Author's Note: This chapter introduces other characters who may or may not make more appearances later on. I'm also going to be addressing the specific vehicle mode of Elita One, as I've finally decided on one. I'll be going back through some of the chapters and making changes where necessary.
Chapter 11: Speed Metal
On a dirt road,
A familiar shiny red Aston Martini DBS V12 sports car with white decals was driving down one of the many back roads towards a local hot spot for street racing. The driver had the radio playing. "As metropolitan PD continues to crack down on illegal street racing, citing the danger to both drivers and pedestrians-" the new reporter was cut off as the driver switched off the radio. He was uninterested in listening to more reports of local cops attempting to put a stop to illegal street racing.
Oddly enough, the radio was switched off automatically, not by a person's hand. This car was known other than the Decepticon Doctor, Knockout. He knew that Starscream would probably kick his aft to kingdom come if he found out about Knockout's activities. However, Knockout didn't care as the thrill of illegal street racing was too hard to resist.
Up ahead, three other cars were waiting, with the drivers revving the engines. The ref walked out in front of cars as Knockout pulled up. They were all waiting for the right time to start and for everyone to arrive. All the cars were built for speed and had many modifications that were illegal. The Decepticon car intrigued the large muscular, tattooed driver of the muscle car Knockout had pulled up next to.
"Not from around here." The driver commented, referring to the car model. "European design?" He asked curiously, only to get no response from Knockout. The driver didn't like being ignored like that. "Sure is pretty. Too pretty…" The driver said with a grin as he tightened his right hand into a fist. 'This race is for fully grown men, not prissy little boys with pretty cars.' He thought. Using his ring, he scratched the paintwork on the driver's side door.
Knockout used his side view mirror to inspect the damage. Then he turned to the driver, who just shrugged, satisfied with his work, and rolled up his heavily tinted window.
"Big mistake!" Knockout gritted as he changed gears.
The ref held the flashlight above his head and switched it on, signaling for the race begin. All four cars took off, eager to beat their opponents to the finish line. For Knockout, he was eager not only to be the first to cross the finish line, but also to obtain his revenge against the driver who scratched his paintjob. The race was mean and grueling. The driver had the lead. He looked in his rearview mirror and smirked at the other drivers behind him before going even faster. Flames were escaping from the engine through the exhaust pipe as the RPM meter read dangerously close to seven thousand.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of squealing tires. He looked in his rearview mirror once again and saw that Knockout was quickly gaining the upper hand in this race. He rammed himself into the car. It was time to make this human pay for damaging his paintjob.
"HEY!" The driver cried out in protest.
With one single ram as they turned the corner, the driver went over the edge, destroying the guardrail. The car didn't even tumble down the cliff face or see-saw on a particular ledge. It just headed straight to the bottom, upside down, and the sound of the car crashing as music to Knockout's ears.
"Dude…" The driver moaned.
"You scratch my paint, I scratch yours." Knockout sneered dangerously before driving away, intent on reaching the finish line.
Meanwhile, in Jasper, Nevada,
The normally quiet streets were abuzz with excitement. Tearing through the streets of Jasper, several cars raced by. Normally, such activities would be considered illegal but not here. Jasper was one of the few places where street racing wasn't necessarily illegal provided the racers followed several rules. One, all races had to be planned several weeks if not months ahead and received approval from the mayor's office and all participants $50 and spectators $20 entrance fee. That money is used to pay for the costs that goes along with these sorts of activities have. Two, police were notified of the race's course so that they could close off those streets to avoid accidents. Three, all drivers must take a breathalyzer test before the race. Four, the hospital must be notified of the race ahead of time and several ambulances must be on sight to provide medical treatment if there are any accidents. Five, purposely driving someone off the road is not allowed and anyone caught doing so will be heavily fined, and possibly imprisoned.
Now, just because these rules are in place, doesn't mean that they are always followed. The police rule is mostly for whenever the race goes through the actual town and not just the roads outside of Jasper, so the police aren't always involved. Some races, like those of the Circuit, don't require an entrance fee as these are just for fun and organized by the racers themselves. There are still unsanctioned races that take place but those are usual done by those who think they are too good for the rules.
However, most of these races weren't really talked about by those that participate in them, so you could call it one of the town's dirty little secrets.
Anyway, the race was fast paced with the cars trying to pass each other. Then, one of the cars broke away from the pack. It was a 2009 Black Corvette z06 with a strange dark red face marking just a little in front of the driver's door. The mark on the car was the Autobot insignia. The driver of the car was Mark Shadow. Not many knew his identity in the races as no one ever checked the online registration systems for street racing to see who the driver was, only if the car was properly registered for the races.
Mark had won several races and, thanks to the upgraded maneuverability Ratchet made to his car, had dealt with some of the more dirty racers. The winnings from those races were added to the bank account that held the money he received from the government, which was slowly starting to grow. The car had everything Mark could need for not only racings but also dealing with the Decepticons if they ever found him. Sarah had been reluctant to agree but Ratchet insisted on installing a couple of weapons' systems into the car. Better to have the car ready to fight off Cons and never need it, than for Mark to be caught by the Cons again while the Autobots were busy and him not able to defend himself.
However, right now, the only thing Mark was focused on was passing the finish line first. He was beginning to pull further and further ahead when some lights lit up his rearview mirror. Behind him, a dark blue Urbana 500 with green highlights and a black 2012 Acura TL Advance Packagewere also pulling away from the pack and closing the distance between them. "Hmm, must be from out of town…" Mark muttered to himself, as he didn't recognize these car from any of the previous races, before and since he started racing, or the gatherings. He then grinned. "This should be fun."
Whenever Mark races, he has to make sure that he doesn't always win, otherwise it would draw way too much attention to himself. Granted he could easily smoke everyone, thanks to his and Ratchet's modifications, but Mark knew that the money he could make wasn't worth being hassled by the other drivers. Besides, he was racing for the fun of it, not for the money involved.
Unfortunately, for these newcomers, Mark was not in a losing mode tonight. Just as the newcomers were pulling up alongside him, Mark prepared to shift gears so he could speed up even more. Before shifting gears, Mark looked at the Acura TL and saw that there was a grey symbol on the side of the driver's door. The symbol was of an eagle with a shield on its chest surrounded by words that acted like a border. The words themselves were sounded by another circle made up of ten connected triangles, giving it a ten-pointed star look. The words surrounding the eagle read, "Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division."
Mark immediately recognized the symbol from the logo he had seen in the corner of Nick Fury's screen when Mark had been introduced to Agent Fowler's superiors. Mark narrowed his eyes behind the visor of his helmet. 'What is S.H.I.E.L.D. doing here?' He wondered. He quickly brushed this off and shifted gears, accelerating to an even higher speed, leaving the other two drivers in his dust.
A few moments later, Mark passed the finish line followed by the Urbana 500 and then the S.H.I.E.L.D. Acura TL. "And the winner is Shadow Racer!" The announcer declared getting a cheer from the crowd as Mark climbed out of the car with his helmet on. Shadow Racer was a nickname the other drivers had given him as he rarely took off his helmet.
The driver of the dark blue Urbana 500 opened the door and revealed that the driver was a female. She looked to be around seventeen or eighteen years old. She was a tall bombshell with tanned skin and long black hair. She had steely blue eyes and a small diamond stud on her nose. Her clothing looked more appropriate for a rock concert but Mark certain wasn't going to complain about it. Thick black, leather-riding jacket was over a pink t-shirt that read 'Armageddon was yesterday, today we have problems' in bold blue letters, slightly ripped skinny jeans, and heavy duty boots.
The driver of the S.H.I.E.L.D. edition of the Acura TL remained inside his car. The driver was here on a mission, not joyriding.
Mark walked over to the female driver and took off his helmet. "Nice race." He stated truthfully, as he held out his hand.
The female gave him a bright smile and shook his hand. "Thanks but you pretty much smoked me and everyone else." She stated. She could tell he was just being nice.
Mark shrugged. "Eh, maybe this time but you never know, next time it could be you who leaving everyone in the dust." He stated. "By the way, name's Mark Shadow."
"Mikaela Banes." The young woman introduced herself.
The two let go of each other's hand. "I haven't seen you around school or town so I take it you're new in town?" Mark asked curiously.
"Yeah, I just moved here about two days ago." Mikaela stated. "I moved in with my uncle, Daniel Witwicky, and am helping out at his garage."
"Ah, Sparkplug the town Mechanic." Mark said in understanding. Everyone in Jasper knew old Daniel "Sparkplug" Witwicky as he was nice to everyone and was the one that pretty much everyone took their cars to for repairs and system checks. He and his son, Spike, were the main mechanics at Witwicky Auto Repair and Tow. Mark had been offered a job but preferred working at the junkyard.
The manager of the race then came up to Mark and Mikaela. "Hey, there's our two winners!" He greeted happily, as he held two envelopes in his hands. "First place prize money is yours, Shadow." He handed Mark a thick envelope. "And the runner-up money is yours, Ms. Banes." He gave Mikaela an envelope not nearly as filled as Mark's, which she took.
Mark gave Mikaela a quick goodbye and went back to his car, putting his helmet on as he went. Once inside with the door close, he opened the envelope and counted the money, making sure it was all there, which it was. Mark wished he could trust the racing managers but he knew better as there were some who would try to screw people out of their money.
After making sure he had all the money, Mark started up his car and headed for home. On the way home, he noticed that the S.H.I.E.L.D. car was following him. 'Okay… so whoever it is wants to speak with me…' Mark thought to himself. He briefly contemplated calling the Autobots but decided against it. He opted against heading directly home and pulled into an old abandoned warehouse.
The driver of the S.H.I.E.L.D. car cocked an eyebrow as he followed Mark into the warehouse. 'This kid is cautious, I'll give him that.' He thought to himself in approval.
Mark reached behind the passenger seat and pulled out a crowbar, just in case this turned ugly. Climbing out of his car, Mark saw the other driver was getting out of his car as well.
The man stood at 5 feet 10 inches tall, and looked to be in good shape, most likely weighing about 200 pounds. He had short brown hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a dark blue suit with a white dress suit under his jacket with a dark blue tie around his neck. The man had a vanilla folder in his left hand.
"Who are you?" Mark asked as he tightened his grip of the crowbar.
"My name is Phil Coulson. I'm an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." The man stated calmly as he pulled out a badge from a pocket inside his coat and handed it to Mark. Mark looked it over and saw that it was authentic. Fowler had drilled into his head how to tell if badge was authentic or fake. "I must say I'm a bit surprised that you decided to pull into this warehouse." Agent Coulson stated after Mark gave him back his badge.
"When I saw you following me, I decided to play it safe, just in case you weren't actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent." Mark said with a shrug.
Coulson nodded in approval. "I apologize for the scare but I'm afraid that time is of the essence and Special Agent Fowler is current busy with another assignment." He stated. "I'm sure that you're aware that there are other areas in the country where street racing is legal as well as illegal?"
Mark nodded, as he knew this.
Coulson held the folder out to Mark, who cocked an eyebrow but set down the crowbar and took the folder. "S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken to monitoring these races in order to find criminals who like to recruit drivers to run drugs and other illegal items across country or the border." He revealed as Mark opened the folder to look over its contents. "A few weeks ago, S.H.I.E.L.D. secretly launched a new satellite into orbit that was designed specifically to track Energon signatures found in the bodies of both Autobots and Decepticons. Over the last couple of weeks, a red Aston Martini DBS V12 sports car has been making an appearance at various street races. The Energon Detection Satellite, or EDS, has also detected an Energon signature coming from this same red sports car."
Mark flipped through the papers and found a picture of the car in question. The car was indeed a red Aston Martini DBS V12 with white decals on the sides and it looked very familiar to Mark. "Any chances that it's a malfunction in the satellite?" He asked.
Coulson shook his head. "We've already checked." He revealed. "But there's more to it. Recently, one of our agents witnessed another driver purposely scratch the red car's paintjob. During the race, the red car purposely ran the other racer off the road in retaliation. Sound like anyone you know of?" Coulson asked.
"Knockout." Mark said calmly. After their first encounter with Breakdown and Knockout, the Autobots had told Mark and the others about both of the new Cons. Apparently, Knockout was known for being extremely vain and would tear Bots apart if they messed with his paintjob.
"Luckily no one has been killed, just banged up." Coulson stated as he reached into his jacket for something. "However, there have been a few close calls and Fury doesn't want to take any chances that this will expose the Autobots and Decepticons to the public." He pulled out a flash drive. "This will give the Autobots temporary access to the satellite so they can deal with the Con."
Mark accepted the flash drive and looked at it. "Any chances of the Autobots getting permanent access to it?" He asked.
Coulson gave him a curious look. "Why do you ask?"
Mark shrugged. "Well, if the satellite is capable of finding a single Decepticon's Energon signature then with the proper calibrations, it could be used to find deposits of raw Energon." He stated. "If the Autobots knew where the Energon Deposits were before the Cons did, they could secure and mine those areas before the Decepticons could. After all, the Autobots need Energon to survive and quite frankly I think they're starting to run dangerously low. Having access to this satellite could change all that."
Coulson gave Mark a blank look but inside he was slightly surprised and impressed. 'This kid…he's thinking beyond the here and now and worrying about the future…' Coulson observed. 'That's not something seen in most people these days. His idea and request are smart ones though. I'll definitely be relaying it to Director Fury.' He thought before address Mark. "I'll see what I can do but I make no guarantees." He stated.
Mark nodded in understanding. He took the file and flash drive, picked up his crowbar, and climbed back into his car. He then headed for home, taking the scenic route to make sure he wouldn't be followed.
Agent Coulson pulled out his cellphone, which was on a secure line that the Cons couldn't access as far as S.H.I.E.L.D. knew, as he climbed into his car. "Director Fury, the package has been developed." He reported. "However, the kid mentioned something that I believe we should take into consideration…" Coulson then left the warehouse.
The Next Day, at Memorial High,
The school day was over and Jack was climbing into the driver's seat of Elita One's vehicle mode, a purple McLaren MP4-12C Spider with red highlights. He closed the door and left the retractable roof down. People at school were surprised when Jack first started being seen driving such an expensive car but when Jack and Mark made a show of Mark asking Jack how the car was running and revealing that Mark was the actual owner it made sense. It was well known that Mark liked to fix of wrecked vehicles, so when word got out that the McLaren MP4-12C was originally a wreck from a Gumball/Cannonball run that Mark had fixed up, everyone just accepted it.
"Hey! Cherry pedal car!" An annoying voice called out to Jack as he was buckling in.
Jack looked over and saw the school bully, Vince, leaning up against his muscle car. Vince liked to make people's lives miserable, especially Jack's. Fortunately, for Jack and the other would be victims of the bullies, Mark was around and kept Vince and his cronies in line. "Uh, this pedal car can go from 0 to 60 in 2.1 seconds." He proudly informed the bully.
Elita then pulled out of the parking space and drove off, leaving Vince to frown at the news he had just heard.
They soon came to a stop at a red light. "Um, Jack, not that I don't mind you sticking up for me but a lady's vital stats are her own business." Elita stated calmly.
Jack sighed, as he knew this was coming.
"Hey!" A female voice called out. Jack turned his head to the left and saw his high school crush, Sierra, standing on the sidewalk with one of her friends. Sierra was a pretty girl with red hair pulled back into a ponytail. She had cute freckles than ran across her nose and green eyes. She was wearing a red skirt, tennis shoes, and a purple sweater of a white dress shirt. Sierra was the cheerleading captain and one of the most popular girls at school. "It's Jake, right?" She asked as she was trying to remember Jack's name.
"Actually, it's Jack." Jack corrected gently.
Sierra smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, Jack." She apologized. "I'm Sierra."
"Oh, I know, we have a number of classes together at school." Jack said with a kind smile.
"I was wondering if you might be able to give me a ride." Sierra requested.
Jack was surprised by this sudden move and wasn't exactly sure how to answer. "Umm…"
"Sorry, kid, but I'm your guardian, not your wingman." Elita whispered.
Before Jack could come up with a good reason for denying Sierra's request, a loud engine revving caught their attention. It was Vince's supped up 'muscle car' pulled up between the sidewalk and Elita. "Hey, hey, small world." Vince sneered.
"I'm having a conversation." Jack said, even though he was slightly relieved by the interruption.
"Cheer captain here might enjoy watching you take on four wheels of muscle car." Vince smirked as he gestured to Sierra and her friend who were standing there gossiping to one another quietly.
"Are you challenging me? To a race?" Jack asked in disbelief.
"Catch on quick, ponch. What do you say?" Vince responded impatiently.
"Uh…" Jack stuttered nervously. He looked over at Sierra who gave him an encouraging gesture to accept the challenge. He knew about the rules Optimus had set but the opportunity to finally shut Vince up and impress Sierra at the same time was too good to pass up.
Unfortunately, Jack didn't get the chance to choose or answer the question. As soon as the light turned green, Elita immediately hit the gas as she could tell that Jack was going to accept.
"Whoa!" Jack cried out in surprise as the car took off. Once he gave his head a shake, he realized what had happened. "You didn't let me answer!" Jack practically screeched in frustration.
"Sorry Jack but no." Elita answered for him.
"But Elita, we can smoke him." Jack objected.
"Yup." Elita agreed completely.
Jack sighed in annoyance. "You just don't get it." He complained.
"Jack, you know that I don't make the rules, Optimus does." Elita reminded him because, if it were up to her, she'd smoke that punk. However, as Optimus's Sparkmate and Team Prime's second-in-command, she had to set an example for the others. Therefore, as much as she wanted to help Jack out, she couldn't. "And rule number one, in case you forgot it: never abuse power for personal gain and that includes horse power."
Jack sighed as they came to a stop at another red light. Vince had followed after them, determined to get an answer. "Look, Vince, maybe racing isn't such a good idea." Jack declined
Vince laughed tauntingly. "Figures." He sneered. "You ride around like your car's something special, but it's just a chunky, clunky piece of junk! And ugly!" Vince sneered before doing a fast U-turn in front of Elita and Jack, racing back towards Sierra and her friend to gloat.
Unfortunately, for Vince, he said the wrong thing to say about Elita One, especially to her face. "That's it! The yahoo's going down!" Elita proclaimed angrily before pulling a U-turn of her own and racing after Vince at high speeds.
"Whoa! What happened to rule number one?" Jack asked with a grin under his helmet.
"It's getting bent, just this once." Elita declared, much to Jack's enjoyment.
Back with Sierra and her friend,
Sierra and her friend were walking down the street when Vince pulled up. "Yo, girls!" He called cockily as he leaned over the door of his car. "Your pal, Darby, he's-"
Whatever Vince was going to say was interrupted by the sounds of screeching tires, as Jack and Elita arrived. "Ready when you are, Vinny!" Jack called as Elita revved her engine.
Vince was surprised by this but then he grinned cockily. "Dirt road by Trucker's Ranch, one hour." He stated without fear.
One Hour Later, Dirt Road by Trucker's Ranch,
Jack and Vince were on the dirt road at trucker's ranch ready to go. Sierra and her friend stood by the edge of the road eager to witness the showdown between muscle car and sports car.
"From here to the next mile mark. Ready. GO!" Vince yelled before taking off.
"Well, that was fair." Jack remarked sarcastically as Elita took off after Vince.
As Vince and Jack rode past, Sierra and her friend had to place their hands on their skirts to stop themselves from flashing what they had underneath.
Vince looked in his rearview mirror and saw that Jack was still a good distance behind him.
"Uh…Elita…?" Jack trailed off, as he knew she could so a lot faster than this.
"Winning isn't enough, Jack." Elita said, her grin was evident in her voice. "You wanna make him CRY."
Vince smirked cockily as he thought he had the race in the bag. He looked into his rearview mirror and was shocked to see that Jack was no longer visible. He heard the sound of an engine next to him. He turned around and was surprised to see Jack and Elita driving along next to him! Jack waved casually before Elita shifted gears and swerved in front of him, accelerating at impossible speeds.
"Wha?" Vince gasped in shock, as he couldn't believe what he had just witnessed.
Elita honked her horn in victory as they drove past the mile marker before Vince. Jack let out a whoop in celebration.
"Outstanding!" Jack cried. He then thought of something and. "Hey, you know, now might be a good time to give Sierra a quick ride around the block?" He suggested hopefully.
Elita chuckled. "Nice try, Jack." She told him as she kept on driving, heading towards the Autobot base.
Jack shrugged his shoulders and sighed. "It was worth a try." He stated.
Meanwhile, in the Med-Lab of the Decepticon Warship,
Breakdown was hard at work buffing the comatose Megatron when the door to the Med-Lab opened, revealing Starscream.
Breakdown stopped his buffing and looked at Starscream. "Ah, Breakdown, has there been any change in Megatron's condition?" Starscream asked as he walked into the sick bay.
"Hmm, only cosmetic." Breakdown answered honestly, as he removed the buffer device he was holding from Megatron's body.
"Well, I am sure that you and the good doctor have been doing everything in your power." Starscream stated before he looked around and noticed that someone was missing. "Where is Knockout?"
Just then, the door to the Med-Lab opened and revealed an annoyed Knockout. "Can you believe what some skin job did to me?" Knockout scoffed in disbelief as he showed them the scratch on his arm.
"You have been street racing among the humans again, haven't you?" Starscream gasped in realized.
Knockout smiled. "I'm not only an Automobile. I'm an automobile enthusiast." He stated proudly.
"I do strive to run a tight ship, Knockout." Starscream said, as he was not amused by this news. "We would strongly suggest that you seek our permission next time you decide to disappear on one of your little jaunts."
"No worries, Herr Commandant." Knockout said breezily as he waved off Starscream.
"It is LORD to you." Starscream growled angrily.
Knockout smirked. "Only if Megatron takes a nosedive." He retorted as he pointed to the unconscious Megatron's medical screens.
Starscream walked up close to Knockout and got in the doctor's face. "The day our lord emerges from stasis, I will graciously relinquish the title." Starscream promised. "But I believe that outcome is unlikely, something to do with the quality of medical care around here." Knockout sneered at Starscream jab at his skills. "So continue buffing. We do want Megatron looking his best for the memorial." The temporary leader of the Decepticons left the Med-Lab.
"Buff this!" Knock Out called out as he gave Starscream's retreating form the bird.
Shortly, at the Autobot Base,
Jack and Elita had arrived at the base. Elita stopped in the entrance hallway, and allowed Jack to get out before she transformed. "Not a word to anyone." Elita reminded Jack. She wanted to keep this as much a secret as possible, though she knew there was a chance Optimus already suspected something because of their bond.
"Our little secret." Jack promised.
Elita smiled at him before walking away. Jack presumed she was going to find Optimus for a briefing or just to spend some time with him as an actual couple.
"DUDE!" Miko called out excitedly as she ran up to Jack. "Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! And the winner is…!" She started pointing at Jack, expecting him to finish the sentence.
Jack looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "Miko, w-who told you?" He demanded nervously.
"You kidding?" Miko asked him in confusion. She then smiled brightly. "It's all over school!" She told Jack.
However, instead of looking happy or excited like Miko expected, Jack looked horrified.
"You beat the pants off that blow-hard bully, Vince!" Raf gushed excitedly as he walked up to Jack and Miko.
Suddenly, Miko yelped out in surprise as Jack pulled her closer to him. Raf yelled out as well causing all three of them to end up in a group huddle so they could have their own private conversation.
"You guys have to keep this on the DL, especially from Optimus." Jack whispered to them.
"Good luck with that." Mark said as he walked up to the huddling trio. "Optimus and Elita share a spark bond, which allows them to sense what the other is feeling and even communicate with each other over great distances. Chances are that Optimus already knows about it or soon will." He reminded the group. The Autobots had explained this to their human friends a while back when Sarah had asked about Optimus and Elita's relationship.
Jack looked really worried about this.
Mark saw this and shook his head. "Don't sweat it, Jack, I'm sure Elita will explain things to Optimus and you won't get in too much trouble." He assured his friend before heading into the main meeting area.
Fortunately, for Jack, Optimus wasn't at the base at the moment so he was able to avoid the uncomfortable questioning.
Jack, Miko, and Raf were taken home, but Mark remained at the base to discuss something with Optimus and the Autobots. Bumblebee was giving Jack a lift so that Elita could remain at the base for the meeting. "What seems to be the situation, Mark?" Optimus asked curiously.
"I had a visit from S.H.I.E.L.D. last night." Mark revealed, much to the surprise of Optimus, Elita, Arcee, and Ratchet. "Apparently there's a bit of a situation that we need to deal with and fast." He then proceeded to tell the Autobots about Agent Coulson's information about Knockout going street racing across the country and the Energon Detection Satellite.
Optimus frowned at this news. "This is a grave situation." He stated. "We have no idea where Knockout will be next until the races start."
Mark looked at Ratchet as if asking his opinion to tell Optimus about his street racing. Ratchet met Mark's eyes and nodded in agreement, as he didn't like keeping this from Optimus. "Actually, I might know where he's going to be, Optimus." Mark said. "There's a race tomorrow that's part of a group called the Circuit which is open to everyone who wants to take part in it. There's no entrance fee and no fee for spectators. The Circuit's races span throughout several states so those in the know will most likely be there tonight."
The remaining members of Team Prime were surprised by this news. "How do you know about this?" Arcee asked Mark, as she didn't know this.
Mark decided to keep his street racing a secret for a little longer. "I've gone to a few of the street races and even helped a couple of the racers out with their cars." He stated. It was the truth. He just omitted the part about being a racer himself. "Some of the guys at the scrapyard were talking about the Circuit race taking place tomorrow night at 11:00pm. And, like I said, it doesn't cost anything for people to participate, so it would be perfect for Knockout."
Optimus, Elita, and Arcee could tell that Mark was keeping something from them but decided not to press him about it now. Right now, they had to worry about things that were more important. "We must prevent Knockout from endangering any more human lives." Optimus stated.
"But how?" Arcee asked. "It's not like we can just enter the race ourselves."
Elita nodded in agreement. "Arcee's right. My vehicle mode would be recognized as Jack's car, which will probably get him in trouble with his mom." She stated.
"Bumblebee's vehicle form also stands out a bit too much." Ratchet stated. "He'd be too easily recognized."
"While that may be true, we cannot afford to risk Knockout endangering anymore human lives." Optimus stated.
Mark then got an idea. "What about a new paint job?" He suggested. The Autobots all looked at Mark in confusion. "If you're worried about being spotted so easily, a new paintjob should be able to at least get people confused." He stated with a shrug.
Ratchet seemed to understand what Mark was saying. "An electronic paintjob should prevent any humans from recognizing Elita or Bumblebee." He added.
"Plus it will allow either of us to get closer to the Con without being noticed." Elita commented.
"True, but we have no idea if Knockout will even be in the area." Optimus stated. "Even so, Ratchet, make sure that Elita is equipped with an alternate paintjob ready to go should she need to race."
"Understood, Optimus." Ratchet said with a nod as he went to his equipment to prepare the modification Elita would need.
Optimus then turned to his sparkmate. "I sensed you were upset about something earlier but then it was replaced with a feeling of satisfaction. Care to tell me what happened?" He asked.
Elita's protoform skin gained a slightly red tint on the cheeks, as she was busted and slightly embarrassed. "Earlier today, Jack had a run in with that punk Vince." Elita informed Optimus. "The punk challenged Jack to a race in order to show off to some girl."
"Sierra." Mark interjected. "She's one of the more popular girls at school and head cheerleader. She's an alright girl on the inside but can come off as being a bit of a snob to those who don't know her."
"Anyway, I stopped Jack from accepting the race by driving off before he could answer but Vince followed us." Elita continued her explanation. "He was determined to get his race but he crossed the line when he called me a 'chucky clucky piece of junk and ugly'." Optimus's optics narrowed dangerously as anger filled his spark. No one calls his Elita a piece of junk or ugly, and gets away with it, human or otherwise. "Needless to say, I wasn't about to let the punk get away with that so I allowed Jack to accept the challenge."
Arcee grinned. "I'm guessing you didn't just beat him?" She asked with a knowing grin.
Elita smiled proudly. "You bet, we made him cry." She stated. "His so-called muscle car was left eating my exhaust as Jack and I beat him by a mile."
Mark chuckled. "Good work, Elita, but don't be surprised if Vince challenges you and Jack again." He warned Team Prime's second-in-command. "Vince is a bully and doesn't like it when people beat him at something he thinks he's better than them at. And Jack beating him in a race is not going to sit well with him."
"If that's the case then it might have been a mistake to accept the challenge." Optimus suggested.
Mark shook his head. "Optimus, with all due respect, the only way to deal with a bully, like Vince, is to stand up to him." He argued. "Walking away might work for a time but sooner or later Vince will just get some of his buddies to help corner someone. And telling a teacher won't do anything in Vince's case because of who his parents are."
"Who are his parents?" Arcee asked curiously.
Mark sighed. "His dad's a cop, who refuses to believe his son would do anything wrong, and his mother is a rich 'lady', who has friends in high places." He stated. He used the word 'lady' loosely as he really thought she was a bitch but kept it to himself. Arcee, Elita, and, surprisingly, Ratchet appeared to be upset by this information. "Basically he's a self-centered bastard who needs to get knocked down a few pegs."
"We seem to be getting off topic." Optimus stated, even though he was also upset how this Vince appeared to be getting away with things he shouldn't be. It reminded him too much of the Caste system back on Cybertron before the war.
Ratchet nodded. "I have everything we need for an electronic paintjob." He said from his work area. "That should keep anyone from recognizing Elita, or Bumblebee, if we decide to send him as well."
Optimus nodded in understanding. "Let us hope that Knockout is able to refrain from racing for the time being." He stated.
The next day, at Memorial High,
The school day had just ended and Jack was leaving the building in order to head the parking lot where Elita One was waiting for him. For Jack, the day had been slightly more enjoyable than usual. Apparently, him beating Vince in the race really had gotten around the school, which resulted in his popularity rising slightly.
"Hey!" A familiar voice called out from behind Jack. Jack turned around and saw Sierra standing at the doors. "I've been looking for you!" Jack smiled at hearing this. "The race! How great was that? I was like, 'Yeah! Go Jack!'" Sierra remarked.
Jack shrugged. "It was no big deal." He said, trying to play it cool and not make a fool of himself.
"You got that right!" Vince agreed, as he rudely shoved past Jack as he walked up the steps of the school. He stopped a few steps up so that he was now looking down at Jack. "If you think you can run with the big boys, The Circuit. Tonight. 11pm." Vince challenged.
Jack was stunned to hear this and hesitated to answer. He glanced over Vince's shoulder at Sierra, who gave him an encouraging gesture. Jack sighed sadly. He knew he was going to get an earful from Elita for this.
Shortly, on the road to the Autobot Base,
"You agreed to what?!" Elita asked angrily as she was giving Jack a lift to the Autobot Base. Jack had just finished telling Elita what he had done and she was not happy.
"It's some kind of secret racing club." Jack stated defensively. "I don't know. I had no choice. Sierra was right there!" Jack defended.
"You always have a choice, Jack." Elita retorted. "And what part of 'just this once' did you not understand?"
"I know. I'm sorry. But we're on, right?" Jack asked hopefully.
"We are not on." Elita immediately stated, leaving no room for negotiation. The Autobots were already on high alert for the possibility of Knockout showing up tonight and Elita didn't want to risk Jack getting hurt.
That evening, on a road heading towards Jasper, Nevada,
Knockout was driving along a dirt road when he received a call on his com-link. "Knockout, Starscream has been looking for you again." Breakdown warned. "Where'd you go?"
"Out for a little drive." Knockout replied. "I just roll from town to town sniffing around until…"
A supped up car raced past Knockout. Given the obvious modifications made to the car, it was a street-racing car and it was in a hurry to get somewhere.
"The next opportunity presents itself." Knockout finished with a grin in his tone as he changed gears to catch up with it.
Meanwhile, at the Autobot Base,
Ratchet and Optimus were at the main computer system. Their link to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Energon Detection Satellite had detected a Decepticon Energon signature approaching Jasper. Specifically, it was approaching where the starting point of the Circuit race. "It seems our like to the S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite is working." Ratchet commented.
"Mark, be on your guard." Optimus warned.
At the starting point of the Circuit Race,
Mark was currently in the driver's seat of his 2009 Black Corvette z06. He told Optimus that he would keep an eye out for Knockout, but left out the part about him being in his own car to do it. Mark being there without one of the Autobots was so that Knockout wouldn't know the Autobots were on to him. "We have detected what could be Knockout approaching your location." Optimus said through Mark's cellphone, which was currently in Mark's cell phone mount on his dashboard.
Mark looked around but didn't see any sign of Knockout just yet. "No sign of him yet, Optimus, but I'll be sure to keep my eyes out for him." He promised. "I'll call back if he shows up. There's still thirty minutes until race time so he might not join in until just before the race starts."
"We shall be on standby, waiting for your call." Optimus vowed.
Mark kept his eyes peeled for any sign of Knockout. That is when Mikaela's dark blue Urbana 500 with green highlights rolled up beside Mark's car. Mikaela rolled down her window. "Ready for a rematch?" She asked with a grin.
Mark gave her an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Mikaela, but tonight's not going to be a good night for a rematch." He informed her gravely.
Mikaela's smile fell and she cocked an eyebrow at him. "Why not?" She asked curiously.
"I received word from a friend of mine that a particularly dirty driver might be showing up to race tonight." Mark warned her. "I'm pretty sure I'll have my hands full dealing with him."
Mikaela had heard the stories from her cousin, Spike, about how her new friend was known for dealing with the dirty drivers who would purposely try to wreck others on the racecourse. With that in mind, she nodded in understanding and got ready for the race.
Ten minutes later, at the Autobot Base,
Ratchet, Optimus, Elita One, and Arcee were in another part of the base getting ready for the possible attack on Knockout. Raf was busy playing his racing game, having it set at the difficult level. He was getting very close to the end of the race. "Hey, Raf?" Jack called.
Raf's momentary distraction was enough to cause him to crash. Jack flinched, as this was not a good start to be asking Raf a favor. "Uh…is there any way I can borrow Bumblebee for an hour?" He requested nervously.
"(To go racing!)" Bumblebee cheered excitedly.
"Jack, you know racing's against the rules." Raf reminded him. "What if Optimus found out?" He asked nervously, as he didn't want to anger Optimus.
Jack and Bumblebee sighed in defeat and disappointment.
"But, Raf, he's gotta get the girl!" Miko argued, getting a look of confusion from Raf. Miko and Jack shared a look that said 'he's too young to understand'. "And beat the bully!" Miko tried again.
"Well…" Raf trailed off, still unsure about letting Bumblebee race.
"Come on, Raf, just this once?" Jack pleaded him sincerely.
Shortly, at the Circuit's Starting Point,
The other drivers in the race had arrived, along with various spectators. Drivers were standing by their cars with their girlfriends or showing off their modifications to others. Mark had his car off to the side at the starting line, watching the new arrivals for any sign of Knockout when he saw an all too familiar yellow Urbana 500 with black racing stripes. "Oh you've gotta be kidding me." Mark groaned in annoyance. It was Bumblebee and Jack was in the driver's seat.
Bumblebee and Jack pulled up to the starting line, right next to Vince's 'muscle' car. Jack rolled down the window, surprising Vince that he was in the driver's seat. "Mark's giving his car a tune up. Friend of Mark's let me borrow his car." Jack said calmly.
Vince sneered cockily, thinking that he had this one in the bag. Jack turned his attention back to the track laid out before him. Suddenly, something beautiful came into view. Jack leant back into Bumblebee's seat in surprise at the sight. It was Sierra, who smiled at Jack and waved innocently at him.
"Circuit drivers, are you ready?" The announcer shouted over the loudspeakers for everyone to hear. "Make it mean but keep it clean! Fire 'em up in 5…4…3…2…1!"
Just as the countdown was taking place, another car pulled up. This one was a shiny red Aston Martini DBS V12 sports car with white decals. Knockout had arrived and was joining in on the race. Mark was too distracted by the fact that Jack and Bumblebee were racing to realize this.
When the countdown had finished, Sierra threw her hands to the ground and crouched low. As the car took off, she jumped up, spun around, and watched the drivers begin to race around the circuit. Jack and Vince weren't interested in the other drivers. All they were worried about was who could beat who. For them this was a macho man competition, a competition to see who the better man was. Bumblebee's superior power allowed for him and Jack to start to pull away from the group, leaving Vince to try to keep up.
Because of how focused they were, they didn't notice Knockout riding along a little too close to them. "The Autobot they call Bumblebee," Knock Out remarked.
This was when Mark finally noticed Knockout. "Oh, shit!" He shouted as he quickly shifted gears and accelerated through the pack towards Knockout. He pressed the speed dial on his car's built in communicator, calling the Autobot Base.
Just as Mark was noticing him, Knockout decided to make himself known by ramming himself into Vince's car. This caused Vince to lose control for a moment and have to slow down. "Now to eliminate Bumblebee from this race for good." Knockout sneered as he accelerated after Bumblebee.
"Mark to Optimus, do you read me!" Mark said urgently.
"Optimus here, Mark, what's the situation." Optimus's calm voice asked.
"Knockout's shown up but the race has already started." Mark reported. "He must joined in just as the countdown happened."
"I shall alert Elita and Bumblebee." Ratchet said as he was with Optimus at the moment.
"Yeah, about that." Mark said nervously as he didn't want to rat out his friends but didn't have much choice. "Bumblebee's already here."
"What?!" Optimus and Ratchet asked in surprise.
"Yeah, he and Jack are racing, most likely against Vince, but it looks like Knockout's about to make this a death race." Mark informed them. "I'll see what I can do to slow Knockout down. But I suggest you get here and fast!" He then hung up before they could say thing else.
While Mark was calling the base, Bumblebee had noticed Knockout approaching from behind and immediately recognized him. "(Oh scrap! We've got unfriendly company!)" Bumblebee beeped.
"What was that, Bee?" Jack asked worriedly before glancing in the rearview mirror.
"(Knockout's right behind us!)" Bumblebee bleeped.
Unfortunately, Jack couldn't understand what Bumblebee was saying but he did realize something. "Wait. I know that car." He said. Jack yelled out in surprise as Bumblebee suddenly veered right and began driving along the wall. Knockout immediately copied his actions… with guns popping out from above his rear tires!
Immediately, the Decepticon began firing shots at the young Autobot. Bumblebee did his best to avoid Knockout's painful shots. Luckily, they were far enough ahead of the pack that no one saw them.
Suddenly, a black 2009 Corvette z06 rammed into the side of Knockout, damaging the blaster on Knockout's right side. "Hey! Watch the finish!" Knockout shouted as the car pushed against him. He then noticed a familiar dark red design on the left side of the car, just a little in front of the driver's door. The design looked like a face and Knockout immediately recognized it. "The Autobot insignia!" He shouted in surprise.
Mark drove his car against Knockout. "Let's see how you like being scrapped, Con." Mark growled as he swerved a bit to the right before quickly going to the left, slamming the side of his car against Knockout. This blow caused the Con to spin out a few times as Mark raced on ahead.
Bumblebee and Jack were shocked to see this newcomer helping them. The black Corvette drove up alongside Bumblebee's right side. This allowed Jack and Bumblebee to notice the dark red Autobot symbol it sported. "Another Autobot?" Jack asked in shock.
"(I'm certainly not complaining!)" Bumblebee chirped happily.
Knockout had recovered from his spinning and was once again chasing Bumblebee as well as the new Autobot. Now he was angry. Not only did he get blindsided by this new Autobot, the newcomer had ruined his paintjob! No one does that to him and gets away with it.
Mark glared at his rearview mirror as Knockout approached him and Bumblebee. "Looks like someone can't take a hint." He growled as he pressed a button, preparing his car's weapon systems.
Inside Bumblebee, Jack was starting to get worried. This was supposed to just be a simple race to get Vince off his case and impress Sierra. Now, he was in a race for his life as Knockout chased him and Bumblebee. The surprising arrival of another Autobot was a welcome sight but he wasn't sure if this new guy could be trusted or not.
"Can you lose him, Bee?" Jack asked nervously.
"(I'll do what I can.)" Bumblebee replied. "(But I think we should call base for backup.)"
Unfortunately, Jack couldn't understand him. "What'd you say?"
"(I said we might need backup.)" Bumblebee replied.
"…I hope that means 'yes'." Jack said nervously. "Cause I'd rather not call base for back-up."
While this was happening, at the Autobot Base,
Raf and Miko were currently playing their racing game while Bulkhead watched. This is what Arcee and Elita found when they walked into the main area of the base. Elita then noticed that Jack wasn't with them. "Has anyone seen Jack?" She asked curiously.
Miko and Raf froze at the question. "Not since…we last saw him." Miko answered nervously.
Elita narrowed her optics at them as she realized that Bumblebee was also missing. "…They're racing, aren't they?" She asked knowingly.
"Just this once." Raf confessed nervously.
Arcee looked at Bulkhead who was trying not to look at them. "Did you know about this?" Arcee asked Bulkhead.
"No…" Bulkhead lied quickly refusing to meet the gaze of the two femmes. Elita and Arcee gave him a dirty look as they weren't buying it. "Maybe…a little…" He confessed nervously.
Suddenly, they were interrupted by an incoming transmission from none other than Bumblebee. "(Guys, I've got a serious situation!)" Bumblebee bleeped urgently. "(Jack and I are being chased by Knockout!)"
"You're being chased by Knockout?" Raf repeated in surprise.
"Isn't that the Decepticon Doctor?" Miko questioned.
"Bee, do not engage." Elita immediately ordered. "Your first priority is to keep Jack safe." The transmission was then ended as Elita headed for the GroundBridge controls. "Until I get my hands on him." Elita muttered to herself.
With Jack, Bumblebee, and Mark,
Bumblebee and Jack continued driving along the road but they were having a hard time shaking Knockout off their trail who continued to fire at them. Mark was driving alongside them, trying to come up with a plan. He then got an idea and pressed a button, releasing some oil from the back of his car. Bumblebee had the same idea as he also leaked some oil on the road behind him. The slick oil caused Knockout's wheels to lose their friction and he began to lose control.
"Slick." Jack complimented with a grin as he watched knockout spin out.
Bumblebee drove himself back onto the track in the circuit and backed himself under a bridge, turning off his lights in the process and, once out of sight, turning off his engine. Mark followed Bumblebee's example and parked next to Bumblebee, as well as turning off his lights and engine, using his car's scanners to keep an eye out for the Decepticon. Knockout eventually regained his footing and began driving back towards the circuit. He came to a stop at the beginning of the bridge Bumblebee and Mark were hiding under. Jack froze, trying not to make a sound or move.
Knockout's internal sensors read no signs of any Autobot or Decepticon in the area. Therefore, he put metal to the pedal and drove right out of there.
"I think we lost him, Bee." Jack whispered in relief.
Unfortunately, that was when Jack was faced with another problem, an obnoxious problem by the name of Vince. "Oh, you gotta be kidding me!" Jack moaned.
Vince came to a stop in front of the two hiding cars. His face was beginning to turn red in pure anger. However, Jack didn't care as he had more important things to worry about at the moment, like the Decepticon that was after him and Bumblebee.
"Vince, you fucking idiot…" Mark groaned to himself.
"Darby!" Vince yelled as he pounded his right fist into the palm of his open left hand.
Knockout just happened to hear the engine noise coming from behind him and slammed on the brakes, causing burnt rubber marks to appear on the road as the car suddenly came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. He used his side view mirrors to look for any sign of his foes. Therefore, when he saw the colors of bumper lights, he immediately changed gears and reversed back to the bridge, another advantage of driving on an empty road taken by him.
"Vince! You have to get out of here, OK? You win! Congratulations! Now go!" Jack pleaded.
However, Vince didn't listen, being the thick headed idiot that he was. Instead, he pounded his fists against Bumblebee's hood.
"No. No. Start and back-up, loser, we're finishing this race!" Vince demanded angrily. "Don't wanna take it to the finishing line? Fine! Then we've got something to settle right here! Right now!" Vince proclaimed.
Vince's own screaming suddenly cut off his rant. Jack and Mark were surprised and concerned when a giant black hand reached down and scooped up Vince into his palm. The hand that just happened to belong to Knockout. Vince yelled out in surprise as he was thrown into the air while Knockout transformed into his vehicular mode. Vince landed in Knockout's passenger seat with a grunt. He protested as the sunroof slammed shut above his head and the seatbelt wrapped themselves around his frame tightly, preventing any means of escape for Vince.
"What's going on?" He demanded, afraid of what could happen.
An Energon zapper appeared before Vince's eyes, with Energon sparks flying from the prong for his head. As he felt the sparks take their effect on him, Vince moaned and slumped forward into the seat as he passed out. Satisfied with the current state of his captive, Knockout switched on the ignition and drove away, putting pedal to the metal once again.
Mark immediately restarted his car and burned rubber as he raced up the side hill on the road and chased after Knockout and Vince. He contemplated activating his lights but realized that it would give him away so he activated the night vision function of his windows, a special feature courtesy of Ratchet. This allowed him to see as if it were the middle of the day.
Jack had run up the side hill onto the road in the hopes of stopping Knockout for getting away with the bully. However, he was too late. Knockout and Mark were gone, having disappeared in a cloud of sand and dust as they disappeared into the dark horizon.
"Breakdown, you'll never guess what I'm packing." Knockout gushed excitedly as he continued down the highway with Vince unconscious and bound in his passenger seat. He was too busy patting himself on the back to notice the black Corvette without its lights on chasing after him. "Bumblebee's human friend! And when the Autobot attempts to stage a rescue…" Knockout trailed off.
"He has a…breakdown!" Breakdown chuckled excitedly as he caught onto his partner's plan.
Back with Jack and Bumblebee,
"Bee, he's getting away!" Jack cried as Bumblebee approached him.
"(Don't worry, Jack, backup's on its way!)" Bumblebee bleeped at him.
"I-I-I can't understand you!" Jack cried out in annoyance. "Look. I'm not Raf! Can't you just… honk once for bad news and honk twice for good news?"
Bumblebee seemed to like that idea as he finally had a method of communication Jack would understand. He quickly honked twice, telling Jack that he had good news indeed. But then honked once, meaning he also had bad news. Jack was relieved that he could understand the mute Autobot, but was then worried when he heard the third honk and saw Elita, Arcee, and Bulkhead arriving. The Autobots transformed as they approached.
"Jack, we need to chat." Elita One proclaimed dangerous as she scowled at her friend with her hands on her hips.
"Later, Elita, Vince got snatched by that slick sports car Con!" Jack announced.
"What would Knockout want with a random human?" Elita asked in confusion.
"He probably mistook him for Bumblebee's human partner." Jack stated. "I'm not even Bumblebee's human partner. Look. It doesn't matter why they took him! Vince is in trouble!"
"Oh well, tough break for Vince." Bulkhead shrugged carelessly, earning numerous glares from the other Autobots.
"Bulkhead!" Jack protected.
"What?" Bulkhead asked defensively. "I hear the guy's a jerk! Mark's said so himself! He's a self-centered bastard!"
"No argument there." Jack agreed wholeheartedly. "But the guy is also innocent! Vince doesn't deserve to get crushed by Cons!"
Elita sighed as she agreed with Jack. She transformed into her vehicle mode and opened her driver side door. "Hop in." She said.
Meanwhile, at the Autobot Base,
Raf and Miko were waiting impatiently for the others to return or at least call in. "They should have called by now." Raf moaned worriedly. "You think Bumblebee is OK?"
"Don't worry, Raf." Miko assured her younger friend. "Bulkhead won't let anything happen to Jack or Bee."
Suddenly, they heard the sounds of footsteps, heavy footsteps. Raf and Miko froze their actions in fear. Slowly and hesitantly, they turned around and saw Optimus Prime himself entering the main meeting area, approaching them. He appeared to be looking for something…or someone. Ratchet followed behind Optimus but merely went to his normal position at the computer console.
"We should just tell Optimus the truth!" Raf hissed to Miko.
"Absolutely not!" Miko retorted in a whisper. "We made a deal! Just act completely normal!" She advised in a whisper.
"Raf, Miko, do either of you know where the others have gone?" Optimus asked them worriedly.
"Why no, sir, we do not know." Miko lied…unconvincingly, her voice sounding robotic as if she was reading a script.
"Miko is correct. We don't know." Raf added robotically with a forced smile.
"Why would we know?" Miko asked rhetorically.
Optimus raised an eyebrow at them. "Hmm…"
Just then, the communication alert went off. Ratchet activated the com-link so everyone could hear. "Mark to Base, we have a situation on our hands out here!" Mark called urgently.
Optimus immediately turned to the computer and answered. "What's the situation Mark?" He asked.
"Knockout's taken that idiot Vince hostage." Mark revealed. "He probably mistook Vince for being Bumblebee's partner since the idiot was trying to get Jack to continue the race. I'm currently in pursuit of Knockout and he appears to not have noticed me. The others aren't too far behind."
Optimus was surprised by this news as well as confused. "How are you pursuing Knockout without Arcee?" He asked.
Mark sighed. "I'm using my street racing car." He confessed sounding reluctant to reveal this information. "I've been street racing for the last few weeks. My mom knows and had Ratchet upgrade it so that it would be a lot safer that a normal car. Look that doesn't matter right now."
"We'll be talking about you keeping this from us later." Optimus promised Mark, as right now he was needed.
"Understood." Mark said sounding somewhat nervous. "We're coming up to an old storage area that was abandoned a few years ago- Oh Fuck!" Mark shouted as the sounds of skidding tires were heard through the communication link.
"Mark, what is it? Have you been spotted?" Ratchet asked urgently.
"No, but Breakdown just showed up and-!" Mark started to inform the others only for static to suddenly cut off the transmission.
"Mark, come in!" Ratchet ordered urgently only to receive static. "The Cons must've activated a jamming signal to prevent us from communicating with one another."
"Ratchet, try contacting the others." Optimus ordered.
"I'm already on it, Optimus." Ratchet informed the Autobot leader as he pressed some buttons. "Base to Arcee, Elita, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead, do you read?" He asked only to receive static in return. "They must also be in the jamming field."
"Ratchet, lock onto Mark's previous coordinates and open the GroundBridge." Optimus commanded. "I will ensure that our young friend is safe."
Ratchet nodded as he input the coordinates and activated the GroundBridge. Optimus transformed into his vehicle form and drove through it.
Meanwhile, on the road, in Jasper,
Elita One, Jack, Arcee, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee raced down the road that Knockout had taken, trying to find the Con. They stopped at an interception as they looked for Knockout, only for a red and white car to race past in front of them. The group immediately realized that it was Knockout and began to chase the Decepticon. Knockout saw them coming. "Hmm, Bumblebee brought company." He said as he pulled into the facility. They saw Knockout entering an old storage facility that had been abandoned.
"On your guard, team, this could be a trap." Arcee warned as it was way too easy to find Knockout.
"And remember. No shooting." Jack reminded them.
Elita stopped near the entrance to the facility. "Speaking of safety, Jack, this is where you get out." She informed Jack. Jack climbed out and dusted himself off as Elita took off for the action.
As they drove around the place, Bumblebee and Bulkhead saw a giant hole in the wire fence. Suspecting trouble, they immediately transformed into their bipedal modes and unfolded their arm cannons. Arcee was climbing up the water tower, ready to attack from above in case trouble came. Elita took to staying up on top of one of the sturdier buildings, laying on her front with her sniper rifle in hand. She looked through the scope as Bulkhead and Bumblebee slowly made their way through the facility.
Suddenly, Knockout turned his front lights on, temporarily blinding Bulkhead and Bumblebee. Then from the wall next to them, Breakdown broke his way into the fight. His hammer hit the road between Bulkhead and Bumblebee, causing the two to flip away. Bumblebee stood ready to fight in his boxer-like fighting stance. He dodged one of Breakdown's attacks and landed a few punches but they didn't little damage to the large Con. Breakdown swung his hammer at Bumblebee, who was too slow, and whacked the Scout out of the way. Bulkhead was immediately on Breakdown, landed a pair of powerful punches. Eventually, he did the same to Bulkhead.
Vince was still in Knockout's passenger seat unconscious. However, Knockout didn't care at the moment. He was occupied with another quest. "Where are the two-wheeler and the Prime's mate?" He asked himself as Bumblebee was shooting at Breakdown. Arcee suddenly jumped down on top him and began punching dents. "Hey! Watch the paint! It's custom!"
"Seriously?" Arcee snickered in confused humor.
The tires squealed as Knockout rolled out, with Arcee riding along on top of him. Elita fired a round at Knockout's rear tires but the Con was able to just barely avoid it. Breakdown picked Bumblebee up by the arm and prepared to punch the Autobot only for Bumblebee to release his blaster and shoot Breakdown in the chest, causing him to let go.
Just outside, Jack's attention was captured by the sound of squealing tires. He turned and saw Knockout attempting an escape with Arcee standing on top of him, trying to maintain balance. Basically, Arcee was the surfer and Knockout was the surfboard. Unfortunately, Knockout took a sharp turn, causing Arcee to loss her balance and fall off. However, Arcee quickly transformed into her vehicular mode and chased after Knockout into the night. She was closely followed by Elita One.
"Atta girls!" Jack cheered to himself quietly.
Suddenly, a black Corvette z06 raced past Jack, surprising him. "Whoa, where'd he come from?" Jack wondered.
Inside the facility,
"Uh, Breakdown, in case you're looking for me, things got messy, so I hit the road." Knockout informed his partner over the com-link. "One scrap is enough for today."
Breakdown heard his partner but didn't acknowledge as he had Bumblebee cornered and was about to finish the scout off when he heard some. It sounded like something being torn apart and was accompanied by some nearby lights flickering off. Breakdown turned around and found himself smacked in the face with a light post, sending him flying through the same building he broke through before. That hit was courtesy of Bulkhead.
On the road,
Arcee and Elita were chasing after Knockout as the Decepticon attempted to flee with Vince still his prisoner. Elita was starting to catch up to him when Knockout decided to play dirty and released a bunch of metal nails onto the road. The sharp points of some of the nails puckered her tires, causing them to blow out. Arcee went around the nails and Elita but wasn't fast enough to catch up.
"Eat my dust!" Knockout taunted, only for a familiar black Corvette to speed past Arcee and start to catch up to him.
Mark knew that he had Knockout's attention. "Optimus, now!" He shouted into the communicator from the driver's seat of the black Corvette.
Knockout was startled and caught off guard when Optimus Prime came into view driving on the road that was merging with the one Knockout was on. Knockout had no time to react when Optimus gave him a not so gentle nudge.
Knockout lost control of the car once again. However, he didn't regain control this time. He crashed into a ditch and couldn't dig himself out of this one.
"Optimus, Knockout has a hostage." Arcee warned, giving Optimus the heads-up as he transformed and approached Knockout.
"This is gonna be good." Mark said with a grin.
With ease, Optimus picked Knockout up and held him in the air by his rear bumper. "YEOW!" Knockout screamed in pain as Optimus ripped the driver's side door off the main frame.
Carefully, Optimus reached inside the interior of the car and freed the still-unconscious Vince from his current predicament. With Vince safe in his hand, he simply threw Knockout to the side as he transformed.
Knockout looked at his left arm, which was now missing the armor that made up his left arm. "Do you know how hard that is to replace?" Knockout asked angrily after observing the damage to his arm.
"Consider that a warning of what will happen if you continue using street racing to endanger human lives." Optimus growled dangerously. "And for the record, this human has no knowledge of our war." He revealed. "You just wasted Energon attempting to abduct an innocent bystander."
Suddenly, Knockout saw he was outnumbered. Not only were Arcee and Elita standing by, but also that mysterious black Corvette was nearby, with Bulkhead and Bumblebee approaching them. That was when he realized he had no chance this round. Realizing that this was his only chance to retreat, he took it. He transformed and put metal to the pedal in order to get out of there as fast as he could, only to lose a tire from the damage he had sustained.
Just then, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Arcee, and Elita One joined Optimus and the mysterious Corvette. Jack was riding along inside of Bumblebee while the other members of Team Prime transformed into their bipedal forms and stood before their leader.
Jack rolled down Bumblebee's window to face Optimus. "Optimus, this is my fault." He confessed to the Autobot leader.
Optimus was not concerned with that for the moment. "We must get this boy to safety." He stated, gesturing to the unconscious Vince. "Explanations can come later… from all of you." He said.
Everyone looked down at this declaration. "(We are so dead.)" Bumblebee whined.
Optimus then looked at the black Corvette. "That includes you as well… Mark." He said.
The Autobots all snapped their heads in the direction of the black Corvette as the tinted window rolled down to reveal a now helmetless Mark Shadow in the driver's seat. "I get the feeling this is going to be a long night." He commented with a sigh.
Shortly, on the road, heading back to the Circuit Course,
Jack was in Bumblebee's driver's seat with an unconscious Vince in the passenger seat. "Ugh…" Vince groaned as he started to regain consciousness. He realized he was in the car of passenger seat of the 'loser' Jack Darby's replacement car. "How did? What happened?" He asked in confusion. The Energon zap caused him to forget being grabbed by Knockout.
Jack shrugged. "Some guys jumped you under the bridge." He explained. "They tossed you into their trunk. Must have been some sort of initiation." Jack lied convincingly.
"Really?" Vince asked in confusion.
"Yeah, I found you knocked out on the side of the road." Jack said, keeping from laughing at the inside joke.
Soon enough, they reached the place where Vince's car was left after his abduction. Vince climbed out and walked over to his 'muscle' car. Jack rolled down his window. "Look, I gotta be honest." He said to Vince. "After what I saw tonight, I think racing isn't really my thing." Jack confessed.
Vince leaned down to look Jack in the eyes. "I hear you, Darby." He said seeming sincere until he sneered. "Hard to win a race driving a pedal car!" Vince sneered, causing Bumblebee to put pedal to the metal. It seemed that Vince was destined to be the same arrogant idiot as ever.
Shortly, on the Bridge of the Decepticon Warship,
Knockout and Breakdown had returned from their attempt to destroy the Autobots and reported to Starscream. Needless to say, Starscream was not pleased. "Knockout! Was I not clear?!" Starscream screeched angrily. "You have defied my orders for the last time!"
"My mistake, Commander Starscream." Knockout apologized quickly. "But I've learned my lesson…and paid the price." He grumbled as he tenderly rubbed his arm where Optimus had violently ripped the driver's side door off.
Unfortunately, Starscream was not in a forgiving mood. "It…is…LORD!" He bellowed as he got in Knockout's face. "And you have paid when I SAY you have paid!" Starscream proclaimed as he help up his long, sharp, metallic claw. "Not to worry. Your punishment shall be merely…cosmetic." He declared as he slowly brought his claw down on Knockout, who found himself restrained by a pair of Eradicons.
"No! Not the finish! Anything but the finish!" Knockout pleaded pathetically before Breakdown cringed at the sound of screeching metal and the sounds of Knockout's screams…
Meanwhile, at the Autobot Base,
Optimus stood before his troops and human friends as he listened to their explanation of what had happened. Bulkhead wasn't sure what had happened exactly only that Vince needed to be taught a lesson which was why Bumblebee agreed to help Jack out. Bumblebee was in the same boat as he was just trying to help Jack out since he knew that Vince was the school bully and like to not only pick on Jack but Raf as well. Miko and Raf were the same as Bumblebee as they were both sick of Vince's constant torment, even though Mark kept him at bay, it would've been nice for someone else to stand up to the bully for once.
Elita revealed that she knew about Jack accepting Vince's challenge but had put her foot down since she was worried about Knockout appearing that the race, which he did. She didn't want Jack to get caught in the crossfire.
Arcee had no idea what had been going on until Bumblebee's call came in for help. She admitted that she probably should've recommended Elita call Optimus but was too caught up in making sure Jack was safe. Not to mention she was worried that Mark might've been spotted by the Con and the last thing she wanted was for her partner to be kidnapped again.
Jack admitted that he had succumbed to peer-pressure and the desire to impress Sierra. He probably should've just walked away instead of letting them get to him. The main thing was that he was sick of always having Mark fight his battles for him and wanted to stand up to Vince on his own for once.
Optimus sighed. "I am still angry with all of you. You let pride get in the way of what was truly important." He stated. "Instead of talking to me as soon as all of this started, you kept this to yourselves and just hoped it would all go away quietly. However, you are all to be commended. By yourselves, you have realized the consequences of your actions and tried your best to make amends. Because of your actions, Vince didn't fall into Decepticon hands. Therefore, you all shall go unpunished." He stated as he knew everyone had learned their lesson. Optimus then turned to Mark. "However that still leaves the question of why you were street racing in the first place?" He said to the eldest of the Autobots' human charges.
Mark sighed. "I needed an escape." He confessed. "I was getting bored with the everyday routine I felt I was in." The Autobots looked at him in surprise. "I just wanted some excitement." He elaborated. "Sure, hanging out with you guys is never dull but in all honesty, we're not exactly allowed to do much around here." He gestured to himself, Jack, Miko, and Raf.
"Plus, he's too much like his father." Sarah added from the raised platform. Ratchet had called her and told her of Optimus finding out about Mark's street racing, so she came to help clear things up. "Alan was a street racer himself for years, using it as an escape from the stress of his everyday life, so it made sense to me that Mark might also find the necessary excitement in street racing. It's why I gave him my permission to race in the first place." She revealed much to everyone's surprise.
"Why would you allow him to do something like that?" Arcee asked in disbelief. She knew Sarah was more lenient than June was and gave Mark more freedom but she still couldn't understand why she would let him do something like this.
"Because I know my son." Sarah said calmly with a smile. "I knew it was only a matter of time before he got tired of having to do the same boring routine almost every day. Plus, here in Jasper, street racing isn't illegal provided you follow certain rules." She then explained the various rules to the Autobots. "I knew my son would follow those rules and helped him acquire his street racer. However, I also asked Ratchet to modify the car so it would be a lot safer than a normal car is." She revealed.
Optimus looked at Ratchet in surprise. "You knew about this?" He asked.
Ratchet nodded firmly. "Indeed, I knew of Mark's street racing and kept quiet as I figured this was a much safer release than him following us into a combat situation like someone else we know would." He said looking directly at Miko. "I not only made the car more structurally safe, but also installed some defensive weapons so that, if we were ever busy while Mark was street racing and he was found by the Cons, he'd be able to defend himself."
Optimus nodded in understanding. During the War for Cybertron, some of his soldiers had developed certain habits to help deal with the stress of the war. One such release was his men having races just for fun in order to let off some steam. While he didn't like having this information kept from him, he understood that Mark was just trying to have some fun that wasn't as dangerous as other things he could've been doing.
Optimus sighed. "It's late and all of you have school tomorrow." He told the young humans. "I suggest you all go home for now. We will discuss this further tomorrow." He told them. With that, everyone was sent home via the GroundBridge.
The next day, at Memorial High,
Jack was walking towards Elita after school had gotten out. The day had gone by pretty normally, with Vince merely ignoring him instead of trying to taunt him. He was climbing into Elita's driver seat when Sierra approached him. "Hey Jack." She greeted warmly. "Do you have time for that ride?" She asked hopefully. She may not have really paid that much attention to Jack during their classes but she, along with practically everyone at school, knew that Jack worked at KO Drive Thru.
Jack wanted more than anything to accept but he was already in enough trouble with not only the Autobots but his mom as well. Instead of letting it get back to his mom, Jack had told her this morning what he had done the previous night. While June was upset with Jack, she could tell that he had learned his lesson about giving in to peer pressure, and merely gave him a stern talking to. "I'm… I'm sorry, Sierra. I can't right now." He apologized regretfully.
"No problem." Sierra said with a sad shrug. "I guess I'll just see you around." She then started to walk away.
Jack sighed sadly. "Go ahead." Elita invited him.
Jack looked down at the steering wheel in surprise. "Whoa, really?" He asked, making sure he heard right.
"Just this once." Elita emphasized.
Soon enough, Jack was giving Sierra a lift home. Sierra was certainly enjoying the ride and smiled as they drove.
That night, at the Shadow Residence,
Mark got home from the Autobot Base to find that the house was dark. It didn't really surprise him as his mom was working late at the hospital. Arcee had given him a lift and was currently powered down in the garage. He opened the door that lead from the garage to the rest of the house but paused. 'Something's not right…' He thought to himself as he entered his home.
Mark cautiously walked through the house towards the living room. He slowly entered the dark room, keeping his senses open for a sneak attack.
"I see Agent Coulson was right about you, Mr. Shadow." A voice said from the darkness. The lights to the room flipped on automatically and revealed none other than General or more appropriately stated Director Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., standing by the window. The bald African America was wearing an eye patch over his scarred left eye and an all-black outfit with a leather black duster jacket over it. "You do have good instincts." He commented.
"General Fury…" Mark said as he tried to remain calm. He did not lower his guard however. "To what do I owe this visit?"
"Agent Coulson told me about your request for giving the Autobots access to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new Energon Detection Satellites." Fury stated calmly, getting right to why he was here. "Normally I wouldn't even consider such a suggestion as it could possibly backfire on us, but I know a good idea when I hear one." He walked over to Mark, pulling out a flash drive from the inside of his jacket. He held out the drive for Mark. "This will give the Autobots complete access to the satellites." He told Mark as the teen took the flash drive.
Mark looked at it with a cocked eyebrow. "What's the catch?" He asked Fury, getting a blank look from the S.H.I.E.L.D. director.
"What makes you think there's a catch?" Fury countered coolly.
Mark grinned. "I've seen enough spy movies to know that whenever a spy offers you something, there's always a catch." He replied.
Fury gave him an un-amused looked. Without another word, Fury left the house.
'That pretty much confirms that Fury is up to something.' Mark thought as he looked at the flash drive. 'I'll have to warn Ratchet before he uses this to link the base's computers up with the satellites.' He then went to his bedroom to get some sleep.
To Be Continued…