Old '04 Fanfic- TF: Prodigals

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Literature Text

The Prodigals
by Logan Rogan


Alone.  Utterly, completely alone.  

Untethered, his large, metallic body floated lifelessly through the vast sea of outer space.  How long had it been?  Was it just a matter of breems?  Perhaps a vorn or two?  The frenetic dance of electricity that had once breathed life into his circuits had been silenced, leaving him unable to access any of his temporal protocols.  In theory, he should no longer have been able to discern the passage of time, and yet each moment seemed to drag on, one excruciating eternity after another.  

By all rights, he should have already died long ago.  His energon-starved body had nothing left to fuel his brain module and laser core.  All his systems should have shut down, leaving his body and mind to rot, but somehow he still managed to cling to life.  He had already died once before, and after the nightmare he had gone through to restore himself, he stubbornly refused to let such a thing happen again.  Even so, what could he really do in such a sorry state?  

He had been so close too!  Everything he had ever wanted, every vainglorious desire of his heart had finally been right within his grasp, only to slip away before his very optics.  And now his own body, a body that he had strived so hard to regain, had become a cold, motionless prison.  

Suddenly, a glimmer of light flickered in the distance.  Had this pitiable transformer been able to flex his optic sensors, he would have seen a massive space craft slowly lumbering toward him.  As the behemoth vessel approached, it cut its engines, gradually slowing to a halt before the comparatively small robot figure in its path.  

After a moment of frigid silence, a pair of large, metal pincers emerged from beneath the ship’s hull, opening like the beak of a vulture ready to prey upon a carcass.  As it closed in on the hapless mechanoid, the entire area became illuminated by the eerie glow of tractor beams, steadying him into place.  With delicate precision, the claws of the pincers constricted around him, preparing to draw him into the bay doors of the space craft.  

Instinctively, the robot knew he was in no danger.  Rather, he saw his current situation as a new opportunity.  This flattering thought filled him with a mix of comfort and anticipation, relaxing him mind, and finally allowing him to slip into the warm slumber of stasis lock.  

* * *

He awoke some time later.  It had been about seventy breems later to be precise.  Apparently his temporal protocols were back up and running again.  In fact, he could feel energon coursing through all his systems.  He quickly regained the use of his faculties and focused his vision on his new surroundings.  He found himself lying on a long, chrome table in the center of a sterile, white room.  Various wires and tubes connected his body to a series of machines at the head of the table, all sending energon and motor fluids flowing into him.  Without hesitation, he ripped himself free.  He had never cared much for being subject to outside forces, and this case was no different.  

Leaping up from the table, he spotted a small doorway at the opposite end of the room.  The opening was only about half his height, so he concluded that the creatures who constructed this space craft were much smaller than transformers.  And probably weaker too.  All the better.  

Just as he was about to crouch down and sqeeze through the doorway, a small voice cut through the air.  “I see you’re finally awake.  I was starting to think you were beyond repair.”  A thin, fleshy creature wearing a loose, blue robe stepped into view, just past the threshold of the door.  “But I wouldn’t recommend trying to leave just yet.”  While he spoke, the diminutive being pulled a slip of paper from his pocket, crumpled it in his hand, and tossed it in the direction of the massive robot.  As the tiny wad was about to pass through the doorway, it stopped dead in its tracks, crackled with electricity, and burned to ash, apparently the result of an energy force barrier.  

The mechanoid’s reaction was immediate and harsh.  “Release me from this prison at once!”  

“Calm yourself, my friend.”  Considering the circumstances, the flesh creature’s expression was exceptionally benign.  “I am Khal’resh, and you are my guest here.  But you must understand, I felt it necessary to take certain... precautions.”  His gaze met directly with a pair of blasters mounted on either arm of the hulking transformer.  

The robot motioned toward his weapons.  “Because of these?”  Suddenly, his whole demeanor changed.  His joints slackened and his face softened.  “These are strictly for defensive purposes.”  

“Many weapons begin that way, but few end up as such.  I have seen enough violence in my lifetime,”  Khal’resh’s voice cracked in pain.  He took a deep breath an continued, “I left my homeworld to escape the constant threat of war, and so I do not allow implements of bloodshed aboard my ship.  I am determined to live out my days in peace as a scientist.”  

“I understand completely.”  The robot’s tone took on a disingenuous flamboyance.  “My planet is rife with civil war.  When you found me, I had been ambushed by my enemies and left for dead.”  The corners of his mouth curled upward slightly.  “And to think that I was once merely a peaceful scientist as well, but was forced to take up arms to defend my people.”  

“A scientist?”  Khal’resh raised an eyebrow as he looked over this mighty, armored warrior.  “Perhaps we are more alike than I might have guessed.  I was forced into hiding when my government sought to use my research to develop powerful weapons.  So, I stole away on this ship to continue experiments on my positron generator in solitude.”  

“Positrons?”  The transformer’s curiosity was piqued – perhaps even a bit too much.  “I think this may finally be my chance to put all the fighting behind me.  Would you consider allowing me to join you here, in your work?”  

Khal’resh slowly took a step back.  His hesitation was palpable.  

“I understand your skepticism,” the robot continued.  “And as a show of good faith, I will turn my weapons over to you.”  With a flourish, he removed the blasters from his arms and placed them on the floor before him.  

Thoughts raced through Khal’resh’s mind.  Could he really trust this giant, metal alien?  But if he refused him, then what?  Would he just return him to his war torn world?  Could he bring himself to do such a thing to a fellow scientist?  Taking a deep breath, Khal’resh entered a code of numbers into a small keypad located on the wall next to the doorway.  For a split second, small shafts of electricity arced through the air between them, and then fell silent.  

“I’ll take that as a yes.”  Without missing a beat, the mechanoid promptly knelt down and began to maneuver himself through the short doorframe.  

“I’m glad I didn’t have to try to take your guns by force.  Not that I could now that you’re awake.”  Within his heart, Khal’resh hoped he had made the right choice.  “And what shall I call you, my friend?”  

Having squeezed past the door, the transformer stood erect.  A smirk slithered across the robot’s face that sent shivers down Khal’resh’s spine.  “Starscream.”  

* * *

The next several megacycles were spent giving Starscream a guided tour of the ship.  As they spent this time together, Khal’resh’s misgivings about his charismatic new companion slowly abated.  At last they came to their final destination: the observation deck.  

The room was shaped like a large dome.  The rear half of the ceiling was constructed of thick, dull metal, while the front was made of sturdy glass, looking out upon the stellar panorama of outer space.  

“And now for my pride and joy.”  Khal’resh opened a panel on the wall, revealing a small computer display.  “Watch your feet.”  He pressed a few buttons, and then suddenly the whole room began to rumble.  

Starscream watched with eager anticipation as two large sections of the floor slid open and a massive piece of machinery raised up into the room.  At its base was a work station with a plethora of controls and monitors.  From there, a huge, telescopic cylinder extended toward the front of the room.  About halfway down its shaft was a clear section, revealing a relatively hollow interior.  A bundle of wires dropped down beneath it and ran back to the work station.  

The flesh creature stood tall with pride.  “This is my positron generator!  It’s taken me a lifetime to perfect it.”  

“Magnificent!  I can see why your government would want to get a hold of this.”  For an instant, the red glow of Starscream’s optics seemed to shine brighter.  “A generator this size could produce enough antimatter to obliterate the better part of a planet.”  

“Or produce enough clean burning fuel to power my world for eons.  But my people failed to envision the peaceful applications.”  

“Ah, yes.  Energy and destruction: two of my favorite things!”  

“What?!”  A wave of confusion flushed across Khal’resh’s face.  

“I’m afraid a device this powerful should be in the hands of someone more deserving.”  In a flash, the decepticon transformed.  His metal body turned, twisted, and folded around into the form of an F-15 fighter jet.  

Adrenaline rushed through the body of Starscream’s feeble prey.  His survival instincts took over, and he attempted to flee, but it was too late.  It was a simple task for the transformer to fire his engines and burst forward, violently clipping Khal’resh with his right wing.  He returned to his robot mode just in time to see the small, fleshy body tumble like a rag doll into the wall.  

Gasping for breath and coughing up blood, Khal’resh looked up to see his destroyer slowly walk toward him.  He tried to speak, to plead for his life, but his words were drowned into nothing more than a faint gurgle in his lungs.  

Towering over the broken form at his feet, Starscream thrust his fingers deep into the wall before him.  Pulling with all the might his hydraulics could muster, he broke free a huge slab of metal and concrete and held it above Khal’resh.  “Oh, and remember when I handed over my weapons?  I suppose I forgot to mention that any good decepticon is his own weapon!”  Without so much as a second thought, he let go, leaving the fleshling to be crushed under the massive weight.  

Shaking the dust off his hands, Starscream casually walked toward the window that covered the other half of the room.  His wild grin widened even further has he looked out at the vast expanse of space.  “Ah, such an unsuspecting universe.  You thought I was finally out of the game for good, didn’t you?  You should have known better.  I will break you, I will subject you beneath my heel, and I will hear you finally acknowledge Starscream as your rightful master!”  

He paused, relishing the twisted thoughts that were racing through his mind.  

“And I’ll begin with Charr.”  


The squeal of rubber tires echoed through the streets of Iacon as the small Autobot raced toward Autobase central HQ.  His situation was hopeless.  He had triumphed over insurmountable odds on countless occasions, withstood the onslaught of Decepticon forces, and even survived the infamous battle against the monster known as Unicron.  But all of that meant nothing now.  This time, there was nothing he could do to save himself.  No matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried, he could not change one simple fact: he was late.  

He screeched to a halt at the entrance to Autobase, transforming from the Earthen form of a Volkswagen into the Autobot known as Goldbug.  He paused for a moment, chuckling to himself that he was getting so worried about being late to a meeting.  It was good to be able to focus on such minor concerns.  Ever since the miraculous revival of Optimus Prime, the Decepticons had not so much as made a single move against Cybertron.  It was almost as if life had finally returned to normal.  It was as if the war was over.  

He wondered what some of his fellow Autobots were doing right then.  He had heard that many of them were using the down time to take back up old hobbies and leisure activities.  In other words, they were getting on with their lives.  There were even rumors of the reorganization of professional sports and entertainment programming.  Yet, amid it all, there loomed a sense that none of it was real, that it was all just a dream ready to be shattered at any moment by the smoke and fire of the battlefield.  

“Goldbug, do you read me?”  A faint, static voice snapped Goldbug from his daydreaming.  “Your tardiness is disconcerting.  Are you en route to our location, or have untoward circumstances befallen you?”  

The young soldier flipped open a mouthpiece on his forearm’s communicator.  “Perceptor, if by ‘untoward’ you mean ‘trouble,’ then no, everything’s fine.  I’m standing outside HQ right now.”  

“Well, please make haste.  Our commander’s time is invaluable.”  

“I’ll be right there.  Goldbug out.” With that, he shut his communicator and headed inside.  

* * *

Perceptor paced nervously just outside the high council chambers.  Time wouldn’t have seemed to drag on so slowly for him if he didn’t keep checking his internal clocks every few moments to see how long he’d been waiting, but he was always somewhat anxious by nature.  Finally, he heard a noise coming from the hyper lift.  His attention darted up just as a pair of doors slid open and Goldbug stepped into the hallway.  

“Sorry I’m late.  I was just--”

“Yes, yes, I’m certain your reasons are nothing short of fascinating, but Ultra Magnus has been waiting for quite some time now.”  As he spoke, he took Goldbug by the arm and guided him to a lofty pair of double doors.  

“Magnus?  Wait, but I thought that Prime--” Before he could finish speaking, Goldbug was hastily rushed through the doorway by Perceptor, who then quickly closed doors behind the small transformer.  

Goldbug now found himself in a large, oval room.  At the opposite wall was a wide balcony separated from the interior by a set of thin, iron mesh curtains, revealing the faint silhouette of the mighty Ultra Magnus.  

“Sorry to keep you waiting, sir.”  

“Think nothing of it.”  Magnus’ massive arm draped aside the curtain and motioned for his guest to join him outside.  “I should be the one apologizing.  You were probably expecting to meet with Prime, weren’t you?”  

Sheepishly, Goldbug made his way toward the balcony.  “It’s okay.  I guess he’s been in pretty high demand ever since he came back to us.”  When he emerged through the curtain, he was struck by the view.  The balcony overlooked all of Iacon.  The city lights sparkled brilliantly, putting the stars in the sky to shame.  It was magnificent!

“You, Optimus and the others grew very close during your time on Earth, didn’t you Bumblebee?”  Ultra Magnus caught his mistake.  “Er, Goldbug.  That’s taking some getting used to.”  

“Tell me about it.”  As he looked out over the luminous city, it seemed to Goldbug just like a night on Earth shortly after the Transformers had awoken there.  He and Spike had climbed the slope of Mt. St. Hilary to catch a view of Portland in the distance.  On that night, the Earthen city shined just as vibrantly as Iacon.  It was the first time that his home on Earth felt like his old home on Cybertron.  But now he found it was Cybertron that reminded him of Earth.  

“Prime told me that he wished he could be here in person, but duty called.”  Magnus folded his hands behind his back in a firm stance that embodied all the pride of a decorated commanding officer.  “He’s been having Hot Rod debrief him almost day and night on his time spent leading the Autobots.  It’s strange, though, because Prime seems to be already intrinsically aware of everything that happened since his death.  It’s as if he just wants to hear Hot Rod’s perspective on it all, to see how much he’s learned from his experiences as Rodimus.

“But I digress.  There is a reason for calling you in this evening.”  Magnus locked his eyes on Goldbug as he continued, “For bravery and valor, for unwavering service and loyalty to the Autobot cause, it is my privilege to extend to you a promotion to the office of Espionage Director.  Will you accept this appointment, striving to fulfill all your duties in a manner that will honor the ideals of the Autobot way of life?”  

“Well, yes, of course.”  Goldbug tried not to let his excitement shatter his composure.  

“Good.  I had no doubt.”  Magnus heartily slapped his young friend on the shoulder and promptly headed inside.  “Now, it’s time for your new mission.”  

“Mission?”  Hesitating for but a moment, Goldbug followed after his commander.  Once inside, he couldn’t help but notice that the room seemed much more dim than before, perhaps even dark without the lights of the city scape to illuminate it.  “But why now?  The Decepticons haven’t made a move in ages.”  

“That’s exactly why now.”  Ultra Magnus opened the drawer on a large desk a few meters away from the door and pulled out a compact datatrack.  As he handed it to Goldbug, his voice took on a serious tone.   “Galvatron must be planning something, and we need to find out what before it’s too late.  That disk contains all the necessary operation schematics.  Since you’ll be going deep into Decepticon territory, we’re assigning you a team of specialists. We’ll expect you to get to work right away.”  

“Yes, sir.”  Goldbug saluted and began to make his way toward the exit.  

“Oh, and one more thing.”  

Goldbug stopped and turned back to face Magnus.  

“There’s something I should probably tell you about the troops you’ll be working with...”

* * *

The lower east quadrant of Cybertron was a place of poverty and lawlessness, completely devoid of sanitation and authority.  No matter how much the Autobots strived to return the planet to the previous glory of its golden age, this one area seemed completely immune to improvement.  It was hardly the kind of place Goldbug wished to spend his time, but he had come here for a reason, and had every intention of accomplishing his objective.  

As he drove along in his alternate mode, Goldbug carried with him an air of caution.  The streets were rusty and littered with cracks and holes, but the real danger was much less obvious.  There were stories circulating that Decepticons still held out in this region, operating beneath the Autobots’ radar.  

He slowed down and transformed into robot mode, surveying the surrounding area.  “Let’s see, sub-level six...”  

Making his way down a long, dank alleyway, Goldbug soon came across a large door.  It was unusually well kept, displaying none of the grime and sludge that covered nearly every other inch of the alley.  Mounted on it was a small sign, “Maccadam’s Old Oil House – Check your grudges at the door.”  

A clamor of noises roared from behind the door.  The low rumble of voices.  The clang of glass against metal.  Even faint, dissonant singing.  Goldbug took a deep breath, knowing full well that his body did not require air.  It was just one of the many ways that human behavior had rubbed off on him.  “Well, I guess there’s no sense in putting this off.”  Carefully placing a hand on the door, he pushed it open and entered.  

It was a busy night, and Maccadam’s was packed to the brim with patrons swilling oil at the bar, crowding around tables, and staggering through the room.  Goldbug’s diminutive height made it difficult to find his way as he waded through the sea of intoxicated transformers.  All the while, the steady rocking of the dense mob kept him continually off his balance.  Suddenly, a rough bump sent him tumbling backwards, slamming into a table and knocking over several energon drinks.  

“You filthy piece of slag!”  

He turned and looked up to see the angry faces of the Decepticon clones, Pounce and Wingspan, now wearing the beverages they were previously drinking.  Before Goldbug could react, Pounce leapt up and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him off the ground.  

Pounce snarled like a wild beast.  “No one, and I mean no one gets away with--”

“That’ll be enough!”  The room fell silent as all eyes turned to the bartender.  “Save it for outside.”  The bartender’s words seemed to settle most everyone down from their rowdy behavior.  Pounce glared back at him, but even he soon complied, tossing Goldbug aside and returning to his seat.  

The small Autobot stumbled to try and catch his balance, but fell flat on his tailpipe.  Embarrassed, he looked around to see if anyone was still watching him.  Fortunately, everyone seemed to be getting back to their own business.  That is, all except for one individual.  A stout transformer with a light red and blue paint job approached him.  “You haven’t been here before, have you?”  He extended a hand and helped Goldbug back to his feet.  

“That guy, he was a--”  

“A Decepticon?”  The red mechanoid gave a lighthearted shrug.  “That word doesn’t exist in this bar.  Neither does ‘Autobot.’  We’re all just Cybertronians here.  That’s probably what attracts such big crowds, but I take it you’re here for some other reason, eh?”  

“Yeah, I’m looking for a couple of Auto– I mean, Cybertronians.  The Monsterbots.  Have you head of them?”  

“Oh, they have quite the reputation.”  He pulled a chair from a nearby table and sat down, putting him about level with Goldbug’s optics.  “They say the Monsterbots are vile, degenerate thugs, slaughtering friend and foe indiscriminately.  They’re butchers without a thread of mercy between the bunch of them.  I think you’d do well to stay away.”  

“But I need to find them.  Can you help me?”  

“Well, I suppose.  But are you really sure you want to find theses guys?  You might not survive your first encounter with them.”  

Goldbug hesitated to give an answer.  Just before he left Autobase, Ultra Magnus told him all about the Monsterbots, and unfortunately, much of what this transformer was now telling him echoed Magnus’ sentiments.  But still, his orders came straight from the top, from Optimus Prime himself.  And Goldbug knew that Optimus would never knowingly put him in harm’s way.  After all, Prime was one of his closest friends... a friend whom he had only seen once or twice since the Quintessons rebuilt him... a friend who, for the first time, was too busy to be there in person to extend him a promotion.  

Nonsense!  He needed to stop thinking like that.  Besides, he wanted to show that he was worthy his new position, and this was his chance.  “Of course, I’m sure.  So, will you take me to see them, or not?”  

“If you insist.”  The transformer stood back up from his chair.  “I’m one of them.”  

“What?”  Goldbug took a step back.  

“The name’s Grotusque.  We’ve got a table in the corner.  Come on, let’s go.”  

Goldbug didn’t know whether to laugh or to be scared.  Still, he didn’t see that he had much of a choice other than to follow him.  

Grotusque led the way to a small, round table in a nook at the edge of the room.  He sat down and motioned for his new acquaintance to pull up a seat.  Slowly and deliberately, Goldbug did so.  

One other transformer was already seated at the table.  His upper body was mostly yellow in color, but his fists were blood-red, and clutched a small energon drink.  He took a quick swig, and slammed his glass down on the table.  He wiped his mouth with his left forearm, keeping his line of sight locked on his drink.  “Who’s the runt?”  

Grotusque casually scratched the side of his face.  “You know, I forgot to ask.”  

“Goldbug.  My name is Goldbug.”  

“Alright then, Goldbug it is.”  Grotusque pointed to his teammate.  “And this is Repugnus.”  

Goldbug started to get excited.  Finally, he was getting somewhere.  “Okay, I read about you in my files.  You’re the leader of the Monsterbots, right?”  

Repugnus squeezed his hand shut around his drink, shattering the glass.  His face shot up at Goldbug, looking him straight in the optics.  “No one leads the Monsterbots.”  The volume of his voice remained low, but the deep grumble of his words seemed more violent than any scream could ever be.  It caused Goldbug to freeze in his place, his fuel pump beating feverishly, ready to send his systems a jolt of energy in case he needed to defend himself.  

Grotusque was quick to calm Repugnus down.  “Easy there, big guy.”  He began to brush the small shards of glass from off the table.  “It was an honest mistake.”  

Growling through his teeth, Repugnus sank back into his chair.  He cast his attention back to his empty hand, flexing as drops of liquid and bits of glass fell from it.  An awkward silence settled over them, but before long, Goldbug tried to get things back on track.  “Well, I’m glad I found you.  I’ve come here on official business.”  

His words went unanswered.  Repugnus ignored him, as if Goldbug was somehow unworthy of his time.  “Where’s Doublecross?  He owes me a drink anyway.”  

Dusting his hands free of the glass he had just finished cleaning up, Grotusque leaned in on the table.  “You got me.  I think he said he was going over to the bar, but with him, who knows.”  

Like an eagle perched on a cliff, Repugnus surveyed the area.  “Wait, I see him.  He’s over there talking to Dreadwind.”  

“Dreadwind?!”  Instinctively, Goldbug jumped up, ready to pull a gun from a small compartment in his thigh.  As he was about to take action, Grotusque grabbed his arm.  

“Relax.  Remember what I said before?  He knows the rules here as well as anyone else – better than you it seems.  Nobody’s gonna try anything stupid in this place as long as you stay cool.”  

Repugnus cupped his mouth and shouted across the room.  “Hey, Dreadwind!  Tell Doublecross to get his tail over here!  And have him bring me a new drink!”  

Goldbug was stunned by this apparently traitorous display.  “How can you fraternize with the enemy like that?”  

With his teeth bare, a smile rolled across Repugnus’ face.  “It’s because Dreadwind knows that if he doesn’t stay on my good side, I’ll kill him the instant he walks out that door.”  Grotusque chuckled to himself as Goldbug just stood there speechless.  

Finally, Doublecross made his way through the crowd of inebriated barflies.  “Did I misssss anything?”  As he took his seat, his hands, each in the shape of a dragon’s head, clamped down on the edge of the table.  

“What about my drink?”  Repugnus’ tone seemed rather irritated, but not at all surprised.  

“Huh?  Drink?”  Without even waiting for a response, Doublecross’ attention switched over to the Monsterbots’ new companion.  “Hey, who’ssss the kid?”  

“Calls himself Goldbug.”  Grotusque folded his arms behind his head and stared up at the ceiling.  “Says he really needed to find us.”  

“Well, the gang’s all here.”  Repugnus stood up, towering over Goldbug in a blatant, albeit effective attempt at intimidation. “So now let’s just hope that you’ve got a real good reason for bothering us during our time off.”  

Goldbug had to consciously remind himself that he shouldn’t feel threatened.  After all, these three were still Autobots, right?  “Like I said, I’m here on official business from HQ.”  

“Great.”  Doublecross twiddled his thumbs – or at least the parts of his dragon heads where his thumbs should have been.  “But who exactly are you?”  

Out of pure reflex, Repugnus delivered a swift backhand to Doublecross’ face.  “Keep up.  He’s Goldbug.  Probably some suit from Autobase.  Now transform so we don’t have to say everything twice.”  

In a flurry of churning metal, Doublecross converted into the form of a fearsome two-headed dragon.  As he settled into this alternate mode, he snorted, spewing licks of fire from his nostrils.  Although Goldbug had been told that these transformers could change into monsters, he was still taken aback to see it in person.  The multitude of other bar patrons, however, hardly seemed to take notice.  Clearly, they were all either desensitized to witnessing such a ghastly display, or were too plastered to care.  

As expected, Grotusque was quick to offer an explanation of his teammate’s behavior.  “You’ll have to excuse Doublecross.  He has two brain modules.  Literally.  And when he’s in this form, his two heads make it easier for his minds to operate simultaneously.”  

Trying to brush off this strange oddity, Goldbug returned to his original train of thought.  “I’ve been appointed the new director of espionage, and you have been ordered to assist me in an intelligence gathering mission to Charr.”  Reaching into an opening in his wrist, he pulled out his mission datatrack and extended it toward the Monsterbots.  

The thought of going to the Decepticons’ central base sent a warm excitement through Repugnus’ system.  He snatched the disc from Goldbug and inserted it into a small slot in his chest.  Streams of raw information rushed through his optics.  He immediately scanned to the end of the file to see the official Autobrand and the binary imprint of the track’s author: Ultra Magnus.  

In an instant, the datatrack ejected from his chest and Repugnus flicked it back to Goldbug.  “Not interested.”  He cast a glance to his companions, and with that, they left.  No explanations.  No goodbye.  Not so much as a shred of respect or courtesy.  Had Goldbug’s face not been concealed by a thick plate, his jaw would have dropped.  

It took him a few moments to process just how quickly he had been rejected.  Goldbug couldn’t help but feel as though he had already failed without so much as a chance to begin.  What had gone wrong?  Perhaps he had been too reactionary.  If he didn’t want bullies like Repugnus to walk all over him, he couldn’t give up so easily.  

He rushed out the exit into the abysmal alleyway.  He was in luck!  The Monsterbots weren’t far ahead.  Mustering up some gusto, he shouted after them.  “You can’t just leave like that!  You’re disobeying a direct order!”  

Nothing.  Not even a flinch from the departing mechanoids.  Goldbug would have to try harder to get a rise out of them.  

“Hey, Repugnus!  I thought you said that no one leads the Monsterbots!  Then how come you just say the word and your buddies follow you like obedient little scraplets?”  

For just a micro-breem, Repugnus paused in his tracks.  He clenched his fists, but then simply loosened his joints and continued on his way.  Goldbug could tell he was making progress.  

“Are you just afraid of--”

The young Autobot’s sentence went unfinished.  The next thing he knew, he was face down in the rusty mud, a shooting pain rushing through his back and neck.  

“You did a bad thing tonight, little pup.”  The voice belonged to Pounce.  The Decepticon grinded his knee between Goldbug’s shoulders.  “And now it’s time to put you down.  Permanently.”  

Straining to drive the pistons in his neck, Goldbug twisted his head around to try and see his attacker, but merely managed to catch a glimpse of Wingspan standing nearby with his arms folded, watching his brother’s ruthless actions with delight.  

Crack!  “Aagh!”  Goldbug could feel the metal casing on his sides start to buckle under the pressure.  He discovered that he couldn’t move his limbs, apparently the result of some tight hold he had been placed in.  He struggled to speak while the lower half of his body began to go numb.  “I... I thought there were... rules...”  

Wingspan knelt before his prey, grabbing him by the back of the head and shoving his face into the ground.  “In case you hadn’t noticed, you just left that little playground and reentered the real world.  Cold.  Unforgiving.  And Brutal.”  

The two clones laughed maniacally.  Goldbug could feel himself drifting out of consciousness.  His situation seemed hopeless.  Suddenly, a wave of heat flashed over them, and the laughter was replaced by Wingspan’s anguished screams.  

Pounce darted off his victim, transforming into his puma mode, ready to lash out in self defense.  Cradling his gut in pain, Goldbug managed to roll to his side.  Directly ahead of him he could see Wingspan completely engulfed in flames, flailing madly.  A short distance away from them was Doublecross, smoke still billowing from the mouths of his dragon heads.  

Without warning, a winged, saber-toothed lion leapt from the shadows, tackling the hapless Wingspan.  At first, Goldbug didn’t recognize the beast as the alternate form of Grotusque, but the realization soon set in.  The Monsterbot bit deep into the Decepticon’s neck and dragged his body up against a wall.  The soot and grime that coated the alley slowly smothered the fire. As the flames flickered and died, the two transformers were swallowed by the murky darkness.  Even though they could no longer be seen, the jarring crunch of twisting metal and ripping circuits echoed in every direction.  

Cautiously stepping backward, Pounce shot his attention in every direction he could, hoping to catch a glimpse of his foes.  The heightened senses of his puma form notwithstanding, he failed to notice a large pair of green eyes eerily glowing behind him.  With stealth and precision, a pair of claws swung around him like scythes, slicing into his belly and pulling him into the shadows.  

Despite his relief at still being alive, Goldbug was terrified.  Grinding his gears through the pain, he transformed into car mode, flicking his headlights on to illuminate the alleyway.  What he saw did nothing to dispel his horror.  

At one end of the alley, Doublecross watched silently at Grotusque chewed on the charred and mangled Wingspan, whose optics weakly flickered on and off.  The lion looked up at Goldbug and froze in his place.  His optics widened with an almost childlike innocence as he spit the limp body away from him.  Upon transforming back into robot form, he dropped to his knees, gripping the back of his head like a vice and starring blankly at the ground.  Doublecross immediately jumped on Grotusque’s abandoned prey and resumed the work of savagely tearing it to pieces.  

Although he dreaded doing so, Goldbug slowly turned his lights down the other end of the alley.  All he could see was the back of a creature he could only assume was Repugnus, hunched on the ground over what was left of Pounce, furiously working at some unseen task as gruesome sounds pierced the air.  

Goldbug had a feeling he knew what Repugnus was doing.  He hoped and prayed to Primus that he was wrong.  He didn’t want to see it, but he felt that he had to.  “Turn around.”  

No response.  

“I said, TURN AROUND!”  

Both Grotusque and Doublecross snapped their attention toward Goldbug.  Repugnus, on the other hand, was not as fast to react.  He slowly became still, and then turned toward his fellow Autobots.  His monstrous face was covered with splatters of motor fluids while bits of metal lined the spaces between his teeth.  

Goldbug was right.  Repugnus had been feeding.  

The headlights flickered out.  Goldbug had been so concerned with discovering what was going on around him that he failed to notice how seriously he was bleeding energon.  Before he knew it, he fell into stasis lock.  

* * *

While his body slept, Goldbug’s mind wandered.  Among other things, he dreamt about the words Ultra Magnus spoke to him back at Autobase.  

“There’s something I should probably tell you about the troops you’ll be working with.”  The tone of Magnus’ voice had been perplexing to Goldbug.  It didn’t sound quite like a warning, but not like simple advice either.  “I think it’s safe to say that most Autobots view war as a necessary evil for our race to attain peace.  But not the Monsterbots.  They delight in violence and don’t use the same kind of restraint in battle that you and I would.  They are dangerous, unpredictable, and will stoop to any low to accomplish their goals.  Simply put, they are the closest thing we have to Decepticons within our ranks.  Personally, I’d almost rather they just leave Cybertron and never return.”  

This couldn’t help but make Goldbug wonder why Optimus had chosen to send him on a mission with such a group of villains.  For that matter, why were they even allowed to stay on as part of the Autobots?  What Ultra Magnus had said next shed some light on the subject, but it was also the part that was the most difficult to swallow.  

“But that said, you’ll need them for a high risk assignment like this.  Sometimes you need monsters on your side if you want to survive the monsters that are against you.”  

Need them?  As far as Goldbug knew, they had been devouring his unconscious body from the moment he lost consciousness.  

When Goldbug finally awoke, he found himself lying on a metal cot in a small clinic that the Protectobots had set up at the edge of the wastelands to treat ill and wounded empties.  He could see that the Monsterbots were there with him, and thankfully, they were in robot mode.  

In moments, Golbug’s verbal processors came back online.  “What have you done?”  

Repugnus grunted out a laugh.  “We saved your life, that’s what.”  

Goldbug sat up in his bed, his faculties rapidly returning to him.  “No, I mean, what did you do to those Decepticons back there?  You were acting like...”  He stopped himself before saying the word, “monsters.”  Even so, they could all tell that was what he was going to say.  

A grim expression clouded over Repugnus’ face.  “If you ask me, we didn’t do enough to those ‘cons.”  

“Yeah.”  Doublecross folded his arms in disappointment.  “Wingspan was sssstill barely alive... I think.  And as for Pouncssse, there’s a chance he survived since Repugnussss usually likes to keep ‘em alive until he’s done--” Grotusque elbowed him hard in the stomach, providing a not so subtle hint to stop talking.  

Ignoring his teammates’ antics, Repugnus continued.  “We could’ve easily finished them off if we didn’t have to drop everything and rush you here when you passed out.”  

“I’m grateful for your help, but that’s no excuse.”  Goldbug’s words were quiet and deliberate.  “You went too far.”  

“Oh, really!”  Repugnus grabbed both sides of Goldbug’s cot and lunged toward him.  “First you complain that we ‘fraternize with the enemy,’ but when the chips are finally down, you can’t bear the thought of us killing them?  Is that why you think we’re monsters?”  

Repugnus exploded into his alternate mode, knocking over the cot and sending Goldbug crashing to the ground.  Resembling a giant, nightmarish antlion, he towered over the young Autobot, flexing his serrated mandibles and claws.  Sharp, white flames danced inside his mouth as he spoke.  “Then monsters it is!  You may not like what you see, but it’s the honest truth, and at least we don’t try to hide it.  So, do you still want us for your team?”  

Goldbug was dumbfounded.  Even if he could find words to speak, his voice felt completely paralyzed.  

“I thought so.”  Transforming back to normal, Repugnus headed for the door.  “Come on ‘bots, we’re clearly not welcome company.”  

“Wait!”  Surprisingly, Repunus actually stopped and turned around to hear what Goldbug had to say.  This was his last chance with the Monsterbots, and he knew it.  He walked right up to Repugnus, and standing as tall as his stature would allow, looked him straight in the optics.  “I don’t care what you are.  I have my orders.  You will accompany me on this mission.”  

Silence pierced the room like a dagger.  Goldbug did everything he could to stand firm and keep his knees from shaking.  Repugnus allowed a half smile to creep onto his face as he squinted back at him, examining this gutsy upstart.

Finally, the silence broke.  

“Okay.  We’re in.”
I was digging through my old stuff and stumbled across this. It's a fanfic I wrote way back in 2004. It takes place in the G1 cartoon continuity, occurring after "The Return of Optimus Prime," but before "Rebirth." I only got as far as the first two chapters, then was distracted by work that would actually make some money and never finished it.

Other characters who were slated to appear had I completed this include: Cyclonus, Galvatron, Icepick and the other Monster Pretenders (thus forming Monstructor), and Roadblock.

Again, this was written years ago, and my writing has improved a lot since then, but I still feel like this is worth posting. When I wrote this, I was experimenting with a style that eliminated the use of phrases such as "he said" and "he asked," and overall I'm pretty pleased with the effect.

Oh yeah, and none of the artwork in the preview image is mine (obviously). It was simply a sig I was using on the TF boards back when I wrote this fic, and consists of several different TF pics photoshopped together. You guys could probably figure that out without me saying so, but I still thought it was worth mentioning so no one mistakenly thinks I actually drew those TF's.
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