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@  Maximus Ambus : (28 October 2020 - 01:52 PM)

50/60's Twilight Zone, the 80's, millennium and recent ones also, all are in The Twilight Zone.

@  wonko the sane? : (28 October 2020 - 08:03 AM)

Twilight zone. Duh.

@  -LittleAutob... : (28 October 2020 - 07:52 AM)

Um.... what did I log in on...

@  Paladin : (28 October 2020 - 06:17 AM)

have they actually gotten worse than the one where Homer gets paralyzed by a spider and has to learn to communicate through his farts?

@  unluckiness : (28 October 2020 - 05:53 AM)

It's only fitting that SImpsons have halloween specials since it's been a shambling corpse of its former self since its teens.

@  Maximus Ambus : (28 October 2020 - 04:12 AM)

No I caught one of the latest one with parodies of Stranger Things which admittedly is horror series but Heaven Can Wait and The Shape of Water are Fantasy films. Plus implications of the characters being sociopaths or twisted has become a norm these days.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (28 October 2020 - 02:58 AM)

Which probably adds to the "reasons they should just stop making more of The Simpsons" pile.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (28 October 2020 - 02:58 AM)

You make it sound like The Simpsons becoming less repetitive is a bad thing.

@  Maximus Ambus : (28 October 2020 - 02:48 AM)

Remember when Simpsons Halloween specials parodied horror movies and would have the characters make off out of character remarks like "we chucked donuts at a old man for kicks."? they don't and can't do that any more.

@  Steevy Maximus : (27 October 2020 - 08:00 PM)

Tired of the same old Halloween stuff? Check out Tubi. The depths of the schlock available is astounding.

@  Donocropolis : (27 October 2020 - 11:51 AM)

Not sure if it's news or not, but I'm at Ross right now and they have Masterpiece Movie Ironhide for $24.99

@  Steevy Maximus : (27 October 2020 - 12:45 AM)

Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s Best Buy exclusive deluxe version is available for $10 as one of today’s daily deals

@  PlutoniumBoss : (26 October 2020 - 08:50 PM)

We can play the "Is it a real headline or an Onion headline" game.

@  Steevy Maximus : (26 October 2020 - 08:22 PM)

It's weird to see how much of Larry Hama's "satire" from the old GI Joe comic has no longer become satire in the past few years.

@  Maximus Ambus : (26 October 2020 - 11:29 AM)

Funny how 2020 gave me new appreciation for Dawn of the Dead 1978.

@  Sukoshiko : (25 October 2020 - 07:43 PM)

@Fenix Twilight Sure. Just not a good one.

@  Fenix Twilight : (25 October 2020 - 04:02 PM)

@Sukoshiko Well his clothes left an impression on you didn't they?

@  TheMightyMol... : (25 October 2020 - 06:09 AM)

I just read "Tesla Cybertruck" like AC/DC's "Thunderstruck", now it won't get out of my head, so I inflict it on all of you as well.

@  Sukoshiko : (25 October 2020 - 12:25 AM)

Tesla Cybertruck: amazing or just silly looking? I can't decide.

@  Sukoshiko : (25 October 2020 - 12:24 AM)

Weird question: I had to deal with a guy today... I'm not exactly up on modern fashions... or even archaic fashions... But this guy... Tuxedo Jacket and shirt, studs in all the button holes except the bottom one, blue jeans, and cowboy boots... Take a moment to imagine that get up. And this was to a business meeting, trying to impress someone. What look is that? Who on earth would dress that way? (I mean on purpose)

@  wonko the sane? : (24 October 2020 - 06:04 PM)

I think the few up here were lost to bad placement, poor weather, and the usual language trap.

@  TM2-Megatron : (24 October 2020 - 04:25 PM)

There are 5 spread around southwestern Ontario, all run by the same company. I've only been to the one in my area, but it seems to do good business even in non-pandemic times. On long weekends, when they do triple features, there's a normally a lineup to get in Friday and Saturday nights

@  Telly : (24 October 2020 - 01:51 PM)

there been one outside of my town for as long as ive been alive at least. its gone through its share of owners and periods of being closed down, but its been open for the past decade at least

@  Otaku : (24 October 2020 - 12:08 PM)

Bias from personal experience, but drive-in theaters are nearly extinct.  I grew up near one but it went out of business in the late 80s, and was torn down and replaced with some other business by the early 90s.

@  wonko the sane? : (24 October 2020 - 07:47 AM)

Out here, I mean. Couldn't comment on their popularity in place where they actually exist.

@  wonko the sane? : (24 October 2020 - 06:44 AM)

I wouldn't know. They've only come back into vogue with the social distancing from the plague, and while some places have made an effort to shoestring the places together, it's all largely too distant to be accessible.

@  TM2-Megatron : (23 October 2020 - 09:46 PM)

I'd hate to see ours replaced by condos. They're a great way to spend an evening, whether with family or on a date. And they've never been as common in Canada as the US, so we cna't afford to lose as many

@  wonko the sane? : (23 October 2020 - 09:45 PM)

Largely they were either poorly placed or bought out and torn down to be replaced by something other than over priced short term parking. Mostly condos.

@  TM2-Megatron : (23 October 2020 - 09:14 PM)

I guess your winters are worse, so they have a shorter operating season. Drive-ins in the Toronto area can usually operate until early or mid-December; maybe even into early January if there's no real snowfall, and open up again sometime in March.

@  TM2-Megatron : (23 October 2020 - 09:13 PM)

THere's really only 1 left in the entire province?

@  wonko the sane? : (23 October 2020 - 09:03 PM)

Ha! It's probably faster for me to drive to your drive in than to make my way to the only one left in quebec.

@  TM2-Megatron : (23 October 2020 - 06:57 PM)

Fortunately we still have a drive-in theatre that's exempt from the closures about a 10 minute drive away

@  TM2-Megatron : (23 October 2020 - 06:57 PM)

Theatres around here are closed again for at least another couple weeks (wouldn't be surprised if it's extended by another month or so, either), but that's what they've been doing here as well. Playing the old classics

@  Maximus Ambus : (23 October 2020 - 02:36 PM)

I got Earthrise Megatron, he's better then I thought he'd be though Netflix Megatron is still tops.

@  Bass X0 : (23 October 2020 - 10:44 AM)

The original Rocky movie is also showing. May go next weekend. That’s how you get people back in the theatres - show the old classics every adult loves.

@  wonko the sane? : (23 October 2020 - 10:35 AM)

They did a limited run showing of it up here too, back when the theaters were open... red zones suck.

@  Bass X0 : (23 October 2020 - 10:13 AM)

The original Back To The Future is showing in the Odeon in the UK now. I think I will go see it tomorrow.

@  Donocropolis : (23 October 2020 - 05:51 AM)

It was either the Bumblebee or Cliffjumper. Can't remember the colors.

@  Kalidor : (22 October 2020 - 06:43 PM)

What did it look like?

@  Donocropolis : (22 October 2020 - 01:34 PM)

I swear I remember getting the Happymeal G1 minibot as a child, but I live 2.5 hours from St. Louis, which is the only place they apparently came out. It's possible that I got it on a family vacation, though, as we went to Six Flags pretty often.

@  ▲ndrusi : (22 October 2020 - 01:07 PM)

Conversely, I had the Gobot helicopter from Wendy's and I was absolutely convinced it was an actual Transformer.

@  Donocropolis : (22 October 2020 - 08:13 AM)

I used to rubber-band Hot-Wheels style construction vehicles together and pretend it was Devestator.

@  Bass X0 : (21 October 2020 - 05:26 PM)

When I was about four years old, my parents bought me Bugbite and tried to tell me it was Bumblebee. I was not yet a fan of Transformers, but I knew that wasn't Bumblebee. I didn't even have the real Bumblebee at that time.

@  Maximus Ambus : (21 October 2020 - 01:39 PM)

It would come with two soundtracks: the eighties classic and one featuring dubstep and the VAs are popular Youtubers.

@  wonko the sane? : (21 October 2020 - 12:13 PM)

But yeah, reading it: I came off as a bit of an ass.

@  wonko the sane? : (21 October 2020 - 11:52 AM)

I just couldn't think of worse music than disco...

@  NotVeryKnightly : (21 October 2020 - 11:35 AM)

What were you trying to imply with the mocking sarcasm, though? Nobody suggested that '80s music was any more "of it's time" than '70s music.

@  wonko the sane? : (21 October 2020 - 11:18 AM)

I said that disco wouldn't fare much better with the same context: media is property of it's time; biases, culture and limitations are all inherent in that. Some stuff can be brought forward because of an inherently timeless nature or the simplicity with which it was made but lots of media is a time capsule of the period of when it was made.

@  NotVeryKnightly : (21 October 2020 - 08:46 AM)

I'm not sure what you're trying to imply, or what you even think I said.

@  wonko the sane? : (21 October 2020 - 08:11 AM)

Yeah, cause disco would make the transition so much better...


Lost Tales of Cybertron

Unicron Trilogy Transformers: Cybertron

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3 replies to this topic

#1 Tindalos

  • Citizen
  • 1895 posts

Posted 30 June 2019 - 07:11 PM



A pair of stars rose in front of the Eight Track's viewscreen, the larger of the pair bathing the ship's bridge in crimson light. "Here we are sir," Air Raid called out -- a little unnecessarily, since the crew could hardly miss it, "Alpha Scorpii."

Overload, the commanding officer and the addressee stepped in front of the view-screen, creating a large patch of shadow where their imposing bulk blocked out the light. "Thank you Air Raid." Overload continued staring, as if trying to spot their quarry by their own optic sensors, but they soon gave up the fool's errand and turned around to address the crew.

"Air Raid, Beachcomber and... Demolishor." Overload paused -- obviously fighting back his distaste, there was no way he could avoid it, and Demolishor didn't blame him. He'd betrayed them once before, joining up with Megatron when he'd returned during the Energon crisis, and with the rumours of him being back... Demolishor probably wouldn't have trusted himself either. "We can't forget our mission. This isn't a rescue party, a sight-seeing tour, or a chance for shore leave. This world may have one of the Cyber Planet Keys. With it we have a chance to save Cybertron -- and if what high command is saying is true, The universe."

Overload stepped between the three of them, keeping their attention focused on him, and on his words. "It doesn't matter what condition the world is: if they need our help, are in the middle of their own civil war, or anything else. We go down, find the key, and leave."

Demolishor nodded, this seemed obvious enough. It was only when he saw the anxious looks on the other two's faces he realised why. That whole "mission of mercy" scrap had practically hardwired into Autobot systems, while he'd still got the killer instinct. He tried to keep the grin off his face -- after all, if it wasn't for that Autobot mercy, he'd still be a circuit-damaged hulking monster.

Still, he figured he could try and raise morale. "Hey, if you're unsure if it's a good idea or not, just ask me." He smiled, "If I agree with it, you know you're on the wrong track."

It was a poor effort, but it did his spark good to see Beachcomber grinning. "I'll keep that in mind," he said, before turning back to his monitor.

Overload ignored Demolishor's comment, and turned his attention back to Air Raid. "Any sign of a planet out there?" He rested his hand on the smaller bot's shoulders, peering at his monitor. Their shared camouflage patterns almost made the pair blend into a single figure.

"Getting a few likely candidates Sir," a few careful taps at screen brought up some blurry images of planets and moons. "I can narrow it down with a couple of flybys, but at the moment, the most likely one is..."

"That one," Overload interrupted, jamming his large finger at a planet.

"I beg your pardon sir, but that's not the one I mea-" Air Raid started to say, attracting Demolishor's attention. The little bot never seemed to dream of back-talking his commanding officers -- no matter how much they deserved it. But Overload shook his head and jabbed the screen again.

"It's that one." He stood up, and turned back to the red giant on the main screen. "I'm certain of it."

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png

The blazing heat of the portal suddenly gave way to a cooling spray, instantly creating an ominous mist around Dreadwing as he stepped onto the new world.

Some small part of him was pleased by that, the opportunity to make a dramatic entrance should never be passed up, something to make the locals feel fear and panic. He let the emotion flare up, sputter out and die in the space of the few astro-seconds it took him to approach the water. Evidently his master had managed to locate the one suitable piece of dry land around. Water surrounded him as far as the optic could see, and something in his spark told him the entire world was probably like this.

"Huh, I guess Lord Megatron had his head screwed on after all, this place is all wet!" A voice called out from behind him, a sure sign his entourage had followed him through -- confirmed a moment later as he felt the warmth vanish, the portal closing and leaving them stranded here.

Dreadwing turned, surveying the sorry lot he'd been assigned. No doubt Mirage and Tidal Wave were laughing it up, or at least had proper soldiers. He'd been given the rejects: Undertow was dipping one of her claws into the ocean, apparently still entranced by the extent of it. Storm Surge was busy giggling over a crate he'd brought with him -- already setting off Dreadwing's early warning sensors. That left Shortround still barely having left the portal, holding his claws up nervously as he peered around.

Surpressing the urge to shoot them all right this moment, Dreadwing called out to them. "To me my minions, I must give you your goals."

Undertow shrugged, "I thought Megs already gave us that? Look around for one of those key things and send a subspace message when we need to be picked up," she still loped over to stand at mock attention in front of him.

"I assumed you weren't listening," Dreadwing said truthfully, certainly the other two were looking surprised as they joined her. The three of them were almost identical, separated only by the stripes that broke up their black and white colouration: Green for Undertow, Blue for Storm Surge, and Shortround blended the two together into something that seemed eerily like the sea that surrounded them.

"Nah, I always listen when it's time for upgrades," she continued. "When Megatron offered the keys, I would have listened to any old scrap."

At this Storm Surge nodded. "Oh sure, that makes sense. If he'd offered explosives, I guess I would have listened" he chuckled, looking longingly at the box behind him.

"Enough!" Dreadwing surged forwards, patience already worn thin. "If you know what you are looking for, then do it! Stop wasting my time! Scour the seas, find me my prize, and then you can return to your meaningless lives."

The three looked at each other, and at the missiles slowly rising above Dreadwing's shoulders as his anger flared. None of them wanted to be on the end of that. They turned, running towards the shore and leapt into action: bodies twisting, claws encircling their feet as they shifted into their hovercraft modes. Despite everything, Undertow still had the manifolds to call back "Alright, alright, keep your chassis on. We'll be back before you know it."

Dreadwing stared as they left, letting the thrill of the momentary flash of anger pass. Ever since Megatron had returned, he'd felt emotions stirring. Only for the briefest of moments, but it was enough to make him distinctly uncomfortable.

30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png

"That's a lot of water," Beachcomber said as they reached the world Overload had brought them to. He glanced over his shoulder at the commander's bulk, but he was silent.

It was as if he'd realized just how crazy he was acting -- that any moment now he'd apologize, and defer to Air Raid's expertise. If there was anything the little bot could do, it was finding energon in a junkpile.

"That it is," Demolishor answered, filling the silence as the commander brooded, and the Omnicon tried to find if there was anything here. "Reminds me of Ocean City," Beachcomber looked at Demolishor's grin and smiled despite himself.

Beachcomber wasn't sure how to act around Demolishor -- his emotions were something he could only call "complicated." They'd worked together for years, only for the con to go crawling back to Megatron. Beachcomber still felt the wound from that betrayal flaring in his spark, but Demolishor was still one of the few bots who'd kept up with his jokes... and he still couldn't forget what Megatron had done to him, and how relieved he'd looked when the Autobots repaired his cerebral circuitry.

"Well, hopefully less Terrorcons this time around," he settled on a bad joke, which still made Demolishor laugh enough that they didn't hear Air Raid until he repeated himself.

"-there's life here!" He was practically bouncing in his seat as he punched some buttons, making the view screen zoom in on the world.

Gradually details became identifiable from the expanse of green waters: metallic structures spiraling out of the water, squat bunkers placed on atolls, even what looked like a city floating in the middle of an island cluster.

"Scrap! It really is Ocean City!" Beachcomber said, rising from his seat to look closer.

"And I'm pretty sure those are something similar to the Energon Towers," Air Raid agreed. "The energon readings from the ocean are pretty high, they probably refine it from the water."

"Hey, some good news, eh commander?" Beachcomber turned to look at him. Overload's jaw had dropped down in surprise, the lights fading from his optics as if he was staring from a thousand miles away. "Commander?"

He didn't react until Demolishor stood up and waved his hand in front of Overload's face -- although maybe that was just his early-warning sensors jumping at Demolishor's cannon-fingers. Finally he focused on Demolishor. "Uh, thank you."

Overload stepped forward, now finally back with them. "It's a colony world, that means the map was right. Which also means the Decepticons know about it. We can't charge in there. We'll have to take it carefully... and with this terrain, Demolishor and I are going to be useless. Air Raid, Beachcomber, you two take the shuttle down to the surface, do some investigation. And for Prime's sake, make sure you're not spotted -- the last thing we want is another disaster like Velocitron."

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png

Beachcomber stepped out of the shuttle, still unconsciously ducking to avoid banging his head on the bulkhead -- he'd recently downsized his frame, choosing something more energy efficient and compatible with the cyber keys they'd been handing out, but it would still take him a while to get used to it -- and gazed at the horizon.

"Bet you wish you'd picked an amphibious alt-mode," Air Raid nudged him in the arm with a wing, "As for me, I get this wide blue expanse all to myself."

"Hey, I thought I was the funny guy here." Beachcomber nudged him back. "We're supposed to be incognito, and up there you may as well have a target painted on your back. At least down here I'll be able to blend in."

"Bold words," Air Raid leapt into the sky, legs folded up on himself, his nosecone and torso rotating until he'd assumed his alt-mode and taken to the sky "Tell you what, the one who gets caught owes the other one a recharge."

Beachcomber transformed too, assuming his dune buggy alt-mode as he rebuffed his team mate: "No way, you still owe me for last time."

"You just know I won't get spotted," the radio crackled back, Air Raid already too far for sound to carry.

If he was still humanoid, Beachcomber would have shaken his head, instead he just rolled his tyres, and pealed out across the beach. If nothing else, the dry parts of the world seemed made for him.

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png

"Scrap, scrap, scrap, scrap" Shortround repeated to himself, over and over, the water speeding below him while he tried to figure out exactly where things had gone wrong. Certainly he'd never expected to be called to active duty -- Megatron had been dead, the war was supposedly over. How was he meant to know he'd be suddenly summoned along with all the other cons, or end up being retrofitted with one of those ridiculous cyber key things?

The port itched, empty, a reminder of part of him that he'd never get back, something changed, something wrong.

"Scrap!" he finished, seeing a small sandbar ahead with energon readings. He slowed down, quieting his engine -- fortunately he wasn't as noisy as the earth vehicle he and his siblings had been forced to scan -- and went to investigate.

No, it had been much earlier than that. Even before the Unicron War. He'd at least been able to sit things out before thanks to the legions of decepticlones and terrorcons. No, if he'd made a wrong choice it would have been countless millennia, back when Megatron had first announced his plans to enslave the mini-cons. Shortround cursed his past self, but still couldn't blame him.

After all, the thrill of rounding up those minicons, figuring out their teams, lining them all up... it still stuck with him even now.

He finally pulled up on the sandbar, closing in on the signal.

At first he couldn't recognise what he'd found, a twisted spire of metal. It was only when he pulled on it, feeling it come loose with a sickening crunch that he realised it was an arm, the rest of the body turning over in the sand -- freed by his over-eager digging.

"Huh, I guess there are natives here." He flung the arm into the waters, and turned to examine the corpse. Short and bulky, although its heavy duty chassis was pitted with holes. He scraped his claw along one, wondering what could have inflicted the injury, already too entranced to notice the stirring waters behind him.

One hole was oddly regular, and he realised with a start it had been cyber key modified. "How the smelt did Cybertron become the last place in the galaxy to come up with this stuff?" He idly thought, scratching through the sand for any trace of the key itself.

He never got the chance -- after his initial trench was dug into the sand, the frothing waters finally caught his attention. "What the scrap?" He asked, getting closer to the water. He just had time to see the eyes glowing under the surface before it was too late, and a horde of monstrous robots leapt from the water.

30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png


Overload looked over the sensor data for the fifth time since the scouts had left. Something about the planet was familiar, but the more he tried to force things to make sense, the less they did. And what's more his head was aching, the delicate circuitry inside was overheating and if he didn't take a break soon it would start to burn out...

But there was no way he could do that when he was so close. He'd just have to keep workin- "Hey boss," he looked up, seeing Demolishor holding up an energon chip. "You don't look so good. Go clock up some recharge time away from the computers. Try to relax. You're no good to anyone if you burn out."

"Your... concern is noted." Overload leaned back, rubbing his visor, and for good measure he rubbed his inbuilt night vision goggles above it -- a comforting gesture, even if he rarely needed to use them. "But I'm sure there's something I've seen before..."

"Did you ever visit Ocean City? I mean, that whole thing's been sticking in my memories since we've got here. Makes me nostalgic." Demolishor held out the energon chip, which Overload looked at dubiously but then finally accepted. The energy slowly flowed into his systems, recharging the aching machinery that made up his body.

"It's more than that. I've felt this since we arrived, I knew which planet we were looking for, like I'd been here before." He swung his hand at the viewscreen, still focusing on the ocean below. "And for all I know... I have."

"That whole memory loss thing?" Overload nodded as Demolishor laughed, sitting on the control panel next to him. "I remember when you first turned up, everyone was so freaked out. I mean, Optimus is back and he's now got a huge weapon system as a buddy... Thrust thought it was the end for everyone!" His face fell, and even in his exhausted state Overload realised he was thinking about the lost con.

It was a sobering moment. He still couldn't bring himself to trust Demolishor -- few autobots could -- but seeing his smile fade, and remembering how Thrust had died... He passed back the energon chip back, "You look like you could use a recharge as well. To our pasts, and the better futures that lie ahead."

Demolishor's smile returned, taking the other side of the chip and sharing its warm flow of energy. "To the future."

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png

"Approaching the city now," Beachcomber said into his communicator, relaying the information back to the ship in orbit. It wasn't likely anyone was keeping track -- at least not until he failed to check in every eight minutes -- but it did well to keep his mind off the city itself.

The thing seemed fine to all his sensors: it seemed comprised of standard cybertronian alloys, he could recognise familiar enough building types, and even the bots that wandered in and out of the gate seemed regular enough. The only sensor which wasn't functioning properly was what humans had called their "gut." There was something here that threw him off.

He stayed off the roads -- glad for his alt-mode's off-road design -- finally reaching the city wall where he could transform unobserved. He ran his fingers across the wall and felt his insides settling, even to touch it was normal. Smooth and gentle.

And that's when it hit him.

Everything was too smooth.

He stared upwards, his visor polarizing automatically against the sun's glare as he took everything in with the benefit of hindsight: While there were the occasional spike or thorn like design, everything here was rounded. There were no angles, no blocky shapes apart from some of the inhabitants. It was like someone had gone around buffing things until they were all smooth.

Or like they were grown.

That was the overwhelming impression he got from it, even the walls here lacked any telltale signs of assembly. He shuddered -- even humans built things, and they were organic.

Still, he'd need to check out the inside to find out if there was anything like a Cyber Planet Key here. And with how smooth the wall was, there was no way to climb in. That left only one option.

He sent another message, eight minutes after the previous one. "I'm going to have to go in on foot. They indigenous life may notice me. If you disagree with my assessment let me know."

He waited eight minutes. Still no reply. "Thank you for your agreement." he grinned to himself, and walked towards the gate.

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png

The bots surrounding Beachcomber kept to themselves, barely sparing him a glance as he walked into the city. He, however, stared at them plenty.

From the descriptions he'd heard about Animatros, the bots here seemed similar. He could see the obvious signs of bestial alt-modes. Fins, huge bulging eyes that seemed oddly glazed at the moment, spindly limbs -- and most disturbingly, fangs. Their shoulders were decorated by a huge collar of teeth, as if their heads were merely obstructions in their beast mode mouths.

Here and there there were outliers. Bots who towered over their kin, whose eyes followed his every movement. One approached him through the throng, the others parting ways like the Decepticons did whenever Megatron entered the room. The unpleasant image didn't fade even as the bot smiled, spreading his arms wide as if greeting an old friend.

"You're obviously not from Aquatron!" he said, the black limbs extending from his golden body causing Beachcomber to step back. He'd known he'd be in trouble for making contact with the natives. He'd expected fear, suspicion. Even antagonism. He'd not expected for the first bot he met to hug him. Like they were now doing. The extra limbs held him tight in the embrace as the newcomer continued speaking. "It's just so rare to see a new face. Most of what we have to deal with are these bots." He finally backed off, waving at the masses surrounding them. "Modified form of Omnicon, specialized for aquatic energon gathering," the slick bot rattled off before Beachcomber could ask. "But they're not much for conversation. My name is Tentakil--" they froze, obviously seeing Beachcomber's expression "No, no. "kil" only one L. Means a thousand. Tentakil -- a thousand hands. Because I'm a hugger." He demonstrated once again.

Finally he let go, and Beachcomber got a word in edgeways. "Uh, you're right. I'm from Cybertron, have you heard of it?"

Tentakil shrugged. "Not really, some of my friends might have. Do you want to meet them?"

30px-Symbol_autobot_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png

Everything was going well, Dreadwing was already feeling a flare of satisfaction as he mentally filed the reports from Undertow and Storm Surge. They'd already found some settlements infested with the natives of the world. And from Undertow's assessment those natives all seemed so dull that they could be outwitted by decepticlones.

Finding the Cyber Planet Key would be a piece of oil cake, and then they could get off this world. He could feel it getting to him. Making him feel emotions, even stronger than Megatron had done.

It wasn't right. Something here was tainting him, which was filling up the emptiness that formed the core of his sense of self. He hated it. And he hated that he could even feel that hatred.

He folded his arms together, his wings sweeping forwards to enclose him as he muttered to himself. "This world is an abomination." Having assumed his boat mode, he started speeding over the water.

Despite everything seeming to go well there was one flaw. Something that spurred on a flare of irritation. Shortround hadn't reported in. If the coward had fled, tried to hide from his wrath...

Well, he supposed, not all emotions were worthless.

30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png -- 30px-Symbol_decept_reg.png

Shortround didn't feel scared any more.

Fear was a useless distraction. It took valuable energy away from running the scrap away from the monsters chasing him.

His hovercraft mode had already taken more than a few tears, he was leaving an oil slick behind him, and of all things his radio was broken so he couldn't even call for help.

"Scrap!" he cursed, and then cursed himself some more internally for wasting the fuel on vocalising. The things had been about to tear out his spark before he'd managed to flee, and it was still aching, glowing through the crack in its casing.

He was going to die, and it would all be for nothing. All those years spent collecting minicon escapees. All those years spent enjoying the benefits of being a rear echelon decepticon. He was going to die, and there was nothing he could do.

Shortround could tell the horrors were closing in fast, feel their glowing eyes on him, feel their claws ready to rake his engines. He didn't want this. He'd never wanted to fight. He wanted to be back home on Cybertron, without worrying about a black hole. He wanted to be completely fuelled up for the first time in his life. He wanted an army of terrorcons and minicons, all in matching liveries to his own. Most of all he wanted to live.

He knew no bot could get what they wanted. But it didn't matter. He was going to die. What was wrong with wanting the world? What was wrong with wanting it all. He tried to will his engine a little further, even as it started to splutter. Eking out a few more seconds, his his spark pulsing. The emptiness inside growing stronger. No more fuel. No more energy. No more time. He stopped, emptiness filling him -- his spark pulsing, aching.

He transformed and turned to face the horde. If he was going to die, he might as well do it like a proper decepticon warrior.

There they were, a swarm of teeth and fangs. His spark pulsed again, glowing like the eyes of his oncoming doom. They were empty too. They wanted to fill it. The hunger.

And then as his spark pulsed for what was probably the final time, he felt it. The hunger. Running through the entire planet. Every living thing. The energon of the seas wasn't enough. They needed to eat, they needed to devour. They needed to live.

Something was there, at the core of the world. He could feel it, something inside him reached out, the hunger would never be filled... but what was there offered to help him silence it for a little while.

His vision started turning to static, the beasts were upon him... But it was enough. With his last spark of energy he whispered: "Cyber Key Power!"

Light engulfed him, and he knew at last that he was home.

Edited by Tindalos, 03 August 2019 - 09:40 PM.

#2 SoS

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Posted 30 June 2019 - 09:19 PM

LOVE THIS! I had me instantly when I saw it was Unicron Trilogy fiction. :)




#3 Tindalos

  • Citizen
  • 1895 posts

Posted 10 July 2019 - 12:08 PM



"Cyber Key Power!" The words echoed through Shortround's body as the power washed over him. His spark pulsing with the planet itself as space folded, warping as the key manifested in the slot. No longer did he feel its hollowness aching at him. Now instead he felt whole -- despite the gashes that still remained in his body.

He couldn't help but burst into laughter as the monsters recoiled in surprise. He'd thought them mindless engines of destruction. But instead they just fought to survive, used to being the top of the food chain. His turbines cracked apart, parts shifting in ways that should have been impossible to allow missiles which hadn't existed to emerge.

"There's a new king of the seas you pieces of junk!" he squealed, launching missile after missile into the horde. The beasts tried to turn and flee, their sheer numbers preventing them from escaping as each one clawed at another two in an attempt to crawl over them. Even the ones escaping underwater couldn't get far, the missiles locking onto them and firing a barrage to pick them all off.

At last Shortround stopped laughing, surveying the destruction around him... "I did this?" The power starting to drain from him as the key was exhausted. "No no no no no..." he'd survived, but he was still desperate, still needing energy to avoid stasis lock, his systems starting to blare warnings over and over.

But despite his wishes for a last minute appearance of Storm Surge and Undertow with fresh energon chips and a recharge station, there was nothing. Only the floating remains of his attackers.

Their still-warm-with-energon remains.

"Well, if they wanted to eat me, then it's only fair I return the favour," he reasoned, crawling over to the nearest body, clawing out its fuel pump, and pouring what remained into his own. Little by little his systems came back online properly, his self-repair function starting to buff out the dents. He was going to make it, he was going to live.

If he'd had a mouth, he might even have smiled.

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"We've heard legends that our ancestors came from Cybertron," the leader of the planet was sat in front of Beachcomber, across a table of polished plasticoral.

It had been a huge shock when Beachcomber had seen his face, the design was similar enough to Optimus Prime's that Beachcomber had to fight the sense of familiar ease Snaptrap inspired in him. Even with the black and purple armour plating on them did little to extinguish their heroic face and voice. "To be honest, I'd always believed it to have been a myth."

"I can understand that, we'd not known about all our colonies until recently as well." Beachcomber mentally sent another basic message back to the Eight Track. He'd have to eventually let them know what was going on, but if they didn't condemn him he could keep acting like he had the authority to be talking to the Aquatronians. "We're relying on some outdated maps and what we can reconstruct."

Snaptrap nodded, idly drumming his fingers on the table's surface. "Well, things have changed in the aeons since colonization. A lot of our oldest settlements in the depths were abandoned. If there's evidence, it would be there. Especially in the first city."

"The first city?" Beachcomber echoed, latching onto Snaptrap's point and extract any trace of information he could. He'd not mentioned the Cyber Planet Key, or the state Cybertron was in, or even the civil war between Autobots and Decepticons. He just had to swallow the shame of deceiving them, and focus on helping the universe.

"Yes, legend says it fell from the heavens, into the depths of the Turtler ocean. The earliest Aquatronians lived there, and spread out to tame the world." Snaptrap shrugged. "Apparently it still lies there, deep beneath the oceans. We've never been able to reach it because of the guardian."

"Lord Snaptrap," exclaimed a voice from behind him, a new grey and purple bot walking in and taking their place beside their lord. "Should we really be telling an outsider our secrets like this?"

"Probably not," Snaptrap shrugged again. "But if he's right about being from Cybertron, and our legends are right... then it is our duty to help the homeworld, Overbite. No matter the cost."

Beachcomber reminded himself to focus on the mission, that was what was important. That's what Overload said, and he had to keep believing it was true.

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The more Air Raid saw of the world, the more anxious he became. The spires he'd seen from orbit certainly were energon towers, condensing and crystallizing the native oceanic into a usable form. They also seemed old -- ancient. Some of them had even fallen over into the water, where the ocean was beginning to transmute them into the start of new reefs.

If these things had been in use for even half of the great war's length then their stockpile would be immense, incalculable. This world was rich, and there was nothing to show for it. Only one city, a few bunkers, and a whole host of ruins he was detecting on the sea floor.

He turned around, heading back to the shuttle as he sent in another update. He just wish Overload would get back to him soon. Every astro-second he was out here he was feeling more and more exposed. Beachcomber had been right -- even if he'd never admit it to his face.

He flew off, never noticing the winged figure watching them, or how they gracefully transformed into a manta ray, and dove deep into the waters.

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Dreadwing had expected to find Shortround cowering under a rock, or lying broken and dying somewhere. The sight of the most cowardly of his minions refuelling on the energon of a horde of shattered transformers. It was enough to make him almost impressed. "You seem to be doing well." He shifted out of boat mode, unfolding himself to tower over the diminutive ghoul. "You haven't reported in."

"I was busy. Surviving." Shortround glared up at Dreadwing, making him fight the urge to step back. Shortround never talked back, or glared, or showed the slightest hint of a back-strut. "These monsters swarmed me, I was fighting for my life... and now you come to pick up the pieces." He didn't even stop his grisly feast as he spoke, seeking out another fuel tank and topping himself up.

"I was wondering what you'd gotten up to. You really took out all these beasts?" He stepped across the bodies, getting closer to the new Shortround, each step making a small divot in the water as his anti-gravity propelled him above the surface.

"Yeah, thanks to Megatron I guess," Shortround finally finished and narrowed his eyes, summoning his cyber key. "I guess this thing came in handy."

"Where did you get that?" Dreadwing went to grab it, reaching outwards only for the Shortround to yank the key back. "That's not one of ours..."

"It's not?" Shortround looked at the key. Like his siblings, he'd been originally assigned one of the cyber keys Megatron had shaped with his dark energies. Clear energon, held in place in a silver frame, the Decepticon insignia taking its place of honour in the centre. This one was a shade of teal, and its silver frame was encrusted with mechanical coral, seaweed and barnacles -- like it had grown around it. And in the centre was a star of teeth surrounding five small wedges. He ran his claw across it, and Dreadwing wondered just what it would have felt like... Shortround's eyes were already becoming unfocused as he stared into its depths.

"Where. Did. You. Get. It?" Dreadwing repeated, emphasising his words with his cannons slowing rising above his shoulders. "We are looking for a Cyber Planet Key, you hold in your claws a clue towards finally finding one!" He could resist his anger no more, grabbing Shortround's chest and lifting him into the air. "Tell me!" He bellowed.

Shortround's optics went wide, his early warning systems finally triggering fear as Dreadwing shook him. Dreadwing felt a rush of fury pouring energon through his body, and disengaged his weapon systems as he tried to get himself back under control. Forcing himself to calm down as he steadied his voice: "Shortround, your success here could be the first step for a great victory for the Decepticon army," as well as further his own goals, "If we find the Cyber Planet Key, Megatron will reward you with whatever you could desire. Energon, Mini-cons, an army to command..."

"You won't like the answer," Shortround said, the hint of nervousness returning to his voice. Whatever had happened to him had only been temporary. "When I was fleeing, I was about to die... and when I summoned my key, it was this one."

Dreadwing let go, dropping Shortround into the water, where he sank a foot before his personal gravity reasserted itself. "So all you've done is eliminate a potential source of information then." Anger flared within him once again, he tried to ignore it. He needed to be stable. To find the Key. Taking it out on Shortround would be nothing more than a distraction.

"They would have killed me if I hadn't... but now with this key, maybe I can get others to talk. After all, it's not like this swarm would be the only bots on the planet." Shortround spluttered, attempting to prove his worth. It was a foolish idea, but Dreadwing saw no harm in letting him try.

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The shuttle's coms system spluttered into life -- a storm was approaching, already interfering with his attempts to report in.
When Overload's face appeared within the mess of static, and Air Raid saluted, all to eager to explain his findings: "Sir! We're currently experiencing a bit of bad weather, so I would like to apologise for the delay in reporting back. I have completed my preliminary scout flight, and regret to say I have seen no hints to the location of the Cyber Planet Key -- however, the world displays the potential to have a major stockpile of energon, at levels that would dwarf current Autobot and Decepticon resources."

He would have kept talking, but Overload raised his hands in mock surrender. "At ease Air Raid, remember to breath!" If Air Raid hadn't been speaking to his superior he might have pointed out that his alt-mode heat sinks more than compensated for a lack of air. Instead he took his reproval stoically. "And what about Beachcomber, what's his assessment from the ground?"

"Um, Sir?" Air Raid looked around the shuttle as if his companion would suddenly appear from behind a chair, revealing they'd been playing a joke. "He's not here. I'd assumed he'd reported back already."

Overload face-palmed, turning off screen to tell Demolishor "Check Beachcomber's logs. I hope he's not got distracted or anything."

Air Raid winced a little at the reminder of the con's existence. He didn't like the idea of him being behind him if and when they faced off against Decepticons. "I'm sure it's nothing sir, I was just more efficient with my journey," he put in for Beachcomber, attempting to cover before Demolishor was reviewing everything.

"Be that as it may, we'll double check. Things have been routine so far, so I doubt he's run into any--" Overload's speech was interupted by Demolishor's sudden yell of some piece of language he'd picked up on Earth. Overload turned to look at him, "what's wrong?"

"You're not gonna like this boss," Air Raid's winced at the breach in protocol. "Beachcomber's only gone and blown his cover, met up with the natives, and is currently sitting down with their smelting leader."

"He's what?" Overload and Air Raid chorused, just before a crash of thunder sent the viewscreen into a meaningless mess of static.

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"Ooooh" Storm Surge reached out, trying to get his claws on the key.

Shortround pulled his key back a little, pulling it away from his brother's soot encrusted digits. It was his key. His. "Look, but don't touch," he said, trying to fight the urge to arm his weapons to demonstrate just how far he was willing to go to protect it.

"But it's so interesting... and you said it activated missiles?" Storm Surge's eyes sparkled. "Maybe my one will do that too!" Before the other three could stop him he had already bellowed out "Cyber Key power!" and was engulfed in light. When it finished, a key had materialised in his socket -- clear and Decepticon marked, as it was meant to be -- and his body was converting, missiles emerging from his turbines to his obvious glee. He was an astro-second away from letting loose before Dreadwing yanked the key from the socket, forcing Storm Surge's body to revert -- and painfully, if his brother's scream was anything to go by.

"Such a waste of resources giving such power to you piles of junk." He stared at the key, turning it over in his hands before finally handing it back. "Save your destructive impulses for the Autobots."

"So what I don't get," Undertow leaned against the coral outcropping where they'd chosen to reunite, "'s why Shorty's the only one to get a fancy new key."

"An astute observation," Dreadwing said, turning to face Shortround, who'd already returned the key to wherever it went when he didn't need it. He stepped back instinctively, bumping against the coral. "His insights into where it came from were... lacking." At least he was in his stable mood. Since arriving here, Dreadwing'd been as trustworthy as Sideways -- although instead of bot and con, his two faces seemed to be angry and Megatron-wannabe.

"I told you, it just appeared. It found me!" He looked to try and find some assistance from Storm Surge -- who was still sulking from being denied the chance to blow something up, or Undertow -- who seemed more interested in what Dreadwing would do to her dear brother. "And what about you Undertow? Maybe your key's like mine?"

"No luck there little bro," she laughed. "Tested it out after Dreadwing sent word. Wanted to see if it would be a body type thing." She stopped leaning, stepping forward, claws raised "So either stop holding out on us, or we'll find out ourselves."

Shortround flinched as she approached, all to eager to cut him open. They always wanted what was his, always after his share of energon, always denying him Mini-cons. He felt his spark pulsing in fear -- or maybe anticipation -- but a voice cut in: "Or maybe I could just tell you," said the mottled manta ray rising from the waters and shifting to robot mode. "Your enemies have arrived."

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Storm clouds wreathed the tower where Beachcomber was staying. His hosts were kind enough to appreciate that he wanted privacy -- that there were classified matters he needed to attend to.

He'd given up on sending messages. He'd been due to meet up with Air Raid at the shuttle, so when he didn't show they were almost certainly find out what he'd done.

A bolt of lightning flashed across the skies, illuminating the city for a momment, before it returned to near darkness -- only lit up by the glowing eyes and patterns which were part of the Aquatronians. "Overload's gonna kill me," he sighed.

Still, maybe the pieces of information he'd recovered would help the boss's mood. From some of Snaptrap's fragmentary records, Aquatron must have been settled specifically to harvest the oceanic energon. The first city was either the colony ship they'd arrived on, or was built around it. Which meant if there was Cyber Planet Key here, it would almost certainly be there.

He could have returned to the shuttle, allay suspicions for a little longer, or get it over with. But he didn't want to lead the Aquatronians to it. He may trust them, but that only went so far. He'd lead the finer details of the mission a secret until he could get Overload to do it.

Another bolt of lightning rushed down from the skies, grounding itself in one of the energon towers around the city. He really hoped it cleared up soon, before Overload really got mad.

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Demolishor had never seen him so angry.

Overload was carefully going over each one of Beachcomber's reports, getting a larger and larger impression of just how much the scout had messed up.

"At least Hot Shot could claim it was a mission of mercy. Beachcomber's just introduced himself to them as a... as a shortcut!" He was walking around the ship's bridge, trying to vent his anger. Demolishor really didn't want to do anything stupid right now, like mentioning how it was partially their fault -- how they should have been reading the updates.

Instead he just took a deep breath, "Look boss, when we get back to Cybertron you can have him court martialed -- or whatever it is you Autobots do. But we should look at it as a case of "what can we salvage from this screw up?""

Overload stopped pacing, turning to stare at Demolishor, who shrugged. "Beachcomber didn't tell them the details of our mission, or lead them to the shuttle. As far as they know we're just travellers from Cybertron. We can go down, try to explain we're just looking for the Key, without letting them know about the whole "Cybertron about to be swallowed by a black hole" thing?"

"You raise a good point," Overload finally seemed to be calming down. "I just don't like giving the enemy any of our information." So much for calm.

"Uh, sir?" Demolishor said warily, even using a proper honourific to try and avoid trouble, "the Aquatronians aren't our enemies. They're just colonists."

"What?" Overload faltered, sitting down. "Of course they're not the enemy."

For a moment Demolishor feared he'd gone as paranoid as Megatron, that he'd once again made the wrong call. But Overload smiled, "It's just an expression. You know, hope for the best but prepare for the worst?"

That made sense at least, although Demolishor wasn't sure which would be worse: the Aquatronians being hostile, or Overload losing his grip on reality.

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"Do you think they've bought it?" Tentakil asked, watching the hologram of the Autobot ship above the coral table. "I mean, I know Beachcomber's foolish enough, but the others..."

Snaptrap nodded slowly, "I have no doubt they're thinking we're innocent colonists. And they're certain to think the Laestrygon is where the Key is hidden. Especially after Overbite's little flourish."

"Thank you lord," Overbite bowed, finding that cursed ship will go a long way to appeasing the Triumvirate. The Autobots think they'll be saving their world, only to restore ours to glory instead."

"And what of the Decepticons?" Snaptrap drummed his fingers on the table again, "Any chance they will be of use?"

Overbite grinned. "The right bait, and they'll be just as useful. They all want the Key, the true value hidden in the "first city" will be ignored."

"And when they find it, we can dispose of them just as quickly as their world abandoned ours." Tentakil said, laughing as he wrapped his fingers around the hologram.

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"Our enemies? You mean Autobots?" Dreadwing approached the newcomer, staring at their face-plate for any twitch of deception.

They nodded, "the red face, right here," they demonstrated, pointing at their own insignia -- identical to the one on Shortround's key.

At the confirmation of the Autobots, the hovercraft triplets started to groan -- Undertow loudest of all -- "Shut up," Dreadwing snarled back to them, silencing their grumbles, "we'd been expecting them after all."

Instead he focused his attention to the winged figure standing in front of him, trying to loom over them in an attempt at intimidation. "So why come to us? Surely you could have spoken to the Autobots instead?"

The newcomer shrugged his shoulders, "I could have. But for one: he's here," he jabbed a finger at Shortround. "With an Aquatronian cyber key."

"An aquawhatian cyber key?" Shortround interrupted, summoning it again to take a closer look. "You said you could explain it?"

That was true, and Dreadwing was interested, so he moved out the way and let the bestial bot approach Shortround. "I admit, I only know what others have told me, but each key is a fragment of a Cyber Planet Key, just as the Keys are fragments of Primus' spark. So for you to awaken the Cyber Planet Key, you must have a kinship to the Key's world."

"And this key's associated with Aquatron?" Shortround asked, carrying on when they nodded "I take it this is more than just being aquatic?"

"Of course" they tapped Shortround's chest, laughing as they did so. "It's a spark thing, not a body thing."

"So because Shorty's one of your buddies, you sought us out?" Undertow added in, grabbing the stranger's shoulder in what was either a very friendly or very dangerous embrace. "And the Autobots ain't your kind of bot, so you wanna help us out? Why on Cybertron should we believe this load of scrap?"

"Because you lot are the best chance I've got to free my world." If anything she seemed less impressed. "Also, I have weapons. Lots of weapons."

Now that changed things. Dreadwing lifted Undertow off their new-found friend. "Weapons would certainly be a welcome exchange for our aid... what's your name, Aquatronian?"

"Depth Charge," he said, changing into his manta ray mode. "And it's a small price to pay."

#4 Tindalos

  • Citizen
  • 1895 posts

Posted 03 August 2019 - 09:43 PM



Air Raid's jaw dropped as Beachcomber filled them all in -- the three way communication channel was still full of static, but at least they could talk again -- "Wait, can you repeat that?" He tried to focus on the words while piloting the shuttle, but there was something in Beachcomber's words that struck him as innately wrong.

"Oh yeah," Beachcomber adjusted his communicator, the fuzzing decreasing slightly, "I said that the population here are mostly an aquatic form of Omnicon, purifying the oceanic energon deposits."

That was it. He covered his mouth as he tried to see if Overload or Demolishor noticed the issue. A lack of recognition was obvious on their faces, and he fought off the urge to scream it at them. On an unsecured line like this it would be dangerous -- especially given what Beachcomber had revealed.

He simply nodded and tried out a lie "Thanks, the signal wasn't coming through well." The others seemed more concerned with the story Beachcomber was telling -- the sunken remains of a colony ship could be vital: Not only would it be the most likely resting place of a Cyber Planet Key, but it could contain another copy of the map. They'd been relying on Vector Prime's memories ever since the cons had stolen it, but the Ancient's recollection of things from millions of cycles ago was spotty at best.

But now Air Raid was worried. How could these Aquatronians have known what an Omnicon was? They'd only been built in the few cycles, and even if by some quirk of fate they'd managed to produce their own equivalent then how would they have known the name? He needed to check with Beachcomber in private, find out the exact words they'd used because right now, he was thinking Snaptrap and the others knew more than they were letting on.

The shuttle left the atmosphere behind, breaching the void of space to rendevouz with the Eight Track. It wouldn't be long before he'd meet up with Overload. Air Raid just had to decide if he should put it down to Beachcomber using the term out of familiarity or if he should voice his misgivings. He sighed, it wasn't much of a choice.

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"Whatever you want me to do, I'm your bot," Storm Surge's voice was full of awe as he ran his claws over a rocket launcher. He reluctantly took his optics off it, looking up at Depth Charge, "Seriously, this is a work of art!"

His siblings were similarly engrosed, looking over the assortment of quagma grenades, acid rifles, corrosive fletchette launchers, and even simple laser weaponry. Depth Charge's armoury was practically a museum of weapons, many representing paths of scientific thought long abandoned on Cybertron. Only Dreadwing didn't seem excited by the instruments of destruction -- instead just leaning against the metallic wall and glaring with mild distinterest -- but that bot never seemed to enjoy anything.

"I'm glad you like them," Depth Charge said, leaning against the opposite wall to Dreadwing -- as if the pair were in a contest about who could care the least. "If you take down those Autobots, you can keep them."

"Good, because there's no way you're getting this back," Storm Surge cackled, aiming the rocket launcher at anything he could, enjoying the way Shortround dove for cover. "What's the price for these wonders anyway?"

"That's a good question," Dreadwing grunted, waving his hand at the piles of weaponry, "What's the reason for your generosity."

Depth Charge finally stood up, grabbing one of the grenade belts. "Your enemies -- the Autobots -- they've teamed up with my enemies: the Abyss Team. "While I've managed to hold them off before, with the Autobots here I'll need some back up."

"The Abyss Team?" Shortround asked, peaking out over a crate of rifles. "Your enemies are a Mini-con team?" Undertow roared with laughter as even Storm Surge surpressed a snort of derision.

"No, a combiner one," Depth Charge said, silencing the laughter. "I take it by that you know of that kind of thing?"

"Weren't they sacred guardians for Primus? What's one doing here?" Storm Surge tightened his grip around the rocket launcher, denting the ancient relic, "We'd need a smelting army to take one down! At least more than a couple of scouts and their boss!"

A strange sound emerged from Dreadwing, gradually becoming recognisable as laughter. "Well, this is getting interesting!" He said. "Guardians indicate something worth guarding... so what do they have that you want?"

"It's not like that," Depth Charge said, tossing Dreadwing a rifle "They want what I'm guarding, but if you're interested, I'll show you. Follow me."

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Overload waited impatiently, the shuttle slowly docking, bulkhead hissing as atmospheres equalized. Demolishor stepped up behind him, and muttered quietly, "Remember, calm yourself. I know you're angry with Beachcomber, but at least give things a chance to work out."

"I know, I just... it feels like my early warning system's on the blink, like every shadow could contain a Decepticon assassin or similar." He fought the urge to lower his goggles. For one there was no chance of there actually being an intruder, for another it would simply be another sign of him not being fit for command.

He could already tell the others were worried about him, but he couldn't think of anything to reassure them. The strangest feeling of deja vu was running through his mind as the bulkhead finally opened, with Air Raid standing in front of their legs.

"Hello, Sir!" Air Raid had already snapped to attention, "I am ready to offer my report to you!"

"It's too late to stand on ceremony I'm afraid," Overload stepped forward, eager to head to the surface, "just give me a summary as we land."

"Understood sir," Air Raid turned back, heading back to the cockpit and then stopped. "Demolishor, do you want to take us down? There's something I need to discuss with the Commander."

"Sure," Demolishor cracked his fingers, heading into the cramped cockpit, "I'm sure it'll just be Autobot protocol nonsense," he laughed.

Overload looked down at Air Raid, who was nervously watching Demolishor's exit, obviously not wanting to let him hear whatever it was he had to say. When the Decepticon's bulk finally left, he spoke up. "Sir, this is... more of a question rather than a comment. What do you know about Omnicons?"

"Not much, I mean aren't you some kind of altered Mini-con?" He slid into one of the shuttle's seats, gesturing for Air Raid to take the one opposite.

"Well, sort of; our design was influenced by them, but that's not important. What is important though is... we're new." Air Raid sat down carefully. "Very new."

"On a Cybertronian timescale certainly bu-" Overload started, before Air Raid shook his head.

"Beachcomber called the natives of this planet Omnicons. And from how he talked about it, I got the feeling it was something one of his hosts told him. If that's true then-" this time it was Overload's turn to interrupt.

"Then they would already have knowledge of Cybertron?" He shook his head, "but that's..." He wanted to call it a stupid idea, but deep in his spark something clicked into place. Air Raid was right -- He didn't know how he knew, but it just felt a certainty. "Scrap," he sighed.

"Now I could be wrong, it could just be Beachcomber being an idiot.." Air Raid waved his hands quickly, trying to take it back, "All I'm saying is that we should be cautious!"

Overload weighed his words, trying to find the best way to handle it without worrying anyone. "Thank you for the information. I'll try and get an answer out of Beachcomber when we can speak in private. If you're right, then we can better understand their intentions." Although if they already knew of the Cybertronians, yet pretended they didn't, then it was very likely those intentions would be anything good.

He turned to head to the cockpit, then paused. "Any reason you didn't include Demolishor in this little discussion?"

"Oh, just because this is just my opinion Sir. It may be mission critical so I felt the need to inform you, but I don't want to disrupt things with..." Air Raid trailed off, then slapped himself in the head "Oh Primus, we're a four bot team and I now I may have just created a disruption by trying to prevent one."

"Ah, good to know it wasn't about him being a Decepticon," Overload sighed in relief, welding the crew together was a tough enough job, but even he couldn't have blamed Air Raid for distrusting him. "We can let him know on the way down after all."

"Good point," Air Raid nodded, "To be honest, with all the worrying about what the Aquatronians could be up to, I'd forgotten about him being a con." He shrugged, "I guess other things were more important."

"I know what you mean," Overload clapped him on the back, "It's just us out here, and we've gotta keep an optic on each other's backs." Besides, Overload reasoned... A Decepticon might be more able to spot deception coming.

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Undertow stared up at the figure. Then up a bit more. Then she saw what was left of its face. "What... is it?"

"It's an Ancient..." her little brother answered, Shortround stepping forward, raising his claw towards it awe. "It's like that bot who Megatron stole the map from."

"Yes it's an ancient, one who helped found this world." Depth Charge stepped up onto the podium where the Ancient stood immobile as a statue. Its brazen armour was corroded by the water seeping in, turning to a pale green -- like something was growing on it. The entire design was ancient, armour plating seeming to have been beaten into shape with primitive tools. Even the solar-panel cape that trailed behind it was ancient, like stained glass. "And the Abyss Team want to find it."

"Is it alive?" Undertow asked, slapping Shortround's claw away as he reached towards it. "I mean, It looks dead, what with the face all mangled like that..."

"They aren't alive in the same way as you or I," came the reply, Depth Charge sounding more like he was reciting scripture than answering a question, "It is said that each of the Ancients exists only when they are needed, vanishing somewhere else when their time is up..."

"Then this is just a body? Until he's "needed" this just sits here rusting like a piece of scrap?" Dreadwing muttered from the sidelines. It was strange, Undertow was following his movements -- sizing him up in case there was a promotion to be found by scrapping him -- and he was wary of the Ancient, his movements careful as he edged around the room, and he'd never torn his optics away for it. "Why do they want it so bad?"

"No clue," Depth Charge stepped up, tapping the Ancient's armour plating. "I just know I'm its guardian... well, until my replacement gets here." He gave a short bark of laughter. "But with the Abyss Team in charge, I doubt anyone else is gonna show up."

"So you just keep watch on ol' Skullitron here and shoot down a combiner team... not the best gig I've heard of..." she dragged Shortround back away from the figure. If Dreadwing was scared of it, then it didn't matter if the Ancient was alive or dead... She didn't want any part of it. "Let's get back to Storm Surge... if those bots are coming, we should be ready for them."

Dreadwing took one final glance at the Ancient and backed out of the chamber, tension draining from him. "Yes, let's do that, and leave the guardian to his futile task."

Undertow shuddered, pulling her brother back through to the armoury. "Yeah, if I have to stare at a bunch of corpses, they may as well be Autobots."

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Beachcomber held a hand to his optics, shielding them from the pale light of the sun, trying to spot the shuttle. He turned to Tentakill, "I guess you guys don't get a lot of visitors, huh?"

Surprisingly silent, given how friendly he'd been before, Tentakil instead stared straight ahead at the tide pool hastily converted into a landing zone. Walls were erected by the scuttling aquatronians, while an impromptu table had been placed by others. The other members of Tentakil's team were sitting there, chatting aimiably... it was almost strange how they were bouyed up while he was brought down. Then -- after a moment -- he clicked back to reality and smiled. "No, we haven't, as far as we knew, apart from some legends we might have been one of the last few remnants of Cybertron. We didn't even think the homeworld was around."

"You okay?" Beachcomber frowned, "you seemed a little quiet there."

"Oh yes, just the Aquatronians, we need to give them a little prodding sometimes," he chuckled, "Low frequency sounds -- an adaptation for underwater activity."

"Huh, that's handy. Sorry for distracting you then." Beachcomber raised his hands in apology.

Shaking his head, Tentakil smiled, "It's no problem, just having to change frequencies is always like that." he pointed with one of his numerous extra-limbs, "And unless I'm mistaken, those are your comrades."

Indeed a small black dot was visible in the skies -- and rapidly increasing in size as it approached. "Yeah, that's them alright," Beachcomber sighed in relief. Soon it would all be above Overload's problem. There was a twinge of guilt there, but Beachcomber couldn't help it. This was all above his paygrade. He stood to attention as the shuttle descended into the pool, the walls catching every bit of exhaust that could have otherwise damaged the area, even the table was fine -- all five of the bots seated around it now standing in anticipation of their visitors.

Finally the door opened, Overload stepping down, followed by Air Raid and Demolishor, who were all staring around at the show their hosts had put on for them. Beachcomber held his breath -- even as his systems started to overheat, he didn't budge, keeping his eye on Overload. He was ready for whatever punishment he deserved.

"Beachcomber," Overload glared at him. "You're dismissed, go to Air Raid, get debriefed on the shuttle, maybe get some rest, have an energon chip or something..." The unsaid "just get out of my sight" was all too loud to Beachcomber's audio-sensors. He kept himself still until Overload went past, meeting up with Tentakil -- Demolishor dogging their steps and sparing no glance for him.

Finally free, he almost bolted straight for the shuttle, instead letting his systems cool down, slowly making his way as if he'd not just been chewed out. He stepped up to the shuttle where Air Raid clapped him on the back. "Come on, get recharged... we need to talk."

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"So you're Overload?" Tentakil stepped into place beside him, staring up as he started talking with no possibility of getting a word in edgewise: "Beachcomber's told us a lot about you, and of your sterling reputation back on Cybertron. I do hope our world's been able to impress you in any way. He also told us your maps were a little out of date, and we'd been discussing the possibility of ones back in our First City--" whatever adaptations the Aquatronians had, one seemed to have been extra-coolant for the vocal systems, it seemed like Tentakil would be talking for hours.

Finally they reached the table, and Overload extended his hand to the leader of the Aquatronians. "Greetings, I'm Overload of Cybertron, I'm here on a mission..." of Mercy? because it's emergency? He cursed himself for not thinking of a good excuse on the flight down... He finished with the only option that felt right "to resolve unfinished business between our worlds."

"I am Snaptrap of Aquatron, and I welcome you to our home." The voice took Overload by surprise, he had to fight the urge to clasp Snaptrap's hand in friendship. He really could have been Optimus' double, enough that Overload was relieved he'd reformatted -- it would be embarrassing to try and combine with a stranger, especially based on an automatic system impulse.

Instead he took his seat, nodding at Demolishor to do the same. "Thank you, it's good to be here. I am sorry Cybertron left you alone for so long."

"We survived," came a voice from the side, the speaker glaring at Overload. "Just fine. Without your help!" he added, unnecessarily. "I don't see why we should bend the knee just because you turn up." He grunted, shifting in his seat as his purple limbs tried to find a comfortable pose.

"Ignore Nautilator," Snaptrap cut in, "He's just not good with strangers." A quick glance at the bot silenced them. A part of Overload couldn't resist noting down the detail for later. Collecting weaknesses. Maybe he was a Decepticon at spark, given how paranoid he was being.

Fortunately, Demolishor tried to smooth things over, "Don't worry, I understand how it must seem. A bunch of strangers show up, you don't know them from Maccadam, and you're still expected to help them out. We're not here to mess things up, we're just interested in setting up communications." Overload let himself relax as he saw Nautilator settle down -- even if he didn't stop glaring at them.

"Although I imagine you're also interested in the history of our colonization of Aquatron. Your scout did seem curious about potential maps." Snaptrap continued, steepling his digits.

"That's true," Overload nodded at Tentakil, "your friend there mentioned them as well. Our maps are many cycles out of date, and finding others would make reconnecting with all the colonies much easier."

Snaptrap sighed, "Unfortunately that just leaves the problem of the guardian. A rogue Aquatronian who attacks all who've tried to locate the city."

"So, we go in, attempt to negotiate with them, and help each other out? Sounds like a plan." Overload nodded, making plans to deal with whatever trap he was walking into.

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"So how much scrap am I in?" Beachcomber sat down on a bench, letting himself relax. "I mean, I imagine Overload wants to court martial me."

"That depends on one question," Air Raid said, standing up in front of him. "And this is very important... you called the natives here Omnicons... why?"

"Huh? But..." He racked his memories, pulling out the moment when he'd heard it. Modified form of Omnicon, specialized for aquatic energon gathering, Tentakil had said... "That's how my guide referred to them, what's wrong with that?"

"Scrap..." Air Raid went over to the opposite bench and sat down. "I was really hoping I was wrong..." He smiled at Beachcomber's look of surprise, "I'm an Omnicon, it's why I'm young, a fresh recruit. We've only existed for twenty cycles."

"So how do they have them here?"

"They can't... they don't. Whatever these Aquatronians are, they're not Omnicons. But the fact they called them that means they know about Cybertron -- or at least Omnitron."

"But they said they didn't even know we existed." Beachcomber still couldn't bring himself to believe the obvious, as much as it was staring him in the face. "So, why keep up the pretence?"

"And that's the big question," Air Raid shook his head. "Well one of them..." He grinned at Beachcomber's puzzled expression. "The other is: How did Overload know about all of this."

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Alone in an empty metal chamber, three rough shapes stand, pillars of roughly hewn stone or diseased coral, standing in a triangle. From them utter strange clicking noises before one finally speaks:  "Snaptrap is reporting the Autobots are all too eager to do our bidding." A few more clicks as the voice continues "His creation has served us very well. We shall soon be able to recover the Ancient One."

Another of the shapes clicks, their voice softer and slightly hesitant: "I doubt it will be that easy. The guardian seems to have recruited several Decepticons."

The third interrupts, barely restraining their anger: "And that will accomplish nothing! The Decepticons are cowardly, quick to turn on each other! They will not stand up against the strength of the Autobots."

"No," the second one clicks for a moment. "The Autobots are not trustworthy either. They will betray us, as they did before."

"This time, we shall not give them the chance," the first laughs, "Let us give Snaptrap access to the Key. None shall stand before his hunger."

The three click in the gloom, silent for a moment, until they speak in unison: "So it is decided, Snaptrap is authorised. The Cyber Planet Key will be activated." The trio chuckle at some private joke, drowning out the clicking sounds for the first time, their voices echoing throughout the chamber.

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Shortround shifted his cannon from one claw to another, trying to find a way to make it feel comfortable. But no matter how much he tried, it didn't work. It felt wrong.

He felt wrong.

He glanced over at his siblings, who seemed perfectly happy with their own weapons. Even Dreadwing had found some weapons he found satisfactory.

It was the Ancient. That had to be it. He'd been happy with the gun before, but upon seeing the magnificent giant he'd realised -- impossibly -- that it had to be his. It already was his, in some crazy sense. Next to owning it, nothing else mattered.

And the Autobots were going to try taking it away.

He turned to Depth Charge, "So, how soon will they be? The Autobots I mean."

"I've no clue," Depth Charge went over to a control panel. "They'll have to find the place first..."

"So it's a battle that may not even happen?" Undertow groaned, "Look, you wanted extra muscle, you've got it. We've got better things to do than sit around and rust. Let's take the fight to them." She ran up to the control panel. "We're in a ship, right? So we just dump the ballast, and we float to the surface. The bots'll come running, and we can swat 'em out of the skies!"

If Depth Charge had had a jaw instead of a faceplate, it would have dropped. Instead he just looked at her like she'd announced she was actually Unicron's second cousin. "Are you crazy! The Abyss Team's been looking for this place since... since forever! If it rises to the surface, they'll stop at nothing to claim it!"

Dreadwing stepped forward, eyes blazing. "Let's put it to a vote: All in favour of raising this piece of junk so we can get on with our mission, point your weapons at Depth Charge!"

With the clink of weaponry filled the room as every launcher, slugthrower, and beam weapon was armed and aimed at the lone Aquatronian. Who just laughed: "Well, it's your funeral!" He flicked a switch and the entire ship started to shudder. "The Laestrygon is rising. May Primus have mercy on our sparks."