Tigers vs Dragons
Chapter 1

The shuttle from Diego to Detroit was fast and smooth, but what was alarming was that there only four people, and one brand new right off the factory floor not even tested for any errors SA-2 Samson in the cargo area of the massive shuttle. Of the four people on-board as mere passengers, were a young woman, an older man, and two Marines

The old man had a uniform that marked him as a General of some sort, a Marine most likely. However, Thunderstrike preferred the Air Force, but times on Earth had changed, and the Air Force merged with the Navy, So that left nothing but the Marines or Army to reconfigure the Pretender Unit to. So Marines it was.

The Old General, formerly retired, but brought back to active duty due to the recent clashes in Venezuela, and one of his own Boys in Blue as he liked to call them, had gotten rocked off his feet, and onto a pair of wheels from a roadside bomb. It was to him, a retired General, that the current President of America went to. Almost everything ran on Unobtainium these days, and it was similar to Energon, though not as potent when mined by humankind.

Though he had to hand it to the Decepticons for first discovering the stuff, a good secondary energy source, but now the Humans of Earth were after it. So that led them to the world, a moon, known as Pandora. That led to some troubles, lots of them. Unwanted troubles.

For one thing, the air was not breathable to the Humans on that moon. And for another, the current population feared the Decepticons, and had easily taken on the massive robots from the air. Sheer numbers alone nearly wiped the Decepticons off the planet surface. But Pandora did not escape the eye of the Earth. And it was why the recent wars were on all over the world. Thunderstrike hated battle, and he hated even more these young men and women going and getting themselves killed. In all his many many years, nothing was this brutal.

Thunderstrike watched carefully, the other three passengers, the two young men were asleep in the other room within the long shuttle. He noticed how the only woman on board, not including the staff on-board the shuttle, was staring intently at the SA-2 Samson, His alt mode. The Pretender Unit had to smile. The woman never seemed to blink.

Getting up from where he sat he moved over to sit next to the black haired brown eyed woman. "Something tells me that you want to fly that bird." He said

Trudy never turned her gaze from the glimmering mirror like hull of the gunship as she answered. "Yes. I want to fly that bird, I've flown others, but not a Samson." She sighed, but never turned her gaze towards the General

"Maybe one of these days you'll get your wish" Thunderstrike replied. A good young woman, a looker for sure.

It was then that Trudy turned to look at the red eyed man. "What do you mean ?" She asked, her voice full of curiousness and more, anxiousness As if hopeful, "This bird's mine ? I can't fly a Samson, I'm not cleared on it, Scorpions and Dragon-ships yes, but Samsons are too new, I never got cleared on them yet. Never even saw the handbook for one for that matter." She said as if in resignation to the matter, he was just pulling her along, like those other two blokes on the shuttle.

"Why did you come on this shuttle, Trudy Chacon?" Thunderstrike asked. The woman had literally jumped at the man upon the news right out of flight camp of a reccommendation to the Samson Arena in Detroit. "Was it because of the chance to learn something new, or because of the recommendation I gave to the president himself of your skill ?"

Trudy looked at the general, T. Stryker was on his front lapel, along with his rank. He pretty much had coffee, so to speak, with the President every morning for all she knew. She was unable to answer him, Because she herself had no idea what to say. The Recommendation was great sure. But it was not what made her want to learn how to fly a Samson. What wanted her to fly a Samson, was the Samson. But how could she tell that to a General like General Thundarious Stryker, a Cybertronian Seeker in disguise ? "If I told you, you would not believe me." Was all she said.

Thunderstrike looked thoughtful, turning to his alt mode where it sat, anchored within the massive cargo hold of the shuttle, Lift had made good time, he thought, hearing the 'Bots voice over the PA system "Detroit boundary, two kilometers and closing. Samson Arena Boundary two hundred meters and closing. Prepare for debarkation." The man's voice said

Nobody knew the truth, yet, it had all been covered up well. The Autobots hid on Earth, some of them over time left the planet, but most of them, like Lift and Thunderstrike, remained. Both the Ancient Seeker and the Autobot Carrier, had easily blended into the Humans world. And nobody batted an eyelash at the slight confusions over eye color or other items.

Thunderstrike stood up as the announcement finished and the PA system turned off. "This is our stop. Once I speak with your base commander and you get yourself situated on base here, You'll be flying a Samson before you know it. But first thing is first." Thunderstrike said moving towards the Samson where it was anchored to the Cargo hold through use of not just Bungee cords and chains, but also Lift's own hooks that latched onto the things landing struts.

Trudy watched him as he went through the procedure of dis-anchoring the Samson, delicate work apparently, the ship was brand spanking new. But somehow it was sent from Detroit, where the Samson Arena slash Factory Testing Grounds were located. And never even tested yet.

And she met the man, and saw his beautiful gunship. And she wanted to fly it. She even told her roommate the day before that she was going to be flying a Samson Gunship. Even though her roommate said otherwise. So Trudy watched Thunderstrike as he disengaged the chains and the cords and anything else that had locked down the Samson.

But what startled her the most was when he motioned for her to join him. And quickly. She unbuckled her harness and went over to the man, he pointed out various simple tasks to help dis-anchor the Gunship. But being that close to it, even though she h ad completed several simple tasks to help General Stryker ready the Samson for disembarkation.

Thunderstrike noticed however that after a moment or two that Trudy had stopped listening, He smiled, knowing then what she was doing. She was looking at her reflection in the shining paint-job on the hull of the Samson. He watched for a moment as she, without thinking it, reached out a tentative hand towards the reflective mirror-like surface of the gunship. Feeling the metal, feeling something of a soft purr of a tiger ready to be sprung from its cage

Thunderstrike waited a moment before calling out to her, shaking her from her trance "Trudy Chacon, please step back to the gold line on the floor in front of the Samson." He said, moving to the line he spoke of himself, he awaited her to join him, As she did, the two others on the shuttle with her also joined them.

The voice of the pilot was heard over the PA system, "Lowering Cargo Pad in three minutes. Samson Arena landing zone in sight. Stand by" A few minutes passed and the shuttle that was Lift touched down smoothly. A moment later the cargo pad, and the area the foursome stood upon, lowered downwards. A minute later and the Samson was rolled off the cargo pad onto four castor like wheel devices to move it along. The four followed quietly.

It was then that Trudy saw where she was to call home for the next few weeks to a year or however long she was to be there. There were dozens of Samsons parked nearby, in neat rows, however they were clearly well used prototypes by the look of them all in comparison to the brand new one that was just offloaded from the shuttle.

A man with silver hair arrived and saluted to Stryker, "General Stryker, Lt Col Miles Quaritch, Samson Arena." He said.

"Colonel," Thunderstrike replied, also saluting. "A letter of recommendation, signed by the President, concerning one Trudy Chacon. According to her mission profile, she has flown successful sorties in several war fronts. And as such... she is ready." he said.

Quaritch took hold of the letter and read through it, noting everything he was able, signed and sealed, apparently. Well, there was no getting around that. He nodded, "Alright, Three new greenhorns huh, This will be a walk in the park." He said folding the letter and holing it in his hands. Stryker turned and left, to speak with the higher ranking commander of the base, so to speak. Quaritch was the commander of this Arena. For the moment.

Trudy had her eyes locked on Quaritch, her immediate commanding officer, and snapped to attention. But did not yet salute. Unsure of what to do. She was to focused on the man before her that she failed not notice a certain red eyed General entering the Samson behind her. And never coming out...