The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Transformers Animated is the property of Hasbro and Takara-Tomy. This fic is completely non-profit and exists for my own personal use and amusement. No infringement on the rights of the original creators is intended.
All original characters portrayed in this work are mine and
mine alone. Special thanks goes to Ryune and Pringer Vince for the artistic designs for the characters debuting in this chapter.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story directly follows after the events of my previous work, ?Return to Cybertron.? Please refer to that story in order to provide context for any events that are mentioned and thus appear unclear in this story.
One final note - Bumblebee and Jazz are portrayed as displaying new color-schemes, along with the rest of the Autobots having received new weapons in the events of the previous story.
Sari yawned out loud as she rose from her bed on the Axalon. It was the morning after her and the Autobots' return to Earth; just the day before, they'd landed on Dinobot Island and had Prowl's final memorial service. The events afterward were something of a briefing on their new ?orders? from Ultra Magnus, but the only ones who hadn't learned anything beyond what they already knew were Arcee and Glyph.
Sari hadn't yet contacted her father. Oh, he knew that she was coming home, and to expect her, but that was a transmission that had been sent before they landed on Earth. They hadn't been able to talk face-to-face. It wasn't that Sari was reluctant to talk to her dad, it was more so that since she'd gone to Cybertron in the first place, life had been like a hurricane. First she'd been an outsider, then she'd been used as a battery for Mindwipe's ambitions... and then there was how she'd healed Ultra Magnus, and the Spark Naginata joining with her body...
As soon as Sari moved across her room, and stared into her mirror, she almost felt like a stranger was staring back at her. Only now did she realize that while on Cybertron, she'd spent almost all of her time in her ?robot mode.? The t-shirt and shorts clad girl, with wide blue eyes, looked and felt foreign.
Bringing a hand to her chest, and closing her eyes, Sari resolved to be quick about showering and getting dressed. Hopefully, reuniting with her father would help her to feel a bit more... human.
Sometime later, Sari emerged from her quarters, wearing her usual outfit. She headed to the ship's bridge, and upon arriving, she found Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Glyph crowded around a computer console. Bulkhead's massive frame kept her from seeing what they were looking at, but the large canister-like column rising out of the floor told her that they were preparing for Glyph to adopt a new alternate mode.
?How about this?? asked Bumblebee. Sari couldn't see it, but the screen was showing an ATV. ?You can get around on rough terrain, and even do stunts on it! We could have you jump Bulkhead!?
Glyph looked nervous, but amused, by what Bumblebee had said. ?I... I don't think that really fits me, Bumblebee...?
?How about this?? said Bulkhead, bringing up an image of a minivan. ?I think this one suits you just fine, Glyph...!?
?Oh sure,? said Sari, as she sidled up beside the group, now able to get a view of what they were looking at. ?If you want to be compared to a soccer mom. What's she gonna do, drop you guys off for the big game??
Glyph's expression furrowed. ?Sari, I don't believe they'd fit into my compartment,? she said. ?And what's a soccer mom'??
Before Sari could respond, Bumblebee leaned over. ?Yannow, maybe we're thinking about this too hard,? he said. ?Why don't you just scan me, Glyph? I mean, we're already from the same protoform mold, and besides...?
Bumblebee stepped back, and did a twirl, converting into his black and gold vehicle mode. ?You can't beat a look like this. Smooth contours, aerodynamically designed, plus I get a direct feed to the Detroit PD's radio channel!? he declared, just before shifting back and doing a bit of a pose. ?C'mon, what do I have to do to put youin this fine, well constructed chass-?
Bumblebee never got a chance to finish his sentence, as he was sent flying back by an impact from Bulkhead's wrecking ball. Both Bulkhead, Glyph, and Sari stared on in horror as Bumblebee crumpled against the wall, and then instantly sprang forward to help him.
?Bumblebee!? wailed Bulkhead. ?I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! Come on, little buddy, speak to me!?
?I like the petro-rabbits, sarge... let me pet the petro-rabbits... I'll be good...!? babbled Bumblebee, his optics flashing ?TILT.?
Seeing that her best friend would be alright, Sari sighed a bit. In a way, Bulkhead's act of jealousy was a bit cute... though he had acted before he quite knew what he was doing. But then, it was also something of a distraction from the thoughts that were weighing on her.
Meanwhile, in the city proper, Optimus, Ratchet, Jazz, and Arcee were already out and about. They had left before the others, in order for the other three to show Arcee the Autobots' base of operations. In order to be less conspicuous, Arcee had adopted the form of an earthling vehicle called a ?Honda.? The Autobots may have been well known on Earth already, but even after the time spent on Cybertron, they imagined that the memory of Megatron's Lugnut Supreme invasion would be a bit too fresh in everyone's mind.
Nevertheless, it seemed that Detroit had recovered rather well. A bit too well, all things considered.
?Look at all of this!? Optimus said over a private channel to his fellow Autobots, as his scanners ?got a look? at the city around him. ?The entire city's been restored! It took us months to pick up the last time, and that time, it was just Megatron!?
Indeed, Detroit showed no sign of the massive destruction that had been wreaked across it. Even the massive crater where the explosion of Megatron's clones had detonated was filled in, replaced with... well, much of the same structures that had been there before.
?Yeah,? grumbled Ratchet. ?You'd almost think three gigantic robots hadn't tromped through their city and then blown up.?
?I guess you cats were right about Old Docta' S,? said Jazz. ?He does know better than that funky hairdo of his lets on. Bet you those funky 'bots of his are responsible for alla' this.?
Arcee, though, was keeping silent. The pink femmebot was more than a little overwhelmed, as this was her first time off-world. And on an organic planet no less. Arcee wasn't exactly afraid of Sari's people like many of the 'bots back home would be, but both these humans and their city provided a great deal to take in. Nevertheless, eventually, her vis-scanners detected something that made her want to speak up.
?That human collective over there,? said Arcee, as the four of them were stopped at an intersection. She was referring to a group of four humans, two of which had brown ornamentation on their heads, while another's was yellow colored. This one, which was obviously female, was carrying a smaller human, who Arcee suspected was at a much earlier stage of development than the other three.
?Eh, the Witwickys?? said Ratchet, sounding as though he had a bit of nostalgia for this group. ?What about them??
?Two of them appear similar to Autobot protoforms,? said Arcee. ?Are they a filial unit??
Indeed, on Cybertron, protoforms were often put into the care ofinstructors and teachers, like Arcee herself had been. Much less common, however, were those that were ?raised? by a particular individual or individuals. In addition to protoforms that were split (which was rare), and those that were unusually close going into or beyond their elemental training, these groups were considered like unto families, with members considering their close-knit counterparts to be like parents, or brothers and sisters. Arcee had given Sari an explanation about this during their passage on the Axalon, but she was realizing now that she had no idea what circumstances were like for humans herself.
?Oh yeah,? said Optimus. ?Humans form pair bonds and form families together. It's not like back on Cybertron, they don't have the Allspark, or elemental training, so each parent is responsible for the child they bring into the world.?
?So two humans are what produces a child?? said Arcee, sounding genuinely interested. Suddenly, the light changed, and the group started to move forward. ?How is that done, exactly??
Just then, Optimus braked to a sudden stop, forcing all of the vehicles behind him to do the same in order to narrowly avoid hitting him. As car horns blared, and humans leaned out of their driverside compartments to yell at them, Optimus hurried along, not eager to throw the intersection into even more disarray.
Arcee was perplexed. ?What... what did I say??
?Eh, don't worry doll,? replied Jazz, who sounded amused. ?Sometimes, it's better not to ask.?
Several cycles after that bit of awkwardness, the group of Autobots pulled into the lot of the factory they called home. Optimus seemed a bit uncharacteristically eager, as he transformed and began heading towards the entrance. ?It's right through here,? the Prime exclaimed, a bit of an extra bounce in his steps.
The others transformed as well, with Arcee giggling a bit. ?I suppose our future Magnus is a bit enthusiastic about showing off his base,? she said, ?now that it's being visited by someone who's not here to reprimand him for something.?
Ratchet was about to make a sarcastic reply, when suddenly his optics took notice of something. ?PRIME!? he shouted. ?Don't get any closer!?
Optimus stopped, and looked back over his shoulder at the medic. ?Huh? What's the matter, Ratch-?
Optimus didn't get a chance to finish his sentence, as he heard the telltale sound of a turret turning to aim at him. His optics widening, he leaped out of the way, narrowly dodging a spray of corrosive acid being sent his way. That wasn't all, however, as more of the corrosive chemical was shot at him from other turrets, along with globs of what Optimus immediately recognized as concrete. He dodged these as well, and landed next to his comrades in a crouch.
?What in Cybertron...?!? Optimus exclaimed. ?Who installed weapons in our base?!?
?We did, you gear-stripped whoop-whoop!?
The four Autobots looked up, and saw, standing on the factory roof, a group of green-colored mechanoids. Green-colored mechanoids that Optimus and Ratchet instantly recognized. One was broad and somewhat stocky, with a mixing barrel in his torso, and a bit of five-cycle rust on his jaw that resembled a beard. The next had a shovel folded into his mid-section, legs formed from treads, and a lanky build. These two were in sharp contrast to the final member of this group: a short lump of a robot that looked like more head than body, with two large forks coming out of his back.
?Whoa,? said Jazz. ?Who the heck are these guys??
?The Constructicons,? said Optimus, through gritted teeth. ?Three of the Cybertronians brought to life by the Allspark here on Earth. I thought we'd seen the last of them...?
?The name's Dirt Boss!? the diminutive one exclaimed, acting as though he'd been insulted by Optimus not mentioning him in particular.
?Whoa, hey hey hey!? said Mixmaster, the broad-looking one with the mixing barrel. ?What do we have here? An honest to goodness chick-bot comin' our way!?
Both Mixmaster and his brother, the tall, lanky one named Scrapper, fixed their optics on Arcee. ?Oh hey there baby!? exclaimed the excavator. ?How about you come up here for a good time, eh?! I'll get your motor runnin'!?
?What?!? Ratchet exclaimed, both of his magnets deploying out of his arms. ?I'll have you know that in my day, we showed a lady respect!?
Arcee put her hand on the medic's shoulder. ?It's okay, Ratchet,? said said, glaring at the construction robots. ?It's not their fault that no one taught them basic manners.?
?Oh baby, you can teach me anytime!? cried Mixmaster, while Scrapper guffawed dumbly.
Optimus ignored the two larger Constructicons, and focused his gaze on Dirt Boss, who looked to be seconds away from pounding a new set of dents into his comrades' helms. ?What are you three doing here, Dirt Boss?!? he demanded. ?This factory was given to us by Issac Sumdac... he won't stand for this.?
Dirt Boss stopped in the middle of what was going to be a swing at Scrapper's kneecaps, and stared at Optimus for a few moments before grinning. ?Oh, dat's where you're wrong, Rescue Roy,? he cackled. ?Dis town's changed since youse mugs left. Issac Sumdac don't got any pull no more.?
?Yeah, and the new head honcho commissioned us to rebuild the city after you 'bots hightailed it outta here,? said Mixmaster, looking smug. ?Gave us this factory, and alla da' oil we can drink!?
?Yeah,? parroted Scrapper. ?And it'll keep comin' as long as we help him and his company with alla'dere special projects!?
?Who?!? demanded Optimus. ?Who hired you?! And what projects are you talking about?! You can't just take over our home and-?
?Actually, we can,? snapped Dirt Boss, taking out what appeared to be a remote control. ?And if you mugs gotta problem with 'dat, well... you and me are gonna have words, Autobot!?
Dirt Boss pressed a button on the controller, and suddenly, the sound of engines filled the air. The factory's garage doors opened, and out moved green and purple construction vehicles, like the kind that were used all over the city. The autonomous kind, that didn't need human pilots.
Up on the roof, Dirt Boss cackled madly. ?Alright,? he said, as he sent the vehicles charging at Prime and his team. ?Let's have words!?
In another part of town, Sari, Glyph, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee were en route to Sumdac Tower. Glyph had adopted Bumblebee's vehicle mode, and Sari was riding along inside her driver's compartment, all the while amused at the scientist's reaction to everything around her.
?This is amazing!? exclaimed Glyph. ?There's so much I want to study about this place..! It's is so different from Cybertron!?
Sari giggled. ?I have to hand it to you Glyph... you're much more enthusiastic about Earth than some of the Autobots I've met.?
?I'm an archaeometrist,? said Glyph. ?I'm much more open to learning about other planets and cultures than others... and if I can help Cybertron to be more open about contact with other races while being here, well... then it'll be time well spent!?
That just made Sari grin even wider. ?Well, then keep your optics open, girl. We humans can be pret-ty surpriiiising!?
Glyph giggled herself, and the four of them continued onward. Eventually, they reached the tower itself, and made their way inside. As they stepped into the lobby, Sari took the lead, eager to show off a bit. She may have been a bit disconnected from Earth for a while, but this place was her home ? it would always be intimately familiar to her.
?Welcome to Sumdac Tower, corporate headquarters of Sumdac Systems, the center for all research and development, and one of the most important places in all of Detroit!? Sari exclaimed, putting on her best impression of a tour guide. ?There's always something going on here!?
Glyph blinked her optics, and looked around. ?Did... did we come on an off day, then?? she asked, looking rather unsure.
Sari blinked as well, and turned around, giving the lobby another look. Instantly, she knew what Glyph meant. The large room was empty, when, at this time of the day, it should have been full of people. Businessmen, scientists... heck, even the janitor-bot was nowhere to be found.
?Maybe it's a holiday?? Bumblebee suggested. ?Did one of your planet's presidents died today or something??
Sari shot the black and gold Autobot a look. ?This is really weird... come on guys, let's find my dad. Maybe he can tell us what's going on.?
The others nodded, and moved to follow Sari. ?That's a good idea,? said Bulkhead. ?I learned a lot of stuff back on Cybertron that I wanna share with the 'Doc...?
Before any of them could make it to the elevator, though, the building was rocked by a sudden explosion that tore through a nearby wall. Instantly, Bumblebee moved to shield Sari, while Bulkhead grabbed Glyph and kept the femmebot from being blown off of her stabilizing servos. ?What the slag?!? the large, green Autobot declared as he looked up, trying to see through the cloud of dust that was around them.
?Well well, isn't this a surprise? This is just gonna make my pwn-vengance even sweeter!?
?Oh no,? Sari, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead collectively groaned.
Emerging from the cloud of dust was a robotic form with the familiar, smirking face of the Headmaster Unit, the personal vehicle of Henry Masterson, one of Detroit's so-called super-villains. He who had been fired by Sari's father, and turned to crime using his creation to steal Bulkhead and Sentinel Prime's bodies in order to get revenge. But it wasn't just the Headmaster Unit this time... the device was attached to the large, powerful frame of a military-class War-bot, decked out in Masterson's signature color-scheme.
?Hey, Dudmaster,? said Bumblebee with a smirk. ?What's the matter? They let you outta' prison for being too annoying??
?That's Headmaster, you yellow reject!? Masterson screamed through the Headmaster Unit's speakers. ?And for the record, I escaped. I was going to just get revenge on Issac Sumdac, but since you tin-plated newbs decided to come back, I guess I'll take care of you too!?
?Oh, and how are you going to do that?? asked Bulkhead. ?We've beat Decepticons, Masterson. What makes you think that toy of yours is enough to take us on??
?Oh, I've got more than just this toy,? Masterson replied, with his voice suddenly taking on a rather sinister-sounding tone.
Sari's brow furrowed, but before she or the others could ask what Masterson meant by all of that, something else came crashing though another wall. A grey and purple blur came surging at them, and then kicked out at Bumblebee with a blade attached to the heel of their foot. The yellow robot couldn't do much more than narrowly dodge, but once he was in the clear, he attempted to hit this new attacker with a blast from his stingers. The assailant, a female-looking robot with a gray, black, and purple color-scheme, leaped back herself, taking its place at the Headmaster's side.
?You remember Stella Healy, don't you?? cackled Masterson. ?Aka Stiletto?! Well, now she's called Nightbird, and we're gonna use these bots to kick your butts!?
?You're gonna need more than another washed up crook in a metal suit, 'newb',? Bumblebee chided, while Sari converted into her vehicle mode.
?How about two more crooks in metal suits?!?
The sound of a new voice preceded the erupting of two more machines from the ground. One was a blue robot with a head that looked like a cobra, a set of arms, and a long, snake-like tail with a lower body. The other was a purple, crab-like mechanoid with pincers and a mouth full of razor sharp fangs. They both succeeded in throwing Bulkhead off his feet, before leaping back to stand next to the Headmaster and ?Nightbird.?
?Meet Heinrich and Corey, my close personal friends!? announced Masterson. ?They've been waiting to step up into the big leagues!?
?Ja,? said a distinctly German-sounding voice coming from the cobra-headed robot. ?He met us at the Burger Bot! You can call me Hydra!?
?And I'm Cancer!? cackled a second from the crab-like machine. This one sounded much younger.
Sari made a face. ?Oh man, that is in such bad taste...!?
?H-Hey!? snapped the crab mech's pilot. ?I'm named after the constellation! You know?! Like the crab?!?
?I'm still not impressed,? chided Bumblebee, as he and Glyph helped Bulkhead back up. ?So you got one person who was actually a threat, and two thugs you picked up at a burger joint. Just when are we supposed to start feeling scared here?!?
?Right about now, robot!?
Bumblebee groaned, as yet another voice announced their presence. This time, he had more than enough time to sidestep the incoming attack, which came from... a large, clumsy robot that came running at him from behind. As it stumbled past Bumblebee, everyone got a good look at it... it was unnaturally puffy, with a structure and proportion that made each of the four Autobots wonder if it really was possible for metal to bend that way. In fact, its arms looked barely connected to its shoulders and its legs seemed to be fixed in a permanent crouch. Nevertheless, it stumbled up to where the others were, and what could only be considered its cockpit opened up.
This revealed a man who looked like he had a problem with keeping his shirt all the way on, who also had an abnormally good tan and looked like he was trying too hard to make his lips pouty. ?I'm Mitch Funana, the leader of this gang!? he said, assuming a provocative pose. ?But you... can call me Superstar!?
?Oh shut up!? snapped Masterson, as he slugged
?Funana's? awkward-looking robot. ?You are not the leader! I only let you on this team because we needed a fifth guy! That's the only purpose you fill here!?
The so-called ?Superstar? made a face like Masterson had just kicked his dog. ?But you promised we'd get our hands on some money,? he said, as he closed up his cockpit. ?I need to pay off my new Porsche...?
?So now you've seen our entire team!? shouted Masterson, as he ignored his colleague's whining. Then, he and the four other robot pilots made their machines strike a pose, followed by four of the five shouting out, loud and proud: ?We are... THE MASTERFORCE!?
Sari, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and even Glyph just stared, blankly. Then, they all just groaned, with Glyph in particular feeling a very strong processor ache. ?Is... is it always like this...?!? she asked, looking a bit overwhelmed.
?Yyyyep,? said Sari, as she activated her Hyperspace Mallet. Then, she ran forward, eager to begin the battle. The sooner they got these eyesores out of her father's tower, the better.
Back at the factory, Optimus and his men found themselves struggling against Dirt Boss's army of construction drones. Clearly, the Constructicons had modified them, as they were a fair bit more durable and troublesome than the typical automatons that were constructed on earth.
Arcee, in particular, was dealing with a drone that was attacking her with some kind of harvesting chainsaw. The blade clashed against both her swords as she blocked, the sound of metal scraping against her swords' solitarium alloy filling the air. Eventually, it was all Arcee to break the parry and leap back, putting some distance between her and the offending drone.
?Ratchet!? she exclaimed. ?Can't you just pull them apart with your magnetism?!?
?That's a big fat no,? grumbled the medic, as he sent pieces of scrap metal flying at what appeared to be mining drones. ?Whatever those Constructicons did to beef these drones of theirs' up, it's made them immune to my weapons!?
?Yeah?? said Arcee, as she scrambled towards the medic. ?What about just trying to overload them?!?
Ratchet blinked his optics, and then grinned. Realizing what Arcee meant, he retracted his magnet claws, and then swapped them out for the cyber shock paddles he'd been equipped with on Cybertron. The medic ran forward and slammed the electrified panels into the control unit at the top of one of the drones, sending a powerful electric pulse surging through the robot's systems. Ratchet then leaped clear, leaving the drone to explode, taking itself out, along with two of the drones alongside it.
?Good work, Ratchet!? Arcee exclaimed.
?Yeah, well, it's just a drop in the oil bucket,? he said, ?because even if that's three down, there's about a couple dozen more to go!?
A short distance away, Jazz and Optimus had been cut off from the other two members of their group by a wall of drones. In particular, these seemed to be modeled after Mixmaster, as they were spurting out concrete and acid at the duo, forcing them to go on the defensive. Finally, Optimus had enough, and activated his foam sprayers, covering the control units of the drones with the fire retardant fluid and thereby blinding their visual receptors.
?Nice try, Big Red!? shouted Dirt Boss. ?But they don't need to see for me to have them kick your butt!?
With that, the tiny mechanoid fired off a number of his machinery-controlling cerebro shells, which bore into the control centers of the drones and took control of their systems. They moved again, resuming their attack, with their movements under the direct control of Dirt Boss himself.
Jazz took point, deflecting another round of the drones' chemical brews with the energized ends of his laser nunchako. ?Isn't it about time you whipped out that new axe of yours?? he asked.
Optimus grimaced. ?I'm still not quite used to wielding it,? he said. ?You think now's the right time to show off new toys??
?I dunnow,? said Jazz, and he narrowly avoided being hit by a spray of acid. ?But I am thinkin' its time we stopped half-fighting this battle!?
Optimus grit his teeth, but nodded nonetheless. Jazz was right ? even if he wasn't quite as proficient with his new weapon as he'd like to be, this really wasn't the kind of situation where he should have been holding anything back. And so, he summoned his new weapon, which was formed from parts of the ?trailer? components of his vehicle mode, which were temporarily discarded when he transformed into robot mode. A long handle extended from the vehicle mode block, and the sides flared out before segmenting into a giant, solitarium-enfused axe, which was also bolstered by the cybertronium alloy of his body.
Letting out a scream, Optimus charged forward, using the wide blade to swat aside any of the acid or concrete being fired at him. Several times, Optimus felt he'd fall over due to how heavy the weapon felt in comparison to his old weapon. Finally, though, he was close enough, grabbing the handle of the weapon in both servos and swinging the enormous, double-bladed weapon as hard as he could. Not only did he end up cleaving through a large number of the drones, but the swinging of the blade created a rush of wind that sent even more of them flying, and then crashing into one another.
?Whoa,? said Scrapper, his jaw hanging open.
?Impressive,? said Mixmaster, following it up with a whistle.
Dirt Boss, however, was furious. The tiny Constructicon snarled angrily, looking at the devastation done to his precious drones. They weren't just possessions... they were as good as subordinates. How dare they take them away from him, Dirt Boss?! Ratchet overloading, and thus destroying, several more of his 'bots only served to add insult to injury.
?That's it! We're going down there!? Dirt Boss roared.
?What?!? cried Scrapper. ?You can't be serious!?
?Did you see what he just did to our robo-pals?!? exclaimed Mixmaster.
But Dirt Boss wasn't going to argue. Instead, he delivered a roundhouse kick to his two comrades, knocking them both off the roof. The two fell to the ground, screaming, until they landed with a heavy crash. Seconds later, Dirt Boss landed on top of them, and pointed dramatically at Optimus. ?You're gonna pay for breaking what's not yours, Autobot!? he screamed.
?Fine words from someone who stole our home,? said Optimus, leveling his giant axe at the smaller robot.
Dirt Boss just glared... and then grinned. He snapped his fingers, and suddenly, one of his cerebro shells rocketed out of one of his still functioning drones. The flying drill propelled itself towards a new target. Namely, Ratchet, who didn't even have time to figure out what was going on before it drilled through his helmet and into his skull. The Autobot medic could only let out a short gasp of terror, before his body went rigid, his whole frame now a living marionette for Dirt Boss to control.
?Ratchet!? shouted Arcee, as she ran to his side. But then, Ratchet's body jerked, not under his direction, using his magnet claws to throw Arcee clear across the battlefield. Luckily, Jazz was quick enough to catch her before she hit the ground.
?What have you done to him?!? demanded Optimus, who glared dangerously at Dirt Boss.
?Didn't know I upgraded my shells, didja fire truck?!? laughed Dirt Boss. ?Well, here's another new addition...! You broke my toys, I'm gonna break onna' yours! There's a bomb in each and every one of my cerebro shells now, that I can detonate whenever I want!?
Arcee, Jazz, and Optimus all gasped. ?Then... you mean...? Arcee began to say.
?That's riiiiight!? laughed Dirt Boss. ?All I have to do is twitch, and that rusted scrap heap over there's head explodes!?
Optimus looked horrified. Yes, the fact that these... these imbeciles had taken over their base... their home... was bad enough, but it certainly wasn't worth losing Ratchet to get it back. He let out an angry sigh, and slammed his axe into the ground before stepping back and raising his hands in surrender.
?You win, Dirt Boss. Release Ratchet, and we'll go...!?
Dirt Boss laughed.
?Oh nononono,? he said. ?You don't get it. You broke my stuff. So I'm gonna show you whose boss! DIRT BOSS, THAT'S WHO! SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR PAL, WHOOP WHOOP!?
Optimus's optics widened in horror. No! He couldn't let this happen! He needed to get to Dirt Boss before the Constructicon ordered the shell to explode! He had to-
?What the?!? exclaimed Dirt Boss, as the sound of a horn filled the air. But he wouldn't have enough time to figure out... as a black tanker truck tore it's way onto the lot and wasted no time in slamming into Dirt Boss, throwing him off of the pile of the other two Constructicons. As Optimus, Jazz, and Arcee stared in surprise, Dirt Boss began to get back up, groaning in pain...
... Only for that tanker truck to disconnect from its trailer,and start transforming, much to the surprise of everyone there. The front frame of the cab became the robot's shoulders, while the actual shell and grill folded down and connected with the back end to form the legs. A portion of his drive train converted into what looked like a hammer, with the remaining portions becoming the torso. The result was a tall, black, silver, and purple robot, with a helmet and features that seemed eerily similar to Optimus.
?You?!? screamed Dirt Boss. ?What the slag are you doing here?! You're gonna answer for this Mo-?
Dirt Boss was soon silenced by his hammer slamming into the top of his head. The Constructicon let out a groan before he went into stasis lock, now sporting a sizable dent in his helmet. With that done, Ratchet slumped down, the Cerebro Shell shutting down along with with its wielder. Arcee and Jazz instantly ran to him, helping the medic to stand.
?Yo, you alright, docbot?? asked Jazz.
?I'm fine,? replied Ratchet, ?save for a splittin' processor ache.?
?I have a feeling that little green robot is feeling the same...? remarked Arcee, looking over at Dirt Boss's immobile frame.
Meanwhile, over by the Constructicons, Optimus was approaching while the black mystery robot was addressing Mixmaster and Scrapper. ?There'll be no trouble out of you two, I assume?? he said, as he patted his hammer into his opposite hand.
?N-n-no sir!? shouted Scrapper.
?No trouble at all, Motorman!? added Mixmaster.
Optimus was just about to speak up, when ?Motorman? turned around... his expression changing from a dangerous glare to a warm smile. ?You must be Optimus Prime,? he said, offering his servo to the other mech. ?It's an honor to meet you...?
?Um, thank you,? said Optimus, nervously, as he took the other robot's hand. ?And... thank you for the help too, um...??
?Motormaster,? the other robot said with a grin. ?You can call me Motormaster... I'm leader of the Stuntitrons.?
That made Optimus raise an eyebrow. Stuntitrons? Things really had changed while they were away from Earth...
But before Optimus could ask about any of that, his communicator came on, with a message from Bumblebee...
...A loud message.
?Yo, big bot!? Bumblebee screeched. ?We're at Sumdac Tower! You need to get here fast...?
The yellow robot interrupted his own call to laugh.
?... because this is just too hilarious!?
Optimus would undoubtedly be very confused, as Bumblebee didn't have much time to speak further, as the so-called ?Superstar? threw another ?attack? at him. But the poorly made mechanoid's movements were too awkward to even come close to hitting the speedy black-and-gold colored robot.
?Stand still!? shouted Funana, from inside the cockpit. ?Stand still so I can hit you!?
Bumblebee just laughed some more. ?Oh come on,? he said, as he continued to dodge. ?You'd do a lot better if you didn't stop crouching all the time!?
?Shut up! This is an action pose!?
?You're not very good at this, are you??
?Yes I am! In art school, they called me Mr. Mecha! I know giant robots!?
?If you designed that thing you're in now, you must not'a been very good.?
?You're just like those idiotic fans on those message boards! They didn't see my genius either!?
?Awww, no one likes your stuff, huh?? chided Bumblebee. ?See this here? This expression I'm making? This is me showing surprise at hearing that. Dull surprise.?
With that, Bumblebee ceased playing with the criminal, and brought his stingers together, firing an intensified burst of electricity at the mecha. It connected, throwing the deformed piece of trash into a nearby wall. Its poor construction then proved to go beyond mere aesthetics, as the machine instantly began to fall apart, its pilot spilling out of the crumbling cockpit. Funana hit the ground, unconscious.
Bumblebee gave one last snicker, and then turned to get a look at the rest of the fight. His optics widened ? okay, he had definitely let himself get too distracted by that loser. The other members of the Headmaster's so-called ?Masterforce? were faring much better, with Nightbird, Masterson, and the one called Hydra nearly about to overwhelm Bulkhead. Meanwhile, Sari was struggling against Cancer, while Glyph stood awkwardly, trying to find an proper opening so she could attack with her stingers.
Rather than dwell on his mistake, however, Bumblebee charged forward, just in time to blast Nightbird away from Bulkhead with his stingers. The kickboxer and her mech recovered quickly, though, and turned their attention on Bumblebee instead. She jumped at him, swinging her bladed heels at him, which the speedy Autobot barely
?I... I... what should I do?!? Glyph shouted. ?I can't... everyone's moving too fast for me to hit them!?
?Oh really?!? laughed Masterson. ?Well well well! The new girl isn't very good at this, is she?! HEINRICH, nab the blue one!?
?THAT'S HYDRA!? his teammate snapped, but he did as he was ordered anyway. His serpentine mech dropped low, and attempted to slither underneath Bulkhead... only for the large, green Autobot to grab him by the tail.
?OH NO YOU DON'T!? the Autobot roared, just before spinning Hydra around and throwing him across the room. Glyph gasped, and then felt a bit of heat welling up beneath her faceplate at Bulkhead's show of concern for her.
This would prove to be a costly mistake, as Nightbird flipped over Bumblebee and moved to succeed where her colleague had failed. She bounded at Glyph and grabbed her into a hold. She deployed a blade from the side of her mech's robotic arm, which she then pressed threateningly to the blue femmebot's neck.
?OWNAGE! TOTAL OWNAGE!? screamed Masterson, as Glyph's plight diverted their enemy's attention. The blasters of his war-bot swapped out for missile launchers, which he then fired, sending them flying out all over the room. Bumblebee and Bulkhead were blown off their feet, while Sari was forced to rocket away, less she be torn apart by the blast.
?This is how it's gonna be,? said Masterson, as he and his (still conscious) teammates gathered around Nightbird and their hostage. ?Unless you newbs want your new friend sliced to ribbons by Stella here, you're going to surrender while we go after Issac Sumdac and take this crummy tower's flag! You got me?!?
Bumblebee frowned, and looked over at his friends. Bulkhead seemed to be barely containing his fury, while Sari's expression was full of fear. Then, he looked over at Glyph, who was very clearly scared speechless about the whole thing. Someone had to make a call... and the way it was looking, it would have to be him.
?Fine, Masterson,? he said, picking himself up. Not able to meet Bulkhead of Glyph's eyes as they both looked at him, Bumblebee closed his optics and raised his hands in surrender. ?You win...?
?Of course I do!? cackled the demented scientist. ?THAT'S BECAUSE THE MASTERFORCE IS TOTAL-?
What looked like a large knife suddenly flew out of from behind the Autobots, embedding itself in the connector linking the Headmaster and his mech.
Those were the last words Masterson could utter before electricity surged through the knife, causing the Headmaster's systems to overload. The connector itself exploded, blowing the Headmaster off of the warbot's shoulders and sending it crashing to the ground. The warbot then fell over, causing the Masterforce to back away from it, with Nightbird continuing to hold Glyph captive.
?What the heck was that?!? shouted Hydra, backing away... just before what looked like a yellow blur slammed into him. The snake-like machine flew back into a nearby wall... where a pair of hands ripped through it and seized it by the mid-section.
Seconds later, the owner of those hands tore through the wall, revealing him to be a short, blue-green and purple robot. He had wheels, indicating an alternate mode, and a long metallic mustache that reminded Bumblebee and Sari of a certain cartoon villain. Hydra's other attacker was a tall, mostly yellow robot that also looked like it could transform ? moved up to stand beside him.
?Tch, they never see it coming,? the yellow one said, smugly. ?Go ahead and take care of him, Breakdown.
The smaller bot's face twitched violently. ?You humans know what I was doing before this?! I WAS RELAXING! I WAS HAVING A FUN DAY! THEN YOU CAUSE ALL THIS CRANKING TROUBLE, AND NOW I HAVE TO GET UP AND KICK YOUR SORRY BUTTS! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MAKES ME?! IT MAKES ME VERY FLIPPIN' ANGRY!?
And with that minor tantrum, pistons fired in the tiny mech's arms, and they began to vibrate... just before Breakdown tore Hydra's machine in half.
?HYDRA!? shouted Cancer. ?You'll pay for that, you little-!?
Cancer never finished his sentence, because a third machine landed on his back, far out of the reach of his claws. As he snapped them in futility, the robot ? who was red, gold, and black colored, as well as obviously female ? converted her arms into a chainsaw and something resembling an elaborate crowbar. The femmebot then wasted no time in sawing through the frame of Cancer's mech, systematically dismantling and pulling it apart with the use of both her tools. In no time at all, the vehicle crumbled to pieces, revealing a short, very-frightened looking young man within.
?Tch,? said the femmebot, with a deep, morose-sounding voice. ?That was far too easy to disassemble. Rather depressing, really...?
?Please,? said the yellow one. ?Everythingdepresses you, Dead End.?
?You especially, Dragstrip,? came the reply, with no change in tone to her voice.
?Um, I don't know who you are,? said Bulkhead, sounding very annoyed. ?But in case you haven't noticed, our friend is still in danger!?
The three new arrivals turned towards Nightbird, who was still holding Glyph captive. ?Dragstrip? just gave a mild grunt, and stepped forward. ?Hey, human in there. You might as well just give up. You should know that using that little lady right there won't help you.?
?It's pointless,? added Dead End. ?Like everything, really.?
Still, Nightbird refused to reply, while Glyph quietly begged for help. Dragstrip just grinned, and took another step forward, causing Healy to recoil backwards and press her blade closer to Glyph's neck, indicating that it was dangerous to for the robot to continue. Dragstrip ignored the warning, and began to step forward again...
?WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOU CRAZY?!? Bulkhead screamed desperately.
?Maybe,? said the yellow robot, as he strode forward nonchalantly.
And that was all Nightbird needed to lash out. She moved to cut Glyph, when suddenly, something struck her from behind, causing her to slash lower, across her chest plate. Nevertheless, the blade cut deep, causing Glyph to fall forward, her body frame sparking from the injury.
?NO!? cried Bulkhead, as he rushed over to his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Nightbird was knocked back, as she was hit by multiple strikes from a newly arrived fourth robot, colored black, white, and red and wielding a pair of katanas. This one cackled merrily as he sliced at the robot, first divesting it of its limbs and then delivering a double slash through the mid-section. Finally, he reached in and quickly pulled out the cockpit, just as the remains of the ninja-like mech fell over and exploded.
?Ha! That was killer!? said the new robot, his voice a loud, obnoxious shriek. ?Thanks for distracting 'er, Dragstrip!?
?No problem, Wildrider? replied Dragstrip. Then he looked at the object his comrade was holding, and sighed. ?You went overboard again, though. I swear, if you seriously injured another one, Motormaster is gonna be pret-ty mad!?
?Who... who the slag are you guys?!? interrupted Bumblebee, who had gathered around Glyph and Bulkhead, along with Sari. Bulkhead was cradling Glyph's dormant form, glaring at the other two robots with anger as Sari prepared to heal Glyph with her newly acquired weapon.
?... We've been waiting for you sorry Autobots to come back all this time, and you don't even know who we are?!? said the one called Breakdown. ?How annoying!?
?It figures. Nothing ever goes my way...? added Dead End.
?Eh, who cares what they think,? said Dragstrip, making a flouncing gesture as he walked past the Autobots. ?We saved the day, they didn't...?
?Yeah, because you let someone get hurt...!? snapped Bumblebee.
Dragstrip paused, and looked back at the smaller machine.
?... Not my problem,? he said, before continuing on.
Bumblebee's jaw fell open a bit, and then looked back at Bulkhead and Sari. He saw barely restrained fury smoldering in the normally gentle giant's optics. Then, Bumblebee looked around at the battle... all save for Funana, every one of their enemies seemed to have had grave misfortune befall them. The one called Cancer was desperately trying to see if Hydra was okay inside the wrecked half of his battle robot, while the state of the Headmaster unit and Healy's cockpit indicated that their respective pilots had probably gotten severely banged up.
Bumblebee frowned. He didn't like this. He didn't like this at all. He may have used harsh methods on someone like Nanosec, but that time, the fate of the entire city had at stake. He and his fellow Autobots had never done something this severe to their enemies.
Who the slag were these guys?! And more importantly, where had they come from?
Fifteen minutes later, the Detroit police arrived. Sari stood with her friends, watching as Masterson, Stella Healy, and Hydra were loaded into what were not police cars, but rather, ambulances. Once the prisoners/patients were secured, the vehicles took off as a very concerned, and hand-cuffed, Cancer looked on.
He may have been trying to defeat them not too long ago, but Sari couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for him. Heck, she was even concerned about Masterson, something she thought she'd never be in a million stellar-cycles.
Years. Years, she told herself. Ugh, she was still doing that.
Eventually, Optimus and the others arrived, along with a black oil tanker that immediately went to join Dragstrip and his group. As Optimus and the rest transformed, Sari noticed that Ratchet had a very obvious-looking hole in his head. Optimus would soon explain about the run in Constructicons.
?... And then we headed here,? the Autobot leader said, as he finished his story. ?What about you guys... is Glyph going to be alright??
?Sari healed her a bit with her new key,? answered Bumblebee. ?Or key sword or whatever it is now. But she's still pretty torn up about what happened...?
Sari nodded, and looked over at Bulkhead. Her friend hadn't said anything, and was instead sitting next to Glyph with his arm around her, trying to be comforting.
?I see,? said Optimus. ?... so I guess you met Detroit's new 'heroes'...?
?Some heroes,? replied Bumblebee, who crossed his arms. ?Where did they come from, anyway? Did some new Allspark fragments go crazy or something??
?Yeah, Prowl and Jazz didn't really get all of them, did they?? asked Sari.
?Nah, we didn't,? said Jazz. ?But the cat called Motormaster explained some things on the way over here. These guys were created by-?
The Autobots all turned around, and saw none other than Issac Sumdac standing there. Sari's father was clad in business attire, rather than his usual lab outfit. And what's more, their old benefactor looked rather worse for wear.
?Dad!? Sari exclaimed, running over to hug her father. ?I missed you...!? she exclaimed.
?Sari...!? cried Sumdac, as his daughter wrapped her arms around him. After a moment, he made a weary smile, and hugged her back. ?I missed you as well...?
Sari squeezed him tightly for another moment longer, and then pulled away. ?Dad... what's going on? Why weren't you here when we got here today? And why was the tower empty? And you said Powell has something to do with these guys...? What's... what's going on??
Sumdac frowned, and then turned to look over towards Motormaster and his group, who were currently answering questions from the press. ?Unfortunately, after you left... public relations weren't very good. Powell's been trying to ruin me... saying I was responsible for everything that Megatron had been doing. And then he had me brought up on charges, accusing me of using that Soundwave machine as industrial sabotage, and... and then he teamed up with those awful Constructicons. He had them rebuild the city...! I started losing contracts, and there was also the legal battles, and then... then... then... they appeared...?
Sari gaped. All of that had happened in such a few short months?! And she'd been on Cybertron, without any idea of what her father was going through...
? Of course, the same could be said of what had gone on while she was on Cybertron...
Meanwhile, Optimus had his optics fixed on the ?Stuntitron? leader, Motormaster. He had seemed eager to meet Optimus, but at the same time, he hadn't hesitated to barrel onto the scene of their battle, despite the clear danger to Ratchet's life. And then, his subordinates had acted similarly when Glyph was in danger... only this time, someone really did suffer as a result of their reckless actions.
No doubt this was due to the influence of Powell.
One thing was clear to Optimus though. And that was that their welcome back to Detroit had proven far less warm than he had anticipated.
Across town, in the corporate headquarters of Powell Motorworks, the titular CEO sat, smiling as he watched the report on the incident at Sumdac Tower. Everything was going swimmingly... he had already tarnished the reputation of his rival with the truth about that Soundwave fiasco. It looked like Sumdac wasn't going to be held accountable, but the damage to his reputation had already been done. Along with that and all the other fiascoes connected to Sumdac's company and the beings from Cybertron, no one had any confidence in Sumdac Systems anymore. Powell had managed to turn a PR nightmare into an advantage for him and his company.
And now... now... now those glorious new robots of his had publicly embarrassed those Autobots. And on the day of their return no less!
?It seems our boys did a bang up job, Porter.?
Powell looked up to see that someone had entered his office. Putting on his usual fake smile, he rose to address his guests. It was an elderly, well-groomed looking man in a purple and green business suit. Flanking him were the man's three bodyguards, all dressed in black and purple: a voluptuous-looking dark haired woman, a manic-looking man who seemed to be concealing machinery under his sleeves, and a rail-thin individual with very long legs and arms in addition to a pronounced under-bite. All three wore sunglasses, and in the case of their latter two, their sharp-looking suits betrayed their dangerous-looking countenances.
?Mortimer Zarak!? exclaimed Powell, as he moved to shake hands with his colleague. ?I thought you'd come by today... yes, yes indeed, our Stuntitrons performed admirably... I can't begin to tell you what a service they've been to this company... to this community!?
Zarak chuckled warmly... before shooting Powell a glare. Nevertheless, he took out a gloved hand and shook hands with the businessman, before turning around and moving to look out Powell's office window.
?Hm, yes, about that,? he said. ?It seems rather convenient that both they and that Masterson fellow were in action today... it's almost as if... it was no accident... Henry Masterson was once your employee, correct??
Powell didn't appear at all nervous, and nodded. ?I figured that it would be... fortuitous for our machines to prove themselves against... 'yesterday's model.'?
?Tch,? replied Zarak. ?They were lucky, and eager to take risks the aliens weren't. I was able to create them with those 'Allspark fragments' you procured, but I'm nowhere near capable of building something as advanced as those alien Autobots. The Stuntitrons will always be second best as long as they're around...?
Powell narrowed his eyes. ?And how do you propose we change that??
Zarak looked back, and grinned. ?Come now, Powell. You still have... resources within Issac Sumdac's company. I'm sure, with our dear boys' help, we can manage to get our hands on what we need to... improve our technology.?
?And make even greater profits??
Zarak laughed darkly. ?Powell, when we're done, all the world will be eating out of your hand. And me? I'll simply go down as the greatest scientist in history...?
TO BE CONTINUED
And we're back! I hope you enjoyed the next story in my Transformers Animated ?Expanded Universe? project.
That said, let's get down to business. First, some explanations. The characters of the ?Stuntitrons? are, as you might have guessed, based off the Stunticons from Generation 1, with a bit of influence from other Transformers eras and incarnations thrown in. I'm looking forward to establishing these guys, expanding on their origins, and working them in as foils to the Autobots. Hopefully, I can give you guys some surprises.
And yes; this version of Dead End is a femme-bot. You can see an image of the Stuntitrons/Stunticons' here, thanks to my good friend Pringer Vince, who designed them:
Next we come to Mortimer Zarak, who designed by my good friend Ryune. Mortimer is an earthling scientist version of Lord Zarak from the episodes @ldquo;Rebirth? and the Marvel comics Headmasters issues from Generation 1. You can see an image of him, and a bonus snazzy hat, here:
Finally, we come to Masterson's gang. For those of you who aren't aware, Stella Healy/Stiletto was a minor villain from the Transformers Animated: The Arrival mini-series, published by IDW comics. Buster and Hyrdra are based off of two extras designed for the cartoon series, based off of two antagonists from the Transformers anime series, Super God Masterforce, which is where Masterson's team gets its name from. Stiletto's mecha, ?Nightbird?, is based off a character from an episode of the original cartoon, while Hydra and Cancer's battle-suits are derived from the special suit and Transtector that they each wielded
Mitch Funana... well, I'll just let all of you guess who HE'S supposed to be based off of.
Finally, there's one matter I'd like to address: the Allspark Almanac Volume 2. Needless to say, a great number of my already established and future plot points were jossed in this book. Nevertheless, I've decided to continue with what I have, and simply adapt what I still can from the Almanac while still staying true to my own direction. So nothing from ?Return to Cybertron? will be retconed or rendered invalid. This fic is its own universe, but one that will do its best to remain true to the universe that Marty and Derrick created, and was then expanded upon by the creators of the Almanac. Furthermore, it's a great book and all of you should
pick it up.
That's all for now. Enjoy this installment's bios.
Stella Healy, aka ?Stiletto/Nightbird?
Supervillain/Member of the ?Masterforce?
A former kick-boxer turned industrial thief and arsonist, Stella Healy is the strong, silent type. She once stole a prototype weapon from Sumdac Systems and incorporated them into her own trademark heal weapons, before she was apprehended by Optimus Prime and the Autobots. In prison, she struck up a working relationship with Henry Masterson, and subsequently joined forces with him to escape and take vengeance upon the Autobots. Thanks to Masterson, Stella has access to a ninja-like battle-bot, the movements of which are based entirely upon her own, allowing her to easily use her trademark style while piloting her machine. Since joining the Masterforce, she has since taken on the new moniker of ?Nightbird.?
- Champion kick-boxer
- Pilots ?Nightbird? battle-bot, which is equipped with laser-cutter heels and armor-cutting blades concealed in the forearms.
- Most skilled and serious member of the Masterforce.
Heinrich Drake, aka ?Hydra?
Small-time crook/Member of Masterforce
?To win, you've got to be cunning and agile ? like a snake.?
Though he was raised in Germany, Heinrich Drake resides in Detroit, taking advantage of the city's noted giant robot problems in order commit smaller, less-noteworthy crimes. Nevertheless, with his success, Heinrich began to set his gaze higher, and ultimately decided to accept Henry Masterson's offer to join his ?Masterforce.? When not acting like a shady crook, he often hangs out at the Burger Bot restaurant, where he remains sharp by conning younger, more impressionable individuals. Though it seems Heinrich lacks ambition, he prefers to think he's just biding his time until he gets the chance to make it big.
- Skilled thief and con-man.
- Pilots ?Hydra? battle-bot, which is built similarly to a humanoid snake, or ?naga.?
- Robotic tail allows him to move quickly and constrict or crush objects and victims.
Corey Chien, aka ?Cancer?
Hoodlum/Member of Masterforce
?Only the strong survive! Hyah!?
A young man of Chinese-American descent, Corey Chien isan orphan who has a habit of falling in with the wrong crowd. Frustrated by his small size, even for his relatively young age, he's prone to lashing out in order to vent his frustrations. In reality, he's not a very bad kid, he just has poor decision-making skills. Nevertheless, he's fallen in with Heinrich Drake, who constantly pressures Corey into helping him with his criminal activities. Corey actually looks up to Heinrich, and fails to see that his ?friend?is actually using him. Thanks to him, Corey has also joined the Masterforce as its youngest member, Cancer.
- Fairly good martial artist.
- ?Cancer? battle-bot is equipped with a durable shell and strong pincers.
Mitch Funana, aka ?Superstar?
Petty Criminal/Member of Masterforce
?Let me show you how to do it the Mitch Funana way!?
Just where did Henry Masterson find Mitch ?Superstar? Funana? The answer to that question is ?somewhere in Canada.? Beyond that, very little is known about him, despite the fact that he insists everyone should know who he is. It is clear that he attended art school at some point, and that he has some money troubles... most of them related to his small fleet of expensive cars. He designed his ?Superstar? battle-bot, which explains a lot, considering the fact that the machine is bloated, poorly-proportioned, and barely functional. Masterson only let Funana onto the team in order to fill out the group's fifth slot, but even he doesn't like the guy. Nevertheless, Funana is convinced the entire world revolves around him.
- Can be called an ?artist?, if you're feeling generous.
- Skilled at posing and amateur male modeling.
- Pilots ?Superstar? battle-bot, which is a barely working design. He claims it runs on a ?dream engine? and can perform a ?dream wave? attack, but no one has ever actually seen these things.
- Somehow, the one human being on the planet more annoying than Henry Masterson.
Note- Here at the Allspark, this thread will be a catch-all for all new "Expanded Universe" stories.
Edited by Razorsaw, 24 November 2010 - 08:48 PM.