Beast Wars

A Novelization by Kerian Halcyon

Chapter 1: The Beast Wars, Part 1

The black, cold dark of space was vast and incomprehensible. Only the occasional break in the form of stars kept the monotony from overpowering all of creation. While many of those stars were known to science, many more were unknown to the known sentient races. These stars were to be explored, scientifically studied, and catalogued in the vast recesses of space. That had been our mission…and then fate sent us a wild card…

The massive recesses of space were suddenly disturbed. A great ripple, like a clear pond rippling from a single pebble dropped in its center, suddenly opened forth. From the black, light began to appear out of thin air, and soon the skies of space began to open forth in a great explosion of mass and matter.

The golden ship that tore through space was massive. The shape of an arthropod-like flying predator, the massive golden ship was covered in sharp spines and deadly wings. Though it was a simple frigate vessel, it was more than large enough to tear through space and leave destruction in its wake. At speeds that few races could comprehend, the powerful vessel sped away from its warp gate, and its guns immediately began to aim from behind and open fire.

Straight behind the massive vessel, the ripple once again unleashed its power. An equally large vessel emerged from behind, its hull painted white and its body covered in sensor arrays and scanning fins. The machine, while also armed, was primarily designed with bulk and speed in mind rather than warfare. Though it held its own, the moment that the guns started pelting the shields on board began to take their toll.

The two ships flew across the vast folds of space, firing upon each other in equal earnest. The deadly ship in the lead was desperate to get away, attacking with deadly precision but missing weak points in its attempts to get away. The other ship followed with just as much desperation, though judging by its maneuvers was likely a vessel whose crew was unused to open combat. The two ships continued their barrage upon one another even as the vessels began to pass in low orbit over a large, blue planet; orbited by two small moons.

"Gah!" one of the crewmen groaned. One of the inferno beams from the enemy ship had blasted through the shielding of the vessel, poking a hole within the ship. "Hull breach in sector seven! Guidance systems failing! All power cut by 16%."

The inside of the bridge was dark; the vessel had been on silent running and its internal systems were yet to come back online. As such, most of the crew were still unprepared and many of the systems had begun to fail as a result.

"Aw, man!" another crewman said, "This is ridiculous! We're an exploration ship, not a battlecruiser!"

A third busied himself at one of the gun terminals, his hands quickly moving about on the levers and control systems of the vessel. The ship was soon hit by another beam, which caused the entire vessel to shudder.

The captain held tightly to his seat. "We had no choice," he said, "Our ship was the only one that was able to lock on to the Darksyde's warp signature. This mission was vital to the success of their recapture by authorities."

"Captain," the gunman said, "Guns ten and twelve have just gone offline. That last laser blast cut the primary cooling coils and forced them to shut down."

"Get them back online," the captain said, "Overheat them if you have to; we've got to disable that ship even if we die in the process."

"Shields are doing a major fade!"

"Direct remaining power to shields. All cannons target their primary engines!"

At the enemy ship, things were becoming far less than calm. The vessel was still escaping, yet the situation was starting to dawn on the frigate-sized vessel. Their pursuers were far than adequate at military maneuvers, and as such they were acting on just as poor judgment as they were not moments before. Now the guns were acting as they should; unleashing as much hell as could be unleashed upon the enemy ship.

"Their shields are down!" one of the crewmen shouted, "DESTROY THEM!"

The captain turned in the direction of the crewman and laughed loudly. "Now where's the fun in that? A little torment I think first…Yesss…"

"Inferno beams at full power, my lord," an intrepid crew member barked.

"Excellent. Side guns!"

The golden ship suddenly slowed down. The enemy vessel was suddenly speeding ahead despite the change of power to the shields. The ships were suddenly side by side with one another; neck and neck in a race against all odds. The difference was that while the pursuing ship had powerful guns, it was not built for broadside sweeps.

The large turrets unleashed hell as the Inferno Beams did their work. The shields parted away quickly as the beams melted through the enemy hull like butter. The ship suddenly began venting as its primary engine coils and warp core suddenly blew.

The crewmen on the ship shouted in shock as the alarms blared all across the ship. The exploration vessel suddenly began reeling through space as the remaining engines pushed it in the wrong direction. It wasn't long before a combination of the planet's gravity and its upper atmosphere's drag managed to slow the ship enough to cause it to fall dangerously out of orbit.

"Rupture! The stasis hold is failing!"

One of the crewmen grunted in his seat on one of the gun pods. "We're goin' down."

The captain grunted as he pressed a button on the intercom. "Launch all pods! Get them into orbit!"

He turned to the larger of the crewmen. "Direct all power to the main weapons, now!"

The ship reeled in space. Suddenly its rear bay doors opened wide. Small, body-sized stasis pods were launched like rockets away from the battlefield. The pods hung in the air, safely hiding away from stray blasts and the deadly gravity of the nearby world.

"Stasis pods located in upper orbit, my lord!"

The master of the Darksyde smiled. "Excellent. Congratulate yourselves, brothers and sisters. Tonight we will have new reinforcements in our ranks thanks to the gift so happily provided to us by our would-be aggressors…Yessss…"

The other crew let loose howls and cries of delight. The vessel immediately turned about and began making its way for the first of the pods. One or two of them were suddenly grabbed by the nearby tracking beam while others were abruptly knocked away by the ship's own decorative fins. One of the pods split from the stress, the occupant within dead the moment it was exposed to the vacuum of space.

"Captain! They're going for the pods!"

"I'm counting several lifelines going off the grid. Five pods have gone missing from our scanners."

The captain slammed his fist on his command chair. "Break off the cooling cores on the guns and let them overheat, now!"

The plasma guns on the ship began to slowly charge to life. The deadly weapons had cooling cores designed to keep the guns from overheating, subsequently preventing them from firing their full potential in the process. As the ship began to drift, the last of the working thrusters began to spout as much as possible to aim the ship at a forward vector.

"All plasma cannons, FIRE!"

The two plasma cannons on the upper decks sprouted to life and shot their load before melting off of the ship. Eight volleys were unleashed, though one was all that was needed. The unsuspecting vessel was caught in the full blast of the volleys as its unprotected underbelly flashed the drifting ship.

The main thrusters of the vessel were blown. It suddenly began to drift; the massive golden beast falling from the sky alongside the exploration vessel. Together, the two ships began to fall to the planet below.

The fall was slow at first, but then gravity swiftly took over. The atmosphere of the planet began to burn through their heat shields as they fell at blinding speeds. Paint was burnt off and extremities on both vessels were torn off, piece by piece. Fires began to sprout in the damaged sectors where fuel lines had ruptured; the introduction of an oxygen-based atmosphere allowing the fires to spread and grow.

The two vessels split, but had not gone far. As they both fell across the night sky, kilometers apart, they both landed in the nearby continent of the world below. The rumbling of the planet as the ship crashed upon the ground could be felt throughout the nearby landscape, forcing the majority of the world's inhabitants to suddenly vacate the premises as fast as they could

This world had visitors to greet…

The first ship, the exploration vessel, had managed to crash land in a bad position. Just over a river ravine, the vessel landed in a horrific heap. Only the primary and secondary thrusters still online had saved them from causing the entire ship to fall apart in atmo, let alone keep it from becoming a wrecked fireball upon landing. The ship's damaged sectors vented smoke as thrusters, still barely hanging on, spat fuel and fire before finally coming offline for good.

The captain let out a loud groan. "Damage report."

The first crewman turned and gave him a sorry look. "Believe me, you don't want to know."

The captain sighed. "That's what I thought."

The second ship wasn't so lucky. While the first landed in a river valley, the other crashed into volcanic territory. It had landed bow-first in the process, completely tearing through its primary structure. Even though its engine coils were online and its warp core was still active, there was no way the ship would fly again in a million years.

"Navigation!" the ship master barked. "Online!"

The ship's navigation computer sparked to life and slowly lowered itself down from its hanging position. The main console came online, and soon displayed several star maps and a glowing orb dangling from a holder arm. The shipmaster gazed at the orb from his command chair while his crew began picking themselves up from the wreckage.

The orb came online, revealing an insignia that appeared to be a purple wasp-head in the shape of a pointed diamond. The ship's voice was robotic and human, and immediately spoke loudly across the bridge intercoms.

"Predacon Vessel Darksyde Navigation online. What are your orders, Commander Megatron?"

The commander gazed intently into the orb with his deep, glowing eyes. His metallic fingers were pressed firmly against one another as he began to query the device. His question was the same that all his crew had on their poised minds; where were they?

"Computer; is this the correct planet? Have we arrived at suggested coordinates?"

The computer took a moment; data scrawling across the orb's features as star maps began to determine their exact readings. Finally, the computer spoke.

"Unknown. Course settings were accurate, but readings are inconsistent with those expected for intended destination."

The commander waved this aside. "Never mind that!" he growled, "Tell me there is Energon on this world! I will not let our efforts be for nothing!"

The scanners didn't take nearly as long for the analysis to be complete. "Confirmed."

The crew yelled in approval. The commander smiled with evil glee.

"Yessss! The planet has Energon!"

"Too much Energon," the computer spoke, showing readings across the display orb, "Field readings are off the scale. Continued exposure to robotic forms will result in permanent damage."

The crew looked at each other. The excitement formerly on their features was suddenly gone. They were not expecting this. The ship master let loose an angry roar before slamming his fist upon his chair.

"It appears we have no choice," he said, "The species here must be resistant to high quantities of Energon. We shall create alternate forms based upon the most powerful of the local life forms. Begin scanning at once!"

There was a high-pitched cackle on the other side of the ship as one of the men at the nearby console got to work. "Scanners activated!" he shouted with a laugh.

The vessel pulled the information needed and suddenly launched a scanner probe into the air. The atmospheric-based probe activated an older scanner that began to detect the nearby life forms. While it was useless for creatures higher up, it did manage to detect anything within a kilometer radius, including animal fossils.

Scanner began to pick up few living life forms, but did manage to detect many potent fossils. A pair of saurian creatures and a flying beast was identified and skin grafted over scanned remains based upon biological scans. Above on the rocks, a strange yellow-skinned insectoid predator was digging its massive jaws into a smaller but equally formidable insect, which bore a pair of claws and a formidable tail. Higher up, an eight-legged creature was busy trying to defend itself against an agile flying beast which jabbed at it with a deadly stinger.

Several other life forms were also detected and the information stored. The ship master sorted them out and deleted what he deemed were weaker creatures before establishing a selection for his own form before facing the others.

"Now," he growled, "Who isn't dead."

There was a growl from within the dark of the ship. Nearby, a separate Predacon crew member approached the powerful leader and saluted.

"Lazerbeak and Thrust are both dead, Lord Megatron," he said, "The pods we had attempted to recover are both gone. We have no means of replenishing our forces. It is just the seven of us."

Their commander smiled and stroked his robotic chin. "Seven Predacons…and it is more than likely that the Maximals have not fared as well as us either, perhaps even less so. Now there are good, unfair odds in play. Yessss."

He lifted his head and pointed at his crew, who immediately stood to attention. "To the stasis chambers!" he shouted, "Organic transformation is to be performed immediately!"

"Yes sir, Lord Megatron!" the others shouted.

As they filed in, only one of the Predacons slowed. His eyes were filled with hatred and disdain, all of which pointed not to the Maximals, who had stranded them on this world, but to their questionable leader. His voice was little more than a growl, barely beneath his breath, as he followed.


The massive scanners of the Maximal ship came to life. The Axalon, as it was called, was an exploration vessel. As such, it had all the bells and whistles when it came to scans. The scanning probe was launched, and the quadro-scan relays began to identify every local life form within three kilometers.

A group of wild felines, identified as Cheetahs, were resting in the sun. A Mountain Gorilla busied himself by eating fruit of a nearby tree, while a rhinoceros grazed upon the nearby grass. Nearby, a lone wolf was busy chasing after a small rodent before it managed to dart beneath a nearby rock. The scans detected them all and more, the information stored within the computers backup data chambers.

When the scanning was complete, the probe went offline and returned to base. The Axalon's computers immediately went to work. The CR chambers aboard the ship came online and began grafting organic tissue upon the crew members of the Maximal crew.

"Scanning and replication of local life forms complete," the largest of the crew said, "You may emerge."

The CR chambers opened wide. Four individuals emerged from them. At first, they appeared to be exact replicas of the local life forms, but second glance revealed otherwise.

A large Cheetah let loose an excited growl. "Hey!" he said, "Look at me! I'm a Cheetah!"

He looked at himself through the reflection of the nearby CR. He let loose a feline smile.

"No," he said, "I'm Cheetor!"

Inside the CR, the captain gazed quizzically through. "Hmm…interesting," he said.

"Interesting?" the Cheetah asked with a growl, "Optimus, the word is spot-on-smooth…" He purred at his reflection. "It's a crime…"

"Eh, a bit tacky…yah never had taste, did yah kid?"

An oversized rat appeared from behind another CR chamber. He approached the Cheetah with a slight swagger of his long tail. The Cheetah glared at him.

"Now this," the rat said, "This is what class is all about. Call me…Rattrap."

The cat's tail rose into the air as he growled. "Oh yeah?" he barked, "How's about I cut mieces to pieces?"

There was a loud thud as a tremendous rhinoceros approached. He nudged the cat with his horn, causing the Cheetah to leap back.

"Ease back, Cheetor," the Rhino said in a low voice, "Livin' large is for heavy sets like me…Rhinox."

"Yeah!" Rattrap growled, "Consider yerself lucky I didn't get rough on ya's."

The cat hissed at the rat. The rat chittered back. The two looked as if they were going to leap at each other's throats. Suddenly, a large gray wolf leapt between the two and snapped at them both.

"Enough!" he barked, "The both of you! You are acting like a pair of youngling Predacons after a scrap of Energon Cubes!"

The cat stood back, his tail drooping to the floor. "Sorry, Akela," he said.

The rat kicked at a stray piece of debris on the floor. "I didn' wanna get my hands dirty anyway."

The last CR chamber opened. The others looked inside as it gaped wide. A large mountain gorilla was the one that exited.

"Akela's right," he said, "Moderate your conflict circuits, Maximals. These Beast forms are not meant for show."

The wolf, Akela, nodded his head. Rattrap merely shrugged. Cheetor looked at the gorilla in confusion.

"What do you mean, big bot?"

The gorilla approached the group of them. He pointed out on the primary scanners which indicated the rise and fall of Energon radiation throughout the known regions.

"These beast forms were chosen primarily because they have the most capability resisting the Energon radiation on this planet. While they are all catalogued in our databanks, these variants are specifically undiscovered species capable of resisting the massive Energon deposits on this world. We may need it for power, but this amount of Energon is too much of a good thing."

He began to walk on all fours towards one of the data consoles in the cockpit near the primary viewing windows. "Our robot forms will short out after a few cycles of exposure to the radiation. However, Energon radiation cannot penetrate organic tissue and certain electronics that are designed to resist or reflect Energon radiation. Thanks to the Axalon's own field dampeners, we're able to reflect the radiation throughout the radius of the ship."

He looked through the window towards the electric blue sky. Birds flew throughout the sky, passing through electric fields as if the fields were just water vapor. He sighed.

"This is one unusual planet, whatever it is," he said.

"Or whenever," Akela spoke, "After all, who knows where Megatron's ship was heading."

"Akela's right," Rhinox said, "The Darksyde is an old ship, and thanks to its transwarp engine it had the ability to pass through the boundaries of space and time. Given that the vessel is that old, the technology inside had yet to be confiscated and replaced by proper transwarp technology…which is why he and his Predacon crew stole it. That means that we can be anyplace…anytime…"

The captain, Optimus, nodded. "Yes, and thanks to our silent running and the timing of our orders, the majority of our crew is still in stasis pods in orbit. While they are safe from the Energon fields, it means that Megatron has us outnumbered."

"Eh, no problem, monkey-boy!" Rattrap said, "Our crew shift was eight if I remember correctly. We should just look for the others on board and get 'em suited up, right?"

Akela shook his head. "Not likely," he said, "We took a lot of damage during the battle. Our military officer Corvus was killed in the crash, while Packrat and Armordillo were in sector seven when the hull breach occurred. I haven't been able to lock onto their signatures since."

Cheetor gulped. "That means there's only five of us left."

Rattrap scratched his head. "Ain't yah the weapons expert on this ship?"

Akela shook his head. "Only on the ground. Corvus was the only one who could operate and fix the plasma cannons. Our base is defenseless thanks to the damage they took in order to bring the Darksyde down."

Rattrap let loose a big sigh. "We're all gonna die…"

The Darksyde was having activities of its own. Gigantic insects and arachnids were busy moving about outside of the ship. Their numbers were much smaller than before, but they were still much greater than the nearby Maximals. They knew it full well. However, that didn't stop one of them from resisting the urge to be disgruntled. A velociraptor, holding a golden disk, was stamping his foot onto the ground, growling angrily.

"No, no, NOOOO!" he roared, "This is all wrong! This cannot be Earth…"

He scratched the golden steel of the boarding ramp with one of his huge fighting claws. Turning upon his feet, he glared into the darkness of the damaged vessel and let loose a loud roar.

"MEGATRON!" he shouted, "You have failed! Not only did you fail to destroy the Maximals when you had the chance, but you've failed to take us to the right planet as well! We stole the Darksyde, all of our weapons, the confidential data, AND the Golden Disk for NOTHING! You idiot!"

With a powerful throw unnatural for one of his species, he tossed the disk expertly into the ship. It crashed into the darkness of the vessel with a loud crash. At first, there was no answer, but then there was a loud stomping sound as a massive beast exited the ship.

Standing upon two legs was a massive Tyrannosaur. Covered in purple-blue scales, the mighty beast approached the velociraptor. It was small for a Tyrannosaur; barely thirty feet long; but it was still a massive animal, with jaws capable of crushing anything. Its mouth was filled with razor sharp teeth, and its deadly claws clung tightly to the ruined metal of the boarding ramp.

"I beg your pardon," the creature said in a deep, aristocratic voice, "What did you call me?"

"You heard me!" the velociraptor growled, "You are an idiot and an incompetent leader, and I am now taking over. Dinobot, TERRORIZE!"

The beast let loose a high-pitched roar. Suddenly its body began to contort and split apart. Organic flesh tore as its body opened up for the first time. The creature's forearms tucked back in contorted positions on its hide as its rib cage suddenly opened wide. Its tail slid up its back, revealing a hilt-like construct at the end of the spine that was very mechanical in appearance. Its hind legs suddenly pushed forward into the now-empty arm sockets, while a pair of legs covered in spare ribs pushed out from its torso, forming a humanoid shape. The head transformed last, flattening and bending forward until it formed a modified chest cavity while a robotic head popped out from the base of the neck, colored blue with a copper, helmet-like add-on.

The beast-turned-robot reached back and grabbed its tail, splitting it into two weapons. The tail split in half into a propeller-like weapon, while the spine straightened and became a deadly sword. Holding the sword and shield-like construct with a pair of hands modified from the feet of the velociraptor, the robot pointed the sword at the Tyrannosaur.

"I, Dinobot, hereby challenge you to battle, Megatron! The winner shall lead the Predacons, and the loser shall be destroyed!"

The tyrannosaur turned his back to the creature and sighed. "You are so impulsive, Dinobot. Brave, but misguided."

"Do you accept my challenge, imbecile?" the velociraptor-bot growled.

The tyrannosaur laughed. "There's more to being a leader than simple courage, Dinobot. Why there's cleverness and…cunning as well. Isn't that right, Scorponok?"

The tyrannosaur moved out of the way. The velociraptor-bot suddenly widened his laser-like eyes as a humanoid scorpion-like robot aimed its right fore-claw at the saurian robot. The claw opened wide, revealing a pair of deadly and powerful missiles with red warheads. Before the velociraptor could make a move, the scorpion fired; the force of the missile sending the creature flying across the crash site. He flew for about a kilometer before the warhead ignited, leaving a white explosion in the sky and a puff of black smoke.

The tyrannosaur smugly scoffed at the explosion. "Loser," he growled. He walked down the boarding ramp with a proud, leaderly swagger. "What does it matter which planet we've landed on? We came looking for Energon, and this world is rich with the element; enough Energon to power the Predacons' entire galactic conquest!"

The other Predacons laughed; a combination of chitters, squawks, and growls. The tyrannosaur gazed upon them, but soon his smile became a frown.

"Only the Maximals can give us trouble now…if they survived the crash," he mused. He looked at them and barked. "Find them! And if you find them, destroy them!"

The fliers; a yellowjacket wasp and a pteranodon pterosaur; immediately took to the air. A yellow spider-like creature with massive jaws took off with the speed of a small jet. The spider and the scorpion-like robot made their way slowly across the crash site in the opposite direction of their fellows. The Predacons were ready for battle.

Meanwhile, back at the Axalon, the Maximals had already begun clearing debris from the ship and exploring the general surroundings. While the Axalon had managed to crash over a ravine, with half of the ship suspended in midair, a pair of stones kept the ship stable and the bridge section had managed to become level with the ground. This allowed for the primary and secondary ramp systems to remain functional, giving them an easy means to leave the ship whenever needed.

As Rhinox began studying some of the debris to find usable equipment or spare parts, Optimus Primal surveyed their surroundings. Akela, the weapon's expert, was busy studying some of the damaged weapons to see if they could be suitably repaired. He sighed as his paws scratched upon the melted surface, which had cooled and hardened after the crash.

"No luck, Optimus," he barked, "These guns are slag."

Optimus looked up at the wolf. "Is any of it recoverable; barrels, energy coils?"

"Well, the main superstructure of the forward and aft guns are still in one piece," he said. He leapt down from the guns and landed expertly on all fours on the ground below; a 20 foot drop. "The primary plasma cannons are worthless though; energy coils, superstructure, wiring and all have melted together. You might as well recycle the whole thing and forget getting spare parts. The auxiliary weapons look like they might still work, but they'll need replacement wiring."

Rhinox tore the metal off a damaged gun casing with his powerful, blunt teeth. The exposed wiring within appeared intact to his eyes. He looked over at the wolf and gestured with one of his stubby feet.

"In all this wreckage, replacement wiring shouldn't be a problem," he said, "It's putting them together that's gonna be a slag. Corvus would know how, but without his help we're stuck. We might as well leave the guns for decoration for all the good they'd do."

The primary ramp lowered. Rattrap struggled beneath the weight of a particularly big piece of debris that came from the bridge. With a grunt, he tossed it in with the pile and let loose a big sigh; wiping the sweat off of his furry muzzle as he did.

"Man!" he grunted, "All this for a golden disk, eh?"

Optimus continued scanning the horizon; the "pupils" in his eyes zooming in and out as the optic sensors took in as much data as possible. "It was one of Cybertron's most carefully guarded relics, Rattrap," he explained, "It gave the location of an important and powerful Energon source during the old wars. That's likely why the Predacons stole it."

Rattrap scoffed. He leaned against one of the lift pylons. "Yeah, like I care," he said, "We were assigned for deep space exploration, remember? Playin' galactic police patrol wasn't in my job description if yah catch my drift, understand? You sure you're cut out for this commander gig?"

Optimus sighed and looked at the rat. "Remember the Great War, Rattrap. Even now, after centuries of peace, the Maximals and Predacons have been still at odds, and extremist groups on both sides have wanted the extermination of the other ever since the war had ended. If these Predacons get enough Energon, they'll start it again. We can't let that happen."

Akela nodded. "I'm no stranger to war history," he said, "and I've had combat experience myself. Even the Predacons I've sided with in the past have proven testy against us. These ones will be no different."

"Yeah, yeah," Rattrap said, "whatever. My point is that there are others far more capable than us, right?"

"There's always others more capable," Rhinox said, "but fate deemed us the closest and fastest ship capable of getting to the Predacons. Otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess."

"Exactly," Optimus said, "Besides, Rattrap; you wanted deep space exploration, and here we are on an unknown planet. What more do you want?"

Rattrap shrugged. "Well, call me picky, but a working spacecraft might be nice."

The gorilla sighed. "There's just no pleasing some people."

As the group continued to work, the secondary lift came online. Cheetor leapt from it before the lift fully descended to the ground. As he began to look at the surrounding landscape, his eyes widened.

"Hey, check it out!"

The cheetah pair was currently running across the nearby savannah. Their golden hides and black spots could be seen plainly in the grass. Of course, normally they'd be invisible in the grass, but at these speeds it was hard not to spot them.

Optimus sighed. "They're fast alright," he said, "You chose a good form."

Cheetor laughed. "You call that fast? You haven't seen the golden rocket. Check this!"

Suddenly, with a roar, Cheetor took off. Like lightning he ran from 0 to 60 Mph in under five nano-clicks. The powerful cat was across the crash site and over the ravine within only a few cycles, and was rapidly making his way across the savannah and away from the Axalon.

Optimus quickly thumped the hidden communications button on his chest. "Cheetor!" he shouted, "Return to base immediately. We don't have time for this!"

There was no response. His com-link attempted to track the Maximal, but was suddenly spouting static.

"Cheetor? Please respond, now!"

Rhinox nudged his own com-link with his nose, finding he had similar results. "No good. The Energon fields are messing with the com-links. Anything over a hundred meters, they ain't worth scrap."

Optimus let loose a big sigh of disappointment. He looked over at the big rhino technician. Rattrap merely shrugged.

"Well," Optimus said, "That's just Prime."

Akela approached the gorilla and snorted. "I'll go and catch him," he said, "A cub has to learn the rules, after all. We shouldn't be gone long."

The wolf quickly dashed across the canyon. While he wasn't as fast as Cheetor, he made up for it in stamina. He could pull this off for hours while any big cat would need to take a break after going 60 mph for ten minutes. The other Maximals watched him go.

Rattrap approached the big gorilla. "So, eh, this your first time on the job?"

"Shut up, Rattrap," Optimus barked.

Rattrap made a mock military stance. "Oh, yes sir! Yah know, I feel just heaps better knowing our lives are in your capable hands…we're all gonna die."

Cheetor was off like a rocket across the grassland. His beast form was perfect for this; his feet pawed at the dirt beneath him easily, while his sleek body cut through the air expertly. He could feel the rush of air past his organic skin, each touch sensor giving him new feelings that he had never experienced before as just a robot car on Cybertron. He doubted that even the great hero Rodimus Prime felt this good racing across the mechanic landscape of Cybertron.

Big bot was right, he said to himself. This really is a good form.

It didn't take long before he had caught up with the Cheetah pair. The two were still running across the landscape, neither talking with the other. He decided that it was about time to start talking to the locals. He had never seen an organic before. Maybe they were friendly.

He ran alongside them and let out a growl. "The name's Cheetor," he said, "What's shaking, cats?"

The two Cheetahs let loose a yowl of surprise. They never heard a Cheetah talk before! They suddenly increased their speed and ran off, leaving him in the dust.

Cheetor slowed to a stop. He skidded against the grass until he finally ceased speeding.

"What? Is it my breath? Hey, wait!"

The cheetah quickly rushed after the two locals. Both of them were speeding, but their lack of stamina was finally taking its toll. At a nearby acacia tree, they began to slow down and pant in exhaustion.

Suddenly the limbs of the tree began to move. Disturbed from its rest, a giant wasp at least three meters long took off. It hovered above the two cats, its stinger dangerously flexing back and forth on its yellow and black-striped thorax. It buzzed its wings dangerously while its antennae twitched; it was more than ready to strike.

The two cats growled threateningly. The wasp merely hovered above them, seemingly curious. Cheetor quickly sped up behind them and slowed to a stop. Without bothering to stick around, the two cheetahs sped off in the other direction, their exhaustion temporarily forgotten.

"Hey!" Cheetor growled, "What are you running away for? It's just a big bug."

He looked up at the wasp. The wasp looked back. Cheetor could feel his hairs stand on end. Sure, he didn't want to get stung, but he was more than a match for any wasp his size. Why was he feeling so uncomfortable?

The way those two reacted that's no natural life form, he said to himself. And if we're talking about unnatural life forms then we gotta be talking about just one thing! "ROBOTS IN DISGUISE!"

The wasp suddenly hovered back and hissed. The hiss was very mechanical; it could only be one of the Predacons.

Cheetor hissed and stood ready to pounce, his servos and boosters on overdrive with preparation to strike. "Cheetor, Maximize!" he shouted.

With a cat-like yowl, he leapt into the air. Suddenly his hide ripped open as his own organic tissue was unleashed for the first time. His torso split in half, his legs tucked in behind himself, while his tail suddenly shot back up inside of his spine. Two pairs of limbs; a pair of arms and legs both; shot out from inside of his body while his cat head shot down over his chest. A robotic head with yellow eyes and fangs shot out from inside of his neckline, while a gun suddenly sprouted from within the organic and metallic tissue. He landed on his two feet expertly and with all the grace of a cat without ever taking eyes off of the Predacon.

He growled as he held his weapon tightly in his right hand. "Time for this cat to pounce!"

Holding the gun in both hands, he aimed and fired. The energy shots took to the air, exploding like anti-air firepower. The wasp immediately began to dodge the shots with impressive speed. Suddenly, it began to talk in a very erratic and insect-sounding voice.

"BZZZZzzzzZZZzzz! Waspinator under attack! Waspinator engage enemy! Waspinator TERRORIZE!"

The wasp suddenly began to change. Even as its wings continued to buzz, its body began to shift. Its sides split at the seams, the legs attached to them suddenly ceasing to move as a pair of arms jutted out from its sides. Its thorax suddenly split, forcing a pair of yellow-striped legs to pop out from the seams. The wasp's head then shrunk down into its torso as a robotic head with compound eyes and antennae popped out from the base of the neck. With a buzz the creature pulled out a gun from the base of its remaining thorax and opened fire.

Unlike Cheetor's weapon, the weapon of the Predacon fired slug-based ammunition. In the shape of barbed stingers, the missile-like ammunition sped at high speeds towards the Maximal. With lightning-fast reflexes Cheetor dodged the bullets, which exploded upon impact on the ground. The Predacon would not stop, however, and was soon launching blast after blast at the cat-like Maximal.

The blasts could be seen several kilometers away at the crash site. All of the Maximals could see the explosions from that distance. Akela was the first to notice.

"That darned cat's already testing his nine lives," he growled.

He picked up his speed and headed for the battleground. Already he was analyzing the region to find the best place to perform a fight. He managed to find good cover at a ravine; it would work perfectly.

"Cheetor," he barked into the com-link, "if you can hear me, head for the ravine. I'll give you support once you arrive!"

Back at the Maximal base, Rattrap could see the explosions plain as day. His eyes were wide as he stood on his two legs and watched. There could be only one reason for all the activity; the kid managed to find the Predacons.

"Uh-oh," he said nervously.


The rat looked up. He was suddenly lifted bodily into the air by a powerful set of arms. Optimus was riding on Rhinox's back, the powerful Maximal using his big body to charge ahead towards the battle.

"Move, move!" Optimus shouted. He quickly put Rattrap on Rhinox's back alongside him, "Those two will need our help!"

Rattrap was quick to protest. "You're out of your mind!" he shouted, "You honestly think we can take those Preds out?"

"No time to start babbling," Rhinox said, "We have to support Cheetor and Akela before they attract more Predacons!"

Rattrap growled, but suddenly gasped. "Heads up! Road block!"

Optimus noticed it. It was a massive wall of rocks and stones, likely caused by a rock slide due to erosion. He patted Rhinox's torso.

"Veer left!" he shouted, "There's a clearing at about a hundred meters!"

Rhinox ignored the gorilla. He suddenly began to pick up speed. Optimus put his arm over his eyes as the massive beast charged. With a mighty bellow, the rhino smashed through the stones and charged forward at full force.

Optimus shook off dust and pebbles from the blast. He sighed angrily. "Ah yes," he said, "Silly me…"

Back at the Darksyde, the Predacons were reporting in from their exploring of the different sectors of the crash site. Megatron was busy discussing with his lieutenant and right-hand bot, Scorponok, about the status of their once proud warship. Beneath the floating platforms where they made discussion, lava was beginning to seep dangerously through the cracks and hull breaches in the underbelly of the ship.

"The damage to the Darksyde is extensive," Scorponok explained, "We didn't sustain many hull breaches in the battle, but the one that knocked us out hit our main thrusters. The crash has also done extensive damage to the underside of our hull and across several sectors."

Megatron couldn't help but wave his tiny fingers in agitation. "What about the main engine coils and the warp core?" he asked.

"The warp core is still intact," Scorponok said, "and the majority of the engine coils are online. However, due to the damage done to the hull, the Darksyde is permanently grounded. There is no way she can fly again."

Megatron placed his finger up towards his chin. It was difficult to do with small arms. "Hmm," he mused, "It is likely that the Maximal ship has survived the greater damage. This entire planet, after all, is not volcanic. There is a chance we may yet still use the Axalon should we destroy the Maximals."

Scorponok nodded. He shut off the data console he was using. "That's only if they survived the crash, Lord Megatron," he stated.

Suddenly the yellow spider-like bot rushed into the chamber. Skidding to a halt, he saluted with one of his forelegs.

"Lord Megatron!" he said in a militant voice, "Waspinator sent a long-range communication. He's under attack by Maximal forces."

The tyrannosaur smiled wide. He gave the scorpion a look of pleasure.

"It would appear that the gods of Cybertron are smiling upon us once more, Scorponok," he said with a laugh. He turned to the spider. "Good work, Cyclone. Radio the others and meet upon Waspinator's coordinates. We'll take the fight to the Maximals once and for all!"

`Cheetor's gun fired intensely as the Maximal ducked and dodged each of the Predacon's attacks. He quickly rolled upon the ground as he dodged the flying Predacon's eye beams. His own shots were just as easily dodged by the agile flyer in the air.

Cheetor could see that he was beat; at least by himself. He quickly began running in the direction he had come, with the Predacon flying close behind.

It didn't take long before he reached a dried out river bed. The Predacon quickly fired at his footsteps. With a flying leap, the cat-bot landed upon his two feet behind a rock; just perfectly behind cover as the wasp-bot continued to attack from above.

He tried to fire his gun. The weapon let loose a clicking sound and refused to fire. He growled.

"Of all the time for a Quasar jam!" he growled.


The cat looked up. Akela, the wolf-bot, was on the side of the riverbed directly in front of him. The wasp noticed and quickly shifted his attacks towards him.

"Stay there!" he shouted, "I'm coming down!"

With amazing agility, the wolf leapt down from rock to rock; dodging the stingers and the eye beams easily. The wasp let loose a frustrated buzz as he kept up his attack. Akela was just about at the rock; now was a good a time as any to transform.

Suddenly before any of them could react a yellow blur flew over the ravine. Akela yelped in surprise as a large, ten-legged arachnid landed on top of him, pinning him to the ground. A pair of massive, pincer-like jaws clacked open and shut as it pinned him with its massive front pair of legs.

"One wrong move, mutt, and I'll bite your head off," it hissed menacingly.

"Akela!" Cheetor shouted. He slammed his fist into his gun. It still wouldn't fire.

Akela struggled to get the beast off of him. It wouldn't budge, its massive form pinning him easily to the ground. With a growl he looked up at the beast. "You still up to your old tricks, Cyclone?"

The creature smiled slightly. "As always," it growled.

"Akela! Cheetor!"

The two Maximals and the Predacons looked up. The remaining Maximals had finally arrived. Cyclone did the only sensible thing and leapt away from his prey and scurry to safety.

"Get to cover!" Optimus Primal shouted, "We'll swat those pesky Predacons!"

"Oh…I would not count on that, Maximals. No…"

The Maximals turned. On the opposite end of the dried riverbed was a small army of Predacons. Massive, each of them were armed to the teeth with new beast forms, ranging from insect-like creatures to saurian monsters. Megatron, their leader, stood in the center of them; his own massive jaws drooling at the chance at conquest.

He laughed, "…I believe that you are soon to have…how shall I put it?...difficulties of your own. Yessss…"

The two sides stared each other down. The Maximals, knowing full well that their friends lives and their own were on the line, stood their ground. The Predacons, hungry for battle and thirsting for glory, stood poised to strike the moment that the Maximals let their guard down. The two fliers hung just above their fellows while Megatron's size dominated the scene; his purple and blue scales a sharp contrast with the brown dust at their feet.

Optimus was the first to break the silence. "We don't have to do this, Megatron. There has been peace between the Maximals and the Predacons for centuries. Why start this up again?"

Megatron suddenly snarled. "Peace maybe on your side, Maximal scum. Yes, but not on ours. Permit me to inform you that an enemy that appears to be…peaceful…may in fact be nearly biding its time…"

Akela by now had approached Cheetor. His fur was standing on end as he gazed up at the sight. Cheetor, meanwhile, was busy trying to unjam his gun with as much speed as he could possibly be able to manage.

"We Predacons have never abandoned our rightful goal of galactic conquest," Megatron continued, "No! We have merely been waiting for the right moment…to STRIKE!"

Before Akela could stop him Cheetor stood up and took aim with his blaster. "You mean like this, lizard breath?"

He fired one shot. It hit dead on, just beneath Megatron's neck. The blow nearly knocked him off balance. He let loose a hiss of pain…though it was cut short with a mild chuckle.

"Ah…" he hissed, "a treacherous, underhanded sneak attack." His words were followed by a chuckle. "Oh, I like you, pussycat. Yessss."

Suddenly he slammed his foot upon the ground. There was a slight rumble beneath the dirt as his massive claws forcibly crushed the stones beneath his feet.

"But it shall avail you not!" he growled, "NO! For now, the power gauntlet has been cast. Predacons, TERRORIZE!"

The Predacons let loose a roar of excitement. Optimus quickly reacted and took charge on his side.

"Maximals," he barked, "Do it! Maximize!"

The spider was the first to transform. With a hissing shout, "Tarantulas, TERRORIZE!" he quickly changed shape. His exoskeleton split; his thorax coming in two and forming a pair of humanoid legs ending in golden spurs. His purple and green hide began to split further as his deadly fangs were forced apart, revealing a set of clawed hands. His legs shifted, remaining attached to the base of a new set of forearms, before their ends straightened and began to hollow out; each becoming a repeating energy blaster. Finally the spider's head opened up as a robotic head with a single slit-visor for eyes cackled as it popped out.

Rhinox was the first Maximal to transform. With a mighty shout, "Rhinox, MAXIMIZE!" he began to transform. His jaws did the impossible and split in half, the bones revealed to be fake as the lower jaw became a chest plate. The rear legs extended, becoming powerful humanoid legs, while the forearms extended and shaped themselves to become humanoid arms. As the upper jaw leaned back to become the base of a powerful set of armor a robotic head, gold and set with a powerful and firm jaw, exited from where the throat of the animal would be located, creating a powerful heavyweight robot.

"Scorponok, TERRORIZE!" shouted the scorpion. Suddenly his exoskeleton split beneath his abdomen, forming a powerful set of lower legs. The animals' fore-claws shifted down to become a set of arms. The stinger shifted up, forming a sort of arc just above the base of the torso's neckline. Finally a head with its own visor-like eyes appeared, growling angrily as it gazed across the battlefield at the Maximals.

"Rattrap, MAXIMIZE!" hissed the rat. The rat torso completely split in half from the neckline to the tail, forcing the legs to curl in on themselves as they folded apart neatly like a set of books. A pair of arms and legs laced in copper-like metal appeared, and as the rat's head shifted down over the torso a robotic head with buck teeth and an exposed, silver-looking "brain" appeared from within the base of the neck.

"Cyclone, TERRORIZE!" the yellow arachnid hissed. The thorax split, forcing a pair of legs to exit from the abdomen where the "spinnerets" would be located on a spider, while the abdomen folded over it neatly and filled the gap inside. Like the spider before it, the arachnid's own arms came apart so that the legs became repeater blasters on its primary humanoid arms, the difference being that its right arm had hold of both fangs, creating a set of claws with "fingers" that snapped menacingly, while the other arm had the two forelegs attached. These legs shifted within themselves until they become a pair of straight barrels, like a set of guns, which the arachnid pointed at the Maximals.

"Akela, MAXIMIZE!" the wolf howled. Like Cheetor and Rattrap, his hide split in half and his legs tucked in while a pair of humanoid arms and legs shot out of the torso, while the wolf head shifted down to form a torso plate. His own robotic head had a set of white-blue eyes that scanned menacingly at the enemy above while his claws held tightly to a rifle-like weapon; the barrel ending to form his tail.

"Terrorsaur, TERRORIZE!" the pteranodon squawked. In mid-air his form shifted, his torso splitting as a set of legs shot out near the base of the neckline while the hind legs shifted to become hands. The pterosaur's wings tucked back behind until they formed a cape-like armor piece upon the robot's back, while its pterosaur head turned around and shifted itself along the spine until the crest was sticking out towards the back of the newly rising robotic head.

"Megatron, TERRORIZE!" Megatron roared. His massive form suddenly changed as his forelegs planted themselves firmly upon the ground. His torso split at the spine, shifting forward along the neck like an armor plate before shifting themselves a complete 45 degree angle to the right. The neck of the tyrannosaur shifted forward to become an arm, the tail accomplishing a similar change, before the torso snapped itself back and spun 45 degrees. Megatron's head, which grimaced a deadly smile, looked upon the field with satisfaction as his new weapons began to charge up to fire.

Optimus transformed last. "Optimus, MAXIMIZE!" he roared as his own body changed. His head snapped back while his hide split to reveal a control console. His shoulders split to form into shoulder pauldrons across his mechanical pieces, while his legs split apart to form mechanical replacements. His body shifted itself about so that the legs, originally facing backward, would point forwards in a standard humanoid fashion.

Megatron surveyed the battle. Maximals and Predacons, once again prepared to fight to the bitter end. Fitting that this would be the glorious beginning of his new reign of galactic conquest.

"Now!" he shouted, "OBLITERATE THEM!"

The Predacons opened fire. Scorponok used a series of missiles tucked away in his claws. Terrorsaur fired from above with a blaster pistol. Tarantulas shifted his legs into firing position and released a deadly hailstorm of energy bullets, while Cyclone fired burst-firing rounds with his own specialized weapon. Megatron used the tyrannosaur head in his right hand to unleash a deadly beam attack from the base of the mouth, which caused the atoms it collided with to explode.

The Maximals quickly ducked under cover. Energy blasts and missiles ricocheted from the rocks and left large craters in the dusty ground. The Maximals drew their own weapons and began firing back, though the Predacons were in a clear advantage in the battle. Cheetor and Akela kept firing from their position at the bottom of the riverbed while trying to slowly back up to join their fellow Maximals.

Suddenly a large missile, courtesy of Scorponok, struck just ahead of the two Maximals' escape route. Cheetor was tossed bodily back to his rock. He slammed it hard enough that the entire stone fell apart; a piece of which landed upon his leg, pinning him.

He yowled. "I'm stuck!"

Akela was quick to act. He fired in the general direction of the Predacons with his blaster. "Hang on, Cheetor," he said, "I've gotchya."

Before he could make it to the young Maximal the Predacon, Cyclone, had leapt from his own position and crashed into the Maximal. Akela found himself hard-pressed to keep the powerful pincers of the Predacon's jaw weapon from crushing his torso as he pushed hard against the deadly arachnid's strong grip. The arachnid cackled as he kept the wolf pinned.

"You aren't going anywhere, Maximal," he growled, "Or have you forgotten that we have unfinished business, you and I?"

Akela growled. "You can go slag yourself, Pred!"

Optimus took note of the situation. He could see Cheetor, trapped in the rocks. Akela was unable to help. The Predacons were attacking on all sides. He had to think fast.

"Rattrap!" he shouted, "Go help Cheetor! We'll cover you."

There was an explosion just behind the boulder that Rattrap and Rhinox were using for cover. Shards of stone flew all over the place from the blast. Rattrap took one look back at the battle and shook his head.

"Teh!" he shouted, "Yeah, right!"

Optimus glared. "That's an order, Rattrap!"

Rattrap glared back, his finger dangerously close to the trigger of his repeater pistol. "Yeah? And you can just kiss my skin-plate, fearless leader, 'cause I ain't goin' out there and gettin' my pelt punctured!"

Optimus growled angrily. He had been counting on Rattrap's help. Now, he had no choice. Time for plan B.

He leapt out of cover and fired his arm cannons. The energy bursts had their desired effect; the Predacons in the immediate way leapt aside, providing an opening. Optimus quickly took to the air as his rocket jets on his back activated, sending him skyward and away from enemy fire. He made a beeline for Cheetor as he flew dangerously fast, hoping that his speed would ensure that the enemy gunfire would become far less accurate.

Cheetor struggled to get himself loose as Optimus fell. Beside him, Akela and Cyclone continued their wrestling match. The cat-bot growled as he attempted to claw at the rock and break it loose so he could join the battle once more.

"Optimus," he growled, "Watch out!"

Suddenly Optimus felt an explosion of pain on his back. One of his thrusters had been shot. Megatron had seized the chance and used his inferno beam to cut through his back and knock out his primary chance of escape.

"Optimus!" Rhinox shouted.

Rattrap chuckled. "See? Told ya!"

It took all of Optimus's strength to keep himself from crashing. With a grunt he landed upon his feet, servos in his legs crackling as the pressure rose to dangerous levels. He quickly aimed his arm cannons and fired at the nearby Predacon that still had Akela pinned.

Cyclone was thrown bodily off of Akela as the energy bursts collided with his form. With a slam that knocked the air out of him, he crashed in a heap; a sidelong blast from a recovered Akela sending him flying. The two Maximals immediately went to pull Cheetor's leg out of the rocks while the battle above their heads continued.

"No good," Akela said after straining on Cheetor's person, "That leg won't budge."

"Hold him still," Optimus said. He immediately began charging his arm cannon.

Cheetor covered his face with his arms while Akela held his leg steady. The blast was quick; the only damage caused being in the form of the force tremors against the cat-bot's leg. The two quickly helped him up and slipped behind cover, ready to bolt the moment that there was an opening.

"DO NOT LET THEM ESCAPE!" Megatron shouted above the din.

The Predacons immediately obeyed. Gunfire continued to dominate the battlefield as the insects and their saurian compatriots released all they had against the Maximals. Waspinator let loose his stingers without slowing, while Scorponok unleashed volley after volley of missile fire. Tarantulas fired his repeaters willy-nilly across the cover of the field, while Terrorsaur used his height as an advantage, attacking from above with critical strikes against his targets.

Rhinox and Rattrap could feel every tremor caused by the firepower. Rhinox immediately looked around for anything to shoot with. He lucked out when he spotted Cheetor's energy blaster, which had been thrown bodily from him during the missile crash. He picked it up and then lifted Rattrap bodily by the scruff of his metallic neck.

"Hey, hey, HEY!" Rattrap shouted, "Put me down, ya' big bulldozer!"

Rhinox glared at Rattrap with his red, angry eyes. "Cover fire," he growled, "They need it, we give it, now!"

Without even waiting for him to reply, Rhinox picked him up and started firing like crazy. Rattrap let loose a scream of terror as he pulled the trigger on his energy pistol and held on for dear life. The guns were firing wildly and erratically, but they were getting the job done.

A direct hit on Megatron's chest and the other Predacons immediately ducked away from the fire. Megatron himself shielded his body by using his massive tail, which he still held onto like a deadly melee weapon in his hand. The fliers immediately started watching themselves as stray energy blasts flew way too close past their audio receptors for comfort.

Akela, Cheetor, and Optimus immediately rushed out of cover. Akela fired back behind them with his energy rifle as they retreated.

"Back to the base," Optimus shouted, "Let's go, let's GO!"

Optimus and Cheetor quickly dashed away. Akela, Rattrap, and Rhinox continued loosing cover fire before they too joined them. The Predacons were quick to regroup so that they could chase the cowards down.

"After them!" he shouted, "Go, you—RAAAAAGGGHH!"

Suddenly Megatron's body was shorting out. Crisp, blue Energon lightning was snaking across his entire body. His legs began to give out, and he had to drive his tail weapon into the dirt in order to keep himself balanced.

Waspinator and Terrorsaur soared just above, ready to open fire at range at the retreating Maximals. Waspinator was the first to fall, the Energon lightning snaking across his body and forcing his wings to slow to a complete stop. He fell like a stone, striking the ground bodily.

"Wazzz-pin-a-ator cannot…move…" he mumbled.

Megatron growled as his body attempted to fight back against the lightning. "Energon field buildup," he growled, "Convert back to beast mode…"

His body immediately reversed its transformation. His arms straightened as his torso spun about, the hide spinning quickly to reach its original position so that it could curl back up and ensnare his already shorting circuits and encase them in protection. The organic flesh immediately healed where it was split in two, sealing everything shut and preventing Energon field buildup from passing into his body again.

By the time he and the others were done, they knew that they were already too late. The Maximals will have transformed themselves, and they will be long gone.

"Cyclone," Megatron growled.

The yellow arachnid, his body covered in energy burns, approached the dinosaur.

"Yes, Lord Megatron?" he asked.

"Track them," he said, "The Axalon crash site cannot be too far away. We shall soon find their own hiding grounds…Yesss…"

The sun was starting its setting cycle upon that strange world. The two moons were easily silhouetted in the sky, shining with the last dregs of the sun. As the day began to close, the five Maximals made their way back to the crash site, where they would at least be safe from the Predacons…if only temporarily.

Optimus and Rattrap were again riding on Rhinox's back. Akela and Cheetor were both behind, ensuring that their tracks were not picked up by the enemy. As they moved, the only noise they could hear besides the wind was a local bird, likely a raven, cawing in the background with its calls echoing throughout the landscape.

Optimus growled as he reached behind him and grabbed Rattrap by the scruff of his rat-like neck. The rat immediately went on the defensive.

"Ai!" he yelped, "What's got your servos so bent?"

"Let's get one thing straight, Rattrap!" Optimus barked, "I am commander of this group, and when I give an order I expect it to be obeyed!"

"Oh, yeah? So I get vaped because your too chicken to go yourself?"

Optimus growled menacingly. "I would not give an order I would not be willing to do myself." He sighed as he attempted to calm himself down. "But I was capable of giving you better cover fire. You were not."

Without another word he threw Rattrap over his shoulder. The rat scrambled in an attempt to position himself on the gorilla's back so that he wouldn't fall. When he did so, he looked over at Optimus and patted his head.

"Eh, come on. What are you shortin' about? We got out of there alive, didn't we?"

Optimus nodded. "But injured. Cheetor's leg is still damaged and I won't be able to fly with only one jet. It'll take some time for our beast modes to affect internal repairs. It'll be slow. We'll be out of combat for a little while."

Rattrap sighed. "Yeah, well…better you than me," he said awkwardly.

Optimus didn't have time to comment before Cheetor and Akela returned. Akela quickly turned his nose to the air as he followed the group, while Cheetor moved alongside Optimus to report.

"I think we gave 'em the fade, Optimus," he said, "Akela and I made double sure that there were no tracks. Hopefully those guys haven't started developing their olfactory senses on their beast forms yet."

"I doubt it," Akela mentioned, "That Predacon that attacked me earlier was Cyclone. He's one of the best military scout trackers that the Predacons have to offer. He could detect a single mosquito in a swamp without any trouble."

"That's just prime," Optimus commented, "In any case, keep your senses on full. According to the Golden Disk theft reports there were at least nine Predacons. Three of them were missing from the battle."

Rattrap gulped nervously. "Yeah, well…uh…maybe they were all destroyed in the crash. I mean, yah never know."

"That kind of luck we haven't been getting much of lately," Rhinox said solemnly.

Cheetor's neck hairs suddenly stood straight on end. "Tell me about it," he said, "Look!"

The Maximals turned. They were almost at the crash site, and had just a long bridge of narrow eroded stone to cross before they arrived. However, their way was blocked by a single individual. There was no way this was a natural animal; their scanners had identified a similar specimen as a dromaeosaur, an extinct species of reptile related to birds. It had a deadly pair of toe claws that tapped the ground impatiently, and its tail was moving slightly so that it could keep its balance on the bridge. Its body was covered in brown stripes while its eyes were flashing red with dangerous slit pupils.

The creature stood in the center of the bridge, blocking any attempts at escape. Akela gave it one look before he suddenly was growling menacingly like a dog. Optimus and Rattrap got down from Rhinox's back. The big gorilla couldn't help but feel like there was something odd about this creature. He was obviously a Predacon.

"Should we blast him?" Rhinox asked.

"Keep that option open," Optimus said, "but it might not be a good idea. The energy blast would crack the bridge."

Akela growled menacingly. "I know that Predacon," he growled.

Before any of the other Maximals could say anything, the dromaeosaur spoke up in a loud, menacing voice. His tone was clear and precise; there was no doubt or hesitation. But the message he was about to give would shock all of them to their core.

"Attention, Maximals!" the dromaeosaur growled, "My name is Dinobot. I have left the Predacons to join your group…as leader…"

Cheetor's eyes were wide in shock. "What?" he asked, "Did I hear the word 'leader?'"

Rhinox nodded. "This guy's got bearings of chrome steel."

Akela merely growled. He obviously was not interested in what the Predacon had to say.

Dinobot ignored them. His gaze was intent upon Optimus. The gorilla had approached the dinosaur on the bridge until the two were at a respectable distance between one another. The raptor continued.

"I hereby challenge you, Optimus Primal, to a one-on-one battle! The winner shall lead the Maximals…and the loser…shall be destroyed…"

To be continued…

Kerian: Well, it's not Legacy of the Sages, but...

I've managed to watch all of Beast Wars, one of my favorite television shows when I was a kid. Given that I had a bout of Writer's Block for a little while I thought I might as well take advantage of my desire to make a story for it and took off. It's turned out far.

For those of you wanting Legacy of the Sages, know that it's coming. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, it'll take a lot longer for me to write them. This is because my external hard drive did a nosedive and the data reader broke, so until I get the funds to get a new one I'm screwed. The good news, however, is that since I haven't actually started the next chapter of LotS (awkward silence) I can get started on it as soon as I am able. So, you guys don't have to fear about that.

Now, I hope you enjoyed this. If this gets enough reviews I'll work on the next chapter. I don't intend on working on the whole Beast Wars series; I don't have time for it. But what I do intend to do is at least give some definition to the characters I created as well as experiment in creating a novelization of a favorite storyline. Can't wait to see the reviews...


p.s. Darin's taking a break. He's going to be in a big project soon and I don't want him to strain himself. I'll be sure to say hi to him for you guys.

p.p.s. For those of you who just read this and have no clue what this announcement is talking about...I really don't know how to comment on that. Have a Happy Easter Week!