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...
... flash back...

We hear a cry. A blood hurtling cry that sends tingles up our spinal columns. On a side street, in the pre-dawn hours, we find a female beast warrior being assaulted. She bares the markings of a snow leopard. Her eyes burned of copper. Her assailant’s features cannot be made out. He is seen to us only as a shadow, a living shadow.

... end flash back...
...

We are in the same spot only later. Signs of the violent act we had begun to witness are visible. In place of the pair is a Maximal bonded with panther DNA. He is slender in appearance as his armor is light – all apart of his design to move quickly and actuarially. One would be scarcely aware of him even being a beast warrior at a glance as most of the noticeable features such as the beast’s head and the extra limbs are tucked away. His colorings? Black and white – nothing exotic. His optics? Dark blue – almost black.

Pulling away, we find our setting to be in Prime City – one of Cybertron’s gleaming metropolises. Cybertron, the ancient home world of the Transformers – living machines. Cybertron is said to of been created by the legendary Primus, a god-like being entrusted with protecting the universe from evil or more specifically, evil’s ultimate form: Unicron. The keyword in all this is ‘legendary’. Many in this modern age view such tales as mere rants from crazed elders.

Still, many believe.

The city is composed of multi shaped, tall silver towers. Roads rest on platforms of various heights running all about in seemingly no pattern at all. This chaos to outsiders is order to the Cybertronians aka the Transformers.

...
... flash back...

The female finds herself unable to breath as the one attacking her has a firm grip over her nose and mouth. She muffles a scream upon feeling something pierce her super structure – a blade. She had been stabbed. Fluid oozes around the attacker’s hand as he or she or it or what have you drives the blade further and further up – a vertical slice through her torso. Letting her go, she falls.

... end flash back...
...

The panther has his hand pressed against that very spot.

A low growl emerges from this throat.

Pulling back we find another figure to be now present. The colorations of this individual are black and purple with red optics. He is a beast warrior but is... ‘more organic’ in appearance then the typical. Three pairs of wings were presently at rest across his shoulders and back. He has a tail as well. Beast mode? Dragon.

“Why are you here, Pyre?” The panther asks without turning around. There is noticeable tension in the air between the two… as if a fight wasn’t far from starting between them.

“You know why, Jungle,” Pyre responded.

Pyre was right of course.

Icerunner.

“I’m going to see to it that whoever did this to Ice pays dearly,” Pyre added, with warp blades extending from his wrists to serve as an exclamation point to the statement.

Jungle stood up right. Pyre was a good head taller then the cat and much thicker as well. Jungle’s fists clinch as he turns his head just enough to see Pyre.

“Likewise.”







Heart


...

...

...

... flash back...

All hell is breaking loose.

Gun shots ring out in every direction. ‘Bots – obviously non combatants – are cut down like ducks in a barrel. The trouble seems to be being caused by two groups who have taken up positions on opposite sides of the tavern. The civilians are merely caught in the middle – wrong place, wrong time.

Thick – intentional – smoke fills the room, adding to the confusion.

We zero in on a young Maximal female with coppery eyes - Icerunner.

A shot to the knee had downed her.

Fear had frozen her.

What? – the sudden appearance of a table blocks a barrage of projectiles. In the last possible second, it had literally rolled into place in front of her. No way that could have been by accident she thought – mind beginning to work again.

A Maximal with black and white colorations appears beside her. Placing his back against the table – it was Jungle – he tosses the female one of his pistols.

“If you’d care to live, stick close,” commanded the Dark Warrior.


... end flash back...
...

“I don’t like it,” stated Jungle to Pyre, whose full attention was focused on an adjacent building. The section of town the pair had found themselves in was old – older then the human race. Damage from the Great War where the ancestors of modern day Cybertronians/Transformers; the Autobots and the Decepticons fault to near extinction is prevalent.

“Your prerogative Bright Eyes,” Pyre responded as he converted out of his dragon state and proceeded to glide down from the rooftop they were occupying.

“Wait,” Jungle commanded feeling something seriously was not right about any of this. Following the scent of Ice’s assailant had been far too easy... almost as if he or she or it or what have you had wanted to be found.

Pyre elected to ignore Jungle as he vanished into a shadow – short range shadow teleportation, one of the Dark One’s few remaining ‘gifts’.

Jungle growled, pacing back and forth a couple times.

Should he or shouldn’t he?

Slag.

Leaping, Jungle converted into his panther form and touched down on all fours. Almost in disbelief of what he was about to do as every fiber of his being was advising him against it – for reasons beyond his present ability to understand - Jungle transformed into his robot form and activated his cloak field.

The inside of the building was in the same state of disrepair as the outside. There was also no sign of Pyre and just as importantly; no sounds of a conflict. The scent of the one who had led them here remained strong... wait... there was another...

Sage.

What the in the pit? The cat quickened his pace, putting his stealth tactics aside, moving instead with a sense of urgency. Last Jungle knew, she wasn’t even on Cybertron. The hallway widened into a large storage room...

... it was there he saw her. Sage lay unconscious in a pool of her own fluid. The sight of which causes the panther to lose his focus entirely and thus returns to view.

Holding her, he checks her vitals – breathing a sigh of relief upon finding her functional. Predacon being her faction of choice, she is bonded with crocodile DNA and has a transmetal 2 superstructure.

Sharply lifting his head, Jungle takes note of all the lights in the room now being on. Just a moment ago, it was pitch black. His body tenses...

... a tingle ran down his spine...

... focusing back on Sage, the cat gets a punch to his face for the consideration. Then another and another. Sage was now on her feet and withdraws an energon sword from subspace – her primary weapon of choice.

“Sage!?” Jungle blurts not in the least understanding what was going on.

A blinding light fills the room – Sage had set off one of her flash bombs. When his vision finally returns, she is no where to be found. She must of cloaked – like Jungle she possesses that ability.

Jungle examines the room – instincts kicking in – looking for something, anything… some clue or more pertinent to the struggle he now found himself engaged in, some sign of Sage’s whereabouts…

... the latter is easily come by...

... he winces when feeling her sword gouge into the plating on his back.

Pyre on the other hand was faring slightly better.

At present he was making his way through a maze of mirrors. Mirrors which hung from floor to ceiling. A ‘fun house’ you could say. The area was without shadows – no easy escape for the dragon. He moved with caution - warp blades extended - not sure as to what next to expect.

“What up, yo?”

Upon those words, the Dark One pauses dead in his tracks...

... the mirrors no longer reflected him. Rather instead, Jungle... no, not Jungle... not exactly... a ‘red’ version of Jungle. The reflections laugh manically in unison as one states, “I’m back! Miss me, Darky?”

In response, Pyre shatters the mirror belonging to the reflection who spoke with his warp blades but that has no effect on the remaining images.

“I’ll just take that as a ‘yes’,” comments another reflection.

“What do you want, Red Jungle?” Pyre asks, sounding rather disgusted... almost insulted by the cheapness of it all – of this setup.

Red Jungle was an alternate Jungle from another universe – a crazed alternate. Last Pyre knew, Red was trapped in a dead universe. Pyre was among those who had made sure of that. Obviously that was not the present case.

Red must of masked his scent, Pyre concludes.

“With you? Please. Don’t give yourself the ego boast, dragon. In your mortal state you’re worth nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just can’t have you interfering with my counterpart. I have great plans in store for him.”

Back with Jungle proper, a holo graphical version of the ‘red’ Jungle had appeared.

Jungle himself was on this stomach. Sage was present as well, notably with a knee planted firmly into the Dark Warrior’s spine to keep him down and her sword forged of energon against his throat to make sure he stayed down.

“Thanks for dropping by, JJ!” Exclaimed Red Jungle.

“Go slag yourself, Red,” the Dark Warrior promptly retorted.

“You see!? You see!? That’s exactly what I’m sick to death of! You’re the alternate, not me!”

“You’re in my universe.”

“Shut up! Shut up! I’m Jungle, not you!” Red hissed.

“What did you do to Sage?”

“Wha? Oh, nothing. What makes you think I did anything to your precious girlfriend?”

“She’s got a blade against my neck.”

“Oh, right, that. A neural agent. Nothing fancy. I just thought I might enjoy you being hurt by someone you care so much about... and I do, as it turns out.”

Jungle felt Sage’s weight shift. That’s the trouble with being bonded with organic DNA – those sections get stiff. With that came opportunity. Basically; now or never.

As Sage is forced to adjust the position of her blade against Jungle’s neck in conjunction with dealing with the stiffness caused by Red’s extended ramble, Jungle gambles, converting to his panther beast mode. Fortunately the violent movements associated with the transformation process is enough to dismount Sage.

Escape route consisting of a dash through Red’s holo projection, Jungle cloaks.

Upon taking a moment to withdraw her other sword, Sage follows her boyfriend’s lead and activates a cloak field of her own.

Looking around, Red’s projected form is rather dumbfounded. Mannerisms showing him to be becoming increasingly bored each second, he checks his wristwatch – which isn’t actually there. He however doesn’t wait too much longer for the fun to resume.

We see Sage reappear in mid leap, thrusting a sword downward. Jungle winces upon feeling the impact of Sage’s sword into his arm. The energon weapon carried with it a less then pleasant sensation for the Dark Warrior as he is forced back into view now in robot form. Sage followed up with a strike to the panther’s neck with her other unencumbered blade.

Now said and done, Sage only landed one out of two as Jungle deflected the second attack with his knife. Spinning, Jungle effectively creates much needed distance and dislodges the blade from his arm, vanishing from view once more in the process.

Turning 180, the crocodile slashes her swords at the air. Reappearing, Jungle catches both with his hands. Fluid dripped down upon the floor from the wounds caused by the act. Sage pulls back hard in an attempt to free her blades but Jungle denies her, being the stronger of the pair.

Jaw dropping, Red eyes Jungle’s extended chest chain guns. That made him wonder… would Jungle really..?

“Forgive me,” the Dark Warrior states – voice filled with pain. He was pained not by injury but rather from what he must do.

The blue coloration of his eyes turns to black.

His chest guns go off.

Sage falls.

“Delicious,” Red states as the holo graphical projection dissipates.

Back with Pyre, only one reflection of Red was now shown.

Pyre takes a swing at it, but it vanishes just before his tail connects and shatters the mirror. The image reappears further down the row. Pyre frowned under his battle mask as his blades retracted. “I’m tired of playing,” he states as he crosses his arms and capes his wings.

Red was visibly angered before his composure is regained.

“Come now, Darky. Don’t sulk. Just because you no longer have your Greater Force endowed powers doesn’t make you a total and complete loser. Just a total one. And hey, you’re still enough of a man for Ice, right? Ah, Icerunner... I love the way she tastes.”

A low growl rises from Pyre’s throat.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Red added.

Pulling out a couple of hand puppets from behind his back, Red proceeds to demonstrate.

Pyre isn’t amused.

“You’ll have to do better then that,” the dragon states, voice filled with disgust - disgust of the situation – his surroundings – the cheapness.

Red shrugs replying, “okay.”

...

Switching to the outside of the warehouse we see it implode.

...
... flash back...

”You can’t go back. The life you had before is over.”

Ice stood in disbelief having heard what she had just heard. Apparently the incident at the bar was no random act. It was an exchange between two intelligence groups – one of which being the Maximal Secret Police (MSP) – gone bad. Having witnessed such an act, standard MSP procedure dictated that she be taken offline - full scale cover up.

“Wha... what am I to do then?” Ice stuttered out. If the agent before her had intended on killing her – he’d of done it at the bar. He spared her. She was a creature of logic and thus logic dictated he didn’t spare her just to kill her.

Jungle placed his back to her – her ‘pureness’ her ‘innocence’ was becoming a bit much too bare. He then sighed, not believing himself what he was about to do.

“Come with me,” the panther commanded.

“Huh... what? Why?”

“Would you rather I shot you?” Jungle stated as he started to walk away.

“... no. NO!” Ice blurted as she hurried to catch up.


... end flash back...
...

The scene is Jungle’s Cybertron residence. Nothing fancy as the cat didn’t much care for the ‘finer things in life’. In the background, an assortment of workout equipment is seen in addition to a flight of stairs leading up to a loft.

Burn marks cover Jungle’s frame and Pyre is noticeably limping. Jungle places Sage – now in beast mode but still unconscious - into a cr-chamber.

Jungle states, “I thought I told you to wait.”

Pyre responds, “I heard you.”

"You know what, Deadman?"

Pyre's optics narrowed. "Enlighten me."

"You’re a liability I don't need. Call me when you’re immortal again. Till then, go back to whatever dark place you crawled out of."

In the aftermath of Pyre defeating the Crisis beast it was discovered that his god-like powers were gone. Defeating the monster which threatened the entire planet of Cybertron and potentially the entire universe quite literally took everything he had to beat it.

"...I think you had less of a Primus complex when you were still the Chosen."

A reference to when Jungle was endowed with Greater Force energy – the Greater Force being the highest to date known evolution of the Transformer race.

Pyre turned and began to walk away stating, "I'll find Red Jungle myself. You can have what's left of him."

Jungle starts to say something then says something else. "Whatever. I trusted you with Ice, Pyre and you screwed up. I let you come with me to track Red and you screwed up. I'm not giving you a strike three."

Pyre starts about his rebuttal, but notices Jungle distracted by images on the news monitor. Turning, Pyre sees what Jungle sees.

...
... flash back...

A displeasing odor fills our nostrils. It was the smell of a bog. A tropical environment surrounds us. Jungle is present. Chest chain guns extended, he’s clearly ready to unleash hell upon a nano-clicks notice. Unleash hell upon what? Impossible to deduce at this stage.

At present, the cat is examining the ground. From the way the area has been disturbed, something had been through here recently and in a hurry. Of course, if you were inexperienced in the art of tracking, you’d be hard pressed to be aware of that fact.

Turning, the Dark Warrior has just enough time to see a ‘mud ball’ headed in his direction. Tilting his head to the left, the object evades him. Barely. He now looks rather pissed off.

“Easy JJ, it’s just me,” states a voice.

Lunging, Jungle tackles its source, putting a blade to the spark casing of a young female Maximal with snow leopard markings.

“Jungle! Stop!” She exclaims, looking as if not knowing what to do.

The panther positions himself such that their nose plates meet. The leopard-bot was now visibly shaking.

“This isn’t a game, Icerunner. Understand?”

Without hesitation she nods.


... end flash back...
...

The Prime City police force has the area locked down. Emergency medical personal are in the process of moving Quade – a general in the Maximal Military – into a transport. Bonded with brown bear DNA, he is rather large as Maximals go – similar in stature to Rhinox from Beast Wars.

In addition to being a high ranking officer, Quade has some other significance as well – he is Jungle’s brother. Considered a ‘rare’ occurrence, the original protoform split into seperate segments. Since they were capable of supporting a spark, from them, Jungle and Quade were brought functional.

Angling upward, we see a panther and a dragon watching the scene unfold from a the sanctity of a web of shadows on a rooftop.

Cutting to the inside of Quade’s apartment there are obvious signs of a conflict having taken place.

Red’s scent – his true scent - is everywhere.

Jungle bangs his head against the wall.

The cat wasn’t exactly sure what he was feeling right now.

“He’s targeting everyone I care about,” we hear Jungle say.

Pyre stood immersed in shadows such that only his faint outline could be seen – that and his fiery red optics.

“He’s jealous. Jealous of you, Bright Eyes.” As Pyre continues, Jungle turns to face him – that ‘hook’ had caught the cat’s undivided attention. “You’ve stared your darkness down many of times, Jungle. You’ve come close to, but never have broken. He broke. Your existence... the way you exist reminds him of that fact. It forces into the light his own weaknesses.”

It’s then the cat eyes something – something discarded by the crime scene investigation performed by the Prime City police – an onyx rose.

Making his way over to it, Jungle sniffs it. Red’s scent was not on it – it was placed after the conflict... by someone... someone other...

“What?” Pyre asks.

“It’s the Maximal Secret Police way of saying they want to talk.”

Pyre’s optics visibly widen. The Maximal Secret Police or MSP is a covert group sanctioned by the Maximal Alliance whose charter mission is to root out all threats to the Alliance. Jungle’s purpose for coming online was to function as an MSP agent. His protoform was given to the MSP by the Maximal High Council and over a harsh training curriculum he was forged into an agent. In part due to Icerunner’s influence, Jungle left the MSP years back. Pyre himself has had more then one negative experience with the MSP as he himself was/is/could still be, one of those ‘threats to the Maximal Alliance’.

“Well then, you'd best not keep the slugs waiting.” 'Slug' is a slang term for MSP agents. "Meanwhile, I'm going to go check on Ice. Besides the fact that I've been meaning too, I just suddenly got a bad feeling."

Concurring, the Dark Warrior nodded.

...
... flash back...

“Jungle, please. I can’t.”

Standing in a windowless room is a pair of Maximals. The one who spoke is female with snow leopard features. She comes across as young, as innocent. A contrast to Jungle who came off as seasoned and stern. The female’s eyes burned of copper. Jungle’s were blue, were cold.

Tied to a chair sat an organic female with a gray skin tone. Race? Carbation. Approximate age in human years? Sixteen.

“Withdraw your weapon, Icerunner,” Jungle commanded.

“No,” the leopard-bot replied in a shaky tone.

The Dark Warrior’s eyes widen.

“What did you just say?”

“JJ please... she’s just a kid...”

“Withdraw your weapon,” Jungle restated.

“But-”

“Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. Finish your mission, Ice.”

She stands there stubbornly, definitely. Had Ice been one of his Maximal Secret Police (MSP) pupils, he’d have her by the neck by now and she’d be gasping for air. In spite of his present body mannerisms indicating he wasn’t too far from that point, Ice knew well and full Jungle would never harm her. Even now she felt safe near him.

Sighing, the Dark Warrior turns and walks away. A partial smile forms on Icerunner’s face which quickly dissipates as the Carbation breaks free from her bonds and attacks her...

...the pair now wrestle over Ice’s blaster but Ice is clearly the strongest...

... Ice’s eyes close as she pulls the trigger.

Darkness encompasses all.

“Computer, end simulation,” we hear Jungle say.


... end flash back...
...

Resting in the rejuvenating waters of a cr-tank, we find Icerunner. Given her history with the Maximal Internal Security agency, the snow leopard had been placed in the medical facility’s ‘secure wing.’ Her prior injuries inflicted courtesy of Jungle’s alternate are still visible.

A shadow loams over her – must be Pyre. No wait, it’s someone other. It’s the lovely Jadestone to be exact. Having the secondary form of a beaver and a transmetal 2 structure, she is one of those feminine types who immediately catches one’s eye the moment they are graced with her presence. Examine her well defined curves and ‘other’ such features and there well be no doubt in your mind as to why the above is true.

Bending down, Jade places her hand into the tank, causing some of the water to splash out. Then Ice’s body begins to rise out of the cr-tank – obviously a result of Jadestone’s telekinetic grip. Jade moans as she strokes Ice’s face. For a moment she is lost in the possibilities that the situation presented – but only for a moment as she remembered her assignment.

The distraction was not without consequence.

Jade turns in time to see Pyre come at her from the shadows.

The Dark One lunges into her, successfully tackling her. Meanwhile, Ice – still unconscious - falls back into the tank with the lack of any cat like grace.

Pyre was about to impale the beaver with his warp blade, but is finding himself unable and not from a lack of effort or will. The ear to ear grin upon Jade’s face reveals to him the cause.

Unable to fight it, Pyre finds himself standing.

Then Pyre finds himself sticking his own head into the cr-tank.

“I don’t breath,” the Dark One manages despite his predicament.

“My mistake,” Jade responds. She is content to instead throw Pyre into the wall and then threw the across the room exit. That does afford Pyre the opportunity to see why the sounds of the confrontation had attracted no security. In the hall way, Pyre found slain bodies. It appeared as though they had fallen victim to their own weapons.

Shrugging it off, Pyre stood, then noticing Jade leaning against the door frame. Figuring a direct assault would yield little, Pyre elected to retreat back into the shadows.

A look of displeasure filled Jade’s face. “Please don’t go,” she called out with. “Please.” Her optics then widened. “That won’t work a second time,” she responded. To who or what isn’t clear, until we see Pyre’s frozen frame behind her. He had attempted to come from behind, but this time, unlike before, he was her focus.

“I’m Jadestone, nice to meet you, Pyre. You are Pyre, aren’t you? You must be. Red mentioned you. But I knew about you already. You see, I’m a big fan.”

Pyre feels there to be some unseen force pushing against him. He finds himself walking back into the room containing Icerunner.

“She must mean a lot to you,” the she of course being Ice. “Tell me, how does a girl like her get a guy like you?” Jade asks. Pyre however couldn’t respond even if he wanted to – Jade was preventing him from speaking.

Pyre, helpless in Jadestone's grip, is lifted a foot off of the ground. The telekinetic lifted herself up as well, looking at him with a sly smile.

"Why all this effort for her, Pyre? Can she really be so important to you?” Jade asked. “You were almost a god..."

She then shook her head. "Must admit, here I stand disappointed, having bested the only 'bot that could stand up to the Crisis beast.” She added, “so easily bested.”

She then crooked her fingers forward and Pyre's hands were forced up and towards Jadestone's svelte body. "I would make a much better choice than she would, Dark One. Perhaps together we could find some way to restore your powers..."

The dragon snarled, and pulled back, but was unable to stop his hands from inching towards the femme's body.

"Or perhaps I'll just use you to take it for myself. All that power. Mine..." She shivered, unable to stop herself.

"Yeah...well you know what?" Pyre rasped out, as his arms were bare inches away from her.

"What?" She whispered.

"You talk too much." The dragon said.

There was a loud snap-hiss, and Jadestone's next words were a surprised gurgle of pain. Her optics moved down to find the dragon's warp blades alive and active, and thanks to the positioning of his hands, halfway through her chest. The dragon dropped, staggering but maintaining his footing, while Jadestone merely collapsed.

It was in this moment Red elected to reveal his presence.

He de-cloaks from behind.

Pyre falls, having been cracked upside the head with a blunt object – a crowbar. Pyre couldn’t counter, couldn’t move. Jadestone. The beaver smiled as she watches, licking the fluid off her lips she had coughed up.

Red hisses as he beats on Pyre. The alternate Jungle was aiming for no particular section of the Dark One’s frame. He was just swinging, pounding.

This goes on for several minutes at least.

At times it is a struggle for him to raise his weapon up as it gets caught on/in parts of Pyre’s structure.

While in the process, Red lashes out with, "no energy blasts. No long range teleportation. No god-like powers. You should be crippled! Dead! DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!"

...
... flash back...

Jungle grew about two inches and his eyes widened almost to the point they were poking out of his head. Inserting the sound of a propeller plane crashing might be appropriate.

Jungle had just bore witness to Pyre and Ice kissing - he had obviously come into the room at the badest of times.

Jungle looked to Ice, then Pyre. His eyes focused on Pyre. A million thoughts raced through Jungle's mind. In his eyes a storm raged.

The panther's knives slid into his hands.

In response, Ice takes a step back.


... end flash back...
...

The air was still – unnaturally so. It hung thick like a blanket. Crouched in the shadows was a panther - Jungle. The immediate surroundings consisted of a larger then life statue of the legendary Autobot leader; Optimus Prime. At the base, the following words were etched; ‘Freedom is the Right of All Sentient Beings’. Though spoken millions of years ago, they remained to this day a guiding light.

Turning his head, the cat realizes that he is no longer alone as he catches the scent of another. A low growl emerged from his throat.

Alert.

Alert has an overall battle hardened demeanor. He comes across as a soldier who has been at the front too long. His face is usually - and in this instance is - void of all emotion. He entered into view in his wolf beast mode but transforms in conjunction with Jungle.

Who is Alert exactly? Alert is Stopper’s right hand man. Who is Stopper? Stopper is the Head of the MSP.

There are no pleasantries exchanged between the two.

Not that surprising.

Jungle and Alert did not much care for one another. That wasn’t always the case. Alert was personally responsible for a good deal of Jungle’s MSP training thus Jungle considered him a ‘big brother’/‘mentor’... things change.

Tired of waiting for Jungle to voice a response in regards to the data pad he had tossed to him, Alert elects to break the uncomfortable silence. He voice was flat, was cold.

“A tactical team has been shadowing your alternate. That is the location to and specifications of his lair.”

For a moment there after the statement sank in, Jungle stood quizzical. But that changed when he forms the following question, “why are you all so involved?”

Alert had half expected for Jungle to have had figured it out by now… but then again the ex-slug had been through quite the ordeal these past hours.

“Simply put, your alternate is the outcome of an MSP experimentation with temporal mechanics.”

That news brought Jungle’s eyes to but mere paper thin slits as what had happened to Icerunner, Sage and Quade is pushed to the forefront of his mind. He now stood poised to attack but Alert does not come across the least bit phased by the display - he did once stare down the Crisis beast.

The wolf goes on to say, “Stopper requested I inform you that it was not his personal intention for things to unfold as they did. Your alternate is rogue and-”

Having heard enough, Jungle vanishes from view.

He had what he needed.

Indifferent, Alert turns and walks back in the direction from which he came converting back to beast mode in the process. He had done what Stopper had asked of him.

...
... flash back...

Our setting is on CA3. Our attention is on that of a Predacon female. Given her superstructure, there is or rather should be no question as to why. We examine her from head to toe as she walks, viewing every angle of her frame. She is a transmetal 2 and is bonded with crocodile DNA. Sage she calls herself.

Sage walks with purpose.

As to what the purpose is?

We won’t be finding out.

The hallway is rocked with an explosion.

A large hole is now present in the wall. As the fates would have it, Sage was at ground zero, body now covered with rubble.

Alarms ring out.

But before the dust has time to settle, a group of Carbations emerge from the hole, carrying filled up sacks and various loose items – a supply raid. Stampeding over top of Sage, they never miss a beat, never look around, never look back.

She groans, coughing up fluid, unable to move.

What’s this? – a shadow now loams over her, a shadow that was not there a blink of an eye ago. The figure to which belongs the shadow begins lifting the heavier items off of the fallen Predacon. Taking her in his arms, we see the figure is in fact the Dark Warrior himself; Jungle.

Their eyes lock before stasis lock finds her.


... end flash back...
...

Jungle grunted – born from pain not exhaustion. A warm sensation tingled down his side – mech fluid, his – he was leaking badly. Unable to effectively counter, Red Jungle’s solid projectiles tore through him.

The only consolation lay in the Dark Warrior having pivoted his super structure enough to successfully avoid vital component damage. Although that would be a mute point if the hemorrhaging did not cease.

Red Jungle’s jump jets roared to life once more – an upgrade Jungle himself did not have – in an effort to repeat the same attack just dealt. While it is advisable to stick with something that works, going to the well too many times is not a good idea either.

Jungle watched with care as Red reached his maximum ascent – it was then Red would strike and thus when Jungle had to act – a margin for error simply did not exist.

As the Crazed Caviler unleashed his volley, the Dark Warrior planted a knife between Red’s chest mounted chain guns effectively jamming their rotation. Sparks initially flew, but more followed as Jungle launched his own volley from his own chest mounted chain guns.

With no where to go but down, Red landed hard – notably on his feet however proving the old adage to be true. To which Red gave the imaginary crowd watching a ‘thumbs up’.

Even in spite of that ‘showboating’, Red caught the knife from Jungle’s follow up strike. But not the fist. Red staggered several feet back but still had yet refused to go down. Briefly Jungle stood disgusted by that - but only briefly. Jungle unleashed the fury of his chest guns once more.

Laughing all the while, Red cart wheeled to safety, finding cover behind some metal crates. Red had moved with tremendous speed and precision so much so that on this exchange Jungle did not hit his mark.

Clutching his side, the Dark Warrior vanished from view via his cloak field. Having found cover, it was Red who at present held the tactical advantage.

Red cussed and groaned. No matter how hard he pulled that frigg’n knife would not come out. The Crazed Cavalier even went so far as to attempt to pry it out using one of his own knives.

Slipping on a puddle formed from his own mech fluid, Red landed face down which drove the blade further in. “Ouch,” Red stated to the only one listening; himself.

Sitting upright, Red banged both fists to the ground, shouting out to Jungle, “WHY AREN’T YOU CRIPPLED!?” Red had gone through great lengths to do just that – cripple him. The assault on Ice, the assault on Quade, turning Sage against him – all executed for one purpose and one purpose only; to break his alternate down.

“WHY AREN’T YOU BROKEN!?” He adds upon that thought registering. Spitting up some fluid, Red sprung back to his feet. On a side note, he was enjoying the light headed feeling caused by fluid loss – he felt ‘high’.

Strolling out from his position, Red carefully scanned for Jungle. Jungle had yet to come to him so to be frank; he was becoming quite bored – going up against your arch nemesis should be anything but.

“HERE KITTY, KITTY!”

Yet as before, no answer finds his statements. Yet as before, Red no care. Bending down, RJ rubs some of Jungle’s fluid between his fingers and then proceeds to taste it. An ever slight moan ensues from his vocal processor. Looking on, Red observes a trail of fluid. Half smile forming, Red follows it as he whistled.

It never occurs to RJ that this could be a trap.

Red did in fact use a similar ploy previously to dupe Jungle and Pyre.

Mores the pity.

CLICK
CLICK
CLICK

Okay, not quite.

Apparently JJ had already depleted his ammunition stock, effectively sending his clever rouse up into smoke. Spinning around, Red shoots Jungle an ear to ear grin upon realizing the very same thing. Twirling the knives he now held in hand, Red charges Jungle with an added burst from his jump jets.

The counterparts lockup, exchanging slash for slash. Given the failure of either to land a blow, it seems they were evenly matched in this contest. The pace of the duel was intense and the variety of the counters and strikes used was wide.

This portion goes on for several minutes.

Red takes note of his alternate’s chest guns spinning to life, but thinks nothing of it as it was already demonstrated their chambers were empty.

Demonstrated? Yes.

Red takes a knee as several rounds impact at point blank range. He’d been had. In desperate need of relief, RJ puts his back to Jungle in order to scatter the damage. Fortunately or unfortunately – depends upon your viewpoint - Red still had a trick or two left up his sleeve.

In fact, he almost smiles as he falls face forward…

…reason for that being the cylinder shaped object he lobs over his shoulder.

KA-BOOM

Jungle laid on the ground quite literally next to Red with frame covered in burns – more so then before. A foul odor filled the air from his organic sections charring – much to Red’s delight who laughed manically.

Both struggled to stand.

“I love the way Icerunner tastes.”

“What?” Jungle responds with anger to Red’s off the collar comment.

That comment had gotten to Jungle. Red could tell his counterpart was genuinely annoyed. All that work, all that planning and all he really had to do to get to Jungle was simply say stuff about Ice – to that, Red chuckled out loud.

“Speaking of Ice...”

Red motions upward. A good twenty feet up, a compartment opened in the ceiling in which Ice lowered down into view from. Unconscious, she hung suspended by chains.

With the distraction in play, Red plants a knife to Jungle’s throat.

Slag, Jungle inwardly cursed in regards to the sudden occurrences. His mind raced to find options. Jungle knew Red was just as quick as he. Options..?

“I thought of everything. Everyone you care about is dead or dying,” stated Red who sounded absolutely ‘mad’ – more so then usual that is. “It came down to you and me as I knew it would and for you, it’s over.”

Satisfied with the outcome, Red Jungle made ready to end it here and now...

... savoring every single second...

... a voice is heard, but before the words even sink in, Red feels himself being 'tossed'. The stated words had been: ‘This time you die.’

Pyre - both Jungles register.

Pyre stood with one warp blade crackling on top of his right wrist. The dragon’s left hand still remained battered and broken from his vicious beating at the hand of Red Jungle.

Raising the blade, he brought it down towards the alternate's head. But by tucking his body into a backwards roll, Red manages to evade the attack. Pyre’s presence had brought about a momentary amount of renewed strength for the Crazed Cavalier.

That is until it sinks in, “didn’t I kill you already? I mean come on now Darky-”

RJ is cut off by Pyre taking another swing at his head.

Right about now, Red was pissed.

“GO AWAY! I DIDN’T PLAN FOR YOU TO BE HERE!”

Red staggers into a support beam upon taking a knife to the knee. Initially blaming Pyre and thus shooting him a glare, the Crazed Caviler abruptly realized the weapon was the type Jungle used.

Damn.

In his fit of rage, he failed to notice Jungle struggle to his feet.

Now having things sorted out Red starts about the process needed to return the favor when Pyre slices off the hand he was intending on using.

Obviously Red was incapable of focusing on both warriors at the same time.

“HEY!” Red responds sounding more annoyed then anything else as he held his dismembered arm.

Pyre and Jungle now stood shoulder to shoulder.

Exchanging a quick glance they collectively punch Red in the face.

End result: lights out.

The panther locks eyes with the dragon.

"Took you long enough to get here, Deadman."
"Can it, Bright Eyes."

The hostility present between them at the beginning was noticeably not here now.

"Go to her," Jungle states to Pyre as he looks up toward Ice.

"You're in better shape." Pyre answered, leaning heavily on the wall. "She'll probably want to see a face that isn't out of her nightmares," Pyre adds.

Putting Pyre's arm over his head, Jungle and Pyre walk together towards her.

...

Epilogue One:
...

A deathly darkness surrounds us. A faint ceiling light reveals the outline of a long desk with a heavyset ‘bot seated behind. A ‘bot flanks him, having the features of a wolf – Alert.

“My expectations were exceeded today.” Spoke the heavy set figure.

Alert nods, replying, “as were mine, Stopper. Jungle’s alternate went toe to toe with him and if not for Pyre…”

“Indeed. I am going to go ahead and call phase one a total success,” Stopper added.

“A team is bringing the alternate Jungle back in as we speak.”

“Excellent. Let us move on with phase two, then.”

“You have selected a subject?” Alert asked.

A faint indication of a smile appeared on Stopper’s face. “Pyre.”

...

Epilogue Two:
...

Icerunner paces back and forth. The scene is her apartment. All and all it’s quite the upgrade from Jungle’s. There’s even carpeting and furniture. Seated at a table are Quade and Sage. All three are in much better condition then when we last saw them – their wounds are all but healed. As the snow leopard’s pacing takes her out of view, Sage takes a few quick bites of food.

“They should be here by now,” Ice states, half to herself.

“Relax Ice, they’ll be here soon,” Quade retorts.

Cutting to Jungle and Pyre, they are at Jungle’s place in his work out area.

“We are both so dead,” Pyre states.

Jungle smirks. “Relax, she’ll understand.” She being Ice.

“That I doubt,” responds Pyre.
“It was your idea,” added Jungle.

“True. Last time we faced I woke up in a cr-chamber. I intend to finally shut you up about it,” Pyre replied.

After Jungle discovered Pyre and Ice’s involvement with one and other, he and Pyre had a ‘scuffle’. Having just lost his powers, Pyre wasn’t fully aware of his mortal limitations – he hadn’t even taken them into account. Thus in an odd twist, Jungle put him away.

“We’ll see,” retorts Jungle.

Assuming battle stances, they attack one another…

… fin.

CREDITS


DISCLAIMER


Basically like this fic? Then read this one: Yesterday's Demons and this one: You Can Go Home Again.