TF Prime: Dragons vs Dinos [complete]

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TF Prime: Dragons vs Dinos [complete]

Postby Stormtalon » Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:36 pm

Author’s Note:
Welcome. This is my adventure pitting the mighty Dinobots against the powerful Predacons of Transformers: Prime. I hope you enjoy the tale. Before we begin, some announcements.

The Dinobots keep their G1 names: Swoop, Slag, Snarl, Sludge and Grimlock.

The Predacons have the most changes. Predaking goes by Scourge. (This will be explained later.) Both gryphons are present with Darksteel called Dreadwing and Grimwing keeping his name. Skystalker is renamed Icefang, but Vertebreak keep his names. Other Predacons may pop up throughout the story. Keep a vigilant eye.

This story follows the events of Transformers: Prime up to Season 3, Episode 13 “Deadlock”. “Predacons Rising” doesn’t happen in this story. Optimus Prime is still alive and Megatron is still dead. Our story begins while out on patrols.

Author's Second Note:
The views and the response have been phenomenal. I re-edited the story for a final draft. There will be a follow-up story but you'll have to wait for the end of summer for its debut. Please enjoy the final draft all in one go. No waiting.

I also added some bonus character bios to spice things up.


Part 1: Here There be Dinobots

“Remember when patrols were routine and quiet?” Slag asked.

“Yeah, things have really livened up,” Swoop replied.

“Not where I was going…”

A growling Predacon tackled Slag. Swoop charged a second one who transformed and took flight.

“That’s not going to save you!” he shouted, transforming into a pterosaur and flying after the beast.

Slag grappled with his Predacon avoiding the snapping jaws of a yellow and orange striped creature. With a heave, he flipped the Predacon off and got to his feet.

“Ugly sucker, aren’t you?”

“You should talk, half-breed!” growled the Predacon.

He charged again. Slag stood his ground. At the last moment, he transformed into a triceratops. The land wyrm gored himself on Slag’s three horns. With a flick of his head, he sent the Predacon flying.

Swoop dodged the soaring yellow-orange body as he gained on his target: a sleek, icy blue dragon. Swoop breathed a firebolt at him, but the blue dragon rolled around it.

“Now, try one of mine!”

On the downbeat, two blue and white disks went spinning towards Swoop. He was quick enough to dodge the first one, but the second clipped his wing and a coat of ice spread from the impact. Swoop squawked in alarm.

Back on the ground, the lindwyrm landed on Slag’s back and kicked off. Slag turned to face him. He stamped the ground and shook his frill. “Ready for more!” he shouted.

The wyrm’s back split open revealing a missile launcher. Two missiles flew at Slag from point blank range. The explosion rocked the battlefield.

“Ready for that?” he sneered.

The triceratops stomped out of the fires.

“That all you’ve got.”

The wyrm hissed and charged. Slag charged too. Before they collided, a huge shadow swooped past and a curtain of flame fell across their paths. A gigantic black and red dragon landed in the flames and bellowed a deafening roar. Slag and his opponent slid to a stop. Swoop crash-landed next to Slag. His blue opponent landed neatly by the orange Predacon.

The big dragon took in the battlefield then turned to the two Predacons.

“Icefang! Vertebreak! Explain yourselves.”

The orange and yellow one, Vertebreak, transformed into a robot.

“These two entered our territory. We defended it.”

Vertebreak crossed his arms in a ‘case closed’ fashion.

“I wonder how they marked their territory,” Swoop whispered to Slag.

“Not helping,” Slag whispered back.

The dragon swung his head to the Dinobots. “Do you have something to add?”

Slag transformed to address the dragon. “We were patrolling, not invading. We didn’t know anyone this sector was claimed.”

Scourge eyed the Dinobots.

“Leave the half-breeds unharmed,” Scourge commanded. Vertebreak nodded in agreement. Icefang seethed but bobbed his head too. Scourge turned to the Dinobots.

“We have a truce with your Autobot masters. We won’t break it but know this area is now under Predacon control. We will handle any future threats,” he said pointedly.

“And who gave you that authority?” Swoop muttered under his breath.

Slag spoke to Scourge, “We will also uphold the peace.”

Slag turned and walked away. Swoop gave Icefang a dirty glare then followed his partner. He waited until they were out of earshot before opening up.

“Are you cracked in the braincase? We’re Dinobots! We don’t back down!”

Slag turned. “I counted three Predacons, including one big enough to knock Bruticus on his backside.”

“But you let them have…”

“A pile of rubble? What have is more valuable.”

“And what is that?”

“Intel. Lets report back to base.”

Slag transformed and galloped off. Swoop transformed and followed.

* * *
“Ok, this should…do…it!” Smokescreen closed a panel. “Fire her up!”

Snarl nodded and activated the device. Energon flowed and displays lit up. Smokescreen let out a sigh of relief.

“So far, so good! Now… Kaon? This is New Spark. Come in?”

First, only static, then Arcee’s voice came through. “Kaon Hub responding. We hear you, New Spark.”

The few bots nearby gave a ragged cheer. Snarl nodded his approval.

“Good to hear from you, Kaon. Communications are up and running. We’ll call when Sludge has that supply list compiled. New Spark, out.”

Snarl grunted, “Humph. Orders from Kaon…”

“Yeah, it still seems weird. In the Academy, Kaon was the capital of Evil. I’d rather rebuild Iacon first. But Ultra Magnus explained it best. Kaon suffered less damage. It makes sense to have command and control out of there for now.”

Grimlock entered the communications room. “You done, tinkering?”

Snarl replied, “Humph.”

Smokescreen snapped to attention. “Yes, sir. We’ve established communications with Kaon.”

“Snarl just said that.”

Smokescreen stammered a bit, then caught Snarl and Grimlock sharing a grin. Where they playing with him?

Slag and Swoop rushed in. Swoop transformed and landed in front of his leader.

“Grimlock? We got a situation with fangs and wings?”

“Show me.”

Snarl moved to the main computer terminal. With a few commands, a holo-map of Cybertron floated in the middle of the room.

“We met them right…here,” Slag said pointing to a spot on the holo-map.

“Three Predacons, including their ‘King’,” Swoop added.

Slag supplied the details. “We engaged two Predacons. Scourge intervened and ordered the others to stand down citing a truce. He then claimed the entire sector as Predacon territory.”

“Predacon Territory?” Grimlock grumbled, “What is he up to?”

Snarl grunted and pointed at the map. A glowing red square represented New Spark; to the south and west lie the Predacon’s territory. On the other side was a flashing white dot.

Smokescreen read the map markings next to the dot. “Helix… an abandoned port town on the Sea of Rust. Anyone there?”

“Chromia,” Grimlock answered.

“Friend of yours?”

“A survivor.” Grimlock turned to Swoop. “Fly on ahead, make sure she’s ok.”

Swoop nodded. “You got it boss.”

“Can I come?” Smokescreen asked.

Swoop grinned. “Only if you can keep up.”

“Just watch me,” Smokescreen answered.

* * *
Swoop approached Helix with Smokescreen trailing in a cloud of dust. Helix was a one-road town with docks on the seaside and warehouses on the other.

“Swoop to Grimlock?”

“I read you Swoop.”

“…have a visual on Helix. So far no sign of trouble.”

A warehouse exploded on the far side of town.

“Okay, maybe one sign…”

Smokescreen accelerated. Swoop wasn’t going to let wheels beat wings. He dove toward the explosion ready for anything. Two bots emerged from the billowing smoke when he reached the scene.

“Told you, I could get it open,” one bot declared.

“Without bringing the roof down on top of us?” the female shouted.

“Eh, that’d take longer,” the first bot retorted.

Swoop hailed New Spark. “Hold the rescue party. Looks like we’ve found Chromia and company.”

“Swoop?” Chromia rushed to greet the Dinobot.

Chromia was scout class sharing Arcee’s body model, but in silver with blue accents.

“Hiya, Chromia,” Swoop returned the greeting.

“We have another cycle before reporting back. Don’t tell me Grimlock sent out search parties already?”

“Sort of. Have you run into any Predacons?” Swoop asked.

“Predacons?” Chromia repeated.

The other robot jumped at the word. “Whoa. Predacons? I didn’t sign on to become a chew toy.”

“Easy, Swindle,” Chromia said in a soothing tone. “Why don’t you see if there’s anything worth salvaging?”

Swindle grimaced but reentered the smoking warehouse. Smokescreen eyed the yellow and purple robot spotting the Decepticon insignia on his shoulder. Smoke checked his first impulse: to start blasting. Swoop and Chromia didn’t treat Swindle as hostile. There must be more to that story.

Swoop explained, “…engaged a couple of Preds to the east. They’ve been claiming territory as their own. We got worried they came here.”

“No Predacons. It has been a quiet tag-and-grab operation. Thank, Primus.”

“Chromia?” Swindle called from inside, “You need to see this.”

Chromia, Swoop and Smokescreen hurried inside the warehouse. Like most of Cybertron, dereliction claimed it ages ago, but a vault door at the far wall was blown open.

Swindle pointed inside at a row of five stasis pods.

“One of ours or theirs?” Chromia asked.

Stasis pods weren’t unusual. More and more were found as Autobots reclaimed lost cities. Most contained Insecticon sentries, but a couple held desperate Autobots surviving the Dark Age in stasis lock.

“I hope they’re Autobot,” Smokescreen thought aloud. “We haven’t figured out what to do with the Insecticons we keep coming across at Kaon.”

“The smelting pits aren’t working?” Swoop asked casually.

Smokescreen was shocked, but covered it quickly. “Prime wouldn’t snuff a bot unless he had no other choice.”

“And that’s why Grimlock’s a better leader. Running things is tough enough. Why weld one arm behind your back with morality?”

“Argue leadership styles on your own time,” Chromia asserted, “Let’s see what we have here.”

Chromia peered into the window of the nearest pod.

“Not an Insecticon, but not any bot I’ve seen. Take a look.”

Swoop, Swindle and Smokescreen peeked inside but didn’t recognize the robot. The bot was green with yellow limbs. Smokescreen gave it a second look and spotted the wings folded against the arms and fangs in the mouth.

Smokescreen guessed, “I think this bot might be a Predacon.”

Chromia took a second look and nodded. Swoop inspected the other pods.

“Looks the same down the line.”

“What do we do with them?” Chromia asked out loud.

Smokescreen suggested, “Activate them?”

“Swell, just what Cybertron needs…more Predacons,” Swindle grumbled.

“You’d probably want to destroy it,” Chromia ventured.

“Wouldn’t be off the table,” Swindle admitted.

Smokescreen spoke up, “These Predacons didn’t grow in these pods. Someone created them and placed them here. My money is on Shockwave.”

“Grimlock will want to question them?” Swoop added.

Chromia sighed, “Fine, but do it at New Spark. We are trying to salvage this place for useable materials not demolish the place. I’ve seen the damage one Predacon can do.”

Swoop and Chromia left to contact Grimlock and rustle up a ground bridge. Smokescreen stayed with Swindle in the vault.

“So you’re a Decepticon?” Smokescreen asked as casually as he could.

Swindle nodded. “Yep. Combaticon.”

“I guess when Megatron got snuffed the time was right to switch sides.”

“Blunt, but yes.” Swindle shrugged. “Lets go through this dance again. Yes, I was part of the enemy. Yes, I expect to answer for my crimes as the losing side. No, I’m not plotting some Decepticon ambush, insurgency or takeover.”

“Sorry, I’m unconvinced.”

“Of course, you are. So were Chromia and Grimlock. I could argue that with Megatron gone, Soundwave missing and Shockwave in hiding, there is no leadership in the Decepticon ranks.”

“What about Starscream?”

Swindle scoffed. “I will never follow that Silver Snake. He betrayed my unit.”

“So what? You do a few chores and that counts as good behavior?”

“If I’m lucky. Or we could keep fighting and destroy Cybertron a second time.”

Smokescreen remained silent.

“So, Shockwave made these things?” Swindle asked pointing to the pods.

Smokescreen nodded. “Shockwave cloned them from some ancient CNA. We fought one on Earth and another one when we returned.”

“That sounds more credible than the rumors bouncing around New Spark.”

Smokescreen asked Swindle to elaborate.

“You know the beam or whatever Optimus used to restart Cybertron? Rumor is they may have revived some ancient life buried beneath its surface.”

“Then why would these five be in stasis pods?” Smokescreen asked.

Swindle shrugged. “That’s what I heard. Any way it shakes, I’m steering clear of the fight that’s brewing.”

“What do you mean?” Smokescreen asked.

“Grimlock and Optimus?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Smokescreen said dismissively.

“Right…The friction between those two is legend. We even tried to fan the flames during the war. But now without Decepticons to fight, things are going to get explosive.”

An explosion knocked them on their heels.

Smokescreen glared at Swindle.

“That wasn’t me,” the Combaticon said with genuine surprise.

It came from outside. Swindle and Smokescreen rushed out. Several warehouses were on fire. It was the Predacons.

They were destroying Helix.

Part 2: Fight and Flight

Cinders and ashes filled the sky as fireballs rained down. Smokescreen tried to see who was firing through the haze but only saw wings and darting tails. A fireball hurtled toward him. Before he became a smoldering crater, Smokescreen was yanked back into the warehouse. Smokescreen looked up at a frowning Swindle.

“Can’t get out that way,” he grumbled.

A loud pop drew Smokescreen’s attention to the walls. The intense heat was cracking the walls already weak from age.

“We need to…” Smokescreen started, but the roof began collapsing.

“This way!” Swindle shouted.

He led them to the far wall and stasis vault. Normally, the vault would be the safest place, but eons of decay voided that promise.

From the outside, the warehouse collapsed into a burning pile. Chromia and Swoop rushed to help but another pass by the Predacons pinned them down. Swoop extended his wings shielding Chromia. When the firebombing passed, the Dinobot transformed and rocketed skyward.

In a few wingbeats, he was above the smoke. There were his attackers: two Predacon gryphons, identical except for their colors. They hadn’t spotted him yet. He fired a missile at both, but only stuck the grey and green one. It didn’t stop him, but did draw their attention. Both gryphons wheeled around and streaked toward the Dinobot.

Swoop maintained his heading. The gryphons zoomed toward him. He could see the blue and grey feathers on one and the gray and green feathers on the other. A collision seemed imminent but the gryphons peeled off at the last second.

Swoop gave a daring chuckle. Behind him, the gryphons bellowed at each other for losing their nerve. They pinion-turned and gave chase.

Swoop tried an up-and-down maneuver to shake them. One fire blast hit his foot and another nicked his wing tip. Swoop rolled and fired behind him but both Predacons were gone.

The blue one popped up along Swoop’s left flank, the gray on his right. They closed the pincers. Swoop was desperate. He transformed back to a robot and dropped like a stone. Both Predacons collided. Swoop transformed back into flight mode but recovery wasn’t in the cards.

Swoop crashed followed by his Predacon pursuers. All three were sprawled out in the smoldering rubble. The blue gryphon was the first to come to. He awoke with Chromia’s shock bow aimed at his face.

“Nod if you understand what I’m saying,” Chromia said.

The Predacon bobbed his head.

“Take your pal and leave!” Chromia demanded.

The gryphon squawked in defiance. Chromia fired a shock bolt past the Predacon’s head. It left a crater near his hindquarters.

“The next one goes through your head.”

The blue and grey gryphon growled but retreated. His green twin followed. They were dots on the southern horizon when Swoop rebooted.

“What did I miss?” Swoop asked.

“Well, I don’t want to oversell it. But I beat back those two Predacons single-handedly and completely saved the day.”

Swoop returned her joking smile, but notice her tight grip on her bow.

Across the street, Smokescreen poked his head out of the rubble. With the coast clear, he phased all the way out.

“Smokescreen? You ok?” Swoop asked.

“Where’s Swindle?” Chromia asked at the same time.

“He’s all right for now. He’s in a stasis pod. Help me dig him out.”

Smokescreen explained while they worked. When the building collapsed, he grabbed Swindle and activated his phase shifter.

“But the shifter is limited when I phase stuff with me. Small stuff stay phased longer than larger stuff. I couldn’t keep Swindle in phantom mode.”

“So you used the stasis pods,” Chromia concluded.

They cleared a way to the vault. Swindle was in the first stasis pod with the green and yellow Predacon. The look on his face was a mix of ‘Why me?’ with ‘I’ll punch the first bot who laughs’.

Swoop snickered. “We could leave him in there,” Swoop suggested. Chromia looked horrified.

“I don’t love Decepticons, but he saved my life. I’ll save his.” Smokescreen replied.

“I don’t leave any of my men behind,” Chromia followed up.

Swoop threw up his hands in surrender. “Fine, but we pop this can we’ll have another Predacon on our hands.”

Chromia nodded in acceptance. Smokescreen activated the pod. With a hiss, the pod’s sides detached and folded away revealing a terrified Combaticon and a sleeping Predacon.

* * *

The Predacons winged their way southward. Their destination was an abandoned villa atop one of the coastal mesas overlooking the Sea of Rust.

Crumbling walls outlined a courtyard with an energon reflecting pool. Statues flanked the pool upto the main villa. In front of the house steps stood a headless statue. The plaque on the base read, ‘Councilor Contrail: Greatest of His Age’.

Scourge lounged on the steps rolling Contrail’s head beneath his claw.

“Where have you been?” he asked.

The twin gryphons shuffled their feet and glanced sideways hoping the other would explain. Scourge’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. He inhaled.

“You went charring. *sniff* But encountered resistance. Autobots? *sniff* No, a Dinobot… the winged one.”

The gryphons were unnerved.

“Do you want to add anything, Grimwing?”

“Just that it’s Dreadwing’s fault. He said the town was abandoned. He said it’d be fun to torch the place. And he was the one who surrendered to the Autobot.”

Dreadwing roared, “I did not!”

Both gryphons began tussling. The other Predacons rolled their eyes. They wrestled into Vertebreak who snapped at both of them. Scourge spread open his wings and growled in a low and dangerous fashion.

The gryphon twins quelled.

“What could the Autobots want with a ruined town? It must be important to risk this truce and our wrath.”

Scourge barked. The orange and yellow striped Vertebreak approached.

“Dreadwing will take you to this town. Scout the situation and report what you find.”

The gryphon sprang to the air, landed on Vertebreak and carried him back towards Helix.

* * *

The Autobots began putting out the fires but even with an offshore breeze the town looked lost. Smokescreen watched the Predacon, while the others fought the blazes. Chromia was about call a retreat when a giant blast of fire retardant coated the street. It came from a robotic apatosaur.

Sludge sprayed retardant on another fire. Slag and Snarl lumbered behind him.

Swoop cackled. “Now, that’s what I’m talking about: reinforcements. Where’s the boss?”

“Right here,” Grimlock answered. He stomped out a smaller fire down the street.

“Hot time in the old town tonight?” Slag snarkily asked Swoop.

“You should have been here when the Predacons started it.”

“Predacons?” Grimlock asked.

“Yeah, two new Preds. Which brings are total up to five. Six if you count her.”

Swoop jabbed his thumb at the recently freed Predacon.

“And we got four more in stasis pods beneath all this rubble,” Chromia explained.

Snarl grunted, “Humph.”

Grimlock nodded. “You can say that again.”

* * *

With the extra help, the fires were knocked down easily. When the smoke cleared they got a good look at the former town of Helix. The docks, not much to look at before, were completely scrapped. The warehouses were melted metal with some twisted wreckage to break the monotony.

While the others dug for the stasis pods, Grimlock and Chromia talked with the newly freed Predacon.

The Predacon’s eyes flickered online. She scanned her surroundings. There was a lot of rubble and two Cybertronians standing in front of her, but no immediate threats. The Predacon stared through Chromia before processing her question.

“Hello, I am Chromia. Who are you?”

“I…am…Windrazor,” the Predacon answered at last.

“Hello Windrazor. We found you nearby. Are you hurt?”

Windrazor looked down at her body. She raised her left arm, but couldn’t hold it up. She answered, “I am weak, but unharmed.”

Grimlock introduced himself and asked the next question.

“How did you get here?” Grimlock asked in what he thought was his softest voice. It wasn’t soft enough because Windrazor recoiled from the Dinobot.

“More beasts? Am I still on the island?”

Grimlock frowned and backed away.

Chromia interceded. “Easy! You aren’t on any island. Grimlock is a friend.”

Grimlock stepped away. Chromia might have a better chance alone. Snarl waved Grimlock over to a loading dock without a warehouse.

“Find something?” Grimlock asked.

Snarl swiped away rubble hiding an old but familiar insignia.

“Decepticon science division?” Grimlock asked.

Snarl nodded with a taciturn ‘humph’.

“Keep you scanners on high for any other signs.” Grimlock ordered, “There maybe some clues to Shockwave’s whereabouts among the rubble.”

* * *

From an alleyway, a pair of purple eyes watched the whole exchange. Vertebreak feared being found out, but they either didn’t have a Predacon’s highly tuned sensory array or didn’t know how to use it. He remained undetected. Vertebreak used his own senses to navigate around Helix. The faint whiff of the new Predacon led him to Windrazor.

Chromia stood with the yellow and green Predacon. Vertebreak was too far to hear her words, but his nose picked up the acrid tinge of ozone ahead of a blue-green portal blossoming out of thin air. Two new Autobots emerged from the ground bridge: a green bulky one and a yellow and black one. They exchanged more words (Autobots are a wordy bunch.) then took the Predacon through the portal. Scourge needed to know about this.

* * *
Smokescreen and Slag carried the fourth and final stasis pod out of the vault.

“Careful! Don’t want to bruise that mug. Though who would notice.”

Smokescreen chuckled at his joke. Slag rolled his eyes. But the laughing didn’t stop. Instead it echoed, grew louder, and carried a manic edge to it. Slag peered around the pod to look at Smokescreen. Smokescreen was looking back… and he wasn’t laughing.

Slag was suddenly yanked away. Smokescreen lost his grip on the stasis pod and it fell. Something struck his back and suddenly he was yanked off his feet and into darkness.

* * *
Meet the… (Predacons)
Scourge

Scourge once answered to Predaking; favored by Shockwave and prized by Megatron. He saw his future leading an army of Predacon clones to victory then came the betrayal and even worse defeat at the hands of his betrayer, Megatron. He survived by clinging to Decepticon warship while the Autobots fought for control of the Omega Lock and the fate of Earth.

The Autobots won, commandeered the ship and returned to Cybertron. As dawn rose on a newly revived Cybertron, Predaking fled to the world he dreamed of, but never knew. Predaking dwelt on his defeat and uncovered his true enemy: pride. Pride compelled him to boast when he should have been cautious and blinded him to the enemies closest to him. Predaking vowed never again to be undone by pride.

He discarded his boastful moniker and adopted a new name: Scourge. For that is what he intends to be to all who aren’t Predacon: Autobot or Decepticon. A Scourge.


Part 3: Vengence or Freedom?

Smokescreen opened his eyes to darkness. Some groaning to his right assured him he wasn’t alone.

“Slag? Grimlock? Swoop?” Smokescreen whispered.

“Slag here,” the groaning voice answered.

“Where is here?” Smokescreen asked.

“Ah-ah-ahh!” a different voice spoke, “That would be telling.”

“Who’s there? Who are you?” Smokescreen asked.

“Just a curious mind,” the voice chuckled.

“A curious mind that smells like an Insecticon,” Slag commented.

“I suppose I do. It has been eons since my last oil bath, but don’t mistake me for my drones. I am the master here.”

Smokescreen tried to transform his hands into blasters, but a sticky substance held them in place.

“I could tell you escape is impossible, but it’s so enjoyable watching you struggle. How about you large one?”

Slag grunted against his bonds. “Dinobots don’t take well to captivity.”

“Consider me warned,” the voice snickered. “No lets see what kind of Cybertronian you are.”

“Better yet, lets see what kind you are.”

Slag spit a fire plume lighting up the room. Smokescreen spotted Slag in beast mode webbed to the floor. He also saw the voice in the dark. He was a spindly creature with four extra arms curled to protect his eyes. Two of them hurled globs of webbing sealing Slag’s mouth shut. Darkness returned. In the afterimage, Smokescreen saw another room with another bot tied down.

“Oh look, now you’ve lost your speaking privileges,” the dark voice returned but the mirth was replaced with malice.

“You’ll regret losing those. This next part promises to be extremely painful.”

In the dark, a saw revved up to a high-pitched whirl.

* * *
Kaon was a hub of activity. The airfield juggled a transport landing as well as couple of Skyhoppers lifting off to scout other sectors of Cybertron. Recent arrivals were being inspected by field medic, First Aid.

A freight hauler rolled in front of the ground bridge. Bulkhead, Bumblebee, Chromia and Windrazor stepped out and were greeted by Arcee and Ultra Magnus.

Arcee put on a smile and extended her hand. “Welcome to Kaon.”

Windrazor looked at the hand, then the Autobot it was attached to but did nothing. Ultra Magnus stepped in with a martial air.

“Solider, report.”

He directed his order at Chromia. She frowned and pointed a finger at Magnus’ chest.

“Listen carefully,” Chromia said through gritted teeth, “I am not your ‘solider’; not yours, not Optimus’. While you lucky ones cruised the stars, the rest of us slowly starved on a dying world. As far as I’m concerned you lost the right to command the moment you broke orbit.”

The other Autobots were stunned. If Ultra Magnus was he didn’t show. Instead he calmly asked “Then why are you here?”

Chromia glared at him for a second.

“Because, I’m responsible for a community not just me. This is Windrazor. She came from a stasis pod uncovered in Helix.”

The green and yellow Predacon looked fearful. The activity was overwhelming. She clutched her hands over her ears. Chromia reached over to help her.

“You took her out of stasis?” Arcee asked.

“Nope, Smokescreen did.”

“And where is Smokescreen?” Ultra Magnus asked.

“Still in Helix with the Dinobots,” Bulkhead answered.

“Didn’t want to face the music,” Arcee quipped.

Chromia grew impatient. “The point is we have more Predacons. Grimlock said you knew how to deal with them.”

All eyes turned toward Bumblebee. The Autobot had been notoriously silent up to this point.

“I managed a ceasefire with Scourge. That doesn’t make me a Predacon whisperer.”

“But he listens to you,” Bulkhead started.

“Yeah, because I snuffed out Megatron,” Bumblebee explained, “Look Scourge respects power. Megatron defeated him so Megatron is powerful. I killed Megatron therefore I’m more powerful. He respects me enough not to barbeque me on sight. That’s not the same thing as being able to talk with every Predacon.”

Ultra Magnus stepped in.

“We shall follow proper protocol. The Predacon will be examined and Chromia properly debriefed.”

Chromia frowned, but nodded agreement. She and Windrazor followed the Autobots inside.

* * *
Swoop finished another sweep of Helix spiraling down and transformed next to the other Dinobots. A headshake answered their questions: no sign of Slag or Smokescreen.

Grimlock studied the recovered stasis pods. Four occupied and one empty. No signs of a struggle which didn’t add up. Slag would put up a fight and he knew Smokescreen long enough to know he’d go down swinging too. What could take them down so quietly?

“Found something,” Swindle called out.

The yellow Combaticon crouched over a rust drift in an alleyway. The persistent winds leisurely erased a set of claw prints.

“One of yours?” Swindle asked the Dinobots.

Grimlock peered at it. “No.”

Sludge examined the print then explained. “Not the right size for me. Too long for Slag or Snarl and the claws are too spread out for Swoop.”

“And Grimlock?” Swindle asked looking up at the Dinobot.

“If he were in beast mode, you’d know,” Swoop shot out.

“Predacon,” Sludge surmised.

“Think it is still in the area?” Swindle asked looking over his shoulder.

“I’ve scanned the area thoroughly. No one is here but us Dinobots…and you,” Swoop argued pointedly.

A silence fell over the group. Swindle stood up and frowned.

“Oh I see. I’m a Decepticon so I must have vanished your friends. And then decided to keep hanging with four Dinobots?”

Swoop batted back, “No one said Decepticons were smart.”

“But we aren’t stupid. And I’d have to be to kidnap two Autobots and not escape with them.”

Snarl grunted then transformed into a stegosaur. He sniffed the footprint and began tracking.

“Snarl will sniff them out,” Grimlock said as if the previous conversation never happened. “He’s an excellent tracker.”

Sludge fell in step next to Grimlock. He whispered, “But not our best tracker.”

Grimlock grumbled.

“It’s for Slag,” Sludge persisted.

“No,” Grimlock growled, “The beast stays buried!”

Sludge said no more and let Snarl track.

* * *
Dreadwing blew out a puff of smoke. The minutes stretched into hours of waiting. He worried. A roar echoed through the foothills. Dreadwing answered with one of his own. Soon, Icefang landed next to the gryphon.

“Scourge grows impatient,” Icefang reported.

Dreadwing nodded in acknowledgement.

“Vertebreak has not returned,” the gryphon explained.

“Captured?”

Dreadwing walked to the cliff’s edge. Gryphons possessed sharp eyesight. He scanned the ruins of Helix.

“I see the half-breeds…stasis pods…but no Vertebreak.”

“Maybe the flightless wonder got himself killed,” Icefang snickered.

Dreadwing snapped at the frost drake, “Don’t say that. Not to me and especially not to Scourge. Every Predacon is important.”

“Even the useless ones?”

Dreadwing eyed the white and blue dragon with pity.

“You don’t remember, do you?”

Icefang reared his head back. “Remember what?”

“Scourge in full fury?” Dreadwing answered.

Icefang shook his head.

“The Forged?”

Icefang held out for a quick moment before curiosity got the better of him.

“Why? What happened?”

Dreadwing sat down on the ledge keeping an eye on Helix below. Icefang plopped himself next to the big blue gryphon to hear his tale.

“Grimwing and I were cultured in the same lab as Scourge. Scourge returned and released us the moment he returned to Cybertron. Unfortunately, we two were the only viable clones from our lab.

“Scourge taught us what he knew: how to speak, transform and breath fire. A few days later after he studied Shockwave’s data logs we began hunting for the other cloning labs.

“We searched several and came up empty. But we found one lab occupied by the Forged who converted it into a shrine.”

“The Forged? Sounds familiar…” Icefang added, “They are degenerates. They wanted something…”

Dreadwing continued, “The Forged see Shockwave as some sort of living god walking on Cybertron. His laboratories are sacred ground to them. When we arrived, they welcomed us like heroes; proof of their god’s great deeds.

“These were the first Decepticons Grim and I ever encountered. We enjoyed the praise but Scourge was skeptical. He was right to be wary. The Forged allowed us full access. Everywhere but the upper level.”

“What was in the upper level?” Icefang asked, but he sounded like already knew.

“Word of advice: don’t tell Scourge what he can’t do. He bristled at the restrictions and forced his way in. The floor was labeled Cyrostasis, but the Forged had turned it into a killing floor.”

Icefang shook his head. Fear crept up his spine. This was something he didn’t want to remember.

“Rows of maturation tubes, once containing Predacons, stood empty. At the very back on the chamber was an altar.”

Icefang was trembling now.

“They sacrificed us!” Icefang croaked out.

“Sacrifice implies something reverent,” Dreadwing answered, “No, the Forged bleed your brothers and sisters. They hung them, cut them and bleed them out into a basin. And when they drank their fill, they staked the empty husks in a row.

“When Scourge saw all this… he radiated fury and let out a primal roar, one that shook the lab to its foundations. He scorched the nearest cultists into a puddle. Those who fought back didn’t last long. Those who begged for their lives outlived the fighters by a few moments. We swept through the lab for the ones smart enough to flee.

“When it was finished, we took down our fallen brethren and returned them to their empty tubes. It wasn’t the best burial arrangements, but better than being staked out like…trophies. I discovered one of the tubes was still occupied.”

“That was me,” Icefang perked up.

Dreadwing nodded.

“The tube had cracked and some of the refrigerants seeped in.”

“Is that why I can do this?”

Icefang blew a puff of white mist that fell as snow.

“That’s what we believe. We think the Forged didn’t drain you, because they saw you as damaged, worthless. Scourge revived you without hesitation. To us, you weren’t worthless. You are a Predacon and that means something.”

Icefang sat quietly for a moment.

“We’ll give Vertebreak a few more minutes,” Icefang announced.

Dreadwing nodded. “A sensible decision.”

* * *
Smokescreen heard Slag moan again. He had to do something.

“Hey, tall, dark and ugly. I’m feeling neglected here,” Smokescreen shouted with more bravado than he felt.

“Well, well, well,” The voice said to himself, “Looks like Shockwave has been tinkering in here.”

Slag grunted, “Old news.”

“What rock have you been hiding under?” Smokescreen shouted to get his attention.

“Now, lets look at you, my pet.”

Smokescreen forced himself to be calm. He wasn’t going to let this scrap-eating creep see him afraid. The minute stretched. Then came a shriek from the other end of the dark room. It was too high pitched to be Slag. It must be the other bot.

“Shockwave handiwork here too? A marvelous job of cloning.”

Smokescreen and Slag hit on the same thought. “Predacon?”

The voice continued talking to himself, “As a scientist, I am jealous. This shames my feeble efforts. But I can’t help but admire the craftsmanship and imagine the possibilities.”

The voice muttered about CNA and reduction algorithms. He moved farther away until a door slid closed.

Smokescreen whispered, “Slag?”

“Yeah.”

“Can you move anything?”

“No.”

“See anything?”

“No.”

“Hey, don’t go Snarl on me.”

Slag chuckled, “OK, kid. I won’t. Any ideas?”

“Well, he’s completely ignoring me. That might help us.”

“Don’t bother,” a new voice joined their conversation.

“Predacon?” Slag asked.

“How quickly you forget half-breed.”

“Vertebreak?” Slag guessed.

“You know this guy?” Smokescreen asked.

Slag cocked his head in the direction of the Autobot.

“Danced with him the other day.”

Smokescreen raised his voice to carry. “You have an escape plan?”

“No,” Vertebreak growled, “But I have one shot. With it, I will destroy our tormentor.”

“And how does that get you free?” Slag asked.

The Predacon coughed, “It doesn’t.”

Smokescreen replied, “Tempting, but I’d prefer freedom to vengeance. How about you?”

Silence filled the room.

“I choose freedom.”

Part 4: Squaring Off

Grimlock spotted Swoop returning from the canyon lands. The pterosaur transformed and landed in front of his three teammates.

“See anything?” Grimlock asked.

“Twists and folds every which way. You get lost in there, you won’t be coming out anytime soon.”

“Predacons?”

Swoop shook his head. “No trace, boss. But there are plenty of places to hide.”

Sludge turned to Snarl. “Still picking up the one trail?”

The stegosaur bobbed his head. “Humph.”

“That must be the way he came into town. No way he went that way with a Dinobot and Autobot in tow.”

“Maybe,” Grimlock conceded, “but if we follow the trail it may lead to the Predacons’ lair.”

Sludge asked his leader. “And if we find one?”

Grimlock stared at the canyons ahead. “We handle things our way.”

* * *

“Ok, Vertebreak? Lets see what you got.”

The Predacon grunted and a silver disc spun from the alcove. It arced across the room and buried itself next to Smokescreen. It was the axe blade from the tip of the Predacon’s tail. Who knew he could fling that? And with precision?

Smokescreen reached for it. It took some work, but he sawed through the webbing freeing one hand. Smokescreen converted it into a blaster then the lights came on.

Low, purple light cast the room in shadows more than light. Smokescreen made out a circular space and six, equally spaced alcoves. Slag was pinned down in the center and Vertebreak was in the 2 o’clock alcove.

A door in the 12 o’clock alcove opened and their captor entered. Smokescreen could see why he worked in darkness. He was five kinds of ugly. He stood like a normal robot but with two sets 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 green visor helmet.

“Going somewhere?” their captor asked.

“Yeah, through you!”

Smokescreen fired. The robot scuttled behind Slag. Smokescreen took the opening and freed himself from the webbing. Their jailer crept around the Dinobot to fire, but Triceratops rocked from side to side and knocked the bot off his feet. Slag smiled.

Smokescreen fired one shot at Slag and another at Vertebreak. He only cleared the half of Slag’s webbing and couldn’t see how much he burned off Vertebreak.

Vertebreak gave a roar and charged in a blur. Their jailer chuckled. His lower spider arms fired into the ground and propelled him up to the ceiling. On the floor, a glistening strand stretched between the half buried tips. Vertebreak didn’t see it and tangled on the trip wire.

Clambering across the ceiling, the enemy sprayed a sheet of webbing over the Predacon. Vertebreak thrashed and roared but his opponent worked fast spinning layers upon layers of webs. Smokescreen tried to shoot him off the ceiling, but he scuttled so fast he couldn’t land a shot. One of the multiple arms fired a tip at Smokescreen. He dove for cover. Vertebreak was bundled in a tight cocoon by the now.

“Who’s next?”

Slag heaved and ripped the rest of the webbing. He transformed and stood up.

“You are: Tarantulas.”

* * *

Dreadwing saw the Dinobots coming. He turned to Icefang.

“The half-breeds approach. Go tell Scourge. Quickly now.”

The light blue Predacon leapt off the cliff transforming into a frost dragon. He winged his way back to the villa.

Dreadwing surveyed the terrain. While Scourge preferred a contest of might, the gryphon valued strategy and that began with the battlefield. The canyons offered some options. 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. Another option was barely out of sight: the bottleneck entrance leading to the canyon. Collapse those high walls on the Dinobots’ heads and instant tomb. If this comes to a fight, Dreadwing would make sure the Predacons won it.

* * *
“Ok. Who or What is a Tarantulas?” Smokescreen asked.

“Decepticon scientist under Shockwave’s command,” Slag answered quickly. “Reported to have perished after 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 Tarantulas regenerate four new tips.

“They never give up quietly, kid.” Slag informed.

“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. I’ll distract the spider. 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 swung him across the room. Slag turned and caught him with his tail. It wasn’t a pleasant stop but better than slamming 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 Tarantulas off of the ceiling and began tussling with the arachnoid. While he was occupied, Smokescreen freed himself then worked on Slag’s mouth.

“This guy is really touchy about fire,” Smokescreen commented.

Slag worked his now-freed jaw. “Yeah, rather interesting.”

Tarantulas slid his spider legs under Vertebreak. With a grunt, he flung the Predacon across the room. The striped beast slammed against the wall. Webbing pinned him to the before he could touch the floor.

“Be grateful, you are Shockwave’s experiment. I’d have eviscerate you, otherwise,” 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 mighty 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 but didn’t hit Smokescreen. Shifting through floors and walls, the Autobot warrior goaded Tarantulas.

“Come on, I thought you were good with those things.”

Each taunt was met with webbing. 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 the last free area 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. Vertebreak followed his lead with dragon fire. Both fires spread quickly. Slag, who could take a missile to the frill, was fireproof. Vertebreak didn’t mind indicating he was fireproof too. Tarantulas, 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 phased between the Dinobot and the Predacon.

Slag turned to Smokescreen, “Exactly as planned?”

“More or less,” Smokescreen replied.

“Lets go before the flames die down,” Slag suggested. Autobot, Dinobot and Predacon pushed their way through the 12 o’clock door leaving Tarantulas to burn.

* * *
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 was out of sight overhead.

The cyber strata of the canyon was tarnished and scored from 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.

“Sludge?”

“Since we stepped into the canyons,” Sludge agreed. “Here is where I’d ambush us. Collapse both sides to finish us.”

“Humph.”

“Yeah, they haven’t. I wonder why,” Sludge conferred.

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 down by one of the big gryphon bruisers. Oddly, once they saw the Dinobots they let him go. Swoop glided down to the others.

“Ambush?” Grimlock asked. Swoop nodded sheepishly.

“If it is, they aren’t doing it right,” Sludge commented.

“Time for a chat,” 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.

Scourge heard tales of Grimlock and his Dinobot half-breeds. Frankly, he was under-whelmed seeing the bot in the servos. Like most Autobots, he wasn’t primarily built for combat. His grey limbs were rounded for 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 the noble heritage he imitates. He, at least, carried himself as a leader not needing his men to surround him.

When Grimlock got close, 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 and your removal from our territory.”

“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.”

“Two? And you lost the scout you sent into Helix?”

Scourge nodded.

“Well this is interesting.” Grimlock cupped his chin. “Either one of us is lying. Or…”

“A third party has captured them both,” 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 a ‘You can’t be serious’ look at Grimlock.

“Yeah, me neither.”

“Let us begin,” Scourge reached his sword.

“To the end.” Grimlock unsheathed his sword.

Both blades met and the battle was joined.

* * *
Meet the…(Dinobots)

Grimlock
Grimlock always knew he’d be a better leader than Optimus…then he got his wish. When Cybertron went dark, Grimlock and his Dinobots choose to stay and help the survivors. The refugees gathered and created the sanctuary of Last Spark. After ages of putting out fires, big and small, and settling grievances petty and…petty. He now has a profound respect for any unlucky enough to be saddled with the title, leader.

When the opportunity presents itself, Grimlock and his team hunt down Shockwave. They want to deliver justice to the mad scientist for the untotaled suffering he’s caused. They found clues sometimes closing in only discover a decoy or a trap.

Grimlock differs from his fellow Dinobots in one aspect. He has been unable to control transformation. In the heat of battle, Grimlock can transform, but the battle rage makes him uncontrollable and hard to reason. While the other Dinobots embrace their beast modes, Grimlock sees his alt-mode as a beast that must be restrained.

Part 5: Brawl for it All

When swords met, it was like the crack of a starting pistol. The Predacons pounced on the Dinobots. Sludge, Snarl and Swoop circled up back to back to back. Blaster fire met dragon fire. Snarl cracked one of his rare smiles. Sludge nodded and as one they leapt at their opponents.

Swoop transformed and soared through the pack. The green and gray Grimwing dodge the pterosaur but not Sludge’s fist. Snarl grabbed Icefang by the tail and tomahawk threw him at the canyon wall.

Swoop turned to engage, but spotted movement below. He pinion turned just avoiding Dreadwing’s slashing claws.

Sludge and Grimwing landed in some powdery rust. With a battle roar, they charged each other. Sludge fired but the green and grey Predacon batted them away with his weapon. Grimwing aimed his flamethrower and sprayed a stream of fire. That didn’t slow the charging Dinobot. Both bruisers slammed into each other and the canyon floor trembled.

Snarl hurled Icefang into the canyon wall, but the frost dragon transformed into a robot, tucked in his legs and sprang off the canyon wall instead of colliding with it. Snarl receiving a frosty punch full in the jaw. On follow through, Icefang’s tail wrapped around Snarl’s head. He tightened his coil attempting to pop off the Dinobot’s head. Instead, both fell over in a heap of arms and legs.

Grimlock and Scourge dueled. Blades rang with each cut and block. Grimlock swung hard that would have taken off Scourge’s head. The Predacon leader crouched. With a snarl, he sprang up with an upper cut. He knocked Grimlock off his feet. Scourge pressed the advantage. He leapt on the Dinobot leader with a double-handed strike. Grimlock rolled to the right. The sword bit deep in the rust all the way to the cyber-strata. Grimlock kicked out with his leg catching Scourge at the side of the knee joint. The Predacon grunting as his leg buckled. Grimlock got his hands and legs under him and rose again. Scourge got up at the same time ready for another go.

* * *
Vertebreak and Slag emerged from a hatch just south of town.

“Of course, the exit is halfway to Iacon,” Vertebreak grumbled.

“Like I had the floor plan to a secret underground lab.” Slag shot back.

“Think the Autobot escaped?”

Slag nodded his head. “With that phase shifter? No doubt.”

An explosion echoed from the canyons. Slag turned to his Predacon ally, but Vertebreak was sprinting toward the commotion. Slag transformed and followed. Wherever there was destruction and mayhem, his buddies were close by.

* * *
Swoop promised he’d make those pesky Predacons pay. As soon as he figured out how go from defense to offense. Dreadwing closed in on his tail while Icefang hurled cyro-disks boxing him below the canyon rim.

Another disk whizzed past his head. A few microns to the left and he’d have brain freeze the hard way. Swoop pulled up into a climb. Dreadwing was gaining, but Swoop had an idea. He rolled, dodged and now hovered above Icefang. He tucked in his wings and dived.

Icefang prepared his disks then realized he couldn’t fire without hitting Dreadwing. Swoop smiled. This is where Icefang would flee and be the hunter. Only, the icy dragon wasn’t running: he was charging. Swoop’s brain caught up. He realized he was in a ‘Pincers move’ again. It was either the gryphon or the ice drake. Well, he was already going down and at least he’d take that smirking dragon with him.

Sludge saw Swoop fall out of the sky. He started to run to his teammate, but he had his hands full with Grimwing. He wrestled in the rust with the Predacon. Grimwing pulled the Dinobot off balance. Sludge went down in a rust red cloud.

Sludge growled and transformed into an Apatosaur. Teeth bared and tail snapping. A gryphon caw answered his challenge. Not one, but two. Dreadwing joined his twin. Grimwing transformed and both sprang on the sauropod. Dreadwing jumped on his back. Grimwing attacked Sludge’s neck.

Snarl shook his head to clear it. He eyes focused on Swoop and Icefang sprawled before him. He checked on Swoop when a tail wrapped around his ankles and tightened. With lightning reflexes, Snarl transformed into a stegosaurus. His wider stance broke Icefang’s tail hold. He thrashed his spiked tail slamming it into the Predacon. The frost dragon turned around and breathed hoarfrost over the Dinobot.

Grimlock and Scourge knocked each other’s swords out of their hand. Now they went at it bare-knuckle time. Grimlock clocked the Predacon with a right cross. Scourge tried to shake it off, but took a left too. Grimlock didn’t boast or banter. This was his job: taking down ‘cons.

Scourge roared back with gut punching which caused Grimlock to double over. He followed it with a knee to the faceplate. Grimlock swung wildly. Scourge avoided the punch and laughed. He spun Grimlock around and put him in a headlock.

“Watch and despair!” Scourge hissed in Grimlock’s ear. “Your team has lost.”

Grimlock grunted, “No!”

Everywhere his team was in trouble. The gryphon twins pinned down Sludge. Swoop had a frost dragon on his back. Snarl was coated with ice.

Scourge taunted, “You half breeds never stood a chance against true Predacons!”

“No!” Grimlock radiated fury.

Grimlock broke Scourge’s grip transforming into a fearsome, fire roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex. His roar shook the entire canyon.

Across the canyon, Grimlock’s roar awoke something in all the Dinobots. Swoop fired one of his wing missiles. It caught Grimwing in the back. Sludge seized the opportunity to use his flame breath on Snarl. Snarl thawed and immediately fired at Dreadwing. He easily picked off the gryphons holding down Sludge. Both Dinobots turned toward Icefang. Icefang lowered his maw over Swoop’s neck. The intention was clear. ‘Any closer and Swoop was finished.’

Grimlock made a running leap at Scourge. The Predacon leader waited until the right moment then rolled back. He grabbed the T-rex and judo flipped him. Grimlock crashed into the rust. He got up and roared at the Predacon leader.

Scourge roared back in defiance. He ran full bore at the T-rex. Between one step and another, he transformed into a fiery red dragon. Grimlock ignited his flame breath but Scourge leaped into the air and breathed fire of his own. Scourge poured his molten rage on the Dinobot.

Grimlock leaped through the flames. He tried to head butt the dragon but a strong wing beat lifted Scourge out of range. Grimlock grabbed the next best thing: his tail. The T-rex clamped hard on Scourge’s tail and pulled him down. Scourge screeched and tucked in his wings. Grimlock saw where this was going but couldn’t avoid it. He crashed followed quickly by Scourge dropping his full weight on top of him.

Pain shot through Grimlock. He let out a cry releasing the tail. Scourge smacked him hard with it, but Grimlock had a tail too. He used it to skewer Insecticons now he jabbed the Predacon leader. He heard a roar as it struck something. Suddenly the weight lifted off of him. Grimlock lost sight of the dragon in the rust cloud brought up by his wings.

The frost drake had his eyes on the stegosaur and Apatosaur in front of him. He was caught by surprised by the triceratops from behind. The triceratops gored the blue dragon flinging him high in the air.

“Slag!” Sludge shouted with joy.

The triceratops transformed and helped Swoop up. “I leave you guys alone for one minute…”

“Where have you been?” Swoop asked.

“A lab underneath the town. I’ll tell you more once this is over.” Slag answered quickly. “What have we got?”

Across the canyon floor, the Predacons regrouped around Vertebreak.

Sludge summed things up, “Well, they are strong and nasty.”

Slag chuckled, “Yeah? So are we.”

Sludge smiled through his aches. “You got a plan?”

“Nope, but I’m betting we have one advantage they don’t have,” Slag boasted.

“Humph,” Snarl answered holding out his hand.

“Can’t argue with that,” Slag agreed.

The other Dinobots put hands in then as a team the Dinobots charged the Predacons.

Grimlock hurt all over. A pain shot up his left leg from a shear break in the support struts. Moving was agony. Who knew what transforming would do. Through the hazy of battle rage, he saw his Dinobots rally to fight back. The pride he felt for his team lent him strength to get up again. Across the canyon floor, he spotted Scourge licking his wound: a gaping hole where his right foreleg met with his chest. The dragon hissed at the T-rex. The dinosaur bellowed an answering challenge.

The battle turned into a great melee. Dinos and dragons, bots and cons struck, blocked, fired and dodged. Slag swept the legs out from under Dreadwing. He turned to his next opponent and came face to face with Vertebreak. The two squared off, but didn’t attack. Neither said anything nor attacked. The moment hung there. It ended when Grimwing stormed through and Snarl fired at Vertebreak. The fighting resumed.

Scourge didn’t look like he could stand either. He spread his wings and lifted up off the ground. ‘Lucky dragon’, Grimlock thought. Standing was all he was going to manage.

The red and black dragon streaked low over the floor. Grimlock was his. The other Dinobots spotted their leader in trouble and broke off their fights. Sludge stepped in the way. Whoosh! Scourge glided over him. Snarl and Slag transformed and charged head on. Wham! A strong swipe with his good arm knocked Slag into Snarl and both into the dust. Swoop dive-bombed the dragon but got side-tackled by the gryphon twins.

Scourge cracked a predatory grin. The Dinobot leader was his.

A volley of laser fire rained down on the Predacon. He dodged, but his wings tripped him up and he collided with Grimlock. Predacons and Dinobots looked up at this new attacker. It was Smokescreen with a posse of Autobots.

“I’d back off if I were you,” Smokescreen suggested.

Grimwing still in beast mode growled a mouth glowing with fire. Two more Autobots trained their guns. Dreadwing transformed and gestured to cease. Grimwing closed his mouth.

Smokescreen shouted down, “You have two choices: leave or die. Choose quickly.”

Scourge collected himself. A quick glance around told him they lost the advantage. He gave a deep bellow. The Predacons transformed to beast mode and lifted off. Only when all of them were in the air did Scourge take wing. In the next moment, all five Predacons were gone.

The Dinobots recovered as Smokescreen’s unit including Chromia and Arcee joined them.

“Humph,” Snarl snorted.

“I’ll take that as ‘Thanks for saving our transistors’,” Smokescreen stated.

“We had everything under control,” Swoop grumbled.

“If you say so…” Smokescreen replied.

Chromia helped Grimlock as he transformed back to robot.

“Tough fight?” she asked.

Grimlock shook his head. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”

He shifted his weight to his injured leg and collapsed. Sludge rushed to his side holding him up.

Slag transformed back to bot. His red face beamed at Smokescreen. “Sure took you long enough?”

Smokescreen chuckled, “Well, I had to phase through a few levels to reach the surface.”

“Any sign of Tarantulas?” Slag asked.

Smokescreen shook his head.

“Tarantulas?” Sludge, Arcee and Chromia asked with differing levels of surprise, disgust and alarm.

“Yeah, our host while you guys played with Predacons.”

“Lets get back before his trail gets cold,” Sludge insisted.

* * *
The trail hadn’t gotten cold. It was smoldering. When the Autobots and Dinobots exited the canyon, an explosion rippled the cyber strata. Smoke on the horizon signaled trouble in Helix.

Trouble didn’t begin to describe it. Helix was a charred pit. The Autobots were stunned. Grimlock looked at the other Dinobots. They nodded knowingly.

“What happened?” Arcee asked.

Slag explained. “Decepticon labs are equipped for with a self-destruct device.”

“Swindle!” Chromia shouted.

The others began sifting through the rubble. The sun was setting when they found the stasis pods buried in melted metal. Swindle was in one of them.

“I’ll never complain about those pods again,” Swindle explained, “I would have never survived that explosion.”

Smokescreen chimed in, “Ah, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but weren’t these pods occupied last time.”

The remaining four pods were empty. Chromia shook her head. “So we have one pack of Predacons grabbing land, a mad Decepticon scientist on the loose, and another group of Predacons unaccounted for… oh and a pit that was formerly a city.”

Snarl grunted, “Humph.”

Chromia nodded, “You said it Snarl. Primus help us all.”


The End
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