Hired Thug

by KnightMysterio

(Author's Note: Takes place one week after 'Changing Of The Guard.')

Maximal Satellite Prime's Wisdom

Council Room...

A solitary figure stood in the center of a rounded of shadowy figures, all clad in robes. She sighed weakly, idly spinning one of the rotors on her shoulder, sitting quietly in the chair provided at the center of the spotlight as the figures took their seats, all of them glaring at her.

"This emergency meeting of the Maximal High Council is now in session. Grand Optimus Bombos presiding," said the largest of the five gathered figures, a tallish, thick-set transformer with the barrel of her tank alternate mode sticking out the top of her robe as she stood up from her position at the center of the table. She turned to catch the eyes of her four comrades, who nodded solemnly in acknowledgement of her right to speak.

Bombos then sneered, turning to the seated figure. The seated figure just smirked right back and folded her arms petulantly.

Bombos stifled the urge to growl, and instead said, "Mercenary. Do..."

The transformer in the spotlight held up her hand, silencing Bombos, who snarled and muttered something under her breath at the interruption. The transformer smirked, examining her slender, silvery hand and said, "Before you start blathering on about slag I could care less about but will do anyway if paid, did you wire the money into my private account?"

Bombos fumed, and the other four council members looked at her nervously. "Yes, we did. Double the amount, to ensure your cooperation."

The transformer in the spotlight nodded, but still didn't seemed satisfied. "And you contacted someone about giving me a different alternate mode?"

Bombos was about to say something, but her nearest councilmate, a smallish tranformer with jet wings protruding from the back of his robe gripped her wrist and shook his head. Bombos took a deep breath and, with strained calmness, said, "Yes. We have. Although with your..."

The transformer in the spotlight nodded, holding out her hand again to silence her. "Thank you. Now that you slagheaps have assured my loyalty, what assignment are you sending me on?"

Now EVERYONE was glaring at her. The jet-winged male stood up and started to speak, but Bombos just gripped his arm tightly, smiling viciously and shaking her head. "My dear, the assignment we are sending you on is a rescue mission. Yes."

The transformer sighed in irritation, but didn't say anything.

Bombos continued for her companion. "Several stellar cycles ago, the exploration ship Axalon was lost chasing a Predacon transwarp ship stolen by the renegade Megatron. The Tripredacus Council claims no involvement, and sadly all evidence points to them being right. Most recently, he picked up an EXTREMELY weak transwarp wave on one of our long-range sensors, bearing the transwarp signature of the Axalon. We were lucky to pick it up at all, really. You will be given a rescue ship to recover Optimus Primal and any surviving members of his crew, as well as help him in the apprehension of Megatron and any surviving cohorts of his, as well as keeping an eye out for any Tripredacus agents. Somehow we feel that they are the reason the wave was so weak, and our sensors on Cybertron didn't pick it up. Is that clear?"

The transformer's golden optics brightened at the mention of Optimus Primal, and she cursed.

Bombos frowned. "Is there anything wrong?"

"...Primal's involved."

"Yes. So?"

The tranformer sneered, and shook her head. "Forget it. There is nothing you could say that could get me go after that skidplate-sucking fool."

Bombos just smirked. And then she leaped over the table, transforming into her tank mode, shredding her robes in the process, and aimed her cannon, which was significantly larger that the other transformer's head, right at her face.

The transformer blinked, and chuckled weakly. "There is something you could DO to convince me, however."

Bombos chuckled, backing off slightly. The transformer stood up and sighed. "Very well then. Where's this ship I'm going to be using?"

"In the launch bay, a vessel similar to the Axalon, just better armed. It's already been coded for your use," said another council member, who also bore jet wings on her back. She smirked, and said, "It's called the Whitwhicky."

The transformer scowled, but nodded, and stepped further away from Bombos, who kept her cannon trained on her the whole time. "Elita, MAXIMIZE!" she said. Her body folded inward and around, as she changed into her vehicle mode, a silver-camoflagued military medrescue chopper, flying out of the room. As she turned, she deliberatly showed the markings on her side, bearing the symbols of the Autobots, Decepticons, Maximals and Predacons, all crossed out, bearing the text 'NO SLAGGING DIFFERENCE!' underneath it.

Bombos sighed, and transformed as soon as Elita left.

The jet-winged male shook his head and said, "Did we have to use her? That walking disgrace to her programming?"

Bombos shook her head. "Sadly, yes. It'd take too long for Rodimus and Apelinq to reassemble the Wreckers for this mission, and Devcon and the rest of the peacekeepers weren't even available. It had to be her, Soniboom."

The jet-winged female sneered. "She's more trouble than she's worth. She's not realiable,"

Bombos sighed, heading back over to the council table, "Unfortunetly, you're wrong, Zephyr. She IS realiable, so long as she's paid. And she's lethal enough to counter anything the Preds might have sent before us."

Another female transformer, her hands bearing the claws of her robotic bear alternate mode underneath her sleeves, "The question is, though, should we have told her about Protoform X?"

The last member of the council, an elderly seeming male bearing motorcycle wheels on his shoulders, shook his head. "No, I don't think so Feralle. The entire project was on a need to know basis, and she didn't need to know. Aside from that, that psychopath Depth Charge has disappeared and I'll bet anything he's gone after X himself. So if that maniac revives, he can handle it."

Bombos settled back into her seat, her reddish-black frame so large as to drawf the others. "I hope you're right, Wiserider. I hope you're right."

Maximal Satellite Prime's Wisdom

Launch Bay...

"Stupid slaggin' council naming this dumb ship after a stupid slaggin' human," Elita muttered as she transformed back to her robot mode, looking around for her ship. She saw a black-armored techie in a forklift alternate mode carrying some storage crates to an unknown destination.

"YO! Forklift guy! Hold it a sec."

Elita sighed as the forklift visibly flinched at the sound of her voice, the sure sign of a Predacon vassal. "Relax, I'm not going to shoot you for the 'crime of existing.' I just wanna know where the Whitwhicky's docked."

The forklift hesitated, and lowed it's load, slowly backing away from it. It hesitated again, turning to either sighed, before whispering. "Spooner, Terrorize..."

Its transformation was simple, looking more like it was standing up as its lifting forks retracted into what became his legs, his arms unfolding from his sides as his head lifted up from the rear bumper. Elita fumed at the activation code, another bit of teasing the Predacons about their heritage that the Maximal High Council came up with after the Pax Cybertronia.

"It's this way, ma'am. I'll take you there, I'm not on a deadline," Spooner said, motioning to the back of the hangar bay. He led her down a brief passage, coming up to a massive cruiser, with a sleek, bullet-like design and four tapering wings that gave it the impression of a great, silver bird awaiting to take flight.

Elita whistled, impressed. "NICE. It may have a slag name, but the Council sure knows how to build a ship."

Spooner nodded. "I filled it with supplies earlier this morning. Energon enough for you and Optimus Primal's crew, weapons the Council thought you may like..."

She chuckled softly, thanked Spooner (startling the Predacon vassal greatly) and walked into the open hatch, sealing it shut.

She quickly gave herself a brief tour of the ship, and sat down at the command console, quickly familiarizing herself with the controls. She opened the entryway, and sighed weakly.

"Okay, here we go..."

She keyed up the ship, and gunned it to full power, laughing wildly at the speed at which the ship shot out into space, shooting to top speed almost immediately. She grinned wickedly, wondering what other toys this ship had on it.

"Bah. Time enough to play with this later," she said, thinking out loud, "I had best get to work finding Primal."

Several mega-cycles later...

Transwarp Space...

Elita frowned, looking at the readings on her ship's onboard sensors. This can't be right... she thought. The readings, up until recently, had been completely stable. But now every monitor was showing signs of a strange energy signature building up around her.

"What the Pit... Computer, what's going on?"

"Energy anomaly of unknown type. Analysis attempt failed. Attempting to compensate for radiation emissions:"

Elita frowned. "Just once I'd like to have something in my life go right... Damn you for getting me into this, Primal..."

Elita tried enhancing the shields, but was having trouble getting the systems to respond to her properly.

She didn't even notice as the energy waves burst through the shields, until they slammed into her and knocked her off the pilot's seat.

As her body started to glow, the energies mutating her superstructure, her last thought before her mind was overcome with the pain of her transformation was that she was certainly glad that she had activated the auto-pilot before the energy wave hit...

Primordeal Earth...

Elita's ship quite literally blew out of Transwarp space, spiralling helplessly towards the Earth before the ship's internal gyros stabalized, bringing the ship to a safe, if rather rough, landing. Elita, sprawled out on the floor, groaned weakly, slowly coming to her senses. She rolled over, trying to get a sense of herself.

"Diagnogstgg..." The garbled condition of her voice was the first indication something was wrong. She raised a shaky hand up to her face, her fuel pump racing...

...and screamed.

Her hand and most of her arm were in an almost complete liquid state.

Her ship's computer, fortunetly, had understood the request and answered her.

"Energy wave of unknown type has mutated unit designate: Elita's superstructure. Due to the nature of the mutation, an alternate mode based on an organic creature must be created, otherwise unit designate: Elita will revert completely to protoform:"

"DO IGGG!!!" Elita almost screamed. She rolled over, looking at herself in the reflective surface of the ship's floor. Her rotors were gone, and her arms were almost entirely in protoform state, as were her legs, her sides, her chest, and the top of her head. Her fluid body was barely able to hold together, spurred mainly by Elita's strong will to live, to not die in this way. The ship's scanners activated, encasing her in a stasis aura to maintain her form as they scanned for a beast mode. She waited, her frightened mind active even in the stasis, waiting for the ship's scanners to find her a beast alternate mode. Because if she reverted to protoform outside of a pod, her body would evaporate and her spark would extinguish.

She wouldn't wish that kind of death on anyone, not even the Council.

Well, maybe Bombos...

After what seemed like an eternity, but was really no more than a few cycles, she felt her body shifting, solidifying and changing to conform to the beast that had been scanned. Her robot mode stabalized, but before she could look at it she felt her beast shell being formed, her awareness of the space around her increasing as her body thinned and lengthened...

Finally, the stasis aura faded, and she flopped to the floor. She shivered, then sighed in relief. She tested her new alternate mode, more than a little surprising that it appeared to be nothing more than one long tube with a mouth at the end.

"Computer, what ssssort of beasssst mode have you given me?" she asked. She frowned a little at her speech patterns, and decided to ignore them.

"Unit Designate: Elita's current form is that of an Earth animal, a King Cobra."

Elita chuckled. "A predator then. I like it. And sssince I have a new body, I guessss a new name is in order. Computer, change all accesssss codessss relating to unit desssignate: Elita to..." she frowned, thinking for a moment, then grinned. "Change them to Cobralita."

"Acknowledged:"

Cobralita chuckled, and slithered back to her quarters, both to get a better look at herself and collect some supplies. She paused in front of her mirror, and smiled wickedly, looking herself over.

Her body was at least twenty feet long, and lined in silver. Bluish metallic spikes lined thirteen feet of her length, ending in a spearhead tip. With some brief experimenting with mental triggers, she found she could make the spearhead spin at varying speeds. The remaining seven feet over her body was silver as well, but lined in bluish, almost sapphire colored plating along the cobra's 'belly.' Her head was streamlined, with bright, venom green optics and a bluish headpiece that led back to the wide 'fan' on her back, which she spread experimentally.

"Very niccce..." she said, "Review weaponssss specssss."

Cobralita's internal computer activated, and recited, "Unit designate: Cobralita is possessed of three weapons. In robot mode, the tail of the beast mode can be used as a whip. Also, unit is possessed of optic lasers. In beast and robot modes, unit is possessed of specialized sacs in the mouth that can generate an intensively corrisive acid that can be channeled through bites or through spraying orally, or focused onto your tongue in either your beast or robot modes:"

"Acccid ssspit? And my robot mode hasss a tongue now? Yuck," she muttered.

The computer continued, not noticing her comment. "In addition, unit is possessed of a third alternate mode, that of an energon pulse rifle. The 'hood' of the beast mode converts into into energy converters that can absorb energon from the local area to channel into powerful blasts:"

Cobralita laughed. "MUCH better. Thank you."

The computer beeped in response, and went dormant again. Cobralita chuckled, and began to sift through her equipment, using her tail to press buttons and move levers where needed, sifting through long-range scanners and weapons.

"Better get moving..." she said, thinking out loud, "Better find Primal'ssss troopssss and get thisss ssslag assssignment over with..."

An explosion rocked her ship, shaking it even through the ship's force fields.

"Or I could have them come to me," she said.

"WARNING. PREDACON PRESENCE DETECTED OUTSIDE. SHIP IS CURRENTLY UNDER ATTACK:" the ship said, blaring its alarms.

"Yesss, THANK you for ssstating the obvioussss. Can you identify who isss out there?" she said, slithering towards the exit hatch.

"Affirmative. Unknown Predacon flier in the air, vector 2.3.7. Unit identified as Protoform X on the ground, vector 1.0.9. Unknown Maximal unit and unit designate: Depth Charge are in combat with them, vectors 0.0.7 and 0.2.7 respectively:"

"Target autogunsss on the flier. I'm going out to help Depth Charge and the other guy."

"Affirmative:"

A moment later, she heard the satisfying sound of her ship's guns firing as she coiled up on the entrance hatch, which lowered her out into the battle.

Quickly, she surveyed the scene. The larger, blue-armored bot she recognized immediately as Depth Charge despite the new body, but was in no condition to fight. He had taken a severe hit, his abdomen sparking and smoldering. The other one, a smaller, human-sized bot with reddish wheels and armor on his back that Cobralita took as part of his alternate mode, was firing a fish-shaped rocket launcher as well as an automatic laser pistol, but she payed him no heed. Immediately, she jumped off of the platform, slithering over to Depth Charge. Reacting with pure instinct not from her beast mode, but from years of training at her original profession, her scanners analyzed his condition, determining how much was wrong with him and what needed to be done in mere nano-clicks. She then looked up at the other bot, who was currently crouching behind the boulder he was using for cover.

"He needsss treatment IMMEDIATELY," she said, "We need to finish this quick."

"Well, t'anks fa statin' tha OBVIOUS, sista! Got any bright ideas?!" the smaller bot almost shrieked, flinching as a shot from the flier got past her autoguns attack.

Cobralita frowned for a minute, and slithered into the underbrush, getting an idea and heading towards the remaining attacker, her animal instincts, which should have been repressed, arising as she moved soundlessly through the greenery. She moved closer and closer, until she spotted the red and magenta form of her prey, one the bot part of her mind recognized, despite the changes, as the infamous Protoform X. She was briefly irritated with the council for not mentioning that this maniac was here, but that was supressed quickly, along with the only reason she could think of for her beast mode's instincts to be influencing her. Must've lost the programming block when I went through that energy wave...

Think later. Now, just hunt. Your prey is near...

Her tongue flicked out, tasting the air, getting a feel for X's unusual scent, tasting the amusement and annoyance in his aura as he switched modes on the massive, three-barreled rocket launcher he carried, setting it to a gatling laser mode. She crept closer and closer to him, X fully engrossed in trying to kill the other Maximal. He didn't notice her until she lunged forward, wrapping her coils.

"WHAT IN?!?!?" X bellowed, screaming as Cobralita tightened her coils. Cobralita just smirked, tightening her grip, and hissed, sinking her fangs into his shoulder, pumping out her acidic venom.

X screamed in rage and agony, and forcibly pulled Cobralita off of her before more than a CC of her venom could be pumped into his system, his armor already starting to dissolve. Roaring, he ripped off the chunk of his superstructure that was affected and threw it aside, taking a good chunk of the wiring holding his arm in place. He grunted, and in a few seconds, the wound healed, his armor regrowing, his arm reattaching itself and straightening out.

To Cobralita's trained medical mind, this was enough of a shock to jar her out of her instinctual state. I knew he had self-regenerative capacity from the reports on him, but this is ridiculous!

She dodged back as X pulled out a rotary missile launcher from a subspace pocket and fired at her.

"No mere council-hired lackey can defeat me!!" he snarled.

"I am anything BUT a counsssil lackey, X! COBRALITA, MAXIMIZE!!"

The upper seven feet of her body detached from her tail, unfolding into legs and arms as her hood retracted and her cobra head folded downward, allowing her robotic head to emerge, now streamlined and bearing a stylzed cobra hood in itself, her optics a bright, glowing red. She quickly gripped the handle that protruded from her tail, and lashed out with it, swatting the rocket launcher from his hands, the tail cracking like a whip. X snarled, and stomped hard enough to crack the weak ground, shaking her to her knees.

"So... A new Maximal comes to challenge Rampage..."

Cobralita smirked. "New name, same psycho," she said, and fired her eyelasers, thick beams of blue light erupting from her and striking the crab-bot in the face. He barely flinched from the blow, and chuckled.

"It will take more than that, little girl."

I guess it will... She looked around briefly for something to use, eventually spying a small, raw energon deposit. She looked over at Rampage, who was stomping towards her, chuckling.

Can't help Depth Charge with X here, so... "Hey, little red!"

The Maximal snarled, "The name's Rattrap!"

"Whatever! Just CATCH ME! Cobralita, GUN MODE!"

Her body shifted again, her arms folding in and her legs becoming her handle, her whiptail vanishing into a subspace pocket as her body shrunk down, a trigger emerging from her abdomen as her snakehead popped back into place, becoming the barrel of her gun form. Rattrap caught her, staring incredulously.

"FIRE ME, STUPID!!" she screamed over his internal radio. As if on cue, Rampage laughed. Rattrap yipped, and pointed her at Rampage, pulling her trigger. Her cobra-hood shot out, the underside starting to glow as the small energon deposit flickered and vanished. Her cobra-mouth opened, and unleashed a MASSIVE blast of energy that knocked Rampage back, tearing a massive gash in his side. Rampage snarled as his body quickly started to work on the damage, preparing to attack again. But by then Cobralita's autoguns had hit Waspinator. He transformed and left as Waspinator parts rained down, deciding that this newcomer wasn't worth the effort of killing. Today, anyway.

Rattrap blinked, and laughed. "Whoo hoo! You got some serious firepower, snakelady!"

Cobralita transformed back to her robot mode and shoved Rattrap aside roughly. He snarled at her, but decided to let it go when she started looking over Depth Charge.

"Your ship gotta CR chamber?" he asked. Cobralita nodded. "Then help me get him inside," he said.

"No."

"WHAT?!"

Cobralita's forearms morphed, becoming several extendable claws and needles. "He needs to be stabilized first. He took a bad hit and is leaking energon and mechfluid. If I move him now, he's SCRAP. Now stay out of my way until I need you again," she snapped, immediately going to work.

Rattrap blinked, but did as he was told, watching with fascination as the many tiny claws went to work, sealing off leaking tubing with a chemical excretion, injecting stimulants to help regenerate lost fluids. Wires were reconnected and spliced together, areas too damaged to salvage were removed quickly and efficiently, all with skill and grace that was nothing short of astonishing to Rattrap. Finally, after an astonishingly short period of time, she said, "Okay, he can make it through a CR trip without loss of spark. Help me get him inside."

Rattrap grumbled, but took one arm and helped Cobralita drag him to the lift. "They didn't program any bedside manner inta ya, did they?"

Cobralita snorted. "Deleted it. Took up space I needed for medical information."

Rattrap just shook his head, and helped get Depth Charge inside. It took some shoving and creative rearrangment of his fins, but they managed to get him inside the CR chamber and get it started.

"Okay," Cobralita said, checking his status briefly before collapsing in a nearby chair.

Rattrap frowned. "You okay, snakelady?"

Cobralita nodded weakly. "Yeah... Just drained... Gun mode uses energon from my own systems if I'm not near a supply... I guess I used to much..."

Rattrap cursed. "You got any cubes?"

Cobralita groaned weakly, her optics flickering, and said, "My quarters... three doors down to the left..."

Rattrap nodded, and quickly ran off to the newcomer's quarters, finding the cubes after a quick search and bringing a couple back out. She accepted it gratefully, sipping at it idly, letting her strength come back.

Rattrap just sighed, and sat down in the chair next to her. "So now what?"

"Now?" Cobralita said, after sipping from the cube, "Now I gather you up and take you off this mudball and get you all home."

Rattrap shook his head. "Can't do that."

Cobralita scowled, finishing off the first cube and starting on the second one. "Why not? Don't tell me that this war is so slagging important that..."

"It IS, snakelady," Rattrap said, sighing.

Cobralita scoffed. "Bah. Maxies and Preds warring for years over things that don't really matter. I see absolutely no slaggin' reason why we can't just leave Megatron here and..."

"There is a DAMN good reason, snakelady," Rattrap snarled, startling Cobralita, "But you need to see it to believe it."

Cobralita just shook her head and finished off the second cube, going over to the cockpit. "Anyone else out here we need to pick up?"

Rattrap shook his head, and nodded. "Yeah. Blackarachnia, she's on patrol a couple sectors down from here. She's Pred, but she's one of ours."

Cobralita scowled. "So Primal's keeping Predapets now?"

Rattrap snarled. "NO. Blackarachnia's... complicated."

Cobralita just shook her head, and keyed up her engines. The ship lifted off smoothly, and quickly flew over to where an unusually large spider was trotting along, seemingly bored with everything. Cobralita flicked her ship's loudspeaker's on as the spider noticed the ship, starting to back away.

"You Blackarachnia? I'm Cobralita, I'm on your side. Just wait there and I'll let you in, then we have to get back to your base."

The spider hesitated a moment, and transformed, nodding. Cobralita stared at her, and gave Rattrap a confused look.

"Why does she have..." she said, cupping her hands in front of her chestplate.

Rattrap laughed, shaking his head. "I don't gotta clue. When her original program was erased by Tarantulas, one of the Preds we're up against, he changed her design. I guess he likes da way humanoid organic femmes are designed."

Cobralita just shook her head and landed the ship, opening the hatch near the cockpit for the black and gold spider-bot to get in. She sauntered into the cockpit and gave Cobralita an appraising look.

"So where'd you come from?" Blackarachnia asked.

Cobralita just smirked and leaned back in her seat, looking Blackarachnia over. "So, you're a Predacon, correct? Reprogrammed from a Maximal protoform, but decided to switch back to your original side?"

Blackarachnia frowned. Where is she going with this? "Yes, in a sense, I did."

"Don't want reprogramming?"

"Not in the least."

"Content to be a Pred?"

"Yes."

"The group pretty much accepting of you?"

Blackarachnia smirked, thinking of Silverbolt. "And then some."

Cobralita's optics darkened in amusement. "No memory of your past?"

Blackarachnia shook her head, suddenly becoming nervous. "No..."

Rattrap shook his head, and said, "Don't do this..."

Cobralita just glanced at him, her smirk widening. "Consider yourself lucky, then. But let me give you a little bit of free advice, Predapet: Before I take you and the crew back to Cybertron, if you value your freedom in any way, shape, or form, I suggest that you get yourself reprogrammed back to Maximal."

Blackarachnia was unnerved and showing it. Cobralita laughed at the expression on her face, causing Blackarachnia to snarl angrily. She quickly composed herself and said, "Anyway, you never answered my question. What part of the Pit did you crawl out of?"

"Name's Cobralita, like I said. I'm a mercenary currently, and former Field Medic for the Ninth Oros Division of the Maximal military, before I came to my senses and dropped out of this idiotic perpetual civil war our species is in. The Council hired me to pick all of you up and get you out of this mudball, wherever it is."

Blackarachnia was so startled by this statement that she forgot about Cobralita taunting her for a moment, and asked Rattrap, "You didn't tell her?"

Cobralita frowned. "Tell me what?"

Rattrap shook his head. "You've heard what kinda person she is. She'd nevah believe it until she saw it."

Cobralita's optics grew brighter as she became angrier. "Believe WHAT? What's going on?!"

Rattrap and Blackarachnia both just glared at her. Blackarachnia motioned for Rattrap to follow her back into the ship so they could talk, and he did, after giving Cobralita the coordinates of their headquarters. Cobralita's glare followed the two of them out, and she shook her head, taking off.

The Darkside...

Megatron's Room...

Rampage tromped into Megatron's room, and scowled as he found the Predacon warlord in his bathtub yet again, his rubber duck floating about idly, Inferno standing guard next to the tub. Megatron didn't even turn to look at him. Rampage just shook his head and bowed mockingly, saying,

"You called, Megatron?"

Megatron smirked. "I did, yes. How did the ambush go?"

Rampage snarled. "Badly. Waspinator and I managed to seriously wound Depth Charge, but a Maximal ship burst through a Transwarp hole and landed near us. Waspinator got taken out by the ships autoguns, and the ship's pilot, some woman with a snake for a beast mode came out and fought me. Her weapons did no damage worth reporting, but when she transformed to her third mode, a handheld energon cannon, I was seriously injured. I didn't want to chance a continued fight, so I left."

Megatron scowled. "Did you catch this newcomer's name?"

Rampage shrugged. "I think it was Cobralita, or something like that."

Megatron's optics widened slightly in surprise, brightening in moderate alarm. He turned to Rampage, standing up in his tub and said, "...Cobralita... Original name Elita?"

Rampage glared at him, his optics flashing angrily. "How would I know that? I just met her and she tore a gash in my side!" he said, gesturing to the gash on his hip that was healing much slower than it normally would have.

Megatron frowned, and then chuckled, his optics going dark as he sat down in the tub once more. He gestured to Rampage dismissively, and said, "Go back and retrieve Waspinator."

Rampage snarled. "WHAT?! I need to get to a CR tank and..."

"Your Queen has given you an order, Drone!!!" Inferno snarled. Too late Rampage realized that the sparkbox containing the torn portion of his spark was on a table next to the tub, and couldn't react in time when Inferno slammed his fist down on it. Rampage screamed in agony, falling to his knees and clawing at his chest as sparks danced around his body.

"AllrightallrightallRIGHT!!! I'll GO!!"

Inferno chuckled and let Rampage go, returning to his impassive stance, alert for anything that might disturb Megatron's bath. Rampage snarled at him and transformed to beast mode, scuttling out of the room.

Megatron just smirked, and picked up his duckie without looking, squeezing it idly. "Maybe it is you, my old friend... Have you come to say hello, then?"

Two megacycles later...

Just outside the Maximal base...

Cobralita frowned at the battered hull panel covering the entrance to a huge cavern, guarded only by two autoguns and several primitive-looking traps, the guns staying trained on her hovering ship. That's it? she thought, frowning internally. She keyed up her comm-link, putting an open band call out.

"Maximal Ship Whitwhicky contacting Maximal Base. Primal, you in there?"

A few moments later, a hesitant voice came over the comm-link. "Elita? Is that you?"

Cobralita chuckled at hearing the familiar voice. "Yep. Afraid so, Primal. Although it's Cobralita now, to go with my new look. And hey, the name fits me better anyway, don't you think?"

Primal, inside the base, shook his head. "Unbelievable. What are you doing here?"

"Council hired me to bring all of you back. And before you say anything about it, yes, I still hate the Council, but they payed me double my normal fee, and it's REALLY hard to argue with that wanna-be Optimus, Bombos when she shoves her tank mode's cannon over your head."

Primal chuckled wearily. "Do you have anyone else with you?"

Cobralita smirked. "Yep. Rattrap, Depth Charge, and Blackarachnia. Depth Charge got damaged badly in a fight with X, or Rampage, or whatever he's called now, but he's getting better."

"And let me guess: You managed to anger both Rattrap and Blackarachnia ten cycles after meeting them."

Cobralita laughed. "Hey, everyone has to have a hobby. Mine is getting people mad at me."

Primal shook his head. "You never change, Elita."

"Cobralita."

"If you say so. Come land," he said, "There's something you need to see,"

Cobralita frowned. "Does this have something to do with Ratbrain and Webhead's insistance that we can't leave right away, like I'm assigned to help you do?"

"Yes," Primal said, "It does. I'll meet you outside."

Cobralita frowned. Optimus Primal had NEVER, in all the time she had known him, sounded that somber before. Granted, her association with him was never more than military-related, never going beyond banter, philosophy arguements, or traded insults, but still, she felt she knew him enough to assess his character. She shook her head, and guided the ship to a landing in front of the door, setting her ship's forcefields to remain active after she and the others got out. She found Rattrap and Blackarachnia after a moment and told them that they had landed. They followed her to the exit hatch and got out. Optimus was there waiting for them. When she saw him, she gaped.

"What in the..."

Optimus smirked, and stood up to his full height, sunlight glinting off of the alabaster, red, and blue of his armor. "Heh. I guess I've gotten a bit bigger since we last met."

"Clearly," Cobralita said, marvelling. Primal had barely come up to her chestplate before. Primal smiled, but quickly went somber again, turning to Blackarachnia and Rattrap.

"You didn't tell her?" he asked.

Blackarachnia looked tense, and acted like she wanted to say something, but Rattrap spoke up first. "Would joo believe it if you came here like she did and someone just told ya?"

Primal frowned. "No, I guess not. Come with me," he said.

Cobralita frowned, but followed him inside the base, heading through the blast doors into a long tunnel, a wave of intense heat rushing over her as she moved deeper into the cavern

"Nice place you have here," she teased. But Primal wasn't taking the bait. He simply kept walking. Eventually, he came to a turn-off and gestured inward.

Cobralita, nervous now, hesitated, and then gathered her resolve, heading around into the cavern, coming into full view of the great, gold ship that sat wedged into the volcano.

If she were organic, she would have gasped.

"Matrix protect me... It's... It's..."

"The Ark," Primal finished.

Cobralita slowly walked forward, her movements shaky. "It... It can't be..." So in awe of what she was seeing was she, that she didn't notice that she was about to walk into a lava pool.

Primal quickly grabbed her and flew her over to the Ark's entrance. Blackarachnia, getting an idea of what Primal wanted, quickly hopped through the various lava pools to join them. She tapped into Teletran-1 and temporarily brought down the forcefield, allowing Cobralita and Primal to step inside.

Slowly, unsteadily, Cobralita walked through the giant halls of a ship she had seen only in historical tracks. She passed by the inert shells of some of the most famous beings in Cybertronian history, reverantly reaching out to gently touch their massive frames. Internally, a part of her mind was working, figuring out ways to get the giant husks back online, while another was trying to figure out how this was possible.

And then she saw him.

Optimus Prime.

Her optics had brightened in fear and awe, so bright that the sensor points were clearly visible. Hesitantly, with great reverance, she reached out, gently touching his leg. She was a tactile, built to be able to sense the nature of injuries and other maladies with touch, and almost instantly her sensors were flooded with information, pulling technical specifications from her databanks, analyzing and assessing what was wrong with the inert Autobot. Even more, though, it confirmed to Cobralita that what she was seeing was real.

"Primus... He's real... How...?"

"You've gone back in time, Cobralita. Back in time to Earth's primative past. The golden disks Megatron stole were historical records. He means to change our past by destroying the Autobots, allowing his namesake to conquer unopposed."

Cobralita staggered, as the full implications of this started to hit her. "What have you gotten us into now, old friend..." she muttered.

Primal's optics darkened in a surprised blink at her comment, but he decided to disregard it and continue. "We are in a fight for our survival, Cobralita. Leaving this planet to Megatron is not an option. We're in a defensive position and we're LOSING. We need your help, Maximal."

Cobralita moaned softly as she fell to her knees, her body going slack. She was confused, and more than a little frightened. She had been expecting to simply collect Primal's crew and leave, but this...

She stared up into Optimus Prime's sapphire optics, and then over at Primal's emerald ones, staring at her expectantly.

She frowned, taking in his posture, his new body, almost as big as Prime's own, the way he held himself, the way he talked... Something's different than what I remember about him... It's like he's touched the spark of Optimus Prime himself...

She shook her head, staring back up at Prime. It had been so long since she had actively fought, so long since she had been a part of the War. Could she enter it again, after so long?

But this isn't the stupidity of Cybertron's civil war... This is saving my kind from being wiped out... Saving one of the few good beings in the universe from a death he doesn't deserve...

She nodded.

Primal blinked again, genuinely surprised. "You'll help us."

Cobralita gave the Cybertronian equivalent of a sigh. "You know me, Primal. You know that I've given up on our species as a whole. But seeing him... Optimus Prime..." she shook her head,and continued standing up and staring directly at Primal, "Give me hope, Optimus Primal. Give me hope again."

Primal blinked, and smiled. "I'll do my best. Welcome back to the Maximals, Cobralita."

Cobralita smirked, and laughed weakly, shifting back to her beast mode. "Oh yessss, I'm back in the game. Primussss help me, I'm back..."

THE END

FOR NOW

NAME: COBRALITA

NAME MEANING: ONE WHO IS WITHOUT HOPE
FACTION: UNAFFILIATED
OCCUPATION: MERCENARY

FUNCTION: FIELD MEDIC

Motto: "To have a cause, to believe in something, is to actually have hope that things will turn out for the best. I hold no such romantic delusions."

Strength: 5.0

Intelligence: 9.0

Speed: 6.0

Endurance: 5.9

Rank: 0.0 (Civilian)

Courage: 5.0

Firepower: 2.0 (robot & beast modes) /9.0 (gun mode)

Skill: 10+ (medical)/ 2.0 (warrior)

A mercenary hired to aid Optimus Primal in winning the Beast Wars, Cobralita is a considered by many to be a conundrum. Brilliant, and possessed of some of the most astonishingly excellent medical skills in Cybertronian history, she is also exceedly cold, a vicious fighter who loves new weapons and technology, and extremely bitter towards Optimus Primal, whom she views as a 'skidplate-sucking fool,' and resents because of the ridiculous implication that because her original name, Elita, is so close to the original Elita-1, that the two of them are former lovers. Hates the Maximal High Council and views humans as uselesss, she was also friends with Megatron before he turned to evil. She gave up all hope for the future and fell into depression after a severely bigoted court decision against a Predacon friend of hers, now she only works at something that she is hired to do. Generates a powerful, corrosive saliva in her mouth in robot and beast modes, and can absorb ambient energon energy in the nearby air for her attacks in gun mode, although if none is available, her gun mode draws on her own internal energon source.