e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007

Legacy

Author's Note: This is the fifth episode of "The Skyfire Adventures" and continues "The Apocalypse Trilogy." Our heroes ally themselves with the similar Cybertraxians as the evil of Cybertrax is unleashed upon the universe. To stop it, Skyfire has to make the ultimate sacrifice...

The Skyfire Adventures: Legacy

Part 2 of the Apocalypse Trilogy

Prologue

The planet of Cybertrax was inhabited for centuries by a race of sentient robots that were similar in appearance and abilities to the Transformers of Cybertron. These Cybertraxians fought a bitter civil war that destroyed many of their technological achievements and killed a large portion of its citizenry.

Across space and time, the Maximal Skyfire and his crew of four Autobots and one Decepticon/Predacon arrived at Cybertrax after detecting the sparks of the Cybertraxians. The Cybertraxian leader, Hippolyta, was eager to welcome the Cybertronians to her world to share their discoveries and history.

Meanwhile, the Autobot Skids, a member of Skyfire’s crew, was returning from a scientific mission in another system. As he reached the Cybertraxian system, one of his transport’s engines began to leak plasma. The plasma leak, coupled with a concentration of cromoton particles, created a temporal vortex that sent Skids a short time into the future.

This future turned out to be very bleak, as Skids found that most of his comrades were dead. As well, the system’s red giant star had been snuffed out and one of its planets had been drained of all geothermal energy. Upon finding his surviving comrades, Skids was able to find out what had happened. Armed with that knowledge he endeavored to go back into the past and save the Cybertraxians and his friends from the fate that awaited them. With the help of Perceptor and Wheeljack, Skids was able to recreate the vortex and send himself back to the past. Nearly adrift in space, Skids overloaded his communications system in order to send out one short message: ‘Evacuate Cybertrax, Skids’.

On Cybertrax, Grapple and Beachcomber discovered the dark secret that Cybertrax had long hidden. The planet was unnatural in origin and was now beginning to tear itself apart through a series of intense shocks coming from its core. The two Autobots warned Hippolyta and Skyfire and, combined with Skids’s message, the evidence swayed the two leaders to begin to evacuate the planet as quickly as possible using the Autobot shuttle and two escape ships constructed by a Cybertraxian faction long ago.

* * *

Skids’s transport reached Cybertrax and saw the shuttle waiting for him. He landed and climbed out of the transport and saw Wheeljack waiting for him. “Looks like you did a number on my transport,” Wheeljack commented dryly.

“I’m sorry,” Skids replied, not really paying attention. The shuttle began to move away from Cybertrax as Skids ran up to the bridge. The doors parted and he looked out the viewscreens. There were two large gray ships flying next to the shuttle and Skids saw a strange robot on the bridge.

“What’s that ship, and who is this?” He asked.

“I am Hippolyta, leader of the Cybertraxians.”

“It’s beginning,” Beachcomber said solemnly. Everyone turned to the viewscreens and Grapple brought the ship to a stop. The surface of the planet, which had already begun cracking in most places, was now completely coming apart. Skyfire had expected an explosion or some other kind of cataclysmic event, but what he saw instead was even more shocking. The planet was coming apart, but it was not falling apart; it was changing shape!

The surface rearranged itself to form a chest and arms and legs unfolded from it. Finally, the head appeared from the exact location of the Imperial Palace. In fact, the three spires of the palace formed the horns on its head. The planet had reformed into a robotic shape that had an angular chest that was faceted like a cut jewel, and sleek, round arms and legs. One hand looked like a much larger version of a humanoid hand, while the other was an enormous, black hand that had claws instead of fingers. The head had horns, but they did not look demonic in any way. Rather, the huge robot had soft blue eyes that seemed thoughtful and wise. It had no mouth, but rather a faceplate like Optimus Prime. In all, it didn’t seem like Unicron, who had transformed from a planet-like mode to a robot form to try to devour Cybertron. From what Skyfire could see, the beast was at least twice the size of Unicron, if not larger.

Skids stared in awe at the creature and remembered what he had seen in the future. This, this was the monster. He didn’t destroy Cybertrax; he is Cybertrax. While the creature did not look evil, Skids knew that it was. He had seen what it had done to the second planet of the system and the red giant star, and it had been responsible for the deaths of his friends in the future.

“What is that?” Beachcomber asked the question on everyone’s minds.

“Our doom,” Skids replied darkly.


Chapter One

Skyfire stared at the enormous being standing where Cybertrax had once been, unable to move or speak. Finally, he managed to tear himself away and look over at Perceptor. For the first time, even Perceptor seemed rattled. “Report!” Skyfire barked.

“It appears as though Grapple and Beachcomber were right. The planet is unnatural. In fact, it was the dormant body of this creature. I am reading a large energy signature coming from it, meaning that it is active. As well, the sensors detect spark activity inside of the being,” Perceptor regained his calm as he spoke.

“Can we contact it?” Skyfire shifted his gaze to Beachcomber.

“I’m not sure, but I’ll try. What do you want to say?”

Skyfire approached Beachcomber’s station and typed the commands to record a message. “Greetings, I am the Maximal Skyfire from the planet Cybertron. My comrades and I wish you no harm; we merely want to talk to you. Please respond to this message so that we can open a dialogue.”

Beachcomber hit a few keys and the message began to send on all known frequencies. As it did, Skyfire looked over at Hippolyta. “I think you should get your people out of here, in case things get ugly.”

“I will send the civilian ship, but you will need the military vessel here,” Hippolyta replied.

“All right. As soon as possible, my comrades and I will transfer to your military ship. That way the shuttle can escort the civilian ship and keep those bodies safe.”

“Good.” Hippolyta nodded and turned back to the viewscreen to gaze at the being that had once been her planet. Skyfire could sense her anger and pain and wished he could comfort her, but there would be time for that later. Right now he had other things to attend to.

“Anything yet?” He asked Beachcomber.

“Nothing. The message is repeating on all frequencies. Maybe it just needs some time to respond.”

Skyfire nodded and looked at Hippolyta again. “Let’s begin that transfer operation. Beachcomber and Perceptor, stay with the shuttle. The rest of us will move over to the military ship.”

Beachcomber and Perceptor looked at Skyfire, their expressions angry. Skyfire knew they didn’t want to have to leave their comrades behind, but there were no other options. They were more expendable than the others were and he needed someone capable of flying the shuttle at the controls. He would need Grapple and Wheeljack for their engineering skills and Skids had encountered the creature in the future, so his knowledge would be useful. Of course he would never trust Scarecrow or Shockwave with the shuttle, so that left Perceptor and Beachcomber. The two Autobots turned back to their stations and Skyfire saw the others hurrying off the bridge. He and Hippolyta were the last to leave, and just as Skyfire reached the door he felt a little dizzy. He grabbed the edge of the door for balance and felt Hippolyta touch his back.

“Are you all right?” She asked with concern.

“I’ll be fine. Just a little glitch,” Skyfire replied. The dizzy spell passed and he got to his feet. He left the bridge and hurried to the hangar where the transport was kept. As he did, his superstructure mutated into the Autobot Jetfire, his brown eagle feathers reforming into the sleek red, white, and black finish of the Autobot warrior.

The transport was already full and Wheeljack was at the controls. Jetfire transformed and Hippolyta climbed inside. The transport’s engines revved up, although they were not running as high as they should have been. Both engines were drained of plasma, making them run much slower. Jetfire ignited his rocket boosters and streaked out of the hangar. “Jetfire, do you think this thing is going to be friendly?” Hippolyta asked.

“I don’t know,” Jetfire replied, not knowing what else to say. The rest of the short trip to the military ship was silent. Jetfire landed inside the ship and let Hippolyta out before transforming. The transport arrived a couple of minutes later and the Autobots, along with a couple of Hippolyta’s advisors, climbed out.

“I’ll lead you to the bridge,” Hippolyta said and walked towards the elevator. Jetfire and the others fell in behind her, piling uncomfortably into the elevator. Hippolyta punched a few buttons and the elevator began to climb towards the bridge. After several long seconds it reached the top and everyone got out.

“Wow,” Wheeljack gasped as he looked around. The bridge of the military ship was packed with computer terminals; most of them manned by Cybertraxians. The terminals were arranged in a semicircle and each terminal was raised and recessed into the wall to provide ample walking space. There was also a short flight of stairs leading up to another level of computers. In the midst of everything was a command chair and a large holographic projector. Hippolyta went over to the projector and activated it. The projector displayed an image of the being that had once been Cybertrax and the three small ships around it.

“The civilian ship is beginning to move away. We are receiving a signal from your ship,” Hippolyta said to Jetfire. Jetfire nodded and saw Beachcomber’s face appear moments later.

“I’m still not getting any response. I’ve sent the message to your ship so they can keep trying. We’ll get back in touch with you guys as soon as possible. Good luck, and may the Matrix protect you,” Beachcomber said.

“Same to you,” Jetfire said and saluted his comrades. Beachcomber returned the salute and the projection disappeared. The shuttle turned and streaked away after the civilian ship. Soon, only the military vessel was left around what had been Cybertrax. “Since we’ve got time, why don’t you tell me about your ship.”

Hippolyta nodded and brought up the ship’s specifications. “This vessel was called a Yta-class ship by its designers, named the Legacy. It carries a crew of 120 and has room for up to 1000 troops. Right now we have about 750 warriors on board, plus whatever armor and artillery we could squeeze in. There is one hangar that can hold as many as forty-eight fighters, or four squadrons. Right now we only have twelve fighters, all of which are ready to launch at any moment. The ship itself is well armed with six anti-ship missile tubes, twenty heavy laser cannons, three particle beam guns, and eight light lasers that are designed to target incoming projectiles. Our top speed is four times the speed of light, a little slower than the Remembrance, the civilian ship, but that’s still pretty good.”

“This is a fine ship indeed. The problem is that we’ll need about a hundred more like it to destroy something that big if we have to,” Jetfire replied.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Hippolyta said.

Jetfire nodded and turned to his comrades. “Wheeljack and Grapple, orient yourselves with this ship’s systems. Skids, I want you to explain everything that you saw in the future.” Wheeljack and Grapple turned away to explore the ship and Skids stepped forward. He quietly began to explain everything that had happened, to the astonishment of both commanders.

* * *

After nearly an hour, Skids finished his tale. Hippolyta leaned back in her chair, and Jetfire felt his fluids going cold. He had been shocked to learn about his own future death and hoped that he could avoid it happening again. “Of course, since we were able to evacuate Cybertrax, the timeline has changed. So what I remember probably will not happen again,” Skids said.

“Maybe not, but some of it might. Especially if that thing turns out to be hostile,” Hippolyta replied.

Skids was about to say something, but someone interrupted, “Yta, we are receiving a message from the being!” Hippolyta bolted from her chair and hurried over to the communications station.

“What did it say?” She asked.

“It wishes to speak with the Maximal Skyfire,” the Cybertraxian officer replied. Jetfire mutated his body back to Skyfire and Hippolyta motioned for the officer to record a reply to the message.

“This is Skyfire, what do you wish to speak…” Before Skyfire could get any further, there was a flash of green light and he found himself no longer on the Legacy. All around him were dark gray walls, and hanging in front of him was an enormous gray sphere pulsing with energy. “Where am I?” Skyfire demanded.

“You are in my central processor. I deemed this would make communication easier,” a deep voice rumbled. The voice seemed to come from nowhere particular, which was disorienting.

“All right. So what do you wish to speak about?”

“I want to know why you are here, and what has happened in the universe in the last billion years.”

Skyfire stared at the sphere for a moment, wondering where to begin. “I am here because my ship was on a scientific mission in this area. My crew and I came across the planet that you once were and decided to investigate it. We were in the midst of this process when you destroyed Cybertrax.”

“You do not understand,” the voice interrupted. “I am Cybertrax.”

Skyfire nodded and continued, “As for what has been happening in the last billion years, I can not really speak about that. I have lived for over four million years, but even so, I don’t know the history of the universe for the last billion years. Suffice it to say that star systems have been forming and reforming and cultures have been rising and falling.”

“It is as I thought,” Cybertrax said. “Complete chaos.”

“Chaos?”

“Yes, chaos. Before I went off-line, there was order in the universe. There were no random mutations, everything was contained and controlled. The universe was moving towards one goal: harmony.”

“What do you mean?” Skyfire asked.

“When my spark came on-line, the universe was very young. Life was just beginning to form. I was alone in this universe, there was no other sentient life. Seeing all of these worlds teeming with developing life, I saw my purpose: to steer the evolution of life so that the universe would live in perfect harmony. I would make sure that the universe did not fall back into the chaos from whence it came.”

“From my spark I fashioned ten Matrices. Each one would be endowed with a special gift. The ten races that would receive these would all develop in one particular area. Science, engineering, religion, leadership, and creation were the five I was able to seed on various planets in different parts of the universe. The goal of my plan was that since each race would have one special skill, they would all need each other to survive. They would all become dependant on each other. So that they could find each other, I created a Matrix of Harmony, which would guide whatever race had it to the other Matrices. I was about to seed this Matrix and the others, but something told me to stop in my quest.”

Cybertrax paused, which allowed Skyfire to interrupt his story. “What I don’t understand about your plan is how you could seed Matrices all over the universe and that if you seeded the Matrices across the universes, how were the separate races ever supposed to contact each other?”

“I knew that the distances between the races would be vast, so I designed a way around this. By using the Matrix of Engineering, I was able to create a secret teleporter network across the universe. The distribution of the teleporter gateways was targeted at all planets capable of bearing life, so I knew that no matter where I seeded a Matrix, there would be a gateway. The gateways could only be found and opened with a Matrix so that they could not be misused. I seeded the first five Matrices this way. Once all of the races had reached a highly-evolved state, the Matrix of Harmony would activate the gateways and teleport all of the races to one location where they could live in peace.”

Skyfire stared at the sphere for a few moments, letting everything Cybertrax had told him sink in. The teleporter network, could that be the same one the aliens Jalen’s people called demons used? Could they somehow have found a way to operate the gateways to use them for their own plans? Skyfire knew that the demons themselves weren’t smart enough for that, but perhaps they had some help somewhere. If so, then that would help to explain some things about where the demons came from. Most importantly, though, was that if the teleporter network was the one used by the aliens, then the Autobot Matrix of Leadership had destroyed it and there was no way that Cybertrax’s plan could ever bear fruit. Before Skyfire could interrupt again to tell him this, Cybertrax continued his tale.

“Creating the Matrices had weakened my spark. I needed to rest for a while. However, I did not want my work to go unfinished. So with almost all of my remaining strength, I created two sons to continue my mission. The first one I called Primus. He would seed the remaining Matrices and spread life to other worlds, so that even more races could unite in perfect harmony. The other son I named Unicron. He would go with Primus and form the planets from elementary materials. He contained enormous processing machines that could rip apart materials and break them down, then rebuild them in new forms. To aid them in their quest, I created one last Matrix, the Matrix of Creation and Leadership. This dual Matrix would provide Primus with the power and guidance he would need to finish my mission.”

“They struck out on their mission and I stayed where I was to rest my spark. They were to be my legacy, to complete what I had started. They would make the universe thrive with life that would live in perfect harmony. There would be no war, famine, disease, or destruction. The universe would be peaceful and calm. From all of the chaos of its birth, the universe would form a union of races who would help each other and live together as one.”

“However, my vision would not be fulfilled. While I was resting, Primus and Unicron began their journey. However, Unicron felt that I had treated him unfairly. He thought that because I had given the special Matrix to Primus, I favored Primus over him. He became jealous of his brother and angry with me. He fought Primus and damaged him, then came back for me. I was bigger than Unicron, but I was too weak to put up a fight. He tore into my body, ripping away at whatever he could in a blind fury. I thought that I was doomed, until Primus returned. He was wounded, but in better condition than I. He grabbed Unicron and smashed him with his fists. Then he hefted his brother and hurled him through space.”

‘“Father, I must go and stop him. The universe that you created will not be safe with him around,”’ Primus said to me.

“Go, my son. Stop your brother and fulfill your destiny.”

“He left and I was left alone once more. However, I knew that I could not stay in my present form, because if Unicron returned, he would finish me off. I had to prepare some kind of defense against him, so I transformed my body into the shape of a planet. Before he left, Primus returned the remaining Matrices to me, except for the special one I had given him. He knew the risks involved in fighting Unicron and didn’t want his brother to be able to get his hands on the Matrices. So he entrusted them to me until he could return. I used the Matrix of Wisdom to create thousands of small sparks. Using debris from my battle with Unicron, I processed bodies for these sparks. They would be a race of transforming machines like myself. If Unicron returned, he would be greeted by a horde of warriors.”

“I gave the Matrix of Wisdom to the leader of these new people, so that it would guide them. Then my spark went off-line to regenerate. It took over a billion years, but my spark has finally regenerated. I am ready to continue my mission. What happened with Primus, how much was he able to accomplish on his own?”

“From my planet’s legends, Primus fought Unicron in a terrible battle. They were both very gravely wounded and retreated to regenerate their sparks, like you did. Unicron transformed into a killer planet, which would cruise the galaxy and eat all in his path. I assume that was how he planned to regenerate. As for Primus, he transformed into the planet of Cybertron. He did like you did, and created my people to protect him from Unicron. He gave my leaders the special Matrix, which came to be known as the Autobot Matrix of Leadership and a prophecy that one of us would rise up and use the power of the Matrix to destroy Unicron,” Skyfire explained.

“In 2005, Unicron finally located Cybertron and tried to destroy it. A heroic Autobot named Hot Rod was able to open the Matrix and unleash its power. Unicron was destroyed and for a while his head served as a moon for my planet, until it was finally moved from orbit and destroyed. As for Primus, either he is dead or his spark is still regenerating deep inside of Cybertron.”

There was a long pause, and for a few moments Skyfire thought that the strange conversation was over. However, the voice finally returned. “Both of my sons are dead and the universe has fallen into utter chaos. My mission has failed.”

“How do you know if Primus is dead?”

“I can feel it.” There was another long pause before Cybertrax continued. “I can now tell you what my intentions are.”

“What are they?” Skyfire prodded. He waited for an answer, but instead there was a red glow coming from the sphere. A few seconds later, a red beam lanced into Skyfire’s midsection. He was thrown backward several yards, smashing into a wall.

“The universe must be destroyed,” Cybertrax said quickly, mostly to himself. “I must destroy it and start over again. I will take back the Matrices and begin from scratch. Only then can my plan succeed.”

“You’re mad! You can’t destroy the entire universe!” Skyfire shouted.

“It will take many, many years, but I will succeed. I have to, or else all will be lost.”

“But you will destroy all life in the universe. Life that you and Primus created.”

“Then so be it.”

Skyfire got to his feet and stared up at the sphere. “Don’t you understand, no one being can control the growth of the universe. It has to be allowed to grow and mature on its own. That which you call chaos is what makes everything different. This chaos allows different races to flourish at different times and to slowly weave a tapestry of life. Even without Matrices we all need each other to survive. Every race has different ideas, beliefs, customs, and technologies that give it a better understanding of some areas than other races. That creates the harmony that you seek. There may be war and destruction, but by attempting to destroy the universe you will only add to these problems,” Skyfire pleaded, hoping that he could reason with Cybertrax.

“No!” Cybertrax bellowed and another beam struck Skyfire in the midsection. He fell and could see that Cybertrax was charging for another attack. He mutated his body into Jetfire, noticing that the process was much more sluggish this time. After the mutation was complete, he transformed into jet mode and hit his rocket boosters. He raced away from the giant sphere, looking for a way out.

He turned a corner and narrowly ducked under a bundle of circuits. Up ahead he could see his way out. The icy blue wall ahead would lead to his freedom or his death. He would have to get up enough speed to smash through Cybertrax’s eye, or else he would be crushed. He revved his engines as far as they could go and streaked towards the eye. The gap narrowed and Jetfire hoped he had enough velocity. His nose collided with the eye at blistering speed and went through it, followed by the rest of him. Pain washed through him and he screamed in agony as shrapnel tore into him.

He fought against the pain as he raced back towards the Legacy. He had to tell the others about Cybertrax’s scheme and find some way to stop it. The hangar to the Legacy opened and he slowed down as he approached. “Legacy, this is Jetfire. As soon as I’m aboard, get us moving out of here as quickly as possible, I’ll explain later.” He came to a near stop and coasted into the hangar. Immediately, the hangar doors closed and the ship began moving.

He transformed and saw a door open at the far end of the hangar. Hippolyta and the rest of the Autobots hurried towards him. He saw Hippolyta’s face grimace as she saw the damage he had taken. “So I take it this guy isn’t friendly,” she joked uneasily.

“No. Come on, let’s go somewhere quiet and I’ll explain it to you. And hopefully we can find some way to stop Cybertrax.”


Chapter Two

The briefing room of the Legacy consisted of a long, rectangular table with chairs spaced all around it and a holographic display at the head of the table. Jetfire stood at the head of the table, ready to tell the others his findings. Hippolyta, her staff, his Autobot comrades, and Scarecrow were all present for the meeting.

“What we are dealing with is a monster bent on destroying everything in the universe. Cybertrax is an unstable being who believes that the only way to create this perfect universe is to destroy the current one. Obviously we have to stop him before he can do this,” Jetfire began.

“Why does Cybertrax think he can create this universal paradise?” Wheeljack asked. Jetfire recounted what Cybertrax had told him and there were shocked gasps all around the table. Even Scarecrow seemed to be deeply affected by the story.

“Cybertrax must be destroyed!” Scarecrow shouted.

“Calm down, Scarecrow,” Jetfire urged the Predacon. “And while you’re at it, I need you to mutate into Shockwave.”

Scarecrow jumped to his feet, his fists clenched. “No! If I do that, you will never reactivate me! I will be left dormant inside of Shockwave’s body until he is destroyed!”

Jetfire could understand Scarecrow’s protests. When Jetfire transitioned between himself and Skyfire, it was perfectly flawless, all of his memories were retained. That was because they shared the same spark and were essentially the same Cybertronian. With Scarecrow, it was completely different. Scarecrow had downloaded his core consciousness into Shockwave, but he was not a part of Shockwave’s spark. When Scarecrow mutated, he would cease to exist until Shockwave mutated back. In essence, Jetfire was asking him to kill himself. Ordinarily, Jetfire’s programming would not have allowed him to ask that, but right now he needed Shockwave’s superior strategic capabilities.

Jetfire pulled his hyperpulse plasma rifle out and leveled it at Scarecrow. “Do it or I will destroy you,” Jetfire growled. Scarecrow stared at Jetfire in disbelief, and seconds later his body turned to liquid silver. It reformed into the purple form of the Decepticon Shockwave.

“What do you want of me, Jetfire?” Shockwave asked in his usual cool, uncaring voice.

“I need you to assess a situation and devise a strategy. Of all of us, you have the best strategic planning processors,” Jetfire replied.

“Where’s Prowl when you need him,” Grapple said quietly. The Autobot Prowl was the best known strategist in the known universe, because of his advanced logic circuits and strategic planning processors. Jetfire would have felt a little better if Prowl were in the room, because it would give them that much more of a chance.

“I will see what I can do,” Shockwave responded, seeming not to notice Grapple’s barb. Jetfire explained the situation in detail, noticing that Shockwave never showed any response to any of it. Once Jetfire was done, he sat down and waited. Everyone looked anxiously at Shockwave, hoping that he could find a way out of this mess. It took five minutes before Shockwave spoke again. “I have analyzed the data and come up with a plan that might resolve the crisis.”

“The main advantage and disadvantage for a creature like Cybertrax is his sheer size. It is an advantage in that he can easily destroy worlds and stars. However, he is not suited to fighting a smaller foe, like us. Therefore, the logical conclusion would be to infiltrate Cybertrax’s superstructure and wage a campaign to destroy him from within. At the same time, it would be wise to attack from without to keep him distracted so that the inside team could go undetected and carry out their mission.”

“The key targets to hit will be the central processing unit and spark of Cybertrax. If these are destroyed, then he will die. Logic would dictate sending in at least two teams, one for each target. As well, the teams will want to recover those Matrices he spoke of. If their power could be unleashed against Cybertrax, he could be destroyed more quickly,” Shockwave finished and for a moment there was silence.

“A good plan,” Jetfire replied.

“I agree,” Hippolyta chipped in. “Take as many of my warriors as you need. We can use the Legacy to keep him busy out here while they try and destroy him from the inside.”

“Shockwave, you will lead one of the teams. Hippolyta, I’m sure one of your warriors can lead the other,” Jetfire said.

“Of course.”

“Good. I’ll lead the fighter attack, which leaves you to command the Legacy,” Jetfire said to Hippolyta.

“That’s a good thing, since I can’t fly,” she replied. “It should take a couple of hours to get the teams organized and ready. In the meantime, we can find out what Cybertrax is doing, and you can get repaired. That’s it then, everyone is dismissed.” The room cleared except for Hippolyta and the Autobots and Jetfire tried to mutate his form into Skyfire to heal his injuries. He waited for the usual brief feeling of disorientation, but nothing happened. “Unable to comply, system damaged,” a computerized voice told Jetfire in its annoyingly pleasant tone.

“I can’t mutate!” Jetfire blurted out. Grapple and Wheeljack looked at each other, pain on their faces.

“Jetfire, we’ve got to talk,” Grapple said. Jetfire looked at the two engineers and nodded. He followed them out into the corridor, leaving Hippolyta alone in the room. She sat down and stared out at space, in shock after the incident.

Hippolyta felt her fluids going cold at Jetfire’s outburst. Something was wrong with him. The worst part of it was that there was nothing she could do about it. She wasn’t an engineer, so she had no idea what was wrong with Jetfire or how to fix it. She wished that she could, because she hated to see the one she loved in pain. A hand touched her shoulder and she saw Ril Tyr standing over her. “Yta, we must begin preparations for the attack,” he reminded her.

“Of course,” she replied absent-mindedly. She would have to find out what was wrong with Jetfire later and see if there was anything that she could do.

* * * * * *

Jetfire and the two Autobot engineers had moved into a storage room to talk in private. Jetfire sat on a crate, feeling shaky at not being able to mutate. “What’s wrong with me?” He asked.

“When we made those modifications to your body after Scarecrow nearly killed you, we knew there was the possibility that something could go wrong. The technologies were untested, so there was a good chance of some side-effects,” Wheeljack began. “However, this is worse than we thought.”

“What is it?”

“Jetfire, your spark is becoming unstable. That’s the only explanation for why you can’t mutate your form,” Grapple explained.

“Why?”

“Your spark functions as a sort of dual spark since those modifications,” Wheeljack replied. “We loaded an algorithm into your central processor that would extract the information from your spark to allow you to change between forms. That algorithm is what manipulates your mind and body so you can mutate between Jetfire and Skyfire. Apparently the algorithm is breaking down. We’d have to do some tests, but I’m sure it would tell us that the algorithm isn’t working any more. In fact, it probably stopped functioning properly a while back. That would mean that your central processor was trying to get the information directly from your spark, causing the instability.”

“It’s only going to get worse,” Grapple told Jetfire. “I don’t want to say this, but you’re going to die. Once the spark becomes too unstable, it will collapse and destroy itself completely.”

“So there’s nothing you can do? Can’t you just reload the algorithm into my processor?”

“No, that wouldn’t work at this stage, and it wouldn’t have done a lot good earlier either. Reprogramming the algorithm would have just been a stopgap measure. It might have bought you some time, but in the end the same result would have happened,” Wheeljack answered.

“Can you at least repair me in this form?”

“We can patch you up, but with an unstable spark, using a restoration chamber might kill you. So, no, we can’t completely repair you,” Grapple responded.

“Just do what you can so I can get out there and fight Cybertrax.”

“Jetfire, you have to realize that you’re going to be a lot more vulnerable. We can only patch you up so much. If you take too much damage then there won’t be anything we can do,” Grapple protested.

“I don’t care. If Cybertrax succeeds, then we’ll all be dead soon. I can’t let that happen. I have to fight against him with every last ounce of strength I have left. If I’m going to die anyway, I might as well do it battling the greatest evil the universe has ever known,” Jetfire replied angrily.

Wheeljack looked sadly at Jetfire and suggested, “If you make it through this battle, I might be able to rig a stasis field for your spark. We could keep it in stasis so that Grapple and I could work on a solution. Just promise me that you’ll make it back safely.”

“I promise. Now let’s go to work.” The engineers nodded and the three Autobots headed up for the bridge. When they got there, Hippolyta immediately intercepted them.

“Our sensors show that Cybertrax is moving away from us and towards the inner planets of the system,” she said quietly.

“Why would he do that?” Jetfire asked.

“He needs the energy,” Skids replied, joining the conversation. “In the future that I saw, one of the first things Cybertrax did was to destroy the planet’s star. He also drained all the geothermal energy from the second planet of the system.”

“Why the second planet?” Grapple wondered.

“The second planet is highly volcanic, thus it has higher levels of geothermal energy,” Hippolyta answered. “Then that’s where he’s going. We can intercept him on his way and launch our attack.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Jetfire said. “How long until we get there?”

“One hour.”

“Good. That should be enough time to get me patched up. Let’s go guys,” Jetfire left the bridge with Wheeljack and Grapple in tow. Hippolyta watched him go, staring at the door for a few long moments after it closed. Then she turned away to give orders to the ship’s helmsman. After that, she sat in the command chair and stared out at the stars. Very soon, the first battle under her command would launch. She had never been in combat before, so she didn’t know how well she would hold up. She saw how calm Jetfire was, even though he was wounded, and hoped she could be like that. Then again, he had millions of years of practice, she thought grimly. She could see Cybertrax as a large gray mass set against space and knew that time would tell if she was truly fit to be a Yta.


Chapter Three

Shockwave sat in the cargo compartment of a small, oval-shaped Cybertraxian shuttle, waiting for it to launch. In the compartment with him were ten Cybertraxian warriors, each one wearing a nervous expression and carrying a large weapon. Even so, Shockwave knew that the firepower amassed in the shuttle would not be enough to destroy anything the size of Cybertrax.

Fortunately, if his plan worked, there would be no need to completely destroy Cybertrax. Eliminating his spark and central processor would suffice. Shockwave looked back around at the team of Cybertraxian warriors and internally snorted in disgust. If this were a Decepticon operation, he knew that his fellow warriors would not look so nervous. These Cybertraxians are weak fools. Their planet would have been easy to conquest. If I had located it sooner, I might have been able to tell Megatron of it. Then that planet and all of its power would belong to the Decepticon cause. It still can be, a small voice in his head told him. He could capture Cybertrax and the Matrices and use them to destroy the Autobots and their Cybertraxian friends.

No, that course of action is not logical. I am the only Decepticon here, I could not maintain something as large as Cybertrax for the years until I could reach Cybertron. Nor to I have the skills to survive on my own, Shockwave told himself. Ever since regaining consciousness after his body was possessed by Scarecrow, he found illogical thoughts creeping into his mind. It was as though the Predacon’s personality was hovering just at the edge of his psyche, trying to manipulate him. He wished he could remove Scarecrow’s programming, but he could not, and the Autobot fools would not because of their moral standards. So he would have to suffer with it until they reached Cybertron, where he would finally rid himself of Scarecrow once and for all.

He snapped back to reality and heard Jetfire’s voice over the comlink in the cockpit. “We’re launching. Stay behind us until you reach Cybertrax. We’ll keep him off of you. Got it?”

“Understood,” the pilot replied. Shockwave shifted in his seat as the shuttle took off. There was nothing he could do until they were inside of Cybertrax, so he tried to occupy his mind by calculating the expected casualty predictions for the mission.

* * *

Jetfire swooped in towards Cybertrax, all twelve Cybertraxian Kastra fighters behind him. He could barely detect the shuttle on his sensors, and hoped that Cybertrax could not detect it either. Wheeljack, Grapple, and a group of Cybertraxian engineers had done what they could to make the shuttle stealthy by masking the infrared signature of its engines and its radar profile. It was still detectable, but Jetfire hoped that Cybertrax would be too busy to run a high-intensity sweep of the area, and with all of the fighters flying around, it would be hard to detect the shuttle’s ion trail.

“OK, guys, this is it. Remember, go in fast and stay close to him. We don’t know what kind of weapons he has, but if we stay low and fast we’ll be hard for him to hit,” Jetfire said to the Kastras.

“Hopefully,” one of the pilots grumbled.

“Let’s do it,” another one chimed in.

“Legacy, this is Jetfire, we are engaging the target.”

“Roger, Jetfire. Good luck,” the voice of the communications officer on the Legacy said.

Jetfire deactivated his comlink and could see that he was near Cybertrax. The fighters were approaching from the right side, not wanting to risk a direct frontal attack. Jetfire armed his weapons and waited. After a few seconds he opened fire, missiles and laser blasts streaking towards Cybertrax. He quickly pulled up and continued to rake Cybertrax with fire from his laser cannons as he moved along Cybertrax’s ride side, towards his front. He knew that his shots were not doing anything, but they weren’t supposed to. All he had to do was buy the shuttle time to get inside and begin its mission.

“We’re having null effect on the bad guy,” a Kastra pilot said.

“I know. Just keep at it, Meir,” Jetfire replied.

“I will. I’d just like to do some damage.”

“Plenty of time for that later,” Jetfire responded as he launched another barrage of missiles right into Cybertrax’s chest.

Hippolyta paced the bridge of the Legacy, Skids following her in her anxious movements. “How much longer until the shuttle is clear?” She asked.

“Five minutes,” the sensor officer answered. Hippolyta nodded and turned away, trying not to let the pain on her face show. While Cybertrax had not returned fire yet, she couldn’t help but feel that something bad was going to happen to Jetfire out there.

“How do you think Cybertrax is going to respond?” Hippolyta asked Skids.

“I don’t know. He’ll probably try to attack them in some way. He has no choice. Jetfire and your fighters aren’t doing much damage yet, but if they keep at it long enough, they could start to do something. He’ll eventually have to react to their threat. From what I know and from what Jetfire said, he’s not interested in us, though. He’s got bigger things on his mind. So maybe he’ll ignore them altogether,” Skids answered.

“Have they told you what’s wrong with Jetfire yet?”

“No, I haven’t had a chance to talk with Wheeljack or Grapple about it yet.”

“He’s dying, I can feel it. He doesn’t want to talk to me about it, though. He’s afraid of hurting me,” Hippolyta turned away from Skids and stared out a viewport. Skids laid a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her.

“I’m sure he’ll be all right. He’s survived millions of years and millions of Decepticon schemes. He won’t die now.”

“Maybe. Or maybe we’ll all die,” Hippolyta retorted, gesturing at Cybertrax with her right hand. Skids took his hand off of her, not knowing what he could say. From what he had seen in the future, everyone had died. That future had been rendered null by evacuating Cybertrax, but the end result was still a possibility.

“Yta, we are receiving a message from Cybertrax!” The communications officer shouted.

Hippolyta ran over to the station and heard a deep voice rumble, “You fools! Your puny weapons are useless against me. Nevertheless, I will destroy you. You cannot stand in the way of my mission.”

“Tell Jetfire that he can expect some trouble,” Hippolyta ordered the communications officer. She commanded the rest of the bridge crew, “Move us into attack position and focus all weapons on an entry point for the shuttle. If Cybertrax is going to fight back, we’ve got to get the shuttle inside quickly.”

The Legacy began to move towards Cybertrax, looking like a tiny mouse charging at an enormous elephant. Hippolyta sat in her chair and Skids took an empty seat in a corner. They both knew there was little they could do now.

Meir lined up on Jetfire’s right wing and they readied a pass at Cybertrax’s right side, just above his waist. Suddenly, panels began opening all over Cybertrax’s body. What in the name of Primus is going on? Jetfire wondered. The answer came quickly as bolts of red laser fire began spitting from the holes. Jetfire pulled up, taking a couple of minor hits on his right side.

Meir wasn’t so lucky. The Cybertraxian fighter was hit in the right wing and in the middle. He lost control and was holed a half dozen more times by laser fire before his engines burned out. He hung limply in space and Jetfire knew that he was dead. There was no time to grieve, though, as Jetfire had to twist and jerk violently to avoid a similar fate. Jetfire heard screams from some of the pilots and saw at least two fighters smash into Cybertrax. He knew that it was suicide for them to stay out here any longer under such a bombardment, but they still had to get the shuttle inside.

An idea came to Jetfire and he ordered, “Everyone clear out of here. I’m going to take out one of those gun turrets. Rahn, bring the shuttle in to my position, you should be able to land there once I take out the turret.”

“Understood,” Rahn, the shuttle’s pilot, replied.

The Kastra pilots began to pull away from Cybertrax, maneuvering wildly to avoid being hit by the intense fire the monster was putting up. One of the fighters was hit the tail as it was trying to escape. The pilot transformed, but was hit in the head by another blast. The rest of the Kastras managed to make it away safely.

Jetfire charged straight at a turret, jinking horizontally to avoid the fire coming from it. He felt a shot nail his left wing and nearly lost control, but he managed to keep on his course. As he neared the turret, he saw green shots hit above him. “Jetfire, we’ll try and keep Cybertrax off of you. Just get that shuttle inside,” Hippolyta’s voice said. He saw on his sensors that the Legacy was moving in at full speed, blasting away at Cybertrax. The shots were not overly effective, but they did take out a couple of turrets.

As he neared the turret, Jetfire transformed and pulled out his rifle. He fired a stream of green plasma straight into the turret. It exploded in a quick plume of flame, but not before getting one last shot off. Jetfire was hit squarely in the chest and thrown backwards, screaming in pain. “All clear,” he bit out. The shuttle flew past him and towards the hole he had opened. Jetfire transformed and streaked towards the Legacy, which was still pouring fire at Cybertrax, while attempting to dodge the laser fire coming from the creature.

The shuttle weaved its way towards the opening Jetfire had opened. Shockwave held his hand against a restraint in order to keep his seat. A lot of the Cybertraxians's equipment had already fallen from their hands and was rolling around the compartment. “I think my filters are going to reverse themselves,” one soldier grumbled.

“The wild gyrations of this craft can have no effect on your fluid filters,” Shockwave replied.

The soldier looked perplexed for a moment and responded, “I was joking.”

“Jokes are illogical.”

“So is trying to destroy a monster like this with just ten troops.” Shockwave nodded and decided that it would be best to leave the matter alone. The shuttle bucked and he looked towards the cockpit.

The shuttle was hit twice by laser blasts, once in left wing and the second time in the midsection. Rahn looked at his co-pilot and tried to stabilize the shuttle. Suddenly his entire world was lit up in red light. When he looked around again, his co-pilot was nowhere to be found and the controls were smoking. The windscreen was shattered and Rahn saw that there was no way he could control the shuttle. He could see that they were going to impact against Cybertrax in a few seconds and knew he had to try and do something. He slapped the button to open the rear hatch and opened the door to the passenger compartment.

“The controls are slagged, we’ve got to get out of here!” Rahn shouted.

“Grab as much equipment as you can and jump clear of the shuttle,” Shockwave ordered. He got to his feet and snagged a rifle as he hurried to the rear hatch. He jumped from the hatch and activated his jets. The shuttle impacted against Cybertrax in a ball of flame. Shockwave was pelted with shrapnel and pain lanced through his body as a chunk of metal tore into his back.

He turned and looked at where the shuttle had been. The bodies of the soldiers were floating limply in space. His sensors could detect that at least four sparks were still on-line. He maneuvered to the first body, that of the pilot. He pulled the body towards the hole and set it inside of Cybertrax. Soon he had all four Cybertraxians gathered inside as well as what equipment he could muster. Then he knelt down next to the bodies to do what he could to heal them. There was still a mission to carry out.

“Yta, we cannot contact the shuttle or any of its occupants.”

“Slag! Are all of the fighters recovered?”

“Yes, Yta.”

“Excellent. Move us to a safe distance and call a meeting for all senior officers and our allies. We have to make a new plan.” Hippolyta hurried off of the bridge to go find Jetfire and make sure for herself that he had survived. What will we do now? She wondered and hoped that someone could think of a new plan.


Chapter Three

Hippolyta, her senior staff, and the Autobots gathered silently in the conference room. Hippolyta stood at the front of the room and snuck a quick look at Jetfire. He had a hole in his chest and looked weak. She had tried to talk to him about it, but he had ignored her. “There’s too much to do,” he had said. She looked around the room and saw that everyone looked grave.

“The shuttle is destroyed and our strike team is presumed dead. Cybertrax is moving towards the second planet, where he will undoubtedly drain it of its energy to make himself even more powerful. We need to come up with a new plan to destroy him, and fast,” Hippolyta announced grimly.

“Maybe we should just launch an all-out assault,” Tyr replied.

“No, that would be futile.”

“Then maybe we should try and find some allies to help us. If we can gather some more firepower…”

Jetfire broke the Cybertraxian speaker off, “No, Cybertrax will not be weak for long. If we give him a chance to power up, he will be unstoppable.” He shakily got to his feet and stumbled to the front of the room. “No, we are alone in this. We have to find a way to stop him, now.”

“We don’t have enough firepower on this ship to destroy him,” Tyr protested.

“Wheeljack, is there some way we could poison the energy that he takes?” Jetfire asked.

“I don’t know. I’d have to do some research on the subject,” Wheeljack answered.

“What about overloading the ship’s main reactor?”

“Unless we were in his belly, we wouldn’t hardly dent him,” the ship’s main engineer, a Cybertraxian named Zeam, replied.

“Let’s face it, we don’t have the firepower to do it,” Tyr threw his hands up in the air in frustration.

“We can’t give up, we have to find a way!” Skids rose to his feet and swept the room with an angry gaze. “Cybertrax will destroy everything in his path. We are all that is standing in his way. We have to do whatever we can to stop him, even if it means sacrificing us all.”

Hippolyta looked at Skids and then around the room. “I think I have a way,” she announced. She opened her chest plate and moved aside a cover. There was a bright white glow. She pulled something from her chest and the white glow ceased. Jetfire looked at her hand and was shocked to see that she was holding something that looked like the Autobot Matrix of Leadership that he had opened over a year ago. The differences were that the object was hexagonal, not round, the crystal was a whitish color, and the outside casing was a dark green with white handles. Still, Jetfire could feel the same sense of power radiating from it.

Tyr rose from his seat, his face looking horror-stricken. “Hippolyta, no! You can’t use the Matrix of Wisdom to destroy this thing.”

“Perhaps the Matrix has the power to destroy Cybertrax,” Hippolyta replied. “We must try, it is our only hope.”

Tyr nodded slowly and resumed his seat. He knew like everyone else did that Hippolyta was right. The Matrix was the only thing that could possibly have the power to destroy Cybertrax and stop his evil plan. “What is your plan to use it?” He asked.

“I cannot use it here, so we will have to stop him. Then I will leave the ship and try to open it when I near him.”

“That’s suicide!” Jetfire burst out.

Hippolyta turned to him slowly, her face looking old and sad. “Jetfire, you have done much for my people. You have given everything you have, I can do no less. If this is what it takes, then that is what I will do.”

Jetfire wanted to protest, but looking at her and thinking of her words made him remember Optimus Prime. It sounded exactly like something that he would say, and her face showed that she was not making this choice lightly. She knew that she could die, but she had to try this if there was even the slightest hope that it could save her people and the universe. She truly was a great leader. Despite all the feelings of anger and sadness running through him, he replied, “I understand. You have to do this.”

Hippolyta looked him in the eye for a few moments, knowing that those words were difficult for him to say. Jetfire met her gaze and started to feel strange. He heard Hippolyta say something to him, but he couldn’t understand it. It was as though everything was in slow motion. The room began to spin and his vision blurred. He wanted to scream, but couldn’t. “Jetfire, are you all right?” Hippolyta asked. He watched her mouth move very, very slowly and heard her rumble something at him. His vision started to get black around the edges and he tried to grip the edge of the table to support himself better. His hand slipped and he pitched forward. Hippolyta knelt down and was able to catch him as he fell. She turned him over and saw that his eye had gone from red to black. “Jetfire!”

Grapple and Wheeljack burst from their seats and ran over to Hippolyta and Jetfire. “That wound must have quickened the destabilization,” Wheeljack surmised.

“Is there anything you can do for him?” Hippolyta asked.

“I don’t know. Grapple and I will do what we can. Zeam, is there some kind of engineering lab around here?”

“Yes, I’ll take you there.” Grapple and Wheeljack both transformed, Grapple using his crane to lift Jetfire carefully onto Wheeljack’s roof. The weight of Jetfire nearly collapsed his roof, but Wheeljack was able to handle it. He moved forward slowly, with Zeam leading them towards the engineering lab.

Hippolyta remained on the floor, her hands clutching at air. She wiped fluids from her eyes and stood up slowly. She had set the Matrix on the conference table and grabbed it. “Tyr, do we have a booster pack in storage?” She asked quietly.

“Yes, Yta.”

“Good. Have a crew get one ready for when I reach the hangar.”

Tyr looked around the table in surprise. “Why?”

“I still have a mission to carry out.”

“Should I have the Kastras readied to escort you?”

“No. I will carry out this next phase of the mission alone. Bring us in as close to Cybertrax as you can, and then I will launch. Then pull back immediately.”

“Are you sure that is wise?”

“If I fail, I do not want the rest of you destroyed. I cannot risk your lives on this gamble.”

Tyr looked at her sadly and slowly nodded his head. “I understand, Yta. I will carry out your orders.” Tyr left the table and Hippolyta left slowly after him, shuffling along like an old woman. Skids could feel fluids coming to his eyes, knowing the kind of weight she was feeling on her shoulders. He knew that she loved Jetfire, and now he was probably going to die in defense of her people. On top of that, Cybertrax was ready to devastate a planet, draining it dry, and she was the only one who had any chance of stopping it. If she failed, then there was little chance that anything else could stop Cybertrax. Skids got up and was glad that he did not have to bear the burdens of command.

* * *

It took a half-hour for the Legacy to catch up with Cybertrax. The orange planet that was the unnamed second planet in the system was just coming into view. Hippolyta knew that if she failed, then nothing could stop Cybertrax from draining the life from the planet. She gazed out a viewport near the hangar and turned away slowly.

She didn’t know how Jetfire was doing, and she didn’t want to disturb Wheeljack, Grapple, and her engineers while they worked on him. Perhaps it is my own cowardice that keeps me away, she thought. Maybe I don’t want to see him lying there, unmoving and looking dead. Maybe I love him too much to see him in pain. She knew that was the truth, but tried to convince herself that it was because she knew better than to interrupt the engineers.

“Yta, we are within launching distance,” Tyr said over the comlink.

“Good. I’ll be launching shortly.”

“May the Matrix protect you and bring you back safely,” Tyr responded sadly, breaking the connection. He sat in the command chair on the bridge, looking despondent. Skids stood next to him, wishing that there was something he could do. He had been a warrior, but even so, there was little he could do in a situation like this.

Hippolyta opened the doors to the hangar and went inside. As she did, every technician and pilot came to attention. She held her gaze level, taking them all in slowly, trying to look as majestic and proud as she could. She reached a team of technicians who held out a large, white booster pack, which looked like a small fish with two tiny engines under its tail. She turned her back to them and they magnetically sealed the booster pack to her. Once it was in place, she turned once more and thanked the technicians. She saw that everyone was still at attention and as she neared the hatch to launch, they all saluted her. She slowly returned the salute, holding it longer than usual. She knew that it was probably the last time she would ever get a chance to be with her troops.

She wanted to say good-bye, to make some kind of speech to address the moment. However, no words would come to her mind. Nothing could express in words all the emotions running through her: sadness over Jetfire, desperation in the face of her mission, and pride at the professionalism and discipline of her soldiers. It was all too confusing. Instead of trying to get out some speech, she activated the booster pack and silently sped towards Cybertrax.

* * *

Jetfire knew he was dying. He could feel the oppressive blackness all around him and knew that very soon it would smother his last thoughts and his spark forever. However, he did not feel any fear about his own death. All he could think of was Hippolyta.

He wished that they had had more time together, time to cultivate the love that had sprung up between them. They had both known on Cybertrax that a relationship could go nowhere, because Hippolyta had to stay to lead her people and Jetfire had to stay with comrades to make sure they made it to Cybertron safely. Still, he longed to hold her in his arms once more. He thought of the time they had shared and the few moments of passion they had managed to squeeze in. The memories felt so sweet and yet so painful, because he knew that soon it would all be over.

As he was about to die, there was a flash of white light. He suddenly saw himself in space, Cybertrax looming before him. He turned slightly to his right and saw Hippolyta streaking towards the monster. She stopped a short distance away and opened her chest, removing the Matrix of Wisdom. Jetfire could feel the anger and surprise going through Cybertrax as he viewed one of the last of the twelve Matrices he had created. Hippolyta grasped the handles with her hands and pulled.

Nothing happened.

Jetfire could see her struggle with the Matrix, desperately trying to open it. Then he saw Cybertrax open his weapons ports and open fire. Red light tore into Hippolyta, obliterating her before his eyes. No! His mind screamed. She can’t die! I won’t let it happen, he swore to himself.

Grapple turned to Wheeljack and shook his head sadly. They had tried everything they could think of, but nothing could bring their friend back. His spark was too unstable to be revived or repaired. The damage inflicted by Cybertrax had sealed the deal. There was nothing they could do for Jetfire, but wait for their friend to finally die.

Suddenly, Jetfire’s eye lit up a bright red. Grapple shielded his eyes, the light was so bright. Jetfire got to his feet and looked at his friends. “Where’s Hippolyta?” He asked.

“She’s going to use the Matrix to try and stop Cybertrax,” Wheeljack replied.

“No!” Jetfire turned and ran. He knew that Hippolyta was in terrible danger. What he had seen was a vision of what was about to happen to her. He had to stop it before she was killed. He had to stop it before the only one he ever loved was gone for good.

He ran towards the hangar at full speed, knocking over several Cybertraxians in the process. His damaged legs moved him faster than he had ever run before. He opened the doors to the hangar and dashed across it. He pushed Cybertraxians out of his way and leapt into the air. He transformed and lit his rocket boosters, blasting out of the hangar at near the speed of sound.

He tore through space and saw that Hippolyta had already reached Cybertrax. She opened her chest plate and took out the Matrix. She held it in her hands and pulled at it. For an instant Jetfire hoped that the grisly vision he had seen was wrong, but moments later he saw that it was not. Nothing happened as she tugged and pulled at the Matrix. The ports on Cybertrax opened and Jetfire knew that she was going to die.

Hippolyta pulled desperately at the Matrix, trying to get it to open, but it wouldn’t budge a nanometer for her. She looked up in horror and saw that Cybertrax was preparing to send her to oblivion. Then this is my end, she thought. I have failed myself and my people. She readied herself for her death when she saw something coming straight for her from the corner of her eye. It was red and white and moving faster than she thought possible for something that was obviously not a starship. As the gun ports on Cybertrax lit up with red light, Hippolyta felt hands reach out and push her away just as Cybertrax fired. Her savior took the full brunt of the blast and the intense light blinded Hippolyta. Her vision cleared up moments later and she saw nothing but debris all around her.

She recognized the debris floating nearby and knew who had saved her life. “Jetfire!” She screamed into the empty void of space, willing him to come back to life. She broke down into sobs, fluids coating her optics. She expected Cybertrax to finish the job, but instead he turned and silently continued towards the second planet. Hippolyta watched the monster move away slowly and allowed herself to hang limply in space, mourning the loss of the only one she had ever loved.


Epilogue

Skids stood on the bridge of the Legacy and saw Cybertrax hovering over the second planet of the system. The metal monster was as big as the planet and Skids wondered how he was going to drain the energy. He watched in silent fascination as Cybertrax raised his right hand, the one that had enormous black claws instead of fingers, and sunk the claw into the surface of the planet.

“What is he doing?” Tyr asked.

“It appears as though the claws are deploying some kind of equipment to tap the energies of the planet,” the sensor officer replied.

Skids watched the scene and remembered his time in the future. In hours the planet would be nothing but an iceball, just as it had been in the future he had seen. Then the future I saw still is happening, only slightly differently. And there is nothing I can do to stop it, Skids thought. He turned away and left the bridge silently. He walked down the empty corridors, occasionally passing a Cybertraxian or two. They all looked fearful and sad at the same time. I guess the word has spread quickly.

He stopped at a door and opened it. He had thought it would have been locked, but it wasn’t. He stepped into a dark room and took a look around. “Hippolyta?” He called out. He got no answer and continued to look around. “I just want to talk.”

“I know,” he heard her reply sadly. He heard movement and saw that she had been curled up in a corner, staring out her window. “I guess everyone knows by now.”

“Yes,” Skids replied.

“Why, why did he do it?” She asked.

“He loved you and knew you were in danger.”

“I ran into Grapple on my way here. He said that Jetfire was dead when I left. Then he suddenly sprang to life and chased after me. He came back from the dead just to save me. He came back for me…” Her voice trailed off into sobs and Skids put a hand on her shoulder. She bolted into his arms, wanting to hold on to someone.

“I know. That shows how much he loved you. He gave his own life for yours, because he couldn’t bear to live or die knowing that you would be killed.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. He was so strong and smart and brave.” Hippolyta moved away from Skids and stared out at space. “He knew me better than anyone else in this universe, even though he had only known me for a short time. He made me feel the happiest I had ever been. And now he’s gone. How can I go on without him?”

Skids gazed out at the stars and thought of his fallen comrade. How would any of them go on? He had been the rock, the anchor for everyone on the Legacy. Even though he had been dying slowly, he never let it stop him from doing what was right. And now he was dead, struck down by Cybertrax. How could any of them carry on without him? More importantly, how could they stop Cybertrax without him? “I don’t know,” Skids whispered.

To Be Concluded in Ragnarok, Part Three of the Apocalypse Trilogy!

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