New Author's Note
Hello all. Working on the finale right now. I've decided to roll all of Part 4 into one post. The second half was only a couple of pages long. I didn't want to jerk you guys around.
I'm happy to make the 500 views mark. Please send me feedback (good, bad or otherwise) Please enjoy a cleaned up version of Part 4 and keep an eye out for the finale in Part 5.
Smokescreen could see why their captor worked in darkness. He was five kinds of ugly. He stood like a normal robot but with another set of limbs attached to his back. The lower pair reached down to the floor. The upper pair bent over his shoulder ending in serrated tips. His chest and torso was a riotous blend of purple and black with pulsing green lights radiating from his chest to his thighs and upper arms. His face was hidden behind a helmet with lighted green visor.
“Going somewhere?" their captor asked the trio.
Vertebreak growled, “Yeah, through you!"
The Predacon charged in a blur of yellow and orange. Their jailer laughed. His lower spider arms fired into the ground propelling the rest of him up to the ceiling. In mid-air, the robot transformed into spider. On the floor, a glistening strand stretched between the half buried tips. Vertebreak tangled on this trip wire.
Clambering across the ceiling, the spider-bot laughed and sprayed a web over the Predacon. Vertebreak thrashed and roared but his opponent worked fast spinning layers upon layers of webs from his abdomen. Smokescreen tried to shoot him while his back was turned. One of the arms fired another tip causing Smokescreen and Slag to dive for cover. The enraged Predacon was bundled in a tight cocoon by the time they got to their feet. Satisfied with his work, the spider turned to Slag and Smokescreen.
Slag glared at their opponent. “You are: Tarantulas."
* * *
Grimlock left Huffer guarding the pods as the trail led out of Helix to the canyon lands southeast of town. Swoop, who flew on ahead, soon returned transforming from Pteranodon to robot.
“What did you see?" Grimlock asked.
“Twists and folds every which way. If you get lost in there, you won’t be coming out anytime soon."
Swoop shook his head. “No trace, boss. But they could be hiding in a cave or crevice and I would never know."
Sludge in dino-mode turned to Snarl. “Still picking up the single scent?"
Snarl bobbed his head. “Humph." [Just one. Kind of stale.]
“This must be the way he came into town. Maybe he left by a different route?"
“Maybe," Grimlock conceded, “but if we follow the trail it may lead to the Predacons’ lair."
Sludge asked his leader. “And what do we do when we find their lair?"
Grimlock stared at the canyons ahead. “Bumblebee’s ceasefire is a joke. These beasts have attacked us, destroyed Helix, and kidnapped Slag. Now we do things our way."
* * *
From his overlook, Dreadwing saw the Dinobots coming.
“They must have Vertebreak and are heading our way. Go tell Scourge. Quickly now."
Dreadwing pushed Icefang off the cliff. He transformed into an ice blue dragon and winged his way back to the villa.
Dreadwing surveyed the terrain. Scourge will want options and the land offered a few. He looked down at option one: the box canyon where he dropped off Vertebreak. Only one of the Dinobots could fly. The canyon would be a great place to ambush. Dreadwing’s line of sight slid to the left. Option two was to bypass them all together. Once the Dinobots enter the canyon, the Predacons could fly in a wide arc and enter Helix to retrieve the stasis pods. Dreadwing swiveled his head back to the canyon. Option three was out of sight: a bottleneck leading to the box canyon. Collapse those high walls on the Dinobots’ heads and instant tomb. It all depends on how ruthless Scourge wants to be.
* * *
“Ok. Who or What is a Tarantulas?" Smokescreen asked.
“Decepticon scientist under Shockwave’s command," Slag answered quickly. “Believed to have perished when Cybertron went dark, but when has that ever panned out."
“Gotcha. So how do we deal with him?"
“You don’t," Tarantulas answered clinging to the ceiling. He fired his remaining tip. Smokescreen hit his phase shifter. The serrated shot flew right through him and buried itself in the wall behind him.
Smokescreen smiled. “All out. Now you can come quietly or…"
The rest was lost as Smokescreen saw Tarantulas regenerate four new tips.
“They never give up quietly, kid." Slag informed him.
“Would be nice for a change. So what’s the game plan?"
Slag kept his eye on Tarantulas but spoke to Smokescreen.
“See to our ally. Come on web-for-brains lets see what you got!"
He transformed back into a triceratops and breathed fire. Tarantulas shied away from the bright flame. With their captor distracted, Smokescreen phased into the floor and reappeared near Vertebreak.
He shot the webbing around Vertebreak’s front claws when a soft glob struck to his back. Before he could react, Smokescreen was yanked off his feet and hurled across the room toward Slag. Slag turned to his side and caught him with his tail. It wasn’t a pleasant stop but better than the wall.
Tarantulas webbed Slag’s snout shut and laughed as the Dinobot struggled to free himself. Smokescreen transformed his arms into blasters and fired. Tarantulas skittered across the ceiling. A quick web shot pinned Smokescreen’s right arm to the wall. Tarantulas was about to fire another when Vertebreak leaped up and clamped onto one of Tarantulas’ many legs.
He pulled the Tarantulas off of the ceiling and began tussling with the spider. Smokescreen freed his arm then worked on Slag.
“This guy is really touchy about fire," Smokescreen commented.
Slag worked his now-freed jaw. “Yeah, rather interesting."
Tarantulas slide his spider legs under Vertebreak. With a grunt, he flung the Predacon across the room. The striped beast slammed against the wall followed instantly by strands of webbing keeping him pinned where he landed.
“Be grateful, you are Shockwave’s experiment. Otherwise, I’d eviscerate you right now." Tarantulas shouted with frustration.
“Get ready," Smokescreen whispered before phasing through the wall.
A strand of spider silk stuck on Slag’s exposed side. With a might tug, the Dinobot was pulled off his feet. He was slung to a corner of the room and the webs piled on. Slag tucked his head in to keep his mouth free.
“That’s two. Now, the Autobot," Tarantulas growled.
“You mean little old me?" Smokescreen taunted. Tarantulas spun around and shot a web.
“Nope over here."
The spider shot again and again didn’t catch Smokescreen. Shifting through floors and walls, the Autobot warrior continued goading Tarantulas.
“Come on, I thought you were good with those things."
Each taunt was met with webbing. Along the way, Smokescreen picked up one of the serrated tips. A few more taunts and the entire room was coated with webs.
“You think you’re so clever," Tarantulas hissed, “Trying to catch me in my own webs."
Smokescreen emerged next to Vertebreak. He put his finger to his lips signaling for silence and cut the webs around his mouth with the serrated point.
Tarantulas scuttled from ceiling to wall. "…but I don’t stick to my own webs."
Smokescreen phased next Slag. A few silent cuts and he had room to move his head.
Tarantulas coated one last piece of the floor with webs. “And now you have no where to go without getting caught."
“I don’t suppose you want to come quietly?" Smokescreen asked as he phased up from the floor. Sure enough his feet stuck as soon as he was all the way through. Tarantulas saw his prey caught regained his good cheer.
“I think not." He laughed.
“Ok, you had your chance. Fire!"
Slag breathed fire igniting the webs him. Vertebreak followed his lead and breathed dragon fire. Both fires spread quickly. Slag, who could take a missile to the frill, was fireproof. Vertebreak didn’t seem to mind fire indicating he was fireproof too. The tarantula, on the other hand, was going crazy. He scuttled here and there across the ceiling fleeing the flames. He even tried to smother the flames with his own webs. The fire quickly climbed up the strands singing his spinnerets.
Smokescreen freed the Dinobot and the Predacon while Tarantulas hissed and screamed at the fires. Slag turned to Smokescreen, “Exactly as planned?"
“More or less," Smokescreen replied.
“Lets leave before the flames die down," Vertebreak suggested.
* * *
The canyon narrowed to a bottleneck forcing the Dinobots into a single file in robot mode. Grimlock took the lead with Snarl and Sludge following. Swoop disappeared from view.
The cyber strata of the canyon was tarnished and scored by millennia of rust storms. It dulled the light coming from above creating a gloomy foreboding feel.
“I’m getting that feeling," Grimlock whispered. “How about you, Snarl?"
“Humph," Snarl grunted with a nod.
“And you, Sludge?"
“Since we stepped into the canyons," Sludge agreed. “Here would be where I’d ambush us. Collapse both sides to contain us or drop the whole thing to finish us."
“Humph." [But they haven’t. Strange.]
Grimlock held up the halt sign. “I think I see why."
A few steps ahead, the bottleneck widened into a box canyon. In the center stood Scourge. As the others entered, they spotted Predacons perched on the canyon rim. He also saw Swoop held by one of the big bruisers. Oddly, once they saw the Dinobots they let him go. Swoop glided down to the others.
“Ambush?" Grimlock asked. Swoop nodded sheepishly.
“Humph." [If it is, they aren’t doing it right.]
“I’ll find out what he wants," Grimlock stated.
The other stayed put while the leader of the Dinobots meet with the leader of the Predacons.
Scourge was definitely built by Decepticons. That was Grimlock’s assessment. Black plates blended into red spikes and orange horns. Scourge’s face was a perpetual scowl beneath a spiked helm. He planted his sword in a rust drift to show that he was armed but wasn’t attacking. He wanted to talk.
Scourge heard tales of Grimlock and his Dinobot half-breeds. Frankly, he was under whelmed seeing the myth before him. Like most Autobots, he wasn’t primarily built for combat. His grey limbs were rounded for their function. His chest was golden and he hid his face behind a battle mask. Most of the beastly features were folded behind as if he were ashamed of noble Predacon heritage he imitates. He, at least, carried himself as a leader not needing his men to back him up.
When Grimlock reached him, Scourge began without introduction.
“If I wanted you dead, I would have buried you. Do you doubt it?"
Grimlock grunted, “Not at all. You didn’t so you want something."
“You half-breeds took one of my people. I want him back along with the Predacons held in stasis."
“We didn’t kidnap your teammate. But since we are on the subject, we’d like Slag and Smokescreen returned unharmed."
Scourge tilted his head. “You’ve lost a teammate too."
“And you lost your scout you sent into Helix?"
“Well this is interesting." Grimlock cupped his chin. “We don’t have your teammate. You don’t have ours. Either one of us is lying. Or…"
“There is a third party," Scourge concluded.
“Normally, this is the point where we put aside our differences, work together against a common enemy and save our friends."
Scourge glared at Grimlock.
“Yeah, me neither."
“Let us begin," Scourge reached his sword.
“For Helix and the stasis pods." Grimlock unsheathed his sword.
Predacons and Dinobots tensed as both blades met and the battle was joined.