I don't own Transformers Animated. Otherwise there would've been at least two more seasons. At least.
Optimus Prime and his crew have returned to Cybertron as heroes, but all is not well in the universe, not yet. Factions are moving, and an evil far older and more terrible than the Decepticons has arisen that threatens all of creation. Takes place roughly five or six months after 'Endgame.' Rated PG-13 for transformer violence and cursing.
It had existed for millennia. And as long as it had existed, it had known hunger. A terrible, all consuming hunger that drove it to feed and consume into all was dark and lifeless. For centuries untold, it had wandered the depths of space on the very edge of the universe, destroying and devouring. More than the hunger of body, the hunger of its mind was insatiable. Its desire to know. To understand. If it had once known, it had long since forgotten.
Now it was coming. It had heard the call. It smelled food, a delicious morsel ready to feed its terrible hunger. And so it was coming. And nothing would stand in its way.
Decepticon Outpost, Charr
In the depths of space, on the fringes of Autobot territory, Oil Slick sat bored on the tiny planet of Charr. Though the Autobots had managed to reclaim most of the available Space Bridges and their surrounding territories following Megatron's capture and defeat, Charr was too remote to properly mount an offensive, especially given the growing number of Decepticons who had flocked there. Thus, for now, an unspoken ceasefire had sprung up that kept the two sides eyeing one another across the vastness of space. Servos on their weapons, ready to erupt into war again the moment either side was provoked.
And so the Decepticons had been setting up a defensive perimeter of sorts. Their base was formerly the Autobot outpost beneath the Space Bridge. The Bridge was inactive now, and even if it was functional, it was largely useless to them, since it required a receiving gate to be active on the other side. But the rest of the Autobots tech was still of good use.
Oil Slick had drawn the short straw for monitor duty while the rest of his team were out for this particular solar cycle.
Frowning, Oil Slick shifted in his seat, leaning over the screen. Another asteroid? They were common enough in this region of space. Or maybe it was another lost Decepticon. They'd picked up two of them recently. Two very confused clones who'd been utterly lost on the fringes of Decepticon territory.
His frown deepened behind the sickly green fluids of his helmet. "No way there's an asteroid that big," he thought. "Stupid thing must be broken," he muttered, smacking a fist down angrily against the console. Being on the fringes of Autobot territory meant having to scavenge for parts for their equipment. Which meant inferior gear. Hell, it was a wonder they could detect anything at all. Oil Slick angrily ripped off the side of the console and peered inside, but to his surprise, five minutes later, he found the console was perfectly in working order. Everything was functioning perfectly. So that meant...
He pressed a servo to the side of his head, activating his comm. Link. "Oil Slick to Commander Strika. We have a situation here."
If the readings were right... something big was headed their way. Really, really, reaaaallly big.
Autobot Headquarters, Cybertron
Chrome doors slid open with whoosh, and their came the clang of metal on metal as Optimus Prime stepped out of the corridor and into the personal office of his immediate superior, Ultra Magnus. Freshly recovered from the Decepticon attack which had nearly cost him his spark, the elder Autobot looked weary but functional, and motioned the younger bot to join him.
"Optimus Prime," he stated. "It is good to have you back on Cybertron. But before we proceed, I believe you have something that belongs to me."
Nodding, the younger Autobot immediately knew he referred to his Hammer. Reaching behind him, he drew it out, unfolding it from its compressed form, and despite its heavy size, handed it with the utmost dignity to its proper owner.
Ultra Magnus took it back into his hands, checking the heft of it. "I understand you wielded it well while I was in stasis."
"I got lucky," replied Optimus.
"Luck is a part of one's programming," replied Ultra Magnus, setting the Hammer comfortably by his side, the handle tapping against the ground. "And it could not have been just luck that brought the end of Megatron's reign of terror. We have you to thank for that."
Optimus Prime felt his faceplate start to overheat. "It was a team effort sir," he replied modestly. "I could not have done it without the aid of my crew."
"A crew you led. A crew I hope you will continue to lead. I have spoken with the High Council," Ultra Magnus went on. "They feel, as I do, that the Elite Guard could use some fresh oil in its ranks. Thus, you and your crew are to be promoted. We need young bots like you and yours."
Optimus immediately came to attention and saluted. "Thank you sir. That means a lot."
Magnus' face then relaxed, and he allowed a small smile to stretch across his faceplate. "I said once that being a hero wasn't in your programming. It seems I was mistaken."
He offered a servo to Optimus, who gladly clasped it and shook.
"We have a lot of work to do yet," Ultra Magnus said. "But I am glad to know that you will be helping me to do it."
The Stockade, Cybertron
During the Great War, Decepticons had by large refused to tolerate the concept of surrender, and many had gleefully off-lined themselves to keep out of Autobot servos. However, those that could be captured (and restrained) were placed in the Stockade. In the years following the end of the war, however, it was used to store highly dangerous Autobot criminals, Decepticon sympathizers and the like. It became well known as a place feared by young bots. Rumor was it was inescapable. A rumor its current warden was doing his best to keep circulating, despite the fact that it was a blatant lie.
Sentinel Prime crossed his arms as he stood on the high balcony, observing the prisoners below in the courtyard. A large, open space (with a thick roof), it was heavily guarded by the walkways on all four sides, manned by automated sentries. Thus, Sentinel felt safe enough permitting the prisoners he had captured (at least, that was how he told the story) to mingle with others who lived in the Stockade. There was little fear of a breakout or a riot. Every prisoner had a modified stasis cuff bracelet that nullified much of their powers and strength. Firmly convinced none of them were going anywhere, Sentinel Prime took only a moment of posturing before he turned and transformed into vehicle mode, speeding off back to his office for some downtime.
Leaving his prisoners largely unsupervised.
Blitzwing glanced up discreetly at the walkway to make sure Sentinel was gone, but remained still for the moment. He sat on the ground in a semi-circle with two Starscream clones (a compulsive liar and an bootlicker) and Shockwave, ostensibly playing a friendly game of cards. Their vocalizers pitched low, they carried on a quiet conversation.
"Iz everyzing in place?" his icy personality asked, his one good eye still keeping watch in case Sentinel or one of his underlings happened to show up.
The paler clone shook his head. "Of course not. We're not ready to break out of here at all."
His counterpart nodded. "It was an incredibly daring plan you proposed, oh mighty Blitzwing. Stupendous in its brilliance."
"And our outside contacts are ready to make their move," added Shockwave, tossing down two cards into the pile on the ground in front of them. "They await our signal."
"Hey! Decepticons! Get back to your cells, playtime is over!"
The rumbling voice of Warpath, the Warden Minor, broke up their little gathering, as Blitzwing scooped up the cards into one of the compartments at his side and he and his cohorts made their way with only a minimal of fuss (absolutely no fuss would have brought suspicion) out of the central courtyard and into the depths of the Stockade.
Faces blurred. "You Autobot scum!" hothead spat angrily. "I vill crush you into scrap metal! Just you vait until I am out of zese cuffs, zen ve vill-...!" A servo clamped down on his shoulder, as Shockwave made an showing of restraining his comrade. Faces blurred. "... well, let us just say it vill not be pleasant for you," remarked icy, as he permitted himself to be lead away.
As high ranked lieutenants in the Decepticon ranks, he and Shockwave were shuffled down to Level One, near the very bottom of the facility. The Starscream clones were pushed off the elevator at Level Two, along with Autobot troublemakers and two-bit Decepticons were held. Prisoners that had, in theory, at least some hopes of rehabilitation. Parole reviews within the next millennium or so. Level Three was short-timers. Curfew violators and speeding, mostly.
Only one bot was contained on Level Zero, however. And only the warden had access to see that prisoner.
Sumdac Tower, Earth
"... and Ratchet is never available, but he's always off with his girlfriend, Arcee... they say they're catching up on old times, but I've checked up on them. All they ever do is go off and make optics at each other."
"They have been through a lot," remarked Professor Isaac Sumdac. Her father. "But I am glad to know you are enjoying your new home."
Sari rubbed the back of her head self-consciously in the vidscreen. "Yeah, about that... I mean, don't get me wrong, Cybertron is way cool but... I feel totally lost here. No one apart from 'Bee and Bulkhead hang out with me, and most of the Autobots don't want anything to do with me. Everyone is still getting used to techno-organics."
Getting used to, of course, was the polite way of telling her dad, when she didn't want to worry him. The truth of the matter was that Sari was still largely viewed by Cybertronians as an infestation on par with a space barnacle. It only got worse if she explained she wasn't fully human, but techno-organic. Then she was thought of as an abomination. She had a much clearer understanding now of just how badly Black Arachnia had had it when she'd become one. No wonder she went Decepticon.
But she couldn't tell her dad this. All she said was: "I just kinda miss Earth."
He smiled faintly. "You know you are welcome to come back anytime you want. Although it will take some time to calibrate the Space Bridge. I am still learning the finer points of its mechanics."
"And you keep getting sidetracked by your other projects," she jibbed good-naturedly.
"But there is so much we can learn from the Autobots knowledge. And that data that was generously lent to me for study..."
She waved her hand. "I know, I know dad, just... promise me you'll take some time to eat and sleep, alright? I can't always look out for you anymore."
They shared a laugh over that.
An hour later, Sari disconnected their transmission so she could rest (she was never fully certain if it could be called sleep or stasis anymore) and despite the late hour, Professor Sumdac returned to his laboratory. He was close to something spectacular, he just knew it.
The doors slid open, and he beheld his latest experiment.
Detroit Waste Disposal Center, Earth
"So this is what I have been reduced to," muttered an angry voice. "Skulking out on an organic planet without a leader, without troops, without a purpose."
The voice's owner, a femme bot with a purple and blue color scheme and a distinct visage (if tempered by feminine features) was the Female Starscream. She sat on a pile of garbage on the rim of the Detroit Scrap Yards. It was a miserable day. And not just because she was all on her own on a spark-forsaken backwards, insect-infested planet (although that was definitely a contributing factor). It also happened to be raining. And she was sure she was going to rust and keel over. And she was running low on power. Earthbound oil could only fuel her up so much, after all. Plus it was getting harder and harder to raid warehouses with the Detroit Police everywhere.
Lightning split the air, illuminating the junkyard, but she scarcely stirred. She couldn't bring herself to care. There was no Autobots to fight, no Decepticons to fight. Not even that worthless bastard of a "father" of hers, Starscream. She was practically the only Cybertronian left on this wretched, insufferable...
Again, lightning lit up the junkyard, but curiously, it seemed to flash in almost the exact same spot. She wasn't an expert on weather by any stretch of the imagination, but she knew enough about it to know lightning never struck twice.
Flash. Especially not three times. Her curiosity peaked, the Femme slipped to her stabilizing servos and powered up her thrusters, levitating a few feet off of the ground as she sped towards the source of the bolts, which seemed to be zapping down in concentrated arcs towards another section of the junkyard. When she arrived, she found the junk had been systematically cleared aside and pushed up into large piles which served the dual purpose of clearing the center and concealing it from outright open view. A section of rods had been crudely strapped together, and the lightning was all attunning to the metal, zapping down it to hit its target below, which was...
She didn't believe it. No way.
Another bolt of lightning split the air, zapping into the black and gray mechs body as she watched in a mixture of awe and horror. And, the white flash of light illuminated another bot in the area. A strange dark blue mech with a crimson visor and a thick, heavyset form. He raised up his servos towards the heavens above.
"All is in preparation!" he commanded, his voice loud, yet monotone, amplified by the speakers in his shoulders. "Operation: Resurrection!"
A massive bolt of lightning split the air, and the thunder was so loud it rattled the Female Starscream's chassis as her optics overloaded and she had to temporarily shut them off. When she dared open them again, she saw a clawed hand reaching up and tearing the metal rods from its owners chest. A maroon and gray mech began to sit up, as gray optics flashed a bright crimson.
"It is on-line! On-line!"
"I LIVE!" cried a triumphant Starscream. The original Starscreama.
Dinobot Island, Earth
"Ahh, it feels so good to be home," remarked Black Arachnia as she stepped off of her makeshift mount and slipped gracefully to the sandy ground. "Don't you think so?"
A terrible buzzing accompanied the shift of wasp to Waspinator, who sneered (or would have, if he had facial joints designed to show such). "Wazzpinator not come here for scenery. Wazzpinator come here to crush Autobots! Where Autobots?!"
"Calm down, you psychotic hornet," she spat, red-eyes narrowing in disgust. "We need recruits for our little war against the Autobots, and I need a little peace and quiet. It wasn't easy getting back here after being Transwarped all the way to Africa you know! Now lets find the Dinobots and see if any of the lab is still intact."
"Wazzpinator find Dinobots. Wazzpinator good," replied her larger compatriot, shifting form again and taking off into the air with a buzz. Idly Black Arachnia slapped a servo against her faceplate. Why is it she had to put up with processor-damaged credits who had to spout their names every time they opened their vocalizers?
Making her way through the jungle, Black Arachnia quickly lost any hope of finding anything resembling the lab. The caves where it had been held were all but melted into slag, the crater easily big enough to comfortably hold the Autobot ship with space to spare. No, there was nothing left. Just hunks of scrap metal. All of her research, all of Prometheus Black's equipment. Gone.
Snarling, she kicked at one of the hunks of metal, then immediately regretted it, wincing and clutching at her foot, doing a little hop-skip-dance as she tried to simultaneously keep her balance and comfort her aching leg. Alas, she soon fell flat on her skidplate, cursing up a storm.
For a moment, blind panic and despair settled over her, and she felt her optics, all four of them, start to mist over. She was leaking lubricant again. Tears. But she stubbornly blinked them away. "I'll start over. I still have Wasp. The secrets here... I know its here. I just need to find it," she snarled, slamming her fist down on another pile of rubble. As she did, she spotted something glinting bronze in the moonlight. Curious, she slid to her feet, her leg already feeling much better, and realized it was the Decepticon helmet. The one she'd liberated from that crashed warship, so many stellar cycles ago. Idly, she stretched out a hand, tracing it along the cool metal. The helmet, the mask, that hid her hideousness from the world.
"Wazzpinator found Dinobots! Wazzpinator found Dinobots!"
A green blur zipped past Black Arachnia to crash down nearby, skidding along the ground. The stomping and crashing sounds behind her told Black Arachnia all she needed to know. Her paranoid little watchdogs must've attacked Wasp, thinking him an enemy. Good help was so hard to find these days.
Lifting up the helmet, she slid it over her face before turning back around to face her rampaging Dinobots, which had come to a halt when they caught sight of her.
"Now now boys, no need for violence..."
Historical Archives, Cybertron
Arcee reached up and lightly tugged the cord out of the side of her head, frowning lightly as she did so. "I've missed out on so much," she remarked quietly.
By her side, Ratchet shook his head. "Not really. The Great War ended, but nothing really changed. Things just got quieter for a while. Nobody really solved anything. We just paved over the problem and tried to pretend it wasn't there."
A veteran of the great war, Ratchet's bitterness had ebbed out since the last time he'd made such a speech, though only his closest of friends would have noticed the difference.
Arcee did, but she was still concerned as she slid to her feet, turning to face him. "But you changed. You're so worn," she remarked, stretching up a servo to caress his faceplate. "You should be long overdue for an upgrade..."
He frowned, lightly pulling her servo away. "I don't upgrade anymore."
"Because I saw what upgrades do to punks like Lockdown, and even Prowl and Sari for a while," he muttered darkly. "You don't /need/ to get yourself upgraded every time some fancy new feature comes out, for Sparks sake! If more bots put some faith in solid programming... oh I don't know..."
She lay a servo gently on his shoulder. "I understand. But I already lost you once, Ratchet. I don't want to do that again."
This time he allowed himself a small smile, and took her servo in his. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm too stubborn to go off-line."
A moment shared between two war veterans. Then, just as quickly as it had begun, it came to an end. Ratchet slipped past his pink companion to grab one of the disks off of the table, blowing some dust off before returning it to the shelves. "Now come on, I think we're done in this section, and there's another you should probably get caught up on over here, when we expanded into the Vok territories... that was certainly an interesting time... I was on Cybertron at the time trying to patch up..."
She followed quietly, drinking in the knowledge and experiences like fine oil...
Just Outside The Stockade, Cybertron
Tick. Tick. Tick.
"Hmmm, and that should be, just about..." came a cold voice.
"Now," stated a suave voice, as its owner smirked.
I got nothin'. And I'll warn you all now, this story isn't complete, so expect bumps in the road to come. But I'll do my best.