e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007

Vortex

Author's Note: This is the fourth episode of "The Skyfire Adventures" written in winter of 1998. This begins "The Apocalypse Trilogy" in which our heroes encounter a planet populated with beings very similar to themselves. At the same time, Autobot Skids is transported by a strange vortex into a grim future...

The Skyfire Adventures: Vortex

Part 1 of the Apocalypse Trilogy

Chapter One

The Autobot Skids looked around the controls of the small transport in boredom. He could spot the larger Autobot shuttle with his sensors and would be glad to reunite with his friends after spending over one Earth month by himself on a primitive planet. He had been studying the planet’s culture and had spent most of his time lurking in swamps, jungles, forests, mountains, and anywhere else he could conceal himself from the natives. It had been grueling, especially since the transport did not have a restoration chamber and only a minimal energon supply. In exchange for all his hard work, however, he had brought back a wealth of information which would be of great help to anthropologists on Cybertron once they returned in about forty-eight Earth years.

The transport bucked and warning lights flashed suddenly. Skids looked around him and saw that one of the transport’s plasma conduits in the starboard engine had blown and was leaking plasma into space. He tried to shut it down, but the safety mechanism was off-line. He checked and saw that he was within communications range of the shuttle. “Skids to shuttle, do you hear me?”

On board the shuttle, Beachcomber and Grapple looked at Perceptor intently. “Are you sure?” Grapple asked breathlessly.

“I am certain,” Perceptor replied, his voice excited.

“Then we should go there at once,” Beachcomber said. Beachcomber looked at his station and saw a light blinking. He pushed a button and Skids’s face came onto the screen. “Skids! I thought you were up to your fenders in muck, studying some culture.”

“I was,” Skids responded. “I’m on my way back now. I’ve run into a little trouble, though. The starboard engine on the transport is leaking some plasma and I can’t shut the leak down.”

“It’s not dangerous, is it?”

“No, it shouldn’t be.” Skids stopped and examined Beachcomber’s face. “Is something wrong?”

“Perceptor’s found something in this system that is…unbelievable. The last planet in this system has signs of…” Beachcomber’s voice trailed off and Skids looked at him anxiously.

“Signs of what?”

“Transformer sparks.”

Skids felt his fluids cool. “How many?”

“Perceptor’s not sure. He only detected them on the long-range sensors.”

“I see, so what do you want me to do?”

Beachcomber looked at the others and they turned towards the middle of the bridge, where Skyfire sitting in the command chair limply. “Skyfire! We need your help!” Grapple snapped.

Skyfire heard Grapple’s voice distantly and stirred. “What’s going on?” He asked. He had been having a lot of concentration problems of late. It was probably a minor glitch, but he would have to see Wheeljack about it some time.

“Perceptor’s detected signs of sparks on a planet in this system, and Skids is returning, but the transport has a plasma leak in one engine,” Grapple filled him in, calming down a little. He had noticed that Skyfire kept drifting off for no reason at all. It was starting to get on his logic circuits.

“Is the transport in any danger?” Skyfire looked at Grapple, the only engineer present.

“It shouldn’t be. It will slow him down, though.”

“I see. All right, give Skids the coordinates of the planet and tell him to meet us there. Then get us to that planet as fast as you can. If Perceptor’s right, this discovery could be of great importance,” Skyfire ordered.

“So we just leave Skids out there?” Beachcomber asked.

“I understand your concern, but we can’t lose the time to go back for him. He’ll be fine out there.”

Beachcomber nodded and contacted Skids and explained the situation. Skids didn’t look surprised at all. “This could be a very important discovery, I don’t want to keep you from it. I’ll meet up with you as soon as I can.” He broke the connection and checked his instruments. The plasma leak would eventually burn itself out, but even then he would have lost a lot of power in the starboard engine. From the computer’s calculations, it would take him fifteen hours to reach the planet Beachcomber had indicated. Well, he thought, I’ve been away from the ship for a month, fifteen more hours won’t hurt.

Grapple took the helm again and the shuttle shot towards the planet at maximum speed. Skyfire looked around and felt his mind drifting again. He shook himself, trying to focus on the mission at hand. “How long until we arrive?” Skyfire asked.

“Four hours,” Perceptor replied.

“Good. Make sure to keep our sensors pointed in that direction at all times. Let me know what you find out as we close.” Perceptor nodded and Skyfire leaned back in his chair. This time he let his mind drift, thoughts flying through his mind randomly.

Grapple looked over at Skyfire and started to worry again. Something was wrong with Skyfire, he knew it. He would have to have Wheeljack examine Skyfire, because Wheeljack knew more about internal systems. However, Grapple had his suspicions about what was causing the problem. If he was right, then there was no way that they could save Skyfire, short of something very drastic and very dangerous. Grapple just hoped that he was wrong.

* * *

Three hours later, Perceptor stared at the first close-up pictures of the planet in his microscope mode. He transformed and looked over at Skyfire. “Skyfire, I have important news!”

Skyfire roused himself and asked, “What is it?”

“I have examined the sensor pictures of the planet. The planet closely resembles Cybertron in appearance. I have also detected more sparks. The total so far is up to 1778, and I suspect that there are many more.”

“Do we know whether or not they are Transformers like us, yet?” Skyfire asked.

“I am not certain.”

“Keep monitoring the planet, then. Are there any signs of sensors or anything detecting our presence?”

“Not that I am aware of yet,” Perceptor answered. “Although I could be mistaken.”

“Let’s hope not.”

* * *

Skids leaned back in his chair, watching the shuttle leave him behind with the transport’s sensors. He knew their mission was important, he only wished they could have picked him up first. He sighed and yearned for a nice, hot energon drink to soothe him. He turned to grab an energon ration when the transport began to buck. Skids looked around and saw a purple glow around him. Outside the cockpit, a violet cloud of gas was forming. It was moving more and more rapidly in a circular manner like a tornado on Earth. The cloud filled the cockpit of the transport and Skids screamed as it washed over him. He blacked out, his last thoughts of his friends.

He woke up what seemed like an eternity later and found himself still in the transport. “What happened?” He asked aloud. He checked the sensors and was horrified to find that not only had the shuttle disappeared, but the red giant star in the system had vanished as well. How could an entire star disappear? He shut the transport’s engines down and decided that he should stay where he was until he could figure out what was going on.

He got out of his seat and went to the back of the transport, where there was a small science station that he could use. He ran a few sensor sweeps, using the station’s equipment to analyze the sweeps for any known spatial phenomena. His readings came up with nothing, but he knew that something had to have happened to he and the transport. He thought about what had happened, but was interrupted when a klaxon went off. “Proximity alert,” the transport’s computer warned Skids.

Skids dashed back to the cockpit and saw that there was some kind of debris flying past the shuttle. He looked at it and saw that it was metallic, not asteroids or anything natural. Something blue flew past him and Skids gaped. “By the Matrix, no!” He pressed himself to the transport’s screen and watched Beachcomber’s head drift past. More pieces of his comrade flew past and Skids uneasily sat down in his seat. What’s going on here?

He followed the direction Beachcomber’s wreckage had come from, hoping to find some kind of clue. More debris flew past the transport, and Skids wondered if he was ever going to find anything. He stopped the transport as an idea came to him. It would take some time, though, for the transport’s sensors to finish the task. Once they did, he would hopefully be able to find a clue about what was going on.

* * *

Skyfire stood at the hatch of the shuttle. Grapple and Beachcomber stood with him. “We are twenty minutes from the planet. Our scans have revealed approximately 2145 sparks on the surface. They appear to have advanced technology, comparable to our own,” Perceptor informed them.

“Thanks, Perceptor. We’ll report back to you as soon as we can,” Skyfire said and then his form turned liquid and shimmered silver. A blink of an eye later, it reformed into a red and white robot, the Autobot Jetfire. As he did so, a large gray and black shape approached the trio.

“You requested my presence?” Scarecrow, a Predacon that had joined the others months ago, asked.

“Scarecrow? Jetfire, why would you ask him to come, he’s a Predacon!” Beachcomber

blurted out.

“I want to make sure we have some extra firepower if we need it. Besides, I don’t want to leave Scarecrow alone on the ship with just Wheeljack and Perceptor on board,” Jetfire replied. He transformed into a large jet and opened his cargo compartment. Grapple, Beachcomber, and Scarecrow climbed inside and Jetfire revved up his rocket boosters. He roared out of the shuttle and towards the planet.

It took a lot of concentration on Jetfire’s part to keep himself on task. His mind wanted to drift, but he knew that he couldn’t let it right now. Soon a large, gray planet came into view. “It looks just like…Cybertron,” Beachcomber breathed.

“Only bigger,” Grapple chipped in.

“All right, let’s go and have a look,” Jetfire said and dove in at the planet. There was not much of an atmosphere, and the flight in was easy. Jetfire dove through a layer of thin, dark clouds and then he saw a gray, metallic surface spread below him. The buildings looked like those of Cybertron, and for a moment Jetfire forgot where he was.

He headed for the area with the largest concentration of sparks, hoping that would be where he could find some answers to the questions running through his mind. How could sparks have gotten so far from Cybertron? Were they some kind of renegade faction of Autobots or Decepticons that had fled from the Great War or were they something else entirely? “Any signs of weapons aimed at us?” He asked Perceptor over the comlink.

“Negative. There are no signs that they have detected your approach.”

“Well, they’re about to,” Jetfire broke the connection as a large city came into view.

“It’s beautiful,” Grapple whispered as he stared out Jetfire’s canopy at the city spread out before them. “It looks like some of the cities I designed for Cybertron before the Great War.”

“Bah! You foolish Autobots with your reminiscing make me wish I had remained without a body. Unless we are here to conquer this worthless planet there is no reason for us to be here,” Scarecrow growled.

“It’s too bad we had to reactivate him during that run-in with space pirates from Yula Five,” Beachcomber grumbled.

“If it were not for me, you would all have been turned to slag,” Scarecrow retorted.

“Maybe, but it was Wheeljack who risked his life to reactivate you.”

“Enough!” Jetfire rebuked Beachcomber and Scarecrow, rocking himself a little to get their attention. “Scarecrow, get out there and survey the area.”

Jetfire opened the cargo hatch and Scarecrow launched himself into the air. He transformed into a huge crow and broke away from Jetfire. Beachcomber and Grapple turned back to the cockpit and gazed at the beautiful city. “Anything yet, Scarecrow?” Jetfire asked over the comlink.

“Affirmative. There are large crowds gathering on the streets below. They appear to have taken notice of our arrival,” Scarecrow reported.

“Any weapons?”

“Not that I can see. I will go down for a closer look.”

“Belay that, Scarecrow. We don’t want to appear hostile. If you swoop down on them, they may get the wrong impression.”

Scarecrow snarled to himself and replied, “Very well. What do you suggest?”

“Transform and follow me down,” Jetfire commanded over the comlink. To his passengers he said, “Jump out the hatch, I’ll transform and help you down.”

The cargo hatch opened and the two Autobots jumped out into the air. They plunged through the sky, screaming as they did so. Jetfire transformed and zoomed down towards them. He caught Beachcomber by the back with one hand and snagged Grapple’s crane with the other. The three Autobots slowly descended until they reached the ground. Scarecrow landed next to them, a scowl on his face. Jetfire relinquished his grip on Grapple and Beachcomber and looked around him.

A crowd stood all around the Transformers, staring at them like they were some kind of gods. The crowd was made up all of robots that looked vaguely Cybertronian, but were sleeker like pre-war designs. They ranged in heights and widths, some were smaller than Beachcomber while others stood nearly as tall as Jetfire and Scarecrow. Jetfire looked around him and then his body’s exterior turned to liquid metal and reformed as Skyfire.

“Greetings, I am Skyfire, a Maximal from the planet Cybertron. These are my comrades Scarecrow, Grapple, and Beachcomber. We wish you no harm; we are merely curious about your culture.”

The crowd parted and a dark green, oval-shaped vehicle approached. It looked like an Earth car, only a lot more aerodynamic. The vehicle neared Skyfire and the others and then it transformed into a robot that stood to Skyfire’s shoulders. It looked sleek and graceful, like some of the Autobots Skyfire had known on Cybertron before the war. “Greetings, Skyfire, I am Hippolyta. I welcome you to Cybertrax.”

Skyfire stared at Hippolyta for a few moments, deep in thought. Cybertrax? It sounded a lot like Cybertron, perhaps they were related in some way. “Are you the leader of this city?”

“No, I lead all Cybertraxians. This is the capital city of Intrence. I believe it would be better if we continued this discussion inside the Imperial Palace. I will take you there.” Hippolyta motioned to two Cybertraxians, who transformed into boxy cargo vehicles. “These two will transport you there.” She transformed and Skyfire looked around at his companions.

Scarecrow scowled deeper, not trusting this new race, but Skyfire knew they all had to trust the Cybertraxians, at least until they got some answers. “All right, let’s go.” He transformed and hopped inside one of the vehicles. Scarecrow transformed and followed suit while Beachcomber and Grapple managed to fit themselves into the other vehicle. The convoy took off, the crowds moving aside so they could get through. Skyfire only hoped that he would finally get some answers to the questions troubling him.


Chapter Two

The transport neared the second planet of the system and right away Skids could tell something was wrong. The sensors detected a faint spark on the surface, but it did not appear to be moving. He commanded the transport to go to the ground of the icy world and the transport was immersed in a blinding white light. Must be a storm, Skids thought as the transport was buffeted by strong winds. He managed to put the craft down and opened the hatch. Immediately snow flew into his optics and began coating his body and the wind nearly knocked him back into the transport. He closed the hatch and activated his infrared sensors. The white fell away and he could see a body lying nearby.

Skids struggled against the wind until he came to the body. He knelt down and picked it up. He could tell it was badly damaged. He couldn’t make out who it was because of the storm, and knew he would have to save that until he was safely in the transport. He hefted the body over his shoulder and staggered back through the snow towards the shuttle. He opened the hatch and set the body down as carefully as he could, the intense winds making it difficult. He sealed the hatch and stumbled to the far wall of the transport. He switched his optics back to normal and looked down at the body he had recovered.

“By the Matrix,” he whispered. Lying on the deck was himself. He was badly damaged and missing his right arm. He knelt down next to himself and noticed that the other Skids was off-line. He opened a panel in the other Skids’s head and tried to activate him. After a few moments, the other Skids’s eyes flashed open.

“Where I am?” The other Skids asked.

“You are on the second planet of this system,” Skids responded. “I picked up your spark and rescued you from a blizzard.”

“I remember now. For a moment I could feel my spark becoming one with the Matrix. I was ready to crossover when you saved me. But…how did you get here?”

“I’m not sure. I was heading for the shuttle when my transport started to rock. There was this purple glow and the next thing I knew I saw Beachcomber flying past.”

“You must have been transported forward in time.” There was a flicker in the other Skids’s eyes. “I’m not going to last much longer, I can feel my spark fading. You must find a way back to the past and warn Skyfire.”

“Of what?”

“There is a great evil afoot that will destroy all once it is awakened. Evacuate the Cybertraxian planet. Otherwise…thousands will die.”

“What is this evil?”

The other Skids’s eyes flickered once more, then again and again. “It’s…worse…than…Uni…cron.” The other Skids’s eyes flickered a few more times and then died. His head lolled to the right and the transport was silent once more.

Skids looked at his future counterpart in shock. Something worse than Unicron? What could it be? He had to find out. The only way to do that was to investigate the rest of the system and see if anyone was still alive. If someone had survived, then they could explain what had happened so that he could correct the past. Otherwise, there was no telling what would happen.

Skids opened the hatch and numbly picked up the other Skids. He set his counterpart in the snow and saluted him. As he shut the hatch, a horrifying realization came to him. This planet is so cold and icy, but it’s the second planet in the system. There is no way that could happen naturally, especially in a red giant star system. He remembered that the star was gone, but the planet could not have undergone such changes so quickly. He darted over to the sensor station and ordered the computer to perform a full geothermic sweep of the area. He waited anxiously for a few moments and frowned when the answer came up as he had expected. There was no geothermic activity as far as the sensors could detect.

There was no molten activity in the mantle, and no heat coming from anywhere near the core. Something had drawn out all the heat, all of the energy from the planet. But for what purpose? Skids took the controls and was determined to find out the answer. The transport took flight and was soon out of the planet’s orbit and heading for where the star had been. Skids was already picking up spark signatures, at least two. These were a lot stronger than the one from the other Skids. With any luck, he could find the answers he needed.

* * *

The Imperial Palace was quite a sight, Grapple thought to himself as it came into view. It was at least twenty stories high and nearly a square mile in width and length. Impressive, he thought. The building was a rounded square with three spires that arched from the building and rose high into the air. As they closed with the building, Grapple could see that the sides of the building were lined with carved statues. “Who are those statues of?” He asked their driver.

“Those are Cybertraxian heroes and Ytas,” the driver replied.

“Ytas?”

“Our leaders. You should have noticed our current leader is named Hippolyta. Her original name was Hippola. The suffix was added once she had assumed leadership.”

“Interesting.” Grapple turned to Beachcomber with a pained expression on his face. “I wish Skids were here. He’d love to study this culture.”

“I know. I hope he gets here soon. In the meantime, we should collect as much data as possible so we can give it to him when he arrives,” Beachcomber responded.

Grapple nodded and asked the driver, “How does a Yta assume leadership?”

“Once a Yta has died, their spark is interred in the Palace. A new Yta is chosen by the Ruling Council after a series of demanding physical and mental challenges,” the driver responded blandly, tiring of their questions. “Perhaps you should reserve your questions for Hippolyta.”

“All right. I’m just trying to find out as much about your people as possible,” Grapple said, trying not to sound put out.

“I am curious about your race, though. Where is Cybertron?” The driver asked.

“It’s thousands of light years from here, nearly on the other side of the galaxy,” Grapple answered.

“How is it that you came upon our planet?”

“Beachcomber, myself, and three others were on a shuttle that was exploring an area of space past a planet called Earth. A Decepticon ship attacked us. We were able to destroy the ship, but one Decepticon managed to board our ship undetected. He took Beachcomber hostage and threatened to kill him. I sent a secret signal to our engineer to tell him what had happened. He made a sudden course correction that sent the Decepticon reeling. Beachcomber was freed, but suddenly there was a violent shaking and a flash of blue light. Everyone went unconscious and didn’t wake up until over fifty years later when Skyfire found us and reactivated us. I still don’t know what happened, but Perceptor, our lead scientist, theorizes that we stumbled across a wormhole that sent us across the galaxy.”

The driver laughed heartily, “You tell great stories. I’m sure you could entertain the Ruling Council for hours with such tales.”

“That wasn’t a story, it really happened.”

“I’m sure it did, at least in your mind. Come on, wormholes, blue light? You must have hit some spiked energy a little too hard.”

Beachcomber shrugged and Grapple thought it best to leave it alone. “I guess they haven’t advanced that much in astronomy and physics,” Beachcomber whispered. Grapple nodded, smiling to himself.

“More vital information for Skids to play with.” The two Autobots laughed as the vehicle sped through the gates of the Imperial Palace.

Hippolyta and the other vehicles stopped and Skyfire and Scarecrow hopped out. All three transformed at once and Hippolyta looked at Skyfire. “This is the Imperial Palace, the seat of our government and my home. I will take you inside to somewhere where we can talk in private. My advisors have been notified and ordered to give your crew a tour of the palace and anywhere else they would like to go.”

Skyfire nodded, knowing that Hippolyta did not want him to have his friends around to stage some kind of coup. “That sounds good. Lead the way,” Skyfire replied.

Scarecrow grabbed his arm and growled, “This is dangerous, we should not split up.”

“I am aware of that. But we don’t have any choice. Just stay with Grapple and Beachcomber and don’t start any trouble.” Skyfire followed Hippolyta inside, leaving the other three Transformers behind.

The inside of the palace was as ornate as the outside. The walls were made of a gray stone with figures and scenes carved into them. Hippolyta led him down a winding corridor, past an enormous chamber that was lined with stone benches. “That is the Ruling Council’s chamber. They meet there to govern Cybertrax.”

Skyfire nodded as Hippolyta led him to a room a few doors down the corridor from the chamber. She punched a code into the door and motioned for Skyfire to step inside. “What room is this?” He asked.

“This is my private office. We can speak freely in here.” There were two chairs in the office, both of them were made of dull gray metal. One was positioned behind a large stone desk, the other in front of it. The room was odd in that it was paneled with wood. Skyfire had not seen any wood anywhere else in the palace. Hippolyta motioned for him to sit down in the chair in front of the desk. She sat in the other chair and spread her palms on the desktop. “Your arrival raises a number of important questions. First, your ability to change shape and your appearance are much like our own. It is possible that our races are connected. If so, then that brings up a number of troubling philosophical questions.”

Skyfire noticed the change in Hippolyta’s tone and word usage. It was a lot less rigid and formal. This private office is her sanctuary, where she can be honest and open. Then I must do the same. “I have noticed the similarities. Perhaps we are distant descendants of one another. There was a great war on Cybertron and many of our people fled. It is possible that a group made it this far and established a colony.”

“Perhaps, but the history of Cybertrax is very long. However, we do not know of our heritage, how we came to be. It is a riddle that has plagued leaders, politicians, philosophers, and clergy for some time. No one knows where my race came from, thus it seems we are drifting along without a real purpose, without a destiny to fulfill. However, if what you say is correct, then we would finally have some answers.”

“I can have my crew run some tests on our ship and here to determine if my theory holds true. If it doesn’t, then maybe we can find out the true reason.”

“I would be most grateful, Skyfire. What can I do to repay you for your offer?”

“I’d like to see more of your planet. I haven’t been home in a while and this world reminds me a lot of Cybertron.”

“Very well, I will arrange transport for us…”

Skyfire stopped her and touched her hand. “I have a better idea,” he interrupted. His superstructure melted and changed into that of Jetfire. “Have you ever seen your planet speeding beneath you at five times the speed of sound?”

Hippolyta stared at him for a moment and shook her head. “I’m afraid not.”

“Today’s your lucky day,” Jetfire announced and stood up. He left the office with Hippolyta following him. Once they were outside he transformed into his jet mode and opened his canopy. “Climb in.” Hippolyta smiled and warily got inside the sleek superjet. The canopy closed and Jetfire fired up his rocket boosters. He shot into the air, gravity pasting Hippolyta back in her seat.

“What are you doing?” She screamed.

“Just getting up to speed,” Jetfire replied. He soared high over the city of Intrence and had to admit that Cybertrax was a beautiful world, as beautiful as Cybertron had once been. They had soon left the capital city behind. While the surface of the planet was mostly metallic, there were spots of forests in some areas. A mixture of organic and mechanical, just like Skyfire, Jetfire mused. “Why is there vegetation in some areas?”

“No one knows. Our scientists have theorized that there are cracks in the metallic crust that allow deposits from below to grow plant life. In other words, the surface may be metallic, but the rest of the planet might not be. They assume that is where the stone for the Imperial Palace came from.”

“Interesting. I’ll have to have Beachcomber analyze the crust. He’s a geologist, so he should be able to come up with something.”

“A geologist?”

“Someone who studies the structure of planets. Everyone in our crew, except Scarecrow and Shockwave, are specialists in some field. Grapple is an architect, Wheeljack is a mechanical engineer, Perceptor is a scientist who is an expert in almost every branch of science, but is best in biology and physics, and Skids is a theoretician who specializes in anthropology, the study of cultures. Skids was off on a mission when we found you, so he isn’t here. However, I’m sure the others will be able to help you.” Jetfire continued to look at the planet, and for a moment he became dizzy and confused. He started to dive rapidly, pinning Hippolyta in her seat.

“Jetfire! What are you doing?” She screamed.

Jetfire snapped out of it and recovered from the dive. “Just making sure you’re awake,” he joked.

“That is not funny. You could have injured both of us.”

“I know, I’m sorry. I used to do stunts like that on Cybertron. I must be feeling a little homesick.”

“That’s all right. Besides, I thought it was fun. Being the head of the Cybertraxian government, I don’t get to have a lot of fun. Our planet is on the verge of disaster. Energy resources are drying up and several ground tremors have caused major damage. The people’s spirits are low, and the Ruling Council has tried to lay a lot of the blame on me.”

“A lot of this is because some of the older Cybertraxians remember days before the civil war that tore my planet apart. No one really knows what started the war or when it really started, but it lasted for millions of years. We used to have advanced technology that let us fly and explore space like you do. But the years of constant warfare destroyed most of that technology and the means to recover it. Since then we have been trying to recover, but it is difficult. The older Cybertraxians want the peace and prosperity of before the war back and blame me for not being able to give it to them.”

Jetfire felt sadness wash through him and was unable to speak for several moments. “My planet fought a long civil war as well. We finally beat the Decepticons and ended the war, but by then the prosperity that prevailed during the Golden Age was lost. I wasn’t around during the Golden Age, but my friend Kup was. He used to tell me how great it was back then, how no one had any need for weapons and how everyone was friendly with everyone else. There were many times, especially after a lost battle, that I wanted those times back. That was why I decided to join the Maximals. They had the resources to begin restoring Cybertron on a more massive scale. It hurt to leave my Autobot friends behind, but I knew that I had to help create a new Golden Age, so future generations would be able to live in peace and harmony.”

Hippolyta sat in her seat quietly for a few moments, taking in what Jetfire had said. She had never met anyone like him. She had never known anyone who could relate so well to her. Jetfire understood the problems her world had faced like no one she had known. She felt a bond with him, a connection from their common experiences. Or was it something more than that? “So you can understand the problems Cybertrax has faced.”

“Yes, and I know that they are not your fault. You can’t bring back the Golden Age of Cybertrax, no one Cybertraxian can. Only by the entire society working for that common goal can Cybertrax recover what it has lost.”

“Try telling the politicians that.”

“So politics is a universal thing.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Hippolyta said glumly. “My whole life has been devoted to politics. I was the youngest Yta ever, groomed from my beginnings to take over. I was trained every day until I was given the position. I did not have time for recreation at all. My creators wanted me to be the perfect example of a Cybertraxian: strong, wise, and fair. Now people think that I have let them down. However, leadership was thrust upon me, I never really wanted it. Was it the same for you, Jetfire?”

“Yes. I had to take command of various missions during the war with the Decepticons. I was a scientist, an explorer. I only became a warrior and a leader after I saw that my home was in danger of being overrun with evil. I did not want to be a leader, but I had to become one. Fortunately I had a great mentor. My leader, Optimus Prime, was one of the wisest Autobots to ever live. Through him I learned to become a warrior and a leader. I learned how to be courageous and just. Was there anyone like that in your life?”

“No. I did not know any of the previous Ytas, except in a few encounters. My creators taught me from ancient wisdom, but not through actual practice.” Jetfire could hear the sadness in her voice and thought of his mentor for a few moments. Optimus Prime, Orion Pax, was thrust into leadership in order to lead the Autobots against the Decepticons. Optimus didn’t know what he was doing, he did what he thought was right. And of course young Hot Rod had been forced to mature and become a leader when he opened the Matrix to destroy Unicron and became Rodimus Prime. Rodimus had complained numerous times that he did not want to lead and that he was not ready to handle it. But he had eventually gotten over his fears and taken on the mantle of leadership. “Hippolyta, one of the things I have learned about leadership is that you must always follow what your heart says is right. Trust in yourself, believe in your abilities, and you will not fail.”

Hippolyta was silent, but then replied. “I understand. If I don’t let myself get discouraged by the Ruling Council’s complaints and follow my own path, then I can get my people through these troubled times.”

“That sounds about right.”

“Good. Now Jetfire…”

“Yes?”

“Let’s get back to having fun, this kind of talk is depressing. I haven’t been this high up before. In fact, I haven’t been in the air at all. So I guess this is the first time I’ll have truly seen my world, the same as you.”

“You haven’t ever flown? Flying is the most free any being can get. It’s time to let your soul fly free,” Jetfire banked sharply and performed a serious of loops and rolls that had Hippolyta laughing and screaming all at once.

Jetfire set down on a high metal plateau that was in a secluded area. Hippolyta climbed out of the cockpit and Jetfire transformed. He sat down at the edge of the plateau, his legs hanging in the air. Hippolyta sat next to him and looked down. The drop was not very long, but it was steep. Jetfire looked out over the area, seeing blank, metal landscape as far as the eye could see. “This place is beautiful,” he said.

“I know. I’ve never been here, but I’ve heard that this region is very pretty. I guess now I finally get to find out,” Hippolyta replied.

“Mind if I ask you something a little personal?” Jetfire asked quietly.

“Go ahead.”

“What’s it like to live in a cage your whole life? To never be free to explore or have any experiences outside of the political arena?”

“I…I hated it at first, but I slowly got used to it. I got used to people saying that I couldn’t associate with others because of political interests, or that I couldn’t go out with what few friends I had because of training, or that I couldn’t take a trip to this area alone because it was too dangerous for a Yta. I hated it and I still do, but I have gotten used to it. I know that living in a cage is what I was meant to do, it is my destiny. I have come to accept it.”

“I never could,” Jetfire turned to look at her sadly. “From the very start I was programmed to be a scientist first. I became a warrior when I had to, but science was always in my heart. What I loved most was going out into unexplored areas and researching things that no one had ever seen. During the war this was used by my commanders to gather intelligence information and to research new weapon systems. For millions of years I was trapped in a cage, unable to do what I most loved as the war dragged on. My mind belonged to the military, but my soul always belonged out here, in the unknown.”

“Now here I am, free from my cage in unexplored region, talking with a female Cybertraxian who is very much like myself. After all of that time, I finally am free to do as I please, yet I am not completely able to. I still have a responsibility to my friends, to make sure they get to Cybertron safely. So I guess a part of me is still in a cage, but at least it is one of my own design.”

Hippolyta looked into Jetfire’s visor and asked, “Jetfire, why are you telling me all this?”

“I’m not sure. I…I think it’s because you can understand me. If I offered to take you away from here, to take you to my home on Cybertron, would you go?”

“No. These are my people, I have a duty to them. I couldn’t just leave them to go exploring the galaxy with some stranger.”

“Exactly, so you too are still in a cage of your own design. We are a lot alike, and for that reason I can share things with you that I can share with no one else.”

“Mind if I share something with you?”

“Of course not.”

“I want to go with you, I really do. If you did offer to take me with you on your ship, it would be hard for me to refuse. You are the first being I’ve ever felt close enough to to be able to really talk to.”

“Hippolyta, I think…I think I’m falling in love with you. This has never happened to me before, so I’m not really sure, but…”

Hippolyta put a finger to Jetfire’s faceplate and smiled. “Just go with what your heart feels, Jetfire.”

Jetfire wrapped his arms around Hippolyta and pulled her close. He had seen humans do this in movies hundreds of times. He thought of one of the last movies he had seen on Earth. It was a really long love story set on a sinking ship called “Titanic”. Like the humans on that vessel, he felt that his ship was sinking just as he had found the best thing to ever happen to him. He knew Hippolyta wouldn’t come with him to Cybertron, and he couldn’t stay with her on Cybertrax. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Wheeljack, Perceptor, or Grapple to take charge in his stead; it was that he had a responsibility to them, to make sure they got back home safely.

Her lips touched his faceplate and he felt a surge run through his circuits to his spark. In his millions of years of life he had never been with a female. His life had been dedicated to the Autobot cause and science, never to pursuing females. Finally, after all this time, he had one and yet he had to let her go. Life isn’t fair, he cursed. Even Optimus Prime had someone to love; someone who was able to be there for him every so often. Why can’t I have that? Am I destined to die alone on some distant planet in service of my only true love?

Hippolyta’s hands caressed his chest and he was about to do the same with her, but stopped himself. He pulled away and stood up. “No, I can’t do this,” he said.

“What is it, Jetfire?”

“I can’t interface with you. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I would never interface with someone I couldn’t spend the rest of my life with.”

“I understand, Jetfire. We both know that this would just be a one night stand. A few days later you would leave in your ship and I would remain here and we both would try to go on with our lives. The problem is that we would have given a little part of ourselves to each other. We would share a bond, but we would probably never see each other again.”

“I’m glad you understand.”

She took a few steps forward and touched his arm. “Just because we aren’t going to interface doesn’t mean we have to be miserable for the rest of the time you’re here. It would be better for both of us if we make the rest of our time together count.”

Jetfire nodded and transformed. “Hop in, there’s still a lot more planet to view, and a few maneuvers I haven’t performed yet.”

“I can hardly wait.” Hippolyta climbed in and was thrown back in her seat as Jetfire lit his rocket boosters and roared away from the plateau. She cried out in joy as she saw her planet spread out below her in the fading reddish-brown light.

After a few hours they returned to the palace and went back to Hippolyta’s office. She was stone-faced on the way there, but started laughing again once they were inside.

She hugged Jetfire and smiled. “Thank-you for the best day of my life.”

“It was my honor to show the esteemed Yta her planet,” Jetfire replied. He leaned forward and was about to kiss her, but before he could, the ground began to shake.

* * *

Grapple was in one of the palace’s spires and looked up to see only darkness above him. It occurred to him that he was about one hundred feet below the surface. Yet, there still was not any kind of foundation to the structure. “Fascinating, isn’t it?” He asked Beachcomber.

The geologist nodded happily. “This is the first real planet I’ve studied in a while. From the readings I’m getting, it looks like the crust of this world is at least partially organic, but it doesn’t seem to contain any sort volcanic energy like a normal planet.”

“Which means what?”

“This planet isn’t normal, and perhaps…it might not be natural.”

“A planet like Cybertron, but Cybertron was created from the body of Primus. The only other being capable of becoming a planet was Unicron.”

“Maybe some ancient race constructed this planet long ago.”

“Maybe. There’s another weird thing, though.”

“What?”

“This structure doesn’t have a foundation of any sort. There’s no logical reason that this should be standing. It’s almost like it was a part of the planet itself.”

“Interesting. What do you think, Scarecrow?” Beachcomber asked.

“I think this is a waste of time. We should be studying their weapon systems and military, not their architecture.”

“Learning about their architecture tells us many things about them culturally. The statues carved into the walls show us how they honor their leaders and heroes. And these spires show how advanced their architecture, and thus their engineering ability, is,” Grapple replied testily.

“Predacons do not study architecture or culture,” Scarecrow hissed.

“Exactly what do Predacons do?” Beachcomber asked.

“We conquer and rule planets. We are warriors.”

“And we Autobots are scientists and explorers. Why don’t you have one of the Cybertraxians show you to a military base?” Grapple responded.

“A good idea. The first you’ve had since I’ve come aboard.” Scarecrow turned and Grapple was about to lunge forward, but Beachcomber stopped him.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s just a jerk. Let’s get back to work.” Grapple nodded and turned his headlights up to maximum brightness as he looked down the spire. The spire cascaded downwards with a circular opening in the middle of the room that led further down. As far as Grapple could see, there was no end to it. That is weird, he thought. He descended another level to continue his studies, wondering if he was investigating some kind of bottomless pit.

* * *

Scarecrow stepped onto the tarmac of a Cybertraxian military base and smiled. Hippolyta’s advisors had been uncomfortable with the thought of Scarecrow exploring their military facilities, but they had finally given in to his wishes. He looked around the base and saw a hangar nearby. He opened the door and saw that the walls were lined with recharge units. There were three arrowhead-shaped jets inside the hangar, all attached to one of the recharge units. “These are three of our Kastra fighters. We don’t have much in the way of aircraft, in fact, these are part of our only squadron,” the advisor that had been assigned to follow Scarecrow explained.

“I see. Do these aircraft transform, or are they fixed?” Scarecrow asked.

“They transform. However, they usually don’t until their watch is over.” The advisor motioned to two black and orange robots walking past the hangar. “These are two of them off-duty.”

“Good.” Scarecrow turned on his heel and walked away. He went past two more hangars and saw some squarish buildings ahead. He stopped at one and peeked inside. Again he saw walls lined with recharge units, most of which were taken up by robots with various paint schemes. “A barracks, I assume.”

“Yes. This base has a total of ten barracks, each accommodating ten troops.”

“So you have a total of 110 combat personnel on this base?”

“Yes, plus we have about fifteen more Cybertraxians who control the sensors and base defenses.”

“How many bases of this type do you have on your world?”

“This is the largest base, but we have about sixteen smaller outposts scattered around. Our total number of military personnel is about 700.”

“A puny number,” Scarecrow snorted. He turned to the advisor and smiled, “Congratulations, your world is ripe for conquest.”

“What do you mean?”

They started to walk for the command center, with Scarecrow explaining as they did so. “For a planet of this size, you would need twice that many warriors to properly defend it against a medium-sized force. A Predacon invasion force would make short work of your military and then enslave your civilian population. Your entire world would be subdued in weeks, if not sooner.”

“Perhaps you could defeat our military quickly, but there are no true civilians on Cybertrax, not anymore. Since the beginning of the civil war, every Cybertraxian has carried a weapon of some sort. Plus, almost everyone is trained in how to make boobytraps and fortifications. Your Predacon invasion force would not subdue us as easily as you think,” the advisor replied, his voice starting to sound angry. His face softened and he asked more nicely, “What recommendations would you make to improve our situation?”

They stopped and Scarecrow smiled. He always loved giving an inferior foe advice. It showed how superior Predacons were at warfare. “First, you need more aircraft, and at least a sensor network in orbit around the planet. My shuttle came in undetected by your forces, an invasion fleet could do the same. Secondly, you need more troops and full bases so that you are not so thinly spread around. Also, make sure your civilians maintain a high level of combat training.” He stopped, his smile fading a bit. “After that, you might be able to survive a Predacon invasion fleet for a little while.”

The advisor nodded and they went inside the command center. There were computer terminals scattered about the room, with robots manning each one. A Cybertraxian about Scarecrow’s height who was colored dark blue with gold trim stood up and came over to Scarecrow and the advisor. “Ril Tyr, I had no idea you would be here today,” the Cybertraxian stammered.

“At ease, General. The Yta has ordered me to show Scarecrow around one of our bases. Scarecrow is from a distant planet called Cybertron and is trying to study our culture. He has some interesting suggestions that could improve our chances of surviving an invasion.”

“I see. I’d like to hear your suggestions. My staff has been formulating plans for some time on how to overcome our difficulties. Let’s go back to my office and you can explain them to me,” the general motioned for a door on the other side of the room. Scarecrow went inside the spartan office and took a seat across the desk from the general. Tyr sat down next to Scarecrow, wondering how the general would take the Predacon’s suggestions. As Scarecrow opened his mouth to speak, the entire room began to shake.

* * *

Grapple stopped in the spire to take a short break. His servos were beginning to grind a little from all of the climbing. Have to spend a little time in the R chamber when I get back, he thought to himself. He chuckled to himself a bit as he thought about what his old friend Hoist would say if he were here. “You have to take better care of yourself, Grapple. You’d think you architects would know a little more about caring for delicate structures,” he knew Hoist would have joked. Hoist was just one of his friends that he missed, and being on a planet so much Cybertron made it feel even worse.

Grapple sighed and decided that he had rested enough. He was about to descend further, but he heard Beachcomber shout, “No, don’t!”

“Why not?”

“Just find something and hold on real tight.” Beachcomber was already looking for something to hang onto and Grapple shined his light around until he found a handhold in the spire. He gripped it tightly and was about to ask Beachcomber what was going on when the spire began to shake violently.


Chapter Three

Skids reached the site where the star had been and saw two of his comrades, Wheeljack and Perceptor, lying in space. Both were mangled badly, but Skids was detecting activity in their sparks. He aimed the transport at them and slid next to them, adjusting his speed and course so he could stay with them. He put the transport on automatic pilot and opened the hatch. He swam out into space and grabbed his comrades. He carefully shoved them back through the hatch and then got back in himself. He closed the hatch and knelt down next to Wheeljack.

He did as he had done to the other Skids and was grateful when Wheeljack’s eyes lit up. “Skids! You were dead!”

“No. I am from the past. My transport somehow ended up here. I have to find out what happened here and stop it from happening in the past,” Skids answered.

“I see. What happened is…by the Inferno, look out!” Wheeljack pointed to the cockpit and Skid could see something fly past. It was a white and red jet that looked like Jetfire. Skids quickly took the controls and was about to contact his friend when the sensors began beeping wildly. Skids went over to them and saw that something with an enormous energy signature was approaching. “Skids, get us out of here, now!”

“What? Why?”

“That is the reason this star system was destroyed. A monster worse than Unicron destroyed Cybertrax and then began draining the energy from every planet in the system. We tried to stop him, but he was too powerful. He drained the energy from the star, leaving it a burnt-out cinder floating in space. Then he devoured the cinder and was going to move on when Jetfire, Perceptor, and I arrived in the shuttle. He went through it like it like it was nothing at all. Perceptor and I managed to escape the wreckage and Jetfire went after him. Apparently things haven’t gone so well.”

Skids looked over at where Jetfire had gone and could see that he had transformed. Jetfire was badly damaged, to the point where most of his superstructure was gone. His left arm was destroyed and his face was mangled nearly beyond recognition. Jetfire raised his right arm and fired a few shots from his rifle. Skids could see that the shots were weak, meaning that Jetfire was running low of power. Jetfire took a look at the transport and shouted over the comlink, “Skids, are you still alive?” Jetfire’s voice was garbled from damage, but it was still intelligible.

“Not exactly. My transport was caught up in some kind of temporal phenomenon that threw me into the future,” Skids replied.

“I see. Then you have to get back to the past and stop all this from happening. Stop the destruction of Cybertrax, that should go a long way to changing the future.”

“How can I do that?”

“I don’t know. Is anyone with you?”

“I recovered Wheeljack and Perceptor. They’re both still functioning.”

“Good. Have them help you. Just clear the area. My sensors are damaged, but I am detecting that the monster is coming this way. You can’t let it destroy the transport or all will be lost.”

“What about you?”

“I’m going to make a run for its central processor. If I make it then I should be able to destroy it if I can get up enough speed. If not, then it will give him a really big headache that should at least distract him for a little while.”

Skids was about to say something, but Jetfire broke the connection. Skids revved the transport’s engines to full speed, noticing that it was still moving sluggishly from the plasma leak. As he did, he saw Jetfire throw him a weak salute. Then he transformed and fired his rocket boosters. Skids watched Jetfire streak towards an enormous dark gray object. Skids could not even see the entire thing, it was too huge. Jetfire disappeared from sight and moments later his spark disappeared from the transport’s sensors.

Skids’s jaw dropped open in shock. Jetfire was dead. No, it can’t be. Jetfire had been one of his oldest friends and his commander during this journey. He couldn’t be dead. Skids stared into space for a moment and saw that the enormous object was approaching. I have to stop this, he thought as the transport continued to move away.

“Skids, you have to go back in time and stop this from happening again. You have to evacuate Cybertrax.”

“Cybertrax, what is Cybertrax?”

“That planet we checked out before you arrived. You have to have it evacuated before it is destroyed.”

“Why?”

“Because Scarecrow, Grapple, and all the Cybertraxians died when it was destroyed!” Wheeljack replied.

“But I don’t even know how I got here, how can I get back?”

“I don’t know, but I know who might,” Wheeljack dragged himself over to where Perceptor lay and reactivated him.

“Wheeljack, you are alive? Where am I?” Perceptor asked groggily.

“You’re in the transport with Skids.”

“Skids is dead.”

“No. This Skids was transported a few days into the future. If we can get him back, he might be able to stop things.”

“Yes, of course. How did you get here, Skids?”

“I’m not sure. I was flying the transport towards Cybertrax, when it started to shake and there was a purplish light. I went up to the cockpit and saw Beachcomber flying past.”

“I see. We must return to that site immediately. Perhaps there is some kind of wormhole there that drew you here.”

“All right,” Skids replied and set a course for his position before finding Beachcomber. As it left, Skids was able to get a picture of the huge object that Jetfire had crashed into. If that gets loose, everything in the universe will die, Skids thought grimly.

It took two hours for them to reach the location, but they had finally made it. Wheeljack and Perceptor were both still operational, although they were weakening. Their sparks are failing, just like mine did, Skids thought, remembering the other Skids that he had been helpless to save. Of course, if I make it back, I can save them all.

Perceptor swept the area with the sensors and grimaced. “I do not detect any kind of temporal anomalies.”

Skids pounded his console in frustration. “No! This was the spot, something has to be here!”

“I’m sorry Skids, but there is nothing. If we can’t change history, then we must warn other systems of this threat. Perhaps a coalition of societies can destroy that creature.”

“It will take forever to reach another system. The starboard engine had a plasma leak. It will slow us down…” Skids’s voice trailed off as he remembered that the transport has been leaking plasma the last time it was here. By now, all the plasma in that engine was gone, so it wasn’t leaking anything. “Perceptor, could plasma have reacted with something unseen at this location to cause whatever brought me here?”

Perceptor rubbed his chin in thought and finally nodded. “Yes. The leaked plasma could have reacted with cromoton particles in this area to create a temporal vortex that would have sucked the transport in and brought you here. If there was a high enough concentration of cromoton particles in the area.” Perceptor did another sensor sweep, this time searching for the particles. “It appears as though there is enough in this area for such an event to have occurred.”

“Great. Then I’ve got to put a plasma leak in the right engine. That should recreate the vortex. If I can get a similar concentration of particles, then I should go back to nearly where I was,” Skids planned quickly.

“That’s going to be tricky,” Wheeljack said.

“I know. But if I let the conduit leak for about as long as before, then I should pretty much have the mixture right.” Wheeljack nodded his agreement and Skids piloted the transport a safe distance away from vortex. He opened the hatch and stepped out into space. Wheeljack and Perceptor followed behind. “Shouldn’t you two stay in the transport?”

“Skids, we cannot go with you. We do not belong there, and we do not want to live with all of these terrible memories. You must go alone,” Perceptor said slowly.

“He’s right. We’re going to die anyway, it might as well be in our own time. Just promise me that you’ll save those Cybertraxians.”

Skids looked at his friends, not wanting to leave them to die, but knowing that he had no choice. As much as he hated to admit it, they were right. He couldn’t take them with him, they would be out of place. Besides, they would have to live with the memories of watching all of their comrades and a world full of civilians die. All Autobots had horrible memories from the war with the Decepticons, but there was no need to add to them. He only wished he could wipe his memories away. He thought of himself lying in the blizzard, Beachcomber’s remains floating by, and Jetfire saluting the transport before kamikazing into the monster. I’ve got to stop all of that from happening again. “I promise,” Skids said to Wheeljack. Skids opened the access panel for the starboard engine and found the plasma conduit. He measured the size of the break and then went to the port engine and recreated it. He closed the access panel and went back inside the ship.

He tossed his friends a salute and headed out for the vortex. It was many torturous moments before he reached the area. He crossed his fingers as the transport made it to the exact spot. He could see a flash of purple as the vortex formed. Skids watched in fascination as a violet cloud grew until it had surrounded the transport. The transport began shaking violently and Skids thought for a few moments that it would shake apart. Then there was a flash of purple light and Skids found himself in calm space once more.

He ran a sensor sweep and saw that everything was normal. The red giant star was still there and Cybertrax was on the edge of his sensors. He put the engines past their safe limit and headed for where the shuttle was. Good, there’s still time, he thought. He knew he couldn’t actually reach the planet, but he could get a signal to the others. He drained power from the sensors and other systems and dumped it into the communications system. He knew the added power would overload the system, but he could get a short message out. He punched a few keys and began his message.

* * *

Hippolyta’s office shook violently, sending everything crashing down to the floor. Jetfire caught Hippolyta as she fell and shielded her with his body as debris fell all around them. The room continued to shake and Jetfire wondered when it would stop. Finally, after several long minutes, it did stop. Jetfire stood up and helped Hippolyta to her feet. He looked around and saw that a good portion of the ceiling had given way and anything not bolted down was on the floor.

“Thank-you,” Hippolyta said as she brushed herself off.

“Has this happened before?” Jetfire asked.

“There have been a few tremors, but nothing serious.”

Jetfire looked at her for a few moments and then his body changed back to that of Skyfire. “Something must be wrong with this area. We’ll have to find out what it is…”

“Skyfire, we just received a message from Skids!” Wheeljack’s voice came over the comlink, shattering Skyfire’s thoughts.

“What does it say?” Skyfire asked.

“That’s the weird part. It only says, ‘Evacuate Cybertrax, Skids’. Why do you suppose he wants us to evacuate?”

“I don’t know. I’ve got to check some things out here. Try and locate Skids and see if you can contact him.”

“All right, I’ll try.” The connection broke and Skyfire turned to Hippolyta.

“One of my crew says we should evacuate the planet.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Do you have the capability to evacuate?”

“Yes. We have a plan. I’ll start the preparations. It will take some time, though,” Hippolyta responded.

“We aren’t going to have time,” Beachcomber called out from behind them. He and Grapple stood in the doorway, looking grim. His body was dented and dusty, as was Grapple’s.

“What do you mean?” Skyfire demanded.

“I monitored that quake. We were down in one of the spires when it happened, so I was pretty close to it. What we found out is that this planet is doomed.”

“Doomed?” Hippolyta sat down in the rubble shakily.

“On a normal planet, a quake is caused from plates grinding up against each other. On Cybertrax, though, there are no plates. So this is not a normal quake. Instead, the quakes are radiating from around the core of the planet. There is some instability near the core of the planet that is sending shockwaves up to the surface. From what I’ve determined, these shockwaves are only going to get worse until they destroy the surface. We have to evacuate the planet soon.”

“How long?” Hippolyta asked hoarsely.

“The next shock is going to hit in about two hours. We have about twelve hours before the surface completely gets ripped apart.”

“How is that possible?” Skyfire wondered.

“This planet isn’t natural,” Grapple answered. “From what I’ve seen of the spires, those are sunk into the planet, like they were part of it. Since the structure of this planet is not normal, it is logical to conclude that Cybertrax is not a natural world. So it is possible that the planet has become unstable and will destroy itself.”

“We have to evacuate immediately,” Hippolyta got to her feet and raced from the room.

“Let’s get to work,” Skyfire said, following after Hippolyta.

Three hours later, two gray ships rose up to the surface. “What are those?” Skyfire asked Hippolyta, who was standing next to him near the Imperial Palace.

“Escape ships. They were built during the height of the war when one side feared it would be destroyed. They had planned to use the ships to evacuate their people and find another planet to locate to and prepare defenses against their enemies. However, things started to turn around and the plan was scrapped. After the war, the ships were located and the current Yta decided to keep them in working condition if there was a disaster or if another war erupted,” Hippolyta answered.

“How many people are you going to be able to evacuate?” Grapple asked.

“All of them. One ship was designed as a military escort ship, so it will carry most of our military personnel and weaponry. The other will carry the sparks of all the civilians, which will be held in stasis until the ship finds a suitable place to recolonize. There was not room enough for their bodies, so those will have to be left behind. However, we were able to load some construction equipment on the ship, so new ones can be reproduced.”

“Grapple, contact Wheeljack and have him bring the shuttle to this location. Then I want you and the others to load as many bodies as you can into the shuttle. Put them in any open space, even in my quarters if you have to,” Skyfire ordered. Grapple nodded and hurried away to carry out the order.

“Skyfire, you don’t have to do that,” Hippolyta said.

“Yes I do. It will be hard for your people to relocate, you’ll need all the able bodies you can get. As well, I am a Maximal, and Maximals are sworn to uphold the lives of the innocent above all else.”

“Thank-you Skyfire, you are truly the most wonderful individual I have ever known.” She kissed Skyfire’s faceplate and his fluids raced. His body mutated into Jetfire’s and he wrapped his arms around her. He returned the kiss and they held it for what seemed like an eternity. They finally pulled away and Jetfire asked, “What about me?”

“You two are the same, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but I didn’t want to be left out,” Jetfire whispered jokingly.

“You Autobots are so soft, it makes my gears grind!” He heard Scarecrow curse from behind him. Jetfire turned to say something, but Hippolyta moved forward and punched Scarecrow in the face. He reeled backwards and she kicked him in the midsection. Then she laced her hands together and smashed Scarecrow in the back, sending him crashing to the ground.

“Was that soft enough for you?” She hissed. “As long as you are on Cybertrax, you will speak respectfully in my presence.”

Scarecrow got up slowly and nodded. “Very well, but I will not be on Cybertrax much longer. After that, I suggest you watch your back.” Scarecrow stomped away and Jetfire stared at Hippolyta for a few moments in awe.

“You must have had good trainers,” he said.

“The best,” she replied as the Autobot shuttle began to descend. “We’d better go and help them get those bodies on board.”

Jetfire nodded and mutated back into Skyfire. Then he followed Hippolyta towards where Grapple and the others were. Skyfire thought of the moment of passion Jetfire had shared with Hippolyta and wished that love hadn’t come on such a grave day.


Epilogue

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.

To Be Continued in: Legacy, Part 2 of the Apocalypse Trilogy!

Nuk ka komente: