Requiem and Rebirth

By Tony “Thunder” Klepack

    Sludge walked up a quiet corridor toward Grid Iron’s office. He didn’t know why he was being ordered in to see the base’s commander--he had combat drills to practice as the Autobots prepared for their assault on Dnema or as Optimus Prime and others had labeled it, Icon.
    It had not been easy working alongside Autobots he was unaccustomed to and didn’t know, but what choice did he have? His unit, the Dinobots, had been destroyed by recent events. First, Grimlock had been killed by Galvatron on Autobot City and then Slag and Swoop had gone missing on the Autobot shuttle before it had gone down on Cindras 2, victims of the mysterious enemies they now faced, called the Disciples of Primus. And there weren’t even any bodies to find...they had simply vanished alongside others, Autobot and Decepticon alike.
    And then there was Snarl. He had been decapitated by Blitzwing’s laser weapon as they struggled to survive on Cindras 2--a battle in which he himself had suffered slight damage, having his hand module blasted off. Of course it had been easily repaired when they had come to Oberon, but Snarl’s damage had not been so easy to repair, being a delicate and complicated process. But somehow, Fixit and his staff had managed it, bringing the ailing Dinobot back from the brink of oblivion.
    That was fortunate--Snarl and the others had been brothers to him and losing them had been quite an emotional impact. The rest of his brethren were dead now, but at least the last of them had survived. And for that he would ever be least one of them still survived and he wasn’t truly alone. One other person understood what he was going through and knew what the Dinobots had meant.
    But they would never be a team again, he knew. What had been an elite Autobot unit and a family to him was gone now. The Dinobots were history and he would have to get used to that, as much as he didn’t like it.
    Marching up to Grid Iron’s door, Sludge pressed the button on the light panel beside it and waited.
    “Come in,” a voice said over a hidden intercom. The door slid aside and Sludge wandered in.
    Grid Iron sat at his desk, switching between examining two comp pads at once.
    “You wanted to see me, sir?” Sludge asked.
    Grid Iron looked up at him and smiled slightly. “Yes, do have a seat,” he said, gesturing to one of two in front of his desk. He placed the comp pads down on his desk.
    “You may be wondering why I called you here, especially when the base is getting ready for a
pre-emptive strike against that Decepticon world.”
    “Yes sir,” Sludge replied. “If this is about my performance being a little off since I came back to duty, I--”
    “Oh no. It’s nothing like that,” he told him. “I know you’ve suffered the loss of almost all your unit recently and that would be enough to make anyone’s concentration decline some. No, I’ve called you here because you and your comrade Snarl are being re-assigned.”
    “Sir? I don’t understand...”
    “Your unit was destroyed,” Grid Iron replied. “But Oberon is a top secret research facility and even before the Decepticons reared their ugly heads again, we had been working on several new soldiers, two of whom you will be working with.”
    Sludge took a moment to disseminate that. “With all do respect sir, why us? There’re better qualified Autobots--”
    “No, you two are the ones we’ve selected. You see, we’d always planned to create more Dinobots but we never had the resources until now--these two Autobots are next generation Dinobots and together, with you and Snarl, will form a new Dinobot unit.”
    New Dinobots? Sludge wasn’t sure if the idea pleased him or disgusted him. On the one hand, it would be nice to belong to a unit again but on the other hand, he doubted anyone could truly take the others’ place. They could be a unit again, yes, but a family? He wasn’t so sure about that...
    “I don’t know if this is a good idea or not,” he told Grid Iron. “I doubt anyone else could replace Grimlock and the others...”
    “Of course, they can’t replace your lost comrades,” Grid Iron replied. “Believe me, I’ve lost enough close friends in my time to this war. But we have these two Autobots and we have you two. Together, you can be an effective fighting force--and with all our losses of late, we need effective combat units.”
    “I suppose,” Sludge said half-heartedly.
    Grid Iron nodded. “The new leader of this unit will be yourself.” Noting the other’s stunned look, he added; “You’re the best qualified for it. Combat experience, you were Grimlock’s second in command, and... unlike with the others in your old team, you’ve demonstrated that you understand what it means to be an Autobot. You follow orders and you’re concerned with innocent lifeforms more than the others. I’ve read your combat record and you were given several citations for being concerned with lesser lifeforms safety when the others in your unit were apt to ignore them.”
    “I see.”
    “I’m glad to hear that. Look Sludge, I know this isn’t really what you ever expected, but I need you and Snarl and I need you to do your best to make both sides of your unit work together flawlessly. We need to rally together--now, more than ever--and fight back against the Decepticons. We can’t let our differences and our doubts stand in our way.”
    “I do understand that,” Sludge told him. “And... I promise I’ll do my best to try and make us work together.”
    Grid Iron smiled. “Thank you. The two new members of your unit are down in testing arena seventeen. Their names are Skreem and Skeer. I sent Utaxx to go get Snarl and meet you down there.”
    Sludge rose and turned to leave. He wasn’t sure about any of this but he knew he owed it to Grimlock and the others memory to try and make this new unit work. Grimlock had been proud of their team and worked hard to make the name Dinobot both respected and feared.
    He swore he wouldn’t allow himself to desecrate his former leader’s memory with failure.
            *            *            *
    Snarl was standing beside another Transformer Sludge had never seen before as he arrived at testing arena seventeen. He assumed it was this Utaxx character Grid Iron had mentioned previously. The other was a dark blue and charcoal colored Autobot with treads for feet and a nasty quad barreled gun attached to his left arm.
    “Snarl,” Sludge acknowledged his team mate. “And you must be Utaxx--I’m sorry, I’ve never met you before.”
    Utaxx nodded. “I’m one of Grid Iron’s officers on Oberon... in charge of maintenance ops. Basically, I keep the place from falling apart...” his Y-shaped faceplate glowed at that, a universal sign of a smile among Transformers who were not designed with actual humanoid faces.
    “Hmph. I had ya pegged as a warrior...” Snarl said beside him, his optics darting toward the large gun arm.
    “I am one. I was fighting in the War a long time--back while you were having a snooze on Earth. I just got tired of it, is all. So I got re-assigned here when the base went on-line and I’ve been caring for the place ever since. Besides, no warrior’s any good without someone to make sure his weapons work, right?” He raised his gun arm. “But I can fight. Believe it!”
    Snarl smiled and raised his hands in mock surrender. “You’re alright with me, buddy.”
    “Anyway, I’ve gotta be going now. See ya around.” Utaxx turned and left.
    “He seems okay to me,” Sludge said as they watched him walk down the corridor. “So, what about these two new Dinobots--I assume Utaxx told you about our re-assignment?”
    Snarl nodded. “Yeah... can’t say the thought of these two really impresses me, though. By the way, congrats on being promoted--you’ll make a great new boss!”
    Sludge smiled sheepishly. “Thanks,” he replied. He looked at the doorway they were standing beside. “So, did you sneak a peek at the new guys?”
    “Yep. They didn’t see me, though. I dunno, they seem okay but it takes a lot to be worthy of the name Dinobot.”
    “True. But I’m willing to give them the chance to show their stuff--are you?”
    “I guess.” Snarl looked at the open tunnel-type entrance. “Shall we?”
    The two Dinobots walked down the short tunnel entrance and into the actual testing arena. Inside, they could observe two Autobots as they put themselves through the paces with automated cannons and practice battle droids.
    Sludge noticed that the two seemed to be indulging in a rather tough battle course--more so than most Autobots ever tried. And, amazingly, both were holding their own quite well. The two Dinobots watched intently as their two recruits briskly fought their way through the remainder of the training programme, dodging, shooting and demolishing their targets with exacting precision.
    Finishing up the course, the two Autobots noticed their two observers and strode toward them.
    “Hello,” one said. “You must be Commander Sludge and Snarl. I am Skreem and this is my esteemed colleague--”
    “Skeer,” the other cut him off. “Nice to meet ya! I’m lookin’ forward to having ya along when we bust some Decepticons!”
    Skreem smiled slightly. “I too, look forward to establishing myself as a valued member of your esteemed battalion.”
    “Huh?” Snarl asked.
    Sludge nudged him slightly. “You know, Perceptor...”
    “Oh.” The Dinobots had always been troubled by the way Perceptor had spoken, being prone to confusion with his higher vocabulary. Sludge had essentially told Snarl to just smile and nod his head as if he knew exactly what Skreem was talking about.  
    Sludge knew that Skreem’s apparent higher level of development would probably cause a little bit of trouble later on and wondered exactly why Autobot command had seen fit to create a Dinobot with such a personality. After all, they needed to be able to shoot straight, not write sonnets!
    ‘Oh well, if Command every did anything that made actual sense, we would’ve already hit the Decepticons back--not waited this long...’
    “So...” Sludge began. “Um, I guess you two are our new members. Welcome to the team, Skreem and Skeer. I’m not much for words, really.... as you are probably aware, we lost three of our team mates fairly recently and we don’t really know much about you two yet.” He paused. “The Dinobots are a tough unit--and well respected--and we have an obligation to uphold the honor behind the name. I expect you two to work hard to keep that honor intact. Do you have any problems with that?”
    “I vow to do my best to uphold the ideals and honor of my unit, Commander,” Skreem replied. “Even at the cost of my own spark.”
    “Ain’t nothin’ worth doin’ if we don’t give it a hundred percent, right?” Skeer chimed in.
    Sludge smiled tightly. “Good, I’m glad we understand each other, then.” He studied the three for a moment. The team, his team stood ready like proper Autobot warriors. The new Dinobots were born and the Decepticons had better watch out.
    “Let’s get to work, then...,” he said.