Beast Hunters - Outpost

written by Tiger of Prey

The Transmetal lion known as Goldmane slowly strolled through the jungle, taking in the overpowering smells, sights and sounds of the rainforest. He had never seen such natural beauty, only in vids of the Great Wars. The lush tropical land was teeming with flora and fauna of uncountable numbers, and Goldmane knew that it had to be protected. That was why he was here, out in the wild with two companions, the bat Sonar and the tasmanian devil Snarl.

He was the commanding officer at Outpost Prime, the first Outpost created by Alpha Hound to be a Maximal scout post to record Predacon activity, and to study the wilderness. The Outpost was equipped with a stealth technology package, including a cloaking device and a signal transmitter that can not be detected by any scanner, Maximal or Predacon. The relay is embedded in Hound and whomever he chooses to give the ultra-secret code to. Even then the code is constantly switching channels so as not to be found by the best hackers, and the signal is encypted, and only Hound, Prowl and Wingspan have been instructed in how to crack it. So the Maximals at Outpost Prime were safe, at least when they were within the actual outpost.

Today, Goldmane was taking a walk, trying to get back to the nature he was out there in the Tropics to protect. He was tired of being cooped up in the Outpost, which was about two thirds the size of the starship Axalon, going over vids and data, transmitting reports and such.

He hated being away from Whisper so much. Hound had chosen the lion warrior to head up the Outpost mission, which was set to have shifts of one year, because Goldmane was both a calm and reliable soldier. So far he had spent two months at the Outpost, two months without contact with his beloved, and he was being driven stir crazy. Snarl was growing hungry for battle, and Sonar, despite long being Goldmane’s close friend, was beginning to complain. So far they had seen nothing, although Sonar had detected two objects in the sky shortly after the construction of the Outpost, the equipment had been unable to confirm it and Hound had suggested that it was likely just stasis pods. No stasis pods had fallen in that area, however. No records showed the existence of any pods in the area.

“What’s up, big cat?”

Goldmane turned to face Sonar, and was glad to see the once-pubescent Maximal who had recently grown into an adult Cybertronian, Wingspan’s former assitant. Sonar had been a genious, a bit of a prodigy, and had better-than-excellent hearing capabilities. That was the official reason Hound had chosen him to be the Science Officer. Unofficially, Sonar had fairly bad eyesight, needing photoreactive lenses implanted into his eyes. Unfortunately, his bad eyesight still remains partially, for he is a terrible shot.

Snarl approached under the low-flying bat. Snarl had been chosen to be the brawn of the Outpost expedition, being he was small, quick and good with weaponry. He was responsible for defenses of the Outpost.

“Snarl! Sonar! Shouldn’t someone be at the Outpost?”

“Naw, Sonar figgered out how to wire in the alerts to his cortex. If the cameras or radar notice anything out of the ordinary, Sony’ll be alerted right away and he can hurry back.”

“Yeah, basically. Cool, huh?”

“Hrm... that could be useful... but quickly, you must return, to see if your invention has worked!” Goldmane smirked, but the others could not see it.

“You’re right! C’mon Snarl, le’s go back!”

“Okay, you’re sure you’re fine man?”

“I am fine. Go back, that is an order!”

As the others turned back and raced back towards the Outpost, Goldmane could not help but smirk. He had left to be alone with his thoughts, and finally, he had achieved silence. He continued walking, thinking about Whisper and growing more lovesick with each step taken.

----------

t the same time, four Predacons, bone tired from their trek were busy arguing to each other as they approached the general area of the outpost.

“By the Pit, I’m tired. My servos are creaking!” Millitant goaned.

“Shaddup and keep movin’.” Flashfire growled.

“Why exactly do we gotta take all this stuff down here?” Savage inquisited.

“Because, we have to set up a scanner here, check for any Maximal activity in the vicinity.” Stated mission commander Shaft.

“Pishaw, whot do any Maxies want in this area?” Flashfire asked.

“We don’t know. We do know, however, that the Maximals are shrewd and clever, almost up to par with us, and we don’t want to be taking any chances.” Shaft answered.

Flashfire groaned and continued on. A decicycle later the Predacon group arrived at their destination: The mouth of an abandoned cave, about the height of the Utahraptor Shaft, that led back twenty feet to a dropoff point, where a massive river grew, lit only by shards of unstable Energon.

Shaft and the others began to assemble the gear they had been packing so far from the island the Predacons were secretly building on, working almost in silence. None of them noticed the watcher under the cover of the foliage.

Once completed, about a full half hour later, the contraption was a site to behold: A fully-automated signal device, vidrecorder and encryption enhancements aplenty. Shaft pressed a remote and the entire device melted into shadows, using a state-of-the-art cloaking shield. The Predacons then walked out of the cave and into the cleared area at the mouth of the cave. Shaft allowed himself a smile, that vidrecorder was a special invention of his, capable of detecting objects as far as five hundred meters away at one hundred percent quality.

“So, is we done?” Asked Flashfire, eager to get home and do some target burnings.

“Yes, we are done, but you might as well rest your circuits while I report to the chief.” Shaft said, walking back into the cave.

----------

nside, Shaft activated the vidcamera and focused it at the mouth of the cave, where the Predacons were resting. He watched them as he opened a comm channel to the Predacon starcruiser that was serving as Bludgeon’s base of operations.

“Shaft to Bludgeon, Code Xaaron.”

“Yes, Shaft, what is it?”

“Mission complete, Sir.”

“Any mishaps? Problems?”

“None to report, Sir. I believe they are at present watching some form of mature robot entertainment.”

“So I see. I also see that Savage has a vested interest in the third dancer to the left. Very, very good quality, Shaft. Excellent work. Return as soon as possible...”

----------

Snarl and Sonar were speeding as fast as they could after Goldmane’s pawprints.

“I knew it wasn’t going to work!” Snarl growled.

“That’s not what’s the matter, it’s that ‘Mane is in danger! Le’s go, man!”

“Yeah yeah, I just- aww, fuggedaboudit...” Snarl continued at a fast clip after the bat.

Sonar saw Goldmane first, surprisingly. He began to shout to his superior officer.

“GOLDMANE!!! THE DEVICE DIDN’T WORK!! THERE ARE TWO STASIS PODS AROUND HERE, AND PREDS!!!!!”

----------

he Predacons turned behind them to see Sonar fly out of the clearing and right into a blast from Flashfire.

“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Goldmane burst from under cover, Maximizing as he went, and blasting aside Millitant. Snarl came running out in robot mode, shooting everywhere he could.

“Sonar, *hhuurrnngghh* Maximize...” Sonar coughed and transformed into his robot mode painfully. He winced as he stood up to face the crazed pyromaniac Flashfire.

“I will melt you, little one!” Flashfire growled, reigniting his flamethrower.

“Go to the Pit.” Sonar muttered, and unleashed a high-pitched scream that interrupted the wavelengths the Predacon spying system was being sent on.

Shaft ran from the cave, quickly dragging Millitant’s unconscious body up in front of him to deflect a blast from Snarl. The insect Fuzor screamed into wakefulness, clutching a massive hole in his chest. Shaft was scorched.

Flashfire had been greatly injured by Sonar’s sonic scream, and was writhing in pain and agony as his audio receptors had violently overloaded.

“Ha,” Sonar prided himself, “Shows you to mess with the batbot.”

“Indeed. Did you say something about a Protoform?” A voice behind Sonar asked.

“Why, yeah. That doesn’t sound like you, Goldmane...” Sonar trailed off.

“That’s because I’m not,” Shaft’s quiver impacted with Sonar’s head, “And thanks for the tip.”

Shaft ran off, followed by Savage. Snarl crouched over Millitant, who was clutching his smoking chest wound, as Goldmane kicked the unconscious Flashfire, who had gone into stasis lock from the pain his audio receptors had experienced.

“You really shocked that guy. Don’t think he’ll be up for a while.” Snarl complimented Sonar.

“Thanks. Now, Goldmane, what I was telling you before...” Sonar was cut off by his commanding officer.

“I get the gist of it. Your device didn’t work, and while you were gone the computers detected Predacon activity and two Stasis Pods? And you guys didn’t bother to check that I was in the same general vicinity as the Preds, and was watching them, so you blew my cover?” Goldmane said, with a tone of disappointment wreathing his voice.

“Well... yeah...” Sonar said, hanging his head low.”

“But hey, look at the bright side, we got two captured Preds, AND a little bit of enter-taint-ment! I’m sure the kid’s old enough by now...” Snarl grinned.

“We don’t get to finish it... you don’t get to finish it...” Quickly Millitant’s back-mounted small cutting laser whipped out and melted the vid in Snarl’s hands.

Snarl growled and kicked Millitant viciously in the smoking hole in his chest, sending the multilegged Transformer into stasis lock along with his comrade.

“Where did you say the two Stasis Pods were? If I remember, the raptor is the Predacon Science Officer, so he would be equipped with a stasis pod detector, but I’m a soldier, I don’t have one. Where are they again, Sonar?” Goldmane asked, transforming into his aerodynamic vehicle mode.

“Two klicks west. Make sure you get their fast, that raptor doesn’t have a vehicle mode for some reason, at least he didn’t transform into it, and that other one isn’t a Transmetal. So get a move on!” Sonar found himself filled with a sense of importance as he did what he did best, prideful in the knowledge that both Snarl and Goldmane respected the intelligent warrior.

“Waitasec Goldy, what were the Preds doing in the cave?” Snarl asked.

“First of all, don’t call me Goldy. Second, I didn’t catch it. They were about a hundred meters in there at least, I couldn’t hear them talking, and the Preds had more interest in watching their adult vid than complaining about their job. I don’t think it’s important, whatever it is, or it can wait until we’ve got those pods!!!” Goldmane exclaimed.

“Whoa, you, watching circuitvids? But what about Whisper?” Snarl joked.

“Well, I’m guessing whatever they were doing, you would’ve heard it at one hundred meters. So, likely the cave drops into a chasm of sorts, maybe with an underground river...” Sonar could not complete his scientific analysis of the cave.

“Shut up Snarl, you know I love Whisper from the bottom of my Spark and should know by now not to make light of it. Whatever’s with the cave, I’d better get a move on. Get those Preds back there, keep them unconscious be any means necessary, and contact Hound. Ask him what to do next...” Goldmane silently took off into the jungle after the Predacons, in the general direction of the Stasis Pods.

----------

Hello? Hello? Slag it all, we just got this thing back up and they’re gone? What in the Pit are they doing down there?” Bludgeon growled.

“I-I don’t know sir, they’re just gone!” Warp Scream stuttered.

“Slag. someone’d better do something slagging quick, damn the Earthling deities, why hadn’t I been watching after the third dancer from the left was cut out of the shot? Damned!” Bludgeon cursed.

“Sorry, you’ll excuse me, but... damn? An Earthling word, perhaps?” Warp Scream asked.

“Yes, Shaft and I did a little bit of researching... of Earth’s culture...” Bludgeon trailed off.

“Sir, if I may?” Thunderwing asked, swooping into the communications room.

“Go ahead, I value your opinion more than this lunkhead’s.” Bludgeon growled.

“Why don’t you send someone to check in on the situation?” Thunderwing proposed.

“Hrm.. an intruiging idea, old friend. However, if a job is to be done right, I must do it myself. Come, Thunderwing, we will go make sure nothing is wrong. In our abscence, Daggerfang is in command.” Bludgeon said, walking out of the communication room.

“But... I rank higher in the chain of command than him!” Whined Warp Scream.

“Not anymore you don’t, dolt.” Bludgeon raised his left middle finger as he left.

“What the slag does that mean?” The bewildered Warp Scream asked thin air.

----------

Yo Hound, I’m getting a signal!!! It’s Outpost Prime!!” Wingspan, who was working the motherboard at this late hour, shouted.

“The Outpost? Patch me through.” Hound said, walking over to the large panel at the port side of the Atroplex’s bridge.

“This is Outpost Prime Science Officer Sonar, reporting in, sir.”

“Astroplex Commander Alpha Hound, reading you loud and clear.”

“Sir, we have a definite situation: Two pods have fallen in Sector Upsilon, or at least we found them. Four Predacons are in the area, two have been detained and are being kept in stasis lock at the outpost. Mission Commander Goldmane has taken off in hot pursuit of the other two Predacons.” Sonar reported expertly, giving a smart salute into the viewscreen.

“At ease, soldier. This is a dire situation. Descriptions?” Hound asked, accepting a cup of hot Energon tea from Wingspan.

“Gee, one appears to be a millipede crossed with an ant, the other one we’ve got captured is a Transmetal lizard of some sort, and obssessed with burning things and watching them melt.”

“That’ll be Millitant, and the salimander is Flashfire. And the others?” Wingspan interrupted.

“A Transmetal raptor, look a little bigger than your standard velociraptor but smaller than Dinobot in robot mode, and then a beetle-tortoise guy.”

“Shaft and Savage. Slag, Shaft is their Science Officer. I’m sending Prowl out now, he can get there the fastest.” Hound suggested.

“You got it. Send him over.”

“Will do. Expected ETA, one-point-five hours.” Wingspan said, ending the conversation with the push of a button.

----------

rowl readied himself to launch from the landing bay of the Astroplex in his small fightercraft, when another Cybertronian knocked at the window. Acknowledging the request, he opened the hatch and a copilot entered the craft.

Nanoseconds later, the ship was blasting off south, headed for Outpost Prime.

----------

oldmane arrived at the river’s edge first. It was exactly two klicks from where he had left, and he had flown there in mere minutes. He thanked Primus for being earliest and went to work dragging the Pods from the muddy waters. They were sticking out of the mud about three feet above the water.

“Hrm, these things have been here for a while, and so has the camera. Odd.” Goldmane observed.

He dragged the first Pod back to the shade under a large jungle tree and began to activate its programming sequence. He noticed a tiger calmly lapping water at the other side of the streambank and aimed the DNA scanners over towards it. He guessed it must’ve been one of the family of tigers that had silently watched the Maximals put up the Outpost those months ago. Sonar and Snarl had noted that the same family of tigers often ignored the Maximals in the area, or acted friendly. Goldmane had found this odd.

“Grrrrooowwwrr.....” The tiger across the sream had bared its fangs, and a low growl was emanating from his gullet.

“What’s a matter, my jungle friend? Don’t like being DNA scanned? I’m sorry, I just had to-”

BLAM!!!

Goldmane was violently rocked by an Energon arrow impacting with his back, sending him flying into the river. Unconscious, he floated ten metters in the stream until he was snagged by a low-hanging branch. The tiger fled the scene of chaos.

“Quickly, the Maximal had begun to scan the DNA of that tiger. Go grab the other pod while I input some of the DNA banks I carry with me. Any preferences?” Shaft asked.

“Yeh, a shark, them be nasty villyuns.” Savage said as he stepped into the cold riverwater.

“But... a shark fits under Maximal DNA. Hrm, but a tiger shark...hrm... it has a nice ring to it...” Shaft fished in his DNA fileholder for Maximal DNA he had stolen. He found Mako DNA and jammed it into the Pod’s scanning systems, along with a Predacon Shell Program.

“New DNA program accepted. Reformatting, now.” The Pod’s computer said. The inside of the Pod flashed briefly, and the pod’s inhabitant crawled out.

“Greetings, I am Shaft, your creator. You are a Predacon, like myself. You serve our leader Bludgeon, then his subcommander Thunderwing, and then me. Do you understand?” Shaft asked the motley cross between fish and mammal.

“Yes, I understand. Leader Bludgeon, then leader Thunderwing, then creator Shaft. I understand. What do you wish me to do?” The Fuzor asked.

“Do as I do. Shaft, Terrorize.” With that Shaft transformed into robot mode. He realized that he probably should’ve Terrorized before uploading the new DNA programs.

“Shaft, Terrorize.” Nothing happened, and Shaft stifled a giggle. The Fuzor stared at his creator in bewilderment. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Don’t say my name before Terrorizing, say your name.” This time shaft could not hold back a chuckle.

“Ah, so I see. Tigershark, Terrorize.” Tigershark transformed into a tall warrior, with twin blades and looking much larger than Shaft in robot mode. “Better?”

“Much. Bludgeon will be pleased, indeed.” Shaft prided himself on his success.

“Then I am pleased as well.” Tigershark transformed back into beast mode.

“AAAAIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!” Savage screamed in obvious pain.

“What is it now?” Shaft asked, turning to the river. Tigershark re-Terrorized into robot mode on instinct.

“Little fish are biting at me!!! It huuuurts!!!” Savage screamed, letting go of the Stasis Pod at the edge of the bank.

“Ahh, pirahna. They shall make a glorious new Predacon warrior.” Shaft smiled.

“But they’re hurting meeeeee!!!” Savage screamed, squishing one between his pincers.

“Is your crankcase unharmed?” Shaft asked, once again finding it hard not to laugh.

“For now!!!” Savage screamed.

“Then stop dilly-dallying and get back to shore! Actually, stay there, just send the Pod up here. Tigershark can catch it.” Shaft ordered.

In pain, Savage threw the pod up the bank, where it fell pitifully short of its intended goal. Chuckling, Tigershark bent over and began to pick up the Pod. Shaft came over to him.

“No, leave it here. I want to stay in scanning range of the pirahna having a snack on Savage.” Shaft ordered. Tigershark relented and began to explore the surroundings.

“Give my regards to the Pit, Preds.” Goldmane swung overhead on a vine, shooting downwards. A huge multi-vined tree had been hanging overhead and Goldmane had gotten ahold of it. He shot Shaft in the head, knocking the Utahraptor unconscious. Tigershark snapped to attention, beginning to target the swinging lion. Savage tore out of the water, screaming about how he had had enough. he cocked his blaster and fired it repeatedly at Goldmane.

Goldmane fell like a stone onto Savage, rendering the beetle/tortoise Fuzor inert. Goldmane limped up, clutching a blast wound in his side. Tigerhawk began to laugh.

“The slag are you laughing about, Pred?” Goldmane grumbled, limping towards the Pod.

“You. You’re pathetic. You’ve just been shot to slag, and you’ve fallen from forty meters, landing with one Pit of an impact, and now you think you can fare well against a warrior of my stature? I’ve just been activated, I’m a larger, more powerful Cybertronian than you’ll ever be, the list goes on...” Tigershark droned off.

“Well, it looks like you know a lot about science, but they’re one thing you haven’t got going for you...” Goldmane began to smirk.

“Shaft’s orientation program. What was it you wer talking about?” Tigershark sneered.

“You always overestimate yourselves and underestimate your opponents!” Before Tigershark could reply Goldmane’s blaster was drawn and firing. Tigershark was felled by three shots to the left shoulder, and Goldmane dragged himself over to the Stasis Pod.

“Hurrkk... Maxie scumm...” Shaft grabbed Goldmane’s leg.

“Shut up, Pred,” Goldmane said as he shot the raptor in the head once more. Shaft was out like a light. “Okay, adjusting scanners, good, they never got a PSP in... okay, now to scan for an animal...” Goldmane looked about for any sign of life. “Blast, I guess this fight must’ve scared off the animal life... slag.”

“Oook-ook?” Goldmane looked up to see a chimpanzee fleeing through the trees.

“DNA scan: accepted. Beginning Protoform sequence.” The pod’s computer said.

Seconds later a shiny metallic chimpanzee emerged from the Statsis Pod.

“Who are you, man? Where am I?” The monkey asked.

“I am Goldmane, Maximal solder. You are a Maximal as well. Say your name and then ‘Maximize,’ you’ll turn into robot form.” Goldmane stated wearily.

“Goldmane? Were you once Goldstar?” The monkey asked.

“Yes. I changed my name to suit the beast mode. Who are you?” Goldmane asked.

“I once served with you on the CSF Raiden, m’name’s Random.” The monkey stated.

“Random? I remember serving with you. Penchant for practical jokes?” Godmane asked, recognition of the Maximal standing before him rushing on him.

“Yep. You got me pegged. Okey-dokey, here goes: Random, Maximize!” Random said, transforming into his wirt, yet tough-looking robot mode. he looked down at his color scheme. “Hey, I’m a brass monkey!”

“And a crass monkey, too. Would you do me a favor?”

"Sure thing."

“Call subchannel 41.738.926 and tell the bbat guy we’re at the riverside, okay?” Goldmane asked before fading into a well of darkness.

----------

n hour later, Goldmane awoke to see the face of Whisper staring at him with a look of worry on her face.

“Oh, I must’ve died and gone to the Matrix...” Goldmane mumbled.

“No ‘Mane, I’m here!! Guys, he’s awake!” As Whisper compassionately stared at him saying those words, Goldmane realized that he was alive, and in the passenger section of Prowl’s fightercraft. Sonar and Prowl trotted into the cramped space and sat beside Whisper. Goldmane realized he had just been released from a CR chamber.

“How... how are you here?” Goldmane weakly asked Whisper. Prowl answered before she could.

“Sonar contacted the Astroplex and gave us the 4-11011000110. Hound dispatched me to help you guys deal with it, and Whisper insisted she come along.”

“I’ve missed you, Goldmane...” Whisper said, sullenly.

“As have I you, my love. What about the Predacons? Why are we not in the Outpost?” Goldmane asked Prowl.

“We can’t let the Preds know about the Outpost. We’ve fed them a story about how we had been setting up a megalaser here, and now we have to move it elsewhere, after we’ve disposed of them. We’ll arrange for them to escape and tell Bludgeon of this. Bludgeon will think we won’t be coming back to do anything in the vicinity, so they’ll probably start to set something up in the area. It’s perfect, and it makes the outpost even more of an important mission.” Prowl stated.

“That’s great... can Whisper and I please be alone now?” Goldmane asked. Nodding, Sonar and Prowl went down the ramp to the outside, where the Predacons, all reactivated, were in Energon bonds.

“Whisper, I’ve missed you so much it eats at my Spark daily... I...” Goldmane started. He stopped when he saw tears of excess Energon trailing down Whisper’s face. “What is it, my love?” He asked tenderly.

“I... I killed a Predacon a few days ago... I sit in my room crying at night... I want you to be there to hold me... I... I don’t want to cry any more...” Whisper began with fresh tears and Goldmane sat up to hold her.

“Hush now, I’m sure it was not your fault. I’m here now. You have nothing to fear...” Goldmane trailed off.

BLAMM! ZAPP!

“Shaft, Terrorize!”

“Prowl, Maximize!”

“Random, Maximize!”

“Tigershark, Terrorize!”

“Millitant, Terrorize!”

“Savage, Terrorize!”

“Flashifre, Terrorize!”

“Snarl, Maximize!”

“Sonar, Maxim-OOMMPPHHH!!!!”

“What the slag is happening out there?” Goldmane asked, standing up to alertness. Whisper stood up behind him, holding back her tears.

“We have found out about your megalaser operation, and are going to stop it and kill you Maximals!!!” Said Thunderwing as he walked up the ramp into the cramped passenger area.

“Not if we have anything to say about it.” Goldmane followed that with a laser blast. The room was filled with the thick smell of burnt ozone as the three warriors fired their weapons, and Goldmane was shot twice, once in the leg, again in the side where Tigershark had shot him. Thunderwing was shot from the cabin. The limping Goldmane and his lady love emerged from the ship to a scene on utter chaos.

Sonar was in stasis lock, after being shot in mid-transformation. Bludgeon and Prowl were having it out with a fierceness, while Millitant and Savage teamed on Snarl, who was holding his own admirably. Shaft was targeting Whisper, and Tigershark was having a tough time trying to shoot the spry, diminutive Random.

Bludgeon turned the tide by stabbing Prowl in the elbow joint. Random managed to plant a big kick on Tigershark’s behind, but was caught in the mighty warrior’s fist immediately following that. Snarl tricked Millitant and Savage into shooting each other, and Shaft’s shot buried itself in Sonar’s arm after a blast from Whisper jostled the raptor’s arm.

“Fall back! We have learned enough, let them recuperate, I have my own plans!” Bludgeon shouted as he slowly walked back into the shadows. The other Predacons groaned and walked away, some of them unhappy they had not been able to finish their battle. Random bit Tigershark’s hand and was involuntarily released as a result.

----------

he injured Maximals lay in the shade as Whisper, Random and Snarl went over their damages with a medical scanner.

“Slag, shouldn’t’ve let him catch me off guard like that...” Prowl mumbled.

“You did your best under the situation. And hey, mission complete, right?” Snarl said.

“Not exactly. They have a powerful new warrior as an ally, the one called Tigershark. And they did something in that cave.” Prowl retorted.

“I checked it out a decicycle ago. It’s a vidsystem, and it has been deactivated.” Whisper said.

“Odd.” Sonar, who had just emerged from stasis lock, said.

“Likely it’s been deactivated because they don’t think they need it any more, and because they likely don’t want to waste energy or haul it back while some of them have injuries.” Goldmane said. Prowl nodded his agreement.

“We should be heading back soon. Let’s get ready to go, Random and Whisper.” Prowl said, while Whisper helped him up.

“No, I think I’ll stay here. I like the wild. Plus, I’d like to study this chimpanzee form. I’ve had another form before, an ichthyomir, but this form is intriguing. Its thoughts are unlike any other creatured we’ve encountered, except for maybe the humans. So I’d like to stay.” Random announced.

“Hrm, that poses a problem,” Prowl said, “because Outpost Prime can only hold three people in its barracks. Do any of you want to come back into normal duty?” Prowl asked.

“Oh, I’d love to. As much as I like these guys, I’m a fighter, not an observer. I’m going crazy being cooped up in this place.” Snarl said.

“Ah, then it is settled. Goldmane, I’m surprised you didn’t volunteer.” Prowl noted.

“I cannot stand being away from Whisper for so long, but I know how important this project is going to be. I just think that, if we get visits every so often, and we are allowed to talk to people other than Hound, Wingspan and you, Prowl, then we will be fine.” Goldmane said, noting the look of sadness on Whisper’s face.

“Ahh, I guess you have a point there. I will talk with Hound about it. Anyway, we must go. Come on, ‘bots.” Prowl waved as he entered the ship, and Snarl followed. Whisper paused as she left, turning to Goldmane and mouthing “I love you.” He returned her gesture. A little less sorrowful, she turned back to the ship and walked up the passenger ramp.

-------- At the Predacon base, Bludgeon, Thunderwing, Shaft, Daggerfang and arp Scream were in conference, discussing the day’s events.

“So nothing out of the ordinary happened during my leave?” Bludgeon asked daggerfang.

“No sir, nothing.” Daggerfang stated, happy nothing major had happened.

“Ahh,” Bludgeon said, turning his attention to Shaft, “So you say this new Predacon warrior is called Tigershark?” Shaft nodded. “How decidedly unoriginal. And the Maximal?”

“His name is Random, Sir.” Shaft said.

“And the situation on the megalaser?” Bludgeon queried.

“Nothing major. They had been building it out there, and their subcommander brought supplies. They had loaded the weapon back into their ship, after dismantling it. I suspect they will not try to rebuild it. They had a Mark II Supracore for a power source, and I’m guessing they took it from a cannon. Most likely they will not try agin. Us Predacons are too crafty for them.” Shaft said, and the others nodded their agreement.

“And the vidrecorder system?” Bludgeon asked.

“It has been left there. The cloaking device has turned into a heavily concentrated shield. It has been left there as a warning for them if they ever come back. They will likely think it is active and turn tail and run away, if they ever even decide to return there. It has been placed fidty meters closer to as to be partially visible in sunlight.” Shaft said.

“So we can begin to build the Tor’s components there unheckled.” Buldgeon said.

“Yes.” Shaft said.

“Good, very good...” Bludgeon began to laugh, and fearing punishment, the others joined in his malicious cackle.

END

Epilogue

Sonar sat at the radar relay system of the Outpost.

“Hrm...” He mumbled, deep in thought.

“Something bothering you, Sonar?” Goldmane asked.

“I had thought that those two Pods had been discovered because erosion had brought them from the sea, and that they were what I had sensed two months ago.” Sonar said, continuing to stare at the screen in puzzlement.

“But...?” Goldmane asked, waiting for the second half of the observation.

“They fell while we were out finding you, they just fell on a recently fallen tree, splintered right through it, shattered it, and left the moss wreathing it. After fifteen cycles, everything had fallen into place as if they had been there for a while, but they hadn’t. Odd, is it not?” Sonar said.

“What’s odd?” Random said.

“I had thought you two were what came two months ago, but, you weren’t. And when I ran the scanners over on high intensity in those areas I sensed them in, setting the time back to when we were setting up, it detects two very relevant objects.” Sonar said.

“So what were they?” Asked Random.

“That’s what troubles me...” Sonar said.

The three scouts sat in deep puzzlement, worrying and wondering what the coming months would herald...

------------------------------------------

<----This-Prelude Next-Prelude---->

(----Back----)