Hunted Species - The Decepticons are far away from being the biggest threat in the Universe. They are even among the hunted creatures, like everything on Earth.
WARNING: Alternative universe based on Transformer G1. Only the events of the two first seasons of the 80's show are taken into account.
Transformers G1 are copyright Hasbro and Co., I own none of the characters of TF G1 (unfortunately), only the original characters that I might introduce.
Time units: Astrosecond = 0.283 seconds; Breems = 8.3 minutes; Joor = 1 hour; Mega-cycle = 93 hours; Orn = 13 days; Meta-cycle = 13 months; Vorn = 83 years
Length units: Klik - 1 kilometer; Mechanometer = 1 meter
Italics: scene taking place in the past
'Text': thoughts of a character
(Text): discussion through private comm.-links, message from Transformer's internal computers…
Chapter 1: Threat
A.D. 2005, Earth, underwater Decepticon Headquarters
The Decepticon communications officer leaned forward to better observe his monitor screen where a red dot had appeared. 'The energy signature of a long-haul airplane, perhaps?'
Although some jets had already ventured around the headquarters, the area wasn't part of the preferred routes of the earthling pilots because of heavy weather disturbances. Soundwave was especially intrigued by the size of the signal source and its cruising speed. The ship - or whatever it was - had to be large, and it quickly headed to the headquarters of the Decepticons. The communications officer checked again the position of the red dot, noting that only in a few seconds, it had migrated from the top of the screen to the middle.
Then the screen began to flicker wildly.
Judging that the situation was unusual, Soundwave rose from his chair and using the emergency network, established a communication with Megatron's quarters.
"Megatron, alert. Intruder detected, heading to our headquarters," he explained calmly, knowing that the Decepticon leader didn't like to be called when he was resting in his private quarters. As expected, a groan first echoed his explanations.
"And who is this intruder, dammit!"
Soundwave looked at the screen, which now flickered like someone was playing with the switch.
"Fact: unknown identity, but the intruder is large... and fast."
Half an hour later, all the communication systems of the underwater Decepticon headquarters were inoperative. Annoyed and cranky, Megatron burst into the control room, sweeping the place with his red optics, seeking his third-in-command.
"Can you tell me what's going on here?" he yelled.
Soundwave raised his optics from the screen that he was just checking carefully.
"Negative... I cannot give an explanation, Lord Megatron. Reason: cause of the failure of all communications unknown. The emergency network is down as well. No effect on Transformers' internal links were reported."
"I know there is no effect on us!" Megatron growled at the top of irritation. His mood didn't improve when the door of the control room opened, and he heard very familiar footsteps.
"What's going on, mighty Megatron?" The screechy voice sent unpleasant radio waves through the audio receivers of the Decepticon leader. "It seems that your communication network is out of order."
Megatron looked dagger at his Air Commander, as if he wanted to shoot him on the spot by the simple glare of his optics.
"As far as I know, Starscream, it is the communication system of OUR base that is down, not mine in particular!"
Starscream smirked and was about to retort something nasty when a rumble cut him off. "What is it again?" the Seeker asked, suddenly nervous.
A shock wave similar to an earthquake shook the entire base, while the roar grew louder. The three mechs tensed, noting that the intensity of the phenomenon, far from diminishing, only increased.
"It takes too long for an earthquake!" Megatron noticed.
"That must be the thing I've detected on the radar, four Breems ago!" Soundwave commented.
"What thing, for goodness Primus?" Megatron had to shout to cover the racket. The whole structure of the room vibrated strongly, forcing the mechs to cling to the tables and control panels. Panic painted Starscream's face when a screen crashed at his feet in a spray of metal and glass.
Then everything stopped. The three mechs didn't move for several minutes, while the racket and the shock wave subsided, and then died, replaced by a deathly silence.
"What... was that?" Starscream moaned. He got up slowly, his wings quivering nervously.
"Status: unknown... Communication system: still ineffective," Soundwave replied, quickly checking the nearest computer. "Monitoring systems: also inoperative."
"This doesn't surprise me. They were not working before the earthquake..." The wrath of Megatron had somehow disappeared after he was forced to catch one of the consoles to keep his balance. The shock wave had been strong, long... very disturbing.
"I'm not going to wait here that a new earthquake or anything else happens!" Starscream croaked, "I'm going to check what's going on outside!"
An ebony hand firmly grabbed one of his wrists before he had time to turn tail to the door. "You're not going anywhere, little idiot!" Megatron's warned, "We don't know what's out there, precisely!"
Starscream tried to free himself from the iron grip of his leader, in vain. Megatron gave him a look that clearly meant he wouldn't accept any contradiction. The Seeker stopped, a glimmer of fear showing in his optics.
"Do not tell me that you're afraid that I might be hurt or killed... I didn't know that you cared for my safety!" Starscream hissed.
Megatron smiled, amused by the response of his Seeker.
"Not in the least! However, I know you well... You can't get in trouble without making the whole Decepticon army enjoy the results of your foolish behavior!"
Starscream stiffened and then glared at Soundwave, silent witness of this new quarrel.
"Go back to your tasks! We don't need ten warriors to check what is going on outside!" Megatron growled, a little annoyed to see that his men showed signs of panic.
The fliers were by far the most nervous, which didn't surprise him much. As creatures of the sky, they were prone to a kind of claustrophobia under the sea. The most unpredictable Seeker was certainly Starscream, and Megatron already detected signs of extreme nervousness in the body language of the air commander. His face showed ten feelings simultaneously, ranging from surprise to fear. Megatron couldn't help thinking that he had been right to hang the Seeker behind him. He preferred to have him on hand to silence him if the little upstart was to blow a circuit or threw a tantrum.
"Bring me that drone!" Megatron ordered Skywarp.
The black and purple Seeker obediently pushed the little robot in the cabin of the lift, in which the Decepticon leader and his air commander had already taken up.
"Do not stand here! I don't know what could happen," Megatron warned before closing the door. He looked at Starscream when the Seeker greeted the rise of the cabin with a nervous sigh. "And now, Starscream, try to keep your self-control. Something tells me that we might dislike what is outside... We do not have time for your usual malfunctions!"
The air commander shot him a glare and muttered a 'Yes, leader!' through gritted teeth.
A few minutes later, the doors hissed open on the departure ramp. Megatron pushed Starscream out of the way, motioning him to remain carefully hidden behind the doors of the lift. Leaning on the doorframe, he glanced over the sea and the sky. He immediately understood what was wrong; the gray and black metal of a giant spaceship had replaced the blue of the sky, which was no longer in sight.
"Do you see that!?" Starscream squealed. He left the darkness of the lift and stood in the doorway, watching the scene with astonishment.
"Step back and don't show yourself, you fool!" Megatron barked. He grabbed Starscream by the shoulder and shoved him back to the cover of the lift, "You want to serve as a target, and have me shot at the same time?!"
This time, Starscream was too shocked, both by the presence of the gigantic ship and the reaction of his leader, to protest or say anything.
'How did this ship manage to find the exact location of the headquarters?' Megatron wondered, more and more worried. "Send the drone, and let's see what happens!" he ordered Starscream.
Without a word, the flier pushed the small bot outside the lift, taking care to stay hidden behind the doors. The drone rushed to the edge of the ramp and then took flight; with the help of the wind, it quickly ascended into the sky. Three-hundred meters above sea level, it was only a small patch of green on the black and mechanical background.
Then, it disappeared in a swirl of smoke and shrapnel, emitting a small 'bang' as it exploded.
"There's… a shield around the ship!" Starscream stammered in shock.
Megatron stared at his second-in-command, easily reading the fear in the red optics. He was surprised by the intensity of this feeling, at least as powerful as the terror he inspired when he was angry against the Seeker. He couldn't blame his reaction, for once; the situation was very disturbing, even for him.
"We've seen enough! It is unnecessary to make us a target," Megatron declared as calmly as possible, pressing the switch to the lift. The leader of the Decepticons let out a quiet sigh of relief when the doors closed and the elevator began to descend.
"I guess that our visitors have not chosen to park just above our headquarters by chance. They know we're here... Moreover, they haven't disabled our communication network without a purpose. I don't like that at all!" he thought aloud.
"How can you ask me to stay calm?" Starscream jumped outside the lift, seething with anger. "You also saw this ship! It measures at the very least three or four kliks in circumference! Maybe more! I… I've never seen this before! NEVER!"
"Shut up, Starscream!"
"And it has a shield! You saw it like me! I'm sure it can destroy anything that goes too close!"
"I said… Shut up, Starscream!"
Megatron was threatening, but the Seeker was too upset to note the tone used by his leader.
"Oh mighty Megatron, I repeat: we have a spaceship parked above our base, which locked all our communications systems for whatever reason, and the only thing you can say to me is 'shut up'!?"
Megatron decided it was time to lose his temper; he knew Starscream long enough to know that only threats could silence his voice processor once the Seeker was angry or panicked. He seized the flier by the neck in a split second, and squeezed it as strongly as possible. Starscream let out a strangled cry and grabbed the silver wrist as his feet lost contact with the ground.
"Now listen, stupid and emotional Seeker. Stop whining, yelling, and if possible, speaking! I don't want you to spread panic in our ranks... Got it?" Megatron threatened. Starscream nodded as well as he could, the titanium grip squeezing mercilessly the plating of his neck. "Excellent."
The pressure around the Seeker's neck loosened and then disappeared. Starscream almost collapsed to his knees, his body and wings quivering. Megatron had really put all his strength, raising Starscream's fears that some in his sensors were crushed. A black hand gripped his arm, preventing him from falling to the ground, and helped him to get up.
"Do not forget, Starscream. Keep your cool, and I'll keep mine."
Megatron strode across the deserted hallway, followed by Starscream, still unsteady on his feet, who struggled to follow the quick pace of his leader. All the Decepticons had followed the order of their Supreme Commander, staying away from the access ramp. The place was quiet, which contrasted with the usual buzz of this hive of activity. At that hour of the day, there were always convoys of energon carried from the arrival docks to the storage rooms. Since Megatron had decided to be more subtle and discreet in his raids, the conflicts with the Autobots had been increasingly rare, while the collection of energy and materials had been more and more successful. With this new strategy, the Earth base ran with less warriors than at the time of their reactivation. Megatron had sent many of them as scouts to find new power plants to raid, or explore potentially interesting areas.
Presently, Megatron was very far from thinking of the usual daily life of his headquarters and the past successes of his army. The vision of the gigantic ship clouded his mind, and a sense of insecurity had seized him.
'You, the fearless leader of the Decepticons, you are afraid without knowing exactly why!' he reproached himself. He looked over his shoulder; the Seeker walked silently on his heels, but his face still showed his concern and fear. 'It does not mean anything good... It has been a long time since I last saw him that panicked.'
The Decepticon leader stopped at the door of the control room, allowing himself the time to regain some composure before entering. What he would say to his men would be shocking enough; no need to add a sense of panic by displaying his own concerns.
"Leader?" the Seeker asked. His voice was almost inaudible.
"Let's go! But I warn you, Starscream: I do not want to hear you say a word!"
All the red optics turned to the main door, which slid open on the first and second-in-command of the Decepticon army. Megatron seemed strangely cold, and Starscream frankly nervous and even terrified. The tension in the control room went up a notch, all mechs guessing that the explanations of the phenomena of the so-called earthquake would not be funny to listen to.
"Megatron?" Soundwave asked from the far corner of the room, while working in the mainframe of the emergency communication system.
The silver robot swept his audience of his flaming red optics.
"The earthquake that shook this base a joor ago was not exactly what we thought it was," he announced in a hoarse voice, "Starscream and myself found out that a spacecraft is currently stationed above our headquarters, nearly half a klik above the sea level. The shock wave could have been caused by the power of its engines."
As Megatron expected, murmurs of surprise arose from his audience.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, my leader…" The voice of Thundercracker rose from the hubbub. "What kind of engines can create such a tidal wave? We are a few hundred mechanometers under the surface of the sea. It must be huge!"
"Nearly five kliks in circumference... we have not been able to evaluate its height, however." No one made comment on this information, the command room becoming tomb-like quiet. "What's new with the communication system, Soundwave?" Megatron asked, aware of the change in the atmosphere.
"Status: the network is unusable for incoming and outgoing communications. Inside the base: only a few areas are still operational... Origin of the problem: unidentified at this stage. This can come from a virus or interference, difficult to say. Anyway, it doesn't prevent our embedded personal communication devices to operate."
If Megatron had eyebrows, he would have frowned. "Did you try to communicate with somebody outside using your embedded communication links?" he asked.
"Yes. It works well within the base... Communication isn't stable with the outside," Soundwave explained, "I contacted Astrotrain and Blitzwing, but I lost them."
Megatron hammered the surface of his armrest with his fingers in a nervous rhythm; was this uncertainty that he had heard in the voice of his communications officer, usually unemotional?
"I do not like it!" The Seeker said dryly, "We must leave the base!"
"Nobody leaves the base right now, Starscream!" Megatron retorted as coldly as possible.
"Oh! Why not, mighty leader?"
Megatron could not suppress a grin. 'No, Starscream, don't push me... Do not make me crush your vocal processor to keep you from spreading panic here!' he thought, already knowing that his second-in-command was on the verge of throwing a tantrum.
"Have you already forgotten the shield, Seeker? We don't know the area it really covers!"
Starscream retreated toward the wall when he saw the heavy threats in the optics of his commander. Megatron couldn't help smiling; his last warning, silent, had fully achieved the target.
"A shield?" Thundercracker muttered, aware of the growing tension.
"A shield, yes... It looks like a powerful shield protects the ship, destroying mechanical or electronic devices that come into contact with it," Megatron explained. "It disintegrated the drone we sent in recognition. Elevation: approximatively three hundred mechanometers above the level of the sea. Maybe less." A quick glance to his right allowed him to see that Soundwave listened very carefully to his words, though his masked face expressed no particular feeling. "Something in mind, Soundwave?" he asked, wanting to have the opinion of an expert.
Unexpectedly, the dark blue robot took his time to answer, as if he was struggling to provide an insight.
"Suggestion: send other drones to see if the shield covers a larger area, or is confined around the ship."
The Decepticon leader grunted as a sign of agreement, pleased to have on board a mech able to propose pragmatic actions in this critical situation.
"Skywarp! Thundercracker!" he shouted at the two Seekers, "Bring two drones outside. Make them fly to the edge of the ship. One, altitude hundred and fifty mechanometers, the other one, two hundred and fifty mechanometers. Let's see what happens!"
"At your command, leader!"
The two Seekers looked at each other, barely hiding their nervousness.
To be continued
Text modified in July 2015.