said. He reached for his side pack and handed Kross a data pad. "What I'm talking about is an advantage like this."
Kross looked over the information that streamed across the screen. He looked up at Malpractice and nodded. "Indeed. An advantage like this would solve all our problems, but how do you know that it will work?"
Malpractice smiled and turned around to leave the room. "An operation such as this has some degree of danger, but that is why you try it out of someone, like Weasel." He placed his hand on the keypad to open the door and watched as it slid upward. He turned his head slightly and caught Kross in the corner of his optics. "Should I begin to make the preparations?"
Kross looked over at Malpractice and nodded. "Indeed you should, my old friend."
Outer Orbit of Cybertron
The white hole opened up in the middle of space with an absolute brilliance that would blind anyone who looked directly at it happening. From out of the center of the white space emerged an orange shuttle carrying what seemed to be a large red robot. The large figure was strapped to the hull by energy couplings. Once the ship slowly passed out of the hole, the vortex snapped shut in a flash and vanished without a trace of its existence.
On the shuttle were six Transformers who felt that they had been away from home for far too long. Each of them smiled at each other as they saw the sphere off in the distance that could be the only thing that gave them comfort after being away for so long.
"Way to go there, Rhinox," the smallest Transformer said with a smile on his face. "I never thought that I'd see this place again!"
The tall brown and green Transformer known as Rhinox smiled and looked down at his smaller friend. "To tell you the truth, Rattrap, I kind of felt the same way for a time back on Earth."
A yellow Transformer smiled at the growing image of the planet and stood next to the two Maximals that he calls friends. "Well, what are we waiting for?" he said happily. "Let's get home!"
"Hold on there, Cheetor," a deep voice called from the back of the bridge. "I highly doubt that the Maximal High Command will authorize the landing of this shuttle without proper notification. After all, we've been away from Cybertron for quite some time and some of us aren't the same as when we left."
Rattrap smiled and turned around to face his leader. "Awwwwwwwwwww, that ain't nothin' boss bot," he said. "I'm sure that the High Command would welcome back the great Optimus Primal!"
Cheetor smiled and walked over to the communication station. "Don't worry, Optimus. I'll contact Ark Haven and let them know about our status."
Optimus Primal walked over to the two other Maximals who stood next to each other. The taller Maximal had his arms around the smaller one and embraced her as if he was offering protection to her. Optimus Primal kneeled down and looked at the two Maximals. "I wouldn't worry about anything, Black Arachnia," he said calmly. "We all agreed that you are a Maximal, and that you only worked for Megatron under false pretenses."
"Easy for you to say," the female Maximal said. "I only hope that the Maximal High Command feels the same way."
"Not to worry, my dear," the Maximal who held her said in a comforting tone. "They have no knowledge of the Beast War that took place on Earth."
"Only if we didn't rupture the fabric of the time continuum," Rhinox said. "When we left Cybertron over one Earth year ago, there was no knowledge of the so called Beast War, but if we somehow left evidence, then we may have disrupted the delicate time line that we were familiar with."
"Sheesh," Rattrap said. "What a way to offer Silverbolt a hand."
Optimus Primal looked over at Rattrap and nodded. "Unfortunately Rhinox is right," he began. "If we left evidence of the conflict on Earth, or if Ravage somehow managed to get word back to the Tripredacus, then everything may be shot to slag."
"I think that everything may already be shot to slag, heroes!" Cheetor yelled.
All of the Maximals ran over to the communication consol where Cheetor attempted to contact the Ark Haven. They all stood there as Cheetor began to feed the communication into the speakers. What they heard deeply disturbed everyone on the shuttle.
"All Maximal shuttles are to avoid contact with Iacon airspace at all costs. Re-entry with Cybertron is to be redirected through Orbital Torus State Helix through the designated clearance codex provided by transponder identification number. Departing Maximal shuttles and War-birds are required to avoid contact with emergency crews en-route to Iacon. In addition, all non-Cybertronian shuttles requesting permission to land will be denied under direct order from Phoenix Prime and the Maximal High Command. You will be redirected to several additional locations through contact with Titus II. Please be advised that under the current state, you may be required to have a Maximal boarding party come onboard if there is reasonable suspicion. Please make all effort to cooperate with the implemented regulations as we are currently in a state of planet-wide emergency. For additional information, please tune in to the Cybertronian Emergency Network Broadcast currently underway."
Rattrap slowly turned his head and gazed up at Optimus Primal. "What does this mean, boss?" he asked.
Optimus Primal shook his head and continued to gaze out of the window of the bridge. "I have no idea, Rattrap. I have no idea."
End Book I