e shtunë, 16 qershor 2007

The Skyfire Adventures

Author's Note: Written in 1996, this is the original fanfic that began the series. It's actually a crossover with the old "Doom" series of games. Basically I decided to pit Beast Wars Transformers against the Doom baddies. This is the result.

There are a couple of continuity errors here because this was written in the first season of the show. Some of the assumptions I made about the time/place of the show and the whereabouts of the Autobot Matrix turned out to be false in future seasons. Oh well.


The Skyfire Adventures:

Our Darkest Hour

Prologue

Darkness faded quickly into a blinding flash of light. The light slowly focused through newborn eyes that had suddenly flickered open. Then the rest of the body began to move slowly, experimentally. Finally, the mouth opened and groaned as the body within the coffin-like object sat up. When it had sat up, it saw that it was not alone. Some kind of white and black-striped creature was standing just outside of the black object it was sitting inside.

The brain struggled to comprehend what was going on, its processors slowly gaining speed after its long slumber. Finally, it identified the creature as a tiger, a rare white tiger from the looks of it. With this discovery, memories began resurfacing, until finally the brain had pieced together what had happened. "You have awakened, that is good," the tiger said. The brain stopped, surprised. It did not remember tigers being able to talk.

"Who are you and where am I?" The mouth demanded to know, hoping that exchanging vocal transmissions with the tiger would find the answers the brain needed to make sense of the situation.

"I am Tigatron, a Maximal like yourself. Where we are, I am unsure of. Tigatron, Maximize!" The tiger suddenly transformed into a large robot. Now things made sense to the brain. "Who are you?"

"I am..." The brain searched for a response. After a few long seconds, it was able to reply, "I am Skyfire."

"Skyfire? Very interesting. You must hurry and transform to beast mode before the energon fields damage your circuitry."

"All right. Beast mode." Unsure of what would happen, Skyfire was surprised when his arms and legs folded up and wings unfurled. He briefly ran his form through his database of creatures and identified it as an eagle, a bald eagle. He perched himself on the edge of the thing he had been lying in, a stasis pod as he recalled.

"Excellent, now we must hurry to base. Beast mode," Tigatron said as he transformed back into a tiger. Then he began running away from the pod. Skyfire shrugged mentally and let out a cry as he spread his wings and took flight. Below him, he could see the abandoned stasis pod, and a nest of eagles nearby. The pod was teetering on the edge of a cliff, the nest not more than a few feet from it. That the pod had landed safely at all was surprising. He swooped down until he was only a couple of feet above Tigatron.

"What's going on? Why do we have to hurry back to base?"

"Because the universe will be destroyed if we do not!" Tigatron replied. Skyfire gulped, a chill running through his feathers.


Chapter One - Descent

"The universe? How is that possible?" Skyfire questioned.

"During the Great War, a horde of evil creatures invaded Cybertron and nearly took it over. Eventually, one brave Autobot named Ambush was able to sweep the planet of this plague and destroy the teleportation device they were using for their invasion. For over a century no one had seen anything more of these creatures, until about thirty years ago."

"Then they were sighted on the colony world of Erva Prime. The colony was overrun and a beachhead was set up on this world. What the aliens hoped to do, no one is certain. A Maximal special forces operative named Outfox was able to clear the colony and destroy the intelligence that was coordinating the aliens on the colony. Again they disappeared."

"Only hours ago they invaded our base. A horde of half-robotic, half-organic beings descended upon my comrades. It was a slaughter. I was out on a scouting patrol in the northern sector and received a panicked transmission from Rhinox, the ship's chief engineer. He was barely functioning, but with his last strength he told me that these aliens had appeared inside the base and blasted anyone trying to resist them with torrents of plasma weapons and missiles. Then they grabbed our leader, Optimus Primal, and disappeared into some kind of dimensional portal. Rhinox was able to keep the portal open, which is why we must hurry to the base, before the portal closes once more. I was on my way back when your stasis pod crashed on the nearby cliff. Now that there are two of us, we stand a better chance of succeeding," Tigatron explained.

"Succeeding at what?"

"At retrieving Optimus Primal from wherever he was taken."

"Why?"

"Few know it, but Optimus Primal possesses the most powerful object in the universe: the Autobot Matrix of Leadership."

"The Matrix?" Skyfire echoed in awe. "But I thought the Matrix was lost during the Great War?"

"That story was circulated during the war to fool Decepticon intelligence. After the war ended, and the Autobots disbanded, the Matrix was passed to Optimus, the most senior Maximal for safe-keeping. Now that he is captured, the Matrix is in the hands of the aliens."

"How do you know so much about this? I was an Autobot and I never heard any of this."

"I knew none of it. However, Rhinox was a close friend to Optimus. His final words were: 'The Matrix still exists. Optimus has it.' The rest I deduced from simple logic," Tigatron responded as the Maximal base came in sight. It looked perfectly normal from what Skyfire could see; there were no blast marks or missile holes along the hull. "Sentinel, stand down." The defensive shield collapsed around the base and the two Maximals got onto the boarding platform that lowered. It retracted, and instantly the pair was plunged into darkness.

Tigatron activated the emergency lights, and Skyfire could see a picture from his own worst nightmares. The blasted bodies of the Maximal defenders were strewn about the command center in pieces. Skyfire transformed and picked up the head of one of them. Its eyes were black and half of its orange face was blown off. Skyfire dropped the head in horror. "This is terrible," he stammered.

"Yes. I knew all of them. Sadly, we cannot grieve for them now. We must hurry to the portal," Tigatron motioned to a faint, blue, glowing circle near the restoration chamber. He ran over to it and stuck his hand into it, then pulled it back out quickly. "Good, it is still operational. Come, Skyfire, we must go to wherever they have taken Optimus." With that, Tigatron jumped through the portal. Skyfire took one last look at the base. He saw the only intact body, that of Rhinox, lying on the floor near a console. He shook his head in sadness and then jumped into the portal.

***

Blue mist was spinning all around Skyfire, and he thought that he was going to die. He couldn't see Tigatron and wondered where he was. A flash of white blinded him suddenly, and then he hit something solid. He groaned in pain and then shook his head to clear it. He saw Tigatron lying nearby, also recovering from the rough landing. Skyfire pulled out his laser rifle and swept the area with it. Seeing none of the aliens, he lowered it and helped Tigatron to his feet. "Where are we?"

"I have no idea," Tigatron replied. The ground they were standing on was rough, brownish rock, and a forest of dead, black trees surrounded them.

"I'll go up and see what I can see. Beast mode," Skyfire suggested and flew swiftly above the trees. He looked about him and could see mountains in the distance, shrouded by smoke. Hot streams of lava were coming off of them, and the sky around him was bright red. It's like some kind of nightmare world, he thought to himself.

"Skyfire, I'm under attack! You'd better get down here quickly!" Tigatron called and Skyfire began swooping back down to where his comrade was. He could see brown creatures assailing Tigatron from all sides, hurling fireballs. Tigatron was returning fire, but Skyfire knew he would soon be overwhelmed.

"Skyfire, Maximize!" Skyfire snapped up his laser cannon and began firing. It wasn't hard to hit the creatures; there were so many of them. He landed next to Tigatron and continued firing into masses of the alien creatures. One of the fireballs hit him and singed off a patch of feathers, but did no further damage. After what seemed like hours of slaughter, the ranks of the creatures thinned, and finally they retreated. "Their weapons weren't too effective."

"No, these must be to wear us down before the larger ones come in for the kill."

"Do you know where Optimus would be?"

"No idea. What did you see?"

"Miles of dead trees, but there is a lot of volcanic activity a few miles from here. Seems like the best place to look."

"Yes. Let's just hope that we can make it there."

"We have to, the universe is counting on it."

Chapter Two - The Devil's Temple

Tigatron ran through the strange forest, dodging fireballs as he did so. Another wave of the brown creatures, combined with weird, pig-like, pink things was hot on his trail. Skyfire circled above him in robot mode, firing his weapon now and then to try and stop the enemy. "This isn't working!" Skyfire called out.

"Just leave me and find Optimus," Tigatron responded.

"No way. I need your help, there's no way I can do it alone."

"You may not have a choice. My legs can't take much more of this."

"Then I'll just have to end this chase." With that, Skyfire landed near Tigatron and leveled his gun. Instead of aiming at the aliens, he blasted a couple of trees, which collapsed and formed a barrier between the Maximals and the creatures. "Keep moving, I'll take care of them." Tigatron seemed to want to argue the point, but he shook his head and continued running. The tiger faded out of sight, leaving Skyfire by himself. He put his rifle away and looked for some branches. He grabbed two of them and began to rub them together furiously. He could hear the aliens gnawing and clawing at the fallen trees. "Just one more second..."

A spark leapt out and hit the downed trees. Slowly, they began to burn. Skyfire smiled and then set the branches down. Then he opened up his arm casing and disconnected a line that contained servo fluids. Liquid began dripping out and he put his finger over part of the opening, causing it to spray onto the trees. The fire intensified tenfold and a howl rose as the aliens began to burn. Skyfire continued to spray the fluid onto other nearby trees . After several of these were saturated, he reconnected the line, noticing that his left arm was moving slower. I'll need to put some more fluid in when I get back, he through wryly and transformed. He took a branch between his claws and stuck it into the fire, careful not to light himself on fire in the process. The branch began to burn and he climbed higher into the air before dropping the torch into the trees. There was a whoosing of air, and then a wall of flame ignited and swept the aliens, who were charging through the flaming trees. Then Skyfire headed to find Tigatron. He found the tiger at the edge of the forest, jumping from rock-to-rock across vast lava floes. He reached a narrow bridge that seemed to lead to some kind of passage. As he began to cross, a large alien appeared on the other side. Its upper half was pink and its lower was brown. It roared ferociously and a green ball of flame shot from its hand.

Tigatron transformed and ducked, the fireball just missing him. Skyfire could see that the bridge was too narrow to allow Tigatron to maneuver, he had to stop the creature, fast. He went to robot mode and pulled out his laser rifle. He had to aim carefully; a stray shot could collapse the entire bridge. He put his rifle away and landed right in front of the creature. It blindly took a swing at him, but Skyfire ducked and came up with his right fist nailing the alien in the face. It took the hit squarely, without budging a millimeter. Skyfire took a step back in surprise, then with grim determination he kicked it in the midsection. The alien didn't budge. It seemed to almost smile playfully at the Maximal, then its arm began to move to throw a fireball. Skyfire was quicker in grabbing his rifle and shooting the thing's arm off. The bloody appendage fell into the lava and evaporated. The alien roared in pain, but a shot from Tigatron to its midsection caused it to fall over into the lava. The Maximals ran across the bridge and found not a passage, but a cavern on the other side. They went into it and were immersed in darkness, save for the faint glow of a distant torch.

Skyfire bent down and touched the floor and could feel that it was made of stone bricks. "Whatever this place is, it isn't natural," he whispered.

"I have a feeling that this entire world isn't natural," Tigatron replied. Skyfire couldn't help but agree. The red sky, the dead forest, the lava floes, and now some kind of artificial structure cut into the side of a volcano, it seemed bizarre to say the least. The two robots turned their sensors to maximum and moved forward, towards where the light was. Skyfire couldn't help but get the creeps as he neared the torch, this place was too weird. They reached the torch and Skyfire grabbed it. He waved it around him and saw a panel with a switch on it. He hit the switch, and dim lights lit up the cavern. Skyfire felt his hands shake and the torch fell from his grasp.

***

The cavern was made up entirely of large green bricks, and seemed to be several stories in height. In the middle of the floor was some kind of strange symbol: it was a triangle with an eye in the center. Skyfire, being a scientist by trade, scanned his cultural database for a match for the symbol and was surprised to find numerous matches. All of them had a common denominator: the symbol was one of evil. However, the most horrifying thing was that the walls were covered from floor to ceiling with the bodies of dead Transformers in various states of destruction, all chained to the wall.

Skyfire recognized the bodies of some of his old Autobot comrades, others of Decepticon enemies, still others that were Maximals, and some Predacons. He gazed at one in particular that was suspended many feet in the air. No bodies were around it, as if it were some kind of special prize. It was the body of one of the most famous Autobot leaders: Rodimus Prime. "No!" Skyfire wailed. They couldn't have destroyed Rodimus; he had been alive before Skyfire had boarded the Axalon. "It's not possible! Rodimus is still alive, on Cybertron!"

"Then maybe they've already taken over Cybertron," Tigatron put forth grimly. Skyfire shook his head in disbelief.

"They couldn't have. This body has to be a fake."

"Even so, we need to find Optimus Primal and the Matrix."

"You're right." Skyfire turned away, still shaken. Just then something slammed into his chest and knocked him over. He heard Tigatron firing and struggled to his feet. As he did, he heard the sound of something grinding, followed by a terrifying hissing. That was when part of the walls around the two Maximals began to move. Nearly fifty red, scaly spheres emerged. They all had one large eye, and below that, an enormous jaw. From these gigantic mouths came balls of plasma. Skyfire rolled and dodged them. He began firing blindly at anything that moved, and saw Tigatron doing the same. There was nowhere to run, no doors or stairs. The red creatures hovered in the air, raining plasma balls down upon their hapless victims.

To his horror, Skyfire watched several of these balls strike Tigatron. One hit him in the chest, sending him flying just as another hit his left arm and blew it off. Once he was lying still, the aliens peppered him until he was scrap, his screams echoing throughout the cavern. There was a final scream as a ball hit him squarely in the head.

"No! Murderers!" Skyfire screamed. In a blind rage, he went to beast mode and soared into the air. He zigged and zagged his way past incoming plasma balls until he was above the creatures. They didn't seem to be able to fly too high, so he transformed and pulled out his rifle. Then he began blasting the walls. Debris from the dead robots and chunks of stone rained down on the aliens. Helpless, most were killed as shrapnel pierced their scaly hides. Skyfire trained his gun towards the floor and kept firing. He held his finger on the trigger until all of the creatures were destroyed. Only then did he cease firing and lower himself to the blood-stained floor. He kicked aside wreckage and dead bodies until he came across Tigatron. His friend and comrade lay there, unmoving, his body torn and leaking fluids. There was no way that he could be repaired. Sadly, Skyfire looked for a way out of the building. Then he spotted a door that had risen into place with the walls. He opened it, preparing for the worst and determined to make the aliens pay for Tigatron's death.

All he saw was an empty corridor. It was lined with the dead bodies of every Transformer leader, save for Rodimus Prime and Optimus Primal. The corridor was dark, and there was another door at the end of it. Skyfire ran quickly to the door and yanked it open. He saw a room twice as large as the cavern. The walls were lined with balconies, all of which contained aliens. It seemed as if thousands of them were in the room. A single bright light shone down in the middle of the room. There was another of the evil symbols, and an altar. Lying on the altar was what he had been looking for: Optimus Primal.


Chapter Three - The Sacrifice

None of the aliens had noticed Skyfire in the doorway, and he wondered how he could rescue Optimus without getting vaporized by all of the creatures. He looked around the room once more and raised his weapon. He aimed carefully and then fired a shot. The blast hit the light above the altar squarely, causing the room to be cast into darkness. Then Skyfire ran towards the altar. Fireballs, plasma balls, and other things whizzed all around him, but they were inaccurately aimed and missed. Skyfire could hear roars of all sorts around him, and knew that the aliens were hitting themselves. He reached the altar and touched Optimus. He was still alive and functioning.

"Can you fly?" He asked the Maximal leader.

"Who...are you?" Primal asked shakily.

"A friend. Can you?"

"I'll try." Optimus sat up and Skyfire helped him to stand on the altar. With a flash, his Primal Jets activated. "Let's go."

Skyfire transformed and the two climbed into the air. Skyfire had no idea where they would go, but Optimus seemed to have an idea. He crashed through a panel of dark glass and rays of light shone down as a hole to the open air was formed. The aliens could see them now and intensified their fire, but it was too late. The two Transformers disappeared through the opening and into the sky.

***

In the light, Skyfire could see that Optimus was barely functioning. His right arm was blown off and his chest was ripped open, exposed circuits crackling with energy. It was apparent that the aliens had forcefully taken the Matrix from the Maximal leader. "So where is the Matrix?" Skyfire asked worriedly.

"It's on the top of the mountain, in an alien fortress. At least that's where they took it from me. Then they took me to the temple for some kind of sacrifice. If you hadn't saved me, I'd be dead by now," Primal responded tiredly.

"Just doing my job. Why do they want the Matrix so badly?"

"Because it's the only thing in the universe powerful enough to stop them. From what I've seen and heard, these aliens use teleporting devices to invade worlds, swarming them and enslaving the population. They're preparing for a massive assault on thousands of worlds. With the Matrix in their possession, nothing can stop them."

"But the Matrix can't destroy them all, can it?" Skyfire had not been present the past two times when the Autobot Matrix had been used, the first at the battle over Cybertron where the evil Unicron was destroyed, and the second when Optimus Prime had used the Matrix to stop a hate plague from overrunning the galaxy, but he knew that even its power would not be enough to wipe out all of the aliens.

"No, the Matrix doesn't have the power to erase a civilization, and to use it for such would taint it into an object of evil. However, it can destroy the teleporter network the aliens use for their invasions. Then they will be isolated and the universe will be safe from their evil. I'm afraid, though, that you will have to open the Matrix. I can't do it in my present condition."

"I can't open the Matrix! The Matrix is possessed by the greatest leaders is Cybertronian history! I'm only a warrior and scientist, not a leader."

"It doesn't matter. As long as your heart and intentions are not evil, then you can open the Matrix in our darkest hour. You'll be one of a few to do so. It is one of the greatest achievements any Transformer can ever accomplish. I only pray that you can make it."

"With your help, I know I can."

"I'm not sure what help I will be. They destroyed my weapons systems, except for this," Primal pulled out a sword and clutched it in his remaining hand. They burst through a layer of clouds and saw a fortress looming not on the mountain's top, but rather, above it.

"By the inferno, I've never seen anything like this!" Skyfire burst out. "Wait here, I'll take a look around." Optimus nodded and Skyfire beat his wings until he was caught in an air current, then he glided towards the fortress. The entire place seemed to made from shining black obsidian, making it seem even more intimidating. The fortress was large and square with enormous towers at each corner, and a spindly tower in the center. Skyfire knew that these were guard posts, looking for intruders like himself. He would have to be even more careful. He soared down towards the fortress, wondering where the aliens would put the Matrix.

As he pondered this, a blue light blinded him and he closed his eyes, crying out in pain. In his mind's eye, he could see the Matrix. It seemed to be beckoning to him. He reached out to touch it, but couldn't. Then it began to speak to him in a low, vaguely familiar voice. "Jetfire?" It questioned.

"Yes, that was my Autobot name, but that was a long time ago," Skyfire replied.

"No matter. Autobot you were, and so you will always be. You must find me, all is at stake."

"How? The aliens could have hidden the Matrix anywhere."

"Follow your heart. Let your feelings guide you, and you will know where I am." At that moment, the voice registered with Skyfire.

"Optimus, Optimus Prime!" He remembered his former leader well, no Autobot could forget the great Optimus Prime.

"Yes, Jetfire," the voice from the Matrix faded, as did the blue light. Skyfire opened his eyes and narrowly avoided running into the fortress's outer wall. He gained altitude and studied the fortress from afar. He tried to block out his natural scientist's instincts, and tried to listen to his heart. The center tower, it has to be, a small voice told him. He was sure of it; the Matrix was in the center tower.

"Optimus, I know where the Matrix is. We'll have to land in the center of the base and make our way up the middle tower until we find it."

"I understand. I'll be at your position in moments." Skyfire circled anxiously, using a few black clouds to hide himself from any prying eyes. Optimus appeared next to him less than a minute later.

"We'll need a plan to get inside. I'm sure it's too heavily guarded to just waltz into the tower."

"We'll create a diversion and try to sneak inside. Then we'll have to fight our way up."

"I'm game. I'll create the diversion, you get to the tower. I'll meet you as soon as I can. Skyfire, Maximize!" Optimus nodded and headed for the fortress, coming down below it and sneaking up to a wall. Meanwhile, Skyfire was heading for a guard post on the opposite side from where Optimus was. He landed near the base of it and took a deep breath. Then sections of his chest armor moved aside and revealed hidden missile launchers. Plasma cannons also appeared under his arms. He clutched his rifle and hoped that he still had the energon after this assault to make it up the tower. Rocket boosters moved into place on his back and he took off into the red sky. He hovered in front of the guard post, startling the aliens inside. They were enormous, brown creatures with missile launchers on one arm. They roared at him and a buzzer sounded. Skyfire smiled to himself and then opened fire. Under the withering rain of missiles and plasma cannons the tower toppled. Skyfire continued firing, sweeping the area. More of the large aliens poured from buildings inside the fortress. There was no return fire, the onslaught from the Maximal was too great to permit any form of retaliation. However, there were far more aliens than Skyfire's weapons could handle.

"Energon drain. Power levels, critical. Transform to beast mode immediately or stasis lock is imminent," a computerized voice warned Skyfire. He shook his head; his Ultra Combat mode took far too much out of his circuits. He only hoped that Primal had made it to the tower.

"Time for the big finish," Skyfire remarked and fired a pair of blue-colored missiles. Then he took off, his rocket boosters flaring an angry red color. A dark optical visor slid over Skyfire's eyes as the missiles exploded, sending a flash of light as bright as a star going nova throughout the fortress. When it died down, Skyfire was landing at the foot of the tower. Optimus was already inside and climbing a flight of stone stairs. "Deactivate Ultra Combat mode," Skyfire ordered and the missile launchers, plasma cannons, and rocket boosters disappeared. He pulled out his laser cannon and followed Optimus.

"Did they see you come here?" Optimus asked.

"No way. Those blinder missiles should keep them looking for us for a while now."

"Let's hope so." They climbed in silence, but then they heard a noise that sounded like very heavy feet stomping. A missile crashed into the wall near Optimus and Skyfire began to fire blindly. A moment later, one of the large, brown aliens appeared.

"Take cover! I'll blast him!"

"Where am I supposed to go?" Optimus asked as he charged the alien, sword swinging over his head. Skyfire shrugged and fired just over his comrade's shoulder. The hulking alien blocked the entire stairway, thus it was easy to shoot past Optimus and still make a hit. While Skyfire kept firing, Optimus leapt into the air, his sword slicing down at the alien's missile-launcher arm. The sword sliced through the flesh just above the launcher and it clattered to the steps. The alien howled in pain, but Optimus silenced it as his sword sliced through its neck and took its head off. The corpse fell forward and Skyfire barely got out of the way as it tumbled down the stairs.

They kept going, slashing and blasting two more of the demons before reaching the top of the stairs. The stairs led up into the middle of a room, but the Maximals stayed just below the floor. Skyfire carefully peaked over the stairs and saw an empty room around him, the Matrix glowing serenely only about five feet away. It was too easy, it had to be a trap. He fired once into the air, and the walls began to slid upwards. It was a trap just like the one in the temple, only Skyfire wasn't about to fall for it twice. He lowered himself, hearing many whirring sounds.

"I'll pop up blasting, you grab the Matrix," Skyfire whispered to Optimus. The Maximal leader nodded gravely, knowing full well what was at stake if they failed to beat whatever was up there. "Ultra Combat mode." The boosters, missiles, and plasma cannons reappeared, and Skyfire hoped that he had the energon for this final assault. He took in a deep breath and steeled himself for battle. He motioned for Primal to stand back and lit his boosters. He roared into the room and saw at least fifteen spider-like aliens in it. The aliens had robot spider legs and a mass that looked like brain tissue mounted above it. These aliens are fascinating, he thought to himself. Of the aliens, most were a small size, while a few were a larger variety, but then there was one that was enormous.

"You have finally come to meet your doom. This will be the last time your kind ruins our plans for ultimate conquest," the massive spider said.

"You're right, because this is the last time the universe will see the likes of you," Skyfire tossed back and opened fire. The barrage of missiles and plasma bursts took out all of the smaller aliens, but a few of the larger ones remained. Skyfire continued firing, but felt himself weakening. His boosters shut off and he fell to the floor in a heap.

"Energy level below critical point. Stasis lock in five megacycles." Instantly, Skyfire converted back to normal robot form, barely able to raise himself onto one knee. He clutched his laser cannon and saw the remaining aliens bearing down on him. The muzzles of guns mounted just below the organic tissue began to glow green.

"No!" Skyfire called out weakly. "Beast mode." He transformed just as the aliens fired. He shot into the air and the shots intended to strike him down missed.

"It will avail you not, Transformer. We will bring you down eventually. Then your people will be annihilated," the lead alien gloated.

"You know, you talk too much," Optimus Primal said as his sword blade came down upon the glass chamber covering the lead alien's organic tissue. The glass shattered and the sword sliced into the brain tissue. The alien howled in pain, green blood oozing from where Optimus's sword had cleaved it in two. The spider-like creature's legs collapsed and it toppled to the floor. Then Optimus threw down his sword and grabbed the Matrix. "Catch!" He called out and threw it into the air.

The aliens began shooting at the flying Matrix, but Skyfire weaved between the blasts and snapped up the Matrix in his claws. He shot back up in the air until he was as high as he could go. He hovered for a moment, then called out, "Skyfire, Maximize!" He transformed and held the Matrix in his hands. The aliens continued to shoot at him, but he took the Matrix in one hand and pulled out his laser cannon. Feeling more power than he ever had before, Skyfire began firing and systematically killed each and every one of the spider-like aliens. Then he put his gun away and took the handles of the Matrix in both hands. "Light our darkest hour," he murmured and pulled the handles. The Matrix pulled apart into two halves, a blue light getting brighter and brighter until it was blinding. The light swept through the room and kept going. A circle of blue light fanned out into infinity. There were distant explosions as the aliens's teleporter network was destroyed.

Throughout the universe, in thousands of locations, a wave of blue light eradicated teleporters, shutting them down forever. Hordes of aliens were left stranded on remote, isolated worlds, unable to go anywhere. The alien invasion force could no longer launch. In the alien temple, the Transformer bodies disappeared and the body of Tigatron sprang to life once more. The Maximal scout sat up and looked around, unsure of why he was alive again. At the Maximal base, Rhinox struggled to his feet and looked around at his comrades, all of whom were back to normal.

"They did it," he said in awe. "They did it!"

The blue light finally died down and the halves of the Matrix came back together. Skyfire landed and saw that Optimus had been repaired completely. He handed him the Matrix. "Here, this belongs to you," Skyfire said.

"Thank-you," Optimus replied. He smiled at Skyfire and then inserted the Matrix into his chest. As it closed, a missile struck him in the back. Optimus hit the floor, and to his horror, Skyfire could see hundreds of aliens charging up the stairs. However, at the end of the room, a blue portal had opened.

"Take the Matrix and go, I'll hold them off!" Skyfire shouted, going to Ultra Combat mode. His systems were once again fully charged, and he began firing down the stairs.

"No, I can't leave you here, you'll die!" Optimus replied and added his missile launchers to the fray.

"You've got to get the Matrix back safely, or all will be lost!"

Optimus nodded slowly. Skyfire was right, and he knew it. "It's been an honor serving with you, Skyfire," Optimus said sadly. Then fired a pair of missiles and leapt through the portal, which was already beginning to close. Skyfire got down on one knee and continued to fire down the steps. He couldn't let the aliens get to the portal, or else they could get the Matrix back. A missile struck him in the chest and bowled him over. He shook it off and continued to fire. More missiles and plasma balls hit, until Skyfire was lying on his back on the floor. His laser cannon lay inches away, and he struggled to get to it, but his arm wouldn't move. Then in a flash of light, the portal closed. The aliens charging up the stairs to finish off Skyfire were blinded.

All of the fighting stopped and an eerie silence prevailed, save for the distant cry of an eagle...


Epilogue

A blue portal opened and Optimus Primal came crashing into the Maximal base. He struggled to his feet and looked around him. He smiled with joy when he saw all of the other Maximals standing nearby, fully operational. Tigatron helped Optimus to his feet and looked at him worriedly. "Skyfire?" He asked, dreading the answer.

"He...he didn't make it. The aliens charged our position in force, he must not have made it to the portal before it closed," Optimus answered, sadness in his voice.

"Then let's go back and rescue him!" Cheetor blurted out.

"Yeah. He's our friend, we owe him big," Rattrap agreed.

"It is dishonorable to leave a comrade behind," Dinobot added.

"We can't, as much as we want to," Rhinox announced, grief in his voice. "There's no way we can recreate the teleporter portals the aliens use. And with their teleporter network destroyed, there's no way he could get to us. I'm sorry."

"He was a brave warrior and a friend, both as an Autobot and as a Maximal. He saved us all; he gave his life so the universe could be free of the aliens's evil. I'm...I'm going to miss him," Optimus lamented. He left the others and walked down a lonely corridor. He stopped at a window and looked out at the blue sky. Tigatron joined him and put a hand on Optimus's shoulder. They had known Skyfire the longest, and would miss him the most.

"Wherever you are, friend, I hope you have plenty of open sky to fly in," Tigatron said and walked away, his head hanging. Optimus watched as black clouds moved into the sky. He turned away as it began to rain.

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