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: This fic is set after the season 2, but I am going to ignore completely the events of the movie and the following seasons or series. I might make some OOC in the next chapters as well.
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: thoughts of a character, or scene taking place in the past
(Text): discussion through private comm.-links
Chapter 1: Threat
A.D. 2005, Earth, underwater Decepticon Headquarters
The Decepticon Communication Officer leant forward to have a better look at the flashing light on the monitoring screen.
'The signature of an airplane, maybe?'
The area was not the favorite airline of the earthling pilots because of its strong air turbulence caused by wind, although sometimes some jets had flown over the base. Soundwave was more intrigued by the size of the source of the signal and the cruising speed. The ship, or whatever it was, was big and was heading fast for the Decepticon headquarters. The Communication Officer checked again the position on the monitor and noted that over a couple of seconds the spot had already moved from the top to almost the middle of the screen.
Then, the screen started flickering madly.
Judging that the situation was unusual, Soundwave stood from his chair and connected to Megatron's quarters through the emergency network.
"Sir, something is heading for the headquarters," he calmly explained, knowing that Megatron didn't like being called when he was relaxing in his private quarters. As expected, a growl first welcomed his explanations.
"And what the slag is this something?"
Soundwave looked back at the screen, which was now flickering as if somebody was playing with the switch.
"I don't know, Sir, but it's big… and fast."
Half an hour later, all the communication systems of the Decepticon underwater base were inoperative. Annoyed and grumpy, Megatron stormed into the command room, sweeping his red optics over the place in search of his third-in-command.
"Can you explain to me what's going on here?" He yelled.
Soundwave raised his optics from the screen he was still carefully checking.
"Negative… I cannot give an explanation, Lord Megatron. Reason: origin of the communication breakdown still unknown. The emergency network crashed down as well. Something took control of our communication networks. No effect on Transformers' comm. -links reported."
"I know there is no effect on us!" Megatron snarled, irritated to the most. His mood didn't improve when the door of the control room opened, and he heard very familiar footsteps.
"What's going on, Oh mighty Megatron?" The screechy voice sent unpleasant radio waves through the audio receptors of the Decepticon leader. "It looks like your communication network has given out."
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, this is the Communication System of OUR base that has broken down, not mine in particular!"
Starscream smirked and was to retort something nasty when a thunder-like rumble cut him short.
"What is that, now?" The seeker muttered, growing upset.
An earthquake-like wave shocked the entire base while the noise grew louder. The three mechs tensed up when they felt it was growing in intensity, as it knew no bounds.
"That's too long for an earthquake!" Megatron noticed.
"It must be the thing that I've detected on the radar four breems ago!" Soundwave commented.
"What thing, for Primus' sake!?"
Megatron had to shout to cover the rumbling noise. The whole structure of the room vibrated strongly, forcing the mechs to grip computers and desks to prevent falls. Starscream looked at Megatron, panic written on his face when a computer screen crashed at his feet in a spray of metal and glass.
Then, it stopped. The three mechs didn't move during few minutes, while the rumbling noise and the shock wave subsided, replaced by a deadly silence.
"What… what was that?" Starscream whined. He stood up slowly, his wings quivering nervously.
"Status: unknown… System still down," Soundwave replied, quickly checking the nearest computer. "Visual and audio systems down as well."
"That's not surprising. It was not functioning before this earthquake…" Megatron pointed out. His anger had somehow vanished since he had to catch one of the consoles to keep his balance. The wave had been strong, long, and... Distressing, leaving him rather worried.
"I am not waiting here a new earthquake, or whatever it was!" Starscream croaked, "I am going to check what's going on out here!"
He was to storm out of the control room when ebony hands caught firmly one of his wrists.
"You're not going anywhere, little idiot!" Megatron warned, "We don't know what is "out here", as you say!"
Starscream tried to free himself from the iron grip of his leader, to no avail. Megatron shot him a glare clearly stating he wouldn't accept any further sign of contradiction. The Seeker stood still, a glimpse of fear tainting his optics.
"Don't tell me you're afraid that I get injured or killed… I didn't know you did care of my security!" He hissed.
Megatron smirked, amused by the reply of his Seeker.
"Not the slightest! However, I know you… You can't get in trouble without making the whole Decepticon army enjoy the results of your foolish behavior!"
Starscream tensed up and glared at Soundwave, silent witness of this new squabble.
"Go back to your duties! We don't need ten warriors having a look outside!" Megatron yelled, a little annoyed to see that his men were showing signs of panics. The Seekers were the most aggravated, 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 was expressing ten feelings at the same time, ranging from surprise to fear. Megatron couldn't help thinking he had been right to trail the Seeker behind him. He'd rather be there to shut him up if the little upstart was to blow a circuit or throw a tantrum.
"Bring me this drone!" Megatron ordered Skywarp, pointing to the robot.
The black and purple Seeker obediently pushed the small bot in the cabin of the lift, which stopped next to the Decepticon leader.
"Don't stay around! I don't know what might happen," Megatron warned before closing the door. He glanced at Starscream when the Seeker welcomed the move of the cabin by a nervous sigh. "And now, Starscream, try to keep your self-control. Something tells me we might dislike what is "out here"… No real time for your usual circuit dysfunctions!"
The Air Commander shot him a murderous look and muttered "Yes, leader!" through gritted teeth.
A few minutes later, the doors hissed open on the departure ramp. Megatron pushed Starscream out of his way, beckoning him to stay 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 gigantic spaceship replaced the blue of the sky, no longer in sight.
"Have you seen that!?" Starscream squealed. He left the darkness of the lift and stepped on the threshold, staring, bewildered, at the incredible scene.
"Step back and don't show yourself, you fool!" Megatron barked, catching Starscream by a shoulder and shoving him back to the cover of the lift, "You want to be shot and have me shot on the same process?!"
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. Megatron was right: no one could say for what reason this ship was stationed above their base.
'How did this ship manage to find the exact location of the base?' Megatron wondered, more and more worried. "Send the drone, and let's see what happens!" He shrieked to Starscream.
Without a word, the flier pushed the small bot outside the lift, taking care of staying hidden behind the doors. The drone scurried to the edge of the ramp and then took flight; with the help of the wind, it quickly climbed in the sky. At three-hundred meters above sea level, it was only a small green spot marring the black and mechanical background.
Then, it disappeared in a swirl of smokes and shards of metal, making a small "bang" as it exploded.
"There's… a shield around the ship!" Starscream stuttered in shock.
Megatron looked at him and easily read fear in the optics of his second-in-command. He was surprised by the intensity of this feeling, at least as powerful as the terror he could feel when he was getting angry against the Seeker. He couldn't blame him: the situation was freaking, even for him.
"We've seen enough! It's useless to make ourselves a target," he stated as calmly as possible, pressing the switch of the lift. The doors closed at the same pace that it had opened and Megatron gave out a sigh of relief.
This feeling did not last long.
'I guess that "our visitors" didn't choose to station just above our base by chance. They know we're here... Besides, they didn't shut down our communication system without a reason. I don't like that at all'!
"How can you ask me to stay calm?" Starscream jumped outside the lift, seething with anger. "You've also seen this ship! It measures at the very least three or four kliks in circumference! Maybe more! I've… I've never seen that before! NEVER!"
"Shut up, Starscream!"
"And it has a shield! You've seen it as well! I'm sure it can destroy anything!"
"I said… Shut up, Starscream!"
Megatron was threatening, but the Seeker was too aggravated to take notice of the change in the voice of his leader.
"Oh mighty one, I repeat: we have a spaceship stationed above our base, which shut down all our communication systems for whatever reasons, and the only thing you can say, it's "SHUT UP"!"
Megatron decided it was time to lose his temper; he had been dealing with Starscream for a long time to know that only threats could shut up his vocal processor when the Seeker got angry or panicked. His hand snapped around the neck of the Seeker in a split second and squeezed it as strongly as he could. The flier gave out a strangled cry and seized the silver wrist as he was lifted from the ground.
"Now, listen, you little 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 his neck plating.
The pressure around the obsidian neck loosened and then faded. Starscream's body shivered as he massaged the painful area and then almost collapsed to his knees. Megatron had really put all his strength and Starscream feared that some of his sensors were crushed. A black hand gripped his arm, preventing his fall, and lifted him up.
"Don't forget, Starscream. Keep your self-control, and I will 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 silent, contrasting with the usual buzzing of this hive of activity. At this hour of the day, there were always Energon convoys carried from the arrival docks to the storage rooms, or raw materials on the way to repair bays. Since Megatron had decided to be subtler and more discreet in his raids, conflicts with Autobots had been increasingly rare, while energy and materials collection had been more and more successful. Thanks to this new strategy, the Earth base ran with less warriors than at the time of their reactivation, and Megatron sent many of them as scouts to check new power plants, or explore potentially interesting areas.
Presently, Megatron was very far away from thinking about the usual daily life of his headquarters and the past successes of his army. The vision of the gigantic ship was clouding his mind and a disturbing feeling of insecurity gnawed at him.
'You, the fearless leader of the Decepticon, you are afraid without knowing exactly why!' he reproached himself. He peeped at Starscream over his shoulder; the Seeker was walking on his heels silently, but his face was still displaying concern and fear.
'That's not good… I haven't seen him so panic-stricken for a very long time.'
Arrived at the door of the command room, the Decepticon leader stopped, considering that he should regain some composure before coming in. The account of what they had seen would be shocking enough: no need to add any feeling of panic by displaying his concerns.
"Leader?" Starscream asked.
His voice was almost inaudible.
"Let's go! Beware… I don't want to hear you speak!" Megatron stated without looking at him. 'Primus, the fear of Starscream is almost contagious'
All the red optics shifted to the main door, which slid open on the first and second-in-command of the Decepticon army. Megatron looked strangely cold and Starscream frankly nervous if not afraid. The mechs tensed up as they guessed that the explanations regarding the earthquake-like phenomena would not be that funny to listen to.
"Megatron?" Soundwave asked from the far corner of the room, while working in the mainframe of the emergency communication system computer.
The silver robot swept his audience with blazing red optics.
"The Earthquake that shook this base a joor ago was not exactly what we assumed it was," he croaked, "Starscream and I discovered that a ship is currently stationed above our base, almost half a klik above sea level. The wave might have been caused by the power of its engines…"
As Megatron expected, murmurs heavy of surprise could be heard throughout the command room.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, my Leader," Thundercracker said. "What kind of engines can create such a tidal wave? We are some hundred mechanometers beneath the sea surface! It must be huge! Weirdly huge."
"Almost five kliks in circumference… We couldn't see how high it is, though." Nobody made comments on this information and silence settled, dead as the grave. "What's new with the communication system, Soundwave?" Asked Megatron, noticing the change in the atmosphere.
"Network is down for outbound and inbound communications. Inside the base: only a few areas are still operational… It looks like it had been blocked by something, but I cannot identify the origin. It can be a virus or interferences, difficult to say. Anyway, it doesn't affect our embedded personal communication devices to function."
If Megatron had eyebrows, he would have given a frown.
"Do you mean we can communicate using our embedded call system?"
"Yes, but only in the base… The communication is impossible outside," Soundwave explained, "I tried to contact Astrotrain and Blitzwing, using my embedded communicator, without success."
Megatron frowned: was it uncertainty that he had just heard in the voice of his usually emotionless Communication Officer? He didn't have the time to analyze the voice frequency, disturbed by the sight of the now very worried Starscream, who became instantly the center of the convergence of all glances.
"I don't like that!" The flier snapped, "We have to leave the base!"
"Nobody is leaving the base right now, Starscream!" Megatron stated as coldly as he could.
"Oh! Why not, Mighty leader?"
Megatron couldn't hold back a smirk. 'No, Starscream, do not push me so far… Don't make me strangle you to prevent you from spreading panic here!' he thought, knowing already that his second-in-command was on the edge of throwing a tantrum.
"Have you already forgotten about the shield, Seeker? Nobody knows what area it really covers!"
Starscream recoiled to the wall, as soon as he saw the frightening light in the optics of his Commander. Megatron couldn't help smiling: his silent last warning, saying 'I've told you… Now, knock it off if you don't want to be knocked down!' had reached the target.
"A shield?" Thundercracker whispered, aware of the growing tension.
"A shield, yes… It looks like there is a powerful shield protecting the ship, which destroys mechanical or electronic devices that enter in contact with," Megatron explained. "It blew up the drone we sent on reconnaissance. Altitude: around three hundred mechanometers above sea level." A quick glance to his right and he noticed that Soundwave was now listening very carefully to his words, although his masked face expressed no particular feelings. "Something in mind, Soundwave?" He asked, eager to hear the output of an expert.
Unexpectedly, the dark blue robot took some time to reply, looking deep in his thoughts.
"You're right, Megatron… We should send another drone to check if the shield covers a wider area or is confined around the ship."
The Decepticon leader growled as a sign of agreement, hiding his slight relief to have someone on board able to suggest pragmatic actions in this critical situation.
"Skywarp! Thundercracker!" He shouted at the two Seekers, "Bring two drones outside. Have them fly to the edge of the ship. One, altitude fifty mechanometers, the other one, a hundred and fifty mechanometers. Let's see what happens!"
"At your command, leader!"
The two Seekers looked at each other, unable to hide how much this order embarrassed them.
To be continued
Text modified in December, 2014