Chapter 9 part 2
After Fowler had been contacted and everything set up, a ground bridge
was activated to where the red energon had been moved. Arcee, Grimlock,
Slag, and Snarl went through the bridge to a shipping bay. Everyone drew
their weapons, keeping their optics open for any unwelcome guests. They
looked up to see a huge crate, hoisted by a crane. A faint, red light
glowing from the crate told them that was the red energon.
"Fowler couldn't have a crane operator lower the thing?" An annoyed Arcee asked.
"Must have been preparing to transport it themselves before Fowler told everyone to clear out," Slag guessed.
"Well, well. This is an unexpected surprise."
The four bots looked ahead to see Starscream standing before them, smug as ever.
Ever since he had gotten back, Starscream has been scouring the internet for any sort of valuable information. But his searches had proved fruitless until he had spotted the very same Red Energon picture that Raf had. He had used his own ground bridge to get to the dig site, but it was empty when he got there. Fortunately he was able to track the Red Energon to this bay. While he had expected Autobots, he hadn't counted on these ones. He and Grimlock had a bit of history. Back on Cybertron, during the final days of the war, he and Megatron had one of their typical falling outs. In need of some muscle, he had hacked Shockwave's logs and learned about his experiments on Grimlock and his team. He infiltrated Shockwave's lab where Grimlock was personally being held. Assuming that the mighty warrior was now too stupid to think for himself, Starscream had offered him freedom in exchange for absolute loyalty. But Grimlock turned out not to be as stupid as Starscream assumed he was. When an overconfident Starscream got within range, Grimlock grabbed him and threw him into the controls. Ironically, Grimlock's freedom and accomplishment in finding his teammates was all thanks to Starscream. Something neither the Dinobot leader or the Seeker would ever bring up.
"Starscream..." Grimlock growled.
"I wasn't expecting you to be on Earth, Grimlock," Starscream sneered. "But this is an opportunity too good to pass up. Obtaining the red energon and getting some payback for the pain and humiliation you dealt me back on Cybertron? As the humans say "Two birds with one stone"."
Slag scoffed. He knew Starscream well. A coward who never had the guts to fight someone in a straight fight unless the odds were completely in his favor. "Want me to take care of him, Grimlock?" He asked.
Grimlock focused on Starscream. The Seeker would never confront so many opponents unless he had something up his sleeve. "Something's not right here. Secure the red energon. I'll draw out whatever Starscream's got planned."
"That's an order! Go!"
Starscream chuckled as he pulled out the flat disk that contained the Apex Armor. "I think you'll find me more than capable of holding my own, Grimlock." He put the disk on his chest, causing the Armor to form around his body.
So that was it. Starscream got some new battle armor and was pretty confident with it. Not bad but it would take more than some fancy new armor to save him. Pulling out his sword, Grimlock charged at his adversary. That smirk on his face, Starscream stomped towards his foe. Grimlock had the longer reach and swung. But Starscream blocked the blade with one arm. Grimlock was stunned. His sword was able to cut through almost anything. Anything that could block it had to be extremely durable, especially for armor for a mech Starscream's size. Starscream himself was surprised. To be honest, he had wondered if the Apex Armor could hold up against Grimlock. But seeing how he was able to block Grimlock's blade, Starscream proceeded to punch Grimlock right in his chest. The Dinobot leader was still caught off guard at his sword being blocked that he didn't realize the blow until he toppled over. That armor not only allowed Starscream to withstand his blows but now he could actually throw a good punch. He wobbled a little as he regained his balance. But not one to give up so easily, Grimlock rammed Starscream. The blow, sadly, backed Starscream but only to a short distance, much to Grimlock's frustration. Starscream was all too delighted to be able to fight on par with the Dinobot.
Meanwhile, Arcee, Slag, and Snarl were approaching the crate. Starscream spotted them.
"Oh no, you don't!" Starscream shouted, stomping towards them. But what the Apex Armor had in power, it sadly lacked in speed. Instead of bothering to catch up to them, Starscream grabbed a nearby cargo container. With a mighty heave, he threw it. The container smashed into an organized pile of other containers, creating a domino effect; causing cargo container after cargo container to fall, topple over, and then come crashing into the ground. The three other Autobots were effectively blocked by a pile of fallen containers.
"I was aiming for them," Starscream grumbled. "But this works just as well." Since their progress was halted regardless, the Seeker made use of it to stomp towards them.
Slag and Snarl turned to face Starscream. Somehow that armor of his allowed him to hold off Grimlock. They would needed to step in.
"We'll deal with Starscream," Slag called to Arcee. "Try to find a way around this scrap-heap and get to the Red Energon!"
Arcee wanted to argue but she knew he was right. Optimus had told her about his battle with Starscream in the arctic and how difficult it had been thanks to that Apex Armor. The three Dinobots together might stand a better chance against Starscream than she did. So she quickly scrambled to get over the pile and to the energon.
Slag faced Starscream, transforming into his own dino mode and charging at the exiled Con. He unleashed his flame breath but much to his shock, his flames were barely warming the armor. Furiously he charged forward...only for Starscream to grab him by the horns and fling him to the side. Snarl took action. Even without his power boost from the sun, he was a deadly force to reckon with. He charged at Starscream, transforming into his dino mode. He swung his tail, except Starscream grabbed his tail and toss him aside. But Slag managed to recollect himself and ram the Seeker's back. While his horns didn't penetrate the armor, the battering force did knock Starscream forward and flat on his face. Afterwards he transformed back into his robot mode and started firing with his rifle. Starscream laughed as the blasts struck his armor with no actual damage done.
"Yes, by all means, keep firing," Starscream mocked. "Your weapons are useless against me!"
"How about fists?!" Grimlock punched Starscream from behind, causing the former Air Commander to hit the ground. Even if the Dinobots' blows were not actually doing damage, they were still capable of knocking him around. Snarl transformed back into robot mode and joined his companions. He armed himself with one of his spines and his sword while Slag pulled out his sword and his club.
"That armor's too strong for blasters," Slag grumbled. "We'll have to try close combat."
"That armor's got to have a weakness," Grimlock said as he prepared to fight. "For now, just keep hitting it till it breaks!"
Starscream angrily picked himself up. "Try all you want, Grimlock. Not even your strength can break this armor. I am invincible."
Rather than waste time with banter, Grimlock charged forward. Knowing that Grimlock might just knock him around due to his superior size, Starscream decided to use that against his foe. He waited until Grimlock was close enough to grab him and actually throw him overhead. The Dinobot leader crashed into the ground.
"Unlike you, Grimlock, I possess both brawn and brain!"
But Slag and Snarl took advantage of Starscream being distracted to double team him. They managed to push him back, Slag bashed him repeatedly with his club with Snarl prepared to stab his dagger at the face-plate of the armor. Angrily Starscream grabbed the two Dinobots, actually managing to lift them up and bashed them together before tossing them in separate directions. He focused on Arcee, who was nearing the red energon. Sneering, he went over to one of the sides to the crane and started pulling it up from the ground. The action messed with Arcee's balance but she managed not to fall. But she had to hurry. Starscream was trying to take her out while getting the red energon in the process.
"Watch your step!" Starscream called mockingly to her.
"Watch your back!"
"Huh..." Was all Starscream got out as Grimlock tackled him. The crane fell back into place. Arcee felt herself completely rocked but otherwise fine.
Grimlock and Starscream tumbled through cargo after cargo.
"I gave you the chance to join me, Grimlock." Starscream managed to get one of his hands free and punched Grimlock right in the face. The mighty Dinobot separated and reeled from the blow. Starscream charged and began to relentlessly assault his foe. "Together, we would have accomplished great things." He struck Grimlock's chest. "We would have been unstoppable. But instead of taking my generous offer, you threw me to the side!" Then he actually managed to lift Grimlock up. "Let's see how you like it!" He threw Grimlock overhead into a cargo container.
But because he was so focused on Grimlock, Starscream had forgotten all about Slag and Snarl. The two tackled the Seeker, hoping to attack the glass face shield of the armor. That seemed like a vulnerable spot due to the lack of any armor so they needed to take advantage of it. But Starscream was getting frustrated. These pests were keeping him from getting the red energon. He would not be denied! Snarl went to stab the face area again but Starscream grabbed his arm.
"Did you really think it would be that easy, you little freak show?!" Starscream furiously grabbed the two Dinobots and slammed them into the ground. He scoffed in disappointment. "Is this the best Shockwave could do? Clearly I overestimated his capabilities as a scientist. Pathetic."
Above, Arcee was struggling to get to container. The crane didn't have much maneuvering space, even for her build. However, she paused to see how the others were doing. It wasn't looking good. She had to hurry, get the red energon, and then call for a ground bridge to fall back. Starscream was just too powerful as long as he had that armor on. She grabbed the crane cable and started pulling it. Slowly but surely the energon crate drew closer. Once it was close enough, Arcee swung from the cable onto the crate. With a little effort she opened the side of the crate and looked inside. The crystallized red energon glowed with power, Arcee could feel it. Too bad red energon had to be refined into refuel before being used for super speed. That could really come in handy right about now. She needed to think of a way to get the energon and herself down.
"Maybe we should have brought Sludge or Swoop instead," Arcee muttered. She was about to call base for some support when she felt the crane being lifted up again. She glared down at Starscream, once again lifting the crane up and preparing to tip it over.
"What goes up must come down!" Starscream laughed as he pushed the crane all the way over. Arcee had no time to move and simply held onto the crate for dear life as the crane smashed to the ground. The crane fell to the bay with a thundering crash. Arcee was lying on the ground, dazed, disoriented, and damaged from the fall. Starscream, feeling victory within his grasp, approached the crate, which lay at the edge of the bay. Starscream was relieved. A little further and it would have fallen right into the ocean. And frankly Starscream had enough of being underwater. His optics lit up with glee at the red energon, still intact despite the fall. He gleefully broke a chunk off for closer examination. "At last...the red energon! And it's mine! All mine!"
Starscream turned around only to be greeted by Grimlock's fist. Grimlock finally had enough of being knocked by Starscream. And seeing his fellow teammates lying in the ground had set him off but good. Swinging at Starscream with a flurry of as much heavy punches as he could on that fragging armor, Grimlock started to feel the armor on his own knuckles start to strain, bend and weaken. But Grimlock refused to pull back on his punches. Starscream had to go down, one way or another. With a thunderous bellow, he delivered a final vicious cross strike on Starscream's chest when he felt his knuckle armor finally crack under the abuse he had unleashed on his own knuckles. The blow had sent Starscream flying back, smashing into one of the few cargo containers that until that very moment, had not been damaged in the fight. Grimlock stomped over to Arcee to see if she was alright. He could her groan, at least showing that she was still functioning. Good. Despite their differences, Grimlock didn't wish for her to die.
Hearing another groan, Grimlock turned to see Starscream slowly starting to rise. He could feel his anger rising. What did it take to beat this guy? Fed up, Grimlock grabbed one of the few intact containers and swung it. The container bashed into Starscream, knocking him for a loop. Grimlock charged at Starscream, grabbing him by the head and repeatedly bashing him against the ground. Starscream felt his head ringing. Even if he wasn't getting damaged, this was certainly giving him a massive headache. Between blows, he managed to spot Slag's sword lying nearby. As Grimlock raised him up again, Starscream grabbed his hand and flipped him over. He quickly got to his feet and scooped up Slag's sword. Grimlock was just rising to his feet when Starscream stabbed him right through the torso. Grimlock howled in pain as he felt the blade dig into his body. Even if Starscream hadn't hit his spark chamber, the damage was done. He could feel energon leaking from his body. With glee, Starscream pulled the sword, allowing Grimlock's energon to pour out more freely. He giggled wickedly at Grimlock's weakened state.
"Oh, how the mighty have fallen," Starscream sneered as he raised the sword for a final blow.
"No!" Slag came out of nowhere, slamming an elbow-strike to Starscream's side. But this turned out to be ineffective and Slag hissed as he felt his elbow armor crack a bit. Starscream looked down in disgust. He prepared to finish Slag with his own blade but then Snarl leaped on him from behind. Snarl rained blow by blow on Starscream's head, bringing back that infuriating headache. Grabbing Snarl with one hand, he flipped the Dinobot over and pinned him to the ground with his foot. Slag was about to help him but Starscream stabbed him through the arm with his sword before backhanding him to the side. "All of you just die!" He started punching Snarl repeatedly. Even Snarl's incredible endurance was crumbling to the power of the armor. Slag weakly pulled out his sword and charged. Starscream heard Slag coming and grabbed him by the side. Slag was momentarily confused until Starscream started crushing his side, The pain caught him off guard, allowing Starscream to pull back his fist and punched Slag right in the face. The most violent of the Dinobots spun in the air before crashing to the ground.
Grimlock slowly managed to get up. His body was a total wreck from the damage done to him. And then he saw what had become of his teammates. Snarl was beneath Starscream's foot, his upper body full of dents and cracks. Slag was lying on the ground nearby, the front of his face busted in and his side completely crushed.
That was the last straw! Ignoring his own pain, Grimlock slammed his fists to the ground as he transformed. Starscream, who was about to deliver the final blow to Snarl, stared with open mouthed horror as Grimlock's colossal t-rex form loomed over him.
"I'll rip you to pieces, Starscream!"
"So...this is the form Shockwave gave you," Starscream admitted that the large beast in front of him did look quite intimidating.
Back at base, Swoop and Sludge were both becoming restless. Miko and Bulkhead had gone out with Smokescreen while Optimus hadn't returned yet, leaving only them, Jack, Raf, Bumblebee, and Ratchet at the base.
"Something's wrong," Sludge said while Swoop paced back and forth. "They should have been back by now. Or at least called in."
"I'm certain that Grimlock would report in if there was any trouble," Ratchet reassured them as he looked over some files. He was hoping to find some way of fixing Grimlock's ability to transform. Unable to transform except when under extreme rage could a serious handicap in battle. Ratchet just hoped that he could do it without causing anymore harm on the Dinobot leader. No one, not even Grimlock, deserved to go through what Shockwave did to him.
"It's just a simple retrieval," Swoop pointed out. "They wouldn't take this long unless something was up."
Even Ratchet had to admit the truth in that. A simple retrieval mission wouldn't take this long. But surely Grimlock would report in if there was Decepticon activity. And if not him, then one of the other Dinobots or at least Arcee surely would. Oh great, now he was starting to worry.
"What if something is wrong?" Jack asked. "Like...what if the reason they haven't called in is because they can't?"
"That...is a possibility." Ratchet reluctantly admitted. That uneasy feeling now growing, Ratchet went over to the computer. "Grimlock? Grimlock, do you read?" No response. "Slag? Snarl? Arcee?" His tone started to rise in worry. "Nothing."
Sludge and Swoop looked at each other, nodding before looking at Ratchet. "Bridge us there, Ratchet."
Ratchet nodded back. "I'll contact Optimus and Bulkhead. We might need them."
"What about Smokescreen?" Raf asked.
"If there's something keeping Grimlock busy, the newbie won't stand a chance," Swoop replied.
Bumblebee started beeping, meaning that he was coming too. The Dinobots nodded appreciatively at him. Ratchet activated the ground bridge. The two Dinobots and Bumblebee headed towards it but Swoop paused long enough to say:
"Ratchet...might be best to prepare a sick bay."
Ratchet nodded grimly. "I'll get right on it."
With that, the three bots charged through the ground bridge. They soon found themselves in the wrecked cargo bay. Swoop whistled.
"Grimlock must've been here." He realized.
"Swoop! Bumblebee! Look!"
Swoop and Bumblebee looked where Sludge was pointing. He was shocked to see Slag and Snarl both lying on the ground, badly damaged. Not too far off, he could see Arcee lying next to the crate with a faint glowing light. Swoop figured it must be the red energon.
"Where's Grimlock?" Sludge asked.
In response, the three heard a thunderous roar as they saw Grimlock, in his dino mode, locked in battle with Starscream. However they couldn't recognize him due to the Apex Armor. Grimlock tried to snatch Starscream with his jaws but Starscream quickly grabbed grabbed them, using his strength to prevent them from chomping down on him.
"While this new form of yours is quite impressive, Grimlock, it's still no match for me!" Starscream taunted as he actually managed to shove Grimlock roughly to the side. The mighty Dinobot slammed into the ground before catching Starscream off guard with his tail. The blow knocked Starscream to the ground. As he struggled to get up, Swoop snarled.
"I know that voice."
"Starscream," Sludge realized. "But what's with the armor?"
"Don't matter," Swoop answered. "He messed with our team and now he's got to deal with us! Bumblebee! Look after the others! We'll handle Starscream!"
Bumblebee nodded as he went to check on their fallen comrades. Sludge whipped out his laser rifle and Swoop his missile launcher. The two fired at Starscream with extreme prejudice but to their shock, their attacks did absolutely nothing to the armor. But they did get both Grimlock and Starscream's attention. The two combatants turned to see who had joined the frey.
"Sludge? Swoop?" Grimlock asked in surprise.
"How nice," Starscream chuckled. "I was wondering where the rest of your pathetic team was. And now I get to be rid of all five of you at the same time!"
Sludge and Swoop pulled out their swords and charged at Starscream. But when they slashed, they were both shocked to see their swords not only blocked, but also slightly damaged. Grimlock however took advantage of this to strike Starscream in his massive jaws and started to crunch. Unfortunately the Apex Armor proved resilient to even his powerful teeth and one had to wonder whether the armor or Grimlock's chompers would crack first. Swoop's sword began glowing with heat. If he couldn't cut through the armor, he'd melt it off! Sludge switched his sword for his hammer, deciding to use blunt force on his stubborn foe. Sludge swung his hammer down but Starscream actually managed to halt his attack before pushing back with impressive strength. Sludge actually stumbled from the force. Starscream then spotted Swoop going for him and quickly grabbed his arm before the flyer could slash him.
"A Celsius sword? Resourceful, but not even Slag could melt this armor!" He punched Swoop, causing the Dinobot to fly backwards, skidding to the ground.
But Grimlock snatched Starscream up in his jaws once again. Rather than bother with trying to chomp him again, Grimlock swung his head back and forth, swinging Starscream around wildly before slamming him back down again, stomping on him for good measure.
"Did that take care of him?" Swoop asked.
"Doubt it," Grimlock replied. That stupid armor seemed impossible to destroy. "Just grab the energon and get out of here! I'll try and hold him off."
"No...no chance, boss."
Grimlock turned to see Slag and Snarl weakly join approach him, Sludge, and Swoop.
"Even if we take the energon, that still leaves Starscream with that armor. And...we don't know if you could hold him off on your own. We need to take him down together and we need to take him down now."
The other Dinobots nodded. Grimlock sighed but was proud of his team. As much as he wanted to keep them from unnecessary harm, they were more than willing to go down with him. Grimlock looked back at Starscream who, much to his frustration, was getting back up again. Fine then. Grimlock was going to make sure that Starscream did go down and that his team was gonna all get out of this alive.
Starscream got up to his feet as he looked at the five Dinobots facing him. Despite this, Starscream was far too angry to be worried. The Dinobots refuse to stay down and he was gonna make sure that this time they did.
One by one the other Dinobots transformed into their dino modes. With a thunderous roar, Grimlock led the charge.
Bumblebee was unable to look away as he stayed by Arcee's side. But then a small groaning drew his attention to Arcee, who was starting to come too.
"Uh...wha?" She saw Bumblebee staring down at her. "Bee?" She turned her head to see the Dinobots ganging up on Starscream. "Oh scrap."
Despite the Dinobots' advantage in numbers, Starscream's apex armor was still to be considered. He instantly targeted Slag and Snarl, who were the most injured of the Dinobots. When Slag charged at him, he grabbed the warrior by his horns and slammed him into Snarl. The two Dinobots had to fight back calling out in pain. But then Swoop went behind Starscream and hefted him up into the air. Starscream thrashed wildly as Swoop carried him higher and higher.
"Hey, Starscream," Swoop mocked. "Heard you can't transform anymore. Must be really tough, a flyer who can't fly."
Starscream growled at Swoop, ready to rip the Dinobot's wings off for that. "Release me you worthless scrap-pile!"
Swoop gave Starscream a dangerous look. "My pleasure."
Starscream then realized his error. "Wait, I..."
"Bombs away!" He released Starscream. The t-cog less seeker screamed as he fell down to the ground below, smacking it hard. He survived, thanks to the armor yet again, but was really shaken up. And then he started shaking more as Sludge stomped towards him.
"This is for hurting my friends!" He bellowed.
Starscream quickly rolled out of the way, punching one of Sludge's legs as he passed. The sudden blow had caught Sludge off guard and knocked his balance off, causing him to collapse. Swoop soared overhead and started zooming in for a quick divebomb. But Starscream had recalled his battle with Dreadwing in the arctic. He leaped up and grabbed onto one of Swoop's wings. In one swift moment he proceeded to tear the wing off, causing Swoop to scream in pain. With one of his wings out of commission he couldn't stay airborne and crashed to the ground.
"Now we're both grounded," Starscream said smugly.
Arcee and Bumblebee, who had been distracted with watching the whole fight, felt their spirits plummet. Starscream's power was allowing him to not only fight on par with the Dinobots but also do considerable damage to them.
Enraged at seeing his teammates getting trashed fueled Grimlock's fighting spirit as he charged forward. Starscream threw a punch but his arm was engulfed in Grimlock's maw. Grimlock hefted Starscream up with his head before slamming him down to the ground. Starscream was getting pretty fed up with that constant routine.
"It doesn't matter how many times you strike me down, Grimlock," Starscream said as he got up. "I cannot be defeated!"
Grimlock charged. Preparing himself, Starscream lunged into the air before slamming down on his foe. The two became tangled, furious trying to attack each other first.
"We need to...fall back." Arcee said weakly. "We're no match for him right now." Then her eyes landed on the crate with the red energon. They still had a chance to get what they came for. She got up and started heading towards the crate.
Detecting movement nearby, Starscream turned his head and saw Arcee heading towards the red energon. He was so caught up fighting the Dinobots that he forgotten about her. He punched Grimlock's head to temporarily stun him and took a mighty jump, landing in front of Arcee just as she neared the crate.
"Going somewhere?" He asked mockingly.
Arcee prepared herself. Even though she knew she didn't stand a chance, she wasn't going to just back down.
Starscream was amused when he saw that she was going to take a stand against him. "Don't worry. You'll be joining your precious Cliffjumper very soon."
Arcee saw red when he said that. She was about to attack when a missile blasted Starscream. She looked over at Swoop. He was back in robot mode, missile launcher in one hand and a sword in the other. He was damaged from both getting his wing torn off and crashing, but he was full of determination. "Swoop?"
"Get...away...from her." He hissed. Arcee could hear the pain in his voice. He drew his sword and charged.
The smoke cleared and Starscream was completely untouched. He glared over at Swoop, grabbing him. The two glared at each other before Starscream effortlessly threw Swoop into another cargo container.
"Swoop!" Arcee cried out. Now blind with rage, Arcee started blasting Starscream. But her blasts predicatbly did nothing to stop him. Bored, he backhanded her, causing Arcee to flip before smacking to the ground. Angrily Bumblebee charged and relentlessly punched Starscream, his mind too angry to know that his attacks wouldn't do anything. Starscream laughed as he kicked Bumblebee away from him.
"If you're so eager to die, I'll gladly help you!" Slag suddenly barreled in him. "This again? How many times are you going to repeat this useless tactic?"
But this time the attack was different. Despite being the Dinobots' most destructive and violent member, Slag was an efficient combat tactician. After getting tossed, smashed, and thrashed, Slag decided that they would need a smarter approach to their foe. His constant ramming against the Apex Armor wasn't just simply attacks. He had also been using them as a chance to find some sort of weak, or at least convenient, spot on the armor to exploit. While not the best opening, he had noticed something they might be able to use. So when he rammed Starscream this time, he managed to jam one of his horns into the sleeve area of the armor. Starscream himself realized this but was unaware of what Slag was planning. He prepared to swat Slag to the side again when he felt something chomp onto his free arm. He thought it was Grimlock again but saw that it was Sludge instead. Before he could do anything, the two Dinobots started trying to pull Starscream in different directions. Slag had told Grimlock, Sludge, and Snarl about his plan while Starscream had been distracted with Arcee and Swoop. Slag felt his body strain with effort as he pulled his head back, his horn through the sleeve area in the armor. He could feel his horn threatening to just snap off. With great, mighty pull, he did what he hope to accomplish: managing to pry off the armor piece covering Starscream's arm!
The Seeker stared in open-mouthed horror at his now vulnerable arm. "Impossible!"
Slag let out a weak chuckle, pleased with his effort. "Yeah, we're known to do that."
Furious beyond belief, Starscream aimed his arm and shot Slag right in the face. Slag yelled in pain before collapsing. Starscream followed up by shooting Sludge point blank. His durability increased in his dino form, the blow didn't do much damage but it did cause him to release Starscream's other arm. This gave the fugitive Decepticon the chance to punch the Dinobot with his armored arm. He stomped over towards Slag. The fact that he was the one who somehow found a chink in his armor made him all the more eager to rip Slag's spark out.
"I will make sure your death is slowly and painful," He said darkly as he approached Slag.
But Grimlock took that opportunity to attack Starscream again. He charged forward, knocking Starscream to the ground and stomped on him, pressing his foot down as hard as he could upon the annoying Seeker. Slag's plan was a long-shot, but they had to try.
Getting angry that he was constantly denied what he wanted, Starscream needed a moment. Grimlock opened his mouth to unleash his flame breath. But Starscream saw that as his opportunity to fire a missile right into Grimlock's open jaw. Grimlock removed as his foot as he thrashed around wildly from the damage done to him.
"I will not allow you to make a fool of me!" Starscream yelled. He prepared to finish Grimlock off once and for all.
But then he felt himself tripped up from behind. Sludge transformed into robot mode and pulled out his hammer, relentlessly bashing it again Starscream's armor. Starscream raised his still armored arm to block the blow. But then he noticed something. Cracks! Cracks were actually starting to form on his armor! How?! The Apex Armor was considered to be the peak of Decepticon armory! Not even the Dinobots, despite their upgrade, should be strong enough to do any form of damage. His confidence falling now that he saw that Dinobots being able to damage him, Starscream knew he needed to fall back. Quickly he raised his armorless arm and shot Sludge in the leg. Then he followed up with quickly punching the shot leg with his armored hand. Sludge was brought down to his knees. Wanting to quickly take out one of the Dinobots' toughest fighters, Starscream shot Sludge right in the head. The mighty warrior fell backwards from the sudden attack.
As Starscream staggered back up he was hit by a fire blast from Slag, who was charging at him once again. Starscream had little time to do anything when Slag slammed his his horns right into the leg joints of the armor. The Seeker started to panic when he could feel Slag's horns slowly pushing into the armor. He was about to smash Slag once and for all when he felt something stab into the remaining arm joint of his armor. Snarl was in robot mode and had stabbed one of his dagger-like spines into the joint. Starscream could feel the armor straining.
"Oh no," Starscream muttered to himself. Apparently the Decepticons who created the Apex Armor had never taken into account the strength of those like the Dinobots before. Was it possible that maybe the Apex Armor had been taken into considering regarding Shockwave's experiments?! Now Starscream found himself cursing Shockwave for having conducted his experiments on Grimlock's team. He had to think of something fast. The Dinobots could possibly destroy his armor and he would be left utterly defenseless and at their mercy. Oh that's right...Grimlock doesn't have any mercy!
Fortunately Starscream was an expert when it came to self-preservation and his mind came up with one possible solution to save himself. It was going to be a big risk for him but hopefully...
And then he made his move. While the Apex Armor was able to block (relatively) any attack from outside, it was still vulnerable on the inside. Bracing himself for the worst and hoping he'd come out of this one way or another, Starscream cringed as he fired a missile from his still armored arm. The blast, combined with the weakened state the armor was already in caused it to explode. This move clearly caught Slag and Snarl off guard but that didn't really matter much as the blast had turned the apex armor into a make-shift shrapnel bomb! Slag got blasted in his front well and some shards got him right in the optics! He thrashed wildly. Snarl had several pieces of armor sticking through him as well. These, combined with his previous injuries were proving too much to handle and he found himself going into stasis lock.
"Aaaah! Scrap that hurt!" Starscream...screamed as he staggered from the wreckage. While his body was blackened and his left arm hanging uselessly, he was in much better condition that either Dinobots. He looked at them in amazement. "That actually worked?!" He had to admit that he was impressed with himself. But that quickly ended as he turned to see Grimlock, slowly getting up to his feet. Starscream trembled with rage and frustration. Despite everything that had happened to him, Grimlock was still standing. "Why won't you DIE?!"
Grimlock didn't bother using words. Instead he made a quick dash towards Starscream. The Seeker tried to get away but lost his footing and slipped. He tried to get up by soon found caught in Grimlock's jaws. And this time...they hurt! Starscream screamed in completely agony as he felt Grimlock's teeth sinking into his body. And Grimlock only had one thought on his mind. Make this bot suffer for hurting his team! Angrily, Grimlock slammed Starscream down. Without the armor to cushion him anymore, Starscream felt his body ache in pain. He looked up as Grimlock advanced towards him. Part of him hoped to plead for mercy. Grovel at Grimlock's feet in hopes of being spared. But while that trick may work occasionally with Megatron, it would not do so with Grimlock. He shut his optics tight and waited for the end.
If Grimlock had been of clear thinking, he would have simply chomped Starscream up and be done with it. But now, Grimlock's rage clouded his judgment and he instead wanted to make Starscream suffer. So instead of making dinner out of Starscream, Grimlock bashed Starscream with his tail. The blow had sent Starscream flying...and smacking right into the crate full of red energon. The crate had been threatening to fall over as is. With the force from Starscream hitting it, the crate fell into the ocean...taking Starscream with it! The sudden action caused Grimlock to snap out of his rampage.
"No!" He shouted, stomping towards the crate as it fell into the ocean. He prepared to transform back into robot mode and grab the cable so that he could hoist the crate up but the sudden plunge into the ocean was too much for the already fallen crane to handle. The cable broke and Grimlock was unable to stop it. The red energon was now submerged...and possibly in Starscream's hands! His rationality thrown out the window by anger and desperation, Grimlock unleashed his fire breath upon the water, scorching randomly and causing the water to boil intensely. Yes he could feel his flamethrower acting up badly due to getting shot in the mouth by Starscream but he didn't care right now. Perhaps he hoped that his fire breath could reach the energon and destroy it (along with Starscream in the process.) His attempts seem to work because an explosion erupted from the water, completely drenching Grimlock in the process.
Shaking himself off, Grimlock looked deep into the water. But with the constant ripples and the water needed to calm down from boiling, Grimlock couldn't see a scrapping thing. All he could do was hope that he destroyed Starscream and/or the red energon. The only good that came out of this was destroying the Apex Armor so that at least the Decepticons couldn't use it. Feeling his body weakened, Grimlock transformed back to robot mode, clutching the nasty wound on his chest, grateful that Starscream hadn't pierced his spark chamber. Weakly and with much effort, he turned to look at the rest of his comrades. Every single one of them taken out of the fight. He stomped over to Sludge, who he had seen getting shot right in the head. He nearly lost Sludge and he didn't want to go through that again. He gave Sludge a quick check over and saw much to his relief that Sludge was still functional.
"Lucky...for us...you have...such a...hard head, Sludge," Grimlock said weakly. He looked over at Slag and Snarl. It was thanks to them that the Apex Armor had been destroyed. They were both extremely damaged and he hoped they could be fixed. "Slag. Snarl. Good work. Both of you." Then he looked over at Swoop, who was still lying against the container Starscream bashed him into. Remembering that Starscream had ripped off one of Swoop's wings, Grimlock looked around, hoping to find it and get it reattached. "Hang on, Swoop." He said as he looked around. "We'll get you flying again...in no time." Soon he spotted Swoop's dislocated wing and scooped it up. Then he looked over at Arcee and Bumblebee. They were still functioning but rendered unconscious like everyone else. With no other option, he decided to contact base:
"Grimlock to Prime."
"Prime Here. Grimlock, what's you status? Are you alright?"
"The mission was a failure and we require medical evac. Get Ratchet here and whatever bots are at base. We're gonna need them." And he cut off communications. He didn't have to wait long when a ground bridge opened. Optimus, Bulkhead, Ratchet and a new car that Grimlock assumed was Smokescreen's alt-mode drove through. The four vehicles transformed into the rest of Team Prime.
"By the All-spark," Ratchet whispered as he took in the destroyed surroundings and the injured bots.
Optimus looked over at the injured Grimlock and rushed to his side while Ratchet tended to the others. "Grimlock? What happened?"
"Starscream happened." Grimlock said weakly. "Had some kind of armor. He was able to do this," He indicated his teammates. "To my team. To me."
"Where is Starscream?" Optimus asked.
"Gone. So's the red energon. I destroyed them both."
"You destroyed the red energon?!" Smokescreen was shocked.
"It was that or let Starscream get it!" Grimlock snapped, not in the mood to put up with Smokescreen right now. "The only good that came out of this was that that Starscream's stupid armor is destroyed."
Optimus was taken aback. "You...destroyed the Apex Armor?"
"Technically Starscream blew it up from the inside but still. Fact is it's gone, so's the red energon, but so is Starscream."
Bulkhead whistled. "I never would have imagined he'd have the bearings to do something like that." sighed. "I wish I could have been there to help."
"Me too," Smokescreen added sadly. Seeing so many Autobots injured like this was enough to put a damper on his usually high spirits.
"Grimlock...I am sorry we weren't able to make it here in time." Optimus said, blaming himself for not being there to help his team.
"Don't know if it would have made a difference." Grimlock replied. He grunted in pain and Optimus noticed the leaking energon.
"I'm fine!" Grimlock snapped. "Help the others first!"
Optimus nodded. "Ratchet, use your med kit to deliver what ever medical assistance you can. Only after will we focus on moving them to base."
"Understood, Optimus." Ratchet replied as he went to work on Slag and Snarl.
"While the Apex Armor and the red energon would indeed have been valuable in our battle against the Decepticons, I am grateful that at least the Decepticons will not be able to use them. And no lives were lost in this mission." Optimus said. "That is fortune enough."
"Still," Grimlock muttered. "It took all of this to get rid of that stupid armor. And who knows how long it will take to repair everyone. Optimus...we're gonna need all the help we can get."
Under the ocean a Grey figure walked along the floor turning up plumes of dirt and sand with every step. In the figures hands was several pieces of material the emanated a red glow.
The figure looked down at the large collection of red material and a smile spread on his face as it was bathed in red light, "Until next time, Grimlock. Until next time."
End of Chapter