Author's Notes: Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll I had going. No offense to anyone who came up with an original name, but I decided to go with the majority vote.
To Goggleplex -- I liked the name, Stormshock, you thought up, and may be using it in either this story, or a third one if that comes about.
To Jason M. Lee -- Sorry for subjecting you to a poll. ;)
Hope you like this opening to the official sequel to Starxis.
It was amazing how quickly ten years could go by.
Walking along the coast at the top of a sand dune and staring out into near still water of the Pacific Ocean (if she didn't count the waves lapping against the shore), Alexis Carpenter could almost pretend that the only thing she'd find below the surface was the local marine life. Giving a sigh, and bowing her head to smell the white tulip she'd plucked her own garden prior to walking to this location, she found herself reflecting on the events that had shaped her life, nearly a decade ago.
When she'd first been exposed to an alien race of sentient robots, averaging from thirty-five to fifty-five feet tall, calling themselves Transformers, when she was little more than a fourteen year old girl, Alexis had never imagined the huge impact that the encounter would have on her life. Not only had she played a significant role in ending a war that had been waged (between two factions -- the peace-loving Autobots and war-mongering Decepticons) for millions of years and taking down an enormous god-like being who'd threatened to wipe out everything in his path, but she and one of the Transformers had fallen in love with each other.
What was even more ironic was that she, and the bot she had fallen for, had become the adopted parents of the cutest furry extraterrestrial critter (Starxis) she was aware even existed. Roughly the size of an overgrown tiger, the youngling bore a slight resemblance to an ordinary ferret. Given his friendly nature and propensity to take whatever available measures to protect her or his "father," it hadn't taken Starxis long to win either of them over.
Alexis' musings were interrupted at that point when she felt a gentle nuzzling at her right arm. With a smile, she turned to look at Starxis, simultaneously moving one hand to touch the top of his brown fuzzy head. "You reading my mind again?" she said softly, her grin growing even wider when he offered a single chirp by way of an answer. "I guess so… I bet you're looking forward to seeing Starscream again just as much as I am."
This earned another cheerful chirp from him, prompting Alexis to lean over and give Starxis a hug. During a long ago mission to Mars, the youngling had been found (newly hatched) and brought back to Earth by Starscream, a Decepticon (who was the very bot she'd fallen for) who'd defected to the Autobot team after his commander had betrayed him one time too many.
Early on, Alexis had learned, from the one Autobot who was familiar with the youngling's race, that population problems had led into the construction of space-faring pods designed to transport the unhatched babies to other planets that exhibited signs of life. Through a twist of fate, Starscream had just happened to be the one that Starxis had claimed/imprinted as his adopted father.
It had become apparent early on that Starxis (and supposedly, others like him) could easily adapt to alien environments, was telepathic to some degree, and was capable of granting one wish each to his new parents (though it wasn't immediately known that he'd chosen Alexis as his mom). While she had already used her wish, kind of by accident, a long time ago, Starscream had been holding on to his for the past decade at her behest, though she doubted that he would continue to do so for much longer.
At that thought, Alexis looked out towards the ocean again and was drawn back into her reflections over the changes wrought over the past ten years. She'd never imagined, once the war had ended and she and her friends were returned home from their sojourn to the Transformers' own world of Cybertron, that her giant metal friends would come to establish their own colonies here on Earth.
And yet, there was one such metropolis out there, hidden beneath the sea's surface at this very moment. Dubbed Ocean City (by whichever unoriginal person or bot that had come up with the name first), it was a structure that was home to Transformers and humans alike, designed to be raised or lowered in regards to the surface level with only a few simple keystrokes. If not for the fact that Starxis preferred the outdoors and was prone to getting antsy (particularly these days) if stuck in the same enclosed space for weeks on end, Alexis might have been living in Ocean City full time.
Alexis resumed her walk among the dunes, once more smelling the flower she held and thinking romantic thoughts about Starscream. She had missed him these past few months, as he'd been stationed on Cybertron as part of a rotation. This was standard procedure for the Transformer soldiers; they were routinely shuffled from one assignment\location to the next, every six Earth months.
It will be good to see him again after so long, Alexis mused, and was unprepared for when she got a telepathic response. This was courtesy of Starxis, who had exposed her and Starscream's minds to each other, and allowed them to carry on mental conversations over long distances. Nevertheless, it always surprised her when a channel was opened up without warning; Starxis sometimes seemed to initiate them when she least expected it.
I look forward to seeing you too, stated that raspy voice with metallic undertones she adored so much. If all goes as planned, I should be back on Earth this evening… Any surprises I should prepare myself for?
Alexis chuckled aloud, then mischievously responded with, I dyed Starxis' fur green and gave him a mohawk…
After a moment of silence (she wondered if Starscream actually thought she was serious), there came the sound of soft laughter. At the same time, Starxis gave a slightly incensed chirp, shaking his head to show his disapproval of the remark.
Alexis reached out to stroke the spot behind the youngling's left ear in an effort to placate him. Okay, I'll be serious, she sent out to Starscream. I think I'm ready now…
She didn't have to clarify this; there was every indication that he understood what she was saying when he responded. Your parents finally gave their approval?!
Alexis bowed her head, staring blankly at the tulip in her hand. Hardly, she answered. But I think they've accepted that this is what I want. She paused, feeling an unexpected touch of melancholy at the things she'd be giving up. It seemed odd to be saddened at the prospect when she'd had ten years to get used to the idea of what she'd be sacrificing. But perhaps it was natural that she'd be experiencing some last minute doubts, now that the day had actually come.
Alexis didn't know how long she might have remained stuck in this reverie had something strange not occurred out in the ocean, almost at the horizon. It didn't take her long to work out what she was seeing -- given the way the sea water erupted and/or was upset by the immense structure that rose from its depths, she quickly determined that the city had been made to surface.
That's impossible, Alexis mused. It wasn't scheduled to do so until this evening…
Starscream's voice sounded once more in her head, asking what was going on. Even as Alexis filled him in, she turned towards Starxis, climbing up onto the youngling's back and softly asking him to take her in for a closer look.
Starxis gave an answering chirp, instantly spreading the leathery wings that had until now been indistinguishable from the rest of his body. In seconds, he had taken to the sky, soaring out towards the city in the distance so swiftly that Alexis had to bend in close behind his head to avoid the wind shear.
She wasn't given long to wonder when she saw a sign of movement on the paved bridge that was now stretched out between the city and the shore. Alexis cast her gaze downwards, and gave a soft groan once it registered just what she was looking at. Kicker's up to his usual tricks again, she thought, watching the hotheaded teenage boy attempting to escape Ocean City on board a familiar gray motorcycle that had been upgraded from its mountain bike guise of ten years prior. And what do you know -- he's actually gotten High Wire in on the act.
A soft chuckle resonated through her mind. Somebody needs to put a leash on that boy, Starscream answered. Who gave him the authorization codes to surface the city anyway?
Alexis grinned. Knowing Kicker, he probably acquired them in a sneaky way… She paused, taking in the sight of the yellow sports car in hot pursuit of the boy. Looks like it's going to be okay. Hot Shot's after him now.
If Alexis had been able to see Starscream, she had no doubt that he would have been wearing a sardonic smile, given his next comment. Not that I don't enjoy the play-by-play, but could we get back on topic?
Alexis hesitated for a long while, mind adrift with all aspects of her decision. She sat up straight on Starxis' back, as the youngling had come to hover some distance over the city. Yet, the reasons for wanting to do this still stood; if she remained as a human, then she was destined to die long before either Starscream or Starxis did. The facts were simple -- she loved them, and if this was what she had to do to be with them indefinitely, then it was a leap she would gladly take.
Giving a sigh, Alexis stretched out her right hand and let go of the flower, watching the ocean breeze carry it away. I'm ready, she thought, more to herself than for Starscream's benefit. By the end of the day, I will be one of the Transformers…
It was nothing short of a nightmare to be a ghost, especially if one were sentenced to wander through the same enclosed space for years on end. Such was the case with Sideways, an enigmatic, arrogant member of the Transformer race. Back when he'd signed on as a servant of the dark god, Unicron, he'd never in a million years have imagined that this would be the outcome.
How did things go so wrong? Sideways mused, though he knew the answer. For all of his subtle manipulations of the Autobots and Decepticons' war with each other and drawing power from the hatred felt by the two sides, Unicron had vastly underestimated the courage and resources of a select few bots and humans, when he sought to destroy all of Cybertron and the planet's inhabitants.
When Unicron's power base had been depleted at a critical moment, when he had been in the process of restoring Sideways to life, the end result had been that the latter was now nothing more than a phantom and seemed to be indefinitely trapped within his master's enormous body.
Sideways had hoped, when he had come up with a new method of allowing Unicron to grow in strength, that it would provide an answer to both of their problems. Not only would it allow the dark god to escape the exile he'd been cast back into following the war, but there was every chance that Sideways' restoration could be completed and he'd have a solid form again.
For a time, it had seemed that the ploy was working. Though he'd had to go to great lengths to exert his influence on the outside world, Unicron had succeeded in destroying a whole uninhabited planet and converting the matter into energy. After two or three more worlds had been likewise consumed, the dark god had made his reemergence into this universe.
Until Unicron had attempted to devour a world known simply as Planet Q, home to a regal sect of Transformers independent of Cybertron, all had been going so well. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of this world had fought back, and quite successfully at that. The resulting cataclysm had obliterated the planet and essentially blew Unicron to pieces as well. For all the power that the dark god had collected, it wasn't sufficient enough for him to (quite literally) pull himself back together.
An annoying side effect of this debacle was that one of the inhabitants of Planet Q had survived, or rather, his spark (the heart and soul of the Transformers) had. This being (now seemingly calling himself Alpha Q; how unoriginal was that?), despite being without form, had exerted an influence that Sideways had never thought possible to forge a body from Unicron's remains.
Over the past year, Alpha Q had come to control every inch of Unicron's ruins, even so far as overriding the thought processes of the dark god. It made sense that Alpha Q could achieve this, given that Unicron was essentially a planet-sized version of a Transformer and was subject to the same limitations as his smaller counterparts. And, given Sideways' current status, there was little choice but to endure the pest's presence.
What was even more annoying was that Alpha Q seemed to possess something of a fragmented personality; perhaps witnessing the destruction of his world had shattered his mind in some way. Subsequently, when he'd built his new body, a white, spindly, and alien-like outer shell with a large rotating cone housed inside its maw, he had designed several different shaped heads to give voice to each of his "personalities."
Nothing was more maddening than to be subjected to one of Alpha Q's discourses with himself.
Nevertheless, Sideways had taken a sick pleasure in naming each of the guy's interior heads/personalities out of spite. Each one (Spazz, Nonchalant, Brainiac, and Laser Happy) was quite fitting for the face it had been applied to. Though Sideways knew that a fifth personality existed, as he would sometimes hear a distinct voice that differed from the other four, he was never near enough to make out the words and thus determine what designation was best suited for it.
He wondered if Alpha Q, crazy though he might be, was deliberately keeping him from discovering anything about this alternate persona.
As Sideways wandered back into the enormous chamber that housed Unicron's heart, it was to hear the three most dominant facets -- Spazz, Brainiac, and Laser Happy -- having another one of their "arguments" on how best to gather power to repair Unicron's fragmented body. Had they been talking about restoring the dark god to life, Sideways might have gone to great lengths to ally himself with them.
Unfortunately, Alpha Q seemed to dislike having Sideways around just as much as the latter hated him, and the spindly bot seemed to have an agenda all his own when it came to Unicron's ultimate fate. Exactly what that was supposed to be, Sideways didn't know; perhaps this was another thing he was deliberately being kept in the dark about.
The best that Sideways could determine, as he once more viewed the cable hooked into the back of Alpha Q's head that led all the way up to Unicron's processor, was that the pest was looking to wield Unicron as the ultimate weapon, once his body was completely fixed. One thing that was certain, if this was indeed the case, was that Sideways' chances of regaining a solid form were looking very slim indeed.
Then, he heard Spazz say something about being too impatient for waiting for his "companions" to come up with a plan, and this caused an idea to begin forming. Looking downwards and tuning out the sound of Alpha Q's voices, Sideways began to wonder if there might be a way to manipulate the situation in his own favor after all…
It had taken Megatron (former commander of the Decepticon army) several years to determine that he wasn't dead after all. Like every member of his kind, he had been unsure of what the afterlife should hold, but he doubted very much that he should have been experiencing any pain (even in the slightest) or been unable to move.
When he had reached this conclusion, Megatron began to wonder what had gone wrong. He had willingly sacrificed himself to save his planet and every single member of his own race, so how was he still alive? More importantly, had he somehow failed, leaving Unicron free to destroy Cybertron and the Transformers?
It had taken another few years, but Megatron's mind had been put at ease when he'd one day heard the sound of Sideways' voice (what did it take to kill that guy?!) resonating through whatever this place was. The remarks had been sufficient to tell the Decepticon leader that the war had been won and that his people had been the victors at the end of the day. Eventually, this had led Megatron to determine that Unicron must have brought him back, perhaps in an effort to reclaim the source of his power that had been housed in Megatron's processor at the instant of his death.
As time continued to pass by, following this realization, Megatron began to grow increasingly bitter at being stuck in whatever prison was holding him. Incapable of motion and subject to moments of feeling incredibly weak or tired, all he had to sustain him were his own thoughts. And even those were gravitating more and more towards the unfairness of his situation and how he hadn't asked for or wanted to be resurrected.
So it was, that when Sideways came to actually speak to him, Megatron ironically viewed the bot that he'd once thought of as a traitor and/or deadliest of enemies as his most likely source of salvation. Had he been able to see, he would have gotten the sense that Sideways was being sincere in the way he kneeled before the Decepticon leader as well as in the tone of his voice.
Staring upon Megatron's outlined form trapped within one biologic wall that made up Unicron's stomach, Sideways said, taking a chance that his companion was aware enough to hear him, "Whatever it takes, I will find a way to restore you to your former glory, Megatron… And all I ask in return is that you aid me in eliminating a certain parasite that has seized control of the mighty Unicron…"
Next up: An entire chapter (which hopefully won't take long to write) centered around Alexis' transformation...